I received The Corset in my Book Pitaara box for whom I am a rep for the months of September, October and November. It was the book of the month and I was very excited to read it for Halloween.
“Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?
Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.
Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?“
The book oscillates between the points of view of Dorothea and Ruth. Dorothea is the rich socialite who doesn’t enjoy socializing. She is ahead of her time, being well educated and having a desire to make the society a better place. Her interest in phrenology leads her to the Oakgate Prison where she interacts with the incarcerated to gain their trust and measure their skulls. On the other hand, Ruth has been dealt a lousy hand and must struggle for survival every day. First it was with her poverty-stricken family and bullies at school, and then as an apprentice at a famous boutique where she must spend her days sewing in order to be free of her family’s debt.
In the midst of growing up, Ruth also realizes that her mystical powers are growing. Or is it just her psychosis that is growing and pulling her into a fantasy world in order to protect her from the misery that she lives in? This is what Dorothea intends to figure out with the help of phrenology.
I loved how the author shifted seamlessly between the two narratives and brought in scenes from one person’s story into the other’s. The book definitely had its share of scares where the reader is not sure what to believe, for both the narrations seemed to be honest and logical. The world building was so on point that I was horrified at certain places and had to stop reading. The book was fast paced and the ending was so ambiguous that I had discussions with two separate people to try and figure it out. I love a book that gets me talking about it.
I was impressed with the number of twists that the author managed to incorporate into the story without confusing the reader. Just when you thought that you had a handle on where the story was going, there seemed to be some new information that made everything that you thought you knew obsolete. The descriptions of fear, the animalistic instincts, the paranormal factor, all combined to produce a book that was the perfect Halloween read. The book made me go and read up on phrenology and any book that betters my knowledge is a book that I will recommend to everybody.
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
Her first novel for Raven Books The Silent COmpanions won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs.
Her work include:
Queen of Bedlam (2012)
Mistress of the Court (2015)
The Silent Companions (2017)
The Corset (2018)
TL;DR: A book that lives up to its hype and manages to scare you but keeps you glued to the pages at the same time
Disclaimer: I received this box as a part of my rep package from Hooty Hoot Store
As soon as Hooty Hoot Store was launched, I was a fan of their concept. They have made it their business to get India warm and cozy with their theme of Hygee. Hygee, pronounced Hu-gah is the Danish word for cozy. They are a bi-monthly box and include products that make the subscriber feel warm and cozy and well cared for. They also have a variety of other products on their website from vintage junk journals and journaling supplies to vintage cages, pen pal kits, DIY kits, birthday and anniversary boxes, gift boxes and handmade journals. They are also very open to customization and are wonderful with customer service.
Everything is handmade with natural ingredients. A majority of the products are made by the curator herself. Each box is packed with a lot of care and love. The main theme of the box is to create a cozy space around you keep you stay relaxed. Every Hooty Hoot Crate is curated with five different categories in a single box!
The theme of the month
Hygge home decor
Personal notes from hooty hoot
The February theme was La Vie Est Belle which translated to ‘life is beautiful’. Here is what the box contained-
Theme cards, notes explaining the products and a note to the customer
Plug-in Fairy lights (this was my favourite part of the box)
Personalized zodiac bookmark from @booknbujo (mine is Cancer)
Rose potpourri (it made the entire box smell wonderful)
Handmade rose lip balm (creamy and smells amazing)
Handmade aloe Vera clear soap
Classmate Octane gel pen
Tea lights in white
3D stickers and regular stickers
Wooden pegs, strings and glitter
A packet of candy
Hot chocolate powder
Do-at-home spa instructions and recipe for mug cake
The April theme is Spring Medley and I can’t wait to see what they have, especially since I am one of the contributors to the box. They have planned on including a crochet bookmark from my store anan_creates and I am currently in the process of finishing up the order.
Do you do anything special to fell all warm and cozy?
I love subscription boxes. They feel like little gifts to myself. They often have products that I would not have splurged on myself and it feels good to receive some love. I have subscribed to plenty of book subscription boxes in the past. I was really intrigued when I discovered The Duende Box and their concept.
