Ownership: Bid for the proof copy in aid as it was annotated.
As a fan of Stephanie’s books, and knowing the Raven Heir was in the making a few years ago, it was inevitable I’d bid and bid until I got this proof. Which then I promptly devoured and enjoyed thoroughly.
We meet Cordelia and her triplets, Giles and Rosalind, who are much more well-behaved than she is, and a lot less wild. She can feel it in her bones, in her being, that the woods call her, the shape-shifting is ever so tempting and it is hard to obey the rules. But Cordelia tries hard and does her best, even if sometimes this doesn’t work out.
But when the safety of her home is at stake and the triplets are suddenly in the run for their lives, it is Cordelia who seems to know more than her triplets and who will have to make very tough decisions.
Overall the book explores the power of being siblings, friendship and the weight of responsibility and knowing something. But it also has a lot of animals, and nature involved, and all the elements of a perfect Disney/Pixar film, or a good animated series that will stay with you for years to come. Actually, if it was to be made as a film, I’d say give it to the studio behind The Secret of Kells, or Wolfwalkers, because it would fit so beautifully in that style. If you have watched either film or any of their films, The Raven Heir has that magical quality and fantasy epic that is also heavily tied with nature and living and the power and weight of choices made.
As per usual, the author has made an amazing book and there is layers and layers of it to look into, starting with the world and then coming to Cordelia, her magic and the magic of her triplets, alongside her identity and the adventure they have to set off to save the kingdom.
Highly recommended to readers of all ages, anyone that loves a good story, one that will stick with you forever, this is the one to pick.
Ownership: Proof copy provided by Orbit, but also got a signed edition and a bookbox edition. I like Tasha’s work, a lot.
Series: Bruning Kingdoms
Just in case you didn’t know, I really like Tasha’s books so my opinion is biased in that I came to this book knowing I would really enjoy it. If my buying several editions of it wasn’t hint enough, this is the neon sign that says I love her writing.
With that out of the way, we get into the main review of this book. I love it. That’s it. That is the review.
Ok, fine, you want more? This is a book about being a region that had power and their own traditions and lost it, alongside trying to fight a tyrant emperor that has deep religious belief. But it isn’t just that, you also get a delicious slow burn lesbian romance, an interesting take on the different sides of religious extremisms, a powerful book about identity, what being a mosnter or not is, and what your wants are.
Honestly, that part of the book reminded me of a frined who keeps asking, “yes, I understand what you’re saying but none of those things are a Moon want, they are a want about the environment you’re in, about the community you live in but none of them are about you specifically, what do you want?” And heck, Priya needs a friend exactly like that, because she has such a soft heart and yet has to wear masks and has forgotten herself and her wants because she’s living for others in a way.
Each of the characters in the story are a wonderful interesting point of view on different things, including Bhumika which I wanted to quote over and over on the motherhood aspect of her life which I thought was such a refreshing thing to read in a book.
No really, this book is an epic fantasy, it could finish here, or it could go into more books and I love that, alongside the fact that there are morally grey characters. They are ALL trying to do what is best, or rather, what they think is best, it just happens to be that no one knows entirely for sure what is exactly the best outcome and if it is genuinely the best outcome, it is just what their imaginations can provide as the best outcome.
The magic in itself was beautiful and I LOVE the botanical and natural elements of it alongside the concpet of the nameless god. The way religion is woven into this tale was for me beautiful and just a lovely breath of fresh air.
God, I am trying to not spoiler this so I can’t say much more because hoenslty there were particular scenes that I adored, and Priya had my heart, completely, but I also loved the fact that most of the female characters show strength in a very varied way, each in such a completely different way and each using that strength, the tools they had to fit their purposes and goals.
Ok, now I am writing an essay in which I will tell you that you need to read this book, and Tasha’s writing is just getting better and better with each book. If you are curious, you can read my reviews for Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash. Also full of nonsensical “I adore this book” ramblings. Forgive someone who has found the perfect combination of slow-burn romance, fantasy, magic, colonialism critique and diverse reads ever.
I can only end this review by urging you to read this book, it has morally grey lesbians with nature magic and strength in many ways.
After reading Gods of Jade and Shadow, I knew Silvia was an author I would keep loving in future books, and Mexican Gothic just settles that even more.
If you are interested, I did a live tweeting thread as I read it with all my opinions, and the memories it brought back as I read.
If you’re feeling lazy and your question is “is this a legit Mexican Gothic novel?” then the answer is ABSOLUTELY! As a Mexican with family from nearby the area that inspired the book and that lived for a third of my life or so near abandoned mining towns, this book struck deep in my memories of Mexico, of my childhood and teenage years and the stories my family would tell. Yes, there aren’t really any tacos, sombreros or anything that screams Mexican to a foreigner, but from a subtle mention of a Zote bar of soap to other elements in the story, it was as Mexican as can be and even better.
This is how you do great own voices representation, and how you write a POC book. You don’t need to go guns blazing stamp in your face that this is indeed about Mexico, you just subtly reveal the depth of Mexico by the small hints, by the story. The gentle hints at a life lived in a country both by someone of Mazatec origin (one of the many native people of Mexico) and by colonist (English) attempting to make money out of cheap labour and taking away our silver, are superb.
