Moon Hauls: A Darker Shade of Magic Illumicrate Collections

Any Illumicrate Collections box tends to be really good, so when they announced A Darker Shade of Magic being a box, I jumped at it and got it. And of course, as per usual, it was packed full of goodies (so much I struggled to fit it all on my usual table), so let’s see what it had starting at the bottom right and going clockwise:

  • Contents booklet, mostly it lists what each item is and who the artist/companies behind it are.
  • Underneath most of the goodies is a Four Londons blanket by Yoshi Yoshitani, which I like a lot (usually the blankets are gorgeous)
  • Then we have a booksleeve inspired by Lila’s and Kell “dance”, it’s a good size and slightly plastified so really nice. The artwork is by Laia Lopez and the quote typography design on the other side is by Chatty Nora.
  • Essen Tasch hanging poster, this makes me feel like I’ve been to it and got a memento poster to hang on my wall. Normally I am not crazy about posters but I somehow really like this one. Design by Sylvia Bi
  • On top are some acrylic figures of the characters and one of the author too, which I thought was a cute idea and they’ll look good on a shelf to decorate. Design by Monolime
  • There was also a set of dust jackets for all three books if you’re not that into the naked look. Those were hard to display as they had come rolled in to be protected but difficult to quickly lay flat (they’ll be flat after a few days under some books). Artwork by Rosie Thorns.
  • A pin of Lila’s mask designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt.
  • In the middle is a microfibre cloth to clean glasses and gadgets with a design by Victoria Ying.
  • And finally the hardcover book with a foiled naked cover, silver sprayed edges and front endpapers with artwork by Em Allen. It is gorgeous, honestly!

All in all it was a great box, the item I will probably love the least is the dust jackets because I am not normally fond of them in books and prefer naked covers. But they are still gorgeous. And of course all the contents are so well tailored for the trilogy that it is like magic!

Moon Hauls: We Are the Resistance Illumicrate

The latest Illumicrate had a very scifi feel to it and the contents were as follows:

  • Seven Devils, just look at the gorgeous cover change!
  • A promotional bookmark for Sweet Black Waves.
  • Star Wars sunglasses (these were a bit meh, they feel like a filler item as they have nothing beyond a logo, and it’s not that amazing, plus I can’t use sunglasses).
  • A cute keyring, this will definitely be used soon.
  • Theme leaflet.
  • Another book planter, probably my favourite of the set.
  • A Bone Season notebook.
  • And some character cards.

To be fair, this definitely wasn’t their strongest box, and I wish it had been but it seems to be common that they’re not as strong for Scifi boxes than they are in fantasy boxes. There’s a lot of fun that could’ve been done here, so hopefully the scifi side gets stronger.

In the Shadows Illumicrate Unboxing

Somehow I took the pictures for this and completely forgot to actually upload the unboxing, which is very sily of me. Oh well, le’ts unbox June’s Illumicrate which was all about hidden glamour (or at least that’s the vibe it gave me, who knows maybe I got it a bit wrong?).

Starting on the far left with the theme card:

  • In the Shadows theme booklet.
  • The main book is The Court of Miracles, the naked cover is stunning, and I am intrigued by the book but not a big fan of Les Mis, so we shall see if I like it.
  • Metallic bookmark.
  • An odd tea towel (the fabric and size were a bit different than usual) for Game of Thrones and Arya’s kill list.
  • A Sarah J. Maas foiled print, which I found an owner for it.
  • Villains series inspired mug which is stunning and I am so so pleased by it.
  • Collector’s pin, I am liking these more than the weird magnetic coins.
  • A fan with a quote from Nevernight (I liked the timing of getting a fan during the hot week in the UK, so this was very welcomed)
  • Authors letter.

All in all it was a good box, quite fancy and I like the timing for some of the items. The mug is utterly stunning and I am happy for that.

Monstrous Illumicrate Unboxing

Illumicrate has been a bit of hit and miss the last few months, but I knew what book was coming in this box and it was one I was looking forwad to read so decided to see how the box would feel this time. Starting from the book and going clockwise:

  • The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence. I got into his writing thanks to Illumicrate and the proof copy for Red Sister. Borrowed his other books from the library and haven’t looked back. They’re definitely grim dark, so not for everyone.
  • Theme card.
  • Mercado de la Muerte Dark Spice hot chocolate. It smells slightly like Mexican chocolate, but I tasted it plain and it isn’t exactly right (it’s too much European/USA cocoa style and not enough mix of bitterness and sugar). But I’ll give it a try in water and shall see if it compares to proper hot chocolate.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book sleeve. The art is gorgeous, it’s really nice and do not find faults here at all.
  • Toss a Post it note to your witcher! (does this need explaining?)
  • A phone stand with the Moving Castle on it. This is my favourite item in the box and prefer it to other phone items they’ve done except for the battery charger thing.
  • Foiled stickers, they are gorgeous. Love them

All in all, it was a much better box than previous ones and it gives me hope. And it matches well with my new puzzle (shame I didn’t keep the one with Howl’s Moving Castle in the background whcih would match the phone stand!). Looking forward to the next box!

