LitJoy Crate | August Unboxing

P_UNBOXING_UNBOXINGTheme: “Catwoman”

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img_5683 dividerFeatured Book

This month’s featured book was Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas, which is a signed LitJoy edition. As a Sarah J. Maas fan, I was so excited to receive this book!

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Book Description (from Goodreads): When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

img_5683 divider“Meow” Cat Jewelry Dish

Check out this LitJoy exclusive cat jewelry dish! I absolutely adore it and plan on putting it on my dresser and using it for rings.

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img_5683 dividerPoison Ivy Candle

I’m a sucker for bookish candles, so I was pumped to see this A Court of Candles “Poison Ivy” candle in this month’s crate. The scent is pink hibiscus, white tea, and tangerine. It smells great!

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img_5683 dividerHarley Quinn Mini Bath “Bomb”

This fruit punch scented Harley Quinn bath bomb by Fairytale Bath Co. smells divine!  My daughter is convinced it smells like Fruity Pebbles. Yum! I don’t use bath bombs myself, but my daughter goes nuts for them. It will be used by the end of the week, I guarantee it!

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img_5683 dividerCatwoman Ankle Socks 

These Catwoman socks are so cute! A LitJoy exclusive. I’m a big fan of fun socks, so I’ll be putting these to good use.

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img_5683 dividerCat Nail Decals

This is another item my daughter is excited about! These cat nail decals are adorable!

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img_5683 dividerLitJoy Trading Cards

This month’s crate included the next three trading cards in the LitJoy series: Catwoman (Selina), Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. These cards are so neat!

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img_5683 dividerBookish Extras

I also received a booklet explaining this month’s crate and a letter from Sarah J. Maas. Love it!

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This box was a mashup of two of my favorite things: Sarah J. Maas and cats! I appreciate the high valued, well-themed, useful items this crate included. Really, I loved everything about this crate!

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Are you subscribed to LitJoy Crate? If not, feel free to use my code THRIFTY15 for a discount at checkout. What did you think about this month’s box? Was it the cat’s meow?

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ARC Book Review | Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

summer bird blue
Title:
 Summer Bird Blue 
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publish Date: September 11, 2018 by Simon Pulse
# of Pages: 368
Buy it*: Amazon

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(From Goodreads) Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

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Rating (1-5, 5 is exceptional)

Quality of Writing
5_stars-01 STAR
Pace
4_stars-01 STAR
Plot Development
4_stars-01 STAR
Ending
5_stars-01 STAR
Characters
4_stars-01 STAR
Enjoyability
5_stars-01 STAR

Overall Rating
5_stars-01 STAR

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Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is an emotional story of loss, life, and music. When Rumi’s sister, Lea, dies in a horrific car accident, Rumi is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Abandoned by her mother, Rumi spends her summer in Hawaii with her aunt, trying to figure out how to live without her sister. Along the way she befriends the neighbors–Kai, the boy next door, and Uncle George, an elderly man who has experienced his own share of losses.

My goodness, what amazing piece of literature did I just read? This is the second book written by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and I’m simply blown away by how beautifully written her books are. Summer Bird Blue was downright lyrical, tugging at my emotions, and leaving me feeling utterly wrecked at the end. Not every book makes me cry, but both of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s books have turned me into a sobbing mess (in the best of ways, of course).

Summer Bird Blue is well-paced. You follow Rumi throughout an entire summer. At first there is no light, but through friendship, Rumi learns to write the song she owes her sister, Lea. The entire story is well-executed and laid out with care. The progression from dark to light is gradual, and Rumi’s grief is explored in depth. This book is truly a study in grief and an emotional read that sticks with you long after you’ve read the last page.

I loved the theme of music throughout the book. Music is Rumi’s life, so it makes sense that it’s front and center in the book. Music has so much power, and that comes through in this story.

I adored the book’s ending, even though it was tough to read. While it made me cry, I liked how all of the heavy emotions really came to a head. Rumi confronts demons throughout the book, and this continues to the very end.

The characters in this book were wonderfully written. I felt like I was in Hawaii as I read the pidgin the author incorporated into the book. I thoroughly enjoyed Rumi’s interactions with Kai and Uncle George, two very different characters in Rumi’s life. Kai is all easy smiles, patience, and understanding. He helps Rumi learn how to have fun again. Uncle George is delightfully crotchety. He’s cranky and abrupt but finds a soft spot for Rumi. Rumi is an intense character–dynamic, complex, and deeply sensitive despite her tough exterior.

