[ARC] Lucky Me by Saba Kapur

Lucky Me by Saba KapurTitle: Lucky Me
Author: Saba Kapur
Expected Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Format: ARC
ISBN: 9780692536391
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Pre-order: Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble
Summary: For eighteen year old Gia Winters, having a movie star for a father, a former Playboy bunny as a mother, a Hollywood mansion, and a closet stocked with Chanel is simply another day in the life. But her world is turned upside down when her father mysteriously hires a group of bodyguards to trail the family 24/7 and threatening phone calls from a Dr. D start buzzing daily.

When Gia scores the coveted role of Miss Golden Globe, she is forced to strike a deal with her bodyguard, Jack, who is almost as arrogant as he is attractive. Juggling Gia s romantic failures, fashion faux pas, and celebrity obsessions, the duo investigate a series of clues with the help of a police cadet, who has a special set of skills and an even better set of dimples.

But with the Golden Globes just around the corner, danger levels rise higher than her stilettos as Gia learns that the biggest secrets might be the ones buried in her own home. In a place where the hills have eyes, high school nemeses, bad hair days, raging parties, and stolen kisses, there can only be trouble for a girl who was just starting to consider herself lucky.”

My Thoughts:
A huge thank you to Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for reviewing.

I don’t think I was the right audience for this book. I didn’t completely hate it, but I wasn’t going crazy about it, either. I found Gia incredibly vapid and she got on my nerves about 90% of the time. I get the “rich girl from Cali” stereotype, but Gia seemed to be a very exaggerated version: a little too one-dimensional, lacked an inappropriate amount of common sense and smarts, and had zero priorities. I don’t know if that was intentional on the author’s part to fit the storyline better, but… I just couldn’t deal with her.

The story is about a girl who grew up around the Hollywood lifestyle; a mansion, latest fashions, nice cars, goes to a big fancy school with classmates who feel just as entitled… all thanks to having an accomplished actor for a father and a former Playboy bunny for a mother. The story felt like a clichéd Hollywood movie, too. Packed with over-dramatics, a cast of characters that ranged from being somewhat likable to completely unlikable, and a huge twist towards the end that was predictable and therefore fell a little flat for my tastes.

Of course, no teenage girl’s story is complete without a few love interests and the inevitable YA love triangle. I continuously mention in my reviews that I’m not the biggest fan of those in this genre. What stumped me in this case was that I was actually invested in this area the most. Getting me to actually give two s#!*s about who the girl will choose in the end can be an impossible task, so that alone definitely warranted a second star, even though the two guys had flaws of their own. Not to mention that both of their relationships with Gia were somewhat problematic that I can’t go into it without spoiling things. I did actually like both of them as characters, which is something I can’t say for our main Mary Sue, Gia, so there’s that.

The ending seems to set itself up for a sequel, so I’m interested to see if Kapur will keep going with this. I just haven’t decided yet if I’m going to read it if that’s the case.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Saba Kapur is a 19 year-old writer based out of Melbourne, Australia. Her passion for storytelling developed at a young age, born from a deep-seated love of books. Lucky Me is her first novel and an ode to her favorite things: fashion, romance, and mystery. Born in India, Saba spent her childhood in Indonesia and Kiev, Ukraine. She is currently in her final year of college, studying International Relations and Criminology at Monash University.

Saba hopes to one day become a fabulous lawyer in New York City, with a closet full of stilettos. In her spare time she enjoys reading, watching anything to do with Ryan Gosling, and pretending she’s Beyoncé. Saba currently lives with her parents, her older sister, and a large supply of chocolate. (via Goodreads)

CONNECT: Goodreads | Twitter

[ARC] Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson

Title: Finding Hope
Author: Colleen Nelson
Expected Publication Date: March 19, 2016
Publisher: Dundurn
Format: ARC
ISBN: 9781459732452
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Pre-order: Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble
Summary: Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.

Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.

At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.

My Thoughts:
A huge thank you to Dundurn and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for reviewing.

The book deals with several taboo subjects, which makes this a different and pretty refreshing read compared to other YA books. Several themes that are touched on include drug use, abuse, and a few others that were uncomfortable to read about, but very much absent in other books of this genre. What I appreciated most about Finding Hope was that it didn’t gloss over or sugarcoat anything. Nelson tackled issues that people tend to turn a blind eye to.

It’s not incredibly lengthy by any means; I finished it in about a day, without factoring in any breaks taken in between chapters. That’s where my biggest problem with this book lies. I felt like it was too short and there were several “quick fixes” to some major real-life matters.

