The Big Book Box: Happily Ever After (July Edition ‘18)

*Disclaimer- The pictures used are owned by me. This post is not sponsored. Everything written over here is just my opinion.

Hey, folks!

Yes, I know. It has been forever since my last post and I really apologize about that. There were a couple of personal issues that I was dealing with but now that they’re dealt with, I’m back again with a huge list of items to review. Also, the next review is actually quite interesting really because I never thought that by the end of unboxing, I would feel the way I did. This next subscription box is from a decently popular service and they’re often promoted by some Insta-bloggers as well. But before I get into all of that, I would like to put it out there that the number of subscription boxes that I’ve been purchasing has decreased because, well, most of the items seem mediocre and just not worth the money or the waiting period. The following reviews will mostly consist of products and brands. Don’t worry, we shall discover something new with every post.

With that, shall we get into the review?

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.

This is my second time reviewing The Big Book Box. After the long wait with the first box, I was quite reluctant about purchasing another and it was a while before I placed the order for the July Edition. Unfortunately, this box took even longer to ship. I had placed the order in June and received it in October. Sigh. The real question now is whether the wait for the box was worth it? Let’s find out.

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 been following their Instagram account for a while and there have been several complaints regarding their customer service being unresponsive. Their themes are often not very creative and diverse. To the dismay of the customers, who have pre-ordered their box before the theme reveal, they may or may not like the box and refunds are tentative.

Personally?

Click here to read my previous post on The Big Book Box.

After my previous experience with them, I’m actually quite surprised that I purchased another box. If you have read the old post for the February Box, then you know that I was expecting a Funko Pop that was supposed to be a freebie item via the coupon code available at the time. The people complaining about the customer service are not wrong because the entire time I spent emailing them, it was a one-sided correspondence. I only got a response once or twice and they never got back to me after that. After months of constantly e-mailing them and then finally reaching out to them through Instagram, I finally got my Funko Pop and boy, oh boy. It was simply disappointing.

So far, here are my scores:

Arrival- 2/10

Social Media Activity- 8/10

Customer Service- 2/10

Authenticity- 8/10

 

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Louise O’ Neill is from Clonakilty, in west Cork. After graduating with a BA in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin, she went on to complete a post-grad in Fashion Buying at DIT. Having spent a year in New York working for Kate Lanphear, the senior Style Director of ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel. She went from hanging out on set with A-list celebrities to spending most of her days in pajamas while she writes, and has never been happier.

Here’s a little taste about the book from GoodReads.com,

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world-building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries storytelling at its most spellbinding.

As always, I haven’t read the book yet. I’m trrrrryinggg to catch up with the other books I purchased a while ago. Regardless of that, I’ve read the reviews just for you and now you don’t have to waddle your way through the reviews and spoilers on Goodreads.com. The theme for this month is,’ Happily Ever After’, and of course, as a kid growing up, that always meant fairy tales. One of the most popular fairy tales that we often see, is the story of The Little Mermaid. With the Disney animated movie was released in 1989, it really made quite the impression on the young minds back then and even today, children read this story along with Peppa Pig(ugh). O’Neill tried her hand with a re-telling of the young mermaid’s tale and promoted it as a ‘Feminist’ re-telling of the story. While I’m all in favor of empowering women, not all feminists out there were very impressed with this version of the story. Goodreads.com rates this novel at a 3.6/5. That’s actually a decent rating but with the feminist community mulling over the actual feminist notes in the story, the jury is still out. While the readers who were pro-O’Neill’s version mentioned that her description of the kingdom under the sea with the combined highly prevalent patriarchy and beauty standards was quite similar to how norms had been in the past. The readers against the story countered that while the story had a few points that show the dominance of the patriarchy, the debate of promoting obesity and unhealthy lifestyles arose. By saying no to fat shaming, even feminists felt that this was a gross way of taking advantage of ‘self-love’ by further promoting laziness and disregard to physical health. Of course, I haven’t read the story and I can’t fully vouch for the accuracy of these statements. So, after all of that, so, do I still recommend this book? Growing up I wasn’t the biggest Ariel fan and truth be told, I really like the design of the hardback. So, if you like collecting books that are illustrated very well then this is definitely the perfect addition to that but if you do enjoy re-tellings of old stories then I’m sure it won’t hurt to explore this book.

Product Ratings

Quality- 9/10

Defects- None

Value- 9/10

Relevance- 8/10

 

The Illypad (Scrub & Soak)

The scrub mix is in a mason jar and it consists of the usual bath salts with the addition of rose water extract, rose petals and essential oils. The aroma is subtle and pleasant.