The Duende Box is a monthly art subscription box that collaborates with artists around the world and shares a box of art supplies. I loved their Instagram feed and saw that the December box was themed ‘florals’ and would be based around watercolor. I’m always trying my hardest to get back to art so watercolor seemed right up my alley and I wasted no time in subscribing to them.
The monthly boxes are curated with art and artists in mind. The featured artist of the month has their original art work in the box and also provides instructions on replicating the same. My December box with the theme ‘florals’ featured @that.crazy.doodler and here is what it contained-
Original floral watercolor art work by Vinita, the artist of the month
A mixing palette (I still haven’t dared to use it since that is not how I usually work. It feels more abstract and my art is usually more methodical. It will be a good push out of my comfort zone)
A speciality floral paintbrush with an angled edge
A palette knife that I have not yet dared to use
Masking tape which I find it very helpful with the bookmarks that I make
A floral badge designed by the artist of the month (I absolutely love collecting pin badges and this one is so pretty!!)
A double sided magnetic bookmark featuring white cat cafe (I love magnets as you well know)
Two sets of artist grade paper
Floral art card
They have previously had a card making box and a calligraphy box which I missed ordering. This month they have a resin clock making kit which looks dreamy. I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with The Duende Box and can’t wait to see what they come up with next
As you know I started by Subscription box journey with Books N Beyond in September 2017. I then subscribed to the Aurora Box of Dreams October box, The IAAK December box and the Aurora Box of Dreams January box. I had decided that I would stop subscribing for a while because they don’t come cheap and I felt like I had spent a bit too much on merchandise ever since I started bookstagramming. But July being my birthday month, I wanted to gift something to myself. July is also Harry Potter month and I love that it coincides with my birthday. I wanted to combine the two and when I saw that IAAK had a Harry Potter themed box for July, I jumped at the chance… Or I should have because by the time I actually went on their website to order, the boxes had been sold out. But the birthday luck was with me and they reopened bookings due to popular demand and I made sure that I ordered mine in time and I just couldn’t wait to receive the box.
I ordered the premium box which promised to have a Five Star Funko, a Funko Plush and other officially licensed HP goodies while the Standard box did not have the Funko Plush. According to their sneak peaks, the Funko Plush were a choice between Hermione, Dumbledore, Dobby, Harry, Ron and Voldemort. IAAK was nice enough to ask us to comment on their post asking about our choices and I gave mine as Hermione, Dobby or Voldy.
For the Five Star Funko, the choices were Hermione with a book, wand, and feather; Harry with a Hogwarts letter, wand, and Hedwig; Dumbledore with Fawkes and a wand; Ron with Scabbers, a wand, and a chocolate frog; and Hagrid with a cake and his pink umbrella. I chose Hermione here. The boxes were to be shipped during the last week of July and I was to go on a holiday in the first week of August. So I was hoping against hope that I receive the box before I left and before my birthday month got over and I did! Ah the bliss when things work out for a change!
Here is what the box contained-
A 5 Star Funko Hermione complete with a wand, a feather and a ‘Hogwarts: A History’ book. Typical Hermione!
A Dobby Funko Plushie. He is cuter than what any of us imagined in the books and the Dobby from the movies! I love him.
A blind Funko Keychain where mine had Hedwig. So tiny and cute!
Stickers by @enchanted.marks in the shape of Hagrid, Hagrid’s famous cake and a baby Mandrake.
Dumbledore’s Army sign-up sheet, group photographs, Daily Prophet and prints from @enchanted.marks again.
A hologram notebook with Harry Potter’s profile overlaid with symbolism from the Potter world.
Cork coasters representing all four Hogwarts houses (I’m Gryffindor BTW).
Harry Potter stationary kit that contained a pen, a pencil, an eraser, a sharpener and a scale. Where was this when I was in school?!
I loved all of the goodies and as always, the customer service by IAAK was impeccable.
