The Cocoa Deception
December BoxThe Spanish Daughter by Lorena Hughes
"Why had my father left me in charge when he hadn't seen me since I was two? Why not leave it to Angelica, the eldest of the Ecuadorian children, or Alberto, the only male in the family? As Aquilino continued reading, in that monotone he used every time he opened his mouth, Angelica fanned herself faster."
- a silk, floral patterned fan.
"The guests were gathering downstairs already. My hands trembled as I put my sapphire earrings on. Silvia had been right. Blue suited me."
- a pair of blue crystal and gold earrings.
"I thanked her and added, as a truce, 'I would like to reciprocate your kindness with a small token of my appreciation, something that I'm certain my Puri would've liked very much.' I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing chocolate drinks and truffles for Laurent and my sisters."
- a silicone chocolate mold and recipe for hot chocolate bombs.
"As my siblings and my father's lawyer stared at me, I removed my spectacles and set them on the coffee table, then I pulled off my beard and mustache, relieved that this would be the last time I would ever have to wear that dreadful thing."
- a faux beard, inspired by Puri's faux beard, and a straw sunhat.
Through Thick and Thin
November BoxWe Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
"Tamara prepares herself with a deep breath and then opens the door. She walks a few feet into the room, plops down on the bed. It's covered with a pilly plaid comforter. She grabs a pillow, holds it to her face. 'I keep coming in here and smelling his pillow. How long do you think it'll keep smelling like him?'"
- a plaid, burlap pillowcase.
"Lou picks up the file Rita left on the counter. 'I don't think you're supposed to look at that.' I have no idea if this is an actual rule, but it feels like one. 'Well I don't see why not. These are your files. You have a right to know what they're saying, don't you? So let's see here...' She holds the paper away from her face like shes having trouble reading. 'Baby Boy Murphy. He's cute.' Lou holds up an ultrasound photo and continues to talk, unfazed. 'You didn't remember we wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise?'"
- an ultrasound photo of Jen and Kevin's baby.
"The letter lies there on the kitchen table, tucked beneath a vase of fresh daisies. The words slant across the page in Kevin's best penmanship, the cursive the nuns taught him at St. Francis."
- the letter, pulled directly from the novel, and a vase of faux daisies.
"But Jenny's laughter catches in her throat as she opens the box. Inside is a delicate bracelet of pearls and the note from Gigi. Jenny's lips move as she reads Gigi's last words to her, words I have already read dozens of times. She slides the string of iridescent beads over her still-swollen fingers and onto her wrist."
- an exclusively written note from the authors who penned Gigi's last words, plus an 18k gold plated, freshwater pearl bracelet with slide adjustment.
October BoxIn Another Light by AJ Banner
"She finds a wallet with a driver's license listing an address in Oregon, takes a picture with her phone. Numerous business cards and pocket photos in Pauline's wallet. It takes some time for Phoebe to look through all of them. Stuck to the back of a business card is a faded photograph, creased and ripped on one side. It's only half a color picture. At first, she doesn't quite comprehend what she is seeing. The hair, the smile, the clothing. She recognizes the shirt, the background crowd at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Her hands tremble, a cloud passing through the room. Invisible, cold fingers press on her throat. It can't be true, but it is. In Pauline Steele's purse, Phoebe has found a photograph of herself."
- an adorable custom wallet containing Pauline's license and the photograph of Phoebe.
"The air in the kitchen seems to draw into itself. There is one origami frog on the kitchen counter, a simple crane on a side table. Phoebe's throat goes dry.'"
- a metal box containing a set of origami paper and instructions for folding various animals, including a frog and crane.
"'Anything like this accident?' Xia unzips her backpack and whips open a file folder. She slides an article, printed from the internet, across the table. 'Maine, nine years ago. This guy disappears at sea, out sailing with his wife, leaves her behind to mourn."
- an Unsolved Mystery case file mini game with clues and details about figuring out a mystery.
"Phoebe takes off the backpack, pulls out a blue hairbrush. 'This was yours, do you remember?' She's lying - the hairbrush is new, unused. 'I used to brush my own hair.' Phoebe holds her breath, brushes Me's hair. Brushes and brushes."
- a teal hairbrush.
September BoxThe Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
"Kim finds a planner in the bag and flicks through it. It's full of Tallulah's dense, somewhat inelegant handwriting - she'd started off left-handed and forced herself to learn to write with her right hand to fit in at primary school. There's no point looking for phone numbers - no one writes down phone numbers anymore - but maybe Scarlett's name will appear on a class list or some such. And there it is, glued down and folded up on the back inside cover of the planner: 'Student Contacts'. "
- a gorgeous, custom reading journal to track your reading habits with the Student Contact list on the back inside cover.