In terms of characterization, I found that Hope was very naive and difficult to feel sorry for; difficult to connect with. But when it came down to it, I realized that this is likely a realistic depiction of what teenagers in her situation might do. There’s an immense amount of peer pressure that occurs with youth today, and in that respect, this just added to the appeal of the book and capped off the overall tone that Nelson was trying to achieve. The book is mostly about family. Her brother, Eric, is another narrator in this story, and though I didn’t have a much differing opinion about him as I did Hope, I kind of wished his story was fleshed out more; that we got more background on what he went through and what made him the way he was. His story has the potential to push the boundaries of YA storytelling, and if Nelson ever decided to write something like a sequel or a standalone with a similar storyline, I would gladly read it.

Her writing is captivating and truthful, and despite the lack of a few stars in my review (I was teetering between giving this a three or a four), I actually really did enjoy reading Finding Hope. There was a lot of promise in the book and it laid a foundation for what could have been a game-changer in current realistic YA fiction. Colleen Nelson is just as lovely a person as she is a writer, and I do believe it’s worth checking this book out if you’re looking for a different kind of read.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Colleen Nelson is the author of YA fiction books Finding Hope (2016), 250 Hours (2015), The Fall (2013) and Tori by Design (2011). ‘The Fall’ and ‘Tori by Design’ both won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. ‘The Fall’ was also nominated for the White Pine Award. Currently living in Winnipeg with her husband, two young sons and three grown step-children, Colleen manages to eke out time to write everyday, but usually in the early morning after a strong cup of coffee. A junior high school teacher for ten years before having children, Colleen is familiar and comfortable with the tricky phase of life called ‘adolescence’. Now a Teacher-Librarian in Winnipeg, Canada, Colleen is constantly on the look-out for books that will catch the attention of her reading-reluctant sons. (via Goodreads)

CONNECT: Goodreads | Official Site | Twitter

Sunday Post #5

The last time I did a Sunday Post was almost 3 months ago, and yes, I do feel bad about that. It’s not because I don’t want to post or have nothing to post about — because it’s actually the exact opposite. There’s so much to say and so, so many books that come my way that I want to share with you guys. SO. Let’s start this up again by covering the last two weeks, because I actually got a lot of reading, reviewing, and posting done despite my hectic offline commitments. I’ve come up with a couple of new features in the last week that I want to add to the blog in order to keep it interesting. When I decided to start blogging again, I never intended for it to be just straight book reviews. I want to do more: product reviews, lifestyle posts, other book-related things like scouring the net for deals, advice for other reviewers, bloggers, how to organize your books, etc. I have plans on plans on plans. But while I let those ideas marinate around in my brain…

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news — A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Last (2) Week(s)

  • Blog Tour Review: In Place of Never by Julie Anne Lindsey. There’s also a giveaway with this blog tour. It ends in about a week, so get your entries in for a chance to win a copy of the book and some other goodies.
  • ARC Review: In Real Life by Jessica Love, which comes out on Tuesday, March 1.
  • NEW FEATURE – Product Review: Personalized Monogram Ex Libris Rubber Stamp that I use on every book I add to my personal collection.
  • Travel Diaries: Recapped the first part of my trip to New York.
  • ARC Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman, which comes out on March 8.
  • Cover Reveal: Elastic Hearts by Claire Contreras, the final book in the Hearts trilogy that comes out this March.

This Week

  • ARC Review: Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson
  • Review: Paper Hearts by Claire Contreras
  • Travel Diaries: Part 2 of my trip to New York
  • ARC Review: Lucky Me by Saba Kapur

Book Haul

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I was having the worst day at work and came home to find that Raincoast Books graciously sent me an ARC for The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander. Huge thanks to them and HMH Books for Young Readers. Can’t wait to start reading this one. The official release date for the book is on April 26th, so look out for it.

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This also showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. Thanks to Candlewick Press for sending over a copy of Golden Boys by Sonya Harnett. From my understanding, this title has been out in Australia for a while now, but it’s being released in North America on April 12th, so again, be on the look-out for this one. Side note: I’m so in love with this cover.

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I ordered paperback copies of Kaleidoscope Hearts and Paper Hearts by Claire Contreras from Amazon, and I’m so happy they’re now in my possession. I’m such a huge fan of this series and while I own the e-books, I think most of us agree that it’s different when you have a physical copy. Plus I plan on buying the final installment, Elastic Hearts, when it comes out in March and need my collection to be complete. I was so ecstatic to be a part of the cover reveal for the last book, and I’ll be posting a review of Paper Hearts really soon, just to get myself even more hyped up for the conclusion of this amazing series. If you’re not on Claire’s mailing list or in her Facebook group, I highly suggest it (be sure to check out my post for links). She’s so lovely.