I had a great birthday month anticipating and then opening and reveling in all the Harry Potter-ness. IAAK is soon to turn one and I can’t wait to see what they have planned for us in the future.
I began my book subscription box with Books N Beyond and then moved to Aurora. I also tried the IAAK box and thought that I had sampled all the big names in the business. However, when I won the Aurora letter writing/ fan fiction contest, I absolutely had to subscribe to their January box that was to feature the fan fiction that I had written for them. You can read the letter here.
Book subscription boxes contain a book or two along with merchandise which all revolve around a common theme. The theme for the Aurora January box was “Boys We Love” and was going to be extra special as it was their anniversary month. I was excited because the sneak peaks that they gave over Instagram revealed that they would feature a lot of male characters that we adore from a wide range of books such as Sirius Black, Rhysand, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Augustus Waters and Kaz Brekker. The book of the month was going to be Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu and I was excited about that as well. They also were going to have an international collaboration with Kool and Co and Lit Balms for specially scented candles and lip balms that were to be centered over the month’s theme.
The team however ran into a lot of problems and the box was delayed by over a month. They had trouble obtaining the book due to problems with customs which further delayed the dispatch. They were very apologetic about the delays and offered a choice of another book in place of Batman. I suggested The Bear and The Nightingale and they were nice enough to actually put that into my box.
Here are the items that were included in the box-
Letters: A hand written letter explaining and apologizing for the delays which was very sweet of the Aurora team and also a special letter just for me congratulating me on my win.
The book of the month: The book that I received by my own request was The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden. I have heard great reviews of this book and am very excited to start reading it.
A book Sleeve: A very pretty and flowery book sleeve that is locally made is the perfect size to fit a paperback or a small hardcover. Something that every bibliophile will love.
Bookmarks: A couple of colourful bookmarks with watercolour designs and a magnetic bookmark from Sip and Read- The Rustic Store. A girl can never have enough bookmarks, am I right? The bookmarks had quotes from all of our favourite book boyfriends-
“What is life without a little risk?”- Sirius Black.
“They say time heals all wounds but that presumes the source of the grief is infinite”- Magnus Bane.
“Fear doesn’t shut you down. It wakes you up”-Tobias Eaton.
“Apparently the world is not a wish granting factory”- Agustus Waters.
“He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts”
A postcard with the words “I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity”- Edgar Allen Poe, which I think is my prize for winning their contest but I already have the same one from their previous box.
Scented Soy candle: A 2Oz 100% soy wax candle scented ‘Willian Darcy’ from Kool and Co
Lip Balm: A rum and coffee flavoured 50g lip balm with the smell corresponding to Kez Brekker from Lit Balms.
Letter from Sirius: And finally the reason for me subscribing to the box- the fan fiction where Sirius writes a letter to his lover from Askaban. It was packed in an envelop with a very cool wax seal but was unfortunately printed on ordinary paper which was already crumpled on arrival. I had expected a bit more, maybe a rustic looking letter or a laminated one but was very disappointed with the way it was made and also with the lack of credit given to the creator.
On the whole, I was not completely satisfied with this box but I am glad that they kept their customers in the loop about the delays and although not all items were great, there are a few that I liked like the book, the book sleeve and the bookmarks. I wish more attention was paid to the curating of the box but since they genuinely seemed to be in trouble, I will grant them this one and hope that they come back stronger after the break that they have planned.
I’m so excited to introduce you to Second Star Books, a new
YA book subscription box!
The brain child of Rachel and Kelvin Bateman, Second Star Books is the only YA
box out there focused entirely on debut authors. In each monthly box, readers will get:
TWO books – one of which will be a brand new
hardback by a debut author
A full size (8oz) candle specially created for the
Other delightful goodies curated to match the monthly
Second Star Books also offers some awesome additional
Download codes for free ebooks
A monthly book club with a Facebook Live visit from the author
Second Star Insiders: an exclusive group for people who want to be in
the know, where they share early teasers, recommendations of books they love but couldn’t fit in
a box, and polls to let members help decide future boxes!
And for every box sent out Second Star Books
will donate a book to a child in need!
