Something Special

  • Something Special

    Favourite Books of 2020

    Somehow I ended up reading more in 2020 than I ever have before (at least as far as I can remember). I aimed to read around 200 books as usual, and now, close to the very end of the year I’m aiming to hit 365 books read, one for each day of the year. Only a handful left to go! Among all these books were a lot of wonderful books, and I have chosen just three each for the various categories I read in. All the books in this post were five star reads that have stood out and I would unreservedly recommend (and order of naming is not to indicate order of preference).

    In terms of Adult SFF, my absolute favourite books this year were Sistersong, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Once and Future Witches. I got to review all three of these early, and damn, it was hard to wait until everyone else had the opportunity to read them so I had people go gush over them. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow is a historical tale of suffragettes crossed with witchcraft. It is wonderfully written and features three sisters, utterly different but united in their struggle to persevere against the patriarchy. I reviewed it here, and you can order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab speaks of isolation and depression and how they effect our lives and personalities through the story of a girl who makes a deal with a devil for eternal life – only to have everyone she encounters forget her immediately. This book spoke to me on a level few books ever have and I love it with my whole heart. I have loved all of Schwab’s work, but this is the best one to date. Fantasy for people who like literary tales and the most amazing characters. See my review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The third book on this list, Sistersong by Lucy Holland is not actually out until April, but I was able to read an ARC of this haunting tale. My review isn’t written yet (I’m struggling to get past THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND YOU NEED IT), but should be on Grimdark Magazine soon. Sistersong is the story of three siblings, retelling the ‘Twa Sisters’ folk ballad. It is set in a late antique Britain just before the coming of the Saxons, and tells of the society and struggles encountered by high-born women (and trans men – it features a character who we would call transmasculine today). Pre-order it from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    In terms of YA, the three books I loved most have one thing in common: they are all retellings in one way or another. Legendborn, These Violent Delights and Dark and Deepest Red are uttely different, but I love all of them unreservedly. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai. Constantly in conversation with the famous play, These Violent Delights surpasses its source material by weaving a tale of colonialism, racial tension and supernatural plague with the memorable characters based on Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by a host of side characters that have just as much personality. Check out my review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    I spent much of 2020 reading books based on medieval legends. But Legendborn is the one Arthurian-inspired novel that truly stood out from the crop. I loved this contemporary YA fantasy so much. Set on a university campus and featuring a heroine going go college early, Tracy Deonn reimagines the Knights of the Round Table as a supernatural secret society. Mixed in with are themes of Black Girl Magic, slavery and racism in the US. My review’s here, and you can order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore was one of the first books I read in 2020 and it has stayed on my mind throughout the year. Combining the Strasbourg Dancing Plague of the early 16th century with the modern story of a girl and magical shoes, McLemore manages to write a near-perfect book (yes, Anna-Marie McLemore meets medieval legend is catnip for Fab). As all their books, Dark and Deepest Red features lyrical writing, queer characters and a Latinx twist. Order yourself a copy from Blackwell’s here.

    The three children’s book I chose are very different from each other, but I fell in love with all of them. A Kind of Spark, Orion Lost and The House of Hidden Wonders show the breadth of amazing children’s books currently being published in the UK. Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm is the first middle grade space sci-fi I’ve read and it was wonderful. Featuring a rag-tag crew, a lot of failure and a compelling narrative, this one snuck into my heart. I love it when characters are challenged and forced to learn from their mistakes, and that is definitely the case here. Get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is high up on my list of favourite middle grade books I’ve ever read. Featuring an own-voices autistic girl fighting for her goals, I feel like this should be required reading for everyone. Eleven year old Addie finds out about historic witch prosecutions in her Scottish town, and feeling a kinship with these women persecuted for being different, decides that she wants to dedicate a memorial to them. READ IT! See my full review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The House of Hidden Wonders by Sharon Gosling is also set in Scotland, however, this is a historical detective story (including a young Sherlock Holmes!). Addressing disability, this story also deals with difference and acceptance, and focuses on found family. I loved this charming and thrilling story and highly recommend it. Read my full review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    This list wouldn’t be complete without some graphic novels/mangas! My favourites this year were Vinland Saga, Mooncakes and The Daughters of Ys. Vinland Saga by Yakoto Mukimura was my re-introduction to the world of Anime and Manga – a good friend watched the Anime series with me, combining my love for Viking legend with her passion for visual story telling. This (long-running) manga series is the story of Thorfinn, a young boy who loses his father and is raised as a warrior among enemies. The narrative follows King Canute and the Vikings in England – that’s about as far as I’ve gotten, I’ve only read the first five volumes. I can’t wait to read more of my favourite disaster boy next year! Order a copy of the first volume from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux is based on a Breton folktale, tells a wonderfully dark story and has the most amazing art. I randomly picked this up in a shop and ended up loving it so much. Two royal sisters, Rozenn and Dahut both fight for their city in their own ways, and suitors to the princess mysteriously disappear in a city protected by magical walls… Order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Last on this list is the book that reignited my love for graphic novels this year: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. This adorable queer YA fantasy about werewolves, friendship and first love got me out of a massive reading slump during the first lockdown and I can’t rave about it enough. It is wonderful and cute and makes life better. Get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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    Summer Reading Blast

