OwlCrate January 2022 Box – Review

It’s here, it’s finally here! The other day, my OwlCrate box for January finally came! For a while, I had canceled my OwlCrate subscription because I wasn’t actually reading the books, and I felt as if I was wasting money. But, with the start of this blog, the subscription is back, and I’m so happy about it!

The theme of the January 2022 box is Thrill of the Hunt. It’s a theme that gets me excited and makes me think of daring adventures, chases, criminals, and monsters. It’s an exciting concept that could encompass so many different things. The box came with so many different goodies that match the theme.

The first item was a limited edition ceramic bowl, styled after the Lord of the Rings, more specifically Erebor, the Dwarven kingdom. This is the first of a collection that will continue through the book boxes, each featuring a different location in Lord of the Rings. It’s a small-medium size, and looks like it would sit perfectly on my desk with candies and snacks in it.

One of my favorite items has to be the wooden bookmark, with a quote from The Gilded Wolves, which I haven’t read yet, but I do love the quote: “Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.” It’s a nice, sturdy bookmark, and I can’t wait to use it.

I also love the Six of Crows canvas pouch. I am obsessed with office supplies, and as such, I’m someone who believes that you can never have too many pencil pouches, so this canvas pouch is an absolute delight. It’s big and looks sturdy, and the design on the pouch is beautiful.

I love the compass pin banner. I like it so much more than the last pin banner I had, which was just plain black with some white thorn/barbed-wire detailing. This one really seems to fit in with the theme of the monthly enamel pins

The theme of the 2022 collection of enamel pins is “Literary Luggage”, each shaped like a suitcase with little decorations on it. It’s adorable and if the others fit the theme as well, it will look really nice when pinned to the compass banner hanging on my wall.

There was also a Dinar coin from We Hunt the Flame. Now, I haven’t read the book this comes from yet, but I thought it was a neat little trinket. It makes me excited to read the book. It’s intricate and heavy, and I’m sure for people who have read the book, they really love it.

The Ivory Key, is the first book in an Indian-inspired fantasy duology, and it looks so good. It is an epic YA fantasy siblings novel which is so exciting. The cover is also gorgeous. I’ll be honest, I read some of it already in a parking lot waiting for my dermatologist appointment, and in just the fifty-seven pages I have read so far, it’s good. It’s got adventure and magic, and shocking twists that I wasn’t expecting. I’m really excited to read it and get a review out to you by either the end of January or the beginning of February.

Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy – Review


“The Adventure Zone” started as a sort of throwaway episode of the podcast, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me”, a comedic advice podcast by three brothers, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. In the episode, they’re joined by their father, Clint, and they play their first session of DnD, for what boils down to essentially the first time ever, for all four of them. Griffin takes the reigns as DM (Dungeon Master), and the other three, Clint, Justin, and Travis, are the only players. They just wanted to see if anyone would like it. People liked it so much it became its own podcast, now nearly eight years running at the time of writing (beginning in 2014).

                Then, Clint McElroy, in collaboration with Carey Pietsch, adapted the campaign into a graphic novel. And it is fantastic. I’ll start by giving praise to Carey Pietsch, whose illustrations are both fun and beautiful. Art style can so often be overlooked in reviews such as these (especially when the reviewer doesn’t actually know anything about art, like me), buried by the need to talk about plot and character, but art style can be a dealbreaker for some people. I’m guilty of this as well, I couldn’t get through the first episode of the anime “Eyeshield 21” because of the art style (sorry!). But Pietsch’s art is so great. It’s clean, legible, stylistic, and overall, just aesthetically pleasing. Also, shout out to the fan art section in the back of the book, how fun is that!

                The book itself is fun. I already knew the plot going in, as I had listened to the podcast, but it’s definitely not a necessity. The story makes just as much sense if you had listened to the podcast than if you hadn’t. It’s truly an exceptional adaptation in that regard. Sure, there was a twenty-minute fight scene that had been condensed into a single panel. However, this does nothing to change the story, it’s one of the most inconsequential fights in the podcast and does nothing to change the plot. In adaptation, changes are necessary, and the changes made to this adaptation both make sense and helps make the story even better than its original form.

