Thursday, 5 April 2018

Illumicrate Number 6 Unboxing (February 2017)

Following on from my November 2016 unboxing, here is my unboxing for the 6th Illumicrate box from February 2017.

Check Illumicrate out here.

I do love the initial feeling when the unique Illumicrate box arrives through the post!

 Here is the full contents of the box. This box had a less items compared with the last box, but there was an ARC instead!

As always, I hid the packing list as I unboxed so that I didn't ruin the surprise for myself, but I did have a quick read afterwards to confirm everything was there (I'm a little paranoid!)

The main book this month was Wintersong by S. Jae Jones. Although the review isn't up yet, I absolutely adored this book! Probably not something I would've bought for myself, which makes the Illumicrate box even better as it encourages me to read books I wouldn't necessarily go for. The book came with a letter from the author, a bookmark and a signed bookplate.

My favourite item from the box has to be this gorgeous Bare Necessities pouch! Although I'm not a fan of The Jungle Book, the pouch is gorgeous and I use it as a pencil case for uni (hence the little mark on it).

This magic and mischief lip balm tastes amazing and is a lovely little extra to the box.

These magnets from A Darker Shade of Magic are cool, although I haven't read the book or have anywhere to put them. Maybe when I get my own place they will go on my fridge!

I love Newt Scamander so much, and so this bookmark quickly became one of my favourites! The drawing is gorgeous and the quote always makes me laugh.

Now onto the additional extras included in the box!

This little bookmark is from Following Ophelia, which I haven't read, but is on my to read list!

An exclusive sample of Flame in the Mist was included, and I can't wait to give it a read!

I love the postcard from Gilded Cage and I imagine it will make a feature on my bookstagram, but never be used as a postcard.

The best extra included in Illumicrate this month was the exclusive ARC of Red Sister. I really can't wait to read it!

And that's it for the February 2017 unboxing of the Illumicrate box! Hopefully I will catch up with these soon so that I can post up-to-date ones.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Book Review: The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield

The Science Of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works – Roger Highfield

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Roger Highfield
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
First published: 2002
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 374

Blurb:    There are features of Harry Potter’s world that, though they are more understandable, still remain magical when ones takes a scientific view. Invisibility cloaks may use clever stealth technology that is only now being developed by Muggles. Broomsticks could switch off the tug of gravity, a feat that still seems incredible.
Giants, Lobalugs, Hinkypunks and the rest of the magical menagerie could be the result of genetic modification, a science in its infancy, while Bott’s beans could exploit new understanding of our sense of taste and smell.

History of my copy: I picked up this book at a rally for £3 about 8 years ago.

I started reading The Science of Harry Potter soon after I bought it, but soon gave up because I found the language and science too advanced. Over the past year or so, I have been reading it on and off. Thanks to taking biology, chemistry and physics for a-levels, it has become a lot more understandable to me and so I’ve been able to enjoy it more.
It’s definitely an interesting read if you are scientifically minded, as it tries to look at scientific explanations behind the magical phenomenon, e.g. invisibility cloaks. It’s probably rather out of date now, so you might be able to find a more recent book of a similar ilk.

To read or not to read: Don’t read. Unless you are very scientific, I don’t think it’s worth the effort. I quite enjoy science, and have a relatively good understanding of it, but even I found it dry. Stick with the magical theories behind it all!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Illumicrate Number 5 Unboxing (November 2016)

I keep meaning to do an Illumicrate unboxing but, like every great blog post idea I have, I rarely find the time to actually put pen to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard?) and actually get it up on my blog!

I have been longing for a book subscription box for a long time, but as a university student I could never justify >£30 a month on one. Then, however, I discovered Illumicrate, which is quarterly. At £29.99, with free postage I found I could spare just £10 a month! So with that, I ordered my first box back in August 2016 (for the November box) and have been a huge fan ever since.

Check Illumicrate out here.

 There is nothing more exciting that having your Illumicrate box turn up in the post!

Here is a photo containing all of the items from that month. Not only are there obvious amazing goodies (books, signed book plates, socks, etc.) but the Illumicrate boxes always come with little extras such as bookmarks, postcards and posters.

The boxes always come with a packing list too so that you can check what you have, just in case something is missing (although this has never happened to me, it is reassuring!) I always avoid looking at this until I've unboxed it all, as I don't want to spoil the surprise.
The main book this month was The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. I still haven't got around to reading this one yet, but it sure does sound interesting!

The book also came with a bookmark (with a discount code for another copy of the book), a letter from the author about her inspiration for the story, and a signed book plate.