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ARCs, ARCs, and more ARCs! What a time to be alive. I just hope I don’t fall behind schedule in reviewing all of these, but that shouldn’t be a problem since I’m really looking forward to digging into all of these titles. There are a lot of great books coming out this year; these in particular are a good variety to pick from depending on your mood — I urge you all to put these ones on your TBR. Thanks to Sourcebooks for the copies of Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood (May 3rd) and My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (April 5th); to Raincoast Books and Macmillan for The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (May 3rd) and Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (May 17th); ABRAMS Kids for Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (May 17th); and finally Atria/Emily Bestler Books for The Regulars by Georgia Clark (August 2nd).

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Dirty Pretty Things by Michael Faudet is my latest purchase from the bookstore. I had heard about this book a while ago and was always meaning to read it, but being that I’m not particularly huge on poetry, it was never really high up on my reading priorities list. But that cover! Love. Nevertheless, I’m pretty stoked to get through this one. I’ve heard fairly good things about it. It’s not my usual type of read (format and subject-wise), but I promised myself to step out of my comfort zone this year when it comes to the books I read.


What I’m Reading

  1. Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Red Rising, Book 2)
  2. Only by Helenkay Dimon (Holton Woods, Book 2)

Bookstagram

Follow me at @audreysbookcase


Life & Such

I’m only taking one library course right now because it’s all I have time for between work and other stuff, but it’s seriously kicking my ass. Like all the way to the eastern hemisphere. By far the hardest course I’ve taken in my program. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not able to put in as much time into studying as I want to because of work and the never-ending urge to read books instead, lol. It’s likely because this is the only online course in the entire program that uses set timelines; assignments are due on a certain date, exams need to be taken on specific dates. It’s not “at your own pace” like all of my other classes, so that’s definitely been making things a little difficult. But either way, I need to get it together for my midterms at the end of this week. Wish me luck!

Hope everyone has a fantastic week, and a great start to the month of March.

Cover Reveal: Eleastic Hearts by Claire Contreras

Title: Elastic Hearts
Author: Claire Contreras
Series: Hearts, Book 3
Publisher: Claire Contreras
Publication date: March 2016
Pre-order: iBooks
Synopsis: Victor Reuben.

Most sought out divorce attorney in LA.

Nicole Alessi.

Soon to be ex-wife of Hollywood’s biggest star and Victor’s latest client.

In such a high profile divorce, they can’t afford any extra drama. Luckily, neither one of them has anything to hide.

Unless you count the mind blowing sex they had…

Once…

Twice…

Three times all those years ago.

The past is in the past, though. As long as they keep their hands off each other until the divorce is final, they’ll be fine. But she keeps wearing those tight dresses, and he keeps giving her those heated glances, and keeping their hands to themselves is proving to be more difficult than either one of them realize.

It won’t be long before the paparazzi starts smelling the smoke, and where there’s smoke…

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Author Links:

Mailing List | Facebook Group | Official Website | Twitter

 

[ARC] The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen LoigmanTitle: The Two-Family House
Author: Lynda Cohen Loigman
Expected Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: ARC
ISBN: 9781250076922
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Pre-order: Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble
Summary: Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins. From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery.

My Thoughts:
A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for reviewing.

Brothers Mort and Abe live in a single two-family brownstone with their wives, Rose and Helen, and their children in 1940s Brooklyn. The men couldn’t be more different from each other; the younger Mort is unsatisfied with his life while his older brother Abe is boisterous and admired by many. The story’s focus shifts when Rose and Helen have simultaneous pregnancies and go through everything together, including the birth of their children.

While the synopsis pegs this as a mystery, the twist actually becomes quite clear about halfway through the story. I was a little disappointed to have figured it out that early on. But that’s not to say it ever deterred my enjoyment of the entire narrative. The writing was exceptionally well-done; there’s emotion and heart at the very center of it all, and that for me personally made the story more enjoyable than the mystery aspect.

I really appreciated the familial aspect of the book, and I found that the most interesting thing in the novel was the relationship between Rose and Helen and the contrast alongside Mort’s changing relationship with Abe. The changes in all of these characters affected their relationships with everyone in the family, and their progression, particularly Mort’s, was fleshed out in such a poignant manner.

