PageHabit Literary Fiction Box Review – December 2017
PageHabit is a book subscription box that sends a title in the genre of your choice with annotations from the author, a bookmark, and other book-related goods. Choose between the monthly genres: Literary Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Horror, or Historical Fiction, and quarterly genres: Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, or Cookbook.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
This review is of the PageHabit Horror genre, $29.99 a month, box.
The Subscription Box: PageHabit
The Cost: $29.99 a month + shipping
The Products: 1 hardback book annotated with notes by the author, a bookmark, a blank notebook, a letter from the author, and a book light.
Ships to: the US for $4.99, Canada for $14.99, and Everywhere else in the world for $19.99, plus any local taxes that may be applied.
PageHabit December 2017 Horror Genre Review
Each PageHabit purchase goes to supporting children’s literacy across the world, and this month, PageHabit chose to work with Books for Africa and the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy to donate books to Sierra Leone. The card gave some interesting info on the region and the flip side pictures every genre’s book that was chosen this month.
Included in the box is a letter from the author, David Moody. In the letter, he mentions that this book is the 4th in his “Hater,” series, and talks about the idea of an apocalypse in society and how interesting it is to think about how that would affect human behavior. He also apologized for his handwriting, which I thought was a nice touch! This letter is obviously a copy, as are the annotations throughout the book (more on those in a bit). His handwriting IS a bit hard to read, so I was charmed that he mentioned it here.
A Whiter Shade of Christmas by Taylor Grant
The next item in this box was a short story, “A Whiter Shade of Christmas,” by Taylor Grant. The story is about a man who normally spends Christmas in a lot of pain, and when he decides to spend some time with a homeless acquaintance, he finds himself replacing his usual loneliness with a renewed sense of what family means. If I’m being completely honest, this story didn’t do much for me. I read a lot of short fiction in my free time, and I was surprised that this piece, written by a Bram Stoker nominee, fell sort of flat. I suppose this story was chosen for my box because the author normally writes horror books, but this piece wasn’t horror-related at all, which I found just a wee bit confusing.
Kikkerland LED Lights with Timer – Value $9.87
This box included a strand of cute little lights! I love that these ones come with a handy timer, but they require two AA batteries, not included. I have to say, I was a little baffled by the presence of these li’l lights in here. They’re definitely cute, but they didn’t relate to the book at all, and they were a bit more, ahem, *cheerful* than I would’ve expected in a horror-themed box.
Sherlock-themed Keychain – Estimated Value $11.97 (value based on similar product)
The last bookish good in this box is a keychain with a quote from Sherlock Holmes, adorned with a tiny pen-tip charm. Again, this keychain didn’t relate to the book or the genre I chose, which I initially found a little confusing. But it’s a nice light keychain without feeling cheap, so I could see it being put to good use!
This book clocks in at 330 pages and was released on December 5th, 2017. The first thing I noticed about this book was in the author’s letter; that this novel was the 4th in his “Hater” series. I was very concerned about that fact before I settled in to read. The fourth book? Would I understand what was going on? Would I still enjoy the book without reading the others? A crazy part of my brain wondered, “Should I read ‘Hater’ real quick first?” Thankfully, I figured out that yes, this book is technically number four in the world of the “Hater” mythology, but is the first in a trilogy of its very own. Phew!
I went into this book cold, without any prior knowledge of its world, and there was no problem with getting through this story. The book is written in such a way that a new reader could easily enter the author’s world, but I am absolutely certain that prior fans of Moody’s work will pick out and enjoy “Hater” Easter eggs and references that went clean over my head.
“One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning” follows fourteen people trapped on the hostile island of Skek when something back on the mainland starts to go very, very wrong. Located on Skek is Hazelton Adventure Experiences, an extreme outdoors company that asks the 9-5 crowd to trade their cubicles in for climbing and kayaks in order to strengthen their skills back in the office. A group of office colleagues are nearly at the end of their team-building weekend with Hazelton when a horrible incident involving a co-worker puts their departure on pause – and starts a great deal of finger-pointing. To make matters worse, the day’s scheduled ferry full of students doesn’t arrive to the island as expected, causing tensions among the stranded office workers and Hazleton staff reach a fever pitch. Attempts to contact the police and the Coast Guard about their current situation are unsuccessful due to the hostile conditions that are par for the course with life on Skek.
The office workers are busy worrying about their departure from the island and the day-to-day lives they’ve left behind when the ferry of students finally does approach Skek – as a wreckage completely devoid of life. That’s when they realize, it’s not that they can’t get through to the Coast Guard due to the weather conditions…it’s that the Coast Guard isn’t answering their distress calls. Now survival is the only thing on everyone’s mind, as supplies dwindle and the real terror on this harsh island turns out to be even closer than anyone realized. The fight to get home becomes more and more difficult as the death toll rises, leaving the survivors to ask themselves: If escape is even possible, what horror awaits them on the mainland?
I know it’s such a common phrase to say “I couldn’t put this book down!” But seriously – I destroyed this novel in about five hours. It had a ferocity that pulled me in and successfully kept me from putting it down. To warn potential readers: the entire first chapter is incredibly intense and definitely not for the faint of heart – or anyone who can’t stand to read about violence or gore. Despite its blood-soaked contents, the events of the first chapter drew me in and urged me to keep reading so that I could see how the plot would unfold. I really liked that this novel unfolded in a straightforward timeline. It seems to be a trend lately for novels to either be formatted as a frame story, or to alternate chapters as different points in time, and I liked that this story didn’t do either of those things. I definitely got the horror element I wanted in this book; it’s quite violent, and many will definitely find it very gory, but for me, I felt that the author toed that line of using gore unflinchingly, but pulling himself back from completely reveling in gore simply for gore’s sake. I enjoyed the annotation notes throughout the novel; it was a nice opportunity to get in the author’s head and find out what inspired locations, certain scenes, etc. You can tell this book is the first of a new trilogy; this story doesn’t have a super-solid ending that wraps everything up, rather it’s a bit more open-ended, and I assume that we will see more of the characters in this story in future books.
Verdict: This box was actually a bit of a roller-coaster ride, but overall, it was a good experience! I was initially concerned that I had received the fourth book of a series, but that turned out to not be what it appeared, and I had no trouble enjoying this book on its own. The short story wasn’t for me, but I did like the included keychain and Kikkerland lights. However, I was sad that they didn’t relate to the book or to the horror theme. I would love to see future PageHabit boxes either curate items to fit the chosen box theme or incorporate items that directly relate to the included tome itself. Based on my estimations, this box is valued at $47.83 – definitely above the box’s $29.99 price, even if you count the $4.99 shipping. The added value from the short story, the author’s letter, and author annotations should also certainly be factored here, and I do love that this box has a mission to donate to those without ready access to books!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you will receive the January box.
Value Breakdown: At $34.98 for this box, here’s what you are paying approximately per item:
- Kikkerland LED Lights with Timer: $7.22
- Sherlock-themed Keychain: $8.75
- One of Us Will Be Dead By Morning by David Moody: $19.01
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