Bookish Ramblings: 5 Things Friday

Carrying on with this feature from Kimberly Faye Reads, it’s time for me weekly round up of books and stuff!

One: New to my queue

 

New to my TBR this week is Lifelik3 by Jay Kristoff.  He’s an author who I have been meaning to read for a while, I still want to pick up the Illuminae Files but I’ve heard that Nevernight is a bit of a marmite read.  Either way, I have been lacking in sci-fi on my reading lists for a while, so I’m looking forward to breaking that drought with this one.

Two: Favourite Book(s) of the week

This is the week that Shadowhunters finally got great for me, after enjoying book one, I felt really let down by book 2 and the whole incest angle really did not give me the feels to pick the series up again. However I was told that in book 3 things turned around and my gosh they really did. I’ve read both City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels this week and both were 4*

Three: When I wasn’t reading

It’s my second week off the muggle job and I have again been spending time with Little Miss Playground. We’ve made bathbombs which was a ton of fun, but I don’t think i’ll be setting up an etsy shop any time soon!  I received the final subscription box of the month which was my fairyloot, I’m not sure if i’ll do an unboxing yet as it was another month when I wasn’t really a fan, I think maybe i’m expecting too much of the boxes as all the items were fine, just not really for me or again not from books that I know. We had a great trip up to Cambridge too and the open air silent disco style film festival was a ton of fun – hopefully if the weather is good next year we’ll head back for it!

 

Four: Pic of the Week

This is my August roundup which I feel quite pleased with, it doesn’t include my kindle reads and is quite the split, books that I expected to love like To Kill and Kingdom and Catwoman fell short and books that I felt meh about reading like State of Sorrow and Shadowhunters ended up being my favourites!  I just finished my August roundup post on IG and I actually read 10 books this month – which is a lot even for me!

Five: Looking Ahead

Tomorrow is my one year Bookstagram anniversary, if you’ve been following me a while you’ll know I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the fickle nature of Instagram but I’m now at over 600 followers and I think my style has really changed drastically from when I started, but I have made some really great friendships on there and the community is actually the friendliest I have encountered. I have some formatting work coming up soon too which always has an impact on my reading time so I don’t know if they’ll be as many reviews, but I’ll try!

Review of Skeletal by Emma Pullar

Gale City is the last city in the world and under the strict control of the illusive Centrals.When females reach adulthood, they’re given the chance to compete at Showcase for the honour of becoming surrogates for the Morbihan – a highly intelligent, obese race of people, unable to procreate naturally. All the other girls are excited to become hosts, all except Megan Skyla. Convinced there’s more to life, Skyla teams up with an unlikely friend and they go in search of a cure for the Morbihan condition. Things don’t go to plan and their journey becomes a harrowing quest fraught with danger and deceit.How can Skyla discover the truth when everything she’s been told is a lie? Can anyone in Gale City ever really be free?Skyla is about to discover that freedom has a price and she’s going to have to fight to survive.

Going into Skeletal it’s clear that it takes it inspiration from a number of other sources, some on genre and some surprisingly not.  From the forced use of the female body to reproduce in a nod to the Handmaids Tale to the Morbihan’s use of the hover chairs as they are so overweight which reminded me of Disney’s Wall-E – but Disney this really is not. I have to say there was a lot about about this book which was fantastic but unfortunately it just missed the mark for me.  I very much enjoyed the darker parts, I think because I have been reading a lot of YA recently it made these moments all the more shocking.  The world outside of the Morbihan area of Gale City is harsh, filled with outcasts, gang culture and drug addiction.  It’s very much a society of “have and have not’s” with the have not’s suffering more than they perhaps should.  I would love to have known more about the cultural hierarchy and how the city came to be that way.  It’s a truly dystopian future which is silent on the whens and hows but we eventually get some answers in a twist that sadly doesn’t feel as shocking as it should.  It’s quite the story game changer though but I think my mind was on too many other parts of the story to really take it in which is a shame as it’s quite the revelation, it’s tied into a lot of events which I was reeling from so perhaps could have been given a bit more build time.   There is a lot of violence and scenes that are vividly technicolour at the times when you would rather they weren’t!  The Mutils are horrifying to imagine and the authors use of aroma’s to paint a picture really bring the true extent of the world home.  It’s incredibly descriptive and not at all for the faint hearted, it feels more horror than thriller at times. For me one of the most memorable scenes involves Skyla being locked in a facility with a rising wave of something you don’t even want to think about, the gasping and page turning pace is fantastic.

