Behind the Box {December 2018}

Unboxing photos by Christine Manzari of @xenatine

Welcome to the monthly “Behind the Box” series! Each month I’ll be sharing all about the previous month’s box, a sort of unboxing meets behind the scenes if you will. I’ll show you what was in the box, my thoughts behind the items, the process I went through with select items in regard to design, etc. Today, let’s take a look at the ‘Rebellious Royals’ themed box from December 2018.

This box is of course a bit different. It wasn’t a special edition, but the box itself was special just because I felt like switching things up a bit for the holiday / winter season. I knew I had to have a wider box that month to accommodate the book sleeve without it being bent so I took the opportunity to switch up the design for that month only as well. I chose a white ink on craft look, with lots of pretty snowflakes surrounding the logo. My inspiration was iced gingerbread cookies.

THE BOOK

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene struck me right away as a book that would sweep me off my feet, and it did. With a court full or rebellious royals, my theme sprang up and I knew there would be enough content to tap in the YA book world for that theme. Plus, it’s just so fun. Who doesn’t love story about royals who just can’t behave themselves (Reign anyone?). This book is also full of magical, beautiful landscapes, and lyrical prose, so it was a natural choice as a Unicorn Crate feature.

THE GOODIES

It’s always like a giant puzzle figuring out what items to include in each box. I start with inspiration from the theme and ask myself questions like, what items have I not included in several months, or ever? What will the budget allow? What artists would align well with the items I have in mind etc. Things tend to fall into place eventually, but it is not always a smooth journey. In fact, it is often a very rocky one and when working with / depending on so many different artists, makers, manufacturers, suppliers, and also the publishers, it takes quite a bit of time to sort everything out.

Rebellious Royals was a phrase that popped into my head when reading the advanced copy of Amber & Dusk and I knew it would make a fun theme as there are SO many rebellious royal characters in YA fantasy. I started with a long list (as I usually do) and narrowed it down to items inspired by Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, ROAR, The Cruel Prince, Everless, and a true classic, Romeo and Juliet. I’ve been a fan of Shakespeare ever since taking an AP class ages ago, in my senior year of high school. I’d been wanting to create a knotted headband type piece for a while and since Shakespeare’s texts are free to use however you like, I knew I could design it myself, which I’d have to do if it was going to squeeze into the budget.


I created the headband design, reached out to various manufacturers overseas and found one that was able to make what I wanted, but with language barriers sometimes it is a bit of a journey to get the final product to match your vision. Three samples later, they finally understood how I wanted it to look. You can see one of the previous samples in the image below, where they placed my design with the text horizontal and much larger than it was supposed to be. By the time they got the placement close to what I wanted (I still intended for the text to be a bit smaller), I hoped and prayed that they would deliver it on time to be included in the box! This is the typical stressful process for many items that make their way into your hands via subscription boxes.

The text I selected for this design is the prologue from Romeo and Juliet.

The process of getting the unicorn book sleeves took more than 5 months, so I won’t get into that one here. The lip balm (Cedar Chest Press), candles (Wick & Fable), and bracelets (Annie’s Aesthetic) were all collaborations lovingly handmade by small businesses and makers. The zipper pouch and wall tapestry were items that I commissioned custom art for and then sourced manufacturers to get them made. When all is said and done, including the company that makes the boxes themselves, there are about 16 different people involved, including myself, in this box coming together as a final product.

The watercolor quote art from ROAR was done by Nisha Rangdal, a talented artist and design student from India. She was lovely to work with and I love how this one came out! You can check out her lettering at @nisha_letters and her Kpop fanart at @nisharangdal114 on Instagram.

For the wall tapestry, I worked with Gina of Dark and Beautiful Art to create something you don’t see much of in the bookish art space (at least not yet), a vision of what Asha and Kozu (from The Last Namsara) might be like. Believe it or not, this was the artist’s first time drawing a dragon (she mostly draws people / fae), but I encouraged her to try it out. I think she did a pretty good job of it! It was my first time getting wall tapestries made, so I had to go through a few prototypes for this one too. The first one was printed so dark you could barely see the artwork!

