In case you hadn’t noticed, I seemed to disappear into a short hiatus at the beginning of April.
If you were wondering where I have been and why the reviews and unboxings seem to have stopped, wonder no more!
We have moved house.
For those that have followed the drama, we basically have been trying to move since August last year and we have won the “moving house” bingo so many times in the category of “what can go wrong”. I had scheduled posts up until a few days after moving house, but the bingo card/luck wasn’t done with us. We had dodgy unreliable internet for a few weeks, and then the exhaustion of unpacking and sorting and returning to work was a lot. Plus I finally got a diagnosis for my chronic pain.
I am not ready yet to talk a lot about that because I am still trying to process it myself and what it means for me, my lifestyle and my future. There is a lot to think about.
But, the good news is that now that a big chunk of the stress has gone away, more blog posts will come soon and you can read about the books that have kept me sane through all the madness.
Hoping you are all still here reading. Thank you for your support!
The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named by Nicole Sealey
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought for myself
Sometimes I impulse buy chapbooks of poetry when a poem hits me deeply, and that is the case here.
I came across Nicole Sealey through the poem Even the Gods and the analysis provided under Ordinary Plots. Even weeks after reading it, the words of it are still dancing in my head and living there rent-free. As Devin, see the linked blog post, explains, the word even does a lot of work in the poem but it was fascinating what it was trying to do and how much the little poem says in a few lines.
Everytime I read it, I get a little more, a little different from it, and therefore, I had to buy the chapbook. So I did. And I have to say not all the poems in it are as powerful, or at least not as powerful to me personally, but there are still quite a lot fo good ones and it was inteeresting to read and just try to see what the author was trying to say but also the way the words were used to say things. That is one of the things I enjoy of poetry, the use of words and how they can have a lot of meaning in a single one.
This is not a long post, but I do want to feature the chapbook because it is worth checking it and also getting the powerful poems in it.
Ownership: Bought January and February. If you are interested in purchasing a subscription, you can do it on their website.
Merkababox titles itself as a holistic mystic box and comes with a selection of items to help nourish your mind, body and spirit. I was quite intrigued by the contents of previous boxes, particularly the Forager’s one, and thought to give it a go.
So lets see what was inside it, going clockwise and starting top right:
Lotus theme card. On the back it has a ritual to follow using all the items and not in the picture there is a smaller part that includes all the ingredients, value of each item and a few more details and how to if you need which I appreciate a LOT.
Chill out Fragrance Oil, which has lotus and hyacinth that is meant to help you calm and feel nurtured.
Another item from Pulvers Apothecary, this time a Love Elixir which is meant to be a bit of happiness and heart in it.
Love Spells book.
Damask Rose Hydrolat, which is a herbal distillate for your skin that is meant to be soothing and toning.
And finally a brass heart tea infuser from Sass and Belle.
I liked the box this time but it was once again not a 100% my thing. It is more of a “the box contents do not fit what I want and need right now” rather than that the box is bad or not worth it, which is quite hard to review. However I do think it is worth it if it fits for you.
I had read some of Tails of Magicat before on Tapas and when the kickstarter popped up I knew I wanted it. It did take a long time to get it, but the quality of the book is absolutely stunning. The paper is thick and gorgeous, the book is full colour and it is a chonky one. And obviously the art is extremely cute.
It mostly follows the story of a little cat as he learns magic, makes new friends and explores the forest, plus slowly grows up. It is ADORABLE and made me both smile, and laugh and be emotional and the story is varied. For example, he goes hunting and makes frineds with a frog, and then he makes friends with his bullies and things like that.
Magicat lives with his grandma who cooks delicious meals and is the elder in magic to him, so she teaches him too. This means we get illustrated recipes throughout the books. The first one is just for carrots, but as the story goes through it gets more complex and with fancier recipes, including bear claws and a roast. Each of the recipes also features as part of the story so your mouth is already watering by the time you get to read the full recipe and then it even shows variations and ideas to make it more of your own at the end.
Honestly, it was a slow joy to read this one and it cheered me up plus it made me want to cook a lot too. I want to make those bear claws soon. I can highly recommend it, and if you’re interested in a cute black cat learning magic and making friends and taking care of his community, then you can buy it here.
Conspiracy of Ravens by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Sally Jane Thompson
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought a while ago and forgot to read it.
