My First Illumicrate Unboxing and Review

I know a million people post Illumicrate unboxing videos and photos, but I recently got my first box, so I couldn’t resist. Especially because a spot for the monthly Illumicrate box opened up for me on the same day my federal student loans were discharged through the PSLF program!

(In case you’re not familiar with Illumicrate, it’s a monthly subscription box that includes a speculative novel and other book-themed items.)

The theme for March is “Fantasea.” I’ll cut right to the chase: I love everything that came in this box! I haven’t had a chance to read the book (Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan), but it has kelpies and sea dragons, so I’m sold.

You can view the Illumicrate unboxing video I posted on Instagram by clicking here.

Illumicrate unboxing: A photo of the case art of Fathomfolk. The book is open so you can see the entire case. On the left is a large sea dragon coming out of the water, and on the right, you can see the town depicted in the book.

This gorgeous edition of Fathomfolk absolutely blew me away. Beautiful books is a big part of the reason I joined the Illumicrate waiting list, but the photos I saw didn’t prepare me for how exquisite this book is.

From the endpapers to the case art to the foiled dust jacket to the sprayed edges, this book is a work of art. It’s so pretty I can hardly stand it. The case art shown in the photo above is by Danlin Zhang.

Illumicrate unboxing: A photo of all the items in the March 2024 Illumicrate box. From left to right is the book, the book jacket, the transparent sticky notes, the plant pot, and then the ceramic book-shaped pot.

The Fantasea box came with four additional items: a mythical sea creatures book pot, a Fathomfolk-themed plant pot, and a kraken-themed book jacket, and transparent sticky notes.

All four items are pretty spectacular, but the two pots are my favorite. I love house plants, and have about a dozen cuttings waiting for pots right now. The plant pot has a kelpie on it, and will definitely get a place of honor somewhere among my other house plants.

Apparently there’s a whole series of ceramic book-shaped pots. I can easily see this becoming my next obsession. Prices on the secondary market seem high, but honestly, these things are so cool it’s kind of understandable.

The book jacket will be useful for keeping the corners of hardcovers nice and crisp while traveling (or even just carrying books around the house). And one can never have enough sticky notes! Never! I was surprised at how easy it is to write on these with a regular old ball point pen. I can definitely see myself using them to take notes while I read.

I’m already looking forward to next month’s box. In the meantime, I’ll be curled up on my couch with a mug of tea and this gorgeous copy of Fathomfolk!

Introducing a New Line of Bookish Enamel Pins and Buttons!

The Book Witch is pleased to announce a new line of bookish enamel pins and pinback buttons!

A proof image of a hard enamel pin featuring an open book sprouting a rainbow.
My first pin design: Read the Rainbow!

My first ever enamel pin design is inspired by Reading Rainbow and the idea that books are magic. It features seven colors of glitter enamel and is cast in polished silver metal. This two-inch pin is already in production and can now be pre-ordered in my Etsy shop for a discount!

Stay tuned for future enamel pins, as I have a whole world of ideas buzzing around. Think galaxies, wardrobes, and… emojis? 😉

I’m also pleased to share a range of pinback buttons made from recycled books and comics! 

Three pinback buttons made from recycled book pages with highlighted words: book, literature, and the library. The pins are photographed against a background of stacked books.

These buttons are designed to show off your love of books, individual genres, warm beverages, and more! Pinback buttons will come in three sizes and be available for sale soon! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to be the first to know when new buttons drop.

Want to help out but not quite ready to buy yet? Be sure to favorite my shop to be alerted when new products are added, items go on sale, and more! Plus, making my shop a favorite will help me in search rankings on Etsy, too.

Making Buttons from Recycled Books

As a bookseller & reviewer, I get a lot of advance reader copies from publishers, in both physical and digital formats. It’s awesome! I get to read books before they come out and publishers get early feedback on their new releases.

There’s just one problem: ARCs can’t be sold, and most of the usual suspects (libraries, Goodwill, etc.) don’t accept them as donations, either. So what to do with all those ARCs?

For books I absolutely loved, I always pass the ARC on to a friend or leave it in a Little Free Library for a stranger to discover. 

A stack of books, pages face out, with a witch hat on top of the stack. Pins and buttons are held between the pages.
A few of my own button designs mixed in with some of my favorite bookish enamel pins from Ideal Bookshelf, the American Bookseller Association, Out of Print, and indie pin maker Fandom Planet Designs!

But what to do with the rest, especially when there are piles upon piles of them all over my house? Tossing them in the recycling bin seemed so heartless and mechanical. 

I tried donating them to schools or women’s shelters, but COVID has made that process even more difficult, and the truth is that the cheap binding on ARCs mean they won’t stand up to more than a few readings anyway.

So, I thought, why not UP-cycle them and turn them into wearable art? I always wanted a button maker, and this was the perfect excuse to buy one!

If you have ideas for designs you’d like to see, words you’d like me to feature, or want to request a custom button, let me know on Instagram, Twitter, or through email at kelly@bookwitch.blog