Now for the actual story, we start with Noemí having her socialite life disrupted by an odd letter from her cousin and she’s suddenly thrown into this gothic decript house where things are just a bit too odd and she can’t seem to understand fully well what’s going on.
We kow something is dodgy with the Doyle and the way they are treating her cousing and her too, and yet, what is wrong exactly because you can’t just say “they’re dodgy” as grounds for say a divorce or for sending your cousin to a psychiatrist.
If you need to compare to something this is like a wonderfully modern lavish Rebecca but 10 times better, with the horror part of it developing gently around you until suddenly you’re overcome by it and you need to read until the end because how can you not find out what is exactly going on.
Now, for sanity and to warn other readers, one trigger warning I HAVE to give is sexual assault, attempted many times, but the main attempt was quite intense (extremely well written) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Which it is absolutely meant to. And given the context and the way it was written, it had a powerful effect on me but not as badly as such scenes would have in other books. Other items to consider into your content/trigger warnings: gaslighting, manipulation, colonialims, heavy racism, eugenics.
So now I will take about the racism/eugenics and hard topics part. As I read Mexican Gothic I had moments of anger due to the view the Doyles have on race and the superior vs inferior being (this becomes a major plot point and it is done with a masterful weaving of threads to form a spectacularly spooky rebozo) but I also cheered for the intensity that Noemí mustered and how she had a way of speak her mind. She did not stay quiet. And I loved her for it.
I keep praising Silvia’s writing but you can see she has honed her craft. The writing is that of someone with experience and knowledge, she can weave that tale and have you deeply wrapped in it. And the story can be brutal, it can hurt you deeply and yet, you will love it because it does exactly what it needs to do and even more. It is a credit to her mastery of words that despite how much anger I mustered about the topics in the book, I came out of my reading it satisfied.
All I can say from here is that everyone should read this book. Even if you aren’t into Gothic books, or horror, or Mexico, honestly, you need to read this because it is absolutely a master book worth every word in it.
PS. that mouse in the picture came from Tequisquapan, México. It’s a nice little reminder of my country without it being too in your face.
Fairyloot announced this box and I knew I needed to have it. And I have to say, I do not regret it at all. I know I’ve been complaining about the contents of book boxes recently, but this box is exactly what I want to talk about.
You can see the effort and care that was put into it to make it a stunning box. The amount of items is great (I even missed one and had to add the picture at the end of this post) and they are varied, decent or good quality. The whole thing screams “we care, we love the theme, we put effort into this”. And this is what I find lacking recently. If you can do it for this one box, if I can see how much you care by the contents of your box, then why aren’t you all doing this all the time? I wouldn’t be umming and erring about keeping the subscription if the boxes were always this good!
I mean, even this box has items I am not keeping, but I feel way less sad about it because there are a lot of items I like and because there’s so mcuh awesome useful stuff, that I am okay with it.
But now let’s do a full unboxing, starting on the bottom left corner and going clockwise:
A print for the book that has the author letter on the other side.
Stickers that are around the book. I love this, give me more fun stickers.
Star fairy lights. Cute, tiny and just a great thing in general.
Moon trinket dish. This is one of the ones I am not keeping but it is mostly because I already have two trinket dishes I prefer but I can still appreciate this one.
Cushion cover. On one side it has a moon and reader illustration, on the other a quote. It went straight into my favourite cushion. Cushion covers that aren’t just a quote are 100 times better than the same print on both sides and it being a quote.
Notebook with shiny foil and quote.
Even the Darkest Stars keyring. First, yay because it is a look back at a previous book included, and second, it looks like Spyros and yeah, loved it.
Moon and star paperclips. You can’t see it in the picture but the other side of the paperclip has a crescent moon. I adore them!
Tarot cards. Not bothered since I am not collecting them.
The book which is Woven in Moonlight.
Also, pictured below rather than on the full picture, a moon phases neckalce that I am adoring.
As you can see, the quality and care shows. Also, to note, they had paper bags instead of plastic for most of the items (there is still some plastic, but it is minimal) so I am loving the choice on that too. I understand they will struggle to get rid of it all but the small change was something I liked too.
The only problem is that now I have high expectations for the next box and I don’t want ot ahve the hopes broken.
Amy is trapped in the house in which her mother died, and from which she’s been streaming the progress of her illness for all the world to see and feel. Now she’s all alone, even with millions of followers, and she’s on the brink of an emotional breakdown when, on the day of her mother’s funeral, things take an unexpected turn; Amy suddenly finds herself sitting in the kitchen, and drinking tea with a stranger, who’s literally about to blow her whole existence into pieces.
Cat is a superfan of the boyband Everlasting, and she lives for the fandom, a community largely run by her older friend Evie, and built around the assumption that the front figures Nick and Ryan are secretly in love with each other. But when a large group of fans starts to believe differently, and Cat finds herself in a potentially life changing situation, things rapidly starts spinning out of hers, and Evie’s, control.
When Amy’s and Cat’s stories eventually intertwine, one thing becomes unpleasantly clear: the power of the masses, and the internet, should never be underestimated.
