Illumicrate Unboxing 6 – February 2017

Just in case this is not obvious from the title: this post contains ‼️spoilers‼️ for the February 2017 Illumicrate!

You can find out what I thought of the February 2017 Illumicrate (which didn’t arrive until March as Illumicrate had some problems) by watching the video below.

Too long, didn’t watch: I’m really pleased with this quarter’s box. I really liked the content, and Wintersong by S. Jae Jones sounds like something I will enjoy reading.

If you want to see what I thought of previous boxes you can find the play list here. Or if you’re interested in checking Illumicrate out for yourself you can find details here.

The contents of Illumicrate February 2017.

Contents of this quarter’s box:

  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones + letter from the author, signed bookplate and a bookmark.
  • Bare Necessities Pouch by Literary Lifestyle Company [exclusive]
  • Magic and Mischief Balm by Bookish Serendipity Co [exclusive]
  • A Darker Shade of Magnets by Her Bookish Things [exclusive]
  • Newt Scamander Bookmark by Jane’s Tiny Things [exclusive]
  • Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett bookmark
  • Flame in the Mist by Renée A Sampler
  • Gilded Cage by Vic James postcard
  • ARC of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (Blog Tour)

This review is part of The Witchfinder’s Sister blog tour.

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown (UK edition)

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (UK edition)

Title: The Witchfinder’s Sister
Author: Beth Underdown
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Viking (2nd March 2017)

‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on a true story, this beautiful and haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites.

(Blurb from

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER is Beth Underdown’s debut novel. The story is set in England in the seventeenth century, and follows the story of Alice Hopkins. In 1645 Alice is forced to return from London to the small Essex town of Manningtree to her brother Matthew’s house, after the death of her husband. She and Matthew left on poor terms, and she has not spoken to him apart from the letter she received notifying her of their mother’s death. The Matthew Alice returns to is very different from the brother she remembers. He now has powerful friends, and soon Alice hears that he is gathering a list of women’s names.

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Review: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Title: Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom Series, 5)
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books (4th October 2016)

Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind.

When Lirael saves Nicholas Sayre after he is left unconscious by an attack from a hideous Free Magic creature, she finds he is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Lirael must seek help for him at the Clayr’s Glacier, her childhood home.

But even as she returns to the Clayr, a messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother, Arielle, about the Witch With No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?

Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Goldenhand is the long-awaited fifth instalment of Garth Nix’s New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

GOLDENHAND is the fifth book in Garth Nix’s sprawling young adult fantasy Old Kingdom series. This book continues the story from ABHORSEN, so there will be some spoilers from previous books in this review. When the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Lirael, gets called to deal with a Free Magic creature that is the Wall she discovers Nicholas Sayre unconscious and deeply tainted with Free Magic. Unsure what is going on, or how to help him Lirael decides to seek help at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier. Meanwhile, a messenger is searching for Lirael with a warning from her mother about the Witch With No Face.

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Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (UK edition)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (UK edition)

Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes 1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager (11th February 2016)


When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother is arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk . . . Laia’s very life is at stake.

There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is the debut novel of Sabaa Tahir, and the first book in an intriguing young adult fantasy series with lots of potential. The book is set in a traditional style fantasy world. It tells the story of Laia, a young Scholar, and Elias, who is just about to graduate as a Mask. Their paths cross after Laia loses her family and desperation sends her to the rebels, who demand that she acts as a spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff the Empire’s military academy, the place Elias is receiving his training, and it’s not long before their paths cross.

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Review: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab (UK edition)

This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab (UK edition)

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, 1)
Authors: V. E. Schwab
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher:  Titan Books (7th June 2016)

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father – but his curse is to be what the humans fear. The thin truce that keeps the Harker and Flynn families at peace is crumbling, and an assassination attempts forces Kate and August into a tenuous alliance. But how long will they survive in a city where no one is safe and monsters are real . . .

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

THIS SAVAGE SONG by V. E. Schwab is the first part of an intriguing new series – Monsters of Verity. The story is set in a dark divided world where monsters walk the streets. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the children of the two men who run the divided city of Verity. Between them Harker and Flynn hold the city, but their truce is thinning and the peace it created crumbling. If the truce breaks it will mean war. Kate and August get caught in an assassination attempt that forces them to create an alliance. The only trouble is, they’re not sure whom they can trust.

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#LondonBookShopCrawl – Having a brilliant book-ish time!

So this is a little different from my usual post, but I really wanted to talk about this and I thought you might find it fun and/or interesting. First though, just a heads-up, this post does contain a few images.

On Saturday 18th February a lot of book lovers converged on London to take part in the London Bookshop Crawl organised by the brilliant Bex of Ninja Book Box, and I was one of them. There was a list of around fifty bookshops spread out through the whole of London that participants could pay a visit to, if it they fancied to. To start with, there was a chance for everyone to meet up at Foyles between 9:30am and 10:30am to just say hi (or find your group, if you were part of one them).

Foyles 107 Charing Cross Rd, Soho WC2H 0DT

Foyles is a very beautiful, modern-looking bookstore. On the fifth floor they have a bright café that sells brilliant drinks and cake – that alone, in my opinion makes it well worth a visit. I particularly like their children and young adult section, as well as their graphic novel section. I’m not so much a fan of the fantasy/sci-fi section though.

After Foyles, Mum and I headed to Victoria station and then out to Herne Hill.

Tales on Moon Lane 25 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9JU

Tales on Moon Lane is, in my opinion, a must stop for anyone who has children or who loves children’s books. It contains a wide variety of picture books that will keep anyone enthralled. It also has a good selection of books for 9 to 12 year olds, and whilst its young adult section isn’t the broadest I’ve seen there are some gems in it.

