Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Owlcrate Unboxing October 2016

Not Paid or Sponsored | Not a Collaboration


This is now my fourth Owlcrate - it's a subscription box from America that ships monthly, and contains a hardback YA (Young Adult) book plus a ton of other bookish gifts. It's expensive, but after my first three month subscription ran out, I had no qualms in cancelling all my other subs (bar Netflix) to keep this one.

The theme this month was Once Upon a Dream. 

I have to admit, I wasn't as impressed with this box as I have been with other months. I think the main thing that took the shine off it was that I already have the book - I requested it as an ARC a few months ago after reading a sample chapter in one of the Buzz Books collections. I hadn't read it - but it was still just a little bit "oh" when I saw it.

I really like that there's a signed bookplate included every month, and a letter from the author. It makes the experience that little bit more special, I always stick the bookplates inside the front covers so they're like signed copies. There was also a tattoo this month. This particular book is a modern day fairytale set in Brooklyn, based on a Russian folktale (Vassalissa the Beautiful). It's about a young girl named Vassa who has to break a curse with the help of her talking wooden doll...

Next up this month were two wearable items - an oversized beanie hat from Whosits & Whatsits. The red feather represents Peter Pan, which I thought was pretty clever. I'm not a hat person at all, because I find them restrictive, so oversized is great and I will probably wear this walking. The bracelet is by The Geeky Cauldron (amazing name) and is based on Sleeping Beauty, with the little spinning wheel. I won't wear this, but it's a cute item and it's exclusive to this box.

Finally, we had a bookmark promoting a dystopian series, a fabric paperclip bookmark by My Heart My Tribe, an Owlcrate badge, and a "Passport to Oz" mini travel notebook by The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild.

That was it! I don't know, I think we were so spoiled last month, it was always going to be hard to live up to that epic September box.

The theme for November was revealed via a beautifully illustrated spoiler card:

I really dislike Alice in Wonderland and everything related to it. It gives me the creeps. I actually considered putting my subscription on hold and skipping the November box (for all of about ten seconds), but I know that the people at Owlcrate are really creative with their themes, so it's unlikely that it will be a complete Alice tribute box. Hopefully!

If you'd like to sign up to Owlcrate you can use the code WELCOME15 for 15% off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Books I Read in September

Not Sponsored | ARCs Clearly Defined | Review Policy Here


If I could use one word to describe my reading in September, it would be...........Netflix. It completely took over, I got sucked in, and it destroyed my reading time. This tends to happen around this time of the year, because I do a lot of crafting for Christmas, so it's easier to watch TV and craft than it is to read and craft, plus there's really nothing on telly apart from GBBO, so..Netflix.

I finished six books in September, and thankfully, there wasn't a dud in the pile.

Review Copies

Flabyrinth by Jules Coll
I was very kindly sent a copy of this book by Jules, an Irish TV Producer. She has lost over nine stone - this is her story, focusing on her relationships with food and on finding herself and the courage to lose weight. It's a really warm, witty read, full of great Irish humour and brilliant stories (the whole Susan Boyle lookalike thing just made me smile so much). It's a lovely read, and made me want to be best friends with Jules. She has completely changed her life and her attitudes - she's a very inspirational lady to follow.

Roald Dahl Day

Matilda by Roald Dahl
In honour of Roald Dahl Day, I re-read one of my favourite Dahl books. I bought this new Puffin Classics clothbound edition recently and I love it - would you believe I've never owned a copy, I always borrowed mine from the library. I highly doubt there are many people who haven't read this - but just in case, it's the story of little Matilda Wormwood, a bookworm born into a family of TV addicts. Matilda longs to read, to learn, but having a pretty horrible family combined with a dragon Headmistress doesn't bode well for her. Until she meets her new teacher, Miss Honey, who discovers that Matilda might have something very special about her. A gorgeous book and one to pass on to the next generation.

Young Adult
I'm going to Deptcon2 in a few weeks' time, so I'm mostly reading YA at the minute to prepare for that - I read two YA books in September.

The Graces by Laure Eve
The Graces are an enigmatic and beautiful family. River is obsessed with them - she wants to befriend them, to find out their secrets, to become one of them. But what if she got her wish - would it be everything she wanted, or would it show her that the Graces really aren't what they seem? This has been likened to The Craft, and I can definitely see the similarities, but for me it was a little younger than that. Not a bad thing by any means - I enjoyed it - but I really feel like the next book will go a lot darker and I'm looking forward to that.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover
This is about two 18 year olds who meet one year on November 9. There's an instant attraction - but for various reasons, they decide not to pursue a relationship. Instead, they won't have any contact with each other except a meeting every year on November 9 and after 5 years if they still feel the same, they'll be together. It sounds like a ridiculous premise in the age of Social Media to just not even want to find out more about someone (I'd have been on Facebook like a big creep within 5 minutes of the first meeting), but it's actually a pretty emotional book in places and has some really great build-up scenes. Quite hot in parts, if you catch me. I was imagining the male lead as Pacey Witter circa his heyday and it made quite the page turner...

Other Fiction

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
12 people have been chosen as contestants in a Survivor style reality TV show. But a few days into filming, something goes drastically wrong. How do you survive when you don't know you're the last one left? This was so clever, I loved how it was a mix of the show, the present day account of the last one left, and the message boards online describing what people at home thought. A great ending, a great premise, reminded me of Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan
Over the past few years, Donal Ryan has become my favourite Irish author. He's one of a very few authors who could sell me his shopping list - I'd be happy to read anything the man wrote. In this, his third novel, we meet Melody Shee, an ordinary woman in her thirties from rural Ireland who is pregnant. But her husband is not the father. We follow Melody through her pregnancy, and we learn about a nearby travelling community and how they impact on Melody's life. Excellent - some have said his best yet. I'll respectfully disagree and say that The Thing About December is a hard one to top - but as always, you can't go wrong with Donal's writing, it's magic.

And that's it! This feels like a tiny little post this month, and I suspect October may be the same, but I'm going to make a real effort to read more over October, it's always been one of my favourite reading months for horror/dark themes.

As always, you can check out my BOOKS 2016 page for clickable covers and links to full Goodreads reviews.