    Hello friends! If this were a normal summer, us UK book nerds would be queuing for things at YALC this weekend, so I thought it would be fun to do a round-up post of some supernatural YA to read this summer! I’ve read and enjoyed all of these, so I hope you will find something to pick up too.

    DISCLAIMER: I received e-ARCs of all of these books via Netgalley in exchange for my honest reviews.

    The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi doesn’t actually come out until September 22nd, but it’s worth the wait. The sequel to The Gilded Wolves takes the crew to Russia to try and save Laila… As the bookish community knows, a group heist novel is one of the best trends to come out of YA fantasy, and Roshani Chokshi does them better than most: diverse, full of history and mythology, with complex characters! Her protagonists are from marginalised backgrounds, autistic and queer, and exceedingly well-written, and I highly recommend this series (although the book ends on an evil cliffhanger, so be warned). Get a copy from Waterstones here!

    Filipino-American debut author Janella Angeles’ Where Dreams Descend is the tale of Kallia, a showgirl wanting to prove herself in the male-dominated world of stage magic. Joining a competition in the city of Glorian against all odds, she and her mentor, Demarco, soon are up against much more than either of them bargained for. Reminiscent of cult favourites such as The Night Circus and Caraval, Where Dreams Descend takes the reader into a world of illusion and glamour, both of the magical and the mundane kind. While this won’t be my new favourite book – it is too trope-heavy and reminiscent of mid-2010s YA for my personal taste and not gritty and philosophical enough, I see this being a summer hit and something much of YA fantasy fandom will love. Get your copy from Waterstones once it comes out on the 25th of August.

    Lobizona by Romina Garber is YA fantasy’s answer to illegal immigration meets Argentinian werewolves, out on the 4th of August. Telling the story of Manuela Azul, a young girl hidden away in Miami with her mother due to their undocumented state and her strange eyes, Lobizona deals with what it is like to be different in a world not set up for people who don’t fit society’s narrow mold, be that our human world or a more supernatural one. In a world where women are witches and men are werewolves, Manu is a unique hybrid, discovering her powers after running away from ICE and joining a sort of ‘magic school’. It is an interesting concept, and I loved the way it was set up, but the execution was predictable at times and failed to keep me immersed in the story. Manu herself was a bit of a Mary Sue character, and I was more invested in the side characters, who were more complex. But definitely a summer read to recommend! Order a copy off Book Depository here.

    While the three preceding books are all very clearly fantasy, this last book, Here Lie the Secrets by Emma Young, is more of a paranormal mystery. When Mia was thirteen, her best friend Holly died. But to Mia, Holly isn’t truly gone, though she’s never admitted that to anyone else. Years later, Mia is spending the summer in New York, when she meets Rav, a parapsychology student and ends up involved in the investigation of a haunted house. While Here Lie the Secrets is about ghosts and mysteries, it ends up being much more about self-discovery, dealing with trauma and growing up. It is a wonderful example of YA truly written for a teenage audience. Mia undergoes such a journey of growth over the course of the book that will resonate with many young people reading Here Lie the Secrets, and struggling with the changes coming with finishing school and starting a new part of life. The book as a whole is charming and compelling, and I do recommend getting yourself a copy from Waterstones (it’s out now).

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    The Arthurian Megapost

    This is something I’ve been cooking up for quite a while – I’ve been reading and collecting some of the hottest recent stories based on Arthurian myth! I love all the diversity that these authors have brought into medieval legend, and I’m sure you will find something that intrigues you!

    Look at this pile of books!