Character wise, Skyla is a difficult one. To start you really feel for her, she just wants to be left alone and has no interest in becoming a host.  However, as her character progresses she becomes pretty unlikeable, but the author does seem to give her some sense of self realisation of that fact. Sadly though it does mean that a lot of impact in the closing stages was lost for me, I don’t know.  Personally, I hate triangles so that probably didn’t help with my feelings towards her.  There is a spark of getting the right thing done and I’m sure she’ll turn it around with a renewed sense of vengeance. Bunce is an interesting character, as a younger Morb he still has all his faculties and it’s his character which becomes the most enriched as he seems to be as unwilling to accept his future as Skyla but for very different reasons.  Kian is one which I want to know so much more about, given that book 2 is “Avian” i’m hoping we’ll get more of his story as there is certainly a lot more going on which created an almost fantasy element to the story, and why am I feeling so strangely drawn towards Bullet?

Where did it fall short then? The revelation involving Clover left me feeling confused and “what’s next” it didn’t seem to really factor into much. Tess’s arc felt rushed and to be honest, I thought there would be much more to arise out of an underworld bargain made by Skyla.  The sex wasn’t particularly well written which surprised me as earlier connections in the story felt organic, but when this level was reached with the characters the writing just felt cringy. Maybe I’ll revisit some of these points after reading book 2 however, I have to accept that it was very much a page turner with imagary that stays firmly entrenched in the mind, with thriller style pacing and situations which individually did get my heart thumping.

One big issue, which is I would assume down to the publisher and not the author (so i’m not deducting anything for it) is that the way book looks isn’t great.  The chapter openers offer a baffling use of drop caps and the scene breaks are huge and took up half a page of my kindle! This was very distracting (perhaps more so as i’m a formatter) and something that perhaps needs to be looked at.

I certainly want to know how the ends get tied together and for the most part it did find this a great read so it gets a solid 4*

Skeletal is currently free for kindle at Amazon here

Review of Soul Render (Soul Stones #1) by T.L. Branson

It was clearly a magical stone…
…but what did it do?
Will’s father is dead.
And now he wants vengeance, but there is more standing in his way than he knows. Alone, he will surely fail, but who will fight by his side?
Will needs a plan. To kill the man who slaughtered his father he must face fifty battle-hardened soldiers and worse. Can a band of rebels be won over to his cause? Will they help him steal the stone he needs for victory?
Can he learn to wield its powerful magic in time?
And then there are the rumors…
Is it a demon, a god, or something unimaginable?

Soul Render by T.J. Branson begins knee deep in action. The classic hero is created pretty immediately when main protagonist, Will, quickly loses most of his family. By chapter four, the reader is introduced to a world of magic, gods, and peril with plenty to keep the reader guessing and turning pages. The point of view changes happen on an as needed basis to tell the entire story, and Branson’s transitions happen smoothly. He also makes artful use of imagery to describe the sheer essences of emotion and break down cognitive function, like Will puzzling himself out of his latest scandal, throughout the entire story. As Will’s personal perils unfold, so does a political background that adds another level of intensity. There are a few times between chapters four and twelve where the story seems to be losing cohesion, but the reader is certainly rewarded by chapter eighteen, when the various plots of the book begin to fall into place. The Soul Render does lose a star for this temporary lapse, an example of which is a prophecy that Will happens upon in his adventures that was supposed to reference ten gods and soul stones but only references eight, but the entire book is worth the read. Especially for the clever twist at about 60%. All in all, T.J. Branson’s Soul Render should be revered alongside some of the more modern classics like Percy Jackson and The Lightning Theif, though readers should be warned that it’s sometimes more gruesome, and Will Sumner’s story has a solid four stars.

The Watcher Series Box Set Release Blitz with AJ Eversley

Title: The Watcher Series
Author: AJ Eversley
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-Fi
Editor: Q Books Editing
Cover Designer: Cover Art by Salome Totladze
 
Blurb:
The Complete Watcher Series Box Set includes: WATCHER | CARBON | SAVIOR plus BONUS mini novellas: KENZIE | MAX | COLEMAN | AELISH
Perfect for fans of Divergent by Veronica Roth or Red Queen by Victoria Averyard
“First came the Bots. They were meant to serve us, but they turned and thousands died. Then the Carbons arrived and we were left with only a few hundred humans. After ten years of war, I’m one of the few survivors. I’m a Watcher, and I won’t give up the fight.”
As a Watcher, Sawyer Russo has sworn to protect her fellow humans. But the Bots and Carbons that overran her city are evolving, and are picking off her comrades one by one.
Embarking on a desperate mission to save humanity from extinction, Sawyer discovers that the line between friend and foe is no longer easily drawn when one of her own betrays them. Faced with a choice between fulfilling her vow and avenging those who have fallen, she must ultimately decide who can be saved … and who can’t.
  
