& Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Publisher: Crown July 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Publisher: Crown July 2016

The Book Itself: It’s decent, for being just text. The color and bold type make it striking on the shelf, but I can’t help but wish it had something more.

My Review: “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

My goodness, no one can review this book because to review it is to spoil it! So what can I tell you that dozens of other vague-on-purpose reviews have not?

Here’s the gist of it again: Jason Dessen has a nice, if safe life. He loves his wife and son very much, he is a respected teacher at a university, and he only sometimes pines after the life of scientific breakthrough and fame he almost had. Cue to the first night that our story begins: after having a drink with an old colleague, Jason gets kidnapped and drugged into oblivion. When he wakes up, he is the winner of the science award. He stuck with science instead of stopping his research and becoming a family man. He is placed in the life he thought he would once have, and in the true spirit of you-don’t-know-what-you-have-until-it’s-gone, all he then wants to do is get back to his wife and son.

And events unfold from there. From the description alone, I had an idea of why he woke up where he woke up. Why he was what he was. Hint/spoiler (?): it has to do with what he accomplishes in science if he had continued his research. But maybe that’s because I read a bunch of sci-fi (even though this is classified as fiction) and I’m a nerd like that.

This book is a fast read. I zoomed through it only partly because it was intriguing and the mystery kept me going as I rooted for Jason to get back to his family. But I gobbled it up in a day or two mostly because it’s written in such a snappy, short-sentence matter. It felt like I was reading a screenplay, or the summary of a long movie at some points. There are no long, descriptive paragraphs. No contemplative, interior moments for Jason. It’s not the writing style that I am used to, and sometimes I struggled with it. I wanted there to be more. The ending is so dang good that I wanted the rest of the book and the story to linger a while, to give me a little more than stage directions.

But I think that quick, no-nonsense style will appeal to some readers. It’s definitely a thriller, one that tries to turn you one way but really goes another. There are chase scenes, shoot-outs, layered mysteries, and a staggering amount of “bad guys.”

And the ending. Holy guacamole. The clipped writing style really lent itself to the twisting turns that was this novel’s ending. So many things happen in quick succession. Just when one plan is set in place, someone or something comes along to de-rail it. I would say if you can handle a book more focused on action and don’t mind your sentences short and to-the-point, this ending makes it all worth it. And it you’re already a fan of fast thrillers, you’ll like this one too.

My Grade: B

& Review: Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke by Dan Vyleta. Publisher: Doubleday May 2016

Smoke by Dan Vyleta. Publisher: Doubleday May 2016

The Book Itself: The colors are more saturated, but the rich watercolor image here is Claude Monet’s “Houses of Parliament,” or more closely resembles one in that series of paintings he did, of the Palace of Westminster at different times of day and in different weather. It is moody and ominous as well as rich and beautiful. I’m not sure if Vyleta or his team in charge of the cover wanted to make a political statement with the use of this painting, or just include it because it had to do with the European setting at the time of the story. Either way, it’s striking.

My Review: England. A century ago, give or take a few years.”
An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.
An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government. Three young people who learn everything they ve been taught is a lie knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter, and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn t clear.

This book took me quite a long time to get through. Partly because I got addicted to a video game for the better part of the month when I started reading it, and partly because I found the pacing to be rather uneven…

We start at a Victorian-era boarding school for rich boys. A bully golden-child and some probably-corrupt clergy rule the roost, and Charlie and Thomas – our protagonists and perfect foils of one another – barely eke by. The intro chapters are intriguing and set up the world very well. All of the students travel to London and see what real Smoke is like when everyone around you is doing bad things. Charlie and Thomas, now with a taste of the real world, become restless…

Then come some interminable chapters at a country estate with a stiff, mysterious woman and her even stiffer daughter. Vyleta attempts some mystery here, as the lady of the house has some secrets of her own, but for the most part these chapters are a slog to get through. They almost lose all of the momentum the opening chapters built up…

And then they leave the estate. With a bang. No spoilers, but the tension and action ratchets up again, and I started flipping the pages faster. Finally, I thought I was worried there for a second.

And then things slowed down again. I guess you could say the book was consistent in that regard: I felt it rose and fell rather evenly with action and tension and interest, only to falter with some middling actions that didn’t make me want to pick up the book again at night.

