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. February’s theme is To the Moon and Back.
The bookish items included this month are a pair of Starless Sea socks, a Crescent City necklace, a Wicked Fox art print, a set of celestial bookends with the moon, sun, and starts, and a Daughter of the Moon Goddess tote bag. The monthly tarot cards feature character art from the Red Rising series.
All Fairyloot books come with exclusive covers, signed by the author and include a letter from the author. This month the book is Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan and also has digitally sprayed edges, artwork on the endpapers and foiling on the hardback. Inspired by the legend of Chang’e the Moon Goddess, the story follows Xingyin who has been hidden from the Celestial Emperor and raised on the moon. When her magic is discovered she flees and must leave her mother behind. In disguise she ends up training with the Emperor’s son but to rescue her mother she must challenge the Emperor and could lose all that she loves.
In January I read four books and finished two video games. I haven’t been watching that much except for a few documentaries, The Return to Hogwarts Special on HBO was the only one that I loved.
The first book I finished for this year was Dune by Frank Herbert which I had started in October but it took me a long time to finish. I feel like Dune is one of those stories that you hear a lot about but is still kind of hard to explain. We follow Paul as his family is given control of Arrakis, a desert planet know as Dune. When his family is betrayed Paul and his mother escape into the desert a way from the cities and join the local inhabitants the Fremen. Paul becomes a chosen one/messiah know as the Muad’Dib and plans to take over the galactic empire. Dune is one of those books that can take a while to understand what is happening due to all the information that is parceled out through the story but its also very readable. Personally, I found the ending weird and somewhat confusing though I like the book overall. Dune is the first book in a series but it reads well as a standalone and I don’t plan on continuing. I feel like if you are interested in reading Dune you should give it a shot but its not this amazing must read and it might not be for you.
Next I read Greek Myths: Meet the Heroes, Gods and Monsters of Ancient Greece by Jean Menzies which is an illustrated children’s books about Greek Myths. I bought this primarily for the art and to support the author. Since its a children’s book I knew most if not all the information in this book but this one of those books that I wish I had as a kid.
Siren Queen by Nigh Vo is an adult fantasy novel set in 1930s Hollywood in a world where the worst monsters are not on screen and immortality can be gained by being in the movies. I received an early review copy through Netgalley and I also have a full review posted. Luli Wei is a Chinese-American girl who wants to be in movies but would rather play the monster instead of the maid. When the studios own everything Luli is willing to do what ever it takes to become a star. Siren Queen is an amazing critical and magical take on old Hollywood. Luli is one of those characters that you love but is not the best person. This book made me want to read more of Nigh Vo’s work.
Hide by Kiersten White is a contemporary horror/thriller where fourteen people are in a competition to play hide and seek in an abounded amusement park to win enough money to change their lives. The main character Mack feels like she can beat the others but when people start disappearing two a day it becomes clear something else is going on. I loved this book and it reminded me somewhat of the movie Cabin in the woods. I received an early review copy through Netgalley and I also have a full review posted.
I finished two video games in January Persona 5: Strikers and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight which I have full reviews posted for both.
Persona 5: Strikers is a hack and slash Dynasty Warriors style fighting game that combines game play elements from Persona 5. The plot is set during the summer break after the events of Persona 5 where Joke and the rest of the Phantom Thieves are planning a camping trip but end up having to go back into the Metaverse to destroy newly created jails where the shadow of the jails ruler is stealing desires. This was a fun game that I loved but I’m not a fan on how the stealth works in the game. If you are a fan of Persona 5 you should give the game a try.
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is a rhythm dancing game that is very light on the plot. The twins bring the Phantom Thieves into the Metaverse through their dreams to try to win a dance competition between the siblings that help in the Velvet Room. This is one of those games that you will like only if you are both a Persona 5 fan and don’t mind rhythm games. I liked it but its one of those games that I don’t think I will ever play again.
Siren Queen By Nghi Vo is set in the 1930’s Hollywood but in a world where the worst monsters are not on screen. Luli Wei is a Chinese-American girl who wants to be in movies but would rather play the monster than the maid. When the studios own everything, Luli is willing to do whatever in takes to become a star. I received an early review copy through NetGalley.
Siren Queen is an amazing critical and magical take on old Hollywood. Luli is one of those characters that you love and want to root for but in many ways she is not a good person. Near the end you have that feeling that things aren’t going to go her way which makes the ending much more satisfyingly. I love the fact that it takes a while for the title to real make since as it is a monster that make Luli famous.
My one criticism of the story is that the magic is never really explained however the writing sucks you in in a way that that doesn’t matter that much. I just would have like to see how everyone knows how the magic works. Also I do wish the book was a little longer just because I love the world that Nigh Vo crated and would love to see more of. This book made me want to read Nigh Vo’s other works even more.
