books, fun stuff, Illumicrate, lifestyle boxes, reviews

Illumicrate #13 Clever Ruse

This month’s Illumicrate has arrived! Yay and it’s a really cool one too.

There are 2 exclusive editions inside along with a host of bookish goodies.

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean. This gorgeous hardback edition has an exclusive cover, sprayed edges and a signed bookplate.

Wild Magic – Tamora Pierce. An exclusive edition of one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors.

Circus Top Banner designed by @Illumicrate – inspired by The Night Circus and Caravel. I’m going to transfer all my book related pins to this.

Stag Amulet Necklace designed by @fableandblack – this was the first item I picked out of the box – I don’t think it’s something I’d wear but it will look excellent hung up in my book lair.

Diner Drink Cosy art work by @gicatam – this made me squeak out loud. I love To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, both the book and film so this is super cute.

Warcross Woodmark artwork by @chattynora – I read Warcross with my book club earlier this year and found it interesting. I collect bookmarks and this is going to hang out with its new pals.

Mulan inspired scarf artwork by Feifei Ruan @ruan0v0 – this is beautiful. Silky and soft, I can’t wait to gently tuck this in around my neck.

Bonus items: The Poppy War, This Mortal Coil.

I loved this box, a beautiful mix of books and lovely items all lovingly designed and curated. The Illumicrate team are doing a fantastic job putting these boxes together for all of us book loving souls.

books, reviews

Book Review; The Relic Guild Trilogy – Edward Cox

The first Relic Guild book (called The Relic Guild) introduces us to the remaining members of the Guild, 40 years after they last worked together.

Their old enemy Fabian Moor has reappeared in Labrys Town and chaos follows in his wake. The Guild must come together again and find a way to defeat their enemies one last time.

Flipping between the present day and the events of forty years before, this three book fantasy romp heads into the labyrinth surrounding the town and worlds beyond it.

Each volume rachets up the adventure and peril as our heroes race against time to stop an army of demons from destroying everyone in the town and beyond.

To begin with I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this series as I felt the first book was a bit slow getting going (I am an inpatient reader) and it took me a while to get into the plot. However once it did I raced through it and was eager to get into book two (The Cathedral of Dead Things).

books, reviews

Book Review: Empress of all Seasons – Emiko Jean

Set in an alternative feudal era Japan-like country, this story follows Mari, born a yokai or demon, and her attempt to become Empress.

The Emperor has had built 4 rooms, one for each season, that prospective empresses must conquer to win the hand of the reluctant Prince Taro.

Mari has been trained for this her whole life by her mother, an Animal Wife – who seduce wealthy men, marry them and steal their fortunes before retreating to their secretive village in the mountains.

Meanwhile in the capital city yokai are forced to wear iron collars that cause them pain and serve the humans. However a revolution is brewing and Mari’s friend Akira is drawn in.

This is a really interesting book, Japanese mythology is rich with unusual creatures, ghosts and monsters. Emiko Jean has woven just a few into this tale of survival – ancient beings against the humans who would wipe them out or enslave them.

The plot is gripping, with shades of the Hunger Games, drawing on the rich mythology and geography of Japan’s islands. The characters are well rounded and likeable.

The way it ends suggests there could be a sequel but it can also be read as a standalone novel.

It’s refreshing to have a different traditional backdrop in YA, rather than the Western mythos that has been common over the last few years (minus a few books like the excellent Jade City). I’m interested to see where the author goes next.

art, Christmas, gift guide, reviews

Under the Tree: Print Panoramics

Another day, another excellent option for your Christmas shopping.

Print Panoramics are a cool online company that help you create amazing prints from your photos – something that would make a fantastic gift for a loved one.

You pick the size, style and type of print, upload your image and the team will print it for you, ensuring it looks the best.

The team at Print Panoramics have kindly offered my readers a 15% discount, valid until 31/12/2018 (UK only, includes shipping, minimum spend £50). Enter code MADSPP15

You can also follow Print Panoramics on Instagram and see some of their great images.

lifestyle boxes, mental health, mindfulness, reviews

Review: Cancer Care Parcel

Cancer has affected everyone I know in some way or another.

When I was 18 my paternal grandmother died after a long fight against lung cancer that eventually spread through her whole body to her brain.

It was difficult to see her become weaker and more fragile. Cancer treatments were debilitating and had some pretty terrible side effects.

The people behind Cancer Care Parcel want to help alleviate some of the stress and worry patients and their families are dealing with.

Each package has been tailored with practical and fun items that meet specific needs.

I was kindly sent this Deluxe Box for women to share with you and it’s a fantastic assortment of items.

As well as their incredible boxes, which are available for all genders and children too, the website offers social networks, advice and information for cancer patients, family and friends.


I think that if you’re looking to buy a gift for someone dealing with cancer, one of these boxes could be a really good idea. And the parcels are now on sale too.

art, Christmas, reviews

Under the Tree: personalised art from Karishma, London Life Drawing Girl

Today’s gift idea is a bit different and something that could be ideal for an art loving friend or family member.

I’ll let Karishma, aka London Life Drawing Girl introduce herself;

“Hi, I’m Karishma, a 26 year old, London based artist. I love to draw and paint buildings and skylines around the world. These can be anything from a favourite city, a special building, or home. I work in the city by day and sketch in my spare time.”

If you want to buy someone an amazing hand drawn image of their favourite London landmark or somewhere that means something special then head to her website and order via the form or by email.

And Karishma has kindly offered all my followers a Christmas order discount – just add code MADS for a cool 10% off one of her drawings.

You can also follow Karishma and see some more of her amazing art on social media, Twitter, Instagram

Christmas, gift guide, reviews

Under the Tree: Prestige Hampers

A festive classic, the hamper is a great gift when you’re not sure what to get someone or need to send a gift well packaged.

Prestige Hampers are based in Yorkshire and offer a wide range so you can pick the perfect hamper for your chosen recipient.

This particular number has a great selection of sweet and savoury treats, guaranteed to give the lucky receiver a delicious Christmas.

I remember as a kid my dad used to buy hampers for clients at Christmas, a little way to say thank you for their support and custom. I always wanted someone to send me one as they seemed exciting and fun.

You can follow Prestige on social media too. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.