Review | The Adults by Caroline Hulse

Meet The Adults

Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what’s best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a ‘normal’ family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did – and it’s too late to pull the plug.

Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends – where this story starts – with a tearful, frightened, call to the police…

But what happened? They said they’d all be adults about this…

Title: The Adults

Author: Caroline Hulse

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5)/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

I went into this book kind of excited to see what a “hilarious” book that started with someone being shot by an arrow would be like. I ended it a little disappointed, but satisfied all the same.

It was an interesting book, from five main points of view:

Claire: a solicitor, mum of Scarlett, and dating Patrick.

Patrick: a sporty man, dating Claire. Extremely competitive and very hard on himself. Insecure especially around Claire’s ex.

Matt: Claire’s Ed husband and Scarlett’s dad. A bit lazy and childish, dating Alex.

Alex: a scientist, fairly new to adulthood, and an alcoholic. Struggles to deal well when everyone is put together on holiday.

Scarlett: Matt And Claire’s Daughter. She’s a bit judgmental of the new members of her family and has an imaginary friend Posey: a purple rabbit.

When all of these people are stuck together on a holiday in the Happy Forest, (a place that felt extremely similar to Centerparcs) obviously drama ensues!

For a book that describes itself as “the most hilarious debut you’ll read this year”, I didn’t find it particularly funny exactly. I only really smiled by page 200 at a sarcastic comment by a friend of Alex, and not much after then.

I wonder if the book hadn’t tried to sell itself as funny, but rather thoughtful, then it wouldn’t have set itself up for disappointment. I would describe it as a really in depth look at the lives within a blended family, and how Christmas time can bring out the best or the worst in us. This book is absolutely that!

Although, I don’t think it helps that I happened to read this around the same time I was already starting to feel a little overwhelmed by so much concentrated family time at Christmas. It kind of exaggerated that feeling with the book’s main obstacle being the forced time spent together with so many disjointed people. So that might mean I judged it a little unfairly in that regard.

One person I really could have done with reading more of was Alex’s friend, the one who called her a couple of times during this book. She was the funniest person! Would have really upped the comedic quality of this book, and the sarcastic quality too.

Also it was nice seeing an imaginary friend from a little girl’s perspective. I don’t know if the author ever had an imaginary friend herself, but I could see it being like this. Posey was quite a serious rabbit, very adult in comparison to Scarlett. He was almost like her subconscious thoughts brought to life.

I liked his perspectives on things, and his reactions to the things happening around him. It was a really unique perspective to read about and I’ve never read anything like this before in anything else, so very refreshing!

I also found the flash forwards to the police reports about someone getting shot by an arrow that you read about in the beginning quite interesting. I was a bit annoyed if they gave me spoilers about what was going to happen, but I liked the interesting format.

I’d say, if you want a nice easy-to-read book with some drama and a really well represented blended family, pick this book up! Don’t expect too much from the hilarity side of things and you’ll be able to just enjoy the well written dialogue, and the very human characters (flaws and all).

I don’t often read contemporary adult books, but this was a very nice one to pick up outside of my usual genres. I’ll happily check out this author again!

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Review | Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

Title: Legendary

Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5)

[SPOILER WARNING] If you haven’t read the first book in this series, this review might spoil things for you.

I’ll start with this: The only thing that really let this book down for me was the writing style. Everything else was either a little niggle or really amazing, but it just came down to the writing style not letting me fall into Legendary.

Let me continue with the good things about this book before I delve more into that.

The atmosphere and the world is very unique and I always love coming back to a place that feels historically Italian with magic and a travelling contest/carnival. It makes it a very cosy read just with that.

The plot is actually very good if you strip it back just to that. Girl has to compete in a life or death game to hopefully uncover the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, all the while not knowing who to trust or believe. But is it just a game?

That last bit… sounds intriguing right? Not knowing what is real or not is a very good way to boost the drama and intrigue.

But it was just the sheer repetition of this that really started to grate on my nerves. It kind of removes some of the underlying fear or foreboding I think it could have done with. I could probably have filled the book with stickers marking the number of times Tella says ‘But what if Caraval was just a game? But what if it isn’t a game??’ over and over and over. It doesn’t keep the mystery alive for me, more annoys me.

By the tenth time or so I lost count and genuinely didn’t care if it was or wasn’t a game. I mean, you could have kept the same suspense with a fraction of the number of mentions! The repeating of it over and over didn’t do much except to remove any wonder I might have had myself over the same facts. I didn’t get a chance to second guess myself, because Tella was always two steps ahead of me and had already second guessed herself multiple times.

