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So Many Book Boxes! How do I choose one?

Subscription boxes seem to be everywhere today.  Anything from pet supplies, to beauty products, and even groceries can be ordered through a subscription box.  My favorite kind, however, are the book boxes!  But there is a plethora of them, making it difficult to figure out which one is the best for you.  Here are a few things I considered when looking at them:

  1. Where are they located?  This is important because of shipping costs.  If they are located outside of your country, they may not ship to you and if they do, the shipping cost might be quite high.
  2. What is typically in the box?  Some boxes are just books, others have one book and boookish items such as bookmarks, tote bags, or stickers related to the book. Some are genre-related and some are not.  There are even some boxes that send you several gently used books, but what you get is randomly selected from overstock.
  3. How much will it cost?  And, of course, you should consider the cost.  Is it worth it to you, and is it affordable for you?  Not all of these boxes cost the same, and again shipping prices can affect how much the total cost will be.

I’ve tried out three of these boxes, and enjoyed each of them, but I do have a favorite. 🙂 These three are all YA boxes, since that is my primary interest.  All three are located in the U.S.

Owlcrate http://www.owlcrate.com/howitworks – Owlcrate has a pretty  sophisticated website, with options to purchase one time as a gift, the monthly subscription, and an option to buy a past box, usually at a discount. (This is how I ordered my box.)  Each month there is a different theme.  Each box contains a hard-backed book, and 3-5 other book-related items. Their monthly subscription is $29.99 plus shipping.

I ordered the May 2016 box (steampunk theme) and received:  1)  a hard backed copy of Everland by Wendy Spinale  2) ‘Barrie 1860-1937’ Peter Pan Art Print (Creative Daffodil) 3) Steampunk Nail-Wraps (Espionage Cosmetics) 4) Key Necklace (Crystal Compass) 5) ‘Steamworks’ Metal Accessory (Elope) 6) ‘Clockwork Angel’ Ring (Sparks Emporium) 7) Exclusive Everland Tattoos and Author Letter.

Uppercase https://www.uppercasebox.com/young-adult-books-subscription-box – Uppercase is pretty neat, because their books are usually signed by the author.  They have options for buying one box, as a gift, or a monthly plan.  They also have two options for the monthly plan.  The book exclusive plan comes with a signed hard-back book, and a personal handwritten note.  This plan is $13.99 plus shipping.  The expert plan includes the signed book, handwritten note and 2-3 other bookish things.  This plan is $23 plus shipping.

I ordered this month’s box (October 2016), and recieved: an autographed copy of Nessa in the Night, a bookmark, a sticker, a journal, cassette tape bookmarkers, and the handwritten note.

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Enchanted Book Box – https://enchantedbookbox.cratejoy.com/whats_inside  This is a new book box subscription box.  It launched in September, and I heard about it on Instagram.  As the name suggests, it is a fairy-tale inspired book box, and as soon as I heard that, I knew I had to check it out.  They  have a monthly plan, as well as an option to buy a single month’s box.  Their box contains a hard back book, and 4-5 other bookish items. It sells for $26 plus shipping.

Septemeber’s theme was Snow White, and the box contained: a copy of Stealing Snow, a mirror, mirror tote bag, a necklace, a Snow White sticker, and a Snow White bookmark.  This was my favorite one simply because of the fairy tale theme!

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Hope this helps any who are considering a book box subscription.  If your interests lies in something other than YA, just try typing book box subscription in Google – you’ll get loads of results to check out.  If you already have a subscription, tell me what you like about it in the comments!

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My Picks for Summer Reading

Summer is a great time for catching up on your reading, especially when you’re at the beach or poolside. I love reading books that fit with the season, and this summer I found some good ones:

1. Compulsion by Martina Boone. This is a Southern Gothic novel – always a great read for the summer.  After her mother dies, Barrie is sent to live with her aunt.  When she arrives at the South Carolina plantation, she finds it’s entrenched in secrets.  Curious to find out more, Barrie searches for answers only to discover someone doesn’t want her to find any.  This story was well-written and highly intriguing.   I could hardly put it down, and finished it in two sittings.

