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.

Book Review: Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

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.

March 2021 Wrap Up

In March I read five books and only watch a couple of documentaries. I’m also currently playing Persona 5 The Royal but I know that it will take me a while to finish it.


The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson is Larson’s newest nonfiction historical book. This time he focuses on Churchill during the first year as Prime Minster and the air attacks from Germany. Erik Larson is one of those historians that can write history like its fiction and he’s just telling a story which makes his book far easier to understand even if you don’t know much about the history he is writing about. Though this is very well written, to me it focuses on too many people at times which made me question why he was writing about them. Overall, a great book for anyone who loves history especially the history of World War II.

Chopping Spree by Angela Sylvaine is a short horror novel set in a 1980s style mall and is very reminiscent of the slasher movies from that time. I received a copy though NetGalley and have a full review posted. It very much reminded me of the teen horror books by R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike and I think that you would like it if you liked those. The main plot revolves around Penny and her friends as they run from a killer that they are trapped in a mall with but does have some twists. I only thing I wish is that it was a little longer as I think the twist would have worked better in a longer format.

A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture: Love at First Bite by Violet Fenn is exactly what it sounds like. This is a nonfiction book about vampires and how vampires are portrayed in popular culture. I received a copy through NetGalley and I have a full review posted. I’ve never read any books about vampires in popular culture but most of this information can be found in other places but as its newer there more focus on more recent movies and tv shows featuring vampires. I good book for those who love vampires and the many way that they are used in different mediums.

Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire is McGuire’s take on superheroes in a world that when a kid finds out they have powers a cooperation that controls most of the hero’s lives gets them to join one of their groups. We follow Velma, who has the power to animate toys and used to be a hero by the name Velveteen, as she attempts to drive from California to Portland for a job interview. As she travels though California she needs up using her powers to help several people and get attention from the marketing department of The Super Patriots Inc who she is trying to stay away from and then agrees to be a superhero for Portland. An interesting take on superheroes and the image of being a hero. Though this is all one connected story each “chapter” is more like a short story but they need to be read in order to be understood. I liked this and plan to read the rest of the series but not my favorite of Seanan McGuire’s works.

Monstress volume five by Marjorie Lu and Sana Taked is the next volume in the graphic novel series Monstress. I love this seires and the amazing artwork. This volume we follow Maika as she helps defend the Arcanic city of Ravenna from the war that is starting. The only thing that I didn’t really like is the fact that Kippa can be an idiot though I understand her reasoning behind the actions she takes.

Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Between Earth and Sky #1)

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is an adult fantasy inspired by Pre-Columbian Americas and the different civilizations that existed during that time. Roanhorse weaves a tale of prophecies, politics, and magic to create a unique fantasy world that is wonderfully realized and set the backdrop for a set of characters that paths will all intertwine.

In the city of Tova, the winter solstice is a time for celebration but when it coincides with a solar eclipse what is expected is in jeopardy. Xiala, a ship captain and Teek (women who can control the sea), is tasked to bring Serapio, a blind young man, to Tvoa before the solstice to face his destiny. Narapa, the young Sun Priest, who many don’t think deserves her position as she came from the slums is also tied into what ever fate Serapio brings. While Okoa, a member of the worshipers of the Crow God, attempts to find out why his mother died and if it was murder.

I loved the premise of the story and liked most of the book. However, the story is told through the perspectives of our four main characters and I only was interested in two of the perspectives. I love Serapio’s story as we start with how he became blind and believes himself to be the avatar for the Crow God that will destroy the Sun Priest. Xiala is a badass sea captain who happens to have magical powers and I just want more of her story. I also enjoyed her growing relationship with Serapio and the tragedy that it seems to be.

I found Narapa’s sections to be boring and I found myself not wanting to read her chapter’s which in the end caused me to skim read them. I understand why her perspective is used and given the ending I excited to see where her story will go. Okoa had the fewest chapters and not well developed but I feel like he will grown in the next book.

Though the book starts out slow when the plot ramps up its a race to the end. And that ending took me by surprise and left me wanting so much more. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Book Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

ByFireAbove_hc.inddMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire is an adult fantasy novel about alchemy, language, math, and family. The story follows Roger and Dodger who were created by Reed to embody the Doctrine of Ethos which would allow someone to control how the world works. Adopted by different families Roger is all languages and works while Dodger is math and logic. When they connect as children talking to each other in their minds they know something is different about them and that it could be dangerous.

The story takes the reader brought different points of Roger and Dodgers life as they try to figure out why and how they are connected and how they can change plans made for them.

