Uppercase June 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my first package in June.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I’m so excited about it I wanted to do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my June 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: This release from Bloomsbury has been on my radar since one of my best friends Becky reviewed it for School Library Journal. I am ready for this fantasy novel with pirates and adventure and I am delighted to know that Becky’s review was quoted on the back cover of this book. The book was also signed by the author.
  • Map: Inside the book is a pull out printed map for Song of the Current on glossy paper. I like that it’s a larger size that what would have been included if the map was in the actual book.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content. I am super excited to see what kind of things will be revealed as I read!
  • Tote Bag: This box featured an exclusive tote bag designed by Allison Cole Illustrations. The tote says “Reading is the Ultimate Adventure” and features a hot air balloon with a cat riding inside reading a book, of course. The tote bag is a nice quality with printing that isn’t likely to wear off and sturdy construction. I do wish the straps were a bit longer but I think they’ll stretch and anticipate this bag getting a lot of use.
  • Enamel Pin: The last item in the box is another exclusive. The Book Nerd pin is from Jubly-Umph and features a book with a ribbon across it reading “Book Nerd” along with some decorative flowers. I love Jubly-Umph but because they’re an Australian company it’s sometimes hard to find their jewelry in the US. I have a couple of necklaces from them (and after looking at the site I want almost everything they sell) and am very excited to add this pin to my collection. It’s too cute to put away so I have it pinned to a board I fill with artwork and other ephemera near my desk.

All in all I’m very happy with my first Uppercase. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends.

#MoxieGirlsFightBack and You Can Too.

I’ve been excited to read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu since publicist Mary Van Akin emailed me about it in March. It’s a story about a girl named Vivian who is inspired by her mother’s Riot Grrrl past to create a zine to expose and challenge the sexist culture in her high school.

You may have heard yesterday that Kirkus published a negative review of Moxie yesterday. I use the term “negative” pointedly here. Usually I say “critical review” instead because I don’t think a bad review is necessarily negative–it just has some criticism for a book that is likely valid. 

I don’t think that’s true for the Kirkus review which seems intent to highlight flaws in the book that are minor and also completely irrelevant to the story. More pointedly, the review manages to center male exclusion and male discomfort in a book about female empowerment and inclusion.

This review is indicative of the deeply internalized mysogyny and systemic sexism that plagues American culture. It also serves to underscore the deep-seated feminist backlash in the US that helped to contribute to our current political climate. 

Kirkus’ review is a problem for Moxie because it comes from one of the most respected and visible professional review sources (not to mention being the first professional review that I’ve seen publicly). In other words, because of a review that I think largely missed the point of the book, Moxie‘s sales might suffer as schools, libraries, and bookstores with limited budgets justify not purchasing this title. That is a huge problem for any book but especially for one that is so sorely needed.

I’m doing everything I can to support Moxie and, if you’re so inclined, I have some ways you can too:

PreOrder:

Usually I’m all about waiting until release week or later to get a book but in this case I’m making an exception. Pre-publication sales go a long way to demonstrate that a book is getting buzz and positive attention. They also contribute to release week sales which can determine if a book hits one of the bestseller lists (another important benchmark for a book’s success). I don’t want anyone breaking the bank BUT if you can afford to, here are some links to preorder from your venue of choice:

Word of Mouth

  • A great way to promote books is just by talking about them! Read an excerpt over at Entertainment Weekly and tell your friends.
  • Tweet about it: Moxie already has a hashtag. Show your love tweeting about the book with the tag #MoxieGirlsFightBack
  • If you’re an Instagram type tell your friends there with the tag #MoxieGirlsFightBack
  • This review, this book, this point in time are all teachable moments about feminism. Don’t let it pass without discussing it with your friends and family.

Tell Your Local Library

Ordering schedules vary but now is a great time to ask your local library to order copies of Moxie. Even if the library doesn’t handle ordering directly, chances are good they can pass on your recommendation. Library purchases contribute to book sales and by getting the title in your library you will be making sure lots more people have access to this book and maybe even getting it on your friendly librarian’s radar!

Read It

This is more for my blogger/librarian/bookseller types. If you have an early copy of Moxie read it now so you can start promoting it and talking it up ASAP. There are physical ARCs and eARCs from Netgalley and Edelweiss. If you have access, request and get reading! Alternately if you are going to read the book after it’s out, try to read it near the release date so more people hear about it and buy it. Please don’t let this book become a shelf sitter!

Review It

Whether you are a blogger, vlogger, bookstagrammer, or an avid reader, your review makes a difference. Online retailers (especially Amazon) offer special promotions and more publicity to books that receive 50 or more reviews. So if you read the book at any point, be sure to cross post your review so other readers can see it on Goodreads, Amazon and anywhere else you’re so inclined. If you’re a blogger, remember your audience. Most readers are going to want to purchase a book near its publication. Release week reviews are incredibly valuable and pre-publication reminders to watch for a book speak volumes.

I know I’ve been talking about Moxie here and if that book strikes a chord with you, I hope you join me in supporting it. But also remember these steps apply to any book you are excited about and want to help as much as you can. 