I loved this book. If you don’t have this book pre-ordered, I highly recommend you do so. Seriously. It was that good!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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img_5683P_FAVORITE QUOTES

None recorded.

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Are you planning to read Summer Bird Blue? What fall release are you looking forward to the most?

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Audiobook Review | Dare You to Lie by Hometown Antihero, #1)

dare you to lie

Title: Dare You to Lie (Hometown Antihero, #1)
Author: Amber Lynn Natusch
Publish Date: September 4, 2018 by MaxMillan Audio
# of Pages: 352
Buy it*: Amazon

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(From Goodreads) When her FBI agent father is framed for murder, Kylene is forced to move in with her grandfather, back to the small town that turned its back on her, and the boy who betrayed her.

All Ky cares about is clearing her father’s name, but someone won’t let her forget the photo scandal that drove her away two years ago. As the threats gain momentum, Ky finds an unlikely ally in the rookie FBI agent sent to keep an eye on her.

Determined to expose the town’s hidden skeletons, Ky unwittingly thrusts herself into a much bigger plot. They thought she’d forgive and forget. They’re about to learn they messed with the wrong girl.

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Rating (1-5, 5 is exceptional)

Quality of Writing
4_stars-01 STAR
Pace
3_stars-01 STAR
Plot Development
3_stars-01 STAR

Ending
3_stars-01 STAR

Characters
3_stars-01 STAR
Enjoyability
3_stars-01 STAR
Voice Acting
4_stars-01 STAR

Overall Rating
3_stars-01 STAR

img_5683P_REVIEW BANNER

Dare You to Lie is a mystery about a crime-fighting detective who happens to be a 17-year-old girl. When Ky’s father is framed for murder, she takes it upon herself to clear his name. In the process, she also works to expose the guilty parties who posted scandalous pictures of her on the internet. Even though the town has seemingly turned against her, Ky shows remarkable courage in the form of grit, wit, and sarcasm.

I adore thrillers and mysteries on audiobook, so I was excited to listen to this one! While on the whole I liked it, unfortunately I didn’t love it. The writing was solid, but the story didn’t suck me in, and the plot seemed to drag at times.

I think part of the reason why the story didn’t suck me in is because of the two very different cases Ky was working on. Ky was not only working to solve her father’s case, but she also had her own photo scandal case. I think it would have worked well to have one case or the other–not both. Having both cases discussed in the same book was distracting.

The ending was fine. There are still unanswered questions, but I would imagine those will be covered in the next book.

did like Ky as a protagonist. She was a fierce character who didn’t take guff from anyone. She put people in their places and stood up for what she believed–even if that put her in the line of fire. I like fierce female characters, so Ky fit the bill. I also liked her trusty sidekick Garrett. Their friendship was sweet, and their banter delightfully witty.

The other characters in the book were okay. I didn’t find the antagonists particularly compelling. They felt generic–nothing about them stood out to me as unique or interesting.

The voice-acting was nicely doneI enjoyed listening to the voice actress narrate the book. Her voice worked well for the book’s content.

recommend this book to Veronica Mars fans and those looking for a light read.

Thank you to MacMillan Audio for providing the audiobook version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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img_5683P_FAVORITE QUOTES

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Are you planning to read Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch? What was the last audiobook you read?

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A Week in Reading | August 26 – September 1

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This past week I finished four books!

vox the lonely hearts hotel sea witch 81xbzo1lohl

Vox by Christina Dalcher ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ⭐️⭐️⭐️

img_5683 dividerP_WEEKLY_CURRENTLY READING

I’m currently listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers, and oh my goodness, what a cool audiobook! The style is really neat, and I’m absolutely loving it. I also just started reading When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica. I typically enjoy Mary Kubica’s books, so I’m enjoying it so far.

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I plan to read The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange a next. I have several NetGalley ARCs I need to plow through this upcoming month!

the chaos

img_5683 dividerP_LET'S TALK

What books did you finish reading this past week? What do you plan on reading next?

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Book Review | Warcross by Marie Lu

warcross

Title: Warcross (Warcross, #1)
Author: Marie Lu
Publish Date: September 12, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
# of Pages: 366
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Buy it*: Amazon


Description

(From Goodreads) For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.


