July 2022 Fairyloot

Fairyloot is a Young Adult book subscription box focusing on fantasy based out of the UK. Each month you receive a new Young Adult hardback book and four to five bookish goodies. Like most book boxes the hardback are special editions and the items are a combination of both practical things and more decorative items. July’s theme is Trials & Retribution.

The bookish items included this month are a set of metal straws, a letter open inspired by Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic, an album for art prints, a pin banner, and a pair of socks inspired by Gideon the Ninth. The monthly tarot cards features character art from Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye.

All Fairyloot books come with exclusive covers, generally signed by the author and include a letter from the author. This month the book is The Darking by Sunya Mara which follows the daughter of a revolutionary and a desperate prince who are trapped in a city at the eye of a magical storm. This edition also has stenciled sprayed edges, foiling on the hardcover, and art work on the endpapers.

August’s theme is Tell Me Lies.

Book Review: Babel by R. F. Kuang

Babel by R.F. Kuang is an adult historical fantasy where Robin Swift, an orphan from Canton, is brought to London by Professor Lovell to train to go to Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation better known as Babel. Babel is the center of translation and sliver working where both the original and translated words are carved on silver which embeds the sliver with a magical effect related to the word that enhances many things. Robin’s cohort at Babel includes Ramy, who is Indian, Victoire, a black woman of Haitian decent, and Letty, a white woman. As the story progress Robin learns about the Hermes Society who are a group working to sabotage the sliver working to slow England’s Imperial Expansion. When Britain is going to go to war with China Robin must seal with what is he willing to do or sacrifice to stop Babel.

This is a stand alone dark academia fantasy that grapples with different aspects of imperialism, colonialism, and racism that is embedded in the world and is still apart of academia today. This a an amazingly well researched book that at times can be heavy handed with the themes, it also fits with how the world works for these characters. As Robin gets used to the world of Babel as a reader you get comfortable with how this world work. However, when they go to China everything changes.

At a certain point you know things are not going to end well for these characters and the ending hurts but at the same time I’m not surprised with how it ended. For me it took quite a while to finish Babel but that is on me not the quality of the story or writing. I was already in a little bit of a slump when I started Babel and then I had a several month stint working at a museum with heavy material related to World War II. Personally after doing the work that I was doing I had trouble reading a book that deals with such heavy topics at the same time so I ended up putting Babel on hold. With that in mind I would recommend that if you plan to read Babel that you are in the right head space for the themes Babel deals with but overall I loved this book.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.

June 2022 Fairyloot

Fairyloot is a Young Adult book subscription box focusing on fantasy based out of the UK. Each month you receive a new Young Adult hardback book and 5-6 bookish goodies. Like most book boxes the hardback are special editions and the items are a combination of both practical things and more decorative items. June’s theme is Chosen Ones.

The bookish items included this month are a Poppy War inspired trinket dish, The Atlas Six book sleeve, a Young Elites art pint, paper tags inspired by Sting from Lord of the Rings, and the monthly tarot cards inspired by From Blood and Ash.

This month also included an extra paperback book, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber which follows two princes one trained to fear the witches that killed her parents and the other stolen away who plans to protect the witches who raised her. This edition as a redesigned cover, digitally sprayed edges, and a digital signature.

All Fairyloot books come with exclusive covers, generally signed by the author and include a letter from the author. This month the book is This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede which follows Alessa who’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic but when a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing her is their only hope against the demons Alessa must team up with Dante to try to master her gift and save her people. This edition also has stenciled sprayed edges, foil on the hardcover, and artwork on the endpapers.

July’s theme is Trials and Retribution.

Book Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #6)

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher is the sixth book in the Dresden Files series. This book follows Harry Dresden as he is contacted by the producer of adult films who is worried that someone is attacking his crew with magic and wants Harry to protect him and his crew. Harry is doing this as a favor to Thomas, a White Court vampire that Harry has a friendly relationship with. However, Thomas has some secreats that will change Harry’s life forever.

I’ve heard from different people that the Dresden Files really gets good around book five or six and you just need to power through the first couple of books. I was starting to question if I wanted to finish this series as I just wasn’t really enjoying the books. However, those who said to read though book six I now understand why. This book started out and I thought that I would hate it. Harry as a character can be a bit misogynistic and very opinionated about protecting women but as the book continued I felt that either I’m use to it now or its being toned down. When you get to the half way point and the reveals on who Thomas is Harry comes out and other secrets are brought to light everything clicked for me.

