Unboxings

Illumicrate Unboxing – Magic and Mayhem Box

This is super late but I still wanted to share this unboxing with you all. This was a special edition box by Illumicrate. It was inspired by V.E. Schwab’s books and as usual this box was amazing! I absolutely loved everything in the box.

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They also recently released their next special edition box which is inspired by the Grishaverse. It will be sent out in time for the release of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I cannot wait to get this box!

So back to the unboxing of the Magic and Mayhem box. There was so many amazing items in this box and I just cannot choose what my favourite item is!

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The first item is a double sided tote bag, one side inspired by shades of magic and villains inspired on the other. I love this bag so much! The artwork is by @rowatree

They included a make up bag with a Lila Bard quote designed by @stellabookishart and it’s beautiful and such a great size.

They also included an As Travars keyring designed by @fableandblack

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They included a set of 4 beautiful character bookmarks inspired by the shades of magic books. The artwork is by @merwild

I loved that there was useful items included too like this travel bottle. The lettering is by @xcrini

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There was a set of 6 tarot style character cards which are all stunning. Artwork by @amaretta_

Also included was a beautiful art print of Lila and Kell designed by @victoriaying

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I love getting candles in book boxes so I absolutely loved that they included a layered candle inspired by the four Londons. Made by @ameliakitchencandles

Mugs are another favourite item of mine so I loved that they included one! This beautiful mug artwork is designed by @temporaryplacesshop

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I love that a knitted scarf was included as it’s getting cold and I can’t wait to use it! It’s designed by @fableandblack

They also included a set of 4 postcards which is inspired by the 4 Londons. I love the artwork on the cards. They were designed by @moledrocraftco

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A beautiful booksleeve inspired by Victor Vale’s love for black out poetry designed by @illumicrate

Another of my favourite items is enamel pins so I love the one they included! It’s stunning! And designed by @fableandblack

Lastly they also included an exclusive cover of Vengeful by V.E. Schwab and a letter written by her too. I love this cover so much!

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So this was everything included in the box! Seriously guys, I highly recommend buying their boxes, both their special edition and quarterly boxes. I love getting both! They are worth every single penny and I know that if I ever didn’t get a box I would really regret it.

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Book Reviews

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao – Book Review

I read this book recently after it sat on my shelf for ages! I got this in a previous Fairyloot box and I just never got round to reading it but with the sequel coming out I thought it was time to read it! I’m so glad I finally picked it up because I really loved this book!

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Rating: 4/5

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

This is an east Asian retelling of the Evil Queen. Her journey to becoming empress and what lengths she will go to, to achieving what she wants. It is dark and twisted and you will quickly get caught up in Xifeng’s story and her rise to power.

“If my beauty is my greatest weapon, vanity is the shield that protects me.”

The story deals with the power of beauty and the lengths people will go to, to keep it. Xifeng is beautiful and she knows it and is willing to use that beauty to get what she wants and won’t let anyone stand in her way. Even though she is clearly the villain in this story I was still rooting for her. She is wonderfully complex and dark and we often see her ugly side, even though she is seen as beautiful, her inner beauty is lacking.

She feels that because of her beauty she deserves the power of wealth of being empress. But she is also smart and cunning. She knows how to play the long game and navigate the politics of living in the emperors palace. I’m glad that we got to see her vulnerable side too, how she second guessed herself at times or how she was torn between getting what she wants and being with the man she loves. It made her a more well rounded character as we get to see different aspects of her.

“She knew her own worth. She would seize her destiny with all the strength and spirit within her, and bend them all to her will: every man kneeling and every woman overshadowed.”

This story has lots of political and court intrigue, we see Xifeng navigate living in the palace with the empress and how she has to balance between all the other characters in power. There is lots of manipulation and deceit that happens in this book, from Xifeng doing the manipulation to Xifeng even being manipulated at times too.

The world that Julie creates is also wonderfully complex, intricate and detailed. I loved the rich imagery that is in the books which makes it so easy to imagine the world. I loved the way the Chinese culture and history is woven into the story.

I think my ownly issue with the book was the pacing. I felt it was a little slow in the middle as it dragged a bit but it is worth it to continue as the ending is much more fast paced and explosive. And I love the way it ended with Xifeng achieving her goal yet there is also the promise of more.

“She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as though it were the blood-red sunrise of a new day.”

If you like dark retellings and origin stories of the villains then I’m sure you will love this. It is a fresh and original retelling but still ties in the Evil Queen and Snow White story of ‘who is the fairest of them all’

Book Reviews

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – Book Review

Thank you to HQ and Netgalley for providing an eARC. All opinions are my own.

I requested this book because I had heard great things about it and it did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

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Rating: 4/5

If you didn’t know what it’s about, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

The book is set in feudal Japan and I adored the rich, detailed world building. We explore so much of the world with the characters travels and I loved every bit of it from the vast forests to the busy city. I did find the world a bit confusing at first but as I got into the story I quickly fell in love with the Japanese legends and lore and the way that Japan was run and there’s also samurai’s, ninjas and demons!

