the bookish life

my geeky love for books and bookish things

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Novel Editions – September Unboxing

I’ve been drifting away from YA these last few months. I’ll still occasionally read the genre, but have really been gravitating toward adult fiction – and enjoying it a lot more. As much as I love Owlcrate, I’ve been itching for an adult book box to try out.

Not surprisingly, most of my book and box recos come from my fellow bookstagrammers.  So, when Novel Editions appeared in my feed a few weeks ago, I just had to give it a shot. It’s local (!!) and features a paperback adult novel each month. September’s theme is Old Hollywood, with nods to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Great Gatsby and The Seven Year Itch.

Old Hollywood

I love how some of the items reference an Old Hollywood classic without being overly obvious. Like the eye mask being the same one Holly wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Or how the Green Light candle doesn’t mention Gatsby on the label at all. They’re like cool little winks to those who have seen the movies and read the books. And all the items come from small Etsy shops – I like that.

The book itself came with a letter, explaining why it was selected. I’ve been eyeing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for awhile so I’m excited to jump into it. It was also wrapped in kraft paper with ribbon – a nice touch that protected the book in transit.

Overall, I’m impressed. Novel Editions is a thoughtfully curated box at a price point on the level of other popular boxes (especially once you consider the exchange rate and shipping). Single month purchases don’t roll over each month, but you can buy 3 or 6 month packages too. Right now it only ships within Canada, but they do hope to eventually open internationally. It looks like the September box is still available, and October has been opened up as well. October’s theme is Falling for Mystery. I’m an Agatha Christie nut, so I’m all in! If you do happen to order a box, drop my name (or Instagram handle) in the notes section of the order form – they have a referral program!

Happy reading!

 

Book Review – Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Book mail! I was really excited about this one – I love reading about time travel.

Cold Summer

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves. – Goodreads

This story reminded me a lot of The Time Traveller’s Wife, but with teens (obviously) and a slightly happier ending. It was an engrossing read, and I sped through it in a single sitting. The narrative immediately jumped into the story with very little background, which added an element of mystery to it that I liked. Cole’s world building was excellent, and I particularly enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the WWII scenes.

Kale is a well constructed character with a lot of depth – his PTSD felt pretty grounded in reality, even if the cause was rather fantastic. But the other characters were inconsistent – idealized and a bit flat, really. It’s difficult to be emotionally invested in characters of this type, and it caused some distance between me and the story. It pulled me out of the narrative quite a bit. Kale’s WWII experiences are really what made this story a good read. I just wish it had been a great read.

3/5

Book Review – Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters arrived in the May Owlcrate – complete with an exclusive cover! I went into this book totally blind, which I think is always a good thing.

Eliza and her monsters

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. – Goodreads

This book is near perfect. The characters have nuance and depth, and the world Zappia has created is realistic and detailed. The artwork included is beautiful as well. But more than anything else, this book covers mental health amazingly well.

Social anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts – Zappia has covered it all with a level of realism and compassion that I haven’t really seen in YA fiction before. I could see myself in Eliza, and I felt for her on so many levels. I’ll admit, I teared up a bit at times too. I truly believe that this story could help so many teens that are struggling right now – teachers should add this to their classrooms and parents should take a look too. I know I’ll be recommending this book – a lot.

4.5/5

February Owlcrate – Run Away With The Circus

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an Owlcrate unboxing here – although they have made an appearance on my Instagram account. But this one is special, because it’ll be the last box I get for awhile. I love Owlcrate – as a company and a product – but my wallet needs a break. At least for now. Who knows, I may order future boxes if the theme really catches my eye.

Anyway, onwards with the bookish goodies! This month’s box is circus themed, which is awesome in so many ways. The circus has so much potential for themed goodies. While not my favourite, I do think this box is up there as one of Owlcrate’s best.

Circus Owlcrate

This month’s box included a gorgeous tote bag, designed by Evie Bookish. A black version was also available, but I’m really happy with the red. And it’s Night Circus themed, which is one of my favourite books.

Next up, a mini candle by Frostbeard Studio, called Le Cirque de Rêves – also Night Circus themed. The scent is a blend of caramel popcorn, roasted chestnuts and bonfire. It smells amazing, and now I’m dying for a full sized version!

Geek Fire Labs created a lip balm that smells like mini doughnuts – and it really does smell like fried pastries. I think I’ll use this sparingly, as the scent is a bit too sweet for me. The label is very cute though!

The playing card notebook was created by Attic Journals, out of recycled casino cards. I love the upcycling, and it’s really small and cute – I’ll probably toss this one into my purse for notes on the go.

