OwlCrate August 2022 Unboxing: Steeped in Folklore

Box: Steeped in Folklore
Company: OwlCrate
Book: The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Exclusive Edition details: Signed, author letter, special cover, art on back of dust jacket, 2 hidden hardback designs, end pages
Collectible: Enamel Pin, bowl
Value for loot: Great

Hearing the theme “Steeped in Folklore” inspires thoughts of good tea, fantastical worlds, intriguing histories, Taylor Swift and hopes of magic. This box did not disappoint and features some stories I’ve really enjoyed!

What’s in the box?!

  • Rivendell Ceramic bowl – collectible, inspired by the Lord of The Rings, designed by JanineLecour
  • Steeped in Folklore tea blend – exclusive, created by Riddles Tea Shoppe
  • Origami kit – inspired by Six Crimson Cranes, designed by Kim Ekdahl
  • Tapestry – inspired by Uprooted, designed by Eden Cooke
  • Enamel Zipper Pull – inspired by the Wolf and the Woodsman, designed by The Pickety Witch and Joan of Art
  • Literary Luggage Enamel pin – collectible, inspired by Fable, created by Hey Atlas Creative
  • The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones – OwlCrate signed edition comes with an author letter and features all exclusive cover (which matches the OwlCrate edition of the Bone Houses), reversible dust jacket art by Gabriella Bujdoso, two foil designs on the hardcover by Tes Medovich, and end pages by niru.sky.

Favorite Item(s)?
My favorite item is the bowl! Tea and pin being second favorites.

LOTR has and always will have a big part in my heart (and my husband’s) as we met because of the series. It’s hard to compete with a useful and beautifully designed LOTR item. This is the third bowl (out of four) in the collection and it will be awesome to see them all together end of this year. My close up on the bowl got a little bit interrupted by a certain kitten, but surely she was trying to be helpful.

Tea is also an instant favorite for me. I have yet to be disappointed by a Riddle Tea Shoppe blend and really enjoy the varieties they have made!

The zipper pull is very cute and even though I didn’t love that story as much as I thought I would, I like the art and quote they chose for the pull.

My least favorite item is definitely the tapestry. It’s very pretty but I am not quite sure where/how I will use it. I will figure something out! Maybe it will become the front of a pillow one day.

About the book:
The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones is a stand alone story set in the same world as the Bone Houses. I am very excited for this one! I think the author best pitches it herself:

I really love this story, friends. It contains some of my favorite characters: the last living water diviner, a fae-cursed young man, the chaotic-good heir to a thieves guild, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy. It’s one part dark fairytale and one part heist.

Emily Lloyd-Jones – Goodreads review

I haven’t read the Bone Houses yet, but it is sitting on my shelf judging me for my choices. I’ve ready one other book by the author before, Unseen Magic, which was simply delightful. Unseen Magic is her middle grade debut which released earlier this year.

Final Thoughts?
Overall another great and beautifully themed box by OwlCrate! I really love the collection with the bowls and hope they do a similar useful item next year!

OwlCrate is an awesome Canadian company that offers a monthly bookish box featuring an exclusive signed hardback edition of a recently released Young Adult book and several bookish goodies. I have gotten every monthly box from them since November 2016 and often order their special edition books & boxes. They ship from within the US and have amazing customer service and splendid taste in books. Primarily they include fantasy stories, ranging from urban to epic fantasy and everything in between.

The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: The Blood Trials
Author: N.E. Davenport
Genre: Fantasy, Science-Fiction,
Audience: Adult
Series/Stand Alone: The Blood Gift Duology
Next in Series: The Blood Gift, expected publication April 18, 2023
Format read: Audiobook
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date read: 9 May 2022
First published: 5 April 2022
Content Warning: Blood, racism, misogyny, graphic violence, loss of members, fire, death of family members, murder, blood (there’s a lot of blood), cannibalism and grief.

And I want this fight way more than he does.

The Blood Trials, 8%

Mini Review:

This adult fantasy is the first in a brutal and fast paced duology. Ikenna is grief-stricken, angry and looking for a fight. She’s good at fighting so that’s what she does until she’s given some new information and an ultimatum. She finds herself entering the trials as a last resort and this bloody story is what follows. There’s a lot of blood, a little sex, and of course death.