JOIN THE RESISTANCE TODAY
AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in everyday conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.
Author Links:
Buy Links:
Excerpt from Carbon:
There was a bang across the hall as Max strutted in. His usual smooth grin hit me from across the room as he filled up a bowl full of slop. Amusement tugged at the corner of his mouth when I scowled back at him and he parked himself down across from me.
“Do you mind?” he asked.
“It’s a free world.” I shrugged.
He snorted. This was his usual game, finding any way to annoy me. Even sitting down across from me irritated me to no end, but I did my best to ignore him and returned to stirring my cold food.
We were both silent as Max moved his food around with his spoon for a few minutes before he let out a heavy sigh. Max placed the bowl onto the floor where Chevy was waiting eagerly to gobble it all down.
“I can’t eat any more of this garbage,” he grumbled.
“Keep your voice down,” I hushed.
“Oh, come on. It’s not like you’re eating it either. Everyone knows it sucks. I’m not saying anything you’re not already thinking.” He gestured to my still-full bowl, now cold from sitting for so long.
“We’re guests here. Show a little respect.” My voice was quiet but stern.
Max leaned into the table, surveying my body, my face, and my mouth. “Then you eat it,” he challenged me. “Eat more than one bite, and I’ll stop complaining.” He raised an eyebrow. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to piss me off, or if the hint of worry and pleading in his voice I detected was begging me to eat something. Anything. I’d been starving myself unintentionally, but it was hard to focus on things like eating when there was so much rattling my brain.
I didn’t look away, and I didn’t touch the spoon that still sat in my cold food. Crossing my arms, I settled in to wait him out, unwilling to let him win even one battle with me.
His shoulders slumped, and I realized worry indeed was hidden behind his feeble challenge. He pushed his chair back hard, clenching his jaw tightly, as he picked up the empty bowl from Chevy. “Didn’t think so. Looks like we’re both going to starve to death in this metal trap.”
I rolled my eyes, “I’ll be fine. You’re the one who will suffer, not me.”
He swaggered around the table and leaned in so close that his breath tickled my neck, but I didn’t flinch or look away. His gaze swept from my head to my toes once again. “I’m not the one who needs to save a dying world. I don’t need to be in peak condition or feed a body that isn’t quite human. I’m not the one who’ll suffer. Everyone else will if you don’t stop moping around and feeling sorry for yourself.” His cold glare was like ice in my veins as he stepped away. With a slight smirk, he spun on his heels and left before I’d even blinked, leaving a shudder down my spine.
His words rang in my ears, “a body that isn’t quite human.” I was a Carbon now, no longer human, even though every instinct inside of me was wired to protect humans, not hurt them. That was why they all looked at me differently, why Max looked at me with prying eyes as if he was trying to figure out what exactly I was. I was different, yet I found myself forgetting that at times.
But I wasn’t a hero anymore. I was no longer someone or something to be proud of. There was a monster living inside of me, waiting to break free. And the weight of everything he said was the reason I hadn’t slept in weeks or eaten in days. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to be better. But every time I thought of it, the guilt and pain took over, and I could barely breathe without breaking down. I often wondered what Kenzie would think if he saw me, or if he knew what I was—what I had become. Would he look at me like he used to? Or would he look at me with disgust for what I let happen to me? What I let myself become?
Chevy sat at my side, pawing at my leg, as he looked up with worried eyes. I stroked his head as I looked at my bowl of slop with a groan. My hand quivered as I took a tentative bite and fought the gag threatening to bring the food back up. With a long, hard swallow, I took another bite and another—until the bowl was empty.
And I could’ve sworn I saw the door to the hall close a crack more than it had been before.
 
 

Bookish Ramblings: Five things Friday

Carrying on with this feature from Kimberly Faye Reads, I found it a really fun round up last week!

One: New to my queue

 

New to my TBR this week is Winter by Marissa Meyer, I have absolutely adored the series so far and finally got to pick up Winter thanks to a handy book token I received! Whilst the size of it is a little intimidating at over 800 pages I’m really excited to see how the series concludes.

Two: Favourite Book(s) of the week

 

Ignite by Tracy Lawson was top of my reads this week, it’s book 3 in her Resistance series and whilst it did very much feel like a set up to the conclusion in book 4, it was still a great read and I have to say a little harrowing at times.