In preparation for the big launch, Second Star Books is offering the chance
for one lucky reader to win a FREE LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION! To
enter CLICK HERE!
Some time at the end of last year, I came across the concept of book subscription boxes and went on to try a few of them. My very first box was by BooksNBeyond. Next came Aurora Box of Dreams and then the IAAK box. I was fairly happy with most of them but no matter how you cut the issue, these subscription boxes do burn a hole in the pocket. I also had the additional problem of storage since most of the items that come in the boxes are not things that can be used everyday. So I decided that the IAAK December box was going to be my last for a while.
But like every good entrepreneur, all of the curators come up with little games and contests, usually on Instagram, to entice new customers and to keep the old ones coming back for more. These are really fun and get you connected with a lot of bibliophiles and I have tried to take part in as many of them as I could. Similarly, the team of Aurora had a letter writing contest for their January box who’s theme was “The Boys We Love”. They wanted us to write a letter from one of the fictional characters that we like. The choices were- Sirius Black, Rhysand, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Augustus Waters and Kaz Brekker.
Sirius is my all time favourite so it was a very easy decision to write from his point of view. It was to be my first attempt at writing anything other than essays back in school but try I did and what do you know? Yours truly managed to actually type something that people liked! I won a special prize for the letter and my letter was to be sent in every subscriber’s box. How exciting!! This also meant that I absolutely HAD TO subscribe for this box as well.
Here is my letter that won me the Aurora Box of Dreams Letter Writing Contest-
I hope you are doing well. Me, I’m afraid I’m going a bit mad. But I’m sure you would say that the Marauders have always been a bit mad. It is awful being stuck here in this place where dreams come to die and to feel like the world is passing you by. But I should say I’m lucky to have Padfoot with me. He comes out when the days get tough and makes things better for a while. What keeps me going is the thought of you and of sweet innocent Harry. The two of you are all that is left in this world for me.
I can still picture you dressed as ‘Madonna’ for the Potters’ pre-Halloween party. I adored you although none of us knew who you were meant to represent (What did you mean by a “Pop Star”?). I wish I had asked you. I also wish I had told you that both Lily and James loved you, although for different reasons. Lily hoped that you would have a sobering effect on me while James hoped that you would keep Lily company while we were up to our ‘shenanigans’ (Is that even a word? I don’t know… James seems to have invented a lot of words recently. I’m sure we have all cringed when he called us his “dawgs” and talked about “bromance”. I really think staying hidden, away from all the action was getting to him). I only wish that we were granted more time together, if only to proclaim our love to the world. But of course, Dumbledore was right as he always is. You were in grave danger just for being associated with the Potters’ best friend.
Today is the eve of Harry’s departure to Hogwarts and it cuts me up that his parents aren’t with him. The poor lad does not even have his Godfather looking out for him. Here I am, in a place with no escape, all due to the cunning of a very evil man. I know you must have plenty of questions about that and I promise to write more on that soon. Today, I just want to talk about you and Harry.
Do you remember little baby Harry laughing at Lupin’s growls? Or swatting at their annoying, if surprisingly well-behaved, cat? He was so tiny when I picked him up from the rubble on that awful night. I was so glad to hear that Hagrid was sent by Dumbledore that I willingly gave him my motorbike. I often wonder if I could have made my getaway if I still had it with me but I don’t regret it even a tiny bit. I couldn’t have asked for a better chaperone for Harry nor a better caretaker for the motorbike than Hagrid. I am sure Dumbledore has placed Harry with a really nice family and hope that they send him off tomorrow with hugs no matter how much the boy squirms. Eleven year old boys need love to hold on to on their first night at a strange school. Nevertheless, I’m going to place a wish on the waves breaking over the island that he is with a nice family at the train station. It is something that all of the prisoners here do, place wishes upon the waves… until any ray of hope is invariably crushed by our delightful guards.