If you are trying to get into this series and having trouble I would say to skip to book four and start from there as I feel like the series just keeps getting better at that point.

May 2022 Fairyloot

Fairyloot is a Young Adult book subscription box focusing on fantasy based out of the UK. Each month you receive a new Young Adult hardback book and 5-6 bookish goodies. Like most book boxes the hardback are special editions and the items are a combination of both practical things and more decorative items. May’s theme is Cloak & Dagger.

The bookish items included this month are a Red Rising inspired bottle opener, a Stardust tea strainer, a set of scrunchies inspired by Blood and Ash, a Daughter of the Moon Goddess mug, foiled bookmarks with characters from different mythologies, and the monthly tarot cards have character art inspired by These Hollow Vows.

All Fairyloot books come with exclusive covers, signed by the author and include a letter from the author. This month the book is The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah. This edition also has sprayed edges, foil on the front and back of the hardback, and artwork on the endpapers. The Stardust Thief is a story inspired by One Thousand and One Nights weaving together the tale of a smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a quest to find a magical lamp.

June’s theme is Chosen Ones.

May 2022 Monthly Wrap Up

So this month I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and have only read one book. I have instead been playing more video games as I’m currently making my way though the Kingdom Hearts series and hope to play Kingdom Hearts 3 later this year. I also enjoyed the YouTube series In Space with Markiplier Part 2.

Books:

The only book I’ve finished this month was The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. This is the last book in the Wayfarers series but each book stands alone. This book follows a group of different aliens at a galactic rest stop waiting to get on their way. When an accident delays them they start to learn from each other they realize that though each my have either own problems what they need to come to terms with everything may come from each other. This is my second favorite of the series and I love how hopeful Becky Chambers’ writing is.

Video Games:

This month I was finishing off the games in the Kingdom Hearts series to be ready to play Kingdom Hearts 3. I do have full reviews posted of all of the games so far.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is the last full game in the story before Kingdom Hearts 3. It follows Sora and Riku during their Mark of Mastery exam to find out if they are true Keyblade Masters. They travel to the different sleeping worlds to learn the Power of Waking and set everything back to where it needs to be. This game also finally gives us what Xehanort’s true plan is and what Sora and everyone will deal with in the future.

Kingdom Hearts Back Cover is a movie that supposed to give the viewer all the important plot information from the Kingdom Hearts mobile game Kingdom Hearts Union. While it does provide some important information I feel that to truly understand what is going on you should watch all the cut scenes from Union, play the mobile game, or watch a full play through.

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep-A Fragmentary Passage is the last game left before Kingdom Hearts 3 and is essentially a prologue to that game. The story follows Aqua after ending up in the Realm of Darkness and what she has been doing. I love Aqua as a character and I love how it turns out that she helped Riku and Mickey close the Door to Darkness at the end of the first game. At this point I can’t wait to play Kingdom Hearts 3 and see how all the characters stories will end.

Video Game Review: Kingdom Hearts Back Cover and Birth by Sleep-A Fragmentary Passage

These are the last two items in the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue that I needed to finish to be ready to play Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts Back Cover is a movie version of the important information that was included in the Kingdom Hearts mobile game which has gone through several name change but I will use Kingdom Hearts Union. The movie focuses on events during the time of fairy tale before the first Keyblade War. The Master of Masters has disappeared but has tasked his five apprentices to create Unions of Keyblade wielders to ready them for the prophesied Keyblade War and to protect the worlds light.

I know the idea behind this movie is to provide those who didn’t play Union with the information from the game that will be important in feature Kingdom Hearts game but honestly only thing I got out of it is that I don’t like or trust the Master of Masters. I personally think he’s playing everyone for a plan he is not explaining yet. After watching this movie I still feel like I need to watch a full cut scene complication or play through of Union and will also need to read the Wikipedia pages to really understand this part of Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep-A Fragmentary Passage is the story of what happened to Aqua after she became stuck in the realm of darkness at the end of Birth by Sleep. Its been about ten years that she as been stuck in the realm of darkness and its starting to get to her. It is also revealed that she helped Mickey and Riku close that door to darkness that they closed at the end of the original Kingdom Hearts game. You only play as Aqua in this game but it does give you a chance to see how Kingdom Hearts 3 will look and feel like. Aqua is one of my favorite characters in the series and I can’t wait to see how her story ends. I just want her to find her friends again and know that they will be okay.