Squad Goals Illumicrate Unboxing

Another slightly delayed bookbox due to COVID19, was Illumicrate which also ended up at the wrong address, but oh well. Things happen. Hopefully that’s it.

Starting on the tote bag on the right, and going clockwise, contents of the box were:

  • Gorgeous tote bag, the sad thing is that it is only one sided art and it is the kind will end up kinda peeling off. Sad because the artwork is gorgeous.
  • A cute necklace for Dark Materials (I am told this was meant to be in the previous box).
  • A power bank with Aurora Rising squad on it. I haven’t tested it yet but think it is a fun idea and definitely useful, plus makes it feel like more value for the box.
  • Bookmarks for the Witchlands (?) series.
  • A print to go with the book of the month.
  • The main book, Dangerous Remedy. I love the edition but I am still unsure about the book as it felt a bit unpolished (the ideas were cool but it was all over the place and I think a few more edits would’ve helped it become much better).
  • A magnetic whiteboard for notes on your fridge which my husband spotted as soon as I added it to the fridge and found to be in his opinion one of the best items in a box (he’s biased).

All in all this box felt a little better in quality than the previous ones have been, which is good because it was lacking (and no I wasn’t counting the whole delay in stuff, etc). The book wasn’t super exciting but it is a hyped interesting one so that’s more my problem than an issue with the box. So far it looks promising for their quality if they keep upping it.

Worlds Collide Illumicrate Unboxing

This is March’s Illumicrate box, and I am aware it is missing an item (it is listed in the card, so we know what is misisng but I won’t spoil it) and that is due to the pandemic affecting deliveries, so I won’t be counting that into this unboxing. They were more or less communicative about delays, but they were late in doing so and not very clear, which is not a great point to them (yes, it is a bit of a weird time, but most companies have been quick to notify and let customers and everyone know what’s going on).

So let’s see what was in the box, starting from the left and going clockwise:

  • The featured book, which is Havenfall by Sara Holland. I was looking forward to it and the edges are a gorgeous turquoise, really lovely.
  • This month’s coin and the previous month’s too (so they do keep their word of sending them once they have them). I am not big on the collectible coins, so this rarely ever weights in my opinion.
  • A clear plastic keyring. The artwork is nice and I get that they made it transparent to see the bottle through and all that, but it feels really cheap and like a “filler”. Specially if you compare to keyrings included in previous boxes.
  • A very nice print for City of Brass/Daevad trilogy, which I find gorgeous.
  • A mug, the artwork is nice but the quality is slightly blurry which doesn’t bother me much, but when it is next to the other mugs it feels a bit meh and doesn’t shine as much as it could have done.
  • Shrestha candle. It is glittery and smells delicious.

And the missing item. But even if that had been in the box, the recent boxes definitely feel like the quality and love have been missing from them. This makes me very sad, because given that at least hte last 2-3 boxes were much lower quality and felt underwhelming, I will probably have to cancel my subscription. Hard to do since I’ve been a subscriber for so long (from their fourth box, the Nevernight one). But I can’t keep paying for something that isn’t making me happy and that is lowering the quality and care for the box.

Sparks Fly Illumicrate Unboxing

A slightly delayed unboxing of Illumicrate’s February box since the box itself was delayed due to the pandemic. So let’s see what was inside!

Starting from the center with the theme booklet, and going clockwise:

  • Sparks Fly theme booklet/spoiler card
  • A book shaped tin. I like these because they’re useful for trinkets and look so good on the shelves. This one is inspired by Stalking Jack the Ripper.
  • A roll-on perfume, it smells amazing even if the name makes for amusing “what scent are you wearing?” “I’m wearing god of lies”. I like the roll-on ones because they’re easy to apply and “top up”.
  • Sorcery of Thorns pop socket. I am a bit torn on this one. The quality looks bad and the artwork which is nice doesn’t look too great, so it is tricky (also, how often does one change the pop sockets? I haven’t changed the one on my phone since I first put it a few years ago, so this won’t get used any time soon).
  • Coasters inpired by A Darker Shade of Magic pairings.
  • Serpent & Dove inspired bookmark clip.
  • And the book, which is The Midnight Lie. I haven’t read any of the other books by the author, so I am curious to see how it reads.

