subscription box

Ninja Book Box: ‘Journeys’ Summer Reading Box

Welcome to this very late unboxing of the ‘Journeys’ Summer Reading Box! I received this exciting package two weeks ago today, but due to work being super busy and life in general being a bit hectic, I didn’t have a chance to write this post until now.

Ninja Book Box is a UK-based quarterly book subscription box that’s all about sharing independently published books. There’s different genres every quarter and some goodies included too. Ninja Book Box also runs a monthly book club for independently published books and anyone can vote for the next months book which is pretty cool too. They are opening their own online second-hand independent books bookshop very soon as well! The fabulous brain behind Ninja Book Box never stops.

Now onto the books. I bought the ‘Journeys’ Summer Reading Box. This is the second year Ninja Book Box has done a summer reading box and it focuses on the books, not the goodies – though there were some nice surprises in here! Each book was individually wrapped in tissue paper which is a nice touch.

The first book I unwrapped was The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock – I love the cover of this book, it’s beautiful. The story sounds great too as it starts off in the late 1940s with US Air Force test pilots racing to break the sound barrier. By the 1960s the space race is in full swing and Jim Harrison and his colleagues are offered the chance to be the world’s first astronauts. But when his young family is thrown into crisis, Jim must decide whether to accept his ticket to the moon, and if he does, what will it cost. I’m intrigued to see how much of this book is fact and how much is fiction. I do enjoy historical novels that blend the two together, and the space race is always interesting! There was an interview with the author included as well.

The next book I unwrapped was The Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell and it was signed which is always a bonus. The Red Beach Hut is about eight-year-old Neville and Abbott, a man who’s on the run after panicking over what he believes to be a homophobic cyber-attack. Abbott takes refuge in the red beach hut, and slowly he and Neville form a friendship, but Abbott’s past threatens to tear him away as others interpret his and Neville’s friendship in their own ways. This is a relatively short book and it sounds like a poignant story.

And finally, the last book was Dust by Mark Thompson which came with a signed bookplate, a bookmark and an interview with the author. The story follows J.J Walsh and Tony ‘El Greco’ Papadakis, two inseparable friends in one formative summer in the 1960s. They face religious piety, alcohol, girls, and tragedy but it’s a road trip through the heart of southern America that shows a darker side to life. It shows the divided nation where wealth, poverty and racial bigotry collide.

All three books sound compelling in their own ways, and while The Last Pilot is the sort of book I’d pick up if I saw it in a bookshop, the other two aren’t. That’s what I love about subscription boxes like Ninja Book Box, it gives me the push to try something a little out of my comfort zone. I really like how all three books definitely fit in with the theme of “Journeys” – whether it’s a physical journey across the country or into space, or an emotional one. I’m looking forward to reading how all these journeys unfold.

Make sure you check out Ninja Book Box’s website and their various social media channels, especially Twitter, so you can keep up with all their bookish news. And if you like the sound of these books and fancy getting them for yourself, there’s a few Summer Reading Boxes still for sale here.

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May’s Illumicrate Box

May’s Illumicrate was just the best! But before I get into what’s inside, here’s a little about Illumicrate. Illumicrate is a quarterly YA subscription box based in the UK. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK. It does ship internationally but it has shipping costs that varies depending where in the world it’s travelling to. Illumicrate contains one new release (and sometimes a bonus ARC as well) and 4-6 goodies, some of which can be exclusives.

Now I had cancelled my Illumicrate subscription as I’d moved to a new house, I was now paying more monthly expenses etc etc but when I heard what some one the goodies would be related to, I knew I had to get this box. Seriously, mention Black Panther and I’m there!

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was the Black Panther item. It’s a book sleeve designed by Risa Rodil featuring T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia and Okoye and I LOVE IT!!! I love the design (I’d seen some of Risa Rodil’s work before and loved it so I’m so happy I have a book sleeve by them) and how big the sleeve is.

Next there was a box with Fangirl-inspired artwork by Alice Oseman. I really liked this item as it’s something I’ve not seen in subscription boxes before and it’s the perfect thing for keepsakes or your lunch. There was a Camp Half-Blood enamel pin with a pegasus on it from Fable and Black, tarot-style art cards inspired by the Infernal Devices featuring Will, Jem, and Tessa from taratjah, and a set of elements page markers from AnotherStudio_ inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. All of these items were Illumicrate exclusives which is pretty awesome.