The writing and atmosphere I will say, are beautiful. Descriptions are smooth and inviting, there aren’t any clumsy metaphors or drawn out sections of infodumping. The plot just kind of…slows at points and at other times, soars. And I wish it had soared the entire time, because I liked delving into how each character developed. Thomas, Charlie, and then Livia grow tremendously as people. By the story’s close, they don’t even resemble the same naïve teenagers the story started off with.

At times I felt confused at Smoke’s nature: does it display differently for different people? Sometimes actions or words characters would say baffled me: why isn’t the room filling with Smoke? Or why is the Smoke coming out more, or trickling out less than I think it should? As a metaphysical devise, and as a plot devise, I think it was rather…hazy (pardon the pun) on purpose.

The ending does end on a satisfying note, and possibly opens up things for a sequel, although I’m not sure the book needs one. The last 50 pages or so are gripping and raw, and gritty in their description of pain and conflict.

If you have a soft spot for Victorian history or long, beautifully written but meandering tales, this one is for you. It’s a solid middle-ground book for me. I would only recommend it to specific readers.

My Grade: C+

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Update

New socks courtesy of the party favors at the party I helped put together tonight - Slytherin AND Ravenclaw, for the two houses I am most often sorted into!

New socks courtesy of the party favors at the party I helped put together tonight – Slytherin AND Ravenclaw, for the two houses I am most often sorted into!

I’m BAAAAAAAACK!

Whew. Stroke of midnight tonight (Oregon time) had me finally back in my reading chair and ready to delve back into this readathon. I had a lovely morning polishing off Gemina and then a short story collection by David Eagleman called Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives.

And then I was gone the rest of the day…

The Harry Potter party was a great success, as was my friend’s birthday. But I am super bummed that I missed out on the bulk of this readathon! Looking around at all of the social media happening around it, all of the mini challenges I didn’t get to participate in only makes me more excited for readathons to come, though!

So for now I will hole up in my reading chair, with my new Hogwarts-house-socks, and see if I can’t just polish off another book before the event ends.

Happy reading!!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Mini Challenge: Literary World Tour

—EDIT: This Mini Challenge is CLOSED – winner will be announced soon!—

Reading a book is undoubtedly one of my favorite methods of travel. One page, one sentence, and I am in the world of a story. No matter my mood, a book transports me. I have encountered mythical creatures, unbelievable worlds, and characters that I never want to say goodbye to.

Unsurprisingly, next to reading, another of my passions is travel. As a travel agent, I plan trips to Italy, Hawaii, Australia, even Iceland. But the places I’d most like to travel to don’t exactly exist…

This challenge seems simple: if money and time were no object (you’ve won the biggest lottery jackpot ever, and your boss is totally fine with you taking all of the time off work you need), where would you go to experience your favorite book(s) or series? Fictional places count too, of course.

But now you have to choose: do you explore Narnia before taking in a couple classes at Hogwarts? Do you travel to New Zealand, where they filmed parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Do you trace the route the pilgrims took in The Canterbury Tales, or visit London and the Charles Dickens Museum? Tell me where you’d like to go, why you’d like to go there, and how long you’d like to stay (even though sometimes the answer is “forever!”)

I would spend at least two months at Hogwarts alone, taking detours from learning magic to the enchanting towns of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. I would spend a few weeks learning from the helldivers of Lykos on Mars in the world of Red Rising. Finally I would return to the “real” world, making a world tour of literary cafés and bookstore restaurants everywhere.

A $10.00 Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com gift card (winner’s choice) awaits you…if you can decide on where you’re going! Leave a link to your response to this mini challenge, and/or and email I can reach you to coordinate your prize. Where do books take you?

 

24 Hour Readathon: Intro Survey

Good morning (or afternoon, or evening, depending on where in the world you’re reading from) Readathon-ers and blog followers!

I have not starters at exactly hour 1, as that was 5:00 AM Oregon time, and my poor little body couldn’t take it. So here we are in hour three, reading a lot to catch up! Here is my intro survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Portland, Oregon!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Besides Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which I have been excited for for a while, probably Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein. It’s a collection of science fiction short stories, and it looks really good!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
While I have candy coming out my ears for the Harry Potter party I am setting up later today, there’s only so much sugar a girl can eat! I have Harvest Cheddar Sunchips and bagel pizzas calling my name later 😉
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Well I read, obviously. A lot (again: obviously). I have been blogging for over a year (ALREADY?!), am reading mostly sci-fi/fantasy these days, and I have a big soft spot for Harry Potter anything!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my first readathon! I am quite bummed that I will not get to participate as much as I’d like, but I am looking forward to just relaxing and reading most of the day and night. My to-read pile is quite crazy, and hopefully this readathon will help trim it back!

& Fridays: Ready for the Readathon?!

WHEW. I don’t know about all of you, but I have been BUSY lately. Normally work slows down this time of year. Not a whole lot of people are planning travel in the winter: they’re travelling, or spending time with family and friends for the rapid-fire holiday schedule that is Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Chrismahanukwanzakah (that’s Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, for those of you who never caught that episode of The O.C.). But for some reason people are still coming in full tilt, wanting to see if there are still places in Hawaii available for Christmas, or booking early for that river cruise or tour to Italy next year. Add to that the fact that I’ve moved to a new apartment recently, and you get a whole lot of STUFF.

I was very much looking forward to spending an entire weekend reading and snacking and curling up in my reading chair at my new place for the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon tomorrow. And I still am. But sometimes life schedules things in your way…

Snitch party favors!

Snitch party favors!

First a birthday popped up. A good friend of mine is having a dinner party. This will actually work out great, I thought. It will give me a nice break from reading all day long and I can get out and socialize! So that went on the calendar. THEN a coworker, having seen the pictures of the Harry Potter-themed Christmas party I threw last year (my post about it here), asked to hire me to do a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for his wife….the same Saturday.

And of course I’m not going to turn down a chance to express my nerdy love for Harry Potter! Plus, it justifies me keeping all of the decorations from my Christmas party!

So I’ve been running around like crazy this week, getting together things for the party and going to two different work events this week alone. I will still be participating in the Readathon, but I will not be reading as constantly as I would like L

I will be participating in as many mini challenges that I can, so keep your eyes on this space, because I will be posting more than usual! I am even hosting a mini challenge in Hour 8 (12:00 PM PST), so stay tuned for that as well!!

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Here are some books I have set aside for the readathon (and aren’t my bookends awesome?!):

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis
Children of the New World: Stories by Alexander Weinstein
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

I tried to get a good mix of shorter novels and short story collections. I Wrote This For You is actually photography and short poetry. Hopefully it’s a good enough mix that if I get tired of reading a novel, I can switch to a short story collection (Children of the New World) or poetry to liven things up. I highly doubt that I will get to all of these by the readathon’s end (especially because I’ll actually be around to read for only about 12 hours of the 24 hour event). But I’m excited to get started!

First up will probably be Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the super-highly-anticipated (at least by me) sequel to Illuminae (my review here). I have been gobbling up pages every chance I get, but I don’t see myself finishing the 620+ pages by tomorrow! I think it’s a great series for the readathon too, because despite each installment’s length, the pages go by quickly due its epistolary form and the non-stop action.

Now excuse me while I continue baking Mandrake cupcakes and hanging up floating candles for this weekend…

August Uppercase Box

august2I love coming home to a brand new Uppercase Box! This month’s book selection is P.S. I Like You by Kasie West:

Signed, sealed, delivered… While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue! Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

My first reaction is that I tend to not like books featuring high school students. I used to LOVE them. When I was in middle school and high school, I ate stuff like this up with a spoon – couldn’t get enough of it. But these days, when I try to read fiction set in modern day high school, I bristle. Why are these characters so immature? I think. I can’t identify with them anymore (You know, because I’m SOOOO mature and worldly now *scoffs*). But I think I’ve been spoiled with YA sci-fi/fantasy, because I’ve had pretty good luck with the quality of writing and story. Sci-fi/fantasy has higher stakes, and is often more exciting to me. But I’ll definitely put this book on the to-read shelf for a day when I’m looking for a light, fun read.

augustAgain, the book-themed extras are excellent in this box. We have a poster with a quote from P.S. I Like You, a realllyyyyy cute notepad that is book-themed, with illustrations of cups of tea and book pages all over it, and an amazing necklace, a banner with the phrase “Once Upon a Time” across it. The necklace claims to be an Uppercase Box exclusive, although I swear it’s currently sitting in my www.modcloth.com/ wishlist…

I’ve already worn the necklace twice (I had to take it off in order to take pictures of it!), and the notepad now graces my desk along with the pencils and sticky notes from last month’s Uppercase Box. Keep up the good work, Uppercase Box gurus!

& Review: We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley. Publisher: Doubleday, June 2016

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley. Publisher: Doubleday, June 2016

The Book Itself: The shiniest cover I’ve ever seen, I could have probably blinded people had I read this in a sunny area somewhere. I like the woman blurred to the point that we can’t recognize her, the title and intricate scrollwork obscuring her face. I think it’s saying something about superficiality, and not wanting to see what’s right in front of you, but that could just be the English major in me, looking for meaning where there isn’t necessarily any.

My Review: Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone…” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.

I either like books about privileged, upper class people, or I hate them. I don’t love the woe is me I’m so rich but so unhappy message that so many stories seem to bring to light. I do like when the privileged protagonist (say that ten times fast!) learns something from his/her actions, or changes the game somehow. It can be a kind of escapist fantasy, reading about a character who can go out and buy $600 handbags and thousands of dollars of furniture without batting an eye. For a moment, you can imagine doing that too…and then the crippling reality sets in, about the mortgage/rent, your car payment, that credit card payment you’ve been putting off, etc. etc. etc.

ANYWAY. We Could Be Beautiful is a story about a rich woman. Of the trust fund variety. Catherine West (even her name sounds rich) doesn’t worry that her bespoke stationary boutique never turns a profit. She never frets about rent, clothing herself, or pursuing her hobbies. Every month she gets a hundred thousand dollars or so, and that is that.

Enter William Stockton (again: rich-person name). Because Catherine is just not as happy as she feels she should be, and she’s had troubled relationships in the past and here comes this guy who seems just too good to be true. And surprise, surprise: he is. And we spend the rest of the story puzzling out just why he is.

William as a character comes across as very stilted. In a way, this makes sense: Catherine is so blinded by the fact that she is desperate for someone to love her that she can’t see just how hypocritical and downright rude her partner is being. But William is kind of an ass. The whole time. It is hard to see what is appealing about him, what truly draws Catherine to him. He belittles her when she uses foul language, her best friend immediately dislikes him, they have consistently disappointing sex, and he never speaks a word of his past. On their own, these little things are just character quirks. Aspects of a personality that would make a well-rounded character more interesting. But piled up like this, it feels like the author is just trying to bang us over the head with how bad William is. It would have been far more compelling for me if William were more appealing, and this his secrets were slowly and viciously revealed. As it sits, you just see it coming from a mile away.

Overall, the story and character development felt like they were plodding along to me. I’m not sure if it’s the writing style, or the story’s actual events, but although finding out William’s secret is the main hinge of events, I did not feel overwhelmingly compelled to find out what it was. This was partly because I could already see he was Bad News and that this book would come to that conclusion eventually, and Catherine would move on. But it was also because there seemed to be a lack of urgency. Catherine was in no hurry to confront several facts about her life: that there is something wrong with her boyfriend, that there is something wrong with her family, and that money cannot buy everything (especially when that money starts to run out…)

It’s an escapist read, but Catherine doesn’t really learn anything from the story’s events. I don’t feel like she has grown emotionally at the story’s close, and that leaves a lackluster taste in my mouth. It’s a light read, with an intriguing central mystery, but it’s not my favorite beach or summer read.

My Grade: C-

& Fridays: Read and Write Together

Sometimes it isn’t enough to curl up with a good book at home every night, or write the occasional short story that you never show anyone else, ever (guilty). Sometimes you want to find other people who like the same books you do, who are also fiction or fantasy writers and geek out over character name generators like you do.