The cute, circusy page flags are by Girl of All Work. I’m not the type to flag my books as I read them, but I could definitely put these to good use at work!

And then there’s the book. Guys, THIS BOOK! I have had Caraval on my Indigo wishlist for months, and as soon as Owlcrate announced the theme I knew it was coming. I’m beyond thrilled. Just check out the synopsis, it’s awesome.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. – Goodreads

I am itching to start reading this, and the reviews I’ve seen so far have all been positive. If any of you have read it, let me know what you think!

The Owlcrate theme for March is Sailors, Ships & Seas, which sounds like a lot of fun. It’ll include an item from Boy Girl Party, who makes really cute animal themed products. I’ll admit, I’m sad I’m not getting this box! As always, if you would like to sign up for Owlcrate, feel free to click here and use my referral.

 

Book Review – Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Of Fire and Stars was the book included in the December Owlcrate – and I was really excited when I received it. It’s an LGBT fantasy, set in a fictional kingdom. There’s magic, princesses, and political intrigue – fun stuff!

Of Fire and Stars

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire – a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine – called Mare – the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. – Goodreads

For the most part, this book was a quick and enjoyable read. The plot was interesting, although I had figured out who the villain was early on, which put a damper on things. The two teen protagonists were well developed, but the rest all seemed to fall under the ‘clueless adult’ stereotype. But the romance was cute, and the story ended on a sweet note. I don’t know if this will develop into a series, but I think it has the potential to. Thankfully though, it did wrap up nicely enough that this could also be a stand alone.

I don’t sound enthused, but I am! Characterization was a bit rough, but the story itself was great. And I have high hopes for Coulthurst’s future novels (this was her debut).

3.5/5

November Owlcrate – Wonderland

End of the month – time for Owlcrate! This month’s theme was Wonderland. As soon as the theme had been announced, I knew what the book was going to be. And I’m thrilled!

Wonderland Owlcrate

Every item is obviously Alice in Wonderland themed:

  • Wonderland Elixir tea, created by Riddle’s Tea Shoppe and Adagio. It’s an Owlcrate exclusive and smells lovely. The tin is really cute too!
  • A metal bookmark by Authored Adornments. It’s handmade, and includes a bit of a book passage in it. I love bookmarks, so I know I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of it.
  • An Alice in Wonderland magnet by Evie Bookish. It’s beautiful and already stuck to my fridge!
  • Official Owlcrate pin. It features the same artwork as the item card that came with the box. I need to figure out how to display these pins, because they are all really pretty.
  • This month’s box has two books! Owlcrate has once again teamed up with Rock Paper Books (I love them), and come up with an exclusive cover for this paperback of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It also came with a bookmark with matching artwork. Love love love it.
  • And the main book: Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I am so excited to read this. I loved The Lunar Chronicles and have been eagerly anticipating the release of this book. And as an added bonus, the cover is an Owlcrate exclusive. So happy!

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen. At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship. Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. – Goodreads

This is definitely the next book on my TBR list. Next month’s theme is Epic, and it’s supposed to include an item from Harry Potter. Should be a good one. As always, if you are interested in signing up, feel free to use my referral link.

 

September Owlcrate – Darkness

My September Owlcrate actually arrived earlier in the week, but I’ve been too sick to take pretty pictures of the goodies. So finally, here it is! The September theme was Darkness.

September Owlcrate

This is Owlcrate’s Halloween box for the year, and it’s pretty nice – there was a lot in it.

  • Throne of Glass inspired candle by The Melting Library. It smells like a dessert, and I can’t wait to light it.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children pouch by Out of Print. It’s gorgeous, but I’m still trying to figure out what to put in it!
  • Bath bomb from Da Bomb. I’m definitely not the type to sit in a bathtub, but I have a couple people in mind who would like this.
  • Crooked Kingdom bookmark by Evie Bookish. I haven’t read the series yet, but it’s on my TBR. And I love bookmarks! The art on it is beautiful.
  • Owlcrate Darkness pin. I love the pins that have been in the last few boxes – I’m a sucker for pins.
  • The first book/episode of a new serial called ReMade. I believe the first four episodes are already available wherever you buy ebooks. It looks really good.
  • And finally, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. It’s a bit dark, supernatural and apparently frightening. Looking forward to reading this one. And of course it came with a letter from Blake.

