Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Uppercase vs Owlcrate January 2016

Well, today was very exciting, as both my Uppercase and Owlcrate boxes arrived!  I started subscribing to these boxes last month.  I'm always interested to see how they stack up against one another!  I ended up getting spoiled for both of these boxes because of Instagram (curse the people who live close to the Uppercasebox or Owlcrate headquarters/shipping origin location lol.  They get their boxes so quickly :p).  So I already knew what to expect, but I was still extremely excited to finally receive them.

First, let's take a look at this month's Uppercase Box.

First off, it should be noted that the name of this subscription box is actually a misnomer, as it actually comes in a bag and ships in a USPS padded envelope.  It actually works out great, though.  The bag is reusable, and I use it to store things like swag I get from these boxes, pens, bookmarks, you name it.  Who doesn't like getting things that they can reuse?  This box is the cheaper of the two, at $23/month plus shipping (it ends up coming out to $29 total for those of us in the US).

The book included in this box was Truthwich by Susan Dennard, which I was super thrilled to receive!  This book has been hyped up for months, and it was on my TBR Wishlist.  I can't wait to dig into it!  All the reviews I've seen have been positive, so this is a win!  The only issue this time is the book is one of the taller hardcover books, and it kind of got jammed down into the bag.  Since this subscription doesn't actually ship in a box, the edges are slightly bent.  Not a huge deal for me, but I can see it being annoying to some people.

The other "big" item included in this month's box is a pair of socks from Blue Q.  They have an image of a person reading a book and "sup, nerd?" printed on them.  Delightfully adorable and something I think any book nerd would love.  Plus this is the perfect time of year to get socks.  My feet are always freezing on these cold Winter evenings, so cute socks were just the thing!

We aso got a poster/map to go along with Truthwitch.  I am happy about this, because I always love visual map references whenever I am reading.  

Coloring is the "big thing" these days.  The folks at Uppercase are definitely keeping up with this trend, because they included a Childlike Wonder Coloring Book from Emma Margaret Illustration, which is this month's Uppercase Exclusive (each month they include something unique and exclusive to the box).  I am not big into coloring, so to be honest, this probably won't get much use from me, but I am definitely in the minority in that regard so I think it's a good thing they included it.  

Finally - my favorite part about Uppercase - the community feel to it!  A bookmark was included with a website and codes to enter when you get to certain page numbers.  These codes give you access to things such as videos, discussions, added content, and more.  I love this feature because it makes this box feel that much more interactive.  It almost gives this box a book club type feel.

If you are interested in subscribing to Uppercasebox, go to their website.

Now, on to Owlcrate.

Owlcrate is a bit expensive, at $29.99 plus shipping, which ends up being about $36 total for those of us in the US.  This box is great for those who love bookish swag, and lots of it.

At first glance, it is obvious that Owcrate has more STUFF than Uppercasebox.  It definitely puts heavy emphasis on the swag you receive.  Each month they have a different theme, and the book and items tend to go along with the theme.  This month's theme is Fantasy, which had me extremely excited, but honestly I feel a bit let down.

I subscribe to these boxes because I'm such a huge bookworm, and for me, the book is the most important feature.  However, for the second month in a row, Owlcrate sent a book that I'm not too thrilled about.  It has crossed my radar a few times in the past several months, but the synopsis didn't seem like something I'd be interested in reading, so I had no plans of ever getting it and reading it.  Not to mention, from reading the synopsis, I never would have pinned this as a fantasy novel.  It seems more like a historical fiction/alternate history with fantasy elements.  Of course I will still read the book, but it's definitely not a top priority of mine.

For the first time ever, Owlcrate included a full-size Funko Pop figurine from Harry Potter.  I know a lot of people were really excited about this, and I think within a day of announcing that one would be included, this box was completely sold out (to give you an idea, the box from December is still on sale).  I'm slowly warming up to the Pop figurine craze, but the whole concept still somewhat puzzles me.  I guess it's the fact that they are cute?  I consider them to be this generation's version of beanie babies haha.  Anyway, the figurine included in my box was Severus Snape, which honestly was my last choice.  I was really hoping for Dumbledore, or at least a character a bit more colorful than Snape.

I think the item I enjoy the most about this box is the lipgloss they included from GeekFire Labs.  The scent is white chocolate mint (though it just smells more like mint chocolate to me) and it glides on my lips really smoothly.  Perfect for the dry winters we have here in Colorado!  Thumbs up for this item!

Next we have several items from the artist Evie Bookish.  This artist is well known amongst book nerds for creating beautiful designs.  She sells her items on Society6 and Redbubble, and you can get her designs on phone cases, coffee mugs, computer cases and skins, notebooks, etc.  The two items of hers included in this box are a bookmark from the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and an art print inspired by Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass.  The print is currently displayed on my refrigerator, and of course I can never have too many bookmarks.

Last in the box was a set of...paper dolls?  Honestly I'm kind of confused by this item.  Not sure I've played with paper dolls since I was about 7 years old, ie too young to be reading YA lol.  Honestly I don't think these are going to stick around long.

If you are interested in signing up for Owlcrate, check out their website

So, what's the verdict?

Honestly, all around, Uppercasebox.  It costs less, the swag they include is usually something you can use (ie the socks and the coloring book, and last month was a wooden bookmark and a calendar).  Plus the books that Uppercasebox sends tend to be so much better.  Like I said, last month was my first box with both of these, but I have read most of the books that Uppercase has sent out, and I've loved all of them except for The Wrath and the Dawn.  Owlcrate, on the other hand, costs a lot more - close to $40 in the US (rounding up).  The books they've sent out for the last several months have not been the greatest.  In fact, I look at each book and think to myself, out of ALL the amazing books that released in the month prior to that box, THAT is the book you chose?  The ratings on Goodreads for the books they choose tend to be, on average, half a star lower than those sent in the Uppercasebox.  While Goodreads ratings should be taken somewhat with a grain of salt, that is still a significant trend.  Not only that, but the items they include in the box tend to feel more "junky" to me.  I often find myself sitting there thinking, "ok, this is pretty, but what am I going to do with it?"  I feel guilty just throwing stuff like that away, but lots of times it just ends up contributing to clutter in my house. Even though they are both YA boxes, perhaps Owlcrate is still aimed at a younger crowd (late high school and college age) whereas Uppercasebox seems to appeal of those of all ages who read YA lit (I mean, who doesn't like adorable socks??).

Note: both of these subscription boxes are bought and paid for by me.  I did not receive any compensation from either Owlcrate or Uppercase box for this review.