                Even if you don’t know much about Dungeons and Dragons or even tabletop role player games, this is such an enjoyable read. It’s a fantasy adventure with funny commentary and fourth wall breaks with the inclusion of appearances from Griffin McElroy as the DM, a charming nod back to the source material, and a great storytelling tool to drive the plot and keep the characters moving, just like how an actual DM does when running a campaign. It gives it a meta feel to the entire book which is fun as a reader.

                But the most important thing is what the story is actually about. “Here There Be Gerblins” follows the story of Merle Highchurch, a dwarven cleric, Magnus Burnsides, a human fighter, and Taako, an elven wizard, as they go on an adventure. (Warning! From here on out there will be spoilers for this book!) in the beginning, their quest seems simple, help Merle’s cousin and his friend Barry Bluejeans escort a cart of supplies to a neighboring town. And then they’re attacked by gerblins, and Merle’s cousin and Barry Bluejeans are nowhere to be found. Then the quest becomes a lot more interesting and dangerous.

                What follows is a quest to save their kidnapped compatriots, fight a giant spider in a large mine, find a mystical relic, attempt to save a town, and discover a hidden organization tasked with saving the world. The story takes so many twists and turns that once you’ve started, it’s impossible to put the book down.  

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Is it cliche to say “new year new me”? Sure! But the new year is a great time to start something new. Try a new craft, learn a new skill, start a journal, a journey. Start a new habit, even. Or, don’t worry about it and live the way you’ve been living, either is fine. The new year and its resolutions can have people thinking they need to change, but there’s no need to force the sort of change people usually try to make at this time of year. Sometimes making it through the year is hard enough, without doing anything extra. Why stress yourself out at the beginning of the year? So make a change, keep going strong along the path you have walked all along. Either way you decide to start the year, I hope that your 2022 is happy, healthy, and safe.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to my site!

It’s so nice to see you! I’m Lauren, and this is all very new to me. I’m a recent college graduate, so recent in fact that my graduation was just my name flashing by on a live Youtube stream, as I watched from my living room (go class of 2020!).

Originally, all I had wanted to do was make a blog where I could write little reviews about books I read, as college and life had taken reading away from me, something I used to love doing and did all the time when I was younger. Despite being an English major (my focus being Creative Writing), I hadn’t actually read for fun in what felt like forever. I realized just how bad it had gotten when I had the same professor for two semesters in a row for a creative writing class, and he asked us what was the most recent book we had read. And I had to say the same book both semesters. And I had listened to it as an audiobook. I hadn’t even read it.

It was humiliating in a way that was only noticeable to me. He didn’t remember what I had said the last semester, neither did the other people who had taken both classes with me. But as I raked my memory for another book I had read, I drew a blank. I used to be able to read a 500 page book over the course of a school day. But now as a college student, I hadn’t read a single other book over an entire semester. It was devastating. And I had the nerve to call myself a “reader”. So I decided I was going to start a book blog where I would be forced to read, to finally get through the books piled high on my bookshelves, and write some reviews on them. Even if nobody would read them, I would have them.

Then I graduated and the real world began. I’m now currently working as a freelance editor. So this new book blog is going to serve many purposes.

The first purpose, the one I’m most excited about, is as a book blog. I’m going to read more books, and maybe once a month, I’m going to post a review. The second is to hopefully use this as a sort of business blog, to put my name out there so people know that I am ready and willing to help edit their work. The third is to do reviews of other things, shows, movies, maybe the occasional podcast. I haven’t decided, but it sounds pretty fun! And the fourth reason is to talk about my writing. The books I’m working on, my struggles, my triumphs, the funny things I learn along the way, and maybe after a while with some luck, where you can find my finished, published book.

That’s the goal at least. For now, it’s a pretty bare-bones site, but I think it’s cute, and looking at it brings me a small joy. Look, I have a website! And maybe it’s a small first step, but it’s one I’ve finally taken. If you’d like to follow along with me, or check back in every once in a while to see how I’m doing, I’d really appreciate it!