Keep an eye out for artist spotlights and author interviews coming soon from Dark and Beautiful Art (wall tapestry), Annie’s Aesthetic (bracelet), and Lyra Selene (author).

As of today, there are a few more December boxes available in the single purchase section, and I just listed the remaining individual leftover goodies from this one such as a handful of headbands, three lip balms, a few candles, zipper pouches, bracelets, and one book (these are sent to me after the fulfillment center is done packing the main batch of monthly boxes, and I ship “goodies orders” from home – though if you order the whole box that ships from the fulfillment warehouse so please order separately).

What was your favorite part of the December box? And who is your favorite rebellious royal!? x Naomi

Fantasy Book Releases to Watch | January – June 2019

Curious what fantasy novels should be on your radar this year? This is a list of book releases I am most excited about for the first half of 2019 (I’ll make another list for July through December in a few months). This list is mostly young adult (YA) fantasy but there are also a few other things such as YA Sci fi and adult fantasy titles here and there, as I am always excited for those too. February and March are particularly heavy release months! All links are to the goodreads page for each book.

JANUARY

Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake – Jan 8 (YA fantasy)
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black – Jan 2 (YA fantasy)
The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden – Jan 8 (Fiction / Fantasy)
The Girl King by Mimi Yu – Jan 8 (YA fantasy)
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – Jan 15 (YA fantasy)
Stain by A.G. Howard – Jan 15 (YA fantasy)
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Jan 15 (YA fantasy)
Ship of Smoke & Steel by Diango Wexler – Jan 22 (YA fantasy)
Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye – Jan 22 (YA fantasy)
Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty – Jan 22 (Fiction / Fantasy / Epic)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Jan 29 (YA fantasy)
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Jan 29 (YA fantasy)

FEBRUARY

Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
The Cerulean by Amy Ewing – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
The Antidote by Shelley Sackier – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
Enchantée by Gita Trelease – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons – Feb 5 (Fiction / Fantasy / Epic)
Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway – Feb 5 (YA fantasy)
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau preto – Feb 12 (YA fantasy)
Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard – Feb 12 (YA fantasy)
The Afterward by E. K. Johnson – Feb 19 (YA fantasy)
Tarot by Marissa Kennerson – Feb 19 (YA fantasy)
Gates of Stone by Angus Macallan – Feb 19 (Fiction / Fantasy / Epic)
Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call – Feb 21 (Fiction / Fantasy / Epic)
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – Feb 26 (YA fantasy)
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – Feb 26 (Fiction / Fantasy)
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia – Feb 26 (YA fantasy)
An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley – Feb 26 (YA fantasy)
Warrior of the Wild by – Feb 26 (YA fantasy)
The Dysasters by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast – Feb 26 (YA fantasy)

MARCH

The Queen’s Resistance by Rebecca Ross – March 5 (YA fantasy)
The Women’s War by Jenna Glass – March 5 (Feminist fantasy / Epic)
The Shadow Glass (The Bone Witch #3) by Rin Chupeco – March 5 (YA fantasy)
The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton – March 5 (YA fantasy)
Deathcaster (Shattered Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima
Queen’s Shadow (STAR WARS Disney Canon Novel) by E.K. Johnston – March 5 (YA fantasy)
Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith – March 12 (YA fantasy)
The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Pérez – March 12 (YA fantasy)
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – March 12 (Fiction / Fantasy / Historical)
Beware the Night by Jessica Fleck – March 12 (YA fantasy)
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees – March 12 (YA fantasy)
To Best the Boys by Mary Weber – March 19 (YA fantasy)
Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter – March 19 (YA fantasy)
Sherwood by Meagan Spooner – March 19 (YA fantasy)
Between the Water and the Woods by Simone Snaith – March 19 (YA fantasy)
Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody – March 26 (YA sci-fi / Space Opera)
Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy – March 26 (YA Legends, Myths, Fables / Arthurian)
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi – March 26 (YA Epic Fantasy)
Superman Dawnbreaker by Matt de la Pena – March 26 (YA fiction / Superheros)