Also included were promotional items like pin badges, bookmarks, samplers and postcards for Grey Sister, How Do You Like Me Now?, From Twinkle With Love, I Was Born For This and A Reaper at the Gates. And there was an exclusive edition advanced readers copy of Light Years by Kass Morgan which sounds like a great, mysterious yet romantic sci-fi adventure.

Now for the book. It was A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews and this copy was an exclusive copy with red sprayed edges. It came with a signed book plate, a letter from the author and a bookmark. This is a book I’d seen murmurings about on Twitter, and after reading the blurb I can see why. It’s a contemporary story about friendship and music and overcoming parental abuse. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

I loved everything included in this quarters Illumicrate box and I think it could be the best yet. I like how it has a real eclectic mix of items from different fandoms and I’m looking forward to reading both books, especially as they are books I might not have bought myself. I think this Illumicrate box might be their best yet, it’s truly great.

Wildest Dreams Book Box: Female Voices

This week my first ever Wildest Dreams box arrived. Wildest Dreams is a UK based book subscription box that aims to be a more affordable option. Starting at £18 a month, the box contains a book, tea, a bath/body product and maybe a few extra little bits too.

Each month there is a theme and this month’s theme was Female Voices. I’d been meaning to give Wildest Dreams a go and this theme caught my attention. Without further ado, here’s what was in this month’s box.

I really liked how everything was packaged. Everything came in a smaller box compared to the other subscription boxes I’ve tried, but that didn’t stop it being all neatly presented. The contents was wrapped in tissue paper and the book itself was wrapped in brown paper – giving it that extra little bit of protection and making it more fun to open.

The first thing I saw was the tea. The tea is called Reset Yourself, it’s chamomile and lemongrass and is made by Rosie Lea Tea. It also came with disposable teabags which is always helpful as so often when you receive loose leaf tea in a subscription box, you don’t have anything to actually make it in if you don’t possess your own tea strainer. This tea was chosen by author Holly Bourne which is pretty cool.

The bath/body product included in this months box was Bone Season inspired soap. It’s a handmade dusky sole and almond soap, it’s blue, yellow and red, and it smells like sweets! I’ve honestly been sniffing it a lot as I’ve been writing this post like a right weirdo. The soap was made by the Glasgow Soap Company.

The book included was I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter. First of all I love the cover, it’s such a beautiful colour and image of a broken moth (or it could be a butterfly) is striking, and second of all, it’s a book I’d never heard of before.

Reading the blurb, it sounds like a hard-hitting but important contemporary YA book. It’s about Ellie, who just wanted to blend in, but that’s until popular Caleb tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it. Ellie’s not sure if she actually likes Caleb because the way he treats her, showing her with love one minute then ignoring her the next, his possessive tendencies and harsh tone. Then one-night Ellie learns what kind of monster her boyfriend really is. She’s not the first girl Caleb rapes, but she as the first she murdered. Now Ellie’s trapped, unable to move on, and stuck watching Caleb do the same thing other girls. Ellie’s powerless and alone, and she just hopes that someone can help her.

I’m especially interested to see how the story presents Ellie being dead but still present, seeing Caleb’s actions. I think I Stop Somewhere has the potential to be a really sad story but I would like it to also offer a sense of hope to Ellie and the reader.

In this box there were also a couple of Holly Bourne-related stickers, some chocolate chip and vanilla biscuits (which I’ve already eaten, and they were very tasty), a bookmark, a letter from the author and signed bookplate.

I really liked the Wildest Dreams Book Box. It’s a simple but well put together subscription box. As someone who enjoys all the goodies you get in subscription boxes but very rarely uses them all, I think this box is great as the soap is something I will definitely use and, if I don’t like the tea, my friends at work love tea so it can find a good home with them. I don’t think I’ll be getting the Wildest Dreams Book Box every month, as while it definitely one of the cheaper subscription boxes, I don’t really have the money to pay for a subscription box every month – plus, I want to make a dent in my large TBR pile before I regularly get subscription boxes again.

Wildest Dreams’ June theme is Love YA and it’s always a good idea to follow their Twitter as they often give out discount codes to make the box even cheaper! They’re awesome like that.