Heartstream has been said to be a “psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror”, and to my utmost pleasure I found that depiction to be utterly true. I’ve always been a big fan of Black Mirror, and of other sci-fi stories focusing on how near-future technical solutions could be used to do both harm and good; often at the same time. This novel by Tom Pollock plays around the very same themes as many of the Black Mirror episodes, and it is as interesting as it is frightening.
Without spoiling anything, I can reveal that this is a fast paced and thrilling read that was very hard to put down (you all know that “just one more chapter”-feeling), and that I was shockingly surprised with the twists and turns it took at the end of every. single. chapter. If you’re in for a gripping story that keeps throwing surprises in your face, go read Heartstream at once. But if you’re looking for clear and easy distinctions between bad and good, this may not be for you. The moral is more grey than black and white, just as it is with life (and the power of the internet) in general.
Dr. Bea approves
If you liked this book but are yet to watch Black Mirror, than what are you waiting for? Go do it already! As for books, I think Warcross, though it’s a totally different kind of story, can be said to revolve around similar dilemmas. Or, if you’re here for the puzzling parallel stories, Before We Were Yours might be the next read for you.
This is my first round-up but it is not the kind to summarise what I posted, but rather what didn’t make it into a post of their own but is still worth mentioning.
Thank you gift
Someone posted on Facebook about her mug being broken (a mug that had a Sarah J. Maas quote, exclusive to FairyLoot) and I said she could have mine. Thankfully for all her fans I am not a fan. I asked if she could pay shipping but gave the mug away for free. I am a weirdo that likes sending care packages to people so I ended up adding another exclusive Feyre mug and a book and I can’t remember what else. The box took a detour to Canada and finally arrived.
I did this without expecting anything in return so it was a lovely surprise to get this lovely gift. (Also, those Chocolade Kanjers are awesome).
Ninja Book Box giveaway
I don’t usually win things, but somehow I managed to win a set of bookmarks from Ninja Book Box. They are gorgeous.
Since I became so lucky I also won a small instagram giveaway done by Booklepuff.
I ended opening a Twitter account to join #BooksBindUs (it’s Maja’s fault, entirely) and ended up winning a copy of Warcross from one of the giveaways. The funny bit is I also got that in a book box and then Marie Lu asked to donate to Puerto Rico and she was sending signed books to donators so I also got one of those. I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something about Warcross… (it helps I am a gamer and a programmer/engineer).
I also started my own giveaway for a copy of After The Fire by Will Hill (what else would I giveaway, right?). I loved doing this so will probably do more giveaways soon enough.
Book sleeves are awesome, but I had been quite unlucky in snagging the prints from the shops I wanted and always missed out. So I decided to find all possible ones, see prices and shipping and choose one. Book Buddle had a fox print I wanted so I asked if she (Jules) could make me one in the right size, and ended up being unable to choose between two fabrics and ordering 3 book sleeves.
Of course, they are so gorgeous and perfect (those moons glow in the dark) that I checked if she could make a ‘book’ sleeve for Petunia. [Caveat: Petunia is my Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet I use for digital artwork, she is a bit petulant so the name came from that and she gives me heart attacks by deciding not to work, or the drivers aren’t right even if they actually are.] The sleeve for Petunia is also delightful and it has a little button to stop her from trying to escape. I cannot recommend Book Buddle enough.
Other things to note
Merake Candles resupply, because Heather makes some of the best candles I know about.
I managed to find a fox mug that was a cuteness overload and I had to buy it.
I also got my hair dyed by Nikki and a different day she helped me learn how to make Yorkshire puddings and a good gravy. Being non British I am slowly mastering the art of a Sunday Roast. I can carve a chicken easily and my veggies are to die for, same as good roast potatoes, but I still forget to make gravy and had never made Yorkies. This was a huge success.
Clipboard have been a part of my drawing life for quite long. I used to have a very battered very decorated one that had been with me since 2004-2005 but it got lost in one of my many moves. Finally I decided to find a replacement and decorate it. It has been loads of fun, experimenting around and I found out temporary tattoos work well on wood… who knew?
Last but not least, if you have been following me before this blog was born, you will know who Knit Anele is (if you haven’t, just keep an eye out for the next edition of Meet the Character).
Anyway, when I created her, I always intended to make her superhero dress something in real life to be worn by myself. This had been put in the back burner for ages until this month when I got in contact with a dressmaker (I tried several but only one worked out). It was a lot of fun and we have chosen fabrics so I am very excited about this.
Subscription Box Tally
So this month I got:
Book Box Club
LeaferBox x2 in one box
Page Habit YA
Page Habit Fantasy
I think this is all for the month of September. I am looking forward to October starting and the lovely things to come.
The Love Letters featured in my favourite book(s) post, and it probably the hardest one to review properly, mostly because it is not YA and it is so much more an adult book than the rest of them.
The Love Letters, by Madeleine L’Engle
Charlotte Napier has much to learn about herself, her faith, and her marriage. She flees to Portugal, desperately looking for comfort after the death of her son and, she thinks, her marriage. There she finds solace in the letters of a 17th century nun who struggled with temptation and sin. As Charlotte achieves a clearer focus on her own pain, she gains a powerful sense of the rigorous and demanding nature of real love.