APRIL


The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman – April 2 (YA fantasy / Contemporary)
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – April 2 (YA Dark fantasy)
We Rule the Night by by Claire Eliza Bartlett – April 2 (YA Historical fantasy)
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – April 2 (YA fairy tale adaptation)
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – April 2 (YA fantasy)
Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake – April 9 (YA fantasy)
The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran – April 9 (YA historical fiction)
An Anatomy of Beasts by Olivia C. Cole – April 16 (YA sci-fi)
Nyxia Uprising (Nyxia Triad #3) by Scott Reintgen – April 16 (YA sci-fi)
Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker – April 16 (Epic fantasy)
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala – April 23 (YA fantasy)
King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2) by Amanda Foody – April 30 (YA fantasy)
The Unicorn Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman – April 19 (Fantasy)

MAY

Castle of Lies by Kiersi Burkhart – May 7 (YA fantasy)
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen – May 7 (YA fantasy)
Last Things by Jacquiline West – May 7 (YA dark fantasy)
Nocturna by Maya Motayne – May 7 (YA epic fantasy)
Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff – May 7 (YA sci-fi)
Romanov by Nadine Brandes – May 7 (YA historical fantasy)
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – May 14 (YA fantasy)
The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta – May 14 (YA contemporary fantasy)
Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron – May 14 (YA fantasy)
Kingsbane (Empirium #2) by Claire Legrand – May 21 (YA fantasy)
The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields – May 21 (YA dark fantasy)
Stepsister by Jennifer – May 28 (YA fantasy / adaptation)
The Kingdom by Jess – May 28 (YA fantasy)

JUNE

Before the Broken Star by Emily R. King – June 1 (YA epic fantasy)
The Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black – June 4 (YA epic fantasy)
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – June 4 (YA epic fantasy)
Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts #2) by Sara Wolf – June 4 (YA fantasy)
Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao – June 4 (YA fantasy)
The Beholder by Anna Bright – June 4 (YA fantasy)
Children of Virtue and Vengance (Legacy of Orïsha #2) by Tomi Adeyemi – June 4 (YA fantasy)
RAGE (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack – June 11 (YA fantasy)
RISE (Rule #2) by Ellen Goodlett – June 11 (YA fantasy)
Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout – June 11 (YA contemporary fantasy)
Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – June 11 (YA fantasy)
Teeth in the Mist by Kurtagich – June 11 (YA dark fantasy / horror)
All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil – June 18 (YA magical realism)
Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa – June 25 (YA epic fantasy)
Wicked Fox by Kat Cho – June 25 (YA modern fantasy romance)

It’s looking like a pretty epic year for new releases! Which books are you most excited to read in the first half of 2019? Lets talk about them in the comments below! And of course, if there is something epic missing from this list, do let me know.

Let the Magic Begin!

Hello Unicorns! Welcome to the official Unicorn Crate blog!  The Unicorn Pages is an extension of the Unicorn Crate community. If you’re interested in learning even more about the books featured in Unicorn Crate, interviews with authors and artists, book recommendations and reviews, behind the scenes of how certain items are selected or designed for the crates, and random bookish nerdiness then you’ve come to the right place!

Check back soon for new posts. My goal is to deliver enjoyable content 3-4x per month (once per week, typically). I’m excited to share even more bookish magic with you here. A blog provides a bit more breathing room than social media (though I do love our Instagram family!) and I can’t wait to see the content and comments unfold. I’m hoping this can be an uplifting place of great enjoyment, inspiration, and community for all those who love YA fantasy and other neighboring genres. #goodvibesonly

Please note this blog is not a substitute for the Unicorn Crate e-newsletter. I recommend you sign up for that, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss important dates and news about theme / product releases.

This blog is not a place to inquire about any orders you may have placed through Unicorn Crate. Please head to the UC FAQs or shoot me an email if you have a question regarding an order.

Are you a writer, bookstagrammer, or book photographer extraordinaire? If so and you are interested in contributing to this blog shoot me an email and pitch me your editorial ideas at hello@theunicorncrate.com. – Naomi