If you are interested in reading Middlegame I would recommend being familiar the fantasy genre as this does turn some fantasy tropes on its head. Also their is some dark material in this book primarily related to attempted suicide and the aftermath.

Middlegame is not an easy book or story to explain but it’s beautifully written and one of Seanan McGuire’s bests works. It’s one of my favorite book that I’ve read this year and I read it at the exact right time.





Book Review: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #4)

91478Summer Knight by Jim Butcher is the fourth book in the Dresden Files series. This book follows Dresden as he deals with the consequences of starting a war against the vampire courts. The main plot focuses more on the Fae Courts and his deal with Leananshidhe who sold it to Mab, the Winter Queen. Dresden must now work for Mab and attempt to find out who killed the Summer Knight.

This book gives more information of how the different Fae and other creatures work in this world. As well as finally showing us the White Council of Wizards. We get some more of Harry’s back story and how he became a member of the White Council. I really liked the new characters introduced especially Ebeneezer McCoy and Elaine as they give more information on Dresden’s past.

The main conflict of the story is that Dresden needs to find out who killed the Summer Knight before war can break out between the Fae Court while also proving himself to the White Council which if he doesn’t they will let the Vampire Courts kill him.

Every book of the Dresden Files keeps getting better and better. When I first started the series I didn’t know if I would continue with it but the world and stories which are better in each book keep bring me back.

Book Review:Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

49950349Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst is a new young adult standalone fantasy that follows a pair a strong women who are willing to risk their lives in their quest to become champions in the monster racing.

In the world of Becar who you are in this life determines who and what you are in the next. The augurs can read your fate so you can change your destiny. But the darkest of souls cannot be changed and you come back as a kehok, a monster that will never find redemption except through the races.

Tamra is an elite kehok rider and trainer who is down on her luck and needs the prize money from the races to stop the local augur temple from taking her daughter away. Raia is a young woman desperate to get away from her family and the awful man she is meant to marry. As a kehok rider she could win enough money to gain her freedom. Tamra agrees to train Raia to ride a new unusual kehok and attempt to win the races.

Through the story its apparent that is kehok is different and may hold the key to the death of the last emperor and the future of the nation of Becar.

The book is very fast paced and I often didn’t want to put it down. You are thrown into the story with very little explanation of the world or society but its done in a way that you want to find out more. I enjoyed the story and though its a standalone book I could see other stories set in this world. The only thing I would add is a pronunciation guide for the new words in this world and society.

Book Review: Grave Peril By Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #3)

91476Grave Peril by Jim Butcher is the third book in the Dresden Files series. The story once again as always follows Harry Dresden, a wizard living in Chicago who helps the police with supernatural crimes. This time ghosts are causing trouble all over Chicago and many people affect are somehow connected to Harry.

The story starts out with what seems to be typical for Dresden at the moment trying to stop ghosts from killing anyone but as the story progresses there is a connection to a demon who Harry defeated before and their might be bigger problems coming.

Many people say that book three is where the series starts to get good and I agree that Jim Butcher has found his footing with the series and the stories he wants to tell. Grave Peril starts to give the reader more information about Harry’s backstory and the supernatural world that is connected to our modern world. The supernatural elements are better fleshed out and the stakes are being raised in this book as we see what Harry will do to protect the people he cares about.

As if the other books in this series, I read it as an audio book which is brilliantly narrated by James Marsters which makes me like the series even more. Unlike, the first two books I completely enjoyed the story and can’t wait to continue on with the series.





Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgerstern

9361589The Night Circus by Erin Morgerstern is a adult literary fiction and fantasy novel that follows two main protagonists, Ceila and Marco, who are competing against one another at a magical circus and try not to fall in love.

It took me awhile to get through The Night Circus not because it bad at all but because its a fairly slow book and I needed things that were fast paced at the time. The book is beautifully written and would be a good book for those who might not be fantasy readers. The main story covers multiple characters and time frames but focuses on the circus that all the main character live and work at which is where all the magic is.

Though Ceila and Marco are being pitted against each other because of a challenge their magical teachers have constructed they don’t have much of a real conflict with each other. Their story is more of show casing their magic and through learning more about each other trying not to fall in love.

Though the plot revolves around the circus, its traveling and how this contest has trapped all those who work at the circus the real focus of the book is about the stories we tell and the power they have.

I absolutely loved the Night Circus but I think I would have loved it even more if I hadn’t been in a slump and I look forward to reading it again.