    A honorable mention needs to go out to Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, which will be published later this year. This modern take on the Arthurian legend features a black heroine, a secret society of descendants of King Arthur and his knights and magicians calling themselves Merlins! I have been excited for this ever since it was first announced, but sadly haven’t been able to read it yet. Pre-order via Book Depository.

    So. King Arthur, in space. But make it gay. This is the basic premise of the wonderfully quirky Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. Ari, who in this incarnation happens to be a girl, finds out that she is actually Arthur reincarnated when she pulls Excalibur out of a stone in an intergalactic amusement park, leading to a romp through space, a fight against an evil corporation, and, of course, the wooing of Queen Gwen. A thoroughly modern take on the legends, this reinterpretation nevertheless features many of the classical elements of the Arthurian tales, while packaging the quest as a space heist with a queer ensemble crew. I loved it! Get yourself a copy from Waterstones here!

    In this just-published sequel to Once & Future, Sword in the Stars, Ari, Gwen, Merlin and company are on the run again and this time they are going native: back to the time of the original King Arthur! But of course, traveling through time and space does not go as planned, and the group gets separated, shaking up the dynamics of the team again. Many shenanigans ensue, and our crew of queer heroes shake up the Middle Ages and shape Arthurian legend into the story it should always have been. Sword in the Stars is a great conclusion to the duology, and I devoured every page. Full of twists and turns, these books are inclusive, fast-paced and thrilling story-telling as it should be. More of this kind of writing, please! This lovely book is available from Portal Bookshop here.

    Kiersten White is one of the greats of current YA, especially when it comes to retellings. After having had her go at Vlad Dracul (the And I Darken trilogy) and Frankenstein (The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein), she has now turned her attention towards Arthurian myth, with a trilogy starting with The Guinevere Deception. A mysterious girl posing as Guinevere is to marry Arthur, sent by Merlin to protect the young king. Lancelot is an outcast, and a girl, which I really do hope is a hint for queer stories to come in the sequels. The story starts off slow, but does pick up towards the later parts and poses more questions than it answers. The Guinevere Deception is a decent start to a new trilogy, and I am curious to see where the second book takes the story, although I am not as in love with the series as I was hoping to be. You can get yourself a copy via Hive!

    Written by Thomas Wheeler and illustrated by comics legend Frank Miller, Cursed is the book incarnation of what is intended to become a franchise. Announced from the start as a Netflix show (slated for release this year) as well as a book, I imagine this version of Arthurian legend focusing on Nimue will work better on TV. Nimue and her people are fey, hunted due to their race by the tyrannical Uther and friendly with young Arthur and Morgan. It is grand, and written in a manner that puts its weight on images and plot, rather than character development and prose. I have to admit that I struggled to get through the book, as I could not connect to the writing or the characters. I do hope that the change of medium will help the story find its audience, as I think Nimue could be a fascinating character if given enough development. If you are interested, you can get a copy via Hive.

    Published in March of this year in the UK, Lavie Tidhar’s By Force Alone is a period-set mashup of Arthurian myth. This Arthur is brash, young, and power-hungry, expanding his influence out from a small band of men based in London. If I’m being honest, I struggled a lot to get through this book, although I had been looking forward to reading it – it took me almost three months to finish it. It is fast paced, and the language used is rather crass and modern, breaking the illusion for me. This led to a disconnect between story and characters, and I was unable to immerse myself in the novel. While I do not usually mind authors taking creative license with historical source material, having dialogue that is clearly twenty-first century in a book set in the early medieval period does not work for me. I do see this being a personal preference, and I’m sure that By Force Alone will be a book that is great for a different type of reader! If you are interested, you can get a signed copy via Forbidden Planet.

    April Genevieve Tucholke’s Seven Endless Forests is a very loose retelling of Arthurian myth, including as many elements reminiscent of Norse stories as English. It is a companion novel to 2018’s The Boneless Mercies, which loosely retold a feminist Beowulf. Tucholke’s novels are slow, deliberate and infinitely poetical. They are quiet books reminiscent of medieval epics, centering on women shamelessly concerned with seeking glory and pursuing their personal aims, ignoring society’s conventions and expectations in favour of those. Here, the central element taken from Arthurian legend is the true ruler’s sword, with greatness thrust not on the most willing but the chosen one. Tucholke’s take is nuanced and special, and I am in love with her books. Get this one from Waterstones!

