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Thoughts on Bookish Boxes

Dear lovely readers,

I want to talk today about Book Subscription Boxes. As I sit and write this, I have a small pile of the cardboard boxes that contain all the bookish goodies next to me – I love using the boxes themselves to store things – papers, nail varnishes, bits and bobs etc.

At the end of last year, I moved by entire TBR onto another bookshelf (and a shelf on my ‘Read’ bookshelf because my TBR is HUGE) and finally got a really good look at what I don’t tend to pick up. I don’t tend to pick up big books (too intimidating!), the first book in a series (must read the rest of the series before forgetting what happened in the first book!) and hardbacks. I find it hard to find the time to read hardbacks because I don’t like carting them around on the commute in my backpack, I can’t take them with me when I travel for work (too big!) and I find them bulky and cumbersome to read. That being said, I love to look at hardbacks – pristine and shiny, often unread.

I also noticed something else, undeniably linked – I don’t seem to read books that come in book boxes.

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So, I’m not a hardcore subscriber of book boxes. In an attempt to be somewhat careful with my money, I only buy boxes when 1. I know what book is likely to arrive, and 2. I really want to read that book. Otherwise, I can’t justify paying that much for a box, when I’m unlikely to ever read the book.

Despite this, I still don’t seem to pick up the books that arrive in a book box. Sometimes, it’s because the book gets bad reviews and my interest wanes (this happens more than you would think), and sometimes it’s just the fact that a hardback is unlikely to be my next read.

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I do often enjoy the little book-related goodies that come in book boxes – I particularly like candles (although finding a place to burn them can be difficult!), mugs, coasters, etc. I’m less interested when I don’t ‘understand’ a piece – it comes from a fandom I have no knowledge of, or concerns a character I just don’t care about.

The one thing I do want to say on bookish goodies – I am really not a fan of food. I have food allergies so I’m unlikely to be able to dig into any treats that arrive in the box – and people with more severe allergies may react to just opening the box. Bath treats and candles should steer clear of allergens too – or state them clearly.

I also don’t drink tea – I much prefer a fruit tea, but haven’t tried any of the teas I’ve received so far. I know a lot of people do love tea though (and it feels like a good book accompaniment) so this is 100% personal preference.

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So where does that leave me and book boxes?

Honestly, I’m pretty happy with my current policy of waiting to see when book boxes are announced and deciding if I really need that book. I won’t buy a box unless I know what book it is coming with, and even then, I’ve been trying to cut down on book buying anyway, so it’ll have to be a really anticipated release for me to indulge.

That being said, I think they’re definitely worth trying – I really do love many of the little goodies inside the boxes, and I love sniffing the bookish candle collection I’ve built up.

 

What are your thoughts on bookish boxes – are you an ardent subscriber, book box newbie or something in between? Let me know!

annalsie

On Book Hype

Hello lovely readers,

My book-buying ban has spectacularly failed – although I am still intending to cut down significantly. I have pre-ordered some books that are coming out in February and March which I think I will really enjoy – and some are finales to trilogies that I’d like to finish this year. It’d be rude not to buy them.

When you’re trying not to spend spend spend, the hype becomes real. Books you hadn’t even heard of last week become a must-buy. It’s FOMO, and it feels real and urgent because everyone else is reading this book NOW.

Hype can be for a number of reasons. It can accumulate because a lot of book bloggers and vloggers have received copies – they’re hauling their copies in videos and gushing about how much they want to read it – and then the reviews come in, posted on blogs and vlogs and Goodreads. The book is appearing on your newsfeed and subscription list almost constantly and a book you were ‘meh’ about is now top of your to-buy list. Everyone else is reading it, why aren’t you?

The opposite can be true – a book can be hyped because only a few select bloggers have read it, and they loved it. This was the case with Caraval, where the hype began a full calendar year before the book was released. It was hard to get your hands on a copy of Caraval, and that drove up the hype ever more. Yet when I finally got my hands on the book, I was disappointed. It was still a fun read, but it didn’t live up to the expectations in my head.

Hype around certain books can be difficult to avoid – especially when you live on Book Twitter and Booktube – but I’ve been trying (and failing) recently to wait until a book is released into the world, and reviewed by more than the select few. Sometimes sky-high Goodreads ratings come tumbling down once the book has been released – and sometimes they stay high, and you’re genuinely going to be in for a great read.

One of my goals this year is to reduce the amount of money I spend on books – I want to reduce my TBR but also increase the quality of books I’m reading. If I know I’m not going to enjoy a book, I’d rather not read it. Part of this is also not subscribing to book subscription boxes – I already pick and choose which boxes I buy, and make sure it’s a book I know I want to read. That being said, I realised at the end of last year that I really struggle to pick up books that have come out of book boxes, even though I would have picked them up if I had bought them alone.

I’d love to know your views and experiences on book hype – let me know down in the comments or tweet me at @annalisebooks.

annalsie

Fairyloot April Unboxing!

This month I decided to try out Fairyloot, a new YA Fantasy subscription box, that promises one new hardback novel each month. Fairyloot is available to purchase on subscription or as a standalone box, and is based in the UK. After seeing some amazing March boxes, I decided to buy the April box as a treat.

Purchasing

Fairyloot is a UK-based box, and I decided to purchase a box from the UK to avoid import fees. The box costs £24.50 with shipping and tax on top, bringing the actual cost of the box to around £30. I found a 10% off code in the Fairyloot newsletter, so actually paid £28.40. Honestly, I was surprised to pay shipping and tax in the UK, so be aware.

Delivery

So, I messed up big time on delivery. I accidentally put my home postcode with my university address and so my box was delivered late. However, a note on delivery – Fairyloot use Yodel, who here were very good, but are notorious for late deliveries or non-deliveries. I’ve had parcels delivered by them in the past which have arrived late, and read hundreds of horror stories of broken, or worse, missing parcels. This time my box arrived in 6 days, which involved a trip up and down the country and to lost property, so actually arrived quite quickly considering!

Spoilers

Please, if you’re thinking of doing an unboxing of any box, heed this advice.

Just because you received your box, doesn’t mean everyone has. Waiting for this box led to me being spoiled on Twitter several times by people posting the title of the book, and pictures of their boxes. Please don’t do this – it ruins the surprise for those waiting for their boxes!

On the topic of spoilers… if you don’t want to be spoiled, click away now!

The Box!

The box is super cool, it has the Fairyloot logo on the top (here, obscured by the delivery label) and a Neil Gaiman quote on the side of the box.

On top, was a Hunger Games Funko Pop! – I got Katniss, but others got President Snow, Effie Trinket and Peeta Mellark. I love this so much – I have a small (for now) Funko Pop! collection of inspirational female characters, and so Katniss is a great addition.

Then, wrapped in a purple bow, is a poster from BehindThePages. It features a Glittering Court quote.

I loved the Vanilla Bean Scented Candle which comes in a metal tin wrapped with twine.

Also included is a sample of the book I was reading when I opened the box, The Wrath and the Dawn, which is an amazing book and the sampler is really cute.

Wrapped in tissue paper with confetti was the book of the month, The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, with temporary tattoos and a themed bookmark.

Thoughts

I have a worry with these boxes and that is – to read YA is not to subscribe to all of the YA fandoms. There are plenty of YA readers who haven’t ventured into popular book series such as Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, and I’m sure there are those who have but just haven’t enjoyed them. There’s nothing wrong with not liking a certain series, but a lot of these boxes assume you like them all – it’s difficult to put these boxes together without fandom-related items but I’m not sure how I’d feel to receive something from a series I wasn’t familiar with.

The Glittering Court is a book I was considering pre-ordering but didn’t, as the reviews haven’t been brilliant. Richelle Mead is an established author (of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, to name a few), and I’d be disappointed in this box if I’d already bought the book – I’d like to see more debut authors featured as these books are less likely to have already been bought and discovering new authors is always fun!

I love the hashtag – each month, two boxes come with the same hashtag, and so each person has a box buddy with who to discuss and read the book!

Final Thoughts

Fairyloot has to be one of the best subscription boxes out there, and is definitely worth it! With great themes each month – May’s theme is High Fantasy – these boxes make a great treat. I might not be purchasing every month, but seeing some amazing unboxings, it’ll be difficult not to.

Annalise x