May 2022 Illumicrate

Illumicrate is a UK based fantasy and science fiction book box that has monthly boxes or just a monthly book only subscription. Each box also includes a selection of bookish goodies some more practical, others more decorative set around a monthly theme. May’s theme is In the Dark.

The items included in this box are a Nevernight Gravebone replica dagger, the next in the Greek mythology inspired tea cup and saucer featuring the goddess Nyx, a blackout journal inspired by Daughter of the Moon Goddess, and a Monstress metal bookmark.

Illumicrate, like other book boxes, include a new hard cover each month and most months a letter from the author. This months book is Book of Night by Holly Black which is Holly Black’s first adult novel. The story follows Charlie who lives in a world where ones shadow can be altered. But as a small time con artist she is trying to distance herself from underground but to survive she ends up in a storm of secrets and murder where everyone is trying to control the magic of the shadows. This edition also has an exclusive cover, foil on the hardback, art on the endpapers, black sprayed edges, and a bound in author letter with a digital signature.

June’s theme is Fight For Your Future.

Video Game Review: Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance was originally a game for the Nintendo 3DS but has since been ported to the PlayStation 4 as part of the 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue collection and that is how I played it. This the last full game before Kingdom Hearts 3 and mainly sets up any last plot points that we need to know to get to the story of Kingdom Hearts 3.

The story follows Sora and Riku during their Mark of Mastery exam to determine if they are true Keyblade Masters. Master Yen Sid tasks them with traveling to the different sleeping world and wake them while learning the Power of Waking that will be needed to save all those connected to Sora in preparation for the final battle against Xehanort. This game also finally explains what Xehanorts ultimate plan is with some explanation as to why but I believe more will be explained in Kingdom Hearts 3.

Gameplay wise its the same action JRPG that we’ve grown to love the series for with added elements of the command deck that was introduced in Birth by Sleep. As the characters travel through the sleeping worlds instead of Donald and Goofy being party members you are joined by Dream Eaters, spirits that will help you through out the game and are kind of like Pokémon as you can new one and increase their levels as you play. I like the concept of the Dream Eaters but was not a fan on how they are implemented as it feels like a gimmick to me.

The other two big changes to the game play is the drop system and flow motion. As you play as both Sora and Riku there is a timer that forces you to switch between the characters most of the time you can avoid dropping when you don’t want to but it does add some pressure to finish each characters story in each world as fast as possible. Flow motion allows a much greater vertically and fluidness to the characters movement. Flow motion pretty much means that you can bounce off walls and spin around objects as well as many other things to attack swarms of enemies and get up on higher ground.

Overall, I had a lot of funning playing this game but this is where the series starts to be more confusing that it needed to be. As time travel is now an element to the series and it is expected by this point that you have played and understood all the games that came before that plot is a lot to deal with. As I’m invested in the characters, world, and story that has been created in this series I feel I like I have a good grasp on everything. However, for those interested in but have never played I can see you hearing about the plot can be very confusing and possibly make you not want to try the series.

April 2022 Illumicrate

Illumicrate is a UK based fantasy and science fiction book box that has monthly boxes or just a monthly book only subscription. Each box also includes a selection of bookish goodies some more practical, others more decorative set around a monthly theme. April’s theme is Nothing But Thieves.

The items included in this box are an Art History book pot, a Song of the Sprits Papercraft Kit, a print album, and fa Gilded Wolves Bookmark set.

Illumicrate, like other book boxes, include a new hard cover each month and most months a letter from the author. This months book is Portrait of A Thief by Grace D. Li which follows Will a senior at Harvard who is contacted by a Chinese benefactor to help steal back five Chinese sculptures. If the crew succeeds they earn fifty million dollar but it they fail they could loose everything. This edition also has sprayed edges, foiling on the hardback, and art on the reverse of the dust jacket.

May’s theme is In the Dark.