Repetition is actually this book’s major flaw in my opinion.

The names are repeated again and again. “Tella moved and then Tella sat down. Tella could feel her heart beating.” style descriptions.

Things that happened in barely the previous chapter are repeated as if I hadn’t just read about them. It started to feel more like a school essay than a book to be honest.

I like to be slowly led to information, not have it shoved in my face. If I can’t remember something that happened in a previous book, I’ll eventually get there once I’m back in the story and one small (emphasis on small) references have been made to the previous events. It feels more organic, rather than someone just outright reminding me in the style of “Just like in the previous Caraval, where this guy had pretended to be the Count and then …” (proceeds to describe every event in detail).

And another thing – okay this is the point while writing this review that I started to feel bad for ripping in to this book so much considering I genuinely enjoyed reading it, but bare with me – the guys in this book!

They all seem to be made from the exact same mould with just the slightest hints to make them differ. Brooding, handsome and mysterious guy, copy and paste until the cast is complete. (Make every other guy evil, and done!)

Saying that though, I did actually like Dante. He was a bit grumpy and rude to Tella and then uncommunicative about why, but he was also thoughtful and interesting. He was the most three dimensional out of the male characters in the story and so the one I started to care about while I was reading.

Now, I know it may not seem like it, but I really enjoyed reading this book. Minus the eye rolls about what people were saying, and some of my annoying points, it was really enjoyable and I will absolutely be reading the sequel Finale when it comes out next year.

I just think, with some minor tweaking: Make the characters a bit more 3D, the stakes a bit higher, the writing more engaging and darker, and you’d have the most amazing story here!

This is just one of those ‘Break it down and I’m not sure why I love it… but I just do!’ kind of books for me. It’s inexplicable.

Review | Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.”

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Title: Red Sister

Author: Mark Lawrence

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

[Disclaimer: This review is based on a proof copy I received in an Illumicrate box, please note there may be some changes between this and the finished copy.]

Sign that you’re reading a good book: You just can’t put it down without getting that nagging feeling like it’s going on without you!

That was Red Sister for me.

Now, I do have to warn some people who might not get the hint from the sheer size of the book: this is a heavy fantasy book. There are a LOT of terms and titles to remember, and it took me a while to get the hang of them myself. I hope there’ll be some sort of reminder of these in Grey Sister or else I’m likely to forget most of them by the time I read it!

This will put some people off, but it’s also really helpful to immerse me in a different world. The titles were similar enough in most cases for me to understand the importance of some characters, and it definitely made escaping into the book universe a lot easier once I’d got to grips with it.

Interestingly, this book very much reminded me of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. This is definitely a book ‘you’ll enjoy if you enjoyed’ Nevernight. The class structures are very similar with what the nuns are teaching the girls, it’s a school for warriors in a remote location, and the main character wants revenge for a past wrong. Aside from that, it’s very unique, but if you loved those plot points in other books then you’ll absolutely love them here too.

At the beginning, when Nona is being introduced to the school and we’re learning about how someone learns to become a nun, the different types of nuns, classes etc. we also learn that there is some sort of ‘chosen one’.

Of course I obviously thought that this chosen one is the main character since that’s usually what’s foreshadowed, but this book just keeps throwing twists in that particular story! One minute you think it’s Nona and the next you think it’s another girl, then another. It kept me on my toes which I really appreciated.

The pacing was also nice for me, a little slow in some parts but generally it kept moving forward and a little time jump was good to show how much Nona was learning on her way to becoming a nun.

One thing about the Nuns themselves though: How many names does one person need??

Every nun had a Sister XXX name and a Mistress XXX name, not to mention their original name too I suppose even though that was rarely mentioned if ever! I was glad for the chart at the front of the book, but half the time I was just confused.

Me: Sister Apple is the… poison Mistress? Wait… how old is she again?

And so it removes me from the story a little, smidge annoying.

Maybe if there was an obvious feature or mannerism I could hold on to a bit better, that would have helped me remember more easily who I was talking to in any particular scene.

However the action scenes! I really couldn’t fault them. They were interesting and chock full and easy to follow what was happening. Even with the abstract Path stuff and speed of things I never felt lost. Mark Lawrence does write a good action scene.

This whole book felt like it had the moral of: it doesn’t matter if you take a different path to other people, the best path is the one that suits you. Nona really embodied that, and I appreciated it very much. Overall, it was a very good read.

Review | Light Years by Kass Morgan

Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.

Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.

