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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August Wrap Up

I opened my GoodReads account today, preparing myself to feel guilty. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised! This month I've managed to complete seven books, plus there are two books that weren't included on my June/July wrap up, even though I finished them at the end of July.

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)
Sweep in Peace (Book 2 of the Innkeeper Chronicles) by Ilona Andrews
3/5 Stars on GoodReads
Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.
This is a sequel story, and was reasonably good. It didn't blow me away, and in parts just felt like a filler until the next story. However, how these books is written is v cool. Ilona Andrew's releases this series chapter by chapter on their website, so technically, if you kept on top of things, you could read along at the same time. The genre is half fantasy, half sci-fi.

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)
Marked in Flesh (The Others book 4) by Anne Bishop
3/5 Stars on GoodReads
'For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...'
There are many parts of this book series I find it really hard to wrap my head around. The 'Others' characters just seem really simple at times, and the main character can be a bit wishy-washy. I know the point is that the world is  extremely different from our world, but it seemed a bit too much at times. I will keep reading the series, but it's not one of my favourites.

The Guest Cat by Tikashe Hiraide
4/5 Stars on GoodReads
'The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen.'
Such an interesting read! I loved the writing style, and obviously, I'm a big fan of cats!

The Bride (The Boss, #3)
The Bride (The Boss book 3) by Abigail Barnette
4/5 Stars on GoodReads

The Stranger (The Boss, #0.5)
The Stranger (The Boss book 0.5) by Abigail Barnette
4/5 Stars on GoodReads

And I Darken by Kiersten White
5/5 Stars on GoodReads
What if Vlad the Impaler was a girl?
'No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.'
This book was so interesting to read. A great plot, interesting characters with great development, and a historical basis as well! Loved it.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harrari
5/5 Stars on GoodReads
'100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?'
A very interesting non-fiction book about the evolution and development of the human race.

The Ex (The Boss, #4)
The Ex (The Boss book 4) by Abigail Barnette
4/5 Stars

The Baby (The Boss, #5)
The Baby (The Boss book 5) by Abigail Barnette
4/5 Stars on GoodReads

GoodReads Update: 63/100 read

2016 Reading Challenge:

A book and it's prequel - Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (January) Assassin's Blade tbr soon!
A Book Written by a Celebrity - Gangsta Granny by David Walliams (January)
A Graphic Novel - River's of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch (January)
A Book Set in Europe - My Sword Hand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick (February)
A Book Set in the Summer - Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (February)
A Book Based on a Fairytale - The October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire (February)
A Political Memoir - I am Malala (I think this counts!) by Malala Yousafzai (March)
A Book With a Blue Cover - Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (March)
A Book Set on an Island - Feverborn by Karen Marie Moning (March)
A Book Published in 2016 - Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs (March)
An Autobiography - How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (April)
A Book Under 150 pages - Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (April)
A Book Finished in the Day - Into the Woods by Kim Harrison (April)
A Book With an Unfamiliar Culture - Ms Marvel by G Willow Wilson (April)
A Book You Haven't Read Since High School - The Crysalids by John Wyndham (April)
A YA Best seller - The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (April)
A Science-Fiction Novel - Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (May)
A Dystopian Novel - The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancy (May)
A Book Written by a Comedian - Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran (June)
A Book of Poetry - The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace (June)
A Book Set in your Home State - A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwabb (June)
A Romance Set in the Future - Saga Volume 1 (June)
A Book that's guaranteed to bring yoy joy - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (July)
A New York Times Best Seller - Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (July)
A Murder Mystery - The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones (July)
A Book translated to English - The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (August)

2015 challenge continuation...

A Book I was Supposed to Read in School (I read all the books I was supposed to when I was a student in school - I've now read this as a teacher) - Gangsta Granny by David Walliams (January)
A Book Based on a True Story - Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (March)
A Book that made me cry - The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (May)

Monday, 1 August 2016

My Addiction to Subscription Boxes

If you haven't heard of subscription boxes, at this point, you must have been living under a rock. Subscription boxes are monthly, quarterly, however-often-you-want-ly boxes, packages or deliveries that you can receive, that revolve around a certain topic, item or theme. You may have heard of the Beauty boxes, like Birchbox or Glossybox - these were certainly the first I heard about, years ago. In these cases, subscribers receive monthly boxes with a certain number of sample or full sized beauty products to try out. I've never signed up for any of these, but they certainly intrigue me.

About a year ago (or possibly a little longer) I first heard about Book Boxes. I can't remember the first book box I heard about, but I know that OwlCrate was one of the first. Now, the market for book boxes has truly exploded, and in fact the market for subscription boxes in general has grown exponentially; there are cat-lady boxes (I of course follow their instagram), jewellery boxes, comic book hero boxes, tea boxes and the list continues. My housemate was only yesterday telling me about a geeky tee shirt and book box he subscribes to.