We are told the story from multiple points of view, mainly through Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi, but also sporadically through Suki’s who’s point of view we see first. It means we get a wider view of the world and through Suki (who is a maid in the emperor’s palace) we get to see some insight into the villain in the book.

Yumeko is a wonderfully fun and mischievous character. Being half-kitsune it comes naturally to her and we see her at the beginning as someone who hates responsibility and loves pulling pranks but she has great character development that happens naturally throughout the book. I loved how she’s not suddenly an invulnerable badass but she is still vulnerable but knows her strengths. She knows that she can wield illusions but she would not be able to fight demons on her own so she convinces Kage Tatsumi, a samurai, who is after what she has, to get her safely to her destination, all the while never letting him find out that she has what he wants.

I also loved the awe, and sometimes the naivety of her, when she sees the world beyond the walls of the temple. It was refreshing to see a character who loves experiencing the world and through her we get to experience it too. She is also brave and kind and stands up for what is right, much to the irritation of Kage Tatsumi, who wants to ignore everything and continue to the destination.

Kage Tatsumi is the opposite of Yumeko, he is as serious and unfeeling as she is fun and loves experiencing new things. It was so interesting to see how despite being complete opposites they seem to get along so well and work so well together. And we get a better understanding of why he is the way he is as we travel with them, and why having emotions could have dire consequences for him and for those around him. It makes him mysterious and makes me want to know more about him and despite being a character who I would tend to not like, I really liked him! He has an interesting character arc in the story, albeit a little predictable, but it was still well done enough that I didn’t mind.

The story itself was interesting and action packed and even though there is an overall story arc we have smaller arcs throughout the book, quests that the characters go on while trying to reach the temple that Yumeko needs to get to. I really loved the characters that they meet along the way and who join them on their quest. They had great banter and interaction with each other and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them in the next book.

Both Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi have to deal with moral dilemmas throughout the book and it was interesting to see them deal with that and one of the things I really loved about the book was that there was very little romance, the main theme was friendships and how these group of strangers, ended up befriending each other and how this led to the loyalty and kindness towards each other and how they are willing to fight to the death for each other, it was refreshing to see.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, especially with that ending and cliffhanger, it left me wanting to know more! I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Backlist Books I Want to Read

Hey booknerds! I’m taking part in another week of Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find more information here

This weeks post is about backlist books I want to read.

There are so many books that I have on my shelves unread and yet, I continue to buy books. It’s beginning to get out of hand and I seriously need to read the books that have been sitting there for ages. I know there are some great books, but there’s so many books and so little time. I also find that a lot of my backlist books are ebooks. I always seem to overlook these books when I’m deciding what book to read.

But these are the books I really want to get to:

1 And I Darken – I keep hearing amazing things about this book and I won the first in the trilogy in a giveaway so I really want to read it

2 Truthwitch – another book I keep hearing great things about but I still haven’t got to yet

3 Dorothy Must Die – a wizard of oz retelling?! I knew I had to buy it when I saw it but I just haven’t got round to reading it

4 Air Awakens – I know I will love this book but gahhh still haven’t read it!

5 The Queen of the Tearling – I picked this up because the cover looked pretty but I haven’t got round to reading it yet

6 Graceling – yet another book that I have heard amazing things about but I haven’t read yet

7 The Forbidden Wish – this is an Aladdin retelling so I just had to get it. I hope it’s good!

8 Iron Gold – tbh I’m pretty scared to read this book. The Red Rising trilogy was brutal and heart breaking and I’m not sure I’m ready to have my heart broken again

9 Invictus – this is totally my type of book so I’m hoping to read it soon

10 This Mortal Coil – with the release of book 2 this book is now high up on my tbr hopefully I will read it either this month or next

So these are the books that I really want to read soon especially as they have been on my tbr for far too long!

What books have you had on your tbr for far too long?

Monthly Wrap Up

October Monthly Wrap Up

This month wasn’t the best reading month for me. I didn’t read as many books as I wanted as I wasn’t well and I had decided to take part in blogtober but I found it really stressful to have posts up everyday and it meant I barely had time to read. So I decided to stop halfway through which really helped with my anxiety. But it meant I was able to review a lot more books I’ve read in the previous months.

But back to the books I read this month. I have read some great books and some not so great ones.

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – I can’t believe that I didn’t read this before! I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

The Kiss of Deception – I was gifted this book and it came highly recommended and I’m glad it did not disappoint! You can read my full spoiler free review here

If Cats Disappeared from the World – any books that feature cats are automatically added to my tbr and this one was really interesting and thought provoking. You can read my full spoiler free review here

Stars Above – the last book in The Lunar Chronicles and a reread. I am so glad to have been back in this world and I’m sad that this is the last book. I hope we get more in this world!

Damsel – I just couldn’t get into this book at all.

OtherEarth – I really loved the first book and this one was even better! I was hooked right from the beginning! You can read my full spoiler free review here

Vengeful – I really enjoyed this book! I loved seeing more of Victor and Eli and Sydney. Though I think I may be one of the few who didn’t love it as much as the first book.

