the bookish life

my geeky love for books and bookish things

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Book Review – Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

A couple months ago I decided to check out Blind Date with a Book. It’s an Australian store that wraps books in brown paper and string, so you can’t judge the book by it’s author/title/cover etc. I decided to give it a shot.

Blind Date

First of all, the book arrived really quickly. That was a nice surprise, especially considering how far it had to travel. The book looked so nice all wrapped up, I almost didn’t want to open it. Almost.

Zoo City

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes is exactly as described on the wrapping. It’s an urban fantasy/noir detective story wrapped up in a really unique plot.

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons. – Goodreads

Beukes has created a fascinating, kind of terrifying world. People who are responsible for a death, be it by accident, self-defence or murder, become animaled. A wild animal finds the person, and becomes psychically linked to them. Being away from their animal is actually painful, and they have a wordless communication with them. Most animaled people develop some kind of psychic talent – Zinzi is able to ‘see’ the ties linking people to lost objects and even lost people. But the talent comes with a price; if your animal dies, you are taken by hell’s Undertow. Trust me, it’s as terrifying as it sounds.

Zinzi lives in a slum in Johannesburg, nicknamed Zoo City – animaled people find some protection living there. Zinzi uses her talent to find lost things for a price, until her current client ends up dead. The plot spins off from there into a deeply layered mystery that Zinzi is unwillingly forced to participate in.

This book is gritty and dark, and definitely doesn’t have a happy ending. But the pacing is tight, the world building fantastic, and I found myself actually caring about Zinzi’s well being. I wish there was a sequel; I guess I’ll have to settle by tracking down Beukes’ other books – I’m now a fan. Zoo City is a solid 4/5.


May Owlcrate – Steampunk

This month’s box arrived several days ago, but I’ve been so busy at work that I haven’t had time to open it and post about it. Thank goodness for long weekends!

The theme for May is Steampunk, and as predicted, the box is full of goodies featuring gears and cogs. It’s heavy on the jewelry, but considering the theme, it makes sense.

Steampunk Owlcrate

There’s a ring by Sparks Emporium, a skeleton key necklace by Crystal Compass Designs and a brooch/pin by Elope. The pin is heavy and gorgeous – I’ll definitely be sticking it to one of my purses. Also included were gold coloured temporary tattoos, steampunk nail wraps by Espionage Cosmetics and a Peter Pan art print by Creative Daffodil Studios. I’ll likely save the tattoos and nail wraps for some fun at FanExpo this summer. I’ll admit, the Peter Pan print had me a bit confused, until I took at look at this month’s book. (Ugh, that rhymes. I’m sorry.)

Everland by Wendy Spinale sounds so good – it’s a steampunk retelling of Peter Pan. I recently read the original, so I’m excited to jump into this version with it fresh in my mind. And of course, the book came with a letter from Spinale, which is always one of my favourite things about Owlcrate.

Owlcrate has begun adding hint cards for the next month’s theme. June will be Royalty. There is supposed to be some stuff from The Lunar Chronicles (which I just finished reading!), so it’ll be a good one. Click here if you’re interested in signing up!

Product Review – Frostbeard Studio Candles

I was first introduced to Frostbeard Studio through Owlcrate; their December box included a “Reading at the Cafe” mini candle. I love it – it smells like coffee and chocolate. But it’s so tiny I feel like I need to ration it!

Frostbeard Studio started in 2012 as a pottery studio, and a year later began selling candles. But not just any candles – these are aimed at bookworms. Intrigued yet? Take a look at their website and you will be. They have scents like Bookstore, Don’t Panic (Fresh Towel), Wizardy Buttery Drink and tonnes more. I’ve spent quite a bit of time perusing their online store, and I wish I could buy them all. Have I mentioned that the December Owlcrate came with a coupon?

Frostbeard Studio

About a month ago I finally put the coupon to good use. I bought an 8 oz candle called Sherlock’s Study. The website claims the candle smells like pipe tobacco, cherrywood and fresh rain, and their description of it sounds lovely:

It is cozy and sweetly rich. Curl up with a book while burning this candle and imagine yourself in rainy London with the great sleuth. You can practically hear his violin playing while he works out his latest case!

Shipping was absurdly fast – always a plus when I’m shopping online. The candle itself is a warm brown colour, in a glass jar with a white plastic lid. When I first removed the lid I was a little worried; it had a bit of a floral scent, which I’m not a fan of. But I should really learn to not judge a candle by it’s unburnt scent. Once it was lit, it was much more in line with Frostbeard’s description.