    Giles Kristian’s Lancelot approaches the Arthurian myth from the viewpoint of the eponymous Lancelot, warrior supreme. Following along from Lancelot’s childhood to his time with Arthur past his clash with the legendary king. More historical novel than fantasy, Lancelot nevertheless contains some elements of speculative fiction – anything else would be hard in Arthurian legend with characters like Merlin! It is well written and compelling, and makes the men behind the legends come to life. Very recently, Giles Kristian has published a sequel, Camelot, featuring Lancelot’s son Galahad as the first-person PoV. Order a copy of Lancelot via Hive.

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    Graphic Novel Favourites

    I don’t know about you, but with everything going on at the moment, my attention span has suffered hugely. While I’m still reading and reviewing, it is taking a significant portion of my available energy every day, and I’ve often been reading in bit-sized pieces rather than the binges I’m used to. What’s worked really well instead have been GRAPHIC NOVELS! In case this is something that might work for others as well, I decided to put together a list of my current favourites. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve enjoyed all of these. (And while I’ve given order links to places that still ship, I do encourage checking with your local comic stores or indies whether they are able to procure them for you instead!)

    The book that started this whole post. Stuck for something to read, I picked up this graphic novel and fell in love. A whimsical YA tale of a witch and a non-binary werewolf, up against a mysterious force in the woods. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu is adorable, and the graphic novel equivalent of a cuddly blanket and a mug of tea. While it is not the deepest story, it is captivating, and embraces its format and audience. This is the perfect thing to read while stuck in quarantine! Get yourself a copy from Waterstones or Book Depository.

    The Wicked and the Divine is the original graphic novel series that got me into the genre! Now complete in nine volumes, this series follows a number of teenagers turned temporarily into Gods, mixing a variety of mythologies with the modern cult of celebrities. It has its highs and lows, but it is always entertaining, the art is stunning, and the antagonist is complex and unexpected and the story is twisty until the bitter end. And did I mention that the series is done now and you can binge it in one go? I highly recommend you check it out for yourself – get the first volume from Waterstones or Book Depository.

    I’ve been going back and forth about what to include in this lineup, and ultimately decided to go with series that had a very different vibe. The next, Monstress, is drawn in an amazing Art Nouveau style by Sana Takeda – something I have not seen in any other graphic novel series, features a one-handed protagonist, and TALKING CATS. The story is weird, and it doesn’t always make sense, but its so beautiful you won’t mind. You’ll just root for my love Maika and go with the flow and that’s that. And oh, my, I just saw that there’s a fourth volume out that I completely missed… to the order machine I go! If you’re intrigued, you can get your own from Waterstones or Book Depository.

    It’s no secret that I love everything that V.E. Schwab writes – and her comics are no different. The Shades of Magic trilogy ranks among my all-time favourites, and the Steel Prince comics are its prequels. Featuring adventures of the stern king Maxim Maresh back when he was a rash young prince, these graphic novels showcase V.E. Schwab’s signature storytelling and add mythology to the universe. Accompanied by Andrea Olimpieri’s wonderful art, they are a must for any Schwablin! Get them from Forbidden Planet directly.

    Last, but not least, a manga that I’m looking forward to checking out as soon as it arrives is Vinland Saga. While this Japanese series has been around for ages, even in translation – the English version is at Book 11 now, it’s anime adaption only came out recently. I’ve been watching it religiously with my friend and loving it, so I can’t wait to see the source material for our favourite disaster boy Thorfinn! Inspired by the Icelandic sagas and the legendary discovery of Vinland (America) by Leif Ericson a thousand years ago, this tells the story of young Thorfinn, son of Thors, a tale of pride and war. Vikings told through the Japanese lens. I love it. Order this from Waterstones or Book Depository.

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    Reading in the Time of Coronavirus

    Today’s post is going to be something a bit different. Instead of one big review, it’s going to feature a whole bunch of mini-reviews, in the style of if you like this, you’ll love this! As we can all expect to be spending a lot more time at home (on the positive, more reading time!), I thought I’d feature a lot of lovely books to try and give you some inspiration for the days and weeks to come. This is also completely not selfishly motivated to help me reduce my NetGalley backlog at all, obviously – and unconnected to the fact that I’ve been ill and can’t focus for long enough to write proper reviews!

    So without further ado, if you love…

    …dragons, slow-burn enemies to lovers and wlw fantasy in the vein of Tehlor Kay Meija’s We Set the Dark on Fire, Nina Varela’s Crier’s War or Rebecca Kim Wells’ Shatter the Sky, check out The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli!