Three: When I wasn’t reading

I’ve not been at work this week and as it’s the school holidays I have been spending some quality time with Little Miss Playground. we’ve had days out and playdates as well as a little bit of shopping here and there.  I’ve finally got my SDCC exclusive Glow in the Dark Moaning Myrtle pop, but only after huge shipping delays and a huge whack at customs due to some pretty poor labelling by Popcultcha.  She’s lovely and I’m excited to have her, the whole experience of getting her has been really marred though.  I’ve complained due to their labelling issues but I doubt I’ll get much of a comeback.  It’s been lots of fun in other ways though as both my Illumicrate and NPC Crate have arrived which are full of items which are just gorgeous – you can check back through the blog posts to see full unboxings.

Four: Pic of the Week

 

Ok so it’s not my pic, it’s Stephanie Garber’s, but It’s so exciting that a release date has been set for Finale and that she has brought the release date forward by 3 weeks – I can’t wait to see not only how the series ends but also what the hidden covers will be!

Five: Looking Ahead

I’m still waiting for my Fairyloot tracking (but they are still going out in batches until Monday) I have (so far) managed to avoid spoilers on IG, but only narrowly! It’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK so we’re heading up to visit friends in Cambridge tomorrow, they have an open air film festival going on so we’re hoping the weather stays with us. Reading wise, i’m trying to get back into Shadowhunters with City of Glass, I’m told it gets better from this book!

Owlcrate Jr Unboxing: August Storytellers Toolkit box

This month, a reward for getting outstanding marks in her school work, Little Miss Playground (LMP) received her first ever Owlcrate Jr box! The theme was Storytellers Toolkit and the book was said to be a bit of a scary one. Now LMP is still 7 years old and Owlcrate Jr is for 8-12 year olds.  She’ll be 8 soon, but I was worried about the scary content as she can be sensitive to these things.  Before buying the box I reached out to Owlcrate to speak with them about this and they were amazing at discussing things with me. Their customer service staff had read the book which really helped with the decision to go ahead as they advised that because LMP is a fan of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books it was on a par with them. The book is for up to age 12 so it will be a tandem read for us as her reading stamina isn’t quite there yet – but that makes it all the more fun (and allows me to skip over any bits that I think she may not like when it’s my turn to read)

But onto the box.  I think it’s safe to say that her face was priceless when it arrived!  The box itself is beautiful and is tagged “may contain magic” The first item LMP found were the Eeboo Create a Story Cards, these were an announced item and are great fun, the them was fairytale and they were played with pretty much straight away – they are fantastic for prompting their own storytelling and because of the quantity of cards it’s unlikely that the same selection of cards would come up.  LMP says  – I like playing with my brother doing this because it is very funny when we saw some of the characters.  The next item was the 2nd announced item which was a large size zipper pouch by Owlcrate, a lot of thought clearly went into this as it is big enough to fit all the writing items from this months box into. LMP says:  I like the fact that it’s really big and there is lots of room inside it and I like the detail on the front and on the back.  A set of pencils was next out of the box by Jubilee Design Studio they each have a beginning of a story to them “once upon a time,” “a long long time ago” and “it was a dark and stormy night” LMP says: I like that they all say different things on them and my favourite one is the black one as it says a long long time ago and it reminds me of Star Wars.  Other items include a note book, an eraser and a badge.  LMP says, then I got my notebook and it’s got a lot of pages in which is very useful to write in, my moose bumps rubber I like because it looks like a real book and it smells nice and the Typewriter badge I like because it has a typewriter on it and has paper in the background and I think that this typewriter in from A series of unfortunate events because sunny uses it (we’ve just finished the Austere Academy)

The book this month is Nightbooks by J.A White, the blurb is: A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending–and a way out of this twisted place.  LMP says: The book I got was called nightbooks and my favourite bit about the front cover is that it has lots of books and the picture is shaped in a key hole shape, I liked that it was hardback and I got a signature from the author.

Having found all the items in the box we had a little chat…

Me: What did you think of the box, was it all you were hoping it would be?

LMP: I love it!  It’s so much better than I imagined!

Me: What was your favourite item?