Conspiracy of Ravens is a bit of a gothic magical girls story based on the corvid family. And I mean come on that’s pretty cool as a premise. But does it hold to it?
We start with Anne who inherits her long lost aunt’s English mansion and a mysterious locket alongside a maid/caretaker. As she tries to decide what to do with her inheritance that is conveniently close to her boarding school, she starts finding a few other girls who also have mysterious lockets, and those lockets start unlocking superpowers related to each fo the corvid family birds shown in them.
However, no everyone that has superpowers is using them for good or even wants to be involved in this whole thing, so it is up to Anne and her friends to try to do the best.
I have to say I struggled initially to identifiy the characters because they all looked way too similar and changed slightly as the story developed, and as much as it was a fun magical girl story it had a few holes in it I couldn’t see why they were there.
I did like the powers they get from each bird and the mini stories of each of the characters, but they felt missing and rushed and at times it was all over the place, more like it should have been several volumes or stories rather than compile it into a single one, or maybe not add as much side stories to the main one.
So I guess it has room for improvement however I kept rushing through it once I got into the story. So if you like magical girls and gothic vibes plus a bit of steampunk and corvids, then give this a try.
Ownership: Last box of my subscription. If you are interested in purchasing an Owlcrate subscription, you can do it on their website.
Owlcrate was my first ever subscription box way back in 2015, and usually features young adult books in a variety of genres alongside a few bookish items. Sadly due to import fees and shipping, I have had to cancel my subscription and won’t be getting any further boxes.
However, I am happy to have had this as my last box, and I’ll start with the bottom right going clockwise:
A letterboard, which obviously I decided to use by setting the theme there. I did feel a bit sad that the frame had no decorations or anything, felt like a missed opportunity.
It also came with a cute pouch to hold all the letters and symbols of the letterboard.
A tapestry that is a lunar calendar featuring Artemis and Athena.
A pin banner, I like that they are usually decorated and thick fabric so they just dont tear.
A wooden bookmark, which looks like somoenes been biting it, and has two different sides.
Nectar of the Gods tea, which is peppermint tea and sadly nothng more interesting.
And the book, Lore. I’ve heard mixed reviews on it so I am curious, however not high expectations since I am not huge on greek mythology based books.
Overall I enjoy this box, it had some confusing items like the bookmark but I enjoyed a lot the letterboard since I have been wanting one for a while, just sad it didnt have a design on the eadge, but still a good item and the lunar tapestry/calendar is also cool.
As mentioned above, it was a nice last box and the only reason to cancel was mostly that shipping charges went up a lot due to political climate and being in the UK and all that, so not their fault.
Paradise Kiss was one of my first mangas I ever read and to this day I still love it. It is about a young student, Yukari, who is trying to find meaning in her life and is doing her best to fulfill expectations, until she accidentally gets “discovered” by a group of fashion design students who think shed make the perfect model for their final project.
The full story follows Yukari and George, alongside the rest of the atelier and Yukari’s own friends and family as she initially rejects the proposal to be a model and then realises that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So she “joins” the atelier as their model and starts spending more and more time with them, which also means more time with George, with whom she establishes a relationship.
The manga is full of fashion desing, lots of amazing looks, a lot of relationships happening and things going on and it is just a delight to read, or at least it was to me. One thing ot mentionis that George has an interest in sadomasochism and can be manipulative nad abusive at times to Yukari, but it is part of the story that their relationships develops as it goes. There is also the relationship of the other atelier members and how they visualise George.
Overall, it has a special vibe and the young me that wanted to be a fashion designer loved it, plus it explores bisexuality, has a queer character and a lot of representation and alternative ways of life that show that it isnt all one way to make it and way to live. On top of that, the story doesn’t end when Yukari models for them, instead it suddenly opens a world of opportunities for her and a modelling career, so it is a good interesting show of what choices one can make and opportunities that we take or not.
I cannot recommend this enough as a manga to read, however, as per above I do highlight that it has some interesting topics and some content warnings that are there for a reason. This isn’t all honey and fashion and good vibes. It has a lot of tough topics and a lot of hard moments.
If manga isn’t your thing, you can always go the anime or live action way. I have watched the anime a few times but still haven’t the live action. It is good fun and only 12 episodes long. And overall, regardless of format, it is a well contained story that shows many sides of a coin and about making choices and taking opportunities.