Now, I don’t have a bathtub to use this but I figured that something like this would make a hell of a foot soak. As much as I wanted to enjoy the possible foot soak, I asked my parents to enjoy it instead. And so, in my living room currently, as I write this review, there are two adults on the couch with their feet soaking in their own little bucket. In the beginning, the scent of the rose was quite strong but the soak didn’t feel any different from regular water(Keep in mind that the water right now is lukewarm or a little more than just that. My dad isn’t necessarily feeling anymore soothed but my mother definitely seems to be enjoying it. So, the final outcome after 15 mins of soaking is two grown-ups listening to Coldplay and drinking coffee. But really, even my dad approves of the soak, according to him, the foot soak makes a noticeable difference after the soaking. Bear in mind that this is his first time trying out a foot soak. My mother also approves of the soak because it was soothing thanks to the general feeling of the soak but also because of the aroma. In the end, is a salt soak relevant to the theme? Not really, it’s a great product but I wish they had some kind of trinket instead of this.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Quantity: 6/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 5/10

The Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts Quote Bookmarks (5 pieces)

It’s a regular bookmark, about 7-8 inches with illustrations on one side and quotes on the other side. Bear in mind, both the bookmarks I review in this post are the same, they just have different sides.

At this point, Harry Potter and the new, Fantastic Beasts franchise are the staple of most subscription boxes. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, I love Harry Potter but do I want HP merchandise every time in every box? Regardless of the subscription service you opt for, HP is bound to make an appearance most of the time. Nevertheless, the bookmarks have your standard quote from one of the most popular characters, Sirius Black. The other quotes are possibly from the movies, which I don’t really remember and some are from The Book Box themselves. Again, the relevance to the theme isn’t all that bad. At the end of the movies and books, Harry Potter did have a kind of a happy ending but is this really “Happily Ever After” relevant? I personally don’t think so. I would’ve preferred quotes from Fairy Tales or Disney tales instead.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 4/10

Relevance: 3/10

The ‘Read More Books’ Tote Bag

It’s a small tote bag with the print, “Read More Books” on it with floral designs. This print is on both sides. The bag is black in color on the outside and white on the inside. Its material is quite nice too.

With the ban on plastic bags, I quite appreciate the little tote. It’s not the most spacious but, it does have a perfect size and fit for carrying a couple of books. The material isn’t cheap and the bag itself is pretty sturdy as well. I like how the print is not just on one side but on both. The material is one of those easy to wash and maintain kinds too. The print of the tote bag makes it relevant to the subscription service but with the theme? I suppose the floral designs do excuse it. I don’t have any qualms with this product, I actually quite like it.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 6/10

All The Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Danielle Teller (formerly Morse, née Dyck) grew up in Canada, where she and her two brothers were raised by the best parents in the world. As a child, she was a bookworm who dreamed of being a writer, but she chickened out and went to medical school instead. In 2013, Danielle quit her job to pursue her childhood dream of being a writer. She is currently working on her second novel.

Here’s a little taste of the book from Goodreads.com,

A luminous reimagining of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, told from the perspective of Agnes, the beautiful girl’s “evil” stepmother

Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth…

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, a woman who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. But what unfolds is not the princess’s history. The tale Agnes recounts is her own.

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice at Aviceford Manor when she is just ten years old. Alone, friendless, and burdened with a grueling workload, Agnes carves a place for herself in this cold place that is home to Sir Emont Vis-de-Loup, a melancholic and capricious drunkard. 

Using her wits and ingenuity, Agnes eventually escapes and makes her way toward a hopeful future, serving as a housemaid for the powerful Abbess Elfilda. But life once again holds unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking twists that lead Agnes back to Aviceford Manor, where she becomes nursemaid to Ella, Emont’s sensitive, otherworldly daughter. Though she cares for Ella, Agnes struggles to love this child, who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, ultimately, the celebrated princess who embodies all our unattainable fantasies. 

I have never read a re-telling if a fairy tale before but this sure is something that will make people a little reluctant before purchasing it. “All The Ever Afters” is anything but fantasy and it is rather weakly based on the real story of Cinderella. Much like most people, I was under the impression that this book would help me understand Cinderella’s step-mother better and help me learn how she became so cruel and wicked. Alas, all the misfortune in her life was nothing more but the result of her own bad decisions. Even Cinderella or Ella, in the book, was not portrayed the way we know her today. The themes are also quite dark and realistic with the politics and the most annoying part would be the large amounts of unnecessary information that has been thrown our way. Overall, the book has been rated 3.75 and rightly so. I would label this book as an acquired taste and it’s not meant for everyone. If you don’t want your childhood favorite tale to be shattered, then I would suggest that you try another book instead.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 8

The Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts Illustrated Bookmarks (5 pieces)

It’s a regular bookmark, about 7-8 inches with illustrations on one side and quotes on the other side. Bear in mind, both the bookmarks I review in this post are the same, they just have different sides.