LMP: The Book!  I love the cover as it feels shiny on the black part and then different on the keyhole

I think it’s safe to say we have one happy little girl in the bunker, she’s looks longingly at my boxes when they arrive and I’m so happy she got to experience the feeling of discovering each new item.  Her happy face was utterly priceless as she took out each item.  I would love to get them for her more often, but even with a 15% discount code it was still £34 including shipping.  But it’s her birthday in November so never say never 🙂

 

Somewhere Out There Anthology Release Blitz & Giveaway

Title: Somewhere Out There
Genre: Mixed Genre
Publisher: Bathory Gate Press
Cover Designer: Elizabeth Constantopolous
 
Blurb:
Sometimes an anthology is more than a collection of great stories.
This anthology is about making a stand.
More than 150 authors, editors, artists, and promoters from all around the world have come together to say, “Enough is enough, and let the children go free.” Immerse yourself in the tales of Somewhere Out There: A Fundraising Anthology that demands we keep immigrant children together with their parents, and out of incarceration.
Experience sizzling romances, journey through fantastic magical realms, and solve engaging mysteries in this collection of stories that encompasses all genres. Bestselling authors and new voices have come together to deliver an incredible and exciting collection that’s bound to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.
Best of all, know every cent of your purchase is going to a child who needs it. 100% of all net proceeds will go to non-profit organizations that will reunite immigrant families detained and separated at US borders.
It’s your turn to rise up. Will you join us in supporting immigrant families (and get a great reading deal in the process)?
One-click and take a stand today!
Buy Links:
 

Review of Ignite (Book 3 in the Resistance Series) by Tracy Lawson

The Greatest Risk Is To Take No Risk At All.
Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.
It’s a media circus.
Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight–and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.
Madalyn’s not going to give up control.
The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who has been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?
Will their relationship survive?
Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?

Okay I caved, I didn’t think I would get to Ignite this month but it was there on my kindle like a beacon, whispering to me that the other books on my tbr could wait and I’m glad I listened!  The story is now so much more now than Tommy and Careen, it really has become a full on Resistance v The State with Tommy and Careen merely players in a game which is much bigger and with far more history behind it than they could imagine.

Careen is under interrogation by Madalyn and the OCSD’s finest – they believe they are interrogating a terrorist and their techniques are real. Things get very intense for Careen as she undergoes humiliating and relentless treatment, what is truth and what is manipulation? As you would expect this type of treatment isn’t easy reading, it’s made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that we all know that this type of treatment exists so we have to feel it with Careen – this series always walks a fine line when it comes to so easily becoming our reality and this brings it home even harder.

With the fall out from Wes’s death in the botched bombing shaking the very foundation of the resistance and with the OSCD in freefall, the public are staging their own revolution as they just aren’t buying the propaganda any more. I love this peaceful protest element and how against the odds Careen’s message still gets through the way she intended.  I’m glad that the public is rising up the way it is, I found the scenes at the Essential Services food bank in book 2 really quite shocking, even though again it’s likely the realism that brings it home. The fact that a simple act of standing in a road, causes mayhem for Madalyn is a small victory but will be one that you’ll give a silent high five to.

This book whilst pretty much all out and out action it does feel like a build up to the final book.  There are lots of different players with different agenda’s and I had to give up trying to piece them all together because if one thing is clear it is that all will become clear in the final book.  The big question is though, will Madelyn be able to turn certain heads? This is certainly becoming a thriller through and through, and with more secrets than ever bursting to get out Revolt is going to be a book not to be missed!

4*

 

Unboxing: NPC Crate August Dreaming of Ghibli box

Oh my heart is so very very happy, the August Dreaming of Ghibli box is just fabulous! This is the second box out for monthly NPC Crate, each box offers 3 themed candles, an enamel pin and bookmark, all their packaging is ethical and biodegradable too!  Their For the Love of Books box was out last month and I managed to pick up one of their YALC themed candles at the event last month as well as one of their logo pins.  There are still a few of their YALC bumper crates available on their website (which contains all 3 Love of Books Candles and pin alongside of the YALC candle and Logo pin) It’s amazing value at £20.

But onto this months box.  Sadly it got a little spoiled by a pic on Instagram (why can’t people do spoiler warnings when it’s within days of shipping?) but it was only one candle thankfully. The first item is their bookmark which also serves as a spoiler card, this was super cute as it featured the Soot Sprites from My Neighbour Totoro there is a whole bunch of the little guys here and brought such a smile to my face!  The Enamel pin was something very special though.  My favourite Ghibli is Howl’s Moving Castle and Calcifer, the falling star caught by Howl, is my favourite non human character so to have him as an enamel pin made me properly squeal with delight!  I shied away from doing a filmed unboxing this time round but for mine and Little Miss Playgrounds reactions to things I wish we had filmed it.  He is a lovely little guy and I can’t wait to get him up on my NPC Crate pin display.