    While The Sky Weaver is nominally the third in the Iskari trilogy, each of the books works just as well as a standalone. In this one, Safire, commander of armies, is vexed by Eris, a pirate and thief until they are forced to cooperate for the good of the realm. Throughout their quest to find Asha, the last Namsara, their lifes and fates become entangled and their hate evolves into something more… Beautifully written and well paced, this thrilling and action packed story will captivate you from start to finish! While the romance is not at the centre of the narrative, it is one of the most well-crafted slow-burn relationships I have ever read, and I have been on the lookout for something similarly well written ever since I read The Sky Weaver! The book also features dragons, aka the best animals ever, so there’s absolutely no reason not to order this from your indie of choice! I’ll leave a Hive link here for your convenience!

    …creepy historical novels, ghosts, and eerie atmospheres in the spirit of Marian Womack’s The Golden Key, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre or Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep, give Alma Katsu’s The Deep a go.

    Set in a dual narrative on the Titanic in 1912 and her sister ship, the Brittanic in 1916, The Deep follows young Annie Hebbley as she leaves home and works on both ill-fated ships. Following a series of unexplained events, and heists, join Annie in questioning her sanity. A haunting tale of obsession, The Deep takes unexpected turns and features a host of morally questionable characters that demand your attention. While this high-seas narrative does not feature any mermaids, the book as a whole is as alluring as a siren. Order yourself a copy from your indie of choice or here!

    …ragtag bands of misfits, political turmoil and anti-heroes as seen in such wonderful books as R.F. Chuang’s The Poppy War, Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow, K.S. Villoso’s The Wolf of Oren-Yaro or Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, then I suggest you put Dave Wragg’s The Black Hawks on your TBR!

    Chel is just your average dude. And then he accidentally breaks his oath and swears a new one to a prince. Now he has to bring said prince across the country. Except, both he and the prince are utterly clueless what they’re up against. On the way, they join forces with the eponymous Black Hawk Company, a wonderfully scrappy band of mercenary rogues, shenanigans and political mess ensuing. An entertaining debut featuring an excellent cast of characters full of flaws and personal motivations, Dave Wragg has delivered an intriguing beginning to his series. Thrilling and humorous, The Black Hawks is one to distract you from the worries of 2020. Treat yourself to a copy here.

    …magical YA full of ensemble casts, dark forces looming and artificially created powers, reminiscent of great reads such as The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco or The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, check out the Diviners series by Libba Bray. Book four, The King of Crows was just published and concluded the series wonderfully (yes, I’m cheating slightly).

    The King of Crows is an explosive conclusion to the last ten years of Diviners stories. Evie and her band of diviners now face a an enemy threatening the world as they know it: the King of Crows. Having lost the goodwill of the people thanks to events earlier in the series, they undergo one last mission to try and repair the rift between worlds. Featuring a diverse cast addressing many of the issues present in early twentieth-century America, the characters evolve and grow into their own in order to defeat the King of Crows. My one gripe with the book was that, as the group was split into several smaller parties, the narrative was too split up, leading to a lack of depth in the individual plots. I would have preferred a tighter book at times. But then, that is personal preference, and I still very much enjoyed my read! You can order yourself a copy of this massive brick here.

    Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with copies of all these wonderful books in exchange for my honest opinions!

  • Something Special

    Unplugged Book Box Review


    So I received my Unplugged book box this weekend, and loved it! As they are a new company and this is their first box, I’ve decided to do an extensive unboxing and review. But first of all I wanna thank them for assembling a great and useable box, I’m impressed, especially given that it’s their first box! The little details are amazing and really make a difference!

    Without further delay, a full unboxing picture (though without the cards…)!


    Every item came wrapped in black tissue paper, which I really loved, as for me, it enhances the unboxing experience! I love that they didn’t give a lot of spoilers, as many other boxes do. If I already know half the contents of the box, it really detracts from the experience. If one wanted, this would also allow one to space it out over a few days. Every item also came with a little note about the creator (yay for small businesses!) and the thoughts behind them, which is wonderful. I think this is a very good alternative to spoiler cards. But now on to the items (including their notes!)

    First of all, the theme card and photo challenge. This month’s theme was ‘Keep your head above water’ – Unplugged isn’t merely another book subscription service, it is also focussed around self-care and mental health. The theme was well done, and provided a red thread throughout the box. The photo challenge really fits into this as well, being aimed less at bookstagram pictures than providing experiences that happen to be memorialised through a picture. I defitely plan on participating!