October ended up being a very good month for me I read six books, finished playing Final Fantasy VII, and watched a couple of movies.
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is the first book in an adult fantasy duology inspired by fairytales. In this world the ruling family that has two daughter the first will gain the throne but the second is for the Wolf in the woods. As the Second Daughter, Red is sacrificed to the Wolf in an attempt to save the captured gods that has not returned in centuries. However, the stories and everything she knows are not in fact true and with her sister trying to get her back Red must learn to trust herself and her magic to protect those she loves. I loved the characters and the fairytale feel of this book. It took me a while to finish this book but I’m looking forward to the sequel. I received a copy through NetGalley for review.
Shadow of the Moon by Zoe Marriott is a young adult fantasy novel inspired by Japanese culture and is a loose retelling of Cinderella. Suzume is a young girl who witnesses her fathers murder and finds out she has the power of shadow weaving/creating illusions. When she finds out her new stepfather was the one who ordered her fathers death she will do what ever it takes to get revenge. This is a reread for me as I read the book years ago though I don’t remember anything from that first read through. Its a good ya fantasy that for me now reads a little young but I still love the world building and the fairytale inspiration.
The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport is a historical nonfiction book that is as the title say focuses on the last days of the Romanovs while being held in Ekaterinburg. As I’m read a lot about the Romanovs this book was not as interesting as some others I’ve read and contained more information about the politics and machinations surrounding the Romanovs than about the Romanovs themselves. However, Helen Rappaport makes even less interesting topic very easy to read about.
Slender Man by Anonymous is a horror novel that uses the internet creation of Slender Man. The story follows Matt who’s friend Lauren goes missing and the weird dream and events happening that lead him to believe that she was taken by Slender Man. The story is told through police reports, transcripts of audio logs, texts and other characters writings that allows that story to read very fast and plays with the idea that Slender Man get into your head. I didn’t find the story all that creepy but I was never into Slender Man when it was very popular online.
X-Men: Black is a collection of five X-Men issues that focuses on the more villainous characters. I bought this to read Seanan McGuire’s Mystique issue and while I like the stories overall as someone who doesn’t read many X-Men comics I was a little confused. This is best for fans but I did like the Mystique, Magneto, and Emma Frost stories.
Let’s Party by R. L. Stine is the first book in the Fear Street Senior series. I read this series when I was younger and when I came across this book again I decided to reread it and I would love to read the whole series. Not a lot happens with this book but you are introduced to many of the characters that will be focused on and the implication of what will happen in the future has it seems like the entire high school senior class is doomed. I didn’t love this as much as I remember but its not written for my age any more.
I watched to horror movies this month Ouija and Slender Man which where both good teen horrors but I didn’t love either of them. Mostly near the end of both I was just a little board. Though I love horror and horror movies as I’ve gotten older I find that I don’t enjoy stories where the teenage characters that do something dumb are killed or harshly punished for doing things that they didn’t know would have consequences. I know that horror movie need something to happen to kick off everything but at the same time I would prefer that a least some of the characters had good ending. I think my taste in horror is changing but I haven’t figured out what I love just yet.
I finished Final Fantasy VII and have a full review posted as well. While I love this game, story, and characters I don’t think I will ever play it again since I finished and the remake is coming out. I look forward to what the remake will change and update but the original will always have a place in my heart.
In September I read four books which was a bit of a struggle as I’ve not been in much of a reading mood and have had trouble getting into different stories. However, I’ve been playing more video games and watching different shows lately.
After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque through Revolution and War by Helen Rappaport is a historical nonfiction book about the lives of the Russian Exiles in Paris primarily aristocrats, artist, and intellectual who escaped Russia during and in the aftermath of the Revolution. This book includes interesting information that focuses mainly on specific individuals with some information related to the exiles as a whole. As Russian history is not my main focus of study, though I do find it interesting, I had some trouble with names and who different people were but those with a better understanding of Russian history and culture shouldn’t have this problem. For me I prefer accounts about the Romanovs themselves. I received an advanced review copy through Netgalley.
The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a horror novel that follows a group of women who survived the monsters that came after them. However, someone knows about this group and is now threating to destroy the little peace they have gained. The story is told through Lynnette who has decided the best way to survive is to be very paranoid and have multiple escape plans in place which is understandable but I found her and most of the characters as unlikable. I love the concept of this story, the beginning, and the hidden references to real world slasher movies but I think I would have enjoyed this story much more as a movie or TV show. I received an early review copy through Netgalley.
Fazbear Frights #7: The Cliffs by Scott Cawthon is another collection of stories set in the Five Nights at Freddy’s world. This set of stories I found fairly boring overall though there is some very creepy body horror. Though no story in this series is very serious they are starting to get to the point that the ridiculous scenario are impacting my enjoyment. I feel that those who love horror and the series overall will still like this collection but others in the series have been better.
Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History by Nick Barratt is a historical nonfiction book about the sinking of the Titanic. Combining archive material, eye witness account, and the inquiries into the sinking the author tries to get an accurate picture of the sinking. Unlike other books this one looks at the historical context of the world the sinking happened in and some information on the aftermath and consequences. Very well written but does cover information that I already knew and most works now cover.
I have been watching more shows this month but due to several stressful situations I’ve mostly been watching documentaries as I feel like I don’t have to pay as much attention to these compared to shows is overarching plots. These documentaries include LuLaRich and The Vow: A NXIVM Story. However, I did watch the live action Dumbo movie which I found very cute and lighthearted.
I have also been working my way through the original Final Fantasy VII and I’m about half way done. I do plan to have a full review for this game once I have finished it.
In August I read four books and started playing the original Final Fantasy VII. So I had a fairly good month overall.
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man who Wrote Dracula by David J. Skal is a nonfiction book about Bram Stoker’s life and the different influences on the creation of Dracula. Contains plenty of general information the main focuses is on Bram Stoker’s relationship with the actor Henry Irving and his acquaintance with Oscar Wilde. This is a book that any fan of Dracula should read.
Desperate Measures by Katee Robert is the first book in a Dark Romance/Erotica series that focuses on different Disney characters mostly the princess having a sexual and romantic relationship with the villain. Desperate Measure is a Jasmin and Jafar romance. I call these a dark romance but it definitely is more an erotica as the sex is the main point. Very sexy and well written but does have a few kinks that are not my favorite personal. Also warning for consensual non-consent. Jasmin likes to act like she is being forced but she is consenting to everything that happens.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the second book in the Locked Tomb series. Set after the events Gideon the Ninth where Harrow has become a Lyctor and is now working for the Emperor. However, there is something wrong with Harrow and many secrets are being kept. Didn’t like this one as much as Gideon the Ninth due to the large sections written in second person and overall this is a very confusing book. I do have a full review for this book as well.
One Hundred and Sixty Minutes: The Race to Save the RMS Titanic by William Hazelgrove is a nonfiction book about the sinking of the Titanic. Tells the story through the network of wireless operators. It counts down to the sinking by looking at who got the information and where the ships were when they got the information about the sinking. Focuses on what the different wireless operators, ship captains, and others attempted in the race to save the people if not the ship herself. Also focuses on what mistakes were made and who is a fault for those mistakes which does make it feel a little biased against specific people.
Owl Crate is a young adult book subscription box where every month you receive one new hardcover book and an assortment of bookish goodies connected to the monthly theme. Some of these items are very practical and some are better suited as décor or for a pin/bulletin board. July’s theme is Potions and Poisons.
Each box includes different bookish goodies that fit the theme of the month and are connected to other books. This months items include an Owlcrate TBR Jar, a popsicle mold, a bottle keychain that can be filled with hand sanitizer or lotion, a tea towel with art of different poisonous plants, a bubble bath inspired by The Midnight Lie, and an enamel bookmark inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
Every month Owl Crate has a new young adult hardback book that has an exclusive cover, is signed and comes with a letter from the author. The enamel pin that is in every box is also inspired by that months book. This months book is The Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron which also has foiling on the hardback and art on the reverse of the dust jacket. The story follows Briseis who has the power to grow plants with a single touch. When she and her parent move into a new house they’ve just inherited they hope that Briseis can learn to control her gift. However, the house holds many secrets and Briseis wants to uncover them all.
In June I read seven books including two nonfiction and two manga. I also finished Persona 5 The Royal and the video game Journey.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in duology set in the Grisha world that takes place after the events of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy but focuses on new characters and locations is this world. We follow Kaz Brekker a criminal in the trade hub of Ketterdam and his crew as they attempt a dangerous heist that could make them rich but also they may be the only ones who can stop the destruction of the world as they know it. In general while I love the Grisha world I heated where the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and with this series being so hyped I tried not to have too high of expectations. I loved all the characters but felt at times there was too much information about everyone’s backstories. Not my favorite but I do plan to continue with the series.
The Anthropocene Review by John Green is a nonfiction selection of essays that Green wrote reviewing different things and topics in the world. This includes both personal accounts and background on the history of the topic. I book that I find hard to review but one that I absolutely loved. For me I feel like I read this book at the right time and otherwise I might not have loved it as much.
Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is a nonfiction book about the women who worked on the Ocean Liners traveling between Europe and North America. While this book is incredibly detailed I was expecting more about the individual women and their personal lives and less about the Ocean Liners and the general history of the time. I’m also surprised that a fellow historian who perpetuate misconceptions of the Titanic Sinking. Specifically, the reported 300 foot gash at caused the ship to sink. Though this was reported in newspaper after the sinking and believed by many, multiple Titanic historians and researchers, including Tim Maltin, have determined that the damage was intermittent. However, even with these criticisms I do see this book as a good starting point for someone who is interested in Ocean Liners and the women who worked on them.