Rating

Rating (1-5, 5 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing – 4
Pace – 5
Plot Development – 5
Ending – 5
Characters – 4
Enjoyability – 5

Overall Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Review
(spoiler-free)

Warcross by Marie Lu is a science fiction adventure that messes with your mind as you explore the concept of virtual reality with the plucky protagonist, Emika. Barely scraping by and affording rent, Emika goes from rags to riches when Warcross game inventor Hideo Tanaka makes her an offer that she can’t refuse.

Warcross has been on my bookshelf for months, collecting dust and taunting me with it’s beautifully colored cover. I’m so glad I didn’t put off reading this book any longer, because I loved it! The entertainment factor alone made this book an easy 5-stars.

What I liked best about Warcross is that it’s fast-paced. I mean really fast-paced! From the opening chapter, you’re immediately dropped into Emika’s world as a bounty hunter. The beginning of the book swiftly sets the scene for future chapters and Hideo’s introduction. Not once was I bored or had to reign in a wandering mind. In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough. I was so eager to find out what happened next to Emika that time got away from me more than once.

The overall story concept was really neat. The idea of a virtual world overlaying with our real world is slightly creepy, though not unrealistic. I liked how easily imagined the virtual reality setting was–the author provided just enough details to paint a clear picture in my mind. When the book started discussing the security risks the virtual world posed, it got me thinking about the security risks of the internet, risks we see every day. Would those risks be amplified in a virtual reality setting? It’s fun (and a little startling) to think about.

There’s a dash of romance in Warcross, which I enjoyed. The romance was sweet and didn’t feel forced. I liked the gradual build, and cute exchanges.

The ending was awesome and delightfully twisted. I know I didn’t see the ending coming, and now I’m even more eager for the sequel!

The characters in the book were somewhat shallow, though still nicely done. Hideo is probably the most complex character in the book, and I enjoyed learning about his history, his family, and his reasons for doing what he does. It’s fascinating that his history drives his every action in the book. Emika is a feisty protagonist. She, too, is driven by her past and has managed to survive some pretty tough blows.

If you haven’t read this book already, you should! It’s a quick read–easily consumed in a single sitting–and wonderfully entertaining!


Quotes

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Let’s Talk!

What did you think of Warcross? Were you surprised by the ending?

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Ink & Wonder Crate | Rise Up

Unboxing the Wonder Crate
Theme: “Rise Up”

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Woodmarks

Ink & Wonder is home of the woodmark, and this crate included four of them! I love them all.

  1. Girl With a Book – Maple wood with a quote from Malala
  2. Bee Outrageous – Aspen wood with a quote from Roald Dahl’s Matilda 
  3. Nerve – Aspen wood featuring Ginny Weasley’s Patronus and some wisdom she learned from her brothers
  4. Courage RisesCherry wood with a quote from Jane Austin

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Sew-On Patch 

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my sew-on patches, but I just love the ones I’ve received from Ink & Wonder. This one was inspired by the words of Leigh Bardugo.

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Magnet

This Molly Weasley magnet is hilarious and awesome. Since I have littles at home, this won’t grace my fridge, but I love it!

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Enamel Pin

love this Cleopatra enamel pin. Seriously, how cool is this?

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Clutch

This clutch features artwork inspired by Frida Kahlo. While I doubt I’ll use it as a clutch, I can’t get over how beautiful it is. And that kitty zipper pull? Such a fun addition!

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A4 Print

This glossy print is a snippet of a larger quote by Sarah J. Maas. While this isn’t a print I’d display, it’s still gorgeous!

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Keychain

Featuring the words of House Mormont, this Game of Thrones keychain is super neat. The character pictured is Lyanna Mormont.

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Sticker

Look at this amazing sticker of Riverdale’s Veronica Lodge! Simply amazing.

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Info Postcard

Even the info postcard is beautiful! Featuring lyrics from the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day, this postcard is a beauty.

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Verdict

I wish Ink & Wonder offered a subscription–seriously! I would be one of the first subscribers. I absolutely love the artwork, and I can’t get enough of the woodmarks!


Let’s Talk!

Do you own any items from Ink & Wonder? What do you think of their woodmarks?

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My NetGalley Queue | August Update

My netgalley queue 111

Each month I plan on reviewing my NetGalley queue and sharing which NetGalley ARCs I’ll be reading in the next 30 days.

Total Books TBR: 
14
Books TBR in the next 30 days: 3


vox
Title:
 Vox
Author: Christina Dalcher
Archive Date: September 21, 2018
Description:
Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning…

Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.

…not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


the chaos of now
Title:
 The Chaos of Now
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Archive Date: 
September 30, 2018
Description: 
From the author of Butter comes an emotional coming-of-age novel about teen coder who gets roped into a dangerous hack, perfect for fans of John Corey Whaley and Adam Silvera.

Eli is coasting through high school, spending most of his time writing code. Each day is as boring as the next–until he receives a cryptic message in binary code, leading him to Seth and Mouse. They’re seeking a third member for a prestigious hacking competition, after their teammate and friend Jordan committed suicide last year. Intrigued by the challenge, Eli agrees.

But soon it becomes clear that Seth and Mouse are after more than winning a competition–they’re seeking revenge for the abuse that caused Jordan’s suicide. Eli is in way over his head, but he’s also hiding a dangerous secret that could lead to even more trouble if he isn’t careful. In a story about the shift of power from those who rule at school to those who rule online, the difference between bully and victim is blurred and Eli–whose coding skilled have taught him to make order out of chaos–will find the real world is much harder to control.


When the lights go out
Title:
 When the Lights Go Out
Author: Mary Kubica
Archive Date: 
October 4, 2018
Description:
A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

 


Let’s Talk!

How many books are in your NetGalley queue? Have you read any of the books I’ve shown above? Are they on your TBR?

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Top Ten Tuesday | Non-Fiction Books I’ve Loved

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created by The Broke and the Bookish but has since relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Back to School,” so I’m doing “Non-Fiction Books I’ve Loved.” I’ve definitely been slacking off on my non-fiction reads, but I truly enjoy reading non-fiction books. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
2. Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill
3. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
4. Breaking Night by Liz Murray
5. Radium Girls by Kate Moore
6. Wasted by Marya Hornbacher
7. Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin
8. Columbine by Dave Cullen
9. You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney
10. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari


Let’s Talk!

What are your favorite non-fiction books? I’m always looking for recommendations!

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OwlCrate | August 2018 Unboxing

Unboxing
Theme: “Ruthless Royals”

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Featured Book

This month’s book was a signed copy of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart. I was curious about this book, so I was excited to see it in this box. Bonus: this Owlcrate exclusive cover is even better than the original!

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Book Description (from Goodreads): In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.


Magnetic Bookmarks

I don’t own any magnetic bookmarks, so I was so pleased to have received these villain bookmarks, created by Craftedvan. Now that I’ve seen their shop, I know I’ll be back for more! Aren’t these the cutest?

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Agate Ring

This genuine agate gemstone ring was crafted by GeoCentral. I love the blues, though this ring isn’t really my style. I prefer subtle jewelry, which this statement piece is not. Still gorgeous though!

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Pocket Mirror

How awesome is this The Belles inspired pocket mirror? I adore it! It already has a home in my purse. Designed by Catarina Book Designs.

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Book Tin  

This book tin designed by Stella Bookish Art is so neat! Fill it with your goodies and put it on your shelf–it’ll blend right in with the rest of your books. I haven’t decided what I’m going to use it for yet, but I have a few ideas. This one was inspired by The Cruel Prince.

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Tea Towel

This gorgeous Throne of Glass inspired tea towel was designed by Little Inkling Designs. It’s absolutely stunning but isn’t something I’d necessary use, so I’m not sure if I’ll hold onto it or not.

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OwlCrate Pin

Another cute OwlCrate pin to add to my collection!

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Bookish Extras

The OwlCrate box also came with literature explaining the “Ruthless Royals” box, a sneak peak into next month’s “Masters of Disguise” box, an exclusive bookmark, and a print.

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Verdict

Another month, another OwlCrate delivery! There were some items I loved, but I don’t plan to keep everything. It wasn’t my favorite crate, but it was still a good one.


Let’s Talk!

Did you receive this month’s OwlCrate box? What did you think?

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A Week in Reading | August 19-25

Books Read Last Week

This past week I finished three awesome books!

warcross summer bird blue dare you to lie

Warcross (Warcross, #1) by Marie Lu ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dare You to Lie (Hometown Antihero, #1) by Amber Lynn Natusch ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Currently Reading

I’m currently listening to The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. While I’m enjoying it well enough, it is such a strange and quirky book! I’m also reading Vox by Christina Dalcher. This one has received mixed reviews so far, but I’m really enjoying it! The concept is creepy, and it hooked me in the first chapter.

the lonely hearts hotel vox


Next Book

I plan to read When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica next. I’ve read a handful of books by Mary Kubica now, so I’m looking forward to this one.

When the lights go out


Let’s Talk!

What books did you finish reading this past week? What do you plan on reading next?

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