Illumicrate Unboxing 9 – November 2017


Sorry this post is late, but I am looking forward to talking about the ninth box from Illumicrate. Illumicrate, for those who don’t know, is a quarterly book subscription box that I signed up to a couple of years ago. And I’ve really enjoyed all boxes I’ve received to date.

I actually got this box late November/early December and I did an unboxing video, but I wasn’t happy with it. So instead (a lot late) I’ve decided to do this blog post, I hope you enjoy it.


So this is what’s in the box, and I have to say I’m very pleased with it. The presentation of the box was lovely, as always. There’s also a huge variety of items, which I really love. It’s actually on of the reasons I choose to subscribe to this box.

The fist item I’m going to talk about is the Reading in Bed Candle by merakicandles which I think looks lovely. It’s exclusive to Illumicrate, and it smells really chocolatey. The candle itself is a pale yellow, with a sprinkle of pink glitter.

The next item is the gorgeous Moon and Stars Necklace by ohpandaeyes. It too is exclusive to Illumicrate. I think it looks really lovely, and I really like the little bag it comes in – they both look soooo pretty.

So this is a first for me. I’ve never actually seen this item included in a book box before, but I really like it. The Bookish Tea Towel is by evannaveillustration and it feels really nice.

This is a really pretty book quote. I think I might frame it. It’s  “The Right Book” Print by nutmegandarlo, and is exclusive to this box. I think the quote is probably very true too.

This journal is really quite clever, and I liked the fact that it was included in the last Illumicrate of the year – brilliant timing. The Unicorn Journal is by prismofstarlings and is exclusive to Illumicrate.

I think all fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series would be pleased to get this in their box.

This sampler is great for a taste of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada.

The penultimate item, this exclusive advanced reader copy of The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, sounds like it is right up my alley. I’m really looking forward to diving into this.

Artemis by Andy Weir is the final item in this box. It’s an exclusive edition to this box with black sprayed edges, it also comes with a travel brochure and bookmark. Sci-fi is always pretty hit and miss with me, but I think this book sounds interesting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It’s a little more image heavy than my usual Illumicrate posts, so I’d love to know what you think of this format. Thanks so much for reading.

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Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (UK edition)

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Historical Novel, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
Publisher: Gollancz (24th May 2012)
Blurb:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

(Blurb via Goodreads)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel. It is a story filled with magic, mystery and competition. The story is set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and revolves around a mysterious bet made between two gentlemen about whose student is better. Meanwhile, a circus called Le Cirque de Rêves is created by a group of dreamers in London that is designed to delight and amaze: it arrives without warning and is open from dusk to dawn. Its performers produce amazing feats and some of the tents themselves are magical, and soon it picks up quite a following as it travels around the world.

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Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Photo of the UK edition of Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh (UK ediiton)

Title: Archangel’s Viper (Guild Hunter, 10)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz (28th September 2017)
Blurb:

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtaking passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel. . . or human . . .

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy grey underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman – it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalised by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerise her prety, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head . . .

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself – because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening . . .

No one is safe.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

ARCHANGEL’S VIPER is the tenth addition to Nalini Singh’s brilliant Guild Hunter series. The story follows the story of Holly Chang, a woman who named herself Sorrow and who is neither vampire nor angel nor human but somehow all three thanks to an insane archangel – the combination leaving unknown power coursing through her. Someone places a large bounty on her head, enough to tempt anyone. Venom is assigned to protect her from those who would dare to face Raphael’s wrath, and to help her discover who is behind the ransom and why they want her. At the same time the strange power inside of her is starting to get stronger, and Holly fears what this will mean for her future.

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A Q & A with Rory Clements

Rory Clements is the author of Nucleus, published by Zaffre, hardback, £12.99. To celebrate the upcoming release of the second novel in the Tom Wilde series he has kindly agreed to stop by and do a Q & A. I have read the first book in the series  Corpus and you can find my thoughts on it here. To make it easier for you to follow, all my questions will be in blue and Rory Clements responses will be in bold. I’d just like to thank Rory for agreeing to doing this Q & A, and I’d also like to thank Emily for organising it. I hope you enjoy the Q & A.