These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

 

Title: Light Years

Author: Kass Morgan

Genre: YA Fantasy (though feels more Middle Grade)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5/5)

 

[DISCLAIMER] I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in a recent Illumicrate box, please note that therefore my review is based on this version and things may change in the finished copy.

This is the first time recently that a book has felt ‘too YA’ for me. Almost middle-grade feelings with this book, so much so I had to check if it even was YA at one point.

I like the YA/NA blend recently, so you get to read about people in their late teens and early 20s go on adventures and solve problems, and I get to feel involved in an age group I enjoy still, without feeling pushed out to the gritty realism of a lot of Adult books.

But Light Years had that feeling I only used to get reading younger books: formulaic plot, obvious characterising, one dimensional villains, obvious plot twists, etc.

It wasn’t a bad book by any means, just a disappointing one for me. I think it could have been a lot better, and a bit more mature. Then it could have hit the leagues of The Illuminae files.

It centers around 4 main characters: Vespa, Cormak, Arran, and Orelia.

Vespa – A Tridian girl with an extremely overbearing mother, desperate to be the best in Quatra Fleet Academy so she can prove her worth.

Cormak – A boy from Deva who has taken someone else’s identity in order to get into the Academy and make something of himself.

Arran – A boy from Chetire, running away from a life in the mines and into the arms of a type of boy he never thought he would be with.

Orelia – A girl on a secret mission that could threaten the lives of everyone in the Academy, hiding who she is from everyone, even her own team.

I liked the variety in the characters and how they interacted, however Cormak having an alias was a bit confusing as I forgot every now and again and had to remind myself who I was reading about. In general, they had solid personalities and backstories, and each had a bit of character growth, even if it was very small.

Some of the characters could be a little one-dimensional though, Vesper’s mum for one. She seemed a bit too harsh just for the sake of it. I wasn’t really sure of her motivations besides being a horrible mother.

I also really liked the overall idea of the book, even if it did seem very similar to Ender’s Game, as I’m a fan of space stories and stories with boarding schools in them (leftover from my Malory Towers days – thanks Mum for getting me into those!).

But the plot itself was a little thin.

The logic of training up cadets from a young age and keeping the most promising to go on to become captains etc. once they’re adults makes a lot of sense. But the training and the way they go about this didn’t quite make sense.

They put the children into teams and have them run simulations in competition with other teams, one of the kids in each team flying the simulated ship. Now, in our main team, the pilot has been training for a while and knows the controls, but what about teams where the pilot has never flown anything or even driven something? There’s not much if any pre-training for this, they’re just dropped right in the middle of this competition and told to be the best. It seems a bit unfair and skewed to the privileged people in this world, and also just wouldn’t make sense in any other schooling system.

It felt a little like doing a maths exam, doing well, and then immediately running a bank. Like… there are some more steps between those two things I’m sure?

Then, even taking this out of the equation, the battle ranking system felt quite rushed. I mean, you assume that the team you’re following will do pretty well or else they’d be away from all the drama and plot for the rest of the book and it would be a pretty boring read. But it would have been nice to see a bit of struggle or issues to face getting up the ranking tables.

Another thing was the vagueness surrounding the science in the book.

I wasn’t expecting ‘The Martian’ levels here, but a bit more detail into how Orelia works out her equations with the stars would have made me believe in her intelligence even more. And a bit more time in each of the classes that everyone takes in their respective areas would have been interesting also: some more design talk and equations and maybe leadership training for the captains?

It might have added the depth the school needed for me to really believe that it was for the top tier of intelligent students.

One thing I LOVED though, was the relationship between Arran and Dash. It was adorably sweet and who doesn’t love a bit of LGBT+ rep?

Again, it was a little light on the depth there too, but they did go through struggles and have a few misunderstandings so it wasn’t too bad a relationship in my books.I think I just wanted more gore and sadness and grit, more drama like in The 100. I wanted to feel heartbroken and care more about these characters.

Overall: Fun read, more for younger readers than for YA readers, enjoyable and easy to get through. I’m still curious about how these characters fare in later books so will probably pick those up and enjoy them. Not the best read of the year, but still pretty good.

Review | Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Genre: YA/Historical fiction/mystery

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

This was a really enjoyable read with some things about it that really bugged me. A fairly mixed bag in general, but still worth a good 3.5 stars in my book!

The book is very much about afternoon tea and analysing corpses. If that turns your stomach then this isn’t for you (I know, afternoon tea gives me nightmares too…), but to be honest it isn’t done as graphically as I thought so you still might be safe to give it a try!