All in all the box still feels like there’s not enough love going into it (I know that there was no coin so I am not taking any points out due to that, delays have been affecting everyone, this pandemic isn’t the reason the box wasn’t as great). I just wish I could feel all the care going into the boxes as they used to.

The Strength Within Illumicrate Unboxing

First box of the year, and I am still struggling to decide if it is worth keeping. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice box, the problem is I’ve been subscribed to their box for long and it feels like the boxes have less unique things and less content in general. I am still giving it a bit longer to decide if I should cancel subscription or not.

But now unto contents, going clockwise and starting on the theme card at the bottom:

  • Theme booklet and collectible coin.
  • The Sisters Grimm, this was the main book and it is gorgeous. Looking forward to reading it.
  • A cute print inspired by Girls of Paper and Fire, it is holographic and the artwork is cute (but I am not crazy about prints and also they’re never the size of the book so that I could have them together)
  • Infinity Son. I had an ARC of this one and wasn’t too keen on it, so alas, despite it being a “hyped” book it isn’t something that makes me think “awesome” but rather “oh no, not this one that I already read and didn’t like”.
  • Probably the coolest item of the box, a booklight! It is a clip on one and it is a wonderful portable size.
  • A beanie, that in my opinion is a bit boring. I really like Daughter of Smoke and Bone but the emrboidery is tiny and the beanie is just a blue beanie. Can’t we have a different type of hat? How about a beret? Or a cap? Or something else that isn’t the same beanie everyone gets just embroidered with something different? (because other boxes also get Beanies and they are almost all the same exact type).
  • An ultra thick wooden bookmark, that everyone in the office immediately said “this will damage your books if you use it” and I couldn’t help but nod in agreement because it is really pretty but it is too thick.
  • Gideon the Ninth mini purse, I think meant for coins? It is nice.

All in all the items I liked was main book, booklight and coin purse (which I may never use) so it felt a bit disappointing sadly. I so deeply wish for a box as full of wonderful surprises as the first 4-10 boxes were when they were quarterly. Alas, I am just a subscriber that’s been with them for so long…

Secrets and Schemes Illumicrate Unboxing

Another quick recap that I’ve been getitng Illumicrate for far too long, I think their fourth box back when they were quarterly (my first book was Nevenight). And this box sadly is not living up to what the boxes used to be and their usually good boxes.

So let’s unbox starting from the theme card on the right and going clockwise:

  • Theme card, it is more a booklet than anything.
  • The collectible magnetic coin. Not interested, feel like a waste of part of the budget and I’d rather get something else.
  • A patch. What is with book boxes and patches? I like the design but we’re not in the 80s or 90s and I have nothing to patch on or use it for. Give me stickers, bullet journal stuff, something more than patches!
  • Amazing Star Wars pins. These are utterly gorgeous.
  • Four Paths candle. The scent is very minimal and nobody seemed excited about it (a lot of my work colleagues are now invested in the unboxings and rate the items and choose and comment their favourites, this won no one).
  • Blood Heir. It has bloody sprayed edges which I liked, intrigued on the book.
  • A gorgeous mug, this is always a win item for me, specially with this type of super detailed designes and the type of mug it is. This one wins some of the points lost with the other items.
  • A calendar with some typography quotes and some artowkr. The quality of the calendar paper leaves much to say, and the whole images per month were relatively meh (there’s a few good ones) so it had nothing exciting for me in it.

That was all. Which felt underwhelming. The mug and pins were the good items and the rest felt like they had dropped the quality and caring about curating items so I am hoping it picks up for this month (January). I am reluctant to stopping my subscription but if the quality keeps dropping, it’ll be hard to justify keeping it.

In Search of Doors Illumicrate Unboxing

This is a punch of blue! Definitely matches the theme, so let’s unbox it as it had a naked hardcover. Starting on the bottom right corner and going clockwise:

  • Theme booklet.
  • Night Circus Ticket keyring, I love the concept, but it is freaking heavy so I won’t be using it, which is very sad. It weights so much I don’t really want that on my keys or anything. Sad, so very sad because it is gorgeous!
  • Magnetic coin, as you know by now, I don’t really care about them and to me they’re pretty much useless and meh.
  • Narnia wardrobe wooden pin, this is very cute and I like it.
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I haven’t read it yet, I am curious as I enjoyed the Night Circus.
  • I had a sword bookmark, matching the book but apparently there were three different designs. (Downside is how flimsy it is).
  • The Naked book, it is pretty but it’s just that, nothing special for me.
  • Key necklace, inspired by the Archived.
  • My favourite item, a booksleeve with a Hogwarts theme, the sleeve is sturdy and beautiful.
  • Book ceramic pot. I am still unsure what to do with them. If I was good at plants, I’d fill them with cute plants but I mostly kill them so they’re wasting space at home. Sad. But gorgeous.