2. The Siren by Kiera Cass.  This little mermaid retelling was entertaining and romantic.  After being rescued from almost drowning, Kahlen must serve as a Siren.  When she uses her voice it  lures people to their deaths.  Then she meets a boy, and despite being unable to talk to him, she falls in love with him.  Falling in love with a human is forbidden by the Sirens, but Kahlen still searches for way to be with the boy she loves.  The book did a fantastic job of portraying the power of love, and the things you can overcome with it.

3.  The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury.  An unique take on Aladdin, I loved the exotic setting and memorable characters.  Aladdin finds the lamp, and calls forth the jinn, Zahra.  Zahra had been sentenced to the lamp hundreds of years ago by the Jinn.  When she’s offered a chance to be free from the lamp once and for all, she jumps at it, until she realizes it will mean harming Aladdin.  This book also had a great “power of love” theme.

4. That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard.  I picked up this book because of the unique title.  A bit different from what I normally read, I really enjoyed this piece of realistic fiction.  When Lexi’s father dies, she is left with nothing, and is forced to find her mother.  This leads her to Florida and the circus where her mother works.  When she arrives, she finds her mother is no longer there.  Since she has no money, she goes to work for the circus as a fortune teller.  This was a an excellent coming-of-age story.

5.  Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan.  This was a fast-paced thriller that I also finished in two sittings.  Gunned men attack a cruise ship, then set it aflame.  Only three people remain to tell about it, Frances, Senator Wells and his son.  When the senator and his son lie and say a giant wave took out the ship, Frances must assume her dead friend’s identity to find the truth.

What books have you enjoyed this summer?  Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Things to Do Before Summer is Over

Summer is my favorite season! I love the warm weather, the laid back vibe of the season, and all the summer fun things to do.  My summer is always busy, and there are some things I do every year. With summer winding down, it’s time to pack in the last of your favorite activities. Here are my top ten picks:

1. Hit the Beach: Whether it’s an ocean or a lake, it’s always relaxing to chill on a beach.  It’s also a great time to catch up on your TBR (to be read) list.

2. Go to a baseball game: Nothing goes together like summer and baseball.  If there is no major league team near where you live, there is probably a minor league or independent league team.  You can find out if a minor league team is nearby at http://www.milb.com/milb/tickets/.

3. Check out local carnivals: Most places have some kind of carnival that comes to town every summer.  They make a fun  night out, and many are fundraisers for local charities.  You can find out about these from your local paper.

4. Visit a national park:  Since this is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, many parks are hosting special events.  You can find nearby national parks at  https://www.nps.gov/index.htm.

5. Find a 5k:  This one may require some preparation if you’re not used to running or walking, but a 5k is not as long as it sounds – 3.1 miles.  And most of the time, you can walk some or all of the race if you aren’t into running.  Also, these races usually support a worthy charity. You can find races nearby here: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-finder.

6. Catch a concert:  Concerts abound in the summertime. Some are even at great outdoor venues. And sometimes you can get discounted tickets through Groupon or Living Social.  You can locate nearby concerts through http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

7.  Attend a festival:  Like concerts, there are festivals aplenty in the summertime.  My favorite kind of festival is the book festival, but there are many kinds.  From music to books to history, there is a festival for everyone.  An internet search can help you find the kind of festival you want and where said festival will be.

8.  See local attractions: Summer is a great time to check out the attractions in your own town that you may have overlooked.  Museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites are just some of the options cities and towns may offer.

9.  Have a picnic:  There are lots of places you can go to have a picnic. You can even have one in your own backyard.  Perfect for dates or get-togethers with friends, it’s also easy on your budget.

10. Visit your state fair: State fairs take place at different times depending on where you live.  In the Midwest (where I grew up), the state fair was at the end of the summer after all the county fairs had taken place.  The winners ( in 4-H, and arts and crafts) from the county fairs would go to the state fair to compete there. In Maryland, the state fair actually happens before many of the county ones.  Like a farewell to summer, it runs through Labor Day week.  There’s plenty of good food, entertainment, and fun to be had.

So in these last few weeks of summer, squeeze in all the fun you can!  And let me know in the comments – what is your favorite summer activity?

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The Versatile Blogger Award

I was recently nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Many thanks to Ishita (Bookmyopia) for nominating me!

