books, Illumicrate, reviews

Book Review: City of Brass – S.A. Chakraborty

I received this as an ARC in the most recent Illumicrate, although it has now been published. 

I hadn’t read a huge amount about this book before receiving it although randomly I follow the author on Twitter so who knows. 

I read it in one sitting, it was that good. Compelling writing, interesting plot and characters, clever world building. I just thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Nahri is an orphan who makes her living selling cures and telling people’s futures in a Cairo market, until one day she’s asked to perform an exorcism and things become very weird. 

Using characters and creatures from Middle Eastern mythology, Chakraborty creates an incredibly vivid world where myth and magic collide with our world. 

I cannot wait for the next book. As I finished this one I was going “but no, more story, now please!” 

If you enjoy fantasy then this is a book for you. 

Anyone else read it? If so what did you think? 

books, Illumicrate, lifestyle boxes, reviews

Illumicrate #9 November 2017

It’s here! I get a bit excited by this subscription box because, well, books. They’re not only my favourite thing but Illumicrate often has special editions and exclusives long before anyone else. 

This is no exception. 

Artemis by Andy Weir, exclusive edition. I didn’t read The Martian  (the one turned into a Matt Damon film I didn’t see either) but I have been getting a bit more into sci-fi recently and C loves it so this is definitely getting read. 

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, advanced reader copy (ARC). This book is published next year but subscribers get an ARC now. I’ve heard a lot about this book and I believe I follow the author on Twitter. Look out for a review soon (aka once I’ve read it!) 

Bookish Tea Towel designed by @evannaveillustration exclusive to the box. I like this, it’s fun, it’s bright. It’s just a nice thing to have really. 

“The Right Book” print designed by @nutmegandarlo exclusive to the box. It’s well documented that I don’t like J.K. Rowling much but I do agree with this sentiment. 

Unicorn Journal designed by @prismofstarlings exclusive to the box. This is lovely and brings the number of 2018 diaries/journals I have up to about 5. 

Reading in Bed candle designed by @merakicandles exclusive to the box. This smells so much like hot chocolate that I have to refrain from licking it. So good. 

Moon and Stars necklace designed by @ohpandaeyes exclusive to the box. Such a cute necklace that pairs excellently with Artemis. 

This Mortal Coil sampler by Emily Suvada 

Iron Gold sampler by Pierce Brown 

Artemis booklet & bookmark 

This is an excellent box and one I am happy to spend my money on. Really makes it up after a month of uninspiring beauty boxes – books ftw. 

I am really excited by these books. If you need me I’ll be reading and sniffing my candle (honestly I don’t know how I can avoid eating it!) 

books, Christmas, reviews

Book Review: Mr Dickens and his Carol – Samantha Silva*

A mysterious parcel arrived….

Inside was this marvellous new book, all in time for Christmas (and some chocolate coins to munch while I read).

Now, Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol is hugely famous and has been adapted multiple times (my favourite’s the Muppets version). 

But Samantha Silva goes behind the tale of Scrooge, ghosts and little Tim Cratchit, to the story of a story. 

Silva deftly conjures the crowded streets of Victorian London to life, complete with hawkers and drunks, salesmen and pickpockets. 

Dickens is in a bind – his last book isn’t selling well and his publishers want a Christmas book, but with just weeks to go can Dickens craft a bestseller in time? 

I have a rather complicated relationship with Charles Dickens and his books, finding them overly pious and pompous, perhaps I just live in the wrong era. 

However I do like books about books and this is definitely that. Weaving a narrative out of a handful of known facts about the writing of Carol, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. 

Definitely worth wrapping a copy up for the reader in your life. 

books, reviews

Review: Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

First, survive. Then tell the truth. 

I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction/speculative fiction but as I really enjoy Kristoff’s other books (Godsgrave may be my book of the year) I was intrigued by this.

I took part in the #Ninjabookswap organised by the team behind Ninja Book Box recently and my lovely box of goodies contained this book. Which was fantastic. 