Love and Happiness – this is the second book by Yasmin Mogahed and I loved it! It’s full of reflections and short reminders and it was the perfect book for me to read right now

City of Ghosts – I’m not usually someone who reads books with ghosts but as it’s a V.E. Schwab book I thought I would give it a try. And I really did enjoy it more than I thought I would

Kingdom of Ash – I am dead. That is all.

I really loved most of the books I read this month even if I didn’t read as many as I wanted to read.

I also reviewed these books this month:

The Mime Order

Vicious

Miss Peregrene’s Home for Peculiar Children

No Fixed Address

Our Stories, Our Voices

So that’s all from me! How was your reading month? What was your favourite book this month?

For the love of Books

National Cat Day – Books That Feature Cats

Today is national cat day in the US and as I am a crazy cat lady and proud and as I love books that have cats in them I thought I would share some of the books with you all. Even though it’s a US holiday (in the UK national cat day is in August) I just need any excuse to talk about books and cats.

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Books. Cats. Life is good.

I found that having a cat greatly increased in love for these books especially ones that discuss the relationship of a cat and their owner. I love that these books have incorporated cats into the story! Most of these I’ve read or they are on my tbr and I definitely recommend them all and they range from fantast to sci-fi to contemporary fiction.

So these are the books I have either read or will read and highly recommend them all:

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1 The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – I read this back in January and I still think about it. It was a heart warming and heart breaking book. It really made me appreciate my cat even more and cherish the relationship I have him. I cried so much reading this book but still I highly recommend reading this.

2 A Friend Like Ben by Julia Romp – I picked this book up initially because of the cat on the cover but it sounds like such a lovely book that talks about the relationship between a child and his cat and how they helped each other so I’m looking forward to reading it

3 A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen – this has become popular book and been made into a film too so I’m looking forward to reading it

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4 Jinxed by Amy McCulloch – I loved this book! It’s a wonderful blend of sci-fi and dystopia where customisable smart pets are a reality and the baku of the main character is a cat!

5 Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Obviously Crookshanks wasn’t a main character but their pets did have an important role in the trios lives.

6 The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide – this is another book high on my tbr as it sounds like a book that will be like The Travelling Cat Chronicles. I am really looking forward to reading it

7 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – One of my favourite childhood books and of course we have Aslan who is basically a big cat. I love Lucy’s relationship with him.

8 I Am A Cat by Natsumi Soseki – another book high on my tbr although I feel like this book may be a sad book I’m hoping I will still enjoy it.

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9 If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura – I read this revently and although it had a sad tone there was plenty of humour and very thought provoking

10 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – another book from my childhood and I loved the Cheshire cat! He was fun and mysterious and I loved him!

11 The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan – inspired by Egyptian mythology where the Carter and Sadie are protected by Bast who often takes the form of a cat.

12 The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare – Church is found by Jem and taken in, because of some sort of magic Church has a long life and seen in The Mortal Instruments and in The Dark Artifices.

There’s actually plenty more books that have cats, I didn’t realise how many until I started writing this blog post! Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought!

P.S. My cat, Sherlock, has to be bribed with plenty of treats to take these photos. He’s a total diva! If you want to see more of him, he appears regularly on my bookstagram @thetsundokuchronicles

Do you look out for books with cats in them? Or another animal?

For the love of Books

My Favourite Films to Watch in the Winter

Okay so with the weather getting colder I just want to snuggle with my cat and a blanket with candles lit and a cup of tea. I love being able to read in the cold evening but I also love watching my favourite films this time of year, even more so than the rest of the year! There’s just something comforting about watching them this time of year. So I thought I would share with you all and find out what you like to do when it’s cold.

Of course the Harry Potter films are top of the list! I watch them every winter, when I lived at home with my family, me and my sisters would watch them all over the Christmas holidays. Now though it’s just me as my husband is not a big Harry Potter fan. He only watched the films a few years ago when I made him watch them with me!

Since the release of Fantastic Beasts on DVD this has also become one of my comfort films. I love watching it especially when I feel unwell. I love Newt so much, he’s such a cinnamon roll!

Another favourite of mine is The Lord of the Rings trilogy! This is actually one of the few films my husband enjoys and will watch more than once so we will watch them together, when it’s cold and neither of us can be bothered to go out for date night. Takeaways and The Lord of the Rings has become a staple date night in our house.

Okay so I know many people didn’t like The Hobbit films but I do and I also love watching these.

My favourite Disney film is Tangled and I HAVE to watch it, I mean I watch it throughout the year too but it’s a must in the winter. I adore Rapunzal and Flynn and they are my OTP!

I have a few other Disney films that I love to watch too, all of them films of my childhood and they always make me feel nostalgic. From Hercules, Aladdin, Aristocats and Mulan being some of my favourites!

The last one that I love watching is Pride and Prejudice. I adore Darcy and Elizabeth so much! It’s my favourite classic and I’m glad the film does it justice!

So here are some of my favourite films to watch during the winter. Do you love any of these? What do you like watching?