The people I love, the few people I have who I can call my kin, keep dying.

The Blood Trials, 64%

Full thoughts:

I remember being a little caught off guard at the velocity with which this story started, but it was quite the adventure from the beginning to the end.

This is very much an adult fantasy/Scif-Fi story, both in terms of language, content blood/violence. If the title wasn’t a big hint, blood is plays a HUGE role in this story, in all interpretations of the word. This world is full of racism and ignorance. It’s full of death and brutality. It’s full of arrogance and elitism. Ikenna has had to fight for everything due to her half-Khanaian heritage and skin color. This story is a bit fantasy and a bit scifi all at once. Interwoven in a nice way, I especially enjoy how they blend magic and techology.

Ikenna, our main character, is raw and grief-stricken when the story starts. She’s lost so much and is in danger of being lost herself. She’s an exceptional fighter and one day a bar fight goes perhaps a little too far. Soon after, Ikenna finds herself participating in the Praetorian Trials ready to prove herself one of the most elite fighters. The story is on the longer side, but there is a lot of action, intrigue and drama which kept me entertained. The audiobook is over 18 hours long and the book listed at 448 pages.

I really enjoyed this story except for one aspect, the romance. Something to keep in mind is that this is an adult story. The main characters are around college age, but the story is classified as adult and the content matches that classification. In the beginning of the story it did read a little bit younger to me, but that was likely setting the scene for the rest of the series. When we start out the characters are finishing up their standard warrior training and deciding to move onto the elite warrior training or not. Perhaps this is then more comparable to college/graduate school age.

There was one especially steamy/descriptive romantic scene that I really don’t feel added to the story, but that is my own personal taste and it didn’t really take away from the story for me, but just not my thing.

Overall this is a intriguing story of a brutal world and I am curious how everything will be resolved.

Notes on edition:

I listened to the audio narrated by Jeanette Illidge which was really well done. She also narrated A Blade So Black and A Dream so Dark by L.L. McKinney which are favorites of mine!

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Author: Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction, Science-Fiction
Audience: Adult
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Format read: Audio & eBook
Publisher: Scribner
Date read: 29 April 2022
First published: 28 September 2021
Content Warning: Ableism, Animal death, Confinement, Death, Homophobia, PTSD, Violence, War.

“Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you.”

Cloud Cuckoo Land, page 6

Mini Review:

Once upon a historical time a Greek writer may have told an epic tale of whimsy and adventure for a temporary escape from every day life. This is the story, about that potential story, and how stories transcend centuries. This is a book for book people and a book for wandering people. This is a story that takes 5 seemingly separate characters and weaves paths between them and their different times. I can’t recommend it enough.

“But books, like people, die. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.”

Cloud Cuckoo Land, Page 50

Full thoughts:

This is a new favorite story of mine which I am already eager to reread. This is my second book by the author, the first being All the Light We Cannot See, another great historical fiction work, set during World War II.

Each morning comes along and you assume it will be similar enough to the previous one—that you will be safe, that your family will be alive, that you will be together, that life will remain mostly as it was. Then a moment arrives and everything changes.

Page 66

Somewhere between historical fiction, literary fiction and science fiction, this non-linear story follows 5 main characters over the span of almost 6 centuries. The story is split in three time frames: the distant past (1453), the present (2020) and the distant(?) future (Mission Year 65). It’s filled with beautiful prose and thought provoking statements.

Sometimes the things we think are lost are only hidden, waiting to be rediscovered.

Page 444

As someone who loves multiple points of view, interwoven narratives and non-linear story telling, this book has a lot of components to really capture my attention. There is a whimsical story, Cloud Cuckoo Land, woven into the narrative, connecting the different narratives. There’s the love of books and stories. The love and safety of the library. Characters who lived forever ago and forever in the future. It’s a lot packed into one book, but really well done.

Why is it so hard to transcend the identities assigned to us when we were young?

Page 447

The author’s note tells a little bit about the truth behind some of the historical fiction and I strongly recommend reading that as well.

I can also happily recommend the audiobook which has two narrators who did a splendid job.

Sound like your cup of <insert hot beverage of your choice here>?
If so, I also recommend the Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern!