Once Upon a Book Club Box Review + Coupon – December 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.
COUPON: Use code BOOKNERD to save 10% off your first box!
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!
Inside, there’s a card to remind you not to peek ahead (it’ll spoil the fun!), and a card with a beautifully designed Shakespeare quote on the front. I could probably frame it and set it on a bedside or end table.
There’s a list of the book club discussion days and questions on the back of the print. I think it’s awesome that Once Upon a Book Clubb uses Instagram as a platform for their community to bond and talk about that month’s book.
The Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff – Value $9.99 on Amazon (retail price $15.99)
I’ve noticed that Once Upon a Book Club does a lot of historical fiction, which I like. This book touches not just one, but two eras—traveling between WWI and WWII through a curious protagonist (named Anna, hooray!) tracing her family’s past.
Book Summary on Amazon:
This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.
Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.
Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.
As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.
So far, I’m enjoying the bit of mystery/intrigue and looking at the 20th century through the eyes of Anna and her mother.
On random book pages, you’ll find these little sticky notes, which signal you to open the package marked with the corresponding page number on it. Each item is inspired by something from that point in the story, so from here on in, I’ll keep the plot details at a minimum!
Faux Leather Portfolio – Value $12.99?
The button-and-thread envelope looks like leather, but the weight and feel of the material are definitely faux. Inside, there’s a sketch of a dashing young man (read the story for more on that!). I like that this gift has a bit of practicality to it beyond just the wow-factor of seeing it in the box. It’s not the highest quality, but it is unique! I couldn’t find the envelope online, so the value is based on the most similar item I could find.
Sketch – Value $1.00?
On the other hand, I’m not sure what I’ll do with the sketch, though it’s obviously really well done. The paper it’s on has a firm consistency and a sophisticated texture to it. It just seems weird to display a drawing of a random guy in my house!
Ruffled Apron – Value $9.60?
This was another item that was hard to find online, so I based the value on a similar item!
This apron feels silky and is somewhat sheer. I love the ruffled edges and the pale red pinstripes. I don’t have an apron, and while this one seems more costumey than it does functional, I’ll definitely be putting it to use!
Locket – Value $10.90?
Letter – Value $0.50?
These Once Upon a Book Club items really are one of a kind! Value is based on a similar locket that I found since there was nothing out there quite like this brass, custom-engraved piece. It comes tucked inside this letter, which was inside the pocket of the apron!
The front has this pretty floral relief on it. I like the vintage-inspired patina on the metal.
On the back, there’s a message that says “Forgive my Love”. You’ll have to read the story to get the details there!
Inside, there are photos of some of the characters. This little detail definitely helped the book come to life, though I’ll probably swap these images out for my own.
Photo – Value $1.00?
I can tell this was made especially for the box. It’s more a “prop” than a gift, but again, that’s the point of the box. It’s kind of cool to put a face to a character!
Painting on Canvas – Value $10.00?
Again, this item couldn’t be found online, so I took a guess at the price. It’s about the size of a piece of paper and made of actual canvas fabric. The image is beautiful and really looks like a painting, though up close it looks as if it was just printed on the canvas. The colors are stunning—this is definitely making it into my decor, even if it’s just sitting by the corner of my desk.
Custom Tote – Value $1.06?
The final custom item in the box (this link is also to a similar item—there’s no way to tell what company this tote is from) is this strawberry-red tote bag printed with the Once Upon a Book Club imagery. It’s fabric, but some kind of poly blend rather than cotton. I never turn down a tote bag, especially one that could work well for a quick run to the pharmacy.
Verdict: I’m digging the book from this month’s Once Upon a Book Club box, and the items really feel like “props” from the book. The value was hard to nail down—based on similar items, I got a value of almost $57.00, which is way more than the $34.99 price. That said, I really wasn’t thrilled by the quality of the products—none of the pieces feel super sturdy, but for the canvas “painting”. It’s absolutely clear that the folks behind this box put a lot of thought and effort into making the products feel authentic to the story, but I don’t know how much real use I’ll be able to get out of a few of these pieces, which is a concern to me. If you’re really into the concept of immersing yourself in a story, this box is a great find. But be ready to have some random items left over after your reading is done! I just hate seeing things go to waste!
What do you think of the Once Upon a Book Club box concept?