So, we are back to the bookmarks. I’m going to be to the point with these, Draco and Moaning Myrtle are the only two illustrations that are clear and well done. The illustration is crisp and clear with no blurred lines or faces. Sirius Black is quite nice too but overall, his art is not as impressive as it had the potential to be. Sadly, while Newt’s art would’ve been really cute and almost TinTin like the blurred print makes it hard. The same goes for the bookmark with the whole gang, i.e., Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron and Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood and Draco Malfoy, the art is actually nice but the print did it no justice.

Product Ratings

Quality: 5/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 5/10

The Little Mermaid Mason Jar Candle by The Storyteller Candle Co.

It’s a candle in a mason jar with glitter on the top with a small conch shell and a small oyster shell. The wax of the candle is vegan and the colors are candle friendly as well and they’re non-toxic. It also comes scented with essential oils. This product is by The Storyteller Candle Co.

This product was revealed before the bookings were closed and I actually was really excited about receiving it because firstly, it looks very pretty and secondly, it doesn’t look like any of the mason jar candles I’ve received before. The scent from the essential oils is almost mint like and it’s very soothing. Its quality and appearance is also very good. This Little Mermaid themed candle is exclusive to The Big Book Box. It makes a great companion to the book we received along with this box, “The Surface Breaks” by Louise O’Neill.

Product Ratings

Quality: 9/10

Defects: None

Value: 8/10

Relevance: 10/10

The Penpal Envelope and Note (3 each)

There are three envelopes that say “There Are No Strangers Here, Only Friends You Haven’t Met” and “Hello PenPal! An Initiative by The Big Book Box”. The three notes are almost Royal like with a vintage look on the front and a plain white surface on the back. The note fits well in the envelope.

So, The Big Book Box wanted to start with Pen-Pals as an initiative to help people get to know each other within the community. Unfortunately, nothing was done about it and only the envelopes and notes were sent out but no pen pals were assigned to the receivers of the box. Unless, of course, they did mention it in a post or a story but as far as I know, I haven’t received any such emails or anything and nor have I received a letter from a potential pen-pal. It is a very interesting thing for a subscription box but since I never got a chance to do anything with them, I can’t quite review them for that purpose and only maybe as stationary. The quality of the envelope and note are not the best and feel a little cheaply made or rather in a hurry. Once again, I don’t see why or how is this relevant to the theme because just having a royal-ish or a vintage look to the note, won’t save the product. Now, if there was an invitation to a ball to replicate the invites sent across the kingdom to find Cinderella by the prince, or maybe the wedding invite from Snow White would’ve been a really nice touch.

Product Ratings

Quality: 5/10

Defects: The envelope wasn’t cut well.

Value: 3/10

Relevance: 4/10

The Book Review Notepad

The notepad is roughly 10 inches with blanks on it for “Finished Reading:____”, “Author:_____” and “_____ and I think”. At the bottom, there are vintage designs of books and the titles of the books are of classics like Dracula, Charlotte Brontë, Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes and many more. The number of pages are roughly 200.

I really appreciate the idea of including a product like this in the box because I can see how many people were really delighted about receiving it when this product was revealed before the bookings were closed. Personally, I’ve never seen such a style of notepads before and nor did I know that these exist. While it’s relevance to the theme would’ve increased if the books at the bottom were more tale like, it is very relevant to the subscription service.

Product Ratings

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Relevance: 7/10

So, what’s the final verdict?

After this experience, I don’t think I’m likely to purchase another box any time soon unless it’s really an offer that I don’t want to let go by. This box was quite disappointing because it had so much potential and it could’ve included so many other merchandises from actual tales from our childhood and not just mainstream usual goods from subscription boxes. So, does that mean I’m writing off The Big Book Box? No, I’m not but I’m always going to be bracing myself in the future when I purchase my next box. Now, should you buy the boxes from The Big Book Box? Well, it’s not a bad subscription service but I would suggest that you follow them on Instagram (@tbb_box) and keep an eye out for their 3 reveals before closing the bookings for the month. Unless you really like books and some of the goods, I wouldn’t recommend going for it.

I did mention this in my last post but I want to mention it yet again. Yes, I seem harsh on this box but it’s also because of the overall experience I’ve had with the delays and the disappointments. The Big Book Box has so much potential to do better because they do seem to get some things right but they really need to use their popularity in the subscription box category and put it to good use by giving their customers the right products.

Anyway, that’s all for today folks. I have got a couple of things coming up. Yes, I say that often and fail to do so but life is just so unpredictable. I have a whole new category coming in and I’m super super excited for it!

As always, reach out to me via Instagram(@crypticcriticchan) or e-mail me at iamnotchannel@gmail.com!

And so, as always,

See you until the next post,

Laters, folks!

 

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