I added Flying Witch to my wishlist after Asha over at A Cat, A Cup Of Tea, And A Book talked about it, and as soon as I read her review plus the about of the book, I knew it was one I’d enjoy too.
Now, Flying Witch is a soft slow book, there isn’t technically a lot going on, or at least on in the Western fast-paced need for adventure and plot advancing at a high-speed kind of pace. Instead, things just slowly happen and overall there is little progress from Makoto moving in to live with her distant cousins and the end of the first volume.
And yet, I was happy to read through her trying to set up a garden, or figuring out what she actually wants to do beyond follow the path to becoming a full-fledged witch. There is the fact that her sense of direction is apalling and therefore, small hiccups and fun things happen on her day to day, plus there is also her little cousin who is a bit confused and surprised about Makoto being a witch. Plus there is obviously some excitement about magic.
Overall, it is a soft hedge witch story with slow pace and a lot of day to day little things that suddenly build up a bigger nicer thing. A good soft Ghibli vibe with a little less intense moments and more of smaller moments building up to a bigger one. It feels like a softer more Japanese version of Kiki’s Delivery Service, with a slightly older witch and family receiving her rather than just selecting a completely new city.
Partly, the relationships between Makoto and her cousins and family is what adds a nice flavour to this story and enriches it with new things to explore including dynamics of how to settle into a new house with family and not disrupt too much but also how to accommodate for a budding witch trying to find her way in the world.
Recommended for fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service, lovers of slow soft stories and magic, and overall if you want a feel-good story.
Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.
SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box.
It felt suitable to post about their Sakura box, which is the first one so far, on the Spring Equinox since it has an amazing spring feel to it. As I write this, I have slowly been making my way through the snacks and enjoying them way too much.
So let’s see what was inside the box, which was packed to the rim and came in a bubble wrap packaging to protect the contents and box. Starting on the leaflet on the bottom and going counterclockwise:
A detailed “snack guide”, it is created in Japan so you read it right to left. It comes with an introduction, the area it focuses on, Niigata for this month, and a detailed description of each snack alongside allergens, makers and if it is suitable for vegetarians. I found this extremely helpful, as I could recognise some of the snacks but not all of them and this made it easy.
Sakura blossoms postcard from the curators.
Mini Sakura Senbei, which are soy sauce flavoured despite the pink colours.
Two Strawberry Castella cakes which are a perfect combination of sweet and tart and not too much. The sponge was to die for, honestly, perfectly springy and delicious.
Strawberry Dorayaki, I am particularly fond of dorayaki and this was delicious.
Sakura Madeleine, which looks absolutely delicious and perfectly moist.
Uji Matcha Castella, another sponge with one of the highest grades of matcha and red beans.
A peach sandwich.
Okayama White Peach Castella, more spongey goodness, I am converted to castella cakes.
Red Bean Taiyaki, exclusively made for this box.
Two sakura monaka, which are pink wafer enveloping red bean paste with a sakura scent.
In the pink box, Yoshino Kuzumochi which is an elegant mochi in syrup.
Two sweet sakura tea with blossoms in them.
A sakura strawberry crepe roll
Another monaka but this time with mochi in the little folded blossom square.
Sakura Konpeito, probably the item that gave me the most glee as I thought of the soot sprites from Spirited Away and felt like one of them.
A Sakura shrimp senbei
And below a sakurasen cracker which is a slightly savoury cracker.
Finally, as part of the collection and focus on Japanese afternoon tea, a sakura blossoms plate.
As you can see it was rich in content and as far as Ive enjoyed the treats, it has been well worth it. The box arrived surprisingly quickly and was a massive cheer up so as long as they keep this stunning quality, I am going to be hooked on it because it is so good.
Ok, this was an impulse buy. I saw the Yoshi had a sale a while back, wanted some prints, bought some prints, found there was a collection titled Foxy Fashions and well, there was a book with all the illustrations, and it was on sale, so obviously I had to have it. Come on, it says “foxy” and it is about fashion. It was utterly irresistible for me.
The book is a collection of fashions seen through Yoshis eyes per era/type and with the wearers having their face masked by fox masks. It is gorgeous and honestly if you check the store and see some of the prints youll find the joy of just flicking through this book and revelling in it.
All I can do is share my favourite page and say that I recommend it because it is stunning!