Hi Rory, thank you for agreeing to do this Q & A with me.

I’ll jump straight into the questions:

NUCLEUS is your ninth novel, the second book in your Tom Wilde series, how do you feel with the publication date so close? Are you doing anything to celebrate?

I think I’ll have a glass or two of red wine.

This is probably quite a difficult question for me to ask but, how would you describe NUCLEUS in ten words?

Tom Wilde must save a child to protect the world.

Both of your series are historical novels, what drew you to writing a series set in Elizabethan England and the late 1930s?

They are set at times of extreme peril, when enemies send agents in to England and threaten invasion. They both feature the world’s oldest secret service, founded by Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabeth’s reign and continued by MI5 and MI6 in more recent days. The perfect canvas for a series of thrillers.

Who or what was your inspiration for Professor Thomas Wilde?

I wanted an outsider – someone not impressed by the rather effete university types found in Brideshead Revisited. So Tom Wilde is half American, half Irish. He is inspired by two specific Americans: Conyers Read, an American historian who studied at Oxford and wrote the definitive biography of Sir Francis Walsingham and was later involved in setting up the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime forerunner of the CIA, and James Jesus Angleton, also American but a survivor of an English public school and later chief of CIA counter-intelligence. He was a friend of Kim Philby and, like everyone else, was betrayed by him. But Tom Wilde is neither of these two men, nor an amalgam of them. He is very much his own man.

Was there a particular reason that you chose Cambridge as the main setting for this series?

Cambridge in the 1930s was a political cauldron – and the breeding ground of the spies Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt. It also produced the men who split the atom, developed radar, broke the Enigma code and started the computer age. And it just happens to be a gorgeous place within easy reach of my Norfolk home.

You worked for several newspapers; do you think that background has helped you with your writing?

Undoubtedly. In newspapers you quickly learn what makes a good story, because if you don’t you won’t last long. And then, of course, you have to tell that story well or face the editor’s wrath. It’s a shame so many modern ‘literary’ authors have lost the plot and forgotten their poor readers.

If you could give your younger self any writing tips what would they be?

Write, write, write…read, read, read. Expecting your debut novel to be brilliant is like someone picking up a tennis racket for the first time and going out to face Federer on Centre Court. Tennis isn’t easy, nor is writing. You need thousands of hours of practice. Stick with it and never stop trying to improve yourself.

Typically how much research do you do before you start writing?

Half a year of reading, travelling, experimenting and talking to the experts.

And to end on a lighter note what, if anything, are you currently reading?

I’m reading a mass of history books to help me with No.3 in the Tom Wilde series. The most recent novel I enjoyed was The Binding Song by Elodie Harper. It’s a very atmospheric thriller set in Norfolk. Highly recommended.

Nucleus by Rory Clements is out in hardback on the 25th January 2018. If you want to you can pre-order a copy on Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon UK, and The Book Depository.

Nucleus by Rory Clements

From the award-winning Sunday Times bestselling author of CORPUS

The eve of war: a secret so deadly, nothing and no one is safe

June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready. In Cambridge the May Balls are played out with a frantic intensity – but the good times won’t last… In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany he persecution of the Jews is now so widespread that desperate Jewish parents send their children to safety in Britain aboard the Kindertransport. Closer to home, the IRA’s S-Plan bombing campaign has resulted in more than 100 terrorist outrages around England.

But perhaps the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has produced the first man-made fission and an atomic device is now a very real possibility. The Nazis set up the Uranverein group of physicists: its task is to build a superbomb. The German High Command is aware that British and US scientists are working on similar line. Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory is where the atom was split in 1932. Might the Cambridge men now win the race for a nuclear bomb? Hitler’s generals need to be sure they know all the Cavendish’s secrets. Only then will it be safe for Germany to wage war.

