The Big Book Box: The February Subscription Box (Anniversary Edition 2018) Review (Espresso Box)

*Disclaimer- All the pictures used belong to me. This post is not sponsored. Everything written over here is just my opinion.

Hey, Everyone!

Things have been pretty lackadaisical on my part and I apologize for that. I had my exams coming up, and hence, I had to keep blogging aside and that led to a pile-up of delayed posts, etc. After my exams ended, I made sure that my come back is not a disappointment and to ensure that, I have brand new content coming up as well as a whole new set up to go along with it. I have been hitting the stores to find more props and just things that would improve the way my set up is. It’s not the best yet but it’s a work in progress. I will probably be moving soon to a different apartment, which means that everything right now is more or less a temporary set up, which gives me more time to gather some more items to make the final set. I have a bunch of boxes to review and some products that I will be reviewing soon as well as a surprise custom made product that I have to wait for a while to review. All that considered, I can assure you that things will be better in the upcoming future of this blog!

What is a Subscription Box?

A Subscription Box is a monthly, bimonthly, trimonthly or quarterly planned and distributed box that usually holds a theme based on the genre or category it is from. You can receive Subscription Boxes from different countries depending on the list of countries they ship to. Some of the more common Subscription Boxes you will see on this blog will range from genres like Beauty, Books, Skincare, Kawaii(Cute/Japanese themes), Food, etc.

Today, we’re back with a Book Subscription Box and this is the second Book Subscription Box that I have reviewed. It was quite different from my previous experience with book boxes, the last book box I reviewed was by The Booklings Crate, click here to read it.

What is it? Where is it from?

The Big Book Box is an Indian Subscription Box and it was made with the idea to provide readers with a variety of choices of books to choose from while giving each box a coffee name along with different merchandises that you can expect in each of the varying boxes. The merchandises provided in their boxes can range from Stationery items to Funko Pop Figures as well as Art Prints as well. They have only two Subscription Plans- Monthly and Trimonthly. There are four different Subscription Boxes available-

  1. The Frappe Box– which is a basic plan which includes one newly released book and a few bookish goods. This is sold for Rs 999.
  2. The Espresso Box– is one of their most popular plans and it contains two books, usually one hardback and one paperback book. It also contains bookish goodies along with some exclusive items as well. This is sold for Rs 1.6K.
  3. The Cappuccino Box– for those who can handle reading more than two books, receive three books in this box along with twice as many goodies with exclusive items as well. This is sold for Rs 2.2K.
  4. The Cafe Mocha Box– allegedly it is known as the best premium book box in India. This box contains three hardback books and one paperback book along with many bookish items as well some edible goodies to munch on while you read. This is sold for Rs 3k.

To visit their site, click here.

Word on the street?

I have heard many wonderful things about this Subscription Services and I have also read some discerning reviews of customers who had a delay with delivery for their boxes or were generally not quite as satisfied with their box. A lot of the Indian YouTuber’s who review book boxes have highly recommended this service along with various Bookstagramers as well.

Personally?

I don’t necessarily have any complaints with The Big Book Box. One of the reasons why I had to delay the review for this book was because I didn’t receive the Funko Pop I had been promised to receive along with this box and at first I was told to wait for about 2 weeks and after that another person told me to wait for another 2-3 weeks to reach me. It was a bit annoying since I wanted to review everything together but I guess, I will just have to make an update or do another post for the Funko Pop when it arrives. That’s pretty much the only concern and complaint I have regarding the box because I feel like, the customers should at least be informed about things like these and not just be left waiting for items endlessly. Also, I didn’t like the fact that they don’t provide an inventory card or item list in the box. I don’t know if the bookmarks and some of the other things belong to a certain fandom or not and all this guessing work is quite taxing. Another thing I forgot to include in the beginning is, I did not receive the box on time and it was well over the promised deadline.

So far, here are my scores-

Arrival: 6/10

Social Media Activity: 9/10

Customer Service: 7/10

Authenticity: 8/10

With this finally done, let’s get into the product review!

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Hardback)

Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology, and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artifacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock was a finalist in the Ms. Lexia First Novel Competition and shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Award. This is a very well illustrated hardback cover. The jacket is designed well with clam-like shells on the jacket and underneath it as well. 

Here is a little something about the book from GoodReads.com

This voyage is special. It will change everything…

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors, and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.

Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart, and wit.