Love, I know I haven’t written in well over a decade. Sorry but we are not considered worthy of quill and ink here. I hope you have found yourself a man who has given you happiness and has helped your incredible light shine on, who has given you children as beautiful as you are with your deep brown eyes like molten chocolate on a cold winter’s day and your auburn hair that reveals its secret blond streaks only under favourable light (or do you in fact control this phenomenon? This is another thing that I wish I had asked. We never know which day is going to be our last with the people that we love and have to live with regrets for the rest of our miserable existence).
This letter will join the millions before it in the most secure place that I currently have access to- my noggin. If I can make a deal with the ministry officials I would ask them to extract from my brain two things. My letters to you and the memory of my innocence relating to my best friends’ murders, just to show you and Harry that I am not in fact, a monster. I would also ask to keep all the things that I remember about you (I am not sure anymore about which memories are real and which are the product of my imagination but I will not give up any of them). It does sound very selfish but then, I have never claimed to be a saint.
I believe that thinking about you makes me roil with emotion. The dementors outside my cell are getting angsty. It might be time to welcome Padfoot again.
My love, I hope you are doing well. Me, I’m afraid I’m going a bit mad.
Until I write again,
Have you ever written fan fiction for any character? Would you like to?
The December box from IAAK was my third subscription box. I first ordered the Books N Beyond box and then the Aurora Box of Dreams. IAAK box receives a lot of fanfare every month and I was curious to see what the hype was all about. I also had my eye on the box since they were famous for including an original funko in most of their boxes (unfortunately, they did not include a funko in the December box since it had other authentic merchandise. Tough luck, me).
The theme reveal for the month of December showed a lot of things related to Harry Potter and had a choice of a number of special edition Harry Potter books so I knew that this was the month that I needed to subscribe to them, and I did. The customer service was impeccable from the time of subscription. Since December sees a tremendous increase in orders, most of them have a clause regarding late delivery. This, coupled with the fact that a majority of the items in the box were imported and had to compete with the holiday season and clear customs during one of the busiest times of the year, the box was delayed by one month. However, the waiting period was made manageable with multiple follow-up mails from IAAK customer service ensuring us that they have not forgotten about us and are trying their best to get their products. This was very impressive and it made me forget all the impatient waiting that I had to do.
The box was a beautiful ivory with popular Harry Potter symbolism. Every box was customized with the subscribers’ names but mine was damaged in transit and did not show my name. It was very disappointing but they were apologetic and promised to protect the boxes better the next time.
Things that were included in the box:
Personalized handwritten letter: A handwritten letter addressed to me gave a very personalized touch to the entire box and I absolutely loved
Customer’s Choice of Book: The choice of books were between Harry Potter Jacket Editions, Illustrated Editions and Slipcase Editions as well as Hogwarts Library Books such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Since I own at least one edition of all the books offered, after much deliberation I chose the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban. It was bubble wrapped and arrived without any damage and I am very happy with it.
Book Amigo by offbeat_magick: A double sided book sleeve for storing and carrying my favourite book, featuring the Doe patronus from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Best part about it is that the patronus glows in the dark!
Bookmarks and Dobby Sticker by enchanted.marks: Bookmarks of all four Hogwarts houses with the house qualities printed on them, headed by very cute house mascots. They prepared bookmarks that were cut to the mascots’ shapes as well as plain uncut ones. I received two of each but prefer the cut ones since they look very unique.
Marauders’ Map by thepapercharmshop: An authentic looking Marauder’s Map that smells very strongly of coffee. I love that the map looks like it is made up of parchment but I wish that it was easier to read and showed characters in their frequent haunts. Even though I’m a tea person, the smell of the coffee paper made my mouth water.
Funko Pen by originalfunko: A black-inked ball-tip pen with a funko top. Mine features Draco Malfoy. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Draco, I’m growing to like him and this seems to be the perfect transition from my pre-Draco to my post-Draco days.
Color Changing mug: An official Warner Brothers lic heat sensitive color changing mug that changes from “The Marauder’s Map” to “I Solemnly Swear I’m Up To No Good” when hot beverages are poured into it. The inside bottom of the mug says “Mischief Managed” in a very cheeky font. I don’t know how comfortable I am using a color changing mug because of all the chemicals that are used in them but it is a very cool thing to own indeed.
Festive Bracelets by bloomsburyindia: Two cloth bracelets, one with “M.A.C.U.S.A” and other with “Wanded and Dangerous” embroidered on them. I don’t think I will be wearing them as bracelets but I’m sure I’ll find use for them as bookmarks.
Vinyl Stickers by Warner Brothers: Five vinyl stickers from the official Harry Potter store.
Unicorn Postcard and Bookmark by bloomsburyindia: A beautiful bookmark with representation from all four Hogwarts houses.
Dobby Badge by bloomsburyindia: A badge featuring Dobby is sure to be a hit with any Harry Potter fan. It is small enough to be inconspicuous and can serve as a token of support and love and yet remain hidden from people who judge us geeks too harshly.
Favorite things about the box:
Illustrated edition of HP#3: I have always coveted the illustrated editions of Harry Potter and I am so glad to have started my collection with PoA.
Book amigo: I love the concept of a book sleeve to protect my precious books. The beautiful design is just cherry on top and I will definitely be the source of envy when I take it out in public.
Customer service: I was very impressed with their periodic mails and their prompt reply to every query.
IAAK stayed true to their promise of satisfying our inner geek. They have, once again managed to wow us with their attention to detail and their procurement of authentic merchandise. They are now six months old and I’m sure that they will manage to dominate the field of subscription boxes for quite some time.
Have you subscribed to subscription boxes? What are your favourites? Tell me in the comments below or on Instagram @the_food_and_book_life
As I was trolling the internet for book subscription boxes, Aurora Box of Dreams caught my interest. This was my second experience with a book subscription box after Books N Beyond and is by far my favorite. They are a bimonthly box that ship from Delhi and I subscribed for their October box with the theme “Knick Knacks and us”. We were promised stationary that we would love and I must agree, I loved every single one of them.
Since I subscribed for the October box all the way back in August, it was a long wait and their social media presence was quite negligible with queries being answered after about a week on average. We were, however, given sneaks peaks on Instagram regarding the book of the month, the book sleeve, washi tapes, rubber stamp and a reading light which left me very excited to see the other contents. But they are now very quick with their responses and even have a contest for the January box.
The book: The book of the month was John Green’s new release Turtles All the Way Down in Hardcover. I’m currently reading the book and will review it when I’m done so look out for that.
Book Sleeve: Probably the most eagerly anticipated content for me in the box was the book sleeve which lets us store and carry a book within a well cushioned and pretty sleeve. It is large enough to even fit a hardcover which made mevery happy.
Postcards: Four postcards with quotes from various books and authors (“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”- William Shakespeare, “I am half agony, half hope”- Jane Austin, “All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadows”- Leo Tolstoy and “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity”- Edgar Allen Poe) were present in the box which are really just too nice to be sent to anyone. My favourite is the Jane Austin quote.
Bookmarks: Three very pretty bookmarks with depictions of art by Monet. As anyone familiar with Monet’s work knows, the art is very colourful and is a nice visual relief for when your eyes tire from looking at black and white letters all day long.
Book light: A mini-table-lamp like book light that can be clipped on to the pages of a book or to a kindle cover that looks like the Pixar logo. I can’t wait to use it on my late-night reading spree.
Rubber Stamp: A rubber stamp with the words “From the Library of” to stamp onto our books. I just love the idea of protecting our books from book thieves!
Washi tapes: Two rolls of washi tapes with pretty colors, designs and glitter. These are my first washi tapes so I’m very excited to start a project with them!
Notebooks: Two notebooks, one with the cover of Nutella and the other with the word ‘slay’ also were present in the box and are just the right size to fit in your pocket for some spontaneous sketching or writing. I’ve already started sketching and doodling in my Nutella notebook and am extremely impressed with the quality of the pages.
Stickers: A total of fifteen stickers arranged in two cards that are just so pretty that I think I will end up preserving them forever.
