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.)
About OwlCrate YA
The Subscription Box: OwlCrate YA
The Cost: $29.99 + shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.
The Products: A new YA book and 3-5 book-related goodies. Recommended for ages 14+.
Ships to: US for $7.99, Canada for $10.59, and International for $19.99
OwlCrate YA "Tournaments and Trials" Review
Each box comes with a card detailing the theme and the items included. This month’s theme is “Tournaments and Trials.”
OwlCrate also included a booklet featuring an interview with the author, a word search and an interview with the illustrator of one of our exclusive items. There is also some information on their photo challenge at the end.
Our book features an exclusive cover and is even signed by the author! The title is embossed and really adds to the beauty of the cover.
As much as I loved last month's book, I may have actually devoured this one even faster! Our protagonist is Maia, the daughter of a tailor who is becoming quite the seamstress herself and longs to one day be the Emperor's tailor. In just a few pages the author so vividly and beautifully describes the heartache and pain that Maia's family has endured that by the time the story begins, you find yourself already rooting for her.
While the war has made Maia forget of her desire to become a tailor of noble station, it seems that she might just get her chance when a visitor comes to ask her father to compete for the position of the Emperor's tailor. Her father no longer does the sewing for their shop and since it is not acceptable for a woman to be a master tailor, Maia goes in his stead pretending to be her brother, Keton. Once she reaches the palace, a Project Runway-type competition ensues as they try to please the Emperor's future bride. While she has to hide her true identity, there is one man who can see who she really is, Edan, the Emperor's Enchanter. He seems to have taken an interest in her and helps her despite her clear lack of trust in him, but by the time the competition is over, she realizes he may very well be her only ally. While the competition to become the Emperor's tailor is an engaging story in itself, it is really just the first half of our story.
Once the competition is over, Maia is faced with a difficult journey to complete an impossible task that will challenge her, with only Edan and her magic scissors to help her in her quest. This novel is so fast-paced, full of magic and even has some parallels to Aladdin that fit well within our story. While there was so much story to tell here, it never seemed to drag but instead kept me engaged the entire time. It certainly helped that the latter half of the book becomes what OwlCrate describes perfectly as a "slow-burning romance," which always seems to pique my interest! When I got to the last page, I was devastated and so sad that this story was over! I cannot wait for Book 2 and I am hoping that this is on a list of future book ideas for OwlCrate!
Book Summary from Amazon:
Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court enchanter, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.
We received a letter from the author of this month's book in which she describes how she got many of her ideas from her family. The importance of family is apparent through her note and also in how much value Maia places on them in our novel.
Exclusive! Spin the Dawn Bookmark
This fun sun-shaped bookmark goes perfectly with our novel and looks great sticking out between the pages!
Exclusive! The Night Circus-Inspired 300-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
While I love doing thorough reviews, I am also a mother of three, and completing a 300-piece puzzle in a timely manner was not quite manageable for me at the moment, so my apologies! This puzzle does come in a cute drawstring bag and is inspired by The Night Circus with details from the book throughout the images. This puzzle was illustrated by Holly Dunn Design and since her work is beautiful, I expect no less from this design!
They included this exclusive art print to help us complete the puzzle.
Exclusive! Canvas Coin Purse
This canvas coin purse is just the right size to keep a nice stash of coins and the design, inspired by The Hunger Games, was created by Kit Cronk Studio. I love the simplicity of the canvas and black and how it has that great arrow pattern on the back. The little OwlCrate charm on the zipper is a nice touch as well!
Exclusive! Ceramic Mug by Cara Kozik
This ceramic mug is the third in the Harry Potter-inspired series designed by Cara Kozik exclusively for this box. I love the fun box that hints at what's inside! This mug is dishwasher and microwave safe and holds about 12 ounces.
This mug illustrates the Triwizard Tournament and this beautiful design includes so many details from this memorable event! I love that every time I look at it I seem to find a new hidden detail within.
Exclusive! Deck of Cards
This deck of cards is a collaboration between many artists and it is inspired by A Gathering of Shadows. The packaging and numbered cards were designed by Michelle Gray and it was difficult to get a photo that would do it justice, but the cards have a metallic red edge that is quite striking when you open the box!
The deck features red, black, gray and white with character cards that were illustrated by Nicole Deal, Gina Hilton, Marianne Martin, and Diana Dworak. There was a guide within our booklet this month to show who designed each suit. This really is a beautiful deck and I love that there were so many different artists involved!
Exclusive! Monthly Enamel Pin
In every box, you will receive an exclusive collectible enamel pin that is inspired by that month's book. This was designed by Dust and Pages and is a perfect representation of Maia's magical scissors and the impossible task she takes on. I love the gold with the sparkly glitter accents!
We also received this promotional card for Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron which is a YA fantasy debut set to release in September. The card is beautiful and the premise certainly sounds interesting!
Verdict: This was the second month in a row that OwlCrate really wowed me with their novel selection. This story was so good and I've got that lonely feeling you get when you finish a fantastic book too fast. Thankfully, I have lots of great goodies such as those beautiful playing cards, the unique puzzle, and a fantastic new mug to keep me occupied! I was amazed at how many exclusively-designed items we received this month, all of which seemed to be perfect for our Tournaments and Trials theme including the cute lanyard and the wonderful coin purse! With so many exclusive items, it's difficult to estimate the value of this box, but with such a wonderful curation, it certainly feels worth the $37.98 ($29.99 + $7.99 US shipping) cost of this box!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, but subscriptions are now open for the August box.
Value Breakdown: This box costs $29.99 + $7.99 shipping, which means that each of the 7 items in the box (not counting the bookmark) has an average cost of $5.43.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
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