DREAM CRATE – LootCrate

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About a month or so ago I learned about a fan-related project being run by Loot Crate. If you haven’t heard about LootCrate, it’s a monthly subscription box. Similar to other subscriptions offered through various sites, it’s based around a theme and filled with various fandom items particular to that theme. Here’s a list of their past boxes and the items. As you can see it varies from crate to crate what kinds of items you’ll receive. What’s also great about LootCrate is that there are a variety of crates to choose from, whether you like gaming, anime, things for your pets, or just a crate filled with items to wear. The variety I think is one of the awesome things about LootCrate since it pretty much has something for everyone. So anyways, Loot Crate has been reaching out to various fans to put together their very own “dream crate,” which would have a particular theme, items, etc., and I have to say I was definitely intrigued. It wasn’t until this past week though when I read If We Were Villains that I was really inspired on what my Dream Crate theme would be!

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

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Like I mentioned, I was really inspired by one of my recent reads, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. I loved the book and I thought it would be a great addition to a subscription fandom box about William Shakespeare. And since I actually enjoy Shakespeare’s works myself, I thought that this would make for a really interesting “Dream Crate”!! Researching for this crate got to be a little overwhelming because there were just SO MANY things I really wanted to include. I wanted some staple pieces (necklace, candle, etc) but I also wanted to include some interesting pieces that you might not usually find in your average book subscription box. It was really hard to narrow it down, but if I were in charge of crafting the make-up for this crate, this is what I would include:

  1. TWO Books: The first book has to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare – This is one of my favorites by Shakespeare and I’ve re-read it over the years. I just love the tongue-in-cheek humor and the two sets of lovers who get all turned around by the fairy’s spells. The second book in this crate would be a recent read for me, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio – I read this book during March and just loved it. I thought it incorporated Shakespeare so well into the story and it was dark and mysterious and just a great read.
  2. An “A-Z SHakespeare” T-shirt from Woot.com I saw this on Woot one day and thought it was such a cute piece and the little characters on the shirt are so funny.Tshirt
  3. A Romeo and Juliet inspired necklace by LiteraryGiftsUK This piece is just gorgeous and I love that it comes with such a long chain. And the quote is touching.il_570xN.1073964411_fh0k
  4. This funky bracelet with a Macbeth quote made by WickedWordsmithCo I love the shape of this bracelet and the quote on it, this is such an interesting piece. And since Macbeth was so prevalent in the If We Were Villains novel, I thought this piece would pair great with the book as well. il_570xN.819912967_tojc
  5. A light-weight summer scarf with Romeo & Juliet quotes on it from Storiarts I have a different scarf from this company and I love the quality of their products. And I think the summer scarf is really stylish with the ribbon bow. rj_summer_01_580x@2x
  6. This “fandom” candle for A Midsummer Night’s Dream created by PretAGeek –  I love how many new candle places are popping up on the internet that sell candle scents inspired by books. This candle sounds like it would be great, and I’d be interested to see how it would evoke different thoughts on the play it was inspired by. il_570xN.1129020309_ihax
  7. This cat-Shakespeare mug from CatapostropheShop I know this is probably super dorky but I thought this mug was hilarious and adorable. I just wish it came in a different size since I like soup-bowl mugs to fit extra coffee!! il_570xN.1024369029_9alg
  8. And last but not least! I saw these thank you notes by ArteOfTheBooke and I thought they were really nice. I’ve been kind of collecting different designs of thank you cards lately and I thought these would be great and give the person being thanked a bit of a laugh. il_570xN.645749986_or7h

So! That is my DREAM CRATE, inspired by a recent read. Thank you to LootCrate for reaching out to me with this opportunity, I had a lot of fun finding different pieces for my Dream Crate!

2017 Book #26 – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

51jEpw+Dl0L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: If We Were Villains
Author: M.L. Rio
Date finished: 3/26/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of a group of fourth year theater students attending Dellecher Classical Conservatory, an elite college for the arts that has a slightly unorthodox approach to advancement. Each year only certain students are allowed to advance to the next year’s level, which for this particular story resulted in a group of 7 unusually close senior year theater students. In this particular group, the line between friend and enemy is continually blurred and tensions reach new heights. The story is narrated by one of these seven students, Oliver Marks, who when we first meet him is at the end of his 10 year prison sentence. We meet him as he begins to tell the story of what actually happened a decade ago to Detective Colborne, his arresting officer. Colborne has been haunted by this case the past ten years because he never believed that Oliver was actually the killer. And as the story of that year unfolds, there are many layers to be peeled back before the truth can be uncovered. There are heroes and damsels, tragedy and comedy, lovers and friends. And in the end, there is more than one villain.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. I thought it was so different and so interesting. As the theater student’s curriculum centers mostly around Shakespeare, there were many different passages from his various works woven into the story line and the conversations, and I just loved it. You could feel how young the group of them were, even though they were dealing with such intense adult problems. And Oliver was perhaps the most innocent of them all, and seeing the story through his eyes added that extra layer of naivete. After the murder Oliver and his remaining friends fall to pieces, each of them dealing with their own feelings of guilt and responsibility in different ways. Centered within Oliver’s story is his best friend, James, and his love interest, Meredith. The roles here even are oftentimes blurred, as Oliver’s feelings for James are not so easily categorized into the label of “friends.” That was one of the things I loved most about this book was how well it portrayed that love and hate are on the same spectrum of emotion, and if you feel one it is very easily turned to the other side of the spectrum when a person is pushed to their limit. I also thought the character development in this novel was really well done, I could feel everything that Oliver felt with such strength that I felt sucked into the story itself. The story was heart-warming and heart-breaking all in one and while I was a little surprised at the ending I really just enjoyed this book so much. I would most definitely recommend and I can’t wait to see more from this author in the future!

