Welcome to the first of three unboxing posts – one each month. As you might have already gathered, I was contacted by Uppercase and offered a free three month subscription to their ‘box’ service in return for blogging about what I received. I’m not entirely sure why they chose me out of the four of us to contact, but I’m also not going to look a free book in the mouth…or something like that.
So I put box in quotes because that is the first thing I noticed about the package – it arrived in a bubble envelope and the contents of the ‘box’ are actually delivered in a simple cloth bag. Which…six of one, half a dozen of the other…makes no real difference, it was just a surprise. Here are the entire contents, laid out for your viewing:
You’ll see that this month’s book is Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. I received an ARC of this, but passed it on to another eager reader. I get way more ARCs than I have time to read, and I live in a tiny apartment, so…yeah. Now, however, I’m intrigued, especially since it’s blurbed on the front cover by Leigh Bardugo, in whose taste I have the utmost confidence. Here is the publisher’s summary:
Vassa in the Night is a powerful and haunting modern retelling of the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” for teen fans of urban fantasy, fairy tales, magic, and horror who enjoy books by Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, Catherynne Valente, and V. E. Schwab.
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair….
Also, to sweeten the offering, the copy is signed.
The next item is the ‘Punk Rock Writers Journal’, which features images of famous authors reimagined as punk rockers. Of the 18 featured authors, 10 are men and 8 are women, which is decent gender representation. Unfortunately, only 3 of the 18 are people of color, and they made Langston Hughes look positively ghostly white. It’s a notebook. I don’t generally use them, but it might make a nice gift for the classical book lover with a sense of humor in your life. I can see where it would appeal to teens.
Next, we have a set of Cassette Tape bookmarks, which I thought was a rather random inclusion, since most teens I know have no idea what a cassette tape is, unless they’ve read Eleanor and Park. I however, will enjoy using them.
And finally, there is a cute little sticker of one of the characters from the novel. In all, I would say it’s a reasonable offering of items worth slightly more than the cost of the subscription ($23/month + $6 shipping.) If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite teen or YA book fanatic, this would serve well.
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About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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