"In front of them is the pool. It's set in a cream marble terrace with a curtained pagoda at one end housing a huge cream-cushioned daybed. At angles along its length are teak sunbeds with matching cream cushions. Floating at the pool's center, inside a bright pink inflatable flamingo, is a tall thin girl with lime-green hair and a black bandeau bikini top.'"
- a mini pink flamingo inflatable drink holder.
"There's a small rusty trowel on the wooden bench and she slips it into the outside pocket of her rucksack. She has an idea. The arrow on the piece of cardboard nailed to the fence points down and slightly to the left. She has no idea if 'Dig Here' is a precise instruction or a general suggestion, but she starts digging as close to the tip of the arrow as she can."
- a small gardening trowel with a quote from the novel engraved on the handle, paired with a piece of cardboard reading Dig Here.
"Sophie closes her laptop then and is about to pick it up and leave when her eye is caught by something poking out from the half-disgorged contents of Lexi's suitcase. It's a copy of her book."
- a custom dust jacket showcasing the book title from within the novel, wrapped around a real copy of Hidden by Fern Michaels for readers to enjoy.
August BoxIf The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
"On his nightstand is a small Moleskin notebook. I reach for it and find the front page to be speckled with numbers and doodles. Flipping through the pages, I don't find much else except for a few funny stick figure drawings and one page that says JAY, GET ME OUT OF THIS MEETING in huge caps. I laugh. Subtle. Doubling back to the first page, I find a clear space and press my lips to the paper, leaving the impression of my red lips for him to find later. It's a secret, untraceable message from me to him."
- a yellow moleskin notebook with a few details as mentioned in the novel.
"I grab the radio and sneak out to the balcony after slipping on my hoodie. I hold the walkie-talkie up. 'Hello?' 'Cabbage Patch, is that you?' a semigroggy voice asks. I gasp and hold the walkie-talkie to my chest as I scream in delight with my mouth closed. I press the talk button. 'Cabbage Patch, over.'"
- a custom die cut walkie talkie bookmark with a QR code on the back for a walkie talkie app.
"I wrap the towel around me, and of course, it barely covers anything, and suddenly I'm wishing for the very large, very luxurious towels at our New York hotel."
- a Turkish towel inspired by the novel.
"The shoe I've been working on is rough-looking to the naked eye. Exposed seams. Obvious shoe nail tacks. But I can see what it's supposed to be. I can see the potential, and this tassel is the crowning finish."
- a navy blue, tassled keychain, customized with a leather hang tag featuring the book title.
Catherine Dior, French Resistance Spy
July BoxSisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells
"Gabby wanted to snatch the drawings back, but she made herself stay where she was. 'Yes. I saw you.' Yvette stared at her intently. Then she lowered her gaze to the page. 'These are...superb, Gabby. You always did hide your light.' 'Take that one,' Gabby blurted out. 'It's of you.' It was the corolle dress that Yvette had shown off so well, her waist impossibly tiny, her bosom and neck rising, swanlike, from the low-cut bodice."
- a custom drawing of Yvette in the corolle dress.
"Nerves jangling, Gabby clutched her purse tightly. 'Are you here to waste my time, mademoiselle?' 'Of course not. Please, I...' She fished in her purse and brought out a small velvet bag. 'I have-'"
- a pink box clutch purse with a chain inside, in addition to the small velvet bag and ring as described in the novel.
"When Louise had finished the message, she took out the satin-covered case in which she kept her pearls and removed them, dropping the loose pearls into a china bowl. She lifted out the velvet bed from the jewel box and used a pen-knife to slit open the lining, just enough to slide her small note through between the lining and the base of the box. Then she sewed up the tear with tiny stitches, fitted the velvet bed back in place, and put the pearls on top of that."
- a velvet box containing a faux pearl bracelet. Underneath the pearls was the coded note from the novel.
"Catherine bent to pick something up from the floor and held it out to Gabby. Through a haze of grief, Gabby looked down. A small bird, stippled with diamonds, a tiny sapphire for an eye. She closed her hand over it, held it tightly, felt the pin pierce the fleshy part of her palm."
- a silver, CZ and blue CZ embedded hummingbird brooch.
You May Say I'm a Dreamer
June BoxReset by Sarina Dahlan
"The next scene unfolds as if it is from one of the films. The fedora man approaches the angry man slowly and deliberately. The angry man steps back until his body hits a column of the building. For a moment, Aris wonders if he is going to hurt the newcomer. In a quick move, the man in the fedora grabs his hand as if wanting to shake it. Instead, he puts a silver bangle on the angry man's wrist. Instantly, the angry man becomes silent and still as the column behind him. His rage dissipates into the air like smoke."