I decided to continue the  blog sharing and nominate some of the blogs I follow.  A lot of them are book blogs, because I follow a lot of book blogs 🙂

To everyone I nominated, no pressure. I know everyone is busy, and I totally understand if you are unable to participate.

the-versatile-blogger-awardRules:

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person that has nominated you
  • Share 7 different facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
  • Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

 

Seven Things About Me:

  1. I love chocolate!
  2. I am an avid reader of YA, mysteries, and classics.
  3. I love animals (visiting every major zoo in the U.S. is on my bucket list).
  4. My husband and I enjoy traveling, and are working on visiting every state in the U.S.
  5. When I’m not writing, I enjoy knitting, painting, and coloring adult coloring pages.
  6. My favorite color is blue.
  7. The beach is my favorite vacation spot.

 

Blogs I’m nominating:

Artic Books

Sarah Flores

Marge Cutter

Rachael Reads

The Book Crunch

M. E. Bond

Cow Pasture Chronicles

S.K. Lamont

The Story Sanctuary

Fictional Fox

Carrie’s Book Review

Fictionaire

Book It With Don!

DMG Byrnes

Ariel

Hope everyone enjoys checking out this blogs!

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Adventures at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Once warm weather rolls around, festivals abound.  Some of my favorite ones are book festivals.  A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Gaithersburg Book Festival.  Touted as one of the best in the country, I could see why.  I was duly impressed, and  despite the uncharacteristically cold and rainy weather, I had a great time.

My husband and I parked in a mall lot and took a shuttle straight to the festival grounds.  Plenty of signs and volunteers pointed us in the right direction.  Once at the festival, we wandered around the wide array of exhibitors.  Many authors of multiple genres attended, giving presentations and signing books.

In the center, the Politics and Prose Bookstore had a tent containing all the books for the authors who were signing.  You bought your books there first, then went to the signing lines, so the lines moved fast.

My husband met Tim Kurkjian, got a book signed, and got a picture with Kurkjian.  We attended a panel called World Building in Fantasy and Scifi.  Martina Boone, Lori Goldstein, Kathy MacMillan, and Jon Skovron each told a little about their world building process, and how it affected their completed novels.  They had some great tips for aspiring authors!

Afterwards, I met both Martina Boone (author of Heirs of Watson Island series) and Lori Goldstein (Becoming Jinn and Cirlce of Jinn) and got them to sign their books. Next, we checked out the Friends of the Library sell, and both found some great deals.  We came home with a whole bagful of books!

I was also able to meet Kara Thomas (author of The Darkest Corner) and hear her read from her book. Then we headed home, eagerly anticipating the next book festival (the Baltimore Book Festival in September).  I highly recommend anyone who loves books attend a book festival.  You won’t be disappointed.

And as always, if you have been to a book festival, feel free to share about your experiences in the comments.

 

 

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Around the World in Less Than 80 Days!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel around the world as fast as possible?  With super -powered jets, you can now get around the world in just a few days, but in Victorian times, they had only ships and trains to make the journey.  And a women going alone was unheard of.  Two young reporters, Elizabeth Bisland and Nellie Bly, defied that tradition and raced against each other around the world.

Shonna Slayton’s new book Liz and Nellie tells the true story of these two courageous women.  It’s is quite an intriguing story, which I didn’t even know about until I picked up Slayton’s book.

During the Victorian time period, Jules Verne’s book, Around the World in Eighty Days, was immensely popular.  Because of this, people wondered if you could make it around the world in even less time than eighty days.  The paper Nellie Bly worked for decided to send her around the world to see.  After hearing about Bly’s trip, The Cosmopolitan (the magazine Liz worked for) decided to send Elizabeth the opposite way around the world.  They hoped this would give her an edge, thus beating Nellie’s time around the world.

I loved that this book read like a novel.  It made for more entertaining and faster reading than if it had just been a book of facts.  I also really liked that there were a lot of unique details all brought together in this book.  Without this book, one would probably have to spend hours searching through multiple sources to find all the little details included in the book.  It is a longer book, but it was still quite enjoyable.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves travel, history, adventure, or the Victorian era.