I have to say the GoodReads synopsis doesn’t really make it justice. This was the first adult book I read from Madeleine L’Engle (she writes YA and adult fiction and also non-fiction), and it soon became a favourite.
This is not a everything is well and will be well book. It is almost three parallel stories (though two of them are technically the same story). The first is the main story, where Charlotte has flown to Portugal to try to meet with her mother-in-law and in a way with herself to figure out if her marriage is worth keeping, if it ever was worth it and unknowingly, to grieve the grief she hasn’t been allowed to feel over the loss of her son. Where she ends up staying, has the book of the letter of a nun (which actually exist) and she starts reading it to pass the time and distract herself.
The letters are followed by the second storyline, which follows the nun (Sister Mariana) as she moves from a ‘perfect nun life’ to falling in love with a soldier.
The third storyline is Charlotte’s again, but this time as she looks at her past and what made her be who she is and choose Patrick as her husband.
At first the stories don’t seem very related (young Charlotte goes on about her father, Christmas, life at boarding school, etc at first), but slowly the stories become one and there is beauty in all of them.
As young Charlotte struggles to define herself amongst all the changes and constant moves, the lack of stability and even her father’s moods; adult Charlotte reflects on her decisions and her marriage. Parallel to all of this is Mariana, falling helplessly in love (in a way an act of rebellion, showing that she is untouchable, and trying to justify her actions in so many ways) and then dealing with the aftermath. Poor Mariana never really thought it through, and asked herself what a soldier would want with a nun when he has a family waiting back home (or any woman, to be fair).
The Love Letters tackles exactly what the title says, love. It tackles love from a father, love from caretakers, love from a mother to her son, love between a husband and wife, love between sisters, all the different ways love can exist (and no, it is not only romantic love, but rather family, friends, others, romantic, lust, etc).
If you are up for a read that will leave you feeling like love doesn’t have to fit the Hollywood script and it is a beautiful but messy thing, then please read this book. I’d just note that it is an adult book and as such tackles topics that a little hard to understand and even relate with as a teenager/young adult.If you’d rather read a Young Adult book that has a similar flavour, I’d recommend And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle, or any other of her books. She has such a marvellous way of writing.
If you’d like to buy the book, it is being reprinted as a paperback and released on the 19th of September here. [I have my mother’s 1980’s copy, I pleaded with her to gift it to me when I moved to the UK, since the book was out of print at the time, so it makes my heart skip a tiny beat to see it is being reprinted.]
Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.
I have been saying that After The Fire is my best read of 2017 but I haven’t actually reviewed it here, so I say it is long overdue and here it is!
After the Fire by Will Hill
The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.
Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.
What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?
This book was recommended (and gifted) to me by the lovely Kate and Libby from Book Box Club who also loved it and thought it was ideal for me. One of the many reasons is that the main character is called Moonbeam, which made them think of me (because I am Moon, just in case). So much they wanted me to read it that it was my birthday gift, and what a gift it was!
The story starts with the last moments that Moonbeam spends inside The Fence while a terrible fire is wreaking even more havoc around her. Then the story starts when she actually wakes up in the hospital and realises she is in the hands of the very people she was warned never to talk to, never to disclose all the secrets from inside The Fence to. Poor Moonbeam, can’t blame her for feeling confused and conflicted inside.
But deciding what she should share with the strangers that are giving her sessions and keeping her “locked” in a room isn’t the only thing that is eating her up inside. She is also trying to puzzle out what happened in those last moments once the raid started and then with the fire.
The narrative is amazing at taking you into Moonbeam’s mind and helping you understand why she is thinking what she is thinking. She has been brought up inside the Fence most of her life and after her mother leaves, she is fending for herself inside, unsure if this is the best or not.
The story progresses in jumps since we are being told what Moonbeam sees fit to share with the psychologist and the detective. Of course, at first she isn’t willing to share much, they are the evil and the voice in her head resonates with Father John’s voice blaming her and giving her free guilt trips. [I know all too well how this feels, because more than two years after leaving an abusive relationship I still battle with that voice at times, every day a little less, but it is a nagging persistent pesky thing]. But slowly she makes the so-called progress she is being told about and starts telling more and more and she talks about it, more comes to the surface.
And without spoilers I just have to say that the last few chapters were the right note to end the story and I did not expect a few of the twists about the ending but it was good to find them happen. Once I closed the book I felt okay, pleased with how it had ended despite all that Moonbeam had had to go through.
You’re seriously in for a ride with this one. It is not a soft and fluffy romantic read, but it is a gripping ‘can’t put the book down’ read and I was utterly blown away by it.
From what I have learned (and after meeting the author, who was amazing and signed my copy and remembered me after I kept coming back to chat to him) this was inspired by the Waco Siege in Texas in 1993. I only learned this afterwards, and have now done some research into that. I admit that it is a good inspiration but love Will’s story on its own and to me they are two different events and cults.