 Up next was a gorgeous coffee cosy from Sparrow + Wolf! I use this every day when I'm at uni to not only keep my coffee a little warmer for a little longer, but to stop me from burning my hands. It's also super pretty!

 The box contained an exclusive AIDAN candle by Meraki candles. I haven't burnt it yet, but it does smell gorgeous when you open the tin!
 An exclusive Evil Plans notebook by House of Wonderland was
a nice addition, although I do wish it was lined instead of blank. Despite that, I am using it to make coding notes.

Happy Socks have been a well-worn addition to this box, wrapping up the seven main gifts! Having stalked the #illumicrate tag on instagram, I saw that there were a variety of styles randomly allocated to the boxes. These socks were so comfy and snazzy.
 Now onto the little extras!

This Six of Crows case is lovely! I wish I still had a bus pass that I could use it for.

A lovely Caraval postcard was included. I keep meaning to buy this book!
 This little Replica poster/flyer was a vibrant addition too.

Temporary tattoos for Wolf by Wolf were a quaint extra.

I really enjoyed the snippet of The One Memory of Flora Banks that was included. Read my review for it here.
 This was a cute little Christmas gift tag (that I will hoard and never actually use).

I really liked these double sided posters! 

The final part of the box was an Unconventional post card.

As you can see, this Illumicrate box was full of amazing gifts! I hope you enjoyed my unboxing post - leave your thoughts below!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Ship It Or Rip It Part 6

So here is the 6th installment of Ship It Or Rip It! I am loving these posts, and I hope you are too. I've got lots of other great posts lined up so watch this space!

This is currently the last post as I only have 16 characters left and so 6 will carry on to when I've added more characters. 

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles) and Call (Magisterium)

I could actually see this happening? Call is such an unfortunte soul that I think Cress would do him a world of good, although he would probably find her too girly at first. She would dote over his heroism, just as she does Thorne.

Verdict: Ship it.

Ron (Harry Potter) and Tris (Divergent)

Hmm another interesting one! But, again, I think it would sort of work. Both have come from a loving family and have (sort of) willingly thrown themselves into danger to help others. They are both brave and selfless and whilst I imagine they would make better friends than lovers, I reckon they could give it a good go.

Verdict: Ship it.

Draco (Harry Potter) and Jem (The Infernal Devices)

Can't see this working at all. Don't get me wrong, I imagine Draco might admire what the Shadowhunters do and perhaps even good Draco would get along with Jem, but they definitely would never make a couple (as much as my fangirl heart kind of now wants it!)

Verdict: Rip it.

Jacin (The Lunar Chroncicles) and Maxon (The Selection)

I actually see this working! They're both a little flat (although I do prefer Maxon) and with Maxon being a Prince and Jacin being a guard.. yes! Someone write this cross over now, I actually need it.

Verdict: Ship it.

Diana (Gone series) and Izzy (The Mortal Instruments)

When I first saw this, I laughed. But now, I actually see it. They are both strong, fierce women and although Diana is a bit wacky, once she settles down I could see her and Izzy being a super bada** power couple!

Verdict: Ship it.

Read parts 1234 & 5.

Thanks for reading! I've loved doing these posts and the fantastic ships that come out of it. Are you enjoying them? If so, comment your views below and any characters you would love to see included next time!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Book Review: Eon - Rise of the Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye – Alison Goodman

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: David Fickling Books
First published: 2008
Edition: Paperback, 2010 edition
Pages: 430

Blurb:    Two swords, angled for slicing, came whirring towards my chest. My block was simple: a step of the back leg, a shift of weight, my right sword joining the left in front of me, cutting side slanted down. His blades hit mine. The impact resonated through my arm bones.
               Does young Eon have the power to become a Dragoneye? Now the years of gruelling training, under a ruthlessly ambitious master, will be put to the test: it’s time for the terrifying Rat Dragon to choose his next apprentice.

History of my copy: I picked this up on a trip to Looe a year or so ago. I’m a fan of dragons and picked it up without even reading the blurb. Once I started reading it, however, I wondered if I would enjoy it – I’m not a huge fan of Asian and oriental books. I was surprised, and loved it!

Plot: We follow Eon as he becomes the first Mirror Dragoneye in centuries. Although, he is hiding a big secret – he is actually Eona, a woman, who are not allowed to be a Dragoneye. I get a little tired of the usual ‘girl pretends to be boy’ trope, but Goodman pulls it off wonderfully – it makes sense in this world, and it added to the story for more reasons than just romance. In fact, I found Goodman’s version of it refreshing.
         Things become more dangerous as Eona must fight against the current Dragoneye, Lord Ido, and we are thrown into a world of politics and belief as Eona tries to stay alive, remain connected to her dragon, and prevent Ido from carrying out his treacherous plans.

