Andy Weir

November’s Illumicrate Box

This months Illumicrate box arrived this weekend and I when I opened it I was so pumped! But first things first, let me do the usual spiel at the start of a subscription box unboxing. Illumicrate is a quarterly UK based YA subscription box that unlike some subscription boxes doesn’t have a theme each time so you can get a real eclectic mix of goodies in the box each time. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK, it ships internationally but it does have a shipping cost that varies depending where in the world it’s travelling to. There’s always at least one book (though the last few boxes have included an ARC) and 4-6 goodies.

Now onto the box! I loved everything in this box – the goodies and the books(s) are all great and just the sort of thing I will actually use/appreciate.

First the goodies – and all but two of these things were Illumicrate exclusives. The first thing I saw was a bookish tea towel designed by Evannave Illustration which is lovely, and I will be taking it with me when I move to a new place in a couple of weeks. Then there was a print with a quote from J.K. Rowling from Nutmeg and Arlo and a moon and stars necklace from Oh Panda Eyes, which I’ve given to a friend because I knew she’d love it. There was a candle from Meraki Candles called Reading in Bed and it smells of hot chocolate and is a pale yellow with pink glitter on it and it smells divine. There was a 2018 Unicorn Journal from Prism Of Starlings which I will definitely be using. It’s a week per page (just how I like my diaries) and what’s really cool is it not only has the usual holidays already printed on the right day, but it also has various authors birthdays printed in it which is a nice touch for a book lover. There were also two samplers on for This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada and one for Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

Now onto the books. The first book I saw was an advanced reader copy of The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. I’d seen this book a bit over Twitter recently and I like how it’s set in eighteenth century Cairo and has magic and spirits. I’m looking forward to reading it even if it’s a big chunk of a book! Now the other book got me seriously excited! It’s Artemis by Andy Weir! I adored The Martian so much and I’ve been looking forward to Artemis a lot but because I don’t pre-order books I hadn’t realised it was now out. This copy is an exclusive Illumicrate edition with black sprayed edges and it also came with a bookmark and a travel brochure which I thought was a very nice touch. I honestly can’t wait to read Artemis and it’ll probably be my next read.

I really love everything in this quarters Illumicrate box and I definitely think it’s worth the price tag. I may have to cancel my subscription as I’m moving to a flat and while I know there’s post boxes for each flat, I’m not sure what happens to parcels – but I have three months to figure that out.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. Where has this year gone?! As we’ve only got a few weeks left, here’s the ten books I’ve loved the most this year. In June I talked about my favourite books I’d read so far this year so if you want to know about some other awesome books and to see which ones made both lists shimmy over here.

For once I’ve put these in order, going from ten to my number one book of the year.

FullSizeRender (91)10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I love me some thrillers with unreliable narrators and The Girl on the Train certainly has that! I loved how Rachel wasn’t reliable or even likable a lot of the time and it was one of those mysteries that left me guessing till the gripping finale.

 
FullSizeRender (82)9. Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid by Sid Lowe
Barcelona and Real Madrid’s rivalry is legendary and Fear and Loathing in La Liga delves deep into both clubs history and looks at Spain’s history too. This was a fascinating read, it was sometimes a bit dense and a little dull when it was talking about players I didn’t know about but on the whole it was great read.

 
FullSizeRender (99)8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I thought A Monster Calls was just a children’s book and I was so wrong! Yes it has illustrations and is about a young boy but it deals with grief and death and abandonment so well. It really makes you think and the beautiful passages go so well with the often scary drawings.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books I’ve Read This Year So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. As we are now half way through the year (how has that happened?!) today’s Top Ten Tuesday is the ten best books you’ve read so far this year. If I’ve reviewed the book mentioned, its title will go to my review where you can see me gush even more about it.

The Martian by Andy WeirFullSizeRender (75)
I loved the humour in this book. Mark Watney has such a realistic voice, I can image him being on Mars and being like “Well now what? Guess I’ll grow some potatoes.” All the characters were interesting and flawed and the story was gripping and funny. I cannot wait for the film adaptation – it’s probably one of the films I’m most looking forward to this year.

FullSizeRender (90)Doubletake by Rob Thurman
It was great to return to the Cal Leandros series after so long. Robin Goodfellow was still his usual self – though a little on edge due to family stuff and it was nice to learn more about Nico’s side of the family. I’ve still got more books in this series to catch up on which I’m looking forward to doing.

Secret Avengers by Ales Kot and Michael WalshFullSizeRender (57)
Secret Avengers is a lot of fun. The characters are great, the story’s exciting and fun, and the art is wonderful. If you’re not sure where to start with Marvel comics – give Secret Avengers a go. (more…)

REVIEW: The Martian by Andy Weir

FullSizeRender (75)Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. He’s got a limited amount of food, a limited amount of water and a limited amount of air. He is very likely going to die.

I loved The Martian! It’s a story of survival but never stops the characters from being incredibly realistic. For instance, when something goes wrong (like its wont to do when you’re on Mars) it’s perfectly natural to spend some time panicking or ranting and raving before pulling yourself together to figure out what you’re going to do next.

Watney is a great narrator and likeable character. His sarcasm in the fate of certain death is funny and he’s obviously smart – he’s an astronaut so he’s got to be – but he often has to figure things out you’d never normally have to do in space.

The Martian is full of scientific jargon and facts and figures as Watney works out how to survive. I have no head for science and especially not the sort of stuff astronauts know but it was very accessible as Watney often was working through the problems himself so it explained it all relatively simply to the reader.

I picked up The Martian because I heard there was going to be a film adaptation and I loved the cast – seriously everyone in this film is great. I’m so glad I read The Martian as while I’m hearing good things about the film, the book is going to be tough to beat.

The Martian is funny yet tense and gripping. All the characters are great, especially the people of NASA who are trying to help Watney survive but at the same time there’s very little that they can do. I personally loved Annie NASA’s PR woman – as someone who’s now working in PR I can understand her pain when it comes to both the press and the people she’s working for.

At its heart The Martian is a story of survival and how the whole world can come together to try and help one guy because stories of hope and success are what help people feel good about itself.

I can’t recommend The Martian enough and it’s definitely one of my favourite books this year so far. 5/5.