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.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: Anarchy – Megan DeVos

(Running a bit behind the blog tour due to illness – sorry)

Originally written as Wattpad fan fiction, this is the first in a four part series set in a post-apocalyptic world where rival factions are fighting for survival.

I would say it’s definitely more in the adult part of Young Adult, with some quite strong sex scenes, and it reminds me of The 100 or Sword of Shannara, between the camps in the woods and the rivalry; but closer in time to the apocalyptic events that led there as it’s still in living memory.

Occasionally the syntax is a little naive, but it’s certainly very readable. I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out for the next in the series but I can certainly see it appealing to fans of similar titles.

There’s a romance plotline as well as violence and some rather sweet scenes with one of the few children around. The world building is a bit vague, up until the bonus chapter, which fleshes it out more fully. Hopefully as the series progresses then the full events leading to the camps and the crisis situation will be more developed and explained.

Overall it’s an ok book, maybe just not my cup of chai. If it is something that you’re into its available in paperback now.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Devil’s Poetry – Louise Cole

Today I’m hosting a review stop on the blog tour for Louise Cole’s The Devil’s Poetry.

Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back.

When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies.

The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides.

She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

Goodreads

Amazon

Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire – she’s the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford – read being the operative word – and hasn’t stopped reading since.

In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.

Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.

Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.

My thoughts: I wasn’t too sure about this book when I started it, ending wars with poetry is something I can get behind but also know it doesn’t work (see the WW1 poetry and the almost non-existent effect it had).

But this book ramps up the action from the moment two teenage girls blow up a barn to escape the creepy Cadavari.

A lot happens very quickly and the writing is pacy and plotting neat.

I liked the routing the more fantastical elements in reality, from the North Yorkshire setting of much of the story to the pop culture references. It made it much more relatable and easier to connect to the characters, especially Callie and Amber.

The sequel On Holy Ground is also out now, which hopefully will explain a bit more about the background of the Order and the sinister Cadavari.

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, reviews

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This is an incredibly accomplished debut novel – it made me think of the brilliant Isabel Allende in style and the plot is mythic and magical and marvellous. It’s no surprise this is a bestseller.

Isabella lives with her father, a master cartographer on an island governed by strict rules – an entire section of which is out of bounds.  When her father is arrested and her best friend goes missing, Isabella gathers her courage and the maps that decorate her home and sets out with the rescue mission. 

I don’t want to give away any of the island’s secrets so just go read this for yourself.