Setting: As I mentioned, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the setting, but I ended up loving it. Goodman took advantage of the culture at her hands, although I feel like a little more could be done perhaps.

Characters: I really enjoyed Eon/Eona as a protagonist. Her portrayal was realistic and down to earth, and whilst she did sometimes feel a little flat, for the most part I adored her.
               Lady Dela was the only other character who particularly stood out to me. For the most part, the characters were typical in their characteristics and mannerisms, which was a shame.

To read or not to read: Read. Despite the fact that my review doesn’t portray this book as amazing, something clicked with this book and I absolutely loved it. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel! It was well-paced and planned out, with the right mix of action, politics and character development. On top of that, we had a great main character who we actually cared about, with some fantastic scenes.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Image result for city of bonesAuthor: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
First published: 2007
Edition: Paperback; advertises release of the movie
Pages: 442

Blurb:    Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan. Irresistibly drawn towards a group of sexy demon hunters, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City – and the dangers of forbidden love.

History of my copy: One of my friends recommended the series to me years ago, probably around 2010-2011. I eventually picked up my copy just before the film was released back in 2013 and immediately became hooked. I am in love with the Shadowhunter world and Clare’s books!

This is actually a review of a re-read... I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book now, and I still love it! Especially when you pick up on links to Clare’s other Shadowhunter novels.

Plot: The first instalment of The Mortal Instruments introduces us to seemingly mundane Clary Fray and her best friend Simon. It turns out though that things aren’t quite as ordinary as it seems when Clary discovers she is actually a Shadowhunter, just like Jace, Alec and Isabelle who she meets. Thrown into a world of demons and Downworlders, Clary must find out who she is and where she belongs, whilst also trying to save her mother.
City of Bones fantastically introduces us to the Shadow world and the key characters, whilst also setting the scene for the next 5 books and the imminent war. Touches of romance and family dilemmas add to the plot, making it fast paced and real page turner. Once you’re hooked on this one, you’ll be hooked on all of Clare’s other books too!

Setting: City of Bones takes place almost entirely in New York, mainly in the New York institute, a building that mundanes see as a ruined church. For the majority of the time, Clare’s setting is gloriously detailed, from the vampire haven of Hotel DuMort to the eerie City of Bones. The one thing I have always had trouble picturing, however, is parts of the institute, especially as the TV show, Shadowhunters, portrayed it so differently to the few bits I had set out.

Characters: It’s really hard on a re-read to judge characters on what you know from that specific book, rather than everything else that you learn later. For example, I remember not being a huge fan of Alec when I started the series, but come the end he is one of my favourites. The same goes for Luke.
               Without a doubt, though, my favourite character is the one and only Magnus Bane. Again, although I didn’t love him in the first book, I never disliked him, but my appreciation for him has just grown continually. He’s such a magnificent character and person and every time he appears in any of Clare’s books, I just get super excited.
               Jace is another character I wasn’t too sure on. Sure, super-hot and cool and a great Shadowhunter, but he always came across as too full of himself and his story seemed a bit too tragic, but again, I learned to adore him.
               Clary is a fantastic lead character, and Clare has her priorities sorted perfectly. I feel like she was perhaps too trusting of the Shadowhunters initially, but I guess they do save her life enough times. And Simon! Even from the first book, I love Simon endlessly. He is witty and brave and sticks out like a sore thumb, but in a way that just makes me love him more.

To read or not to read: Must read. In case you haven’t already figured this out, I would recommend City of Bones and, subsequently, all of Cassandra Clare’s books to absolutely everyone. I adore them. They are brilliantly written and have lots of little links between the books which makes them even more fun to read. Whilst not her strongest book, City of Bones is a phenomenal debut novel and really set the scene for high expectations from Clare.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ship It Or Rip It Part 5

Welcome to the fifth installment of this. As always, I'd love to hear some feedback from you.

I've since added Call, Tamara and Aaron from the Magisterium series to the list of characters included. Let me know of your favourites that you would like to see!

Jace (The Mortal Instruments) and Newt (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

Nope. Could not see this happening at all. Jace is way too badass and moody to deal with my precious darling Newt. Newt cares too much about animals to have time for Jace's adventures. And besides, I could see Newt wanting to help save demons rather than slay them...

Verdict: Rip it.

Merlin (Arthurian legend) and Chase (Raised by Wolves)

Oh wow, this is actually worse than Jace and Newt! Merlin the magnificient sorceror and Chase, the moody werewolf. Definitely would never happen. I actually can't even vaguelly imagine it. 