Taking place mostly in cyber space, in the comms system of two spaceships trying to outrun their deaths, Illuminae charts the corporation war that destroys an illegal mining operation and murders hundreds of people. 

Following that come other disasters including an infectious disease that turns people into murderous zombies and a rogue AI system that may or may not have gone insane. 

I really enjoyed this “found documents” style novel. Pieced together by the mysterious Illuminae from hacked data and downloaded reports, this is cleverly printed up to resemble the documents and “thoughts” of AIDAN, the AI system during the Kerenza evacuation and what followed. 
I have book two ready to go and book three on order – it’s that good. 

 

books, reviews

Review: The Red Thread – Dawn Farnham

I was kindly sent this in exchange for my honest review. 

The Red Thread is book one of the The Straits Quartet – set in colonial era Singapore. 

The author lived in modern Singapore for many years and has written several books sit in the country’s past. 

I found it quite hard to get into this book to begin with – which follows Charlotte McLeod as she travels from Scotland to be with her brother who has been appointed to head up the first police force in the British colony. 

It also tells the story of two young men, Zhen and Qian, who travel at the same time from China in search of success and fortune. 

Their paths will cross with Charlotte’s with explosive personal results. 

There’s some quite raunchy sex scenes so maybe don’t leave this lying around if you’ve got young children who are learning to read (it happened to my friend with a different book). 

Anyway, back to the book. 

Once I got into the plot a bit more it picked up a pace and was really easy and pleasant a read. 

There are some sad moments and as I said some very sexy ones. The story is peppered with real people and sits into a historical narrative, including Raffles, who founded modern Singapore, but has already returned to England as Charlotte arrives. 

I enjoy historical fiction that gives context as the plot unfolds, as this does, rather than giving a history lesson before the story. 

Although one day I am getting a time machine and going back to tell all these daft women living in tropical climates to throw away their petticoats and crinolines asap and swap them for sensible native dress. 

The ending seems quite final – so it would be interesting to see where the story picks up in the next book. 

books, reviews

Book Preview: We Were The Lucky Ones – Georgia Hunter

Based on the true story of the author’s family, this amazing, heartbreaking story of one family’s survival amidst the horrors of the Second World War and Holocaust. 

The Kurc family live peacefully in Poland, as they have done for generations amongst until war breaks out. Their Jewish faith condemns them to the terrors of a continent torn apart. 

There are some real heart wrenching moments, and the fact that the author’s relatives actually lived this story is just incredible, they are so brave and strong and endure so much. It’s not really a surprise Hunter’s grandfather never spoke about his past. 

I loved this book, it really drew me into the family, each member drawn so beautifully, so alive on the page. 

The book is published in the UK on the 21st of September, which gives you just enough time to pre-order it from your preferred purveyor of books.  

books, reviews

Book Review: The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesenevich 


I don’t really like true crime books, they’re often poorly written and lurid but this is nothing like those. Subtitled A Murder and a Memoir, this is not only the story of one terrible crime, but also a moving meditation on family, innocence and healing. 

Marzano-Lesenevich was an intern for famed lawyer Clive Stafford Smith when she started to investigate the case of one of his clients, Ricky Langley, a convicted paedophile who murdered a young boy, Jeremy Guillory in Louisiana in 1992 and was given the death penalty, which on appeal was commuted to life in prison. 

Combined with this case history is Marzano-Lesenevich’s own story. Hers is not a happy one either, life was often cruel and confusing and she is open about the hardships she too has suffered. 

A masterful writer, who manages to weave these disparate narrative strands together in a very compelling read. 

A mixture of court transcripts, reports and reconstructed scenes provide the story of Ricky, and Jeremy, while the author’s own memories and occasional family conversation build into her own. 

This was much more readable than I’m probably making it sound, and I was really fascinated. Obviously it’s not the cheeriest of reads, it is certainly an interesting one.