February 2017 OwlCrate Review

My February OwlCrate arrived in the mail a week or so back, and is absolutely incredible! This month ranks up there with the November box, which featured Heartless and a ton of fun Alice in Wonderland goodies! (Sadly, I did not have a chance to review November’s box, with its proximity to M’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and a ton of visiting relatives making my life quite busy and chaotic!).

OwlCrate is a monthly book subscription box that sends you a magical box each month, tailored to a fun theme. Each box includes a newly released, hardback YA novel, and 3-5 bookish items related to the monthly theme.

This month’s theme was so much fun: RUN AWAY WITH THE CIRCUS!!!

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Look at the delightful box of goodies just waiting to be uncovered!!This month was packed with awesome-sauce!

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I was thrilled about every item that came in this box, which doesn’t always happen (The book pin from the December box wasn’t all that exciting, nor was the desk calendar from the January box).

Pictured above:

  • Page flags from Girl of All Work. I desperately needed page flags, so these arrived at the perfect time! They are fun and whimsical and so much more interesting than the page flags found at Target or Staples.
  • Mini doughnut flavored lip balm from Geek Fire Labs. As soon as I saw this my heart deflated a bit. I have a coconut allergy and can’t use most lip balms, because coconut is in almost ALL of them. Literally, I have one brand I can use and I don’t like it all that much. So I was shocked and incredibly excited to read the ingredients and find…no coconut!! It smells delicious and goes on smooth…I will definitely be buying more of these!
  • Le Cirque de Reves candle by Frostbeard Studio. A blend of caramel popcorn, roasted chestnuts and bonfire…and it smells divine.

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  • Tote bag by Evie Bookish, inspired by The Night Circus. I love this bag! I recently lost my favorite tote to take to the library, so yet again, this item came into my life at the perfect time!
  • A notepad made with recycled playing cards, by Attic Journals. I always have a small notepad stashed in my purse, and this is the perfect size for that purpose!

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I had a very strong suspicion as to what book would be featured in the February box, and I was right! I can’t wait to read Caraval, and this month’s book came with a signed bookplate, exclusive quote card, and a letter from author Stephanie Garber!

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If you’re thinking of buying an OwlCrate subscription, here’s my referral link to get you started! Next month, M will join the party when she receives her first OwlCrate, Jr. box!

What do you think of this month’s OwlCrate? Any guesses as to which book will be in next month’s box? The theme is Sailors, Ships and Seas!

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OwlCrate – October 2016 Review

My first OwlCrate arrived this week! I was so excited to find it sitting sweetly on my front porch two days ago.

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OwlCrate is a YA monthly book subscription box that sends newly published YA novels and assorted goodies tied in to each month’s theme. Past themes include Diversity, Steampunk, and Dystopia. The October 2016 theme was ONCE UPON A DREAM, and it was certainly filled with dreamy, wonderful things!

Do not read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled as to the contents in October’s box!

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The first thing you see when you open the box is this cute postcard that gives you a hint as to which fairy tales will be referenced this month. The once upon a time theme comes to life with items that reference Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz.

There are so many wonderful items in this box, so I have absolutely no remorse whatsoever over splurging on a subscription box! The folks behind Owlcrate did an excellent job of curating quality items that fit in well with the monthly theme.

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Here’s what this box contained:

  • The first thing I picked up was an adorable beanie from Whosits & Whatsits, inspired by the Lost Boys of Neverland! I have a small head, so it is a tiny bit too big, but not so much that I won’t wear it. The Neverland beanie is super, super cute, and would make the perfect accessory for the daily walks to and from M’s school. Added bonus: every time I look at it, the Lost Boys song by Ruth B pops into my head. I am a lost boy from Neverland, usually hanging out with Peter Pan….
  • A gorgeous bracelet by The Geeky Cauldron, exclusive to Owlcrate! Inspired by Sleeping Beauty, it has a small spinning wheel charm, and a pendant that says Once Upon A Dream.
  • Wizard of Oz passport notebook from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild. There are lots of cute details, including a passport photo page on the front inside cover, and a little footnote in the back, “Click your heels together to go home. Only valid when wearing ruby slippers.” How adorable is that? It’s the perfect size to jot down book recommendations – or a grocery list – when you are out and about.
  • A fabric button bookmark from My Heart My Tribe. Different fabrics and styles were sent out, unfortunately I received a pastel pink that is probably my least-favorite color, ever. Oh, well, you can’t win them all! I can never have too many bookmarks, so it will still be used!
  • Fun odds and ends: A button inspired by this month’s theme – it shows the spinning wheel from the postcard – and a bookmark advertising The New World Series by Jennifer WIlson.

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  • Finally, but most importantly, is the book included in this month’s box! Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter came with a signed bookplate, note from the author, and temporary tattoo. An urban-fantasy take on the Russian folk tale “Vassilissa the Beautiful”, it sounds like a very interesting read!

Vassa in The Night by Sarah Porter

Published by Tor Teen

Genre: YA fantasy

Release date: September 20, 2016

Book Blurb:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair… 

Next month’s OwlCrate…has a Wonderland theme! I am biting my nails in excitement, as it happens to coincide with the release of Heartless by Marissa Meyer!! I don’t know if that is the book or not, but whatever book is included is going to have an EXCLUSIVE Limited Edition cover!! Oh, please, please be Heartless!!

If you would like to give OwlCrate a try, please use my Referral link here!

Have you ever tried OwlCrate, or another book subscription service? What did you think? Have you read Vassa in the Night?

Book Review – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Title: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Genre: Adult fantasy

I loved this book! It was exactly what I needed to read right now. A Darker Shade of Magic is clever, and brilliant, and captivating.