Verdict: Rip it.

Luna (Harry Potter) and Aaron (Magisterium)

You know what? I actually can imagine this. Aaron is such a lovely, funny, sweet guy and Luna is so pretty and individual, it would just work so well. Luna wouldn't care about Aaron's fame and importance and would just love him for his bravery.

Verdict: Ship it.

Sam (Gone series) and Tamara (Magisterium)

Yes yes yes! The hero from the FAYZ and the heroine from the Magisterium?? Perfect match! Gosh, I ship Sam with anyone other than Astrid to be honest. Definitely down for this pair, they would get along so well!

Verdict: Ship it.

Drake (Gone series) and Aspen (The Selection)

So even though I hate both of these characters with a passion, I still don't think they would be good for each other. Drake is just pure evil. He doesn't belong with even the worst person ever. Aspen is just a whiny pining bloke who needs to grow a pair.. I think Drake would actually kill him rather than be with him.

Verdict: Rip it.

Read parts 123 and 4.

Thanks for reading! I've loved doing these posts and the fantastic ships that come out of it. Are you enjoying them? If so, comment your views below and any characters you would love to see included next time!

Also, as a personal update, I have now finished uni for the year so over the next few months I shall be catching up on the review posts I need to do, and hopefully sharing some other things too!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Book Review: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Bronze Key – Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Scholastic Press
First published: 2016
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 249

Blurb:    Magic can save you.
               Magic can kill you.
Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.
               But now the chaos is fighting back.
Call, Tamara and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer…and risk their own lives in the process.
As Call, Tamara and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm – unless it is stopped in time.

History of my copy: I’ve been a fan of the Magisterium series since the very start and so I received The Bronze Key as a Christmas present last year.

As per the previous books in the series, The Bronze Key was quite short and so it only took me 4 days to read. Whilst I feel like the books could be longer, I do find it refreshing to only read a smaller book from time to time. It does, however, make the time between installments seem even longer!

Plot: The third installment in the series definitely picks up the urgency and threatening nature, with someone trying to assassinate Call. Things start to take an even darker turn as the spy, who has the Alkahest, succeeds in killing Aaron, for which Call is blamed. Ending up in the mage prison, we are left with a cliff-hanger as Call’s true mother is revealed…
         The plot was hard hitting and dark, especially for a kids book, as the intensity starts to build up. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Setting: Just like the majority of the rest of the series, this book takes place in the caverns of the magical school, the Magisterium. Even though it’s the third installment now, I still get wowed by some of the gorgeous descriptions of the vast caves and narrow tunnels that Call and his friends both live and study in. When we find ourselves leaving the stone confinements, the descriptions are just as vivid.

Characters: Call is starting to make a really interesting main character, an intriguing mix between Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and his own unique self. I think Black and Clare have done well at capturing Call’s age and the difficulties he is facing, whilst keeping the character likable and humorous. I’m also starting to warm to Tamara.
               Whilst none of the characters still are hugely memorable, I think they are starting to find their niche in the literature world and are becoming a little more iconic.

To read or not to read: Read. This series has a huge amount of potential and whilst it isn’t the best books going, they’re easy to read, funny and have a great plot. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Book Review: Legendary by L.H. Nicole

Legendary – L.H. Nicole

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: L.H. Nicole
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
First published: February 2014
Edition: eBook
Pages: 286

Blurb:    (Taken from Goodreads)
Aliana Fagan spent her childhood travelling the world, dreaming of legendary heroes and mythical lands. But after the sudden death of her parents, she hides behind the safety of her camera and her art until a vivid recurring dream compels her to dig into her father’s research about Avalon and Camelot. When she is hurled into a magical realm by forces she thought were only the stuff of fairy tales, she finds herself thrown into an adventure she could never have imagined. Nearly everything she thought she knew about Arthurian legend was wrong.
The independent eighteen-year-old is shocked to find that the people of Avalon think that she is the Destined One, the only person who can summon King Arthur back to life from his hidden chamber. Most surprising of all is that it’s up to her to lead the Knights of the Round Table on an epic quest – an adventure that will transport them across the seven magic realms to reclaim all that has been lost so they can defeat the evil Mordred for good. But first, she must bring the ancient warriors into her world and reunite the with their lost brothers. Chaperoning the legendary knights-with-a-chivalry-complex as they navigate the modern world is a constant challenge, and she certainly never thought she’d be caught between her intense feelings for the noble Sir Galahad and her growing friendship with the King.
To fulfil the prophecy, Aliana will have to discover the meaning of friendship, bravery, loyalty, true love, and forgiveness. But can she do it all in time to save the realms from Mordred’s impending Armageddon?