November’s Illumicrate Box

This months Illumicrate box arrived this weekend and I when I opened it I was so pumped! But first things first, let me do the usual spiel at the start of a subscription box unboxing. Illumicrate is a quarterly UK based YA subscription box that unlike some subscription boxes doesn’t have a theme each time so you can get a real eclectic mix of goodies in the box each time. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK, it ships internationally but it does have a shipping cost that varies depending where in the world it’s travelling to. There’s always at least one book (though the last few boxes have included an ARC) and 4-6 goodies.

Now onto the box! I loved everything in this box – the goodies and the books(s) are all great and just the sort of thing I will actually use/appreciate.

First the goodies – and all but two of these things were Illumicrate exclusives. The first thing I saw was a bookish tea towel designed by Evannave Illustration which is lovely, and I will be taking it with me when I move to a new place in a couple of weeks. Then there was a print with a quote from J.K. Rowling from Nutmeg and Arlo and a moon and stars necklace from Oh Panda Eyes, which I’ve given to a friend because I knew she’d love it. There was a candle from Meraki Candles called Reading in Bed and it smells of hot chocolate and is a pale yellow with pink glitter on it and it smells divine. There was a 2018 Unicorn Journal from Prism Of Starlings which I will definitely be using. It’s a week per page (just how I like my diaries) and what’s really cool is it not only has the usual holidays already printed on the right day, but it also has various authors birthdays printed in it which is a nice touch for a book lover. There were also two samplers on for This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada and one for Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

Now onto the books. The first book I saw was an advanced reader copy of The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. I’d seen this book a bit over Twitter recently and I like how it’s set in eighteenth century Cairo and has magic and spirits. I’m looking forward to reading it even if it’s a big chunk of a book! Now the other book got me seriously excited! It’s Artemis by Andy Weir! I adored The Martian so much and I’ve been looking forward to Artemis a lot but because I don’t pre-order books I hadn’t realised it was now out. This copy is an exclusive Illumicrate edition with black sprayed edges and it also came with a bookmark and a travel brochure which I thought was a very nice touch. I honestly can’t wait to read Artemis and it’ll probably be my next read.

I really love everything in this quarters Illumicrate box and I definitely think it’s worth the price tag. I may have to cancel my subscription as I’m moving to a flat and while I know there’s post boxes for each flat, I’m not sure what happens to parcels – but I have three months to figure that out.

Choose 4 Words Book Date from The Book Matchmaker

This week I decided to treat myself after I heard about The Book Matchmaker on The Owl on the Bookshelf‘s gift guide for bookworms. The Book Matchmaker is a company that offers customers a mystery or blind date with a book. The way they do this is wrapping their books and only giving you a couple of clues before you decide to make a purchase. The clues can either be four words that are to do with the book, or is just the books genre. I thought this was a great way to find a book I may not normally pick up.

So, the date I decided to go for a Choose 4 Words Book Date. There’s lots of different books to choose from but the one I went for was the one with the words; Australia, Community, Secrets and Crime. My thoughts were that it must be a crime story and possibly either by an Australian author or set in Australia. I do like crime fiction but don’t read it regularly in case it becomes a bit repetitive, so I thought there was a good chance I wouldn’t have read it and if it turned out to be by an Australian author it could go towards my Read the World Project.

I was very impressed with how quick my Book Blind Date arrived, it dropped through my letter box just three days after I ordered it. I was also impressed with how it was wrapped – it looked lovely and very professional.

My book date turned out to be The Dry by Jane Harper. It’s a book I hadn’t heard about before but having read the blurb it’s definitely a book I’m looking forward to reading. The book also came with some hot chocolate! That’s another nice thing about this service, it lets you choose between tea, coffee, herbal tea and hot chocolate so you can have a hot drink as you enjoy your book date.

 As well as the 4 Words and Genre Book Dates, where you receive just the book and a hot drink, they also have Book Date Gift Boxes which include a book, mug, hot drink, an edible treat and a bookmark.

I think The Book Matchmaker is a great way to take a risk with what you read. I’m looking forward to reading The Dry and I will probably be making a purchase through The Book Matchmaker when I want a surprise book again.

Have you used The Book Matchmaker before? If so, what was your surprise book?

October’s FairyLoot Box – Villainous

This months FairyLoot box arrived on Monday – after some confusion with a lack of tracking number (my email with a tracking number actually arrived after my parcel did) this month’s box still arrived in good condition and I couldn’t wait to open it. I love a baddie so was looking forward to seeing what sort of goodies and book(s) (yes books plural!) were inside.