While there are a lot of book subscription boxes out there, finding one with quality products makes all the difference. Compared to certain other subscription boxes who are extremely active on social media with contests and games for their subscribers, Aurora Box of Dreams can appear dull. But once you see the contents of the box, it more than makes up for any earlier disappointment. They do have a contest going on where they are asking the public to write a letter that goes into their next box so they know how to keep their customers occupied. On the whole, a box that’s worth the two-month wait and knows how to satisfy customers with both quality as well as quantity.
Their theme for the next box coming out in January is “Boys that we love” featuring all the fictional male characters that we know and love such as Sirius Black, Rhysand, Darcy, Augustus etc so it should be very dreamy. You can check their previous unboxings with #AuroraBOD on Instagram.
TL;DR: A long wait for worthy goods, Aurora Box of Dreams wows us both with quality as well as quantity.
What subscription box should I subscribe to next? (Specific boxes, themes etc) Tell me in the comments below or on @the_food_and_book_life and I will review it for you.
Monthly subscription boxes are an opportunity to buy something for yourself and yet retain a certain amount of unpredictability and surprise. They are services that reveal their theme and a few items that will be included in that month’s box and leave the rest to the curator’s whims. Based on the type of box (Book, Jewelry, Gourmet food, Beauty products, Toys), you receive the main element along with other riff-raffs that follow that theme.
Books n Beyond is curated by Papiya and is shipped from Delhi with no extra shipping charges unless you are based in places that are hard to access.
I was first introduced to the existence of subscription boxes by my friend two years ago. I subscribed to the Mesh Bag but was clearly disappointed by the lack of value for money and the poor quality of their merchandise.
Last month while I was googling for gifting ideas for a friend I came across a lot of book subscription boxes and I decided to try some of them for myself. The first that I almost subscribed to was IAAK Box but they did not have the things that I wanted that month so I put a pin in it. I do want some of their funkos so I’m sure I will be subscribing to them soon. The box that caught my eye was Books n Beyond. The theme for the next month- September was ‘Bibliophile’ (which I am proud to be) and the book of the month (BOTM) was going to be either a winner of Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction or a Man Booker Prize winner. So off I went subscribing.
It was as simple as entering my address, contact and payment details and I immediately received an email confirming my order.
A few weeks later I received another email from the proprietor asking about my book choice. They were considerate and confirmed that I had not yet read the BOTM and offered to send another book if I had.
The waiting game
Since you need to subscribe early (they reveal a month’s theme 2 months prior to its shipping and there are usually no extra boxes since they collaborate with people who customize products for every box), it’s quite the waiting game. But don’t worry, BNB has you covered. Their instagram account constantly posts sneak peaks and other reveals to keep you chomping at the bit.
For the September month box, they revealed the book, a bow, an enamel pin, a bookmark and a mystery item which they didn’t quite reveal but instead, let us guess at. In the meanwhile, you can follow subscribers of the previous months’ boxes playing all the cool games and contests that are organised. More on that later.
Books n Beyond usually ships their boxes between the 15th and 20th of any month. September too saw them shipping the boxes on the same dates and they make sure to send us the tracking number. I love tracking my purchases so I had a great time with it. Although it had to travel around 2,204 kilometers, the box reached me in just 3 days. Kudos to India post.
They didn’t skimp on the packaging so the box arrived with no damage which did justice to the beautiful ivory box with the Books n Beyond logo. Inside was a green crepe paper to wrap all of its contents.
The first thing that you come across when you open the box is a card explaining what the box contains. As you dig into the box you see how efficiently all of the things are placed to maximize storage. My September box contained the following:
Cushion cover: A beautiful ivory cushion cover designed by Evie Seo that reads “So many books, so little time” that any bibliophile would be proud to display at their reading nook.
Book of the month: I received the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction 2017 winner The Power by Naomi Alderman. A wonderfully written, gripping story of a world where females achieve the power of electricity to use at their will. I loved the way the story unfolded with varying points of view of four women of different ages, all with important roles to play. More detailed review of the book coming up on my next blog!