I haven’t had the time to read this book yet but it looks quite promising. This is a debut novel and a lot of readers know that debut novels can receive mixed reviews due to the tad rookie touch the author may or may not have. From whatever I had read about this novel, it is no stranger to mixed reviews. The one thing I really liked about this novel is, is how immersive is has been deemed as. This book is fictional and with fantasy as a theme, and with the combined power of rich vocabulary and immersive details, I think that itself makes up for some of the rookie mistakes that the author has made. While there is a big pro in that, there is, of course, the noted con of a meandering plot. Now, personally, I don’t like a plot that beats around the bush or simply, drags on but this novel has also been noted for being unpredictable and hence, it might cushion the boring moments. I think this novel will more or less, be worth a read, at least for a one time read. Also, the theme of Finder’s Keepers for this box does go along well with the plot of the story. Don’t worry, that’s not as much of a spoiler as it is a pun. It retails for Rs 600.

Product Ratings

Quality: 9/10

Defects: None

Value(To Cost): 8/10

Relevance(To Theme): 9/10

The Be Brave Not Safe White Pouch

It’s a medium sized pouch with a diminishing quality. It has one black ripper and writings on both sides.

It’s a nice handy pouch to have but the writings peel and fall off like dried paint. I am not sure if it belongs to a particular fandom or it is just one of those random quirky products that you find online. However, it’s not quite relevant to the theme.

Product Ratings

Quality: 5/10

Defects: The writings come off

Value: 4/10

Relevance: 4/10

The Hogwarts Bag Tag from Harry Potter

This is a simple tag with no place to write your name unless you use a permanent marker and write your details on the back. Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling which were later adapted in films and other series. This seems to be an exclusive item since I can’t find it online, though, there are various other similar ones available.

I don’t travel very often but I do love Harry Potter and any merchandise that comes along with it. It is quite sturdy with a leather base and the etched in words are very well done. This is definitely something I would use the next time I travel. Though it doesn’t exactly have a place to write your contact details and that means, you have to ruin the back with a permanent marker. Tough life.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 8/10

Relevance: 8/10

The Hazel Words by Melissa Albert (Sampler)

This is a sample piece of the actual book provided in the book box and it is a small booklet.

Here’s a little something about the novel.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Well, I actually did read the sampler and I’m not by the least even intrigued. This is a YA novel and usually, genre’s like these are quite taxing and boring for me with the added debut novel rookie mistakes. The whole Alice in The Wonderland feel is quite redundant in some ways to me, of course, I haven’t read the book yet but if the sampler is anything like the actual book then, I am not very impressed. Though, I did like the illustrations on the hardback cover of this book. I don’t really want to recommend this book for just the illustration on the hardback but I find it hard to see any other point that can save this novel. Also, it has been claimed that while there are certain erratic changes and twists in the story, the actual plot really comes in towards the end.

Product Ratings

None because it’s just a sample piece.

The Bookmarks (Three Bookmarks)

We have been provided with three bookmarks. They have quotes by authors and fictional characters as well as very well done illustrations.

I really like these bookmarks, especially because of the illustrations. They have been printed very well onto the paper and a lot of care and detail has been put into the designs as well. Unlike my last book box, this is not at all blurry or looks like it has been taken off from the internet. This is certainly a great edition in the box with a pirate theme in the bookmarks as well.

Product Ratings

Quality: 10/10

Defects: None

Value: 8/10

Theme: 9/10

The Ravenclaw Chapstick

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. Ravenclaw is one of the four Houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, founded by Rowena Ravenclaw. Members of this house are characterized by their wit, learning, and wisdom. Its house colors are blue and bronze, and its symbol is an eagle. The house ghost, who in life was the daughter of the house’s founder Rowena Ravenclaw, is the Grey Lady. Ravenclaw corresponds roughly to the element of air; the House colors blue and bronze were chosen to represent the sky and eagle feathers respectively, both having much to do with air. The chapstick tube is plain and pink along with a pink tint. 

This is just your good ol’ run of the mill chapstick with a soft pink tint. It definitely moisturizes your lips and the effect does stay on for quite a bit. I really wish I had gotten a Slytherin chapstick because I don’t really like Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. Besides that, I don’t know how a chapstick has any place in this box except for the fact that a bit of paper deems it Ravenclaw. I suppose it was an effort put it to make things seem in-house with their own hand made items but I think this was a hit and miss. Also, the pink tint may not go down too well with everyone and neither is it relevant to the theme.

Product Ratings

Quality: 5/10

Defects: None

Value: 3/10

Relevance: 2/10

The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius

Jakob Wegelius is a Swedish writer and freelance illustrator. He was born in 1966 and he lives in the small village of Mörtfors, Småland.