Go read it now. You needs this on the top of your TBR or straight into your hands. But if you’d like interesting gripping reads I can recommend Lies like Love by Louisa Reid, which is about a mother daughter relationship but it is also about manipulation, control, depression and mental illness. Or you can try This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers, which is another gripping read, written in six ‘books’ of Cordelia’s adolescent life, by turns funny, poignant, sad, exciting, fascinating ironic and truthful about topics that parents often do not tell their children.
If you’d like to buy the book, you can find it here or you can check out my GoodReads review.
Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.
As many of you may (or not) know, I tend to try and test as many book subscription boxes as I can, throwing a few non book ones in the mix just for fun.
I will list here all the ones I have tried to this day, plus the ones I’d like to try one day. Some do not exist anymore, which is such a shame…
As a disclaimer, I will post the ones that have a renewing subscription enabled (which means that after testing, they made it to the “this makes me so happy I can throw money at it and not have a panic attack” list). After that I will post (in no specific order amongst each category) the ones I tried that are still available, then the ones I tried that have closed shop, and finally the ones I’d like to try.
I will try to include one picture for each box mentioned (except the ones I haven’t tried yet) and a small general review of what they include, my review/thoughts and why I kept it or not. There are very few boxes that haven’t made me happy so most of them didn’t make it to the renewal list due to money (I do not own a money tree, sadly).
As per usual, rating is 0.5() to 5 ().
Boxes I am currently subscribed to
Book Box Club
Stuffed owl, fairy lights and lankyard not included (wand was).
My first box: Their very first box, launched on September 2016. Theme was ‘The Enchanted Forest’, subscriber since then.
Cost: Starts at £25 (6 months) up to £27.99 (monthly) for the box but if you only want the book (their other modality ‘Purely Books’) then it starts at £40 for a 3 month subscription. Includes shipping? Yes (UK at least)
Type of books: Young Adult, in various genres. We have had fantasy, contemporary, time travel, etc.
Goodies: There are usually 4-6 items included and there is always a Book Box Club exclusive that is usually personalised (I have so many lovely goodies that are Moon exclusive). If you want your personalised item to have a specific name, let them know. You also get publisher goodies and an information postcard. They really listen to your suggestions on items you’d like to have included.
This is currently my favourite book box, and there are loads of reasons for that. For starters, it was the first box to actually have an author chat (now a lot of them do it but none like they do). And the best part is that it is done exclusively in the Clubhouse, for those of us who are subscribers. The feel of community is amazing, we have a forum where we also have fun. Basically, you are not only getting a lovely book, the chance to chat with the author and ask questions (even joke around), and the extra goodies which are lovingly planned (Kate and Libby actually plan content thinking on how it’ll look all put together alongside how it will fit the theme), but you are part of a bookish community. No other box has ever given me that. I have made new friends and I am interacting more with lovely bookish people than ever before.
I am not a rep or anything, but I love it all so much, I pestered them to give me a discount code to share around so others could join in on the fun. So if you want to give them a go, you can use MOON17 for 5% off your subscription.
PS. The girls are so cool that I ended up making a lovely design for them (more about this on the unboxing post that will be my next post).
You can subscribe to the boxes or Purely books on their website.
My first box: The Steampunk box done last October (?). I wasn’t too impressed so I stopped there but renewed my subscription for their anniversary box and I am currently renewing
Cost: £26 per box. It doesn’t matter if you subscribe monthly or in 3 or 6 months, it’s the same price. The only way to get a discount is through a rep code. Includes shipping? No, and be careful because VAT will also be included separately if you are in the UK/EU.
Type of books: Fantasy Young Adult
Goodies: 5-6 goodies. Usually includes a candle or scented item and other goodies. They try to include items no other box has done before (like oven mittens, tea towels, fairy lights, etc).
FairyLoot is a fun box and it also has a community feel but it done mostly through Facebook. It is fantasy only, so you know what you are getting here and it is easier to guess the book. They are currently doing a bookmark collection and try to keep it fresh by including different items. To me it is about 80% hit and 20% miss. I enjoy the boxes but some are quite disappointing. There is usually at least one item I am happy to get rid of and pass on (if not more) and the cost sometimes feels a little steep. It is still good and there is the FairyChat and FairyScoop which add extras.
My first box: August 2016. Have a subscription since then.
Cost: £29.99 Includes shipping? Yes for the UK.
Type of books: Varied Young Adult
Goodies: It says you get a book and 3-5 goodies but I always find two books and lots of goodies in it.
I was shocked by the amount of goodies and content in it and the fact it had not one but two books, one being an ARC. They are a quarterly subscription so it feels less heavy on your pockets when you get it and there is definitely a good value for money in the contents of the box. It has a good effect on me and usually makes me smile when I receive it.
They are currently sold out but you can subscribe on their website.
My first box: June 2017, Birthday Box
Cost: From $27.50 to $29.99 USD. Includes shipping? Yes, worldwide
Type of content: Kawaii (cute) items from Japan
Goodies: Usually around 4-5 goodies with a plushie included. At least one of the goodies is an options one (as in you could get one of many variations of the product, it is random).