The determination of Audrey despite the limitations of women in her time really endeared me to her and I think was one of the main reasons I enjoyed the book as much as I did.

What I liked:

Historical Etiquette:

It was really nice to have little touches of the etiquette from the time of Jack the Ripper, like how Audrey and Thomas weren’t supposed to call each other by their first names unless they were married so it was *scandalous* at the time. Or how having afternoon tea was a necessity if you wanted to stay relevant in society. It helped ground me in the time period which I really appreciated.

Drama and gore:

Oh boy was there a lot of this. The mystery and intrigue surrounding Jack the Ripper is still just as good today as it ever was, so having this as the central plot really made this book incredibly dramatic. And the detail in which Audrey describes the victims is so morbid that you really feel like you’re there.

Suspense:

The mystery in this book takes a while to solve, and if you know the history of Jack the Ripper then you’ll know how many people he kills before he disappeared, so obviously there’s a lot to see before everything is solved. A lot happens in this book, and there are a fair few red herrings in the murder mystery, so it keeps the suspense amped up through a lot of the book! This made it extremely hard to put down.

Medical knowledge:

Audrey is a person who loves learning about science, and doing autopsies in her spare time. She begs her uncle to be able to go to his classes (though we then only get to see one of them in the beginning… does she not go again?) so obviously she has a lot of medical knowledge.

I loved Reading Artemis and Martian, so I’m very much the kind of person who loves to read a good fiction book with some very good science in it too. This book really tried to do that and I very much appreciated it, with little touches here and there of Audrey really knowing her stuff when it came to forensic science. It was a little lighter in places than I’d have liked, but still a lot more than quite a bit of YA out there at the moment.

Iffy bits:

Audrey is grabbed a lot… and faints a lot?:

For someone who seems to be the feminist of her time, Audrey does do a lot of simpering, fainting from *emotions* and lets herself be grabbed and pulled around a lot. I’d have liked to see her stand up for herself and push away assumptions that her female constitution wasn’t strong enough to deal with things, especially since she does autopsies in her spare time.

Romance slightly rushed:

Thomas was a very good character, I admit, but the romance between him and Audrey really could have done with another book or two to really get going. It feels like Audrey’s flip to suddenly being in love with him was very much that – a flip – and it doesn’t feel real enough to make me care about it as much as I wanted to.

Over Description in the writing:

Oh my god please stop. I was confused as to why I felt a little apart from the writing while reading this, until I read sentence after sentence in this sort of structure “like a porcelain doll, easily fractured, discarded when broken so quickly”. Like, I get it, she is treated like a doll. Couldn’t this sort of thing have been said in one short sentence rather than the run on one we get?

I mean, this might have shortened the book quite a bit, but it really would have helped make some scenes a lot snappier than they were.

I guessed the killer:

This is the big disappointing thing for me. I knew who the killer was around halfway through the book and then the rest was me kind of frustrated at Audrey for not figuring out the same clues I did. It was supposed to make Thomas seem like some sort of Sherlock type character, but to me it just made Audrey seem a little ignorant.

To be fair, this didn’t lessen the gravitas of the final scene one bit for me. It was still spooky and scary and I loved it. I would have just loved it that tiny bit more if I had the surprise in the same way Audrey did.

All in all though, this was a good and fun read. I very much look forward to reading the next book ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ because I adore both Dracula and Vlad the Impaler! Hopefully the writing has settled a bit from this book also, then it could easily be a five star read for me.

Review | To all the boys I’ve loved before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.

But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh.

As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book is seriously vying for top spot in my ‘Most cute and adorable contemporaries of 2018’ mental ranking chart. It’s just so pure and a complete feel-good book that I don’t think you can help but love it!

To be honest, I loved it so much I think I read it in only 2 days so this review will be particularly short in comparison to my others. Short but sweet! (Hopefully)

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a very cute book. The premise is that Lara Jean has been writing these love letters any time she feels herself falling in love, to work through it, and these letters have somehow been sent out to the boys who were never meant to see them. From then the drama amps up, with a fake relationship, a super close-knit family, and a whole lot of emotional growth, this is absolutely the kind of book to read in the sun by a swimming pool or snuggled in a cosy armchair while it rains cats and dogs outside.

If you can’t tell, I fell in love with this book a little bit!

What I loved:

The changing dynamic between siblings:

I love when a book shows how close siblings can be but also how that closeness changes over the years. This book starts pretty much on top of those changes as Margot leaves for University in Scotland right at the beginning. Suddenly Lara Jean is the ‘oldest sister’ and has to figure out how to act with her little sister and her Dad, you can really see how she starts to mature throughout the book.