While it wasn’t as heavy and complex as I expected gong into it, I found the book very enjoyable in terms of the family dynamics and the breakdown of human relationships. Loigman really knows how to paint a picture with her words and make characters come to life; they’re relatable and real.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is now a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives with her husband and two children in New York. She is a failure at enforcing reasonable bedtimes. THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE is her first novel. (via Goodreads)

CONNECT: Goodreads | Official Site | Twitter

New York, New York: Part 1 (BroadwayCon)

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This exact time last month, I took a trip to New York City. The point of the trip was for the first ever BroadwayCon, a convention that took place in Midtown Manhattan for musical theatre fans, organized by Mischief Management’s Melissa Anelli and Stephanie Dornhelm. Some Potter fans might recognize them as the brains behind what was once LeakyCon (now called GeekyCon). BroadwayCon was also co-founded by RENT’s Anthony Rapp. I mentioned this on my Instagram before: If there’s anything I love more than books, honestly speaking, it’s musicals. So last year in February when I heard about the convention through Twitter and saw that MM and Anthony were behind it, I knew I had to go. Had to. I’d never been to New York before and like every musical theatre fan, being able to walk the streets of Broadway is something you just have to do at least once in your life. So I thought with the convention looming ahead, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Fast forward through months of saving, waiting in front of the computer to score weekend passes, and waiting with bated breath for announcements of which stars were going to be there… the day finally came in January 2016. I took my equally musical-obsessed cousin along with me on the trip for some much-needed relaxation and bonding. And fangirling.

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Day 1 took place on January 22, and if the endless singalongs with fellow fans and amazing performances and panels were any indication of how the rest of the weekend was going to be, I knew this trip was going to be so worth it. They seriously started it off with a bang: the opening ceremony performance took my breath away and you could just feel it in the room that a convention like this for a community as vast as musical theatre was long, long overdue. The cast of the smash hit Hamilton was there for a panel in front of a full audience and were just incredible human beings. I wasn’t too familiar with the show prior to BroadwayCon, but after that, just call me Hamiltrash; it’s phenomenal. I may or may not be listening to the cast recording as I’m typing this up right now (I totally am).

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Original cast and crew of RENT

Several cast and crew members from the original production of RENT were also there to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. Now, RENT is my favourite musical. Of all time. I went through a phase in my life when all I did was listen to the cast recording, the movie soundtrack, watched every performance I could find online, watch the movie for days over and over, interviews with new cast members, old ones — I was obsessed. I still have days now when I just sit around and do nothing but listen to RENT songs. So I think you can imagine how emotional I was to be sitting in the same room and breathing the same air as people like Anthony Rapp, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Rodney Hicks. Guys. It was an experience and a half. And that was only day one.

nyc_03Okay but here’s the real kicker from that day. The coup de grâce that sent my soul out of my body and into the heavens before the weekend even really began. Earlier that afternoon, my cousin and I were perusing the vendor hall and dropping bills left and right on more merchandise than we could possibly carry, and suddenly we see a booth for Broadway Records, right? They have a poster with a schedule of guests that would be dropping by over the weekend for autographs and pictures. First up that day: Lea Salonga and Telly Leung from Allegiance. I think my heart stopped a little bit? Lea Salonga? Princess Jasmine and Mulan? Fantine and Eponine? The national treasure of the Philippines?! Did my eyes deceive me? During our initial planning stages for this trip, we always joked about Lea being there. “If Lea’s there, I’m gonna pass out”, “We’re totally going to meet the Queen”, all said jokingly, because we didn’t think she was even going to be there. But her name was right thereYou had to buy a copy of their cast recording in order to have them sign it and get a photo op. I would’ve bought 3 of them if it guaranteed me meeting them. We were still early but we didn’t want to miss them so we literally plopped ourselves off to the side and waited for an hour. A while later, we looked behind us and we realized we started the line-up, lol. Which meant we were first and oh my god, we were so emotional. And then she walked in and just hung out for a bit with the staff looking all flawless and stuff. I had to sneak a picture for my Snapchat. Then Telly’s cute self walked in a while later looking even better in person than he does on television and I don’t even really know what happened after that, but all I remember is that we told them we loved them and the photographer asked if we wanted a picture and I was like, “God, yes. Please.” And this is now a thing that happened and you can bet your asses I will be telling my grandchildren about it:

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With Lea Salonga and Telly Leung.
Photo credit: Broadway Records on Facebook

Days 2 and 3 pretty much went the same way, with me almost passing out after merely seeing every Broadway star that was in my peripheral. The second day was also the day of Snowstorm Jonas. That didn’t stop us, little Canadians that we are. The people behind the convention were so great even with cancellations due to the weather. There was new event that they thought up on the fly where they literally just sat on a sofa on the main stage and called their friends on their phones and just chatted on speaker for everyone to hear. Sounds pretty underwhelming, you might say. Not if your friends are people like Darren Criss, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Grey, and freakin’ Patti LuPone. Patti LuPone! And that’s just to name a few. So, so dope.