The candles this month fragrance wise all had a either a fresh fruity or citrus scent, which are my favourites! Howl’s Castle is Yuzu, Mandarin and Grapefruit, the grapefruit really comes through (although I have to admit I have no idea what Yuzu smells like lol) It’s a lovely marbled pink effect and is Little Miss Playground’s favourite (I wish I had caught her on camera when she first opened the lid!) Next is Totoro’s Forest with a mixture of Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood and Pine to symbolise a Bamboo Scent – the pine is a merest hint with the sandalwood really coming through and has the same marbled effect but this time with a forest green.  The last candle is based on Spirited Away with Yubaba’s Bath House and is Lotus Blossom and Orange, you would think that the orange would be the overwhelming scent, but the lotus blossom really does come through on top – this whole set is a real testament to great fragrance mixing. The thing I love most about these candles is the attention to detail.  Each candle has a lovely little nod to the film they are from, Howl’s has a little Calcifer, Totoro’s has a little Totoro and Yubabab’s has Chichiyaku – it really brings the whole set together beautifully.

Such a gorgeous little box and all for £15! Next month’s Theme is Roll for Initiative and is based on Dungeons and Dragons – I think there may be some still available in their shop if you’re quick!

Unboxing: Illumicrate August Oh So Criminal box

A couple of months ago, I didn’t think I would be able to meet the cost of this box and I sadly had to cancel my subscription.  However when the theme was revealed with a particularly heavy hint at the book that would be included I took a decision – I had the hinted book on pre-order from Waterstones so I tentatively cancelled my order to use that money towards the box and hope beyond hope that the book was what everyone thought it would be!

So in light of that I’ll start with the book which I am very relieved to say was Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J Maas.  I had to do a trade off with this, the Waterstones copy was the same gorgeous hardback edition but with a signed bookplate, the Illumicrate one has sprayed edges but not signed.  I’m kind of sad that I don’t have the signature but the edges are just beautiful.  The hardback edition also has a cute cat motif on the spine under the dust jacket – I love it!!

Back to the unboxing though.  Illumicrate have changed up their boxes which you can see from the cover image are now yellow and also bigger – thankfully they still don’t feel the need to pad their boxes with half a forest of paper swirls. There were no less than 8 exclusive items this quarter.  The first was a “Villains Are My Bag” tote from KDP Letters It’s really thick quality fabric and the straps are really sturdy looking, the quote is in their trademark style and it’s wonderful! The “Sirius Snacks” Coaster is probably one of my favourite items, the art is from Katie Abey and has an Azkaban Sirius Black and Buckbeak, it’s super cute. Next up was a Nail file (in case your villainous ways need to you escape from prison) It’s probably one of the more random items I have had in a box before based on Darkdawn, it’s from a series I want to read eventually.  For all it’s randomness, it is again a really quality item from Hey Atlas Creative. Who doesn’t love a lanyard!  I love them to take to cons, I put my pins or badges I collect during the day on them, this Six of Crows design by Fable and Black will give me all the squad goals feels too!

The cutest item is a comic book inspired Protagonist/Antagonist necklace by Down the Rabbit Hole perfect for those days when you can’t decide whether you want to save the world or take over the world! No book box would be complete without a candle and I was excited that this one featured a candle by Elven Wick Candles – I have been looking into getting their Legendary candle and I’m happy to say that on the basis of this “Perfect Heist” candle, I’ll likely be getting more from them. The scent is really subtle but it looks so pretty and sparkly, the attention to the design on the label is fab too, like a heist map! The scent is Lime, Sweet Melon, Water Lily and Must and this thing is full to the brim! The “The Easiest Lies to tell are the one’s we want to be true” mirror is based on a Holly Black quote – I’m not really a Holly Black fan I have to say, but the design of the quote by Reverie and Ink is lovely and will be amazing to use in bookstagram posts.  The final main item is a Gotham Sirens Print featuring Catwoman (natch), Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.  Little Miss Playground is a huge fan of the DC Superhero Girls and Harley Quinn so this will be winging it’s way off to her room soon no doubt (I expect she’ll snatch the mirror too given half a chance!)

There were some other promo bits in there too which is to be expected.  All in all I was amazed at just how much stuff was in the box this quarter, everything is amazing quality and all really useful stuff (yes I class bookstagram worthy items as useful lol) I’m so glad I managed to get the funds together to get this box and I’m excited to see what the next quarter brings!