Here’s a little something about the book.

A captivating story about dark truths and heinous crimes as well as unexpected friendships, with detailed black-and-white illustrations throughout. Perfect for fans of mystery and detective stories.
Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, but she’s also an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a Maharaj’s turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder.
For Sally Jones, this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief’s name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. ‘From the Hardcover edition.’ 

Once again, I haven’t read this book but here I sit, making assumptions and letting people’s reviews on a book direct me to a safe conclusion. For most of it, I really like the illustrations on and in the book which isn’t a surprise considering that Wegelius is an Illustrator as well. From whatever I could gather, this book is a bit deceptive from the descriptions and the details are thrown around about it. I, for one, can’t really give a definite review for this book just yet but I think it should be quite decent at best. It had almost 700 ratings on GoodReads.com with a total of 4 stars. It retails for Rs 600.

Product Ratings

Quality: 9/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 7/10

The Popeye Anchor Bracelet

Popeye the Sailor is a cartoon fictional character created by Elzie Crisler Segar. The character first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip, Thimble Theatre, on January 17, 1929, and Popeye became the strip’s title in later years; Popeye has also appeared in theatrical and television animated cartoons. The bracelet is simple with a brass colored anchor pendant and a braided thread like strap.

Popeye brings back all the fond memories I have from when I was little. The funny thing is, as a kid, I actually never took a liking to him or the show in general but it did have its moments and now as an 18-year-old, I definitely appreciate all the laughs I got out Brutus getting beaten up by Popeye. Sadly, I couldn’t quite figure out how to wear the bracelet and now, I’m sure that you, my dear reader, are probably sighing and calling me an idiot for not being able to figure out how to wear it but alas, there’s only so much I could do.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 6/10

Relevance: 8/10

The Fiction Island Map

The Fiction Island consists of various genre’s of literature and features all the different kinds of stories out there, or so I assume. The map is large and you can easily find it on the internet and hence, that means that it is not an exclusive item.

I think in this box, considering the number of pirate references made, I am not surprised that they included a map as well to go along with the theme of things. Quite honestly, when I first opened the box and saw this map, I thought it was from a certain fandom and freaked out because there isn’t even a list for me to find out where it is from but luckily, it’s just a simple Fiction Island Map.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects:  None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 8/10

The Jar Candles

These are small jars which are filled with wax and a scent of its own along with variations in their colors and names. I think this is another in-house handmade product made by TBB team. They’re vegan soy and are 1 Oz. Here are more details:

  1. Tintin (Guava Green)– Belgian Waffles, Croissant and Newspaper.
  2. Nancy Drew (Pumpkin Orange)– Musk Perfume and Freshly Brewed Coffee.
  3. Sherlock(Indigo Blue-Black)– Cigar, Irene’s Perfume, and Old Paper Stack.

Nancy Drew doesn’t quite have any extraordinary fragrance but I can see the crushed coffee beans, a very nice touch. Now, I did light up Tintin and the fragrance was a lot more evident in this one but they didn’t remind me of Waffles or Croissants. Sherlock is much like Nancy Drew and doesn’t really have a distinct fragrance of its own.

After having inhaled three different kinds of smokes from the three candle jars, I have come to the conclusion that they’re quite nice to have around, except for Tintin, the others don’t have any clear fragrance except for the smell of candle wax. Like I mentioned earlier, it is definitely a good effort up it by The Big Book Box team but there is always room for improvement.

Product Ratings

Quality: 7/10

Defects: Nancy Drew and Sherlock have no actual fragrance.

Value: 5/10

Relevance: 5/10

My Verdict?

The Big Book Box was definitely something I had been eagerly waiting to try out and I have to admit, I am a little disappointed. I felt like there were a lot of things missing and there weren’t enough items that complemented the theme. I think my favorite item was probably the bookmarks because they’re very well illustrated and my least favorite item is a tie between the White Pouch and the Ravenclaw Chapstick. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. That being said, do I recommend that you try out this box? Actually, yes I do. I think there were some plus points and perhaps, it was just a fluke in this box. Though, as always I suggest that you go for the monthly plan first and perhaps try out their Frappe or Mocha Box first before going for any of the more expensive spectra of their line of boxes.

Thank you for reading this review! I hope this was helpful and informative enough for you. If you have any queries or feedback then do comment below or you can reach out to via Instagram @CrypticCriticChan or email me at IAmNotChannel@Gmail.com.

Until the next post,

Laters, folks! :3

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