Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Riot's Surprise Beach Reads 2015

So before I received my quarterly box, I was listening to my book riot podcast and they were talking up the new Surprise Beach Reads Box for $100.  It was advertised as "Variety is the spice of our reading life! Start your summer with four secret Riot-approved books and a selection of items from the Book Riot Store. (Does not contain any repeats from Book Riot's Quarterly or YA Quarterly subscriptions. Total retail value of contents exceeds $100.)  Purchase of this box sends one book to a community in need."
It sounded like a good deal, 4 books and swag for $100 bucks, plus a little spice of charity thrown in.  I went for it.  It arrived the day after my Quarterly box and I think some of my disappointment from the quarterly tampered my excitement for the summer box.  I wasn't as excited about this box as I could have been, I will admit I am happier with this box.  So enough of the blah blah's what was in it right?

The letter included described the 4 books and a small paragraph calling the four books "not so conventional choices for summer reading."  Two novels, a graphic novel and a memoir.  Not sure why they are considered unconventional, maybe once I read them that description will make more sense.

The first book was Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell ($14.95) .  This is a story about family reunion set during a terrible heatwave in London in 1976.  Gretta, whose husband has just abandoned her, calls her three children home.  Of course none of the children's lives are perfect, and may not be having the best of luck themselves.  But this is the story of "a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life changing truths about who they really are."  It sounds like an interesting and heartfelt read.  It may not have been one I would have picked up myself, but I'm interested in reading it.  Sounds like it could be a bit twisty and dramatic, just my style.  When I read the back, I immediately thought this sounds like a book NNCC book club would pick.  And who knows if I like it, I may recommend it to the group.

Next we have The Fishermen by Chigozi Obioma ($26).  This one was a hard back which was a surprise.  I had expected all paperbacks, and didn't expect such a newly published book to be included.  Original copyright was February 2015.  The cover says this is a "Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990's Akure, Nigeria."  The father is apparently away often and the four brothers skip a lot of school to go fishing.  During one of the hooky days a man tells the oldest brother he is destined to be killed by one of his brothers, and the story follows them to see what happens.  Supposedly it is mythical thing, and is supposed to be life changing, or at least make you think about life and the world and teach you something.  Hmmm...I'm a little leery that it is all that and the bag of chips, but I could be wrong, it could change my life, make me do some major reflecting.  That would be a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Next we have Lumberjanes, Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, and Shannon Waters ($14.95).  This is a graphic novel that they have been talking a lot about on my book riot pod casts, I guess it is just amazing and funny as all get out.  The book takes place at a summer camp and all the shenanigans the girls at the camp get into.  It looks fun.  The chapters are split up by badges, and there is a blurb at the front about what a lumberjane must do to earn her badge, then I assume the graphic novel part depicts some of the girls earning said badge.  I have never been much of a graphic novel person, so I'm not sure that this is my cup of tea,   But I have heard a ton of good things about it so I'm really glad it was included in the box, because I can guarantee I wouldn't have purchased it myself, but I want to see if it lives up to all the great recommendations.

The last book A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip by Kevin Brockmeier ($15).  This is the memoir, Brockmeier writes about his seventh grade experience.  I guess this is the year the author finds himself and survives one of the worst years in a childhood I can think of.  Oh the tween years, it is not something I would want to relive, my middle school memories are pretty ugly, I think we all go into middle school one person and come out another, and that transformation sounds like what this book is about.  Ehh.. this will probably be the last one of this group of books that I tackle.


So what about the swag you ask?  Well I received a Book Riot Water Bottle ($15), a Jane Austin Tote ($15), and banned book socks ($10).  I am much happier with this swag than the Quarterly box's swag, it fell more in line of what I was expecting.  The water bottle is huge, 32 oz, and I wish I had known I was going to receive it before I purchased a 64 oz jug, but I guess you can never have too many water bottles.  I love the tote, it is very roomy and will hold lots and lots of books, perfect for library visits with the kids, and actually something I have been looking to buy.  The socks are cute and fun, but it feels like the wrong season for them.   Oh and there was another coupon for $20 off Book Riot Live event in New York in November of 2015.  Again I will not be attending this event so this coupon was useless to me, but I guess it does add value to the box.

The overall box value was $113.90 when you include the coupon, without it it is $93.90.  So I feel a little cheated that they included the coupon, but for the most part I am happy with the box.  I feel that I got my money's worth, not a super fantastic deal, but at least I don't feel cheated.  I'm happy with my swag and only one of the books really makes me go bleh.  Not bad for a box picked by someone else.

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