So I wasn’t particularly impressed with this box. There aren’t many “doors” in the things included. As much as Harry Potter is nice, I have a lot of booksleeves in tones of pink/purple of Hogwarts in some way or another (why is it so popular in those tones?!) so I am a bit tired of that particular item, not that I dislike booksleeves. Be original, there’s a LOT of fandoms to choose from other than Harry Potter.

I liked the key and sword matching the book but I won’t use either (“golden” anything jewelry is a potential not good for me so I tend to avoid and not wear) and the pot is just space taken. So I have a pin, a book and a book sleeve and it feels not very worth the price if that is all I keep. It is sad, because I have loved Illumicrate since the very first box I had from them back when they sent Nevernight hardcover and had no themes and always had a proof in the box (I LOVED discovering new books with those proofs and really really miss them) and a lot more unique items and less worry about “collections of things that won’t be used”.

So veredict, I liked the box, miss the old Illumicrate boxes and don’t feel very much a good value for money with this particular box. Let’s see what December brings!

With Great Power Illumicrate Unboxing

Time to do an unboxing for October’s Illumicrate. As you know I was part of the blog tour for Angel Mage, so this book was no surprise to me, however the red edges were and the rest of the items. So let’s unbox starting from the book and going clockwise:

  • Angel Mage by Garth Nix. This book is like the 3 musketeers became very magical religious. I liked it a lot more than I expected to.
  • Shatter Me Magnetic bookmark set. I am not really keep on magnetic bookmarks, as they either break from the top joint or I have damaged pages trying to take them off, they are cute but won’t be keeping them.
  • Dreamers Pouch. I tend to like pouches specially if they are sturdy and nicely sized for travelling or taking some kind of supplies (I have one that came in a book box I use for my “quick drawing” supplies for example).
  • Theme booklet.
  • Abhorsen Bells Pin. This is fully inspired by the book, and I loved it. I had been looking into getting one of those pins to hold blankets/shawls/thingies together that look pretty and then I got the box and it was awesome!
  • Villains character card set, which I loved and quickly started describing each character (they are from Vengeful and Vicious by V. E. Schwab) to my colleagues when I unboxed it.
  • A tea tin, another unusual item and I have already filled it up with tea bags (but I also use them for loose leaf tea) Loved it.
  • I also somehow skipped the metallic magnetic coin which this time was Aelin, but not bothered by it.

All in all, it was a quirky box with two out of the ordinary items I really enjoyed, which made it nice rather than just okay. Can’t wait for this month’s box!

High Stakes Illumicrate Unboxing

The theme for September’s Illumicrate was High stakes, but was it up tothose high stakes? Let’s see what was inside, starting from bottom left corner:

  • Theme booklet. Matches the main book well.
  • A gorgeous ceramic mug with artwork inspired by Children of Blood and Bone. I find it gorgeous but also, I have been avoiding ceramic reusable travel mugs as I mostly use them in the car and if an accident happens and it shatters, well, not good. Bamboo is less problematic.
  • The End if Nigh notepad. This is perfect for shopping lists and in good timing as my current one is almost finished. It is inspired by Good Omens.
  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. Super excited to read it, and the edges have a snake. However, I am a bit unhappy with the size of the book. Books to me are portable and that’s the beauty of it. With books as huge as this one, it is VERY hard to read them on public transport without poking someone, they don’t bend as easily, and are SO heavy! I just wish we could get nice smaller editions (usually the paperback version is like 1/3 of the size).
  • Carry On scarf. Not a fan so this one was gifted (also, I have a bit of odd feelings about turning Carry On which is a “take on Harry Potter” into a full series).
  • A DNA lankyard cord thing, inspired by the Mortal Coil. Loved it!
  • And a wooden print thing. It is nice but it doesn’t look properly lacquered to put things on it without damaging it. May be bothered to do it or may not and pass it on.

All in all, some items did make it out of this high stakes box into a great item but half of them didn’t and that was a bit sad.

Blood & Blades Illumicrate Unboxing

My very first Illumicrate box included this hardcover book with a crow and a red sun on the cover (sound familiar?). So it wasn’t any surprise that when they announced they w0uld be doing a special edition for Darkdawn, I had to have it (plus they special editions boxes are stunning!).

My very first Illumicrate. I had zero clue on how to do unboxing pictures.