When one of the Cavendish’s finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is once more drawn into an intrigue from which there seems no escape. In a conspiracy that stretches from Cambridge to Berlin and from Washington DC to the west coast of Ireland, he faces deadly forces that threaten the fate of the world.

Review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Photo of UK edition cover of Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh (UK edition)

Title: Silver Silence (A Psy-Changeling Trinity Novel, 1)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Gollancz (15th June 2017)
Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world with a story of wild passion and darkes betrayal . . .

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildnress and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence – her mind clear of all emotion – Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be ear her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious . . . and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

SILVER SILENCE is the first book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series, a spin-off from the fantastic Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. The Trinity Accord is still in its fledgling stages, with everyone waiting to see if it will succeed or fail. Silver Mercant plays a crucial role in the success of the Trinity Accord as the director of a world wide emergency response network. With that responsibility on her shoulders, Silver does not want any more chaos and wildness in her life. That is exactly what Valentin Nikolaev brings with him, and it may turn out that it is just what Silver needs to forge forward.

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Bout of Books 21

A day late . . . but here I am signing up to take part in the twenty-first #BoutofBooks! I just couldn’t resist, plus hopefully this will give me a reason to be a little more active in my reading.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

As per the last couple of times I’ve taken part in Bout of Books, I’ve combined the sign-up post and the update post into a single post. If you want to see how I’m progressing through the week then be sure to come back and check this page.

Bout of Books 21 goals: to finish Warrior Witch by Danielle L Jensen, and  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’ve started both books, but just seem to be stalling with them for some reason.

You can keep track of how I’m doing below.

Tuesday January 9th
Book(s) I’m Reading:
Number of Pages Read Today:
Number of Pages Read Total:  –
Book(s) I’ve Completed:
Challenge I’ve Participated In:
Notes: Today might have been my first day, but I didn’t actually get any reading done. Despite my excitement for signing up to Bout of Books I just wasn’t in the mood to read. And isn’t that just typical!! Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.

Wednesday January 10th
Book(s) I’m Reading: –
Number of Pages Read Today: –
Number of Pages Read Total:  –
Book(s) I’ve Completed: –
Challenge I’ve Participated In: –

Thursday January 11th
Book(s) I’m Reading: –
Number of Pages Read Today: –
Number of Pages Read Total:  –
Book(s) I’ve Completed: –
Challenge I’ve Participated In: –

Friday January 12th
Book(s) I’m Reading: –
Number of Pages Read Today: –
Number of Pages Read Total:  –
Book(s) I’ve Completed: –
Challenge I’ve Participated In: –
Notes:
So I’ve done it again… 🤦🏻‍♀️ Hopefully I will actually manage to pick up a book tomorrow. 🤞

Saturday January 13th
Book(s) I’m Reading: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Number of Pages Read Today: 52
Number of Pages Read Total: 52
Book(s) I’ve Completed: –
Challenge I’ve Participated In: –
Notes: I actually managed to read something. Wow. But in all seriousness, I’m very happy with those fifty-three pages. I also took part in the Twitter chat, which was fun.

Sunday January 14th
Book(s) I’m Reading:
Number of Pages Read Today:
Number of Pages Read Total:
Book(s) I’ve Completed:
Challenge I’ve Participated In:

Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger. Illusrtared by Eva Widermann

Title: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide
Author: Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger
Illustrator: Eva Widermann
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (31st October 2017)
Blurb:

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall! (Blurb from Amazon.co.uk)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

TORTALL: A SPY’S GUIDE by Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger is a compilation of information about the Tortall universe, illustrated by Eva Widermann. The guide is split into around ten sections and it contains a variety of information about the Tortall universe, covering events from around the beginning of the reign of Jonathan IV – in effect information covering all the books published (to date) set in the Tortall universe.