Enamel pin: A lapel enamel pin which features a book store embedded in a card with Margaret Atwood’s words “In the end we’l all become stories“. What can you not love about that!
Badge: A badge with the words “Carpe Librum” (Latin –> Seize The Day). A true bibliophile sentiment to go with the theme of the month.
Book light: Again, keeping with the theme of the month, a reading light (with batteries) that can be attached to the pages of your book to help you read into the night like all of us invariably do. However, I felt that the clip was too fragile to actually hold on to pages and was bound to get broken with repeated use. Unfortunately, the switch on my light was broken on arrival. I have emailed them and they promptly apologized and promised to send in a replacement so *fingers crossed*.
Bow: A beautifully white, printed bow from Cats and Bows that looks like pages from a book to make your hair so adorably bookish. Again, wonderful representation of the month’s theme.
Magnetic bookmark: I have always wanted a magnetic bookmark since they are so versatile and so much fun to use. This one made by Sip and Read- The Rustic Store with the words “There’s no such things as too many books” is one of my favourite things about the box.
Double sided bookmark: This unique bookmark by Kitaabee Keera was designed specifically for the Books n Beyond September box and has the word “Bibliophile” on both sides. I found it a little thin and papery and it feels like it wouldn’t withstand our passionate usage for a long time. It sure is pretty and reps our love for books and makes a wonderful addition to our ever growing bookmark collection but I wish it was made with durability in mind too.
Coaster: Who doesn’t love a hot beverage with their books on a stormy day? I love my green tea in my cozy little reading nook. What is your favourite drink during your reading frenzy? Books n Beyond designed a Stephen King coaster saying “Books are a uniquely portable magic” that feels like its made up of light-weight plywood so I’m not very sure how useful it will be during actual use but it’s a great addition to your coaster collection.
Scrabble tile: This is a unique thing that I haven’t seen in any other boxes. Every month Books n Beyond sends out different letters as scrabble tiles for a virtual scrabble game. All you have to do is post a picture of it on Instagram with #bnbgame #virtualscrabble and keep stalking the tag for other letters. Once you have found letters to make a word with (They specify the letter count limit and other rules for the month on their account), you need to make a collage of the word and post it to enter a chance of winning. This was a really fun way to get like-minded people to interact and keeps you on your toes all month. My letter “L” was not very much in demand and my fellow word buddies dropped out before posting the collage so I didn’t stand a chance at winning but on the plus side, I did make a lot of bookstagram friends and I now get to see all of their pretty posts and discussions on new books and merchandise and keep myself updated.
Cards: A few cards with details of the current box, theme reveal for the upcoming box and quotes like “There’s no friend as loyal as a book“- Ernest Hemingway, and “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope“- Dr. Seuss were also a part of the box and are so pretty that you can use them as bookmarks in a hurry (Let’s admit, we have all used anything that we can lay our hands on as bookmarks).
Things to love
Their scrabble game, their customized merchandise, their constant social media presence, the almost immediate replies to your queries, the weekly contests and unboxing challenges make this box a unique experience and I have a feeling that I will be subscribing to future boxes with themes that I find appealing.
A lovely idea conceptualized into a beautiful box, Books n Beyond is a well curated box with things that everyone will be sure to enjoy. Their quick response to queries and their mini games and events make sure that your month is spent entirely crazed about their box. They have even promised to have TWO BOOKS per box in the following months and have promised ‘quality over quantity’ which is what is lacking in today’s subscription boxes. They also have codes and offers for every month and a special discount for quarterly subscribers (at the time of writing this blog they claim to provide a free box on the 4th month for every quarterly subscription).
TL;DR: A well curated box that’s not hard on the wallet and is filled with merchandise that can be used by people across all age groups.
I have also subscribed to the October box from Aurora- Box of Dreams so will review it once it arrives. I will also be doing a round-up of some of the other subscription boxes that I found during my research so watch out for that.
What are your favourite subscription boxes? Let me know in the comments below or follow me on @the_food_and_book_life to know more about about mine.