She looked at him as if it were a strange question. And then she shook her head. “Death comes for everyone,” she said simply. “I’m not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying here.” She swept her hand over the room, the tavern, the city. “I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

V.E. Schwab is a powerhouse when it comes to world-building, and I was impressed at how effortless it was for the reader to become immersed and quickly understand the ways of the world she was building. Schwab’s backdrop involves four parallel worlds, all with parallel London’s. However, each London, like the world surrounding it, has a different ruler, history, and even scent. There is Grey London, the magic-less city; Red London, the healthy empire; White London, the starving world; and Black London, the world that was destroyed.

Only Antari can travel between the London’s, and Kell is one of the last of the Antari’s. He is the personal ambassador (and adopted Prince) of Red London’s Maresh royal family, and carries the personal correspondences between the royal family’s in each world. Kell, however, smuggles on the side, and one day he smuggles something out of White London that could wreak havoc on all of the worlds.

“Aren’t you afraid of dying?” he asked Lila now.

Bad magic, Kell had called it.

No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.

And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.”

There are so many things I loved about this book. The invented language, the magic, the epic adventure with a female cut-purse from Grey London – Delilah Bard – and the stubborn but loyal Antari – Kell. It is dark and violent, but also filled with small humorous asides. The type of magic in Scwab’s created world is fun and jealousy-inducing….well, at least in Red London!

The two main characters are fantastic. First there is Kell. A rare blood magician, I squirmed a little everytime he had to slice his palm or arm to travel between the worlds. His coat that is more than one coat that he uses to blend into the surroundings of the different London’s was such a marvelous touch. Kell is a force to be reckoned with, but with sentimental weak spots: his brother Rhy, and later in the story, Lila Bard.

Delilah Bard. Lila. Badass, pickpot, adventure heroine extraordinaire. She is tough, and she does what she has to do to survive. I loved her. She comes into Kell’s life after helping him in a dangerous situation, and strongarms him into letting her tag along for the ride. Which is good for Kell, because she ends up helping him out of trouble so many times that I lost count.

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely.”

The humor and easy banter between these two was wonderful, without being over-the-top. I like a fantasy book that does not become overwhelemed by the romance angle. I look forward to seeing what further adventures are in store for these two!

Favorite supporting characters: The Dane twins, Astrid and Athos. Those two are evil! They use magic to control and/or possess others in body and mind – it reminded me a bit of the Lunar ability from the Lunar chronicles. Those two can really mess with your mind.

Least favorite supporting characters: Rhy. Heir to Red London’s throne, and a bit of a jerk, albeit with a good heart buried in there somewhere. I felt he was the least developed of the primary characters, so I hope that changes in the next book.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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You’ve Got Mail #2

You’ve got mail is a regular post about the fun things that came in the mail recently.

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Pop N’Drop Penguins game – When we went to Back to School night, M’s teacher had board games on her classroom wish list. M chose this one to donate to the classroom, since it is one of her favorites at home. Pop N’Drop Penguins is very similar to Trouble, but with penguins and icy bridges to cross. The penguin play pieces are quite adorable.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a birthday gift for my hubby, but I’m sure we will both be reading it!

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – I read a library copy when All the Missing Girls was first released, but decided to buy a copy for myself. It is an excellent book!

Cat Food – One of our cats has chronic cystitis, and it took ages to find the right food that helped ease her symptoms. We save a ton of money by buying it in larger amounts online. I love the Soulistic variety packs. It’s like soup for cats. Isabel loves it, and it helps her get the liquids she needs.

Beanie Boo – This is Kacey, an adorable pink koala plush. She was a small back-to-school gift for M. I was never a beanie baby collector as a kid, but my child seems to have been bitten by the Beanie Boo bug!

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I think she knows her food is inside of this box!

You’ve Got Mail #1

I love getting mail. I also love Amazon Prime. What I don’t love is going to a mall. Nope. No way. We’re too busy doing other fun stuff! That, and… I really don’t like crowded places.

So…a lot of our shopping happens from the comfort of our home office. Or cuddled on my bed with an iPad. Ahh…the luxury of technology.

Which is why I am going to try a regular blog post I am calling “You’ve Got Mail”. And yes, in case you were wondering, I was a teen in the 90s, and I certainly loved Meg Ryan’s lovable romcom movies.

This week was a fun week for mail. The photo quality isn’t the best, I promise I will do better next time!

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A Dozen A Day: Book Two – This book was recommended by M’s piano teacher, and I quickly saw why. The technical exercises are both fun and challenged, and a perfect way to warm-up before a piano session. M dived right in as soon as it came in the mail.

Yumbox – I was a loyal fan of the Ziploc, leakproof 3-compartment containers that were discontinued in 2014 (I still sob over this fact…why take away something that works so perfectly!). The Yumbox has been recommended by other parents at M’s school, and I love the sleek design and easy latch. Back-to-school time means back-to-school orders! Hopefully, this lunchbox will work out well this year.

Lokai bracelets – Infused with elements sourced from the highest and lowest points on earth, these bracelets are from an online company that makes signature bracelets (like the ones in the picture), giving back 10% of the proceeds to profits such as Charity: Water, Make A Wish Foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute, Alzheimer’s association, and more. The white bead is filled with water from Mt. Everest, reminding you to stay humble when you are on the top. The black bead has a drop of mud from the Dead Sea, reminding you to stay hopeful when you have hit a low point.

Black-ish, Season 1: We don’t have cable, but we do frequently use Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming. This show has come highly recommended by a few friends, and I have been wanting to watch it for a while, but sadly the streaming options were quite limited. I found Season 1 for a great price on Amazon, so I opted for the DVD instead of the digital copy. I can’t wait to start watching it.