    For me, the most central part of book boxes  really is the book. I know, you think that that is obvious – but from what I’ve seen on social media, the items that come with them seem more important, as it seems that book nerds are supposed to be collectors of random bookish things as well. Not that I mind getting great items, but it’s just not my focus (Seriously, why is everyone obsessed with POP figures, for example?). Whether I keep subscribing is mainly tied to the quality of the selected books – if I do spend that much money on a box, I do want to consistently receive 4+ star reads. I also always try to read the included books before the next box.

    Sadie, the book included here, is unexpected. It’s not my usual genre, and I probably would not have picked it up in a store. But now ghat I have had a closer look and thought about it, I’m very excited to read it. According to the blurb, it revolves around a runaway girl on a quest, and a podcast, whose intention it is to find that missing girl. It seems like a unique concept, ans I’m looking forward to delving into the story.

    The book came accompanied by a signed bookplate, an author letter, and a little swag-travel brochure. What also came with it is a mysterious envelope that you’re supposed to open after reading. I’m super curious to see what is in there – and I hope they keep doing that in future boxes!

    Candles are one of my favourite things to receive in boxes – though it is getting to the point where I pretty much have a collection. Burning them while reading gives me joy and makes my room smell great. I’m thrilled with this Inej (Six of Crows duology) inspired candle, it is beautiful and it smells AMAZING! It also comes in a solid dark glass jar, which shouldn’t make a difference, but I’m really excited about! This was designed by Get Fictional and it is probably my favourite item in this box! Though it is closely followed by the tea:

    Inspired by Stephen King’s IT, this tea is intended to be drunk cold, and has been created by Story of my Tea. From the description, it is a fairly pure tea, without added flavour, so definitely something that pleases tea-purists. I really like that it contains caffeine – most teas that I’ve received in boxes have either been herbal/fruit based, or decaffeinated – and if I drink black or green tea (which I only do like every day) I want my tea to contain caffeine. Maybe that’s a grad student problem though, we do run on tea and coffee…

    The next item is a Triwizard Tournament inspired bath bomb from Zen Bath Candies. I don’t know how these girls do it, but they included the three types of items I love most! I can’t wait to hang out in a hot bath and enjoy this! As it addresses the second task Harry Potter has to undergo in the Triwizard Tournament, it quite literally fits the theme of keeping your head above water!

    Now this item is tiny, so tiny that I actually didn’t see it when I was unpacking the box yesterday and only found it when I was taking pictures earlier! The little black thing had simply hidden in the depths of the box – or maybe I’m just silly! It is a tiny book-magnet, which you can actually write in! It’s maybe 4×2.5 cm big and ADORABLE! It has been handmade by A Magnetic Library, and the book it represents, To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, is a tale of sirens and princes and figuring out how to interact with the world once it turns out that there is more to the story than the strict rules you have been raised by.

    Now on to the papery goodies included! This wonderful Hogwarts Express print will definitely go on to my wall, and I will have to try that smoothie recipe on the back. Inspired by Draco Malfoy and his love of apples, it sounds delicious (and contains neither bananas, nor pineapples, the point of which I don’t get when it comes to smoothies).


    These stickers were actually the first thing I saw when I started unpacking the box. All of them are self-care themed, and I love the idea. Sadly, they are a bit too pastel for my taste, but I’m sure I’ll be able to use at least some of them for my bullet journal. And who knows, maybe I will start liking pastels at some point!

    Finally, there was a self-care prompt included which focuses on gratitude. In a funny coincidence, my therapist actually told me to start a gratitude journal in our last session. I will definitely have to look into adding this to my bullet journal and figuring out the best way to do it. Being mindful and content with yourself and the people around you is central to mental hygiene in my opinion, and I hope through this more people are inspired to look at the small things that happen and not ignore them and only see the bad! Furthermore, they included a little September playlist on Spotify, which I find a great idea. However, as I’m not too fond of mainstream music, and listen mainly to metal, this isn’t really something I will enjoy.


    Last but not least, the reverse of the soundtrack card reveals the October theme, Things are not what they seem – I am very much looking forward to see what they have planned around that theme!


    Now that I’ve talked about everything included in the box, I assume you’re wondering whether it is worth subscribing yourself. I do recommend it, and spots are currently open for October! It is a well-curated box, supports small businesses, and focuses on mental health – I approve!