The pure closeness of the family:

I also adore a tight-knit family, since my own is so close and it’s nice to see that in other families too, and Lara Jean’s family just love each other so much. The Dad is actually really refreshing since he tries so hard to be their friend and keep their traditions in the home that you can’t help but love him. A good sisterly bond will always make me love a book even more and this one has it in spades!

Driving anxiety:

This was something I didn’t even realise that I wanted to see in a book until I read it! I really hate driving. I love it as an easy way to get from A to B without paying a tonne of money or taking hours, but the act itself is scary as hell. You’re driving a metal death machine at insane speeds! And finally, a character who feels the same as I do! Seriously, a big positive in a future partner for me is if they’re happy to do all the driving. It really endeared me to Lara Jean and I felt very close to her.

Lara Jean being the most adorable thing:

Her mannerisms, her nervousness, her spontaneity! Everything about her was just so adorable and it made it so easy to love reading about her.

Boys being sensitive sweethearts:

Too often in Romance books, even contemporaries, the main guy love-interest is a brutish, controlling guy who just stomps around making the main character and myself hate him until the tension builds so much and they snap and kiss. Somehow this fixes the massive gaping flaws in the guy’s personality and he’s just a big teddy bear after then (or even worse, he stays the same and it’s a toxic relationship that’s dangerously romaticised…).

In TATBILB this is completely different, with both guys being very sweet and genuine. The worst they seem to do is be a bit snarky or have an undeserved reputation from what I can see. It’s nice and refreshing to see actual positive relationship examples in a book like this, and I hope young people don’t settle for the toxic ‘masculine’ guy when they know that this is far healthier and actually possible.

Anything I disliked??

Maybe… Some of Lara Jean’s jumping to conclusions? But even then, that made a lot of the book dramatic and more interesting, and when I was that age I did the same!

Overall, READ THIS BOOK! Then watch the film because it’s adorable in such a similar way, and was very loyal to the book.

Unboxing | Illumicrate August 2018 Oh So Criminal Box

Hi All! I thought I’d do something different for my blog post today and do an unboxing and review of the latest Illumicrate box ‘Oh So Criminal’.

I love book subscription boxes, but the UK ones have especially stepped up their game in recent years with both Fairyloot and Illumicrate putting fantastic quality items in their boxes!

So, first things first:

There was an awesome ‘Villains are my Bag’ tote bag with very good quality straps. It feels really well made and who doesn’t love a good pun?

This was designed by KDP Letters and is so gorgeous I am absolutely going to be using this as my main tote bag from now on.

Next was a coaster by Katie Abey and a mirror with a Holly Black quote from White Cat designed by Reverie and Ink. Both very pretty, though I may not use the coaster, I may put the mirror in my handbag and be reminded of how awesome Holly Black’s writing is every time I use it.

Then, we have a Six of Crows lanyard with ‘No Mourners, No Funerals’ on it by Fable and Black which is my favourite quote from that series! This will be so useful at work and I get to show off my love for Leigh Bardugo’s characters all over the office.

Next were some prints and postcards: A Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one by Jamila Mehio which is so cute and I love those two so much, a Tempests and Slaughter and a Girls of Paper and Fire postcard, and a little card advertising the 10 best upcoming books as chosen by Harper 360.

And then we have a candle by Even Wick Candles called ‘Perfect Heist’ which smells like Sweet Melon, Water Lily and Musk. Not my favourite smell when it comes to candles, but still a very nice one. And a sampler of The Sisters of the Winter Wood which I can’t wait to read!

Next (yes I’m still going because this box was crammed full!) we have a necklace by Down The Rabbit Hole which is so adorable I wear it all the time! It says ‘Antagonist’ on one side and ‘Protagonist’ on the other, it’s so hard to choose which to be. Also, there was a nail file with a little Jay Kristoff quote from Nevernight on it by Hey Atlas Creative. Again, another super useful item because I always have a nail file in my bag and glass files are the nicest!

And Last but not least, the book! I have to admit I was a little disappointed this box didn’t contain an Advance Reader Copy like Illumicrate usually add, but with all the cool stuff in it I really couldn’t help but love it anyway!

The book was an awesome copy of Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas with purple sprayed edges (!!!) and the most gorgeous cover ever. It wasn’t signed but again, it was so pretty I wasn’t too bothered.

Overall I’d say the value of the items in this box must be around £50 or more! Given this box costs around £30 that’s an incredible added value and I can’t help but love Illumicrate boxes every time I receive them.

Have you ever got an Illumicrate box?