books, fun stuff, Illumicrate, lifestyle boxes

Illumicrate Summer Box 

Woohoo! Illumicrate is here. So many great bookish items and so many exclusive treats. 

There are so many good things in this box. I am almost too excited to know where to start! 

The book is Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer which is published soon and will be reviewed once I’ve read it. This is such a great book and Bardugo is one of my favourite writers. There’s also a super cool enamel badge which will go nicely with my Wonder Woman Converses. 

Wisdom Journal from Hey Atlas Creative – it’s dot to dot so perfect for doodling. 

ARC of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen – another interesting looking advanced reader copy – review to follow. 

The Red Church Tea (may contain the blood of your enemies) from T-ology. 

Shakespeare canvas pouch from Miss Phi. 

Alethiometer Coaster from Hannah Hitchman Art

Book Money Jar & Sticky Bookmarks from Blossom Books 

Extras; Ringer, After the Fire, Harper 360, The Bear and the Nightingale, Moxie. 

I genuinely can’t pick a favourite item so I will just be here reading and patting my lovely new book things….

books, reviews

Book Preview: Love and Other Consolation Prizes – Jamie Ford

If you’ve read Ford’s previous works – The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet or The Song of Willow Frost, you’ll know his milieu is the Chinese and Japanese diaspora on the West Coast of America – chiefly Seattle and San Francisco. 
Ernest Young is sold by his starving, heartbroken mother and sent by ship as a small boy from China to Seattle in the early years of the twentieth century. There, after a tough few years, he is sold again, given as a raffle prize at the World Fair in 1909. 

His winners are the owner and manager of a notorious brothel where he falls in love, twice. 

Looking back from 1962, when the World Fair rolls round again, Ernest charts his life and loves for his daughter, a reporter, keen to learn about the boy won at a raffle. 

Ford’s writing is beautiful, you are totally transported into Ernest’s life as a young man, the sights, sounds and smells of the world he inhabits is vividly brought to life. 

I’m a bit biased because Hotel is one of my favourite reads of the last few years, but this is a strong contender to pip it. 

The book will be published on the 12th of September, which seems apt for a book about recollections of summers past.

books, reviews

Book Review: Letters to Eloise – Emily Williams 

This recently released debut novel from UK author Emily Williams is a love story following Flora, who becomes pregnant during her last year at uni. She is trapped in a complicated situation – keen to reconnect with an old love but currently involved with her lecturer. She confides her feelings and fears in a series of letters to her unborn baby. 

Emily got in touch with me recently and asked if I thought her book was something I thought I’d like. Well, I have a soft spot for epistolary novels and for new writers.  
I really liked the writing style and the plot whizzes along as Flora writes her diary to her Little Bump. This is a sweet story and a great read for the Bank Holiday weekend or your long summer hols. 

If you want to grab a copy, here’s some links. 

U.K. Amazon –

U.S. Amazon –

And if you’d like to know more about Emily and see what she’s up to next, she’s on Twitter or you can find her blogging too. 

books, fun stuff, life

At the library 

I have always been a member of at least one library or another – at one point 4 (local library near my parents, British Library, uni library and the library I currently use). 

Libraries are wonderful places, offering community services and access to the internet all for free. All you need is a library card. 

Recently my local libraries have gone all high tech – and reduced librarians to computerised check out and card entry doors. I’m not sure I’m a fan. 

Today I returned 2 books (historical crime fiction) and took out 4. Two graphic novels, the reading group book (decided to join it for a bit) and another historical crime novel. 

I also checked out the Cityread London program – but the book in question was checked out! 

Libraries are for everyone – whatever age, race, identity, language you speak, the library is for you too. 

books, reviews

Book Review: Sweetbitter – Stephanie Danler

When I was 17 I got my first weekend job – I was a waitress. Luckily the restaurant I worked in was nothing like as claustrophobic as the one Tess works in in this book. 

Tess is 22 and newly arrived in New York, like me she read English Literature at uni but unlike me she’s not really a city girl. 

She gets sucked in to the swirl of drinking, drug taking, bickering and family meals of the restaurant, and even more so into the lives of Simone and Jake.

The writing is fluid, like quicksilver, Tess is a unreliable narrator, my favourite kind, filtering everything through her own self-interest. 

I really enjoyed this book, Danler’s first, and look forward to seeing what she does next. 

books, fun stuff, hygge, Illumicrate, lifestyle boxes, reviews

Illumicrate Review 

It’s Illumicrate time again, I am very excited. The box is huge. That means lots of goodies inside. 

This box taps into the current trend for the Danish concept of  hygge with this cute printed coffee cosy from Sparrow + Wolf, candle from Meraki Candles and funky socks from Happy Socks. 

This Evil Plans notebook designed by House of Wonderland taps into my secret desire to take over the world….

I love all the little bookish extras – my favourites are the cute Christmas gift tag and the Six of Crows Oyster holder. 

This month’s book is The Diabolic by S. J Kincaid. A dystopian fantasy set in a future where humanity is ruled over by the galactic empire. There’s a letter from the author, signed bookplate and bookmark. I’m looking forward to getting good stuck into this one. 

books, reviews

Book Blog Tour – Alora’s Tear 


Today I’m hosting a book Blog Tour – Alora’s Tear Volume 1 – Fragments. 