I am still umming and erring on this box. The content is super cute and the plushies are good quality, which is delightful. It makes me feel cosy and cute all over. But I don’t collect plushies or use most of what it includes so it is tricky. I want it but I also don’t want to spend on something I don’t use. Thankfully they post most of the items included (not all of them) on the box, so you can decide if you want it or would rather skip (the surprise factor is in the items not mentioned and which version of them you got). I have done this for August’s box since nothing really made me go “I want it” but there are some items from September I want so there we go.
This is a mix of boxes. Some I buy one every now and then when the theme is something I really really want (and can afford an extra box). Some I tried and they just didn’t make me happy so I didn’t renew. A few I have liked but the cost was too steep to keep it up so I had to stop. Here is this collection of boxes.
You can see that my unboxing picture skills needed a lot of improving
My first box: Myths and Legends, November 2015
Cost: Monthly subscription is $29.99 USD. Includes shipping? No, it is added afterwards.
Type of books: Young Adult
Goodies: 3-5 goodies
Owlcrate was my first subscription box, but as you can see, I started doing them almost two years ago. There weren’t as many choices at the time so I kept this going but it came to a point when the goodies felt rehashed, it wasn’t good value for money and I had so many issues getting my box delivered to my home (and it was just this box, other deliveries were fine) that I stopped my subscription in August 2016. Also most of the books included weren’t the wow factor except maybe This Savage Song which was a repeat I got (another book box had sent it a month before Owlcrate did) and I have to say that since then there hasn’t been a box I feel I missed out on.
Type of books: Varied, not exclusively Young Adult though it does have some of those.
Goodies: Bookish goodies to make a magical experience. I can’t remember exact quantities.
I loved the B&B box I received and then that month they had to make a tough decision and stop sending international boxes so there died my subscription. I have only recently found out that they are doing international shipping again, so I looked at the September theme and decided to give this a go again. Depending on results I may consider more of them. The only downside is that it is on the pricier side of the scale and from America (all boxes from America generate customs issues or delays, and it is not the boxes fault at all).
Also sadly I do not have a matching picture of the unboxing but you can check out their website for more info on them. They also make a Stars-Hollow monthly box if that peaks your interest (which I haven’t tried so yeah).
Ninja Book Box
My first box: Summer Box
Cost: £26 per quarter Includes shipping? Yes if you’re in the UK.
Type of books: Indie
Goodies: Bookish goodies
This is an indie books box, and as such is more low key. Still, the one box I’ve tried which is their summer reads (which is totally different to the usual box as in it didn’t have any goodies alongside except bookmarks) and I was pleasantly surprised with it. It even included one book I had been eyeing up for a while so definitely recommend.
I have missed out on the next boxes for one or another reason and they end up being sold out before I make up my mind about getting it.
Cost: They have one time boxes and a regular subscription, Ravenclaw box was on the quite expensive side. Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Bookish goodies
Goodies: 3-5 bookish goodies and usually a wearable (if I am not mistaken). You can add a book for extra cost.
I was a little disappointed with the content for this box. Definitely it wasn’t a good value for money and this one time box made me decide not to keep trying. IT was also delayed a lot to be delivered (I had even forgotten I had paid for it and was supposed to receive it until it arrived, which isn’t very encouraging). The T-shirt is nice and the candle smelled delicious but otherwise I wasn’t wowed by it.
You can check their other boxes and options on their website.
The Accio Box
My first box: I am not sure which month, but I know I emailed them to see if they would open international shipping just for me (I was willing to pay the shipping just to get this box).
Cost: From $34 per month to $39.99 Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Exclusively Harry Potter themed goodies, no book.
Goodies: 3-5 indie goodies, hand curated. High quality.
This is not your usual subscription box. It doesn’t have lots of items, but the ones it does have are quite high quality. They are the kind of things I would favourite on Etsy but never buy because I would think they are too expensive even if they are lovely. There is no book to be included in the box either.
The only reason why I stopped my subscription is that customs was becoming very difficult to navigate. The actual custom was very small but the “handling” charge the post office was adding made it become at least half the price of the box which was most definitely not fun.
I sincerely recommend this box to anyone in the US & Canada, or if you don’t mind paying customs on top of the box price. The content was indeed high quality (highest quality tote bag I have ever received, even better than some I have bought independently) and most of it has been used nicely (for example, soap dish is happily being used in my shower and the bubble bar I am trying to ration to make it last because it is so lovely!).
Type of content: Candles and other goodies related to the theme.
Goodies: I think it is 2 4oz candles and about 3-5 other goodies.
I love Ghibli and also love Meraki Candles. Heather is amazing at making delightful candles that smell oh so good, so this was a no brainer for me. I didn’t regret it at all though I just realised that I never took a picture of the content which is very silly of me.
I didn’t buy the next box mostly because of the theme rather than because I don’t like the content, Yuri on Ice doesn’t do anything for me. But I have bought other of her candles and have loads more in my collection.
You can check her Etsy, but at the moment it is closed temporarily.
Bookish Teas Box
My first box: Magical London
Cost: £22.45 Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Tea and other goodies
Goodies: Three different kinds of bookish themed tea and extra goodies.
