subscription box

Illumicrate – For Book Lovers June Box

I don’t subscribe to any book boxes, instead I keep an eye on the various book subscription box companies I’ve used and liked before and if there’s a theme I like the sound of I get it. That’s what happened with June’s Illumicrate box. Illumicrate is a monthly, UK based YA subscription box and there are lots of different subscription types you can sign up for – including a book only option which I may take advantage of in the future. Each month you get a new release book along with roughly 5 bookish times based around a theme. This month’s theme was For Book Lovers, and instead of the goodies being all fandom themed, they are all very general and are things that bookish people would probably use.

The first thing I saw when I opened the box (which was really well stuffed) was a smaller cardboard box and in that was a glass TBR jar from KDP Letters. I really like the green colour of the lid and the text on the glass that says “Read Me” – it’s a really pretty colour. I like the idea of a TBR jar but have never actually done one. I keep track of my TBR with s spreadsheet (I’m a big fan of spreadsheets) but I think maybe also having a TBR jar might give me a push when I’m very undecided about what I want to read next.

The next thing I saw was a huge and beautiful wall hanging from Carol Garcia PR. It’s seriously huge (it could work as a very thin blanket it’s that big) and has great colours and it features a goddess reading in the clouds over a sea of books. There was also a set of sticky page flags from Hey Atlas Creative and a bookend from Fable and Black that features a stack of books and a cat on the back of a chair. There was a collectible coin featuring Hermione Granger which was cool and a book sleeve from Sparrow_And_Wolf. I hadn’t seen a book sleeve like this one before. The ones I have are made out of fabric and have a hole in the top to slip the book in. This one is more plasticy and has a zip on the top so a book inside it would be super protected from any spilt liquids.

There were two books in this month’s box. The first I saw was Birthday by Meredith Russo and this copy has rainbow sprayed edges. This is a book that when I read the blurb, it rang a bell for me so I think it’s one I had heard about before and it had piqued my interest then. It’s about Eric and Morgan who were born on the same day but are slowly growing apart as they try and figure out who they want to be. The story is told on one day every year for six years which sounds like an interesting choice.

The second book was This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura, it has yellow sprayed edges and I think the cover and spine is beautiful. I’d not heard of this book before but reading the blurb it sounds like something that’s right up my street. CJ enjoys helping out at her aunt Hannah’s flower shop but when her mother she plans to sell the shop to the McAllisters, the same people who swindled CJ’s family out of their property when Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, a rift threatens to split CJ’s family and her entire North California community. For the first time CJ finds the strength to step up and fight for what she believes in.

Also included in the box was a sampler for The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie, a bookmark and signed bookplate for Birthday, and a signed bookplate and letter from the author for This Time Will Be Different too.

I really like the idea of having the items in a book box be more general than fandom-themed every now and then. I don’t read as much YA as I used to so a lot of fandoms past me by and while the item might be cool, I don’t get as much enjoyment from it compared to someone who is in that fandom. I am very much looking forward to reading both books as well as they are either ones I’d never heard of or are books I wouldn’t have gone out to get myself. I think this was a pretty good box from Illumicrate though I do think it is a bit of an expensive box to have monthly. That being said, I’ll keep an eye out to see what themes they have in the future.

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March’s FairyLoot Box – Favourites

It’s been over a year since I last got a FairyLoot box and I very rarely get subscription boxes in general, but I thought as March was FairyLoot’s three-year anniversary it could be a pretty cool box to get. As well as being the anniversary box (meaning it was purple instead of the usual black) the theme was Favourites.

FairyLoot is a monthly UK-based subscription box that focusses on YA fantasy. There’s usually at least one book, with them potentially being signed and/or having an exclusive cover or sprayed edges, and about five items related to books or fandoms.

The first thing I saw was a very pretty and cool scarf that was an exclusive design from Cara Kozik. The illustration on it was a couple of bookshelves with many popular and well-loved YA books on it. There was Children of Blood and Bone, Cinder, Lady Midnight and Shadow and Bone. Honestly, if you can think of it, it probably was on there.

There were some Alice in Wonderland-inspired bookish socks created by Team FairyLoot. Also made by Team FairyLoot were bookish sticky tabs which I’m sure will come in very handy and an enamel pin to celebrate FairyLoot’s anniversary. There was a gold metal bookmark from KDP Letters with a quote from Strange the Dreamer. Three art prints from morgana0anagrom which were very cool and the (what I presume is) Warcross one made me interesting in picking up the book because the character design was not something I’d seen before. The other two prints were for An Ember in the Ashes and The Cruel Prince.

There were also two more tarot cards of characters from Six of Crows – I think? They look like Jesper and Wylan anyway. The tarot cards are something that are included in each FairyLoot box and I believe different artists will be used in every couple of boxes.

There were two books in March’s FairyLoot box. Viper by Hex Hogan which is a book I’d actually seen around and I love the cover. The cover is an exclusive to FairyLoot (it’s purple rather than black I believe) and it’s signed by the author. It’s a story of magic, murder and the high seas with the seventeen-year-old heroine fighting to protect the islands from a dangerous foe who also happens to be her father. It is the first book in a trilogy.

The other book was To Best The Boys by Mary Webber which I hadn’t heard of before. This book was signed by the author, has sprayed edges and came with a letter from the author which was on the back of an art print by icandrawthingz. To Best The Boys is about a competition for a scholarship to an esteemed university that only boys may enter. Rhen dreams of being a scientist and as the people in her town fall ill to a deadly disease, she decides to pretend to be a boy in order to enter the competition and save her town.

That’s everything that was included in March’s FairyLoot box. If I’m honest, I was expecting something more from an anniversary edition, it didn’t feel that special compared to previous boxes, both ones I’ve received and ones I’ve seen people unbox. However, I like the sound of both books and as someone who is generally more interested in the books rather than the items in subscription boxes, I can’t be too mad.

Does anyone know of subscription boxes/services that are more focused on the book than the gifts? Or are there any book-only book boxes? I do think subscription boxes like FairyLoot are pretty great, but I also think they can cost a lot if you don’t really like or care about the items. This is why I generally only get one off subscription boxes from anyone when I like the sound of the theme.

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.

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?