As you can see above, Nevernight wan’t the only book and it didn’t have an author letter like The Graces did. Nevernight was the “afterthought”, the second book, rather than the main one. Back then the boxes weren’t themed either and it was way more of a surprise what you could get…

But back to the main thing, the Darkdawn box. Because we’ve come to the end of the trilogy.

Look at that, I have a slightly better idea what I am doing with an unboxing, and this time the blanket underneath is not one I made myself, but part of the box. Oh how time goes by! Let’s unbox this, starting from the top left corner and going clockwise:

  • Underneath everything, a Mr Kindly and Eclipse blanket. It is the softest thing ever and I love it!
  • Nevernight Short-Form Series Extras, a kind of script and sneak peek book for what Piera Forde has been doing on trying to adapt it to “film”.
  • A wooden map of Itreya. I don’t know what I will use it for, but I really like it.
  • Mr Kindly bath bomb by Geeky Clean. This smells gorgeous and I am looking forward to using it in my bath.
  • Contents zine.
  • A gorgeous mug called “Goodnight Kiss”, but spoilers, so yeah…
  • Darkdawn book, with yellow edges (like the Italian edition if I got it right). (Sadly I prefer the dark edges, but I think part of it is I am not a fan of yellow).
  • On top of it, a Mia magnetic coin.
  • A print of Mia and Trik (same artwork as the script thing extra stuff)
  • Three, the extra content/deleted scene.
  • Character bookmarks that are double sided.
  • Foil (it is super extra stunning) Hard at work print of Mia.
  • A gorgeous book sleeve with two different sides, A Story to Tell.
  • Mia “Funko Pop” style figurine.
  • Two amazing pins by Fable and Black. I was blown away by them!
  • Finally, close to the mug, the Corvere crest as a necklace.

All in all, a very full box with lots of stunning items! Illumicrate did an amazing job and I am glad I bought that first box with Nevernight way back when (I have been subscribed to them since then…)

Armed and Dangerous Illumicrate Unboxing

I was very excited about the theme of this box and I liked the contents, so let’s see what was in it. Starting from the book on the left and going clockwise:

  • Gideon the Ninth, necromancy, space, what else do you need?
  • Sister Apple inspired liquid soap. I am fond of liquid soaps as they work great as shaving creams (as they’re fancy ones and usually handmade or at least, small business made).
  • Weapons bag, which is the perfect Illumicrate colour. The size is wonderful for a summer day when a jacket is too much but I still want to carry minimal stuff and at the moment I only have one suitable small bag, so this is a great thing to find in the box (the only thing that would make it better is if it was black)
  • The collectible coin, it’s Lila Bard, but still not convinced on the coins.
  • Above there’s a promotional map.
  • A gorgeous mug designed by Rosie, it is not enamel but ceramic but it is gorgeous. A happy Moon here.
  • A Scythe for opening bottles (it is nicely heavy and SO gorgeous).
  • A Cutlery set which made me very very happy and is now at work on my desk. Plus it came with a metal straw. Really really happy with this part.
  • The theme booklet.
  • Gideon the Ninth trading cards (though there weren’t nine of them in it, wonder if the why is in the book which I haven’t read).

As you can see, there’s very little I didn’t really like (moslty the coin) so this was a great box for me and quite handy. I loved the cutlery set and bottle opener but all of it was nice to get. Looking forward to the September box! ❤

It’s a Kind of Magic Illumicrate Unboxing

I really like the vibe of this box, it feels very fitting to the book it featured. So let’s dive in, starting from the top left corner:

  • Discovery of Witches pin. I struggled to read this one due to the main love interest so I gifted my copies away. But the pin is cool
  • Uprooted Tote, which is a super dreamy eerie tote and I love it. It is perfect!
  • Magnetic coin (not bothered by it, as you may already know).
  • Theme booklet, I love the design is eerie, witchy, green.
  • Bellatrix promotional booklet.
  • Witchlands pin banner underneath the book (I like the size and that it is black).
  • Sanctuary, by Vic James. I have been really looking forward to it since I knew it was going to exist. (And I won a proof copy plus some extras at YALC so this is awesome!)
  • Wicked Saints Tiptych, love the artwork.
  • Second half of the bookends. I am a little bit disappointed by them as they are much too fragile and the pointy bits are bending even before I have used them just by moving them. But I do like the idea of the design.
  • A “book” Magic Spells ceramic pot. I am bad with plants but this makes me want to plant something in it and see it grow and be magic…

I was a bit of two hearts on this box. Some items are awesome, some I am not that crazy about but what definitely goes is that gorgeous totebag, favourite item for sure and I am very happy with the gorgeous green sprayed edges of the book.