Once Upon a Book Club Box Review + Coupon – September 2016
Once Upon a Book Club is a uniquely engaging book subscription box. Instead of just sending along books and bookish items, this monthly subscription box sends you one book and a series of individually wrapped items, each with a numbered tag that corresponds to a page in the book. As you read, you open the items that correspond to the page numbers, unwrapping gifts that help bring the story to life.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Once Upon a Book Club
The Cost: $34.99 a month. There is also a 3-month prepay ($100.99), 6-month prepay ($199.00), and 12-month prepay ($390.00) subscription options.
The Products: Women’s fiction with an aspirational bent, plus gifts related to the story.
Ships to: Worldwide
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
Remember, wait to open each gift until you hit the right page number. It’s hard to wait, but it’s way more fun to play along!
The info card for the Once Upon a Book Club box features a beautiful print of a quote from the book.
On the flip side, there’s a series of discussion questions. Once Upon a Book Club uses their Instagram account as a platform where members can connect and talk through these points. I appreciate that they put energy into making their subscription program a legitimate book club community!
The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron – $10.06 on Amazon (retail price: $15.99)
The book this month is The Ringmaster’s Wife, an engaging story of two women brought together for the thrill and intrigue of the circus. Here’s the book summary from Amazon:
An ounce of courage.
A leap of faith.
Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.
In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confi nes of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.
A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.
When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.
A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the Greatest Show on Earth!
“Vibrant with the glamour and awe that flourished under the Big Top in the 1920s, The Ringmaster’s Wifeinvites the reader [into] the Greatest Show on Earth.” —Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart
I love the warm, magical artwork on the front and back covers.
Because of the nature of this box, there might be some book spoilers from here on in. I’ll try to tread lightly, but FYI!
The first item came wrapped in pretty pink paper. This is one of the only gifts you’ll see for awhile—most of the gifts are for the second half of the book.
Cigar Box & Postcard – Value?
Inside the paper is this vintage-inspired cardboard cigar box to match the cigar box that belongs to one of the protagonists of the novel.
Inside the cigar box, there’s a postcard printed with the faces of the Ringling brothers, of circus fame. This gift comes at a time in the book when a protagonist meets one of the Ringlings, beginning generations of adventures that fill the novel. It’s a pretty box—I know folks use these for storage (it’d be great for jewelry or stationery), but I might use it as a clever way to wrap a gift! That very vintage style isn’t quite me, but if it’s yours, you could totally frame the postcard and use it to add some turn-of-the-century character to a corner of your home.
The next gift comes on page 210. It’s in a nice black box that’s a little heavy, actually…
Metal Pocket Watch – Value?
Aha! It’s heavy because this metal pocket watch is inside! I don’t think this watch is made of anything sophisticated, but the vintage finish gives it a classy appeal. With most pocket watches, you squeeze the button on the top to open the cover. In the case of this watch, you just kind of unsnap it manually (it closes pretty securely, but you can pop it open easily, too).
The best part is this quote on the back, which is framed by a twisting pattern with playing card suits nestled inside. The watch isn’t the highest quality (it’s a little rattle-y), and it’s not quite my style, but I appreciate the detail put into this piece. It goes right along with the mention of a pocket watch in the story, too. Seeing it come to life in front of you is pretty cool!
Next up is this little red box. Isn’t the twisty, twirly Once Upon a Book Club font cute? I like seeing it used throughout this box.
Thimble – Value?
Rhinestone Hair Clip – Value?
In the pages leading up to this gift, two characters discuss the thimble as a symbol of whether a woman was married or not. If you’re not familiar with the details of a thimble (I’m definitely not), it was helpful to see this little reminder. The rhinestone hair clip is pretty—I could see wearing it on a fancy night out. It’s something a protagonist wears, too, so it’s a neat, personal connection to a character.
This envelope has been tea-stained, so that it has the weathered look of a circus tent. This piece arrives when a character opens a mysterious note with a shred of her costume inside. A threat? That’s for you to find out, dear reader!
And indeed, inside this note, there’s an index card folded around a bright yellow shred of fabric. It’s not the most exciting gift, but it does correspond with the story nicely.
Advertisement Poster – Value?
The final gift looks to be a poster held tight by a hair band. The hair band has a little bow with circus-esque yellow and red stripes.
The poster itself is an artfully painted advertisement for the English Rose, the trick rider that the story focuses on. Again, it’s not necessarily my style, but I could see friends of mine incorporating this into their decor. (Maybe you could use the postcard and this poster as inspiration for a circus-themed powder room or foyer!)
Finally, this little bag of Cracker Jack is included, with a “Sorry for the Delay!” sticker on it. I love Cracker Jack, which is sweet and savory caramel popcorn, so I’ll take it!
Here’s a look at everything outside their packaging.
Verdict: While I love the idea behind Once Upon a Book Club, I wish the items had a bit more practicality beyond their relationship to the story. The pieces all coordinate nicely with the book, really bringing the magical story to life. Minus the price of the book, the box is about $25, meaning the five gifts must each average around $5. That’s probably accurate, but for things like the fabric in the envelope and the prints/postcards, which are probably under $5. The items seem custom-made for the box, though, which gives them some additional value. Plus, as mentioned, they do their job in making the book come to life!
What do you think of the items in this Once Upon a Book Club box? How would you use them?