This is the best tea I have ever tried. It is amazing! I was blown away by it when I received my box, and now I want to buy more because I need more of these wonderful tea. Zilan includes a Tealicious pamphlet which has recipes you can do to use the tea in fun ways. I am not subscribed mostly because of being picky about the themes of the boxes but I buy her tea separately anyway because it is so good.
You can visit her website to find more lovely tea.
My first box: Sometime around December 2016
Cost: £15 per month Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Art supplies
Goodies: Several art supplies, a bookmark detailing contents, and something to use your supplies on.
This is an art subscription box and for the price it wasn’t too bad, it is good value for money. But as an artist I don’t use every supply, so some of them were more like “oh I don’t do this medium but I guess I can try it” and then I contacted their customer service and had a bad experience and empty promises so that put me off and I didn’t renew after 3 months.
My first box: Can’t remember exactly when I think start of this year, February/March
Cost: Prices start at £16 per box Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Asian snacks
Goodies: Loads of asian snacks, loads.
This is a fun subscription box if you like food and snacks and asian things. I found it to be great for trying new things and then going and buying the ones I liked at the asian supermarket nearby. I found a lot of snacks I wouldn’t have tried otherwise and also some I had wanted to try but hadn’t dared.
I stopped my subscription because I wasn’t eating all of it by the time the next box came so I felt like it was going to waste. This is mostly because it is just so full of nice stuff. And I do consider rejoining at some point.
You can check out their website if you’d like to try some snacks.
My first envelope: Sometime early this year (2017)
Cost: $10 per month Includes shipping? No
Type of content: Stickers
STICKII is a bundle of cute stickers (you can choose from three types and each gets a different theme each month) and sometimes extra stationery. I like it a lot but for financial reasons cut it short and now only buy a theme if I am dying to have it. They usually send spoilers so have an idea of part of the stickers you will receive.
No picture because for some reason I never took one (even though I have received 5+).
Check their website out if you’re interested in stickers.
LootWear (For Her)
My first box: It was Bioshock related
Cost: £14 per month Includes shipping? Yes
Type of content: A wearable specific for females
This was a fiasco. A big one. I tried it twice and both times they sent the wrong item or the wrong size and I had to contact support and get them to send the right item (I got to keep the one that was wrong) and the delivery took ages and it was just not great. Items were also not such great quality so didn’t continue.
LootCrate J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World
My first box: Their launch box
Cost: £39 (it was much higher when they started at over £50)
Includes shipping? Yes
Type of content: Harry Potter/ J. K. Rowling wizarding world themed
Goodies: 5-7 items
This was also a sad affair with Lootcrate. As I mentioned before, the box cost a lot more before, so it was most certainly NOT good value at all. I can’t say how it fares now. But what I can say is that most of the items were cheap quality and most certainly had not much of “exclusive” (I had seen items almost the same at Primark for a fraction of the price, and hey look Primark has even launched an HP themed line). Most of the items I gave away since I didn’t enjoy them at all and they felt so cheap I was not happy with how much I had paid for the box.
You can check both LootCrate boxes on their website alongside more of their options.
Boxes I have tried that have stopped their services
I try a lot of boxes and there are a few that haven’t made it and stopped their services. Most of them were very good and I wish they had had a better chance.
My Bookish Crate
This was a UK based box that first introduced us to TJ Lubrano’s artwork and it used to have good content. I was sad to hear it say they would stop their services and the last box was a slight disappointment. The picture is the first box I bought from them (my unboxing skills still evident). This was last year and I had an ongoing subscription until the last box.
Nerdy Bookworm Box
Anther good UK box that didn’t make it. It had more indie content and was less popular but still good. Sadly I didn’t keep a subscription and just bought boxes here and there…
Novel Tea Club
A box from Canada that was focused on sending pampering goodies, it used to have an indie book, some tea/coffee, pampering goodies and a bookmark and I used to love it very much until they stopped at the beginning of this year. I was sad to see them go since they always made me smile.
Boxes I’d like to try
Most of these I haven’t tried due to them being from America (customs and shipping are killers), some of them because of how expensive they are, and a few I haven’t had a chance to grab one and they are sold out each time I try to get one. They are still on my wish list for now.
I am not reviewed in detail any of them until I have actually tried them so this is more of a “these boxes exist, may be worth trying”
If you have any boxes that you think I might like to try please let me know. I am willing to try to review boxes if they pique my interest.
Disclaimer: These are my opinions and only that. I have tried so many boxes I know what I like in a box and what I don’t. What makes a box is the wow factor and the “this makes me happy and I don’t feel like I wasted money on this” feeling. Please know that for most boxes I subscribe for at least 3 months to give them a good chance, so I form my opinion over several boxes, there are a few exceptions were one box was enough for me to decide not to try them any further. It is up to you to decide what you want on a box and if the content is good value for money to you. I pay for the boxes from my own pocket so I try to choose wisely. None of the boxes mentioned here have sponsored me to review them or given me a free box to review.
Have you ever come across the ‘What is your favourite book?’ question? Do you also get a slight panic attack when you realise it means one book? ONE book? (Or is it just me?)
I mean, how can you choose just favourite book? Just one? How will your other favourite and well read books feel? Those books with broken spines, or yellowed pages, or spots of food/drink/something , the books that are so old that you fear they will break apart just by breathing near them but re-read anyway… I can’t do that to them.
But I can tell you a series of favourite and beloved books that usually come to mind when the dreaded question comes up.
A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle
This is a book that always makes me cry, every single time I read it. It tells the story of Vicky and her family (the Austins, this is the fourth book concerning the family), and a summer spent near a dying Grandfather and how Vicky deals with being sought after by two completely different young men. My favourite character is Adam (and if you want more of Adam, then there is The Arm of the Starfish). Also, Madeleine L’engle has a way of introducing philosophy and science into her books. This particular book touches on life, death, and dolphins. When do I re-read this book: When I need to cry, or need to reflect on life and death or feel a little bit alive. It is the sweet kind of sad.
If you’d like to buy it: A Ring of Endless Light
The Love Letters, Madeleine L’Engle
Another one by Madeleine L’Engle. This is a more adult novel and as good as it is, it definitely isn’t YA or younger. There are two parallel stories here, one were a couple is going through a rough patch and she has gone to Portugal to find some answers to her own storms in her heart. The other is about a nun who commits adultery and falls in love, yet she becomes the abbess later in time. The Love Letters mentioned are the letters found from the nun and published (it is based on truth). Once again quite philosophical and it ponders on love, divorce, marriage and even upbringing and how that may affect your choices later in life. When do I re-read this book: When I want a more adult book and I am trying to figure out what is bothering me.
If you’d like to buy it: The Love Letters
After The Fire, Will Hill
This is a much modern book (as in written more recently) and is the recounting of life in a cult by Moonbeam and what led her to be in a hospital recovering from wounds. Moonbeam has been told not to talk to strangers and that The Governement is evil all her life, so it is interesting to see her retelling bits and pieces and learning about the ‘real world’. My favourite read of the year (2017) so far. When do I re-read this book: Not re-read yet (it’s too new) but probably when I want to let go of some PTSD, when I want to appreciate humanity and want a story without a romance in it.
If you’d like to buy it: After the Fire
The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
The prequel to The Blue Sword, this book tells the tale of Aerin and her wish to be a dragonslayer, to be more than the daughter of the king. Aerin has always been somewhat of an outsider in her own country, so her adventures are interesting. This is not a perfect “fairy tale” and the happy ending is different than what you would expect. Aerin is a seriously strong female character and goes on to become a legend (she is mentioned in The Blue Sword). When do I re-read this book: Anytime I am feeling down or sad or not okay. Also good for being okay. Those moments when I want to curl up and sleep or disappear or both.
If you’d like to buy it: The Hero and the Crown
The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
Imagine finding out that that feeling of not belonging has a deep reason. For Harimad, she learns that when she meets Corlanth and is abducted to join him and his warriors. An epic story of saving a country when no one believes them that there is imminent danger and discovering your own worth. Another strong female character in a delightful fantasy setting. When do I re-read this book: When I want an adventure, some fantasy. Or when I am not okay or sad. Curl up moments too.
If you’d like to buy it: The Blue Sword
DragonRiders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey
A series, and I have a hard time choosing one from it. Basically, the series tells the story of how Pern was colonised, dragons were genetically modified/created to protect the planet from Thread (a menace that rains into the planet when another planet’s orbit brings it nearby). It shows how they survived and how some things were forgotten. Then it shows stories of the different holds, and the people in Pern throughout time and the different ‘Passes’ until the point when it appears they have found a solution to the Thread problem. It is rich in dragons, adventure, and going against the odds. It is full of strong characters (female and male) and not everything is black and white but there is a lot of grey and it is good. When do I re-read this series: When I am in the mood for dragons, or want to remember some of the science in it.
If you’d like to buy it: Dragonflight or try The Harper Hall Trilogy
The Time Quintet, Madeleine L’Engle
Another series, sorry. But you can’t just have one of them, you need them all! My most favourite is ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’. But the whole series was a good base for my love for physics and science. A Wrinkle in Time talks science to you as if it was normal, and it is. The illustrations help you understand easily things and when Meg confronts IT, it makes you be proud of being human, flaws and all. Then ‘A Wind in the Door’ introduces you more unto biology and medicine and once again, introduces concepts at an early age that are university/PhD level, and you know what is the best part? You are able to understand them as a 12 year old (or at least I was and years later when wondering how I knew so much about mytochondria, I could say it was this book’s fault). ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’ is moving characters through adulthood but Charles Wallace is still going through his teenage years and trying to be alive, this is a book about hope and about trusting instinct and once again about humanity. ‘Many Waters’ throws you into Noah’s arc time and you get to enjoy time with the twins. ‘An Acepptable Time’ is one I didn’t read as part of the series and only recently acquired so my opinion isn’t as settled on it (mostly because it has only been read once, whereas the rest have been read countless times). When do I re-read this series: When science calls, or I need a pick me up, or to feel useful and not just anyone.
If you’d like to buy it: The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set
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None of the other links are sponsored nor do I get anything from promoting them except sharing the love.