After Tales on Moon Lane, Mum and I popped next door to The Roome, which provided a lovely lunch.

Then we headed to Kings Cross and paid a quick visit to Housmans. We then went on to visit the bookshop in Somerset House.

Inside Rizzoli Bookshop

Inside Rizzoli Bookshop

Rizzoli Bookshop Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA

This was actually quite difficult to find, as we came at it from Temple station. The setting of Somerset House is very beautiful, and the bookshop itself looks out onto the courtyard. This bookshop is very much art based – and probably links to whatever exhibitions are taking place in Somerset House. It’s small, but neat, and there are a lot of interesting books.

We then continued on to Leicester Square.

Orbital Comics 8 Great Newport St, WC2H 7JA

One of the best comic stores I have ever visited – whether you’re after independent comics, DC, Marvel, or like manga this place is well worth a visit. It’s nicely tucked away around the corner from Leicester Square tube station, and easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s also surprisingly big once you’re inside.

By this time, Mum and I are getting tired. So we decided to head to Piccadilly, and see how things went from there. Before any book browsing took place we headed straight to 5th View Bar & Food, which is located on the top floor at Waterstones Piccadilly. We had a quick snack, drink and rest, before heading down to browse the books.

The yummy food at 5th Bar & Food.

The yummy food at 5th View Bar & Food.

Waterstones Piccadilly 203-206 Piccadilly, St James’s W1J 9HD

This is Waterstones flagship store – and it is hands down the best Waterstones branch I have ever visited. It’s spread over four floors, and there are comfortable places to sit on every floor. The displays are brilliant to look at, and there are a wide selection of books in all genres to look at.

Hatchards 187 Piccadilly, St James’s W1J 9LE

This bookshop has the feel of bookshops I remember from my childhood – full of hidden corners and surprises. There’s also quite a wide selection of books – they even have a signed and first editions section – and I quite enjoy exploring the store trying to find something that catches my interest.

After this, and having bought a lot of books, we decided it was time to head home. I had a fantastic time, and I highly recommend giving the London Bookshop Crawl a try the next time it’s organised. If you’d like to take part in the next Bookshop Crawl then you can find more info here.


Review: The One by John Marrs (Blog Tour)

This review is part of The One blog tour.

The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs

Title: The One
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Romance, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Del Rey (4th May 2017, 26th January 2017 in ebook)

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

(Blurb taken from

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

The premise of John Marrs’s book THE ONE is an intriguing one – if there was a test you could take to find your perfect match, would you take it? In THE ONE we follow the stories of five people who submit their DNA, and find their perfect partner. Everyone has secrets they keep. All five stories are different, but linked through them using Match Your DNA to find the one person they are genetically made for. From there, their stories diverge. In THE ONE John Marrs tells a psychological thriller, peppered with romance, that will keep you turning the pages.

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Review: Corpus by Rory Clements (Blog Tour)

This review is part of the Corpus blog tour.

Corpus by Rory Clements

Corpus by Rory Clements

Title: Corpus
Author: Rory Clements
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre (26th January 2017)

1936. Europe is in turmoil. The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland; in Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror; Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within a week, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson . . .

Professor Wilde’s specialist subject is the Elizabethan secret service. As the scope of the conspiracy is revealed, he must use all the skills he has learnt to save the woman he loves and prevent a massacre.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

CORPUS by Rory Clements is the first book in a new spy thriller series. The story is set in late 1936, and tells the story of Cambridge history professor Thomas Wilde whose life gets caught up in a series of murders. The story is set during a period of great political turmoil within the UK as King Edward VIII is being forced to decide between Mrs Wallis Simpson and abdicating the throne. Something more than a few people are not happy about. Alongside this, Britain is split between the growing powers of Communism and Fascism, creating a huge powder keg about to explode.

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Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman (UK Zoella Bookclub edition)

I Was Here by Gayle Forman (UK Zoella Bookclub edition)

Title: I Was Here
Authors: Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster (29th January 2015)

I regret to inform you that I have had to take my own life. This decision has been a long time coming, and was mine alone to make. I know it will cause you pain, and for that I am sorry, but please know that I needed to end my own pain. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s not your fualt.

Cody and Meg were inseparable – best friends for life. They knew everything about each other. Or Cody thought they did. But how well do you ever really know your best friend? And what do you do when they choose to leave you behind?

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman is a standalone novel that tells the story of Cody Reynolds. As the novel starts we discover that Meg Garcia, Cody’s best friend, has committed suicide. I WAS HERE follows Meg’s journey as she struggles to deal with the loss of her best friend – someone she thought she knew, someone who she’d grown up with in a small town. Meg’s suicide blindsided her; Cody had no idea that Meg was struggling. Cody finds herself questioning what she knew of her best friend, and soon sets out to get some answers – surely there was more to Meg’s death than there appeared?

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Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (UK edition)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (UK edition)

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha: Book 1)
Authors: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher:  Indigo (6th June 2013)

‘I’ve been waiting for you
a long time, Alina,’ he said.
‘You and I are going to change the world.’

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in her magical The Grisha trilogy. This book begins the story of the lonely orphan Alina, and introduces us to the world of the Grisha – the kingdom’s magical elite. Alina thinks herself ordinary – not special in any way – but then she discovers that she has a unique magical power and is thrust into a strange, heady, new world full of opulence and danger. SHADOW AND BONE presents the mysterious Darkling, the leader of the Grisha: a charming and powerful man. It also introduces us to Mal, Aliana’s childhood best friend.

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