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Krysta Rodriguez

There was also a cabaret that night, which featured the amazing Krysta Rodriguez (Spring Awakening, First Date, NBC’s Smash) singing songs from her previous shows and accompanied by the talented Joe Iconis. Seriously, what a pair. Smash is one of my favourite television shows, and I was super stoked to know several cast members were there and that Josh Safran, the showrunner for season 2 was also in attendance. He held a panel and gave some of us lucky Smash fans exclusives and answered some questions about the show, which was really sweet. I actually got his autograph on my season 2 DVD of Smash and talked to him briefly, so… you know. Life made.

On the third and final day, the excitement didn’t waver one bit. They closed off the weekend with a closing ceremony that was just as energetic as the opening, and they announced that there would be a second BroadwayCon in 2017. I highly recommend to any theatre fan that if you’re able to go, do it. It was such a huge success and it’s easily something that I’ll never forget. The entire weekend was full of performances, panels, workshops, cosplay, singalongs, games, and just all-around Broadway goodness. Click here to visit the official site for more information.

I’ll be posting a part two to this New York experience in a few days, because we got all touristy on our last day there and wandered around the city a bit. A couple words for you guys: New York Public Library. Stay tuned!

Product Review: Personalized Monogram Ex Libris Rubber Stamp

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything substantial besides scheduled reviews, but there’s a reason. I was trying to brainstorm ideas on how to expand my little blog. Plus I came back from vacation at the end of January and I’ve been in a post-vacation haze for almost a month now. I’ll post more about that another day, because wow was New York incredible. But without further ado: the real point of this post.

I’m starting a new monthly alternating product haul/product review feature on the blog (that’s a mouthful, I’m not officially calling it that — I’ll think up a better name later). I buy way too much book-related merchandise and figured, where better to share than with all of you? I’ll do a haul post or a review post depending on what and how much I get that month.

My first product is a review for this Personalized Monogram Ex Libris Rubber Stamp (Product ID H16) from AsspocketProductions on Etsy. First of all, the shop name made me chuckle. Of course I’d buy from there. Second, I was hunting high and low for months for a personalized stamp small enough to apply to all of my books and wanted one that wasn’t incredibly fancy. I’m a simple person and this design was perfect for me.

The design itself is 1″ x 1″ with the default text reading “ex libris” (Latin term for a decorative bookplate applied on the inside of books in order to identify who owns the book). I wanted “ex libris” specifically, because… hi, Classics major. I love Latin. And it looks cool. It is personalized, so you can fit a name with up to 12 characters along the bottom — that includes spacing and punctuation, and your first initial in the middle. If you visit the product page, you’ll be able to see the font used for the monogram. The fonts aren’t customizable, but I think both fonts are elegant in their simplicity.

As for the hardware, I got it wood mounted and it came with a convenient wooden handle. You can insert a label to identify the stamp, which I did by simply printing one out on Microsoft Word and cutting it down to size.

This particular stamp cost me $15.69 CAD ($12.49 USD) when I bought it in April 2015. I’ve used this on every single book in my personal library, and about 340 stamped books later, the quality now is still as good as it was when I first got it.

I was delighted when it arrived in the mail so quickly; I immediately reached for a stack of books and got to stamping. I tend to always use black ink, though I do own a brown stamp pad as well (both purchased from Michaels). And a good thing about this stamp in particular is that it’s not difficult to clean if I do want to switch colours. It can get difficult because of the dotted borders, but that’s nothing a good stamp cleaner can’t fix.

All in all, very happy with this purchase. The owner, Stacey, is great in communicating and hand makes each stamp. She also ships internationally and combined shipping is automatic if you order more than one. Which is great if you want to pick one up for yourself and a friend; it makes a great gift — I think anything personalized does, really.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I do not have any affiliation or relationship with any of the creators or sellers of these products. Purchases were personally made by me. Photos were taken by me, and reviews of the products are based solely on my opinion.