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. – Goodreads

So that’s it. October’s theme will be Once Upon a Dream, and is going to feature something inspired by The Wizard of Oz. I love love love The Wizard of Oz – I can’t wait! If you’re interested in signing up, feel free to use my referral link.

 

August Owlcrate – Fast Times at YA High

It’s finally here! My August box was stuck in Customs for 2 weeks this time – I really hope Canada Post gets it together soon, because the last 3 months have been ridiculous. Anyways, even though they totally didn’t have to, Owlcrate gave the Canadians affected a discount on the upcoming September box. Thank you so much Korrina and Robert!

Back to the box. The theme for August was Fast Times at YA High. Not my favourite theme, but Owlcrate has never let me down – so I wasn’t worried.

August Owlcrate

Guys, the Hogwarts print by Susanne Draws is stunning – I love all the little details. I’ve thrown it up on my fridge, but I’m seriously considering buying a frame for it. The Hogwarts button, Chapter Raptor button and Rainbow Rowell necklace are really cute, and I’ll definitely be putting the Decomposition Notebook to good use. I’ve avoided the adult colouring craze up till now – the busy patterns actually make me anxious. But I think I’ll be able to find a good home for the colouring book and the crayons.

The August book is P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. Owlcrate describes it as the perfect summer read, and it does sound pretty fun and light hearted.

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? – Goodreads

The letter included from West is really sweet – it’s one of my favourite author letters that have come in the boxes. And the signed bookplate was a nice touch. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this box.

Next month’s theme is Darkness, and will feature an item from Out of Print! I am thrilled about that – I love their products. Interested in signing up for Owlcrate? Feel free to use my referral link here!

July Owlcrate – Good vs Evil

This month’s Owlcrate is a bit different. The theme is Good vs. Evil – and no one knows what side they’re going to get until mail day. Well… I got Good!

I really like the swag in the Good box, and am kinda glad I didn’t get Evil. First up is a full-sized Funko. The Good box came with either Dobby or Luna Lovegood – and I got Dobby! That was really lucky, as I already have Luna sitting on my bookshelf. And now she has a buddy.

Next up is an engraved wooden necklace by Vector Engraving. They’ve been featured by Owlcrate before – I have a TARDIS magnetic brooch from them that I love. The necklace this month is the Millennium Falcon. It’s beautiful.

Also included is an Alice in Wonderland magnetic bookmark by Jane’s Tiny Things, and an Illuminae sticker from Drop And Give Me Nerdy. I’ve added the bookmark to my growing collection, and the sticker is already on the lid of my laptop.

Owlcrate Good Box

Last, but never least is the book: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. The summary on Goodreads sounds a bit dark, but really, what should I expect from a box with this theme?!

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. – Goodreads

I’m looking forward to reading it. I can honestly say, that this is one of my favourite Owlcrate boxes yet.

Next month’s theme is Fast Times at YA High, which should be a nice blast from the past. Apparently the box will contain some Eleanor & Park themed jewellery. Rainbow Rowell? Yes please! I’m predicting something involving headphones.

June Owlcrate – Royalty

I am so happy – my June Owlcrate arrived before the Canada Post strike! It had been stuck at Customs for more than a week, and I was beginning to worry – so I was thrilled to see the pick-up card in my mailbox on Monday. The theme for June was Royalty, and the box is chock full of goodies.

First up is a Disney Mystery Mini Funko. I got Elsa from Frozen. She’s adorable, although I will admit, I was hoping for Tiana. Oh well! Also included was a lovely bracelet inspired by The Lunar Chronicles and a set of magnetic King and Queen bookmarks, which I can’t wait to put to good use. I’ve developed a small obsession with bookmarks lately… Oh! And I can’t forget to mention the beautiful, Red Queen inspired print. I’ve got a nice collection of Owlcrate prints on my fridge now, and I love the splash of colour they add to my kitchen.

Royalty Owlcrate

And then there’s the book. Wow, I am so excited to read this book. My Lady Jane, coauthored by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, sounds like a whole lot of fun.

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England. – Goodreads

The Princess Bride? Yes, please – I loved that book! I’ve read a lot of emotionally heavy books lately, so I’m looking forward to some lighter fare. My Lady Jane will definitely be at the top of my TBR stack.

The July Owlcrate has been announced, and it looks like an interesting one: Good vs Evil. But, this box has a bit of a twist. Half of the boxes mailed out will be ‘Good’ and the other half ‘Evil’, with items specific to each particular side. The book is supposed to be the same though. I’m hoping to get the ‘Evil’ box – villains are fun!

As always, if you feel like signing up, feel free to click my referral link here!

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