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This is the coat of arms for Dellecher Classical Conservatory mentioned in the novel. I found this picture on the author’s website and thought it was a neat addition!!

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot. I loved that quotes from Shakespeare’s plays were interwoven so skillfully throughout the text and I loved the strength of emotions portrayed by all the characters in the book.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book # 117 – Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

41l0bsfq7yl-_sx309_bo1204203200_Title: Vinegar Girl
Author: Anne Tyler
Date finished: 12/14/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Kate Battista, a 29 year old woman who has gotten herself into something of a rut. After getting expelled from college, she moves back home with her father and her much younger sister Bunny. Kate ends up getting a job at a local preschool as an assistant and between that, taking care of her father’s household, and basically parenting Bunny, all of a sudden she realizes she’s 29 and has been stuck in the same routine for years. Really what wakes her up is a ridiculous idea that her father comes up with – for Kate to marry his research assistant, Pyotr, to keep him in the country. Pyotr’s visa is about to expire and Kate’ father is desperate to find a way to keep him so they can finish an important research project. At first Kate rejects this idea, thinking she deserves better, but as she spends more time considering Pyotr’s offer and the freedom it would afford her, Kate realizes this might be just the change she needs in her life.
Overall I liked this book. It was interesting how the book turned out, it didn’t end how I expected but I really enjoyed the ending. This book is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and since I haven’t read that one previously, I’d really love to read it now especially to see how parallel the story lines are. I did find Kate to be a hard character to connect with, I didn’t really understand why she put up with a lot of the things that she puts up with in the book but everything seems to work out ok in the end for her. Her cast of supporting characters (her father, Bunny, her aunt, etc) all seemed very self-absorbed and were only interested in what Kate was able to provide for them. It made for an interesting story though and I can feel Shakespeare’s influence in it even if I haven’t read this exact comedy of his before. This was an interesting book and was a fairly quick read, I would recommend it!

The bottom line: This was an interesting read, it was definitely different than my normal book choice. I think it would have been better if I had already read The Taming of the Shrew and could connect the stories. It was still a good read though, I would recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #69

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The sixty-ninth book I read in 2014 was A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I finished this book on 8/11/14. I rated this book (really a play) 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This was actually a re-read for me since I read this in high school for my AP English class. This play tells the story of really 4 groups of people: 1) Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his bride to be Hippolyta 2) 4 young Athenians Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena 3) 6 Athenian workers who are rehearsing a play to perform at the Duke’s wedding and 4) Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies. 

Lysander and Hermia are in love but Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, so Hermia and Lysander prepare to run away from Athens where they can be together. Helena is in love with Demetrius even though he’s in love with Hermia and so, in trying to endear himself to her, Helena tells Demetrius of Hermia and Lysanders’ plans. Demetrius follows the couple into the woods to try and stop them and Helena follows Demetrius. 

King Oberon wants to play a trick on his wife and so finds a flower that will make you fall in love with the next person you see when it is used. Thinking to help Helena, Oberon tells the fairy Puck to use the flower on Demetrius. Puck mistakenly uses the flower on Lysander and then trying to fix his error uses it on Demetrius as well, so now both the men are in love with Helena instead of Hermia. 

I really enjoy this story a lot because of the interesting plot. It is a great comedy. While I was reading I noted a few things that I found to be interesting. This play mentions the queen of Carthage, which I thought was interesting as this is the second book I have read in the past couple weeks that talks about this queen. A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/2014-book-61/) also mentions the Queen of Carthage (Dido). Act I scene 1 line 173 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream says “And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen” referencing the funeral pyre that Dido threw herself upon. I also found Act III scene 2 around lines 300-325 interesting because I do believe that was England’s portrayal of a cat fight. I can just picture Hermia with her fists up and Helena trying to find somewhere to hide so she doesn’t get punched in the face. 

This is a great play and a true comedy. Perfect for lifting your spirits! I found the “Pelican Shakespeare” vision so easy to use, there were footnotes that explained various words, phrases, and references. I know reading Shakespeare can appear a bit daunting to some but I would definitely recommend giving this play a try! It is a great read!!

Link to Wikipedia article on Queen of Carthage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dido_(Queen_of_Carthage)

Link to Wikipedia article on A Midsummer Night’s Dream play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream

Link to website about William Shakespeare: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midsummer-Pelican-Shakespeare-published-Classics/dp/B00E297RCE/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407789248&sr=1-9&keywords=pelican+shakespeare+midsummer+night%27s+dream