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Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Marvel’s Oz Comics, 1)
Author: L. Frank Baum
Author: Eric Shanower
Illustrator: Skottie Young
Genre: Classic, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: MARVEL WORLDWIDE, INC (15th April 2014)
Blurb:

OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD!

With Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, an American fantasy comes to life in a classic comcis retelling! Shortly after its initial publication in 1900, author L. Frank Baum put his children’s literature in context: It was written “solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and the nightmares are left out.” Baum died 19 years later, but only after leaving behind a legacy of Oz-inspired fantasy 13 sequels long – a legacy that was augmented by the 1939 MGM picture starring Judy Garland that took an already beloved story and turned it into a cultural institution.

Writer Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) and artist Skottie Young’s (New X-Men) adaptation is the kind of artistic achievement that proves – if any proof was further needed – that the story of Dorothy and her journey down the mythical yellow brick road is just as magical, entertaining and relevant to the children of today as when it first entranced a generation 110 years ago.

Delving into some of the less familiar elements of Baum’s story, Shanower and Young reveal new and exciting layers – while still translating its most timeless elements.

The Scarecrow’s still looking for a brain, but did you know how it was he got stood up in the cornfield to begin with? The Tin Woodman is still searching for a heart – but for many, his tragically humorous tale of cursed romance has remained untold. Readers whose only exposure to Baum’s mythos is the film will be pleased to discover that Shanower’s script honors the original text. And Young makes his move into the upper echelon of comic artists – a moment his loyal core of fans have been waiting for – with his revelatory work on Shanower’s script. His fearless portrayals of Dorothy, her travling companions, and the alternately dark and charming world of Oz – in particular the Wizard himself – in sum amount to a modern masterpiece.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Fank Baum in this edition has been adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young. It tells a recognisable story to those familiar with the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) but remains true to Baum’s original work, with Shanower and Young still managing to add their own touch to the story. The story follows the story of a girl called Dorothy who lives in the middle of the great Kansas prairies with her aunt and uncle, and her dog Toto. A tornado hits her uncle’s farm and Dorothy gets caught in the house with Toto, which gets blown away and ends up in a fantastical place called Oz.

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Review: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, Illustrated by Shane Devries

Title: The Christmasaurus
Author: Tom Fletcher
Illustrator: Shane Devries
Genre: Christmas, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Puffin Books (6th October 2016)
Blurb:

Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, pop a crumpet in the taoster and get ready to meet:

a boy called William Trundle;

his dad, Mr Bob Trundle;

Santa Claus (yes! The real Santa Claus!);

an elf named Snozzletrump;

Brenda Payne, the meanest girl in school (possibly the world);

a nasty piece of work called the Hunter;

and a most unusual dinosaur . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

THE CHRISTMASAURUS by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries tells the story of a boy who loves dinosaurs and whose father loves Christmas. William Trundle is close to his father and has lots of friends at school that is until Brenda Payne starts at his school; everything changes. Then all William has left is his father and his love of dinosaurs. William is very lonely. Brenda seems to be able to find him anywhere, and after a while he begins to wonder if there isn’t some truth to her words. So he sends a rather tricky letter to Santa.

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Review: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (UK edition)

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Books (1st June 2017)
Blurb:

FIVE STUDENTS WALK INTO DETENTION.
ONLY FOUR LEAVE ALIVE.

Yale hopeful BRONWYN has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star COOPER only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad boy NATE is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen ADDY is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider SIMON, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it was no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus is a cross between the film The Breakfast Club (1985) and a who-done-it. It tells the stories of five high school students who end up in detention together and one of them ends up dead. There’s Bronwyn who wants to go to Yale, Cooper who has a promising career in baseball ahead of him, Nate who the gossip mill claims is on probation, Addy the prom queen, and Simon the creator of the notorious Bayview High gossip app. He dies twenty-four hours before he could lift the lid on the other four’s darkest secrets, and the police say it’s no accident.

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