- a silver hinge bracelet.
"'I brought you something even better.' Benja hands her a package. Aris unwraps it and reveals a small desertscape painting. Her face breaks into a wide smile."
- a beautiful, desertscape art print.
"The notes transition. A familiar tune. The one she asked Lucy to wake her with each morning since she first heard it. Luce. She sighs and leans back in her seat. The spring inside her unwinds. The rhythm of the song slows down her pulse and she closes her eyes."
- A QR Code that links the reader to the song that was the authors' inspiration for Luce.
"She goes to the restroom and brings out a candle she uses during baths. Benja is at her side at once. She places it on the table and lights it, sending the calming scent of lavender into the air. She takes the piece of blue paper and holds it over the flame. Benja sucks in a breath. His eyes stare unblinking. A corner of the paper curls and a burning smell rises. She raises the paper. She needs to find that perfect place between answer and ash. Brown lines slowly appear, one by one, until words form."
- a gorgeous speckled candle jar containing a candle, and a blue folded paper crane meant to be burned to reveal the message included in the book.
"In his hand is an old book with a cover so tattered she can barely see the words. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He opens the book and reads a passage. Suddenly, a bright light shines up from the book, bathing the room in white, like the inside of a hospital."
- a wooden book wrapped in custom paper reading, 'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that when opened reveals a beautiful, warm swath of light.
May BoxA Betting Woman by Jenni L. Walsh
"I smiled to myself. Between two of the men's scraggly faces, a mirror hung. I saw my smile. Life's timing was fortuitous, because there, I also saw the comforting likeness of my sister. 'Miss?' a man asked. I picked only him to focus on. 'You will play?' His smile showed a blackened tooth. 'Play with you?' I wished for gloves as I palmed the deck. 'Do you see anyone else sitting here, monsieur, brandishing a set of cards?"
- a custom printed, elegant, waterproof deck of cards
"I heard the scratch of his brush slowing, as if he was performing final touches. 'Well?' He finessed one spot more, then turned the canvas around. I laughed, even while my forehead creased and I fought the urge to run from embarrassment. 'You've removed all my underclothes?!'"
- a beautiful art print.
"In that moment, I felt as if no one could. I rolled the dice. It was clear my mountain men enjoyed chuck-a-luck, but it was my vingt-et-un they loved, that they asked for."
- a custom designed game board and all necessary pieces to play Chuck-a-Luck
"The hair on Gerald's face was stuck between clean-shaven and a beard. He reeked of alcohol, the smell even greater than the nearby livestock. His clothing was the same as the evening before. I'd put him in his forties, but he wasn't aging well. 'Bonjour.' I did not break stride. However, I twisted my parasol to my other side to keep an eye on him.'"
- a polka-dot parasol umbrella.
images by @The_Bookish_Runner
Oh Darling, Let's Be Adventurers
April BoxMeet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
"We swam through tunnels and one dark cave. I gripped Luca's hand tightly. It was like being in another world completely. I could feel the history of the island bubbling up as liquid rock from the ocean. Around us, spires emerged from the ocean floor. We skirted along the bottom, finding sponges and more fish, a squid, patches of coral, even something Lucas wrote was a flamingo tongue snail. The bottom was littered with shells. Lucas produced a mesh bag, and we put some interesting ones into it."
- a mesh fresh produce bag.
"'You're up, and I need your song. Or do you wanna pass?' I wanted to pass. I really wanted to pass. I glanced behind me. The light was spinning around the room, illuminating random faces in the crowd. It caught on Lucas for an instant. He was looking right at me and he nodded. I thought of what he'd said to me - just have fun. 'Do you have Dancing Queen?' The DJ scoffed. 'Of course! I have everything ABBA ever wrote. Classic choice.' He handed me the microphone. 'Knock 'em dead.' I blew out a long breath as I stepped on to the stage clutching the microphone."
- a rose gold, bluetooth microphone.
"Felix's gaze settled on the coconut water. It was perfectly normal. The little carton. The straw. Oh my God, the ring around the straw. There was a ring around the straw."
- a holigraphic rainbow, reusable rubber and steel straw with carrying case and cleaning rod. Around the straw is a rose gold and cz ring.
"He held up his fist in front of me and opened it. There in his palm was a perfect pearl, white and lustrous like bridal silk, but it was set in the middle of a simple golden disc hanging from a delicate chain. I picked it up between my fingers. 'Is this what I think it is?' 'Well you can't find treasure and leave it behind.'"