Here’s some info about the book. 

Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments

There is no magic in Vladvir…

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

The first trilogy is complete and all three books are available from the places below. The other titles are; 

Volume II, The Elf and the Arrow

Volume III, The Voice like Water

Barham Ink iBooks Amazon Nook Kobo

I’m always interested in the lives writers lead behind the stories they write. In case you do too, here’s a little bit about Nathan Barham. 

 📖Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter. 📖

Want to learn more? Check out Nathan’s Author Links

Website Tumblr Twitter Facebook

Nathan was kind enough to share some of his writer’s advice with us too. Here’s what he had to say about inspiration. 

 “Write to capture lightning in the largest bottle you can find. Write to collect the filings from the endless turning grindstone. Write to describe the workings of the world and all its ten-thousand thousand things. Write to explain the twisting of one elegantly green blade of grass. Write to know one person who no person has ever met. Write to know every person who’s ever been met. Write to know yesterday and today and tomorrow and times that never were nor will ever be.

Write for everything.

How can we say what drives us to scribble and click until a story appears? For each of us the motivation differs. For some, the living world of the imagination is a drug, a high borne of seeing the unseen and knowing the unknown. Others revel in the power of creating, making a world, directing the stream of a person’s life, the political machinations of a kingdom, the geology of a planet, or the forkings of a shrub’s branches as it struggles from the darkness to the light.

Still others feed on the endless organizings and orderings required to construct a story, while others enjoy narrative structures as an architect enjoys an archway, a pillar, a domed ceiling. And, whether we bury our treasures, keeping them from prying eyes, writing “just for ourselves” or shout from the rooftops, pressing pages into hands eager and reluctant alike, in the end there is a story for the world to share.

A story that did not exist before, no matter our influences or even direct emulations. Each work is a world on the page which we give to those around us, whether we mean for them to ever find it or not. That is not for us to decide, whether our work will be found, or shared. Once it is on the page, it is the world’s, though they may never discover it.

And if they don’t, what a shame! For within those characters and blades of grass and thundering storms, within those magical artifacts and technical marvels, those pastoral farmlands and dark urban alleys is a tapestry of personhood unique and complex, thoughtful and deliberate, feral and wild, demure and discreet.

Within that story, is you and me and all of us.

For those who only read and do not write, I encourage you to dip your toes into our waters starting with the top of your head. If you love stories enough to be a reader, there is a book, a poem, a narrative within you, waiting to be unearthed, washed, cut, and polished (and probably polished again—and again). Such gems could be glittering diamond, deep sapphire, fiery opal, or a wonderfully whorled glossy river stone. But no matter the market value, rarely is only one gemstone found in the mine.

Chances are, once you have extracted the first, the lure of venturing back will be irresistible, intoxicating, magnetic. Don’t fight this force. It is futile to try. And foolish. For in the days before the days before, far away from smartphones and websites, from streaming video and computer generated images, a magnet was magic, inexplicable and powerful, not to be ignored.

So when the magic tugs at your heart, follow it.”

Thanks Nathan! Make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour this book’s on. And don’t forget to give the book a read.

books, reviews

Book Review: The Bees – Laline Paull 

This book’s premise is really interesting, charting a year in a bee hive from the perspective of one of the bees, Flora 717. 

Born into the lowest caste of bees, the sanitation workers, Flora 717 is a rather unusual bee. She makes her way through the hive, navigating the strict rules and life of the colony from Spring through Summer and Winter, days filled with Devotion and service. She witnesses extreme tragedy as well as joy, saves a few lives and learns that sometimes standing out is better  than fitting in. 

The writing is strong and pacey, the narrative flows well and I found it quite compelling. 

To be honest I wasn’t sure about this book buy in the end I was really pleased that I had read it. 

books, reviews

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

If you haven’t read the prequel, Six of Crows, go do so and come back. 

Has Kez Brekker gone too far this time? After being double crossed at the end of Six of Crows he and his gang are after revenge.  

An elaborate scheme to get what they’re owed and then some, but with enemies piling up and short on resources, can Kez and Co pull it off? 

This is a read it in one sitting book, rip roaring alone at some pace and peopled with the characters I loved in the first book. Nina the Grisha Heartrender and her stoic Fjerdan love Matthew, fast on the draw Jesper and clever but illiterate Wylan.

This definitely needs to be read after Six of Crows, so much of the plot depends on knowing the first book. 

I don’t want to say too much or spoil the book so I’ll post this very short almost a review. 

If you love fantasy and thrillers, read Six of Crows and then read Crooked Kingdom. 

books, reviews

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I got this in my last Illumicrate and for some reason put off reading it till now. I think I just wasn’t sure about it. Foolish me. This book is a right cracker. 

Mia Corvere was once a pampered daughter of a wealthy and important man, now she is a creature of death and shadows.  

She wants vengeance for the deaths of her family and will train in the ways of the Red Church to get there, if it doesn’t kill her. 

The writing is strong and the characters are fun, from a horse called Bastard to the shadow-cat only Mia can see, they’re richly drawn and as the plot thickens and gathers tempo I found it harder and harder to put it down. 

The first in a planned trilogy Nevernight is set in an alternate world, with three suns in the sky and warring gods whose squabbles are echoed by their believers.