Enter events. Book clubs. Gatherings of like-minded nerdy/geeky people who like what you like, and/or can introduce you to new authors or tools you had never heard of before. I’ve always been a bit on the fence about book clubs. If a book is not to my taste, I have a really hard time continuing it. It feels a bit like assigned reading for a class – read this within this time frame and have something to say about it the next time we meet. Perhaps if I had total control over the book club and got to dictate what everyone else read…

But I’d be willing to give it a try. My local independent bookstore hosts a fiction book group as well as a sci-fi/fantasy book group that I have considered joining. Social media apps and websites like Meetup are great as well. And hey, maybe someone out there reading this has a great book club in the Portland, Oregon area. Let me know 🙂

And if you’ve ever been around my blog near November, you know that I participate in this crazy thing called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. You write 50,000 words, the equivalent of a short novel, in 30 days for the month of November. It doesn’t matter if you are behind the entire month (been there!), or if you write twice as much every single day – you win NaNoWriMo if you submit a document of 50,000 words on November 30th. The writing community is very cool on the NaNo website. There are forums for finding the perfect character name, for titling your novel, even for submitting cover art for your finished product. You can be noveling friends with someone, motivate each other as you submit word counts each day, and more. If you’ve ever remotely been interested in writing in a longer form, or if you just have this idea that you can’t shake that you think would be great as a book, I encourage you to join this year (and be my noveling friend!)

I participated in a cool writing contest a couple years ago in Portland called the Sledgehammer Writing Contest. It started with a real scavenger hunt through the city, with clues leading to various restaurants and businesses. At each stop, you received a writing prompt that you were required to include in your final piece, which you had 24 hours to write and edit before submitting. The best piece (voted by readers of the website) received cash prizes and incentives. I didn’t win that year, but it was a ton of fun doing a scavenger hunt in Portland and then writing feverishly into the night. I remember one of the prompts was “doughnuts”…

And finally, my newest discovery…every year in the months of April and October, some marvelous people throw a 24-hour Readathon. Yup. Dewey’s 24 Hour Readation (http://www.24hourreadathon.com/) starts at the same time for everyone, and goes for a full 24 hours. The goal is to read the entire time, whether that’s listening to audiobooks while you cook or shower, curling up in your favorite reading chair all day long, or re-reading your favorite series of graphic novels. Along the way, people who signed up as cheerleaders cheer you on via social media, and Mini-Challenges get posted on the main website, with fun activities to do and blog post ideas for those with blogs. I am ALL ABOUT THIS, so get ready, because the 24-hour Readathon is NEXT WEEKEND, October 22nd! Keep a lookout for some posts on my reading list for the day, and all day posts about how its going (and the mini challenges bloggers post to keep things interesting) I already have some ideas on which books will be in the roster…

What about you? Have you come across a book club/writing competition/generally awesome book thing that you want people to know about? Let me know!

July Uppercase Box

(Sorry for the delayed posts – I’ll keep up in the future!)

Another month, another delightful box of bookish goodies! Here is the July Uppercase Box!

july2
This month’s book is This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I am excited because 1.) I quite liked Schwab’s adult sci-fi/fantasy books, Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic, and 2.) the book just sounds pretty cool:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Oooh, tension, intrigue, romance, and monsters. Count me in.

july

Along with This Savage Song, we have a button asking “Human or Monster?” as well as two delightful desk items: a package of Vintage “Stickies” – sticky notes, page markers, etc. – and bookworm-themed pencils. I am particularly fond of the page markers that look like book spines, and the pencils are great too, with phrases like “Read More, Sleep Less,” “Professional Bookworm,” and “#Booknerd.” Both of them will have a place of pride on my desk, next to my vintage typewriter 🙂

My Owl Crate gift subscription is up as of last month, but that’s probably a good thing, as both subscription boxes sent the same book again! So if you’re in the market for a fun monthly book subscription, I’d recommend going with either Uppercase Box OR Owl Crate, and not both. The probability that both companies send you the same book is just getting too high. Both are excellent, and I have greatly enjoyed both of them. I will say that while Uppercase Box seems to send fewer book-themed goodies in every box, they seem to be of higher quality and functionality, at least to me. I know I’ll keep these fun sticky notes and pencils on my desk, and that I’ll use them. But I will also put a note in Owl Crate’s favor: they introduced me to a lot of cool Etsy artists and small businesses that deal with fun, nerdy accessories and gift ideas that I otherwise would not have found.