- a gold seashell pendant with a pearl set into the shell.
images by @The_Bookish_Runner
The Secret Poison Shop
March BoxThe Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
"I walked to a shelf behind Eliza and retreived the small, milk-colored dish. Resting inside were four brown hen's eggs, two of them slighly larger than the others. I set the dish of eggs onto the table. 'Eggs,' Eliza whispered, jolting me from my reverie. She looks up at me confused. 'You have a chicken that lays poisonous eggs?'"
- a small ceramic dish and three wooden eggs.
"Nella paused at my words, the quill in her hand. But without replying, she placed the nib to parchment and began to write. 'Miss Berwell. Mistress to, cousin of, the Lord Clarence. Cantharides. 9 Febrary 1791. On account of his wife, the Lady Clarence.' On the last mark, she held the nib to the paper and exhaled, and I felt sure tears were imminent. Finally, she set the quill on its side, and a gentle roll of thunder rumbled somewhere outside."
- a stylus quill.
"'Very unsafe, this one,' he said holding up the vial. 'If you've got kids, I suggest you toss it altogether. Isn't the first time I've dealt with accidental ingestion of this stuff.'"
- a bottle of eucalyptus oil.
"I clutched the vial to my chest. Eliza must have done the same while standing on Blackfriars Bridge, not far from here. Raising the vial above my head, I thrust it forward to the water with as much strength as my arm allowed. I watched as the bottle made an arc upward and over the water, then splashed gently in the far depths of the Thames."
- a glass apothecary reed diffuser bottle.
images by @The_Bookish_Runner
The Snowbound Mystery
February BoxShiver by Allie Reynolds
"The floorboards seem to wobble beneath me and I have to grip the bunk before I fall down. There on top of the folded pile of clothes lies Saskia's lift pass. My hand shakes as I pick it up. He shouldn't have this."
- a custom printed lanyard and ski pass.
"I study her, hoping her amusement is due to surprise rather than the demise of Jacinta's season. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a black scrap of cloth. 'You mean this?' I notice the symbol in the corner - the white lightning bolt of Electric eyewear. 'Hey, that's my goggle cloth.' 'I found it in the pipe where poor Jacinta fell. You dropped it right on top of her.'"
- a custom pair of snowboarding goggles with the quotes from the book printed on it.
"Curtis bolts from the room. Left in the dark, the rest of us have no choice but to hurry after him. Around the corner, the music is louder. Oh God, I know this song. It's the one Saskia used to love: the Killers' 'Somebody Told Me.' Heather sucks in her breath, clearly recognizing it, too. We reach the stairs that lead up to the function room and once again I smell perfume. Dread pools inside me."
- a custom poured black orchid and vanilla perfume inspired by Saskia's perfume.
"Hardly aware of what I'm doing, I make coffee. Behind me, she continues dressing. I shouldn't do this, but I'm going to. I hand her the coffee and wait until she finishes it. 'I hope you break your neck,' I say."
- a black digital thermos for hot or cold beverages with an internal tea strainer.
images by @The_Bookish_Runner
From the Pages of History
January BoxYellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
"'Got something for you.' 'What is it?' I sat cross-legged with my skirt pulled down over my feet. 'Close your eyes and no peeking.' I could hear him rummaging around. 'Now, open them.' My lids blinked open to see Essex holding up two leather strips. Hanging from each was a wooden carving of a half a heart. 'This one for you.' He took one of the necklaces and tied it around my neck. 'Just a little something to hold us over till I can marry you properly and get us 'ways from here."
- a set of two wooden half-heart pendants on black cord.
"'Well, Pheby, I brought you something.' He took a few steps toward me and held out his hand. Inside there was a thimble. Silver, shiny, and quite honestly the most beautiful thing anyone had ever given me."
- a silver thimble.
"I sat on the edge of the bed, trying my best to take in my new situation. When I stood to leave for my shed something caught the corner of my eye: a dusty leather-bound book on the nightstand near the far wall. I had not been near a book insce I arrived at the jail. I listened for footsteps. My heartbeat increased as I turned the book over in my hand. The cover read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. When I opened it, I had to press the leaves down a few times at the front and then the back for it to fully spring to life."
- a custom, exclusive edition of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.
"I ran my fingers over my dress. 'What did he say?' 'Where the yella wife wit' the medicine?' My stomach quieted down. He had not betrayed our connection. Elsie placed the laundered shirts on the table and then headed out of the shed. Instead of carrying my whole medicine bag to Essex, I thought it best to hide a few things in my pockets. The brown jarl a blam I'd made with black elder, peppermint, and ginger for when the girls came down with fever; sliced onion; and some bread."
- a dark jar filled with Miss Pheby's Peppermint Lavender Salt Rub.
images by @The_Bookish_Runner