Sailor Moon Eternal volumes 3 and 4 are the continuation of the Sailor Moon manga series. We start where volume 2 leaves off with a mysterious girl threating Uasgi which starts the Black Moon Arc where the Black Moon Clan from the feature is threating the world. Volume 4 finishes off this Arc which is not my favorite because of Chibi-Usa becoming Black Lady as I find this part of the story creepy and off-putting. Also I personal prefer the 90s anime translation where she becomes Wicked Lady as I feel it fits the story better. Overall this is still one of my favorite manga series which I plan to finish collecting in these editions.
The Ivies is a young adult thriller that follows a group of high schoolers at a prestigious boarding school that will do anything to get into the Ivy League Universities. When Olivia and Emma secretly get into Harvard while Aery who expects to but doesn’t is furious. The next day when Emma is found dead Olivia decides to investigate to find out who killed Emma. I love the premise of this book and the attention given to toxic friend groups. However, I didn’t connect with the characters of the story. I feel as a recent college graduate that I’m a little removed from the drama of high school but this would be perfect for students currently in high school or those that love the high school setting.
Skin Deep by Renee Miller is a short horror novella that follows Victoria MacDonald who wants to find a way to die beautifully and ends up becoming a murder. This wasn’t what I was expecting. Since the book starts out with Victoria’s mother selling her daughters soul to say beautiful and the obsession’s with dying beautifully I thought that it would become a story where Victoria has to kill to stay beautiful. The switch from her trying to die to get sexual gratification from murder is very fast and not something that the story gives enough time to the reader to understand. Also there is no reason to have the selling ones soul as an aspect of this story. Given the subject matter the book uses in the plot I’m surprised that there were no trigger warnings listed at the beginning.
This month I finished two video games, Persona 5 The Royal and Journey.
Persona 5 The Royal is a retooled version of the original Persona 5 with new story elements. The main plot is that you are a normal high school student that is now on probation after attempting to stop a sexual assault and the man got injured. You and your group of friend get pulled into the Metaverse where you awaken a Persona and fight against the corrupted cognitions of others. I love this game and also have a full review posted.
Journey on the other hand is a much different game. You play as a robed figure traveling through a desert trying to reach the mountains in the distance. This is a very visual and emotional game that doesn’t use any dialogue. A game to pick up on a lazy afternoon when one wants a game that is very different from others.
In May I only read three books but I did start a new part time job recentlyke and I’m still getting used to going back to work. I also have been playing Persona 5 The Royal and I’m past the half way point in the game. I hope to finish Persona 5 sometime in the next month or so and post a full review for it.
Keeping Their Marbles: how the treasures of the past ended up in museums…and why they should stay there by Tiffany Jenkins is a museum nonfiction book about how museum collections ended up in museums, why they should stay in the museums, and a discussion of the place and purpose of museums. I really liked this book as it articulated many things that I personally believe but didn’t know how to best put it into words. This book is great for those in the museum field or those that want to better understand museums.
Five Nights at Freddy’s Fazbear Frights #6: Blackbird by Scott Cawthon is the sixth short story collection set in the FNAF world. The first two stories are not as connected to Freddy’s or the different characters from the Pizzeria but I like seeing different aspects of this world. Overall, I liked this collection more as less horrible things happened to people in the wrong place at the wrong time or dumb kids being kids. However, the small section of the story at the end that connects all the book did get a bit too ridiculous.
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers is the third book in the Wayfarers series. This one focuses primarily on life in the Exodus Fleet that consists of the descendants of the humans who left Earth but never settled on another planet but just stayed in the Fleet. I love this series but I found that this book had too many perspectives of characters that I didn’t like. I ended up skimming some of the perspectives and think that I would have liked this story better if there had been less characters. I do plan on reading the next book in the series.
Book Gizmo is a small independent business that mainly does book sleeves and accessories. I’ve ordered multiple times from Book Gizmo and have loved everything that I’ve ordered. The owner has been doing monthly boxes for a while now but I never order one until now. The March box theme sounded amazing and the knowledge that there where going to be Grisha verse items sold me on it. Especially since I’m very excited for the Netflix Shadow and Bone adaption coming out in April.
The items included where:
a new book “jacket” style book sleeve inspired by Shadow and Bone
a Lord of the Rings art print
a Fable inspired book band
a candle inspired by the Iron Fae series
a Lord of the Rings magnet
a face mask
a Witcher face mask
The Deluxe Box included three items that where not in the base box these where a Second Army T-shirt and mug with that you could chose which order of the second army you wanted. The last item is a soap dispenser inspired by Kaz Brekker.