I ordered and received my first book boxes in May, and I haven't been able to stop. Three OwlCrates, two FairyLoots, two Nerdy Posts and one My Nerdy Book Box later, and I can definitely say I'm addicted. I would have bought all of these boxes every month, plus many more, if it hadn't used all of my money up (sad times).

What is it about these boxes that I love? Well, I obviously love books, but I have to say that isn't the reason why I adore these. In fact, I haven't yet read any of the books that came with the boxes! My love for these boxes comes from the themes and the geeky gifts that come with them. The funkos, stickers, book marks and jewellery.

What have I received so far? Well, like many book readers with an instagram (clairreads! Follow me there!) I have taken a few photos along the way...

OwlCrate ($29.99 a month) 
May's box - Steampunk
June's box - Royalty
July's box - Good vs. Evil (this is the evil box)
This is the box I've received the most, and one of my favourites. It's shipped from the US, so it can be a bit pricey. Altogether, it's around £38.00. I'm probably going to cancel this 'rolling subscription' soon, as I can't justify the expense; however, I will keep an eye on it so that I can sign up for boxes I am interested in, The great thing is that you can also order past boxes, if there's one you really fancy. My favourite items so far include the VE Schwabb book, the Malfoy funko, and the steampunk snitch badge. Next months theme, which I am signed up for, is 'YA High'.

Nerdy Post ($21.99 a month, no book included)
June - Harry Potter
July - Game of Thrones

Another package I have to unsubscribe from, as I cannot justify the price :( I love these little packages; simpler and more homemade than the other ones, they really showcase the makers talent. My favourite thing about this subscription is that they are all themed around one area; as you can see these are Harry Potter and Game of Thrones themed. My favourite items have been the Harry Potter poster and book mark, and the same items from the Game of Thrones box.

Nerdy Bookworm Box (£29.99 a month)

As this is a local 'homegrown' UK box, it makes more sense for me to sign up to this one, and luckily it did not disappoint. I like how you can only order one box at a time - perfect for me as not all of the themes suit me. This box was kind of perfect - I loved the candle, the poster, the notebook, the book...it was all great!

Fairyloot (£26.00 a month)

May - High Fantasy
June - classic twist

Another UK box, which I love. I very briefly met the creator at YALC (she probably doesn't realise) and she was lovely. She was also really helpful in the past when I accidentally put the wrong address down (I'm an idiot). My favourite items have been both the figures (Brienne of Tarth and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies Mr Darcy), the candle, the posters and the book marks. Next months theme is Magic and Mayhem, which I have most definitely signed up for!

As you can see, there are some great items available in these boxes, but I am always on the hunt for more. In August I should receive another OwlCrate and NerdyPost (they'll be my last for a while, from these guys, unless I'm obsessed with a future theme). In September I'll be getting a FairyLoot, and perhaps a Nerdy BookWorm Box, if the theme suits me. I'm always on the hunt for more, though, On instagram alone I follow:
  • Spellbound - https://spellboundbox.cratejoy.com/shop/listing - $25.00 - None UK based
  • Nerdy BookWorm - https://nerdybookwormbox.cratejoy.com/ - £29.99 - UK based
  • Lit Joy - http://litjoycrate.com/ - $29.99 - None UK based
  • Once Upon A Bookcase - https://www.cratejoy.com/once-upon-a-bookcase/ - $26.00 - None UK based
  • The Monthly Prophet - https://themonthlyprophet.cratejoy.com/ - $26.00 - None UK based
  • The YA Chronicles - http://theyachronicles.com.au/ - $29.99 - None UK based
  • Illumicrate - http://www.illumicrate.com/ - £29.99 - UK based - quarterly
  • Flitwicks (a jewellery subscription) - https://flitwicks.cratejoy.com/ - $12.00 - None UK based
  • Parnassus Next - http://www.parnassusbooks.net/ParnassusNext - $100 for three months - None UK based - frst editions
  • Novel Tea Club - http://noveltea.club/ - $27.50 - None UK based
  • Fantasy and Sci Fi Books - http://www.fantasyandscifibooks.com/ - $27.99 - None UK based
  • The Best Damn Book Box - https://www.cratejoy.com/the-best-damn-book-box/ - $39.99 - None UK based
  • Uppercase Box - https://www.uppercasebox.com/ - $29.00 - None UK Based
  • The Bookish Box - https://thebookishbox.cratejoy.com/ - $25.00 - None UK Based