History of my copy: I received a free copy of Legendary through YA Bound Books in exchange for an honest review.

I jumped on the opportunity to read this book as soon as I got the offer. A modern girl having to save Camelot? Sounded exactly like my kind of book! (If you didn’t know, I’m rather obsessed with Arthurian legend. You can blame the fact that I live near Tintagel, Arthur’s supposed birthplace, for my adoration of anything related to the myth.) I was, unfortunately, rather disappointed.

Plot: The plot basically involved Aliana somehow ending up in this mystical land where she meets a dragon who convinces her to save Sir Galahad, who then gets her to save King Arthur. And that’s as far as I read because I couldn’t take anymore. I guess the plot had potential, but Nicole just really didn’t know what to do with it.

Setting: The setting was the only part of this book, besides the potential idea, that was even vaguely alright. It wasn’t a massively descriptive world building, but it was certainly sufficient to get across the places in which Aliana found herself. It wasn’t, however, amazing enough to carry the rest of the book’s downfalls.

Characters: I think the characters were what really ruined this book for me. I was going to criticise this whole book for the ‘absent parent’ thing that seems to be a recurrent theme in YA books (convenient ‘sudden death’ so the story can take place, ugh) but then when typing out the blurb, I realised that Aliana was 18. Sorry, what? She was petty, pathetic, a complete idiot… how on earth is she 18? I was more mature as a 12 year old! She spent literally the entire time going ‘oh how hot is Galahad? Oh Arthur is gorgeous! How shall I ever choose?” Girl, these are grown men from hundreds of years ago and you’re about to save the kingdom, stop being a little girl. Ugh, she was annoying and had no regard for the safety of others, nearly getting them killed numerous times because she’s smarter than a clever dragon. She also blushed every time the spoke or even looked at her? You’re a grown woman? You should not ‘swoon’ every time a bloke glances your way.
               Then there’s the dragon that was so unnecessary? Not sure what he added to the story. Stuck out like a sore thumb.
               And Galahad and Arthur (and no doubt the rest if I had ever got that far) had no characteristics beyond being good looking. Great. Real good heroes. Definitely going to defeat Mordred with a swish of their pretty locks. Ugh.

To read or not to read: Really don’t read. I mean, even if this is your kind of book, I’d be honestly surprised if you could make it to the end. It had the premise of a fantastic plot, but had totally ridiculous characters and a writing style that just really didn’t work well. Not a single part of it was actually enjoyable to me.

Ship It Or Rip It Part 4

Here is the fourth part of Ship It Or Rip It. I hope you're enjoying these installments. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see on my blog.

Eddie Gallagher (These Shallow Graves) and Clary (The Mortal Instruments)

Oh gosh yes, definitely shipping this! Eddie loves girls thatare strong-willed and independent and who better than the fiery heroine of The Mortal Instruments! I could also see Clary falling for Eddie's charm and with, just as she did with Jace.

Verdict: Ship it.

Devon (Raised By Wolves) and Hermione (Harry Potter)

I am actually super torn about this one. On one hand, I can see Devon's jokes and sense of humour being on par with Ron's, but I also can't see that being enough. Even ignoring the fact that Hermione is made for Ron and only Ron, I just really can't see these two hitting it off. Friends, yeah definitely. But romantically? No way

Verdict: Rip it.

Harry Potter (Harry Potter) and Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles)

Woah not in a million years. Harry doesn't want someone who's so OTT as Thorne, and let's face it, Harry is not Thorne's typical gorgeous girl. They might be able to get on as friends (although I'm not entirely convinced) but definitely not as lovers. And besides, I ship them with their own respective partners way too hard anyway.

Verdict: Rip it.

Jacob (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and Marlee (The Selection)

I actually see these 2 working and it's kind of cute! Jacob is such a lovely guy and would definitely shower Marlee with the most amazing pastries ever, and Marlee is such a kind-hearted girl who would adore everything Jacob would do for her.

Verdict: Ship it.

Lake (Rasied by Wolves) and Wolf (The Lunar Chronicles)

Ohmygosh yes! Even though I'm not a particular fan of Wolf and I adore Lake, I can actually see this pair 100% working, even outside of their wolfish characteristics. Lake is such a sassy badass, just like Scarlet, and so I can see her being just fiery enough to keep Wolf happy and on his toes. Wolf is a complete hero, just as Lake adores. I want this to happen!

Verdict: Ship it.

Read parts 12 and 3

Thanks for reading! I've loved doing these posts and the fantastic ships that come out of it. Are you enjoying them? If so, comment your views below and any characters you would love to see included next time!