So now I’m definitely a fan. If you’re looking for a gift for yourself or a bookish friend, you really need to check them out!


April Owlcrate – Dystopia

My April Owlcrate arrived wicked fast this month – I am so thrilled! This month’s theme is Dystopia. I love dystopian fiction – one of my all-time favourite books is in the genre (The Testament of Jessie Lamb. Check it out – trust me!). So, I knew I would love the book choice.

I like being right – the book this month is Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and the story sounds like it’ll be a great read:

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed. – Goodreads

I fully plan on reading it this weekend. The book also came with a letter from the author (I love when they do that), a mini poster, and hidden in the book was a temporary tattoo. That was a cool surprise.

Dystopia Owlcrate

Also included was a decal from The Maze Runner, Hunger Games mockingjay bracelet and magnet, a mini notebook with 1984 on the cover, and a Shatter Me coaster.

The bracelet is beautiful, although not really my thing. The little notebook fits perfectly in my leather journal/organizer, and I’ve already put the coaster to good use. I have yet to read The Maze Runner though, so I’m not quite sure what to do with the decal.

Overall a good month – but the highlight was definitely the book!

May’s theme is Steampunk, which I am stupid excited about. I’m predicting lots of stuff with gears on them! Click here if you want to sign up.

March Owlcrate – Writer’s Block

My March Owlcrate has finally arrived, and I love everything in it. This month’s theme is Writer’s Block – so let’s get right to it!

March Owlcrate

The book this month is The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Here’s the Goodreads summary:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

I’ve added the whole blurb, because the story just seemed too complex to truncate. The plot sounds intriguing and I’m excited to start reading the book.

The book also came with a letter from the author. I love when Owlcrate does this. The author letters are usually handwritten and it’s really great to hear about the book in the author’s own words.

Writer's Block

And now the bookish goodies. First up, a set of three pins with cute sayings from Bookworm Boutique. They were created exclusively for Owlcrate. There was also a small notebook of writing ideas and a rubber quill pen. I’m definitely going to be using both. I’ve flipped through the notebook and it has some great ideas, and the pen writes beautifully. The book is from Chronicle Books and the pen from Kikkerland.

Last, but certainly not least, are a pair of banned books socks from Out of Print. I love love love Out of Print; I have a bunch of t-shirts and socks from them. In fact, I already have the banned books socks – but they have a hole, so I’m happy to have a replacement.

And that’s it! April’s theme is Dystopia – I’m betting there will be lots of Divergent and Hunger Games goodies. Click here if you are interested in signing up!

February Owlcrate – Sci-Fi Love

Several months ago I discovered the wonderful world of themed subscription boxes. I’m betting most people have heard of them by now – pay a monthly fee and receive a box of goodies geared toward your interests. I’ve tried a handful, and they’ve been nice, but only one really felt worth it: Owlcrate.

In a nutshell, Owlcrate sends cool goodies and a (just released) Young Adult novel every month, centred around a unique theme. They’re a Canadian (woo!) small business that really cares about their subscribers. They respond to emails quickly and have a prominent presence in the Instagram #bookstagram community, which is awesome.

So, to the point… today my February Owlcrate arrived!

February Owlcrate

And I’m thrilled with the contents. This month’s theme was Sci-Fi Love (which is pretty self-explanatory). The goodies included a Lunar Chronicles tote bag, a Doctor Who TARDIS brooch, the book The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry, and (ANOTHER BOOK) The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

Two books, guys. Two. Books. I’m so happy. I love The Time Machine, and it’s great to now have a copy for my little library.

The Love That Split The World sounds really interesting too, and seems right up my alley.

We know you’ll fall head over heels for this stunning debut novel all about traveling through time, summer nights and first loves. – Owlcrate

I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who, so bring on the time travel fiction! Speaking of, the TARDIS brooch is beautiful. It’s magnetic (rather than a pin), so I can stick it to my leather purse without poking any holes. The magnet is pretty strong too, so I don’t think it’ll be easy to lose. The Lunar Chronicles tote bag is nice, although (hang my head in shame) I’ve only read the first book. I’ve probably damaged my YA cred by this point, but hey, I do plan on eventually reading the rest!

February Owlcrate

The March Owlcrate theme was recently announced: Writer’s Block. I’m stupid excited about this one. Who knows, maybe there is something in it that will help me finish writing my (numerous) short stories.

If you’re interested in signing up to enjoy the YA goodies, here’s a referral link!

This was not a sponsored post – I just really like Owlcrate.

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