The first thing I saw was an exclusive candle from Meraki Candles, it was named Maleficient after the witch from Sleeping Beauty and smells and looks great. It’s lime green in colour and has purple glitter in it too (I may have spilt some of this glitter when I first opened it, I’m not used to glitter candles) and smells of jade orchid and lotus blossom – it’s a really subtle, fresh smell. Then there was an enamel pin in the shape of the Dark Mark of a Death Eater from House of Wonderland that is surprisingly cute for something so evil. There’s a pocket mirror made by Little Inkling Designs with a quote from The Young Elites by Marie Lu – a series I’ve been meaning to try forever! – and a coaster inspired by Moriarty made by Evie Seo. There was another goodie from Evie Seo, a print featuring a quote from The Aeneid by Roman poet Virgil, and a second art print inspired by Night of Cake and Puppets by Lani Taylor.

Now onto the books!

The first book I saw was The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. This an exclusive edition of the book, it has red where there’s normally gold, and it looks gorgeous. From what I can gather this is a collection of short stories, or fairy-tales, set in the Grishaverse. I’ve read Six of Crows but as of yet haven’t finished that duology nor read the original trilogy. Still, this is a gorgeous book with some wonderful illustrations on just about every page and I’m looking forward to delving into this world again. Especially as you don’t need to know anything of the main story to understand these tales. The book also came with a set of postcards featuring art from the book.

The second book was Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao – a book whose cover I’d seen on social media a lot but hadn’t really looked into it much before. It sounds intriguing though, with it being a retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White’s story but set in Eastern Asia. I’m always interested in retellings, seeing how they’re familiar to what we know but if and how they forge their own narrative. The books came with a letter from the author and a signed bookplate as well.

I was really impressed with this months FairyLoot. I don’t get a box every month, instead seeing what a theme is and purchase a box if it’s a theme I’m interested in. I liked that the goodies were varied, my favourites are the pin and the candle, and that there were two books this month! I’m looking forward to reading them both (hopefully) very soon.

August’s Illumicrate Box

My August Illumicrate box arrived today and I am seriously impressed with it! Illumicrate is a quarterly YA box based in the UK. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK included, it ships internationally but there is a shipping cost that varies depending where you live. Unlike a lot of subscription boxes Illumicrate doesn’t have a theme each quarter so it’s a surprise to see what’s included. There’s always at least one book and about 4-6 bookish goodies.

I really liked all the goodies in this box. There’s usually one or two things in any subscription box, not just Illumicrate, that I’m not that fussed about but all of these goodies put a smile on my face. There was Nevernight-inspired The Red Church Tea which is an exclusive from T-ology, I don’t drink tea but this tea smells gorgeous and might just leave it out as potpourri or something. There’s a zip bag with a Shakespeare quote from Miss Phi which is an exclusive, an exclusive dot grid notebook with a quote from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan on the cover from Hey Atlas Creative and an exclusive Alethiometer coaster from Hannah Hitchman Art which I quite liked because you rarely see His Dark Materials goodies in subscription boxes.

There’s bookmarks for Ringer, After The Fire and The Bear and the Nightingale. Then there’s pin badges for Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, a book I hadn’t heard of but based on the badges I googled it and it sounds like the most perfect book for me and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. And finally, from Blossom Books there was a set of sticky bookmarks and a book money jar. I have a random tin I’d been using to put £1 in for every book I read so I’m going to move that money to the jar.

There were two books in this quarters box. The first I saw was an exclusive edition advanced reader copy of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. I hadn’t heard of this book before but it sounds like a sci-fi space thriller so I am intrigued. Nyxia is released at the end of September and it came with a bookmark in this box. The second book was Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo! I’ve seen this book pretty much all over Twitter for the past few months and after seeing Wonder Woman at the cinema three times and loving it a lot, I was definitely interested in Wonder Woman: Warbringer. This copy is an exclusive to Illumicrate with its red sprayed edges and has an exclusive Wonder Woman pin badge.

So that was this quarters Illumicrate box! I loved everything inside it and was very impressed with the book choices and all the goodies included. Now I always say I’ll read the books I get in subscription boxes sooner rather than later, and 99% of the time that doesn’t happen, but this time I mean it! I’m looking forward to reading both books and it was a lovely surprise to see them included in this quarters box.