Buying a book is always a great way to show your support but I hope this post helps everyone who isn’t in a position to put their money literally behind every book they love.

Blog Book Giveaway: Workman Bundle (Spy on History, Boss Babes, Who Wins?)

Thanks to the lovely people at Workman, I’m ending February with a giveaway for three of their titles.

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Enter to win copies of Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring, Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Adults, and Who Wins?

I “field tested” all of these with kids and teens at my library and they are a lot of fun. If you are a teacher or librarian, these are great titles to have for your classroom/programming. You can also earn a lot of street cred if you have young people in your life to gift these too. (And of course, they’re fun for readers of all ages if you might want to hold onto them for yourself.)

Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from midnight February 27 through March 6.

ENTER HERE

I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photo!

(Winner will be notified March 7. If I don’t hear back from any winner by March 8 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.)

Blog Tour: SPY ON HISTORY: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring

mary-bowser-blog-tour-bannerToday I’m joining Workman’s blog tour for the first book in their Spy on History series.

Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy RingSpy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring (2017) by Enigma Alberti, illustrated by Tony Cliff is an adventure based on the true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who became a spy for the Union and worked undercover as a maid for Jefferson Davis to gather Confederate secrets.

Mary pretended to be illiterate but in reality her photographic memory was as much of an asset to her spying as her ability to skillfully avoid discovery. In addition to detailing Mary’s life as a spy, the book is filled with lots of details about Mary’s spycraft techniques including ciphers, codes, and even the language of flowers. Hidden clues and secrets in the text of the book wait to be revealed by the reader and answer the question of where Mary hid her secret diary.

For the blog tour, I was asked to answer a simple question:

“If you could go back to any time or place in history, where would you put your spy skills to use?”

My answer for any time travel question is the same: I don’t want to travel anywhere else. While I love the idea of time and learning about the past–I prefer to engage with both from the comfort of my own home in the present. After all, you never know when a time machine might break down or a passage to the past might collapse. And then were are you? Likely trapped in an era without modern conveniences like medicine and antibiotics, running water, or electricity! I know my limitations and while I enjoy being an amateur spy in my own time, I also am well aware I would not be at my best in any period in the past.

Now that we’ve established where I would (not) time travel, I have a question for you and answering it will enter you in my giveaway:

Where would YOU visit in the past if time travel were possible?

 

***Tell me where you’d visit in the past in the comments to enter my giveaway.***

I’ll pick one winner from the comments to receive a Workman prize pack for a bundle of books including Spy on History, Who Wins?, and Boss Babes.

Giveaway is US only and ends February 12. Winner will be notified February 13. Be sure to comment to enter!

Week in Review: January 21

This week on the blog you can check out:

I decided to dedicate my birthday week on here to one of my favorite book series. There’s still time to enter to win the full series in my giveaway. 

Unfortunately I was sick for most of my mini staycation for my birthday. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. 

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my January Reading Tracker.
How was your week? What are you reading?  Let’s talk in the comments.

Blog Book Giveaway: The Lost Sun, The Strange Maid, The Apple Throne by Tessa Gratton

This year I finally worked up the nerve to read the conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies: The Apple Throne by Tessa Gratton. I’m happy to say it was excellent.

The Apple Throne by Tessa GrattonSo much so that I want to share the series with all of you in this giveaway for the entire USAsgard series.

I’m giving away Kindle eBooks of The Lost Sun, The Strange Maid, and The Apple Throne to one reader.

Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from midnight January 16 through January 22.

Winner will be notified January 23 and win 3 a copy of each of the titles mentioned above.

If I don’t hear back from any winner by January 24 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.

ENTER HERE

I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photos!

End of Year Giveaway: Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz

Pick Me Up by Adam J. KurtzI heard about Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz in one of the most inventive pitch emails I’ve received as a blogger. My interested immediately piqued, I requested a review copy which I’m currently working with and planning to review in January (for the new year). And I also have a copy to giveaway to one reader.

To explain exactly what Pick Me Up is (and why it ties so well with my resolution to be more mindful this year) let me quote the summary from Kurtz’s website:

PICK ME UP: A Pep Talk For Now & Later is a new interactive book-journal-guide-thing from the artist/author of 1 Page at a Time that will help you write and draw your own way through the dark parts.

This weird, optimistic book pushes you along with unexpected prompts, “existential activities,” some dark humor, and pages that keep you #connected, even when you feel alone. More than anything, you’ll build your own guide now for figuring shit out later – because someone telling you to “cheer up” is infuriating, but a pep talk from yourself might just work.

Pick it up and leave your mark. When you come back, leave a little more. Watch yourself change as you record and reflect on where you are and where you’re going.

Thanks to the publisher, I am excited to have a copy to giveaway to a US reader.

The giveaway will run from today through January 3.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post with one good thing that happened in 2016 (there has to be something, right?) OR one way you’re hoping to pick yourself up in 2017.

(No need to follow me or promote this giveaway but it would be appreciated.)