Paperhaul May Review: FLAMINGO FLAVOUR

Our postie misdelivered my #Paperhaul to a neighbour, luckily she’s a nice one, so she kept it safe until we got home from our weekend away!

I’m still loving the updated look of these! The white card envelopes look brighter and fresher than the previous brown cardboard boxes, and I appreciate the way the whole set is tied together by the large accent sticker on the outer packaging and the inserted business card echoing the month’s design.

The May Paperhaul theme was Flamingo Flavour, and featured lovely pink flamingoes, hibiscus flowers and lush green ferny palm fronds, all in tropical shades of coral pinks and deep forest greens.

Included in May’s superb stationery selection were:

  • A cute noteblock, with a colourful flamingo illustration down the side of the pages

  • 2 postcards, one featuring a cute illustration of a pair of flamingos and the other bearing a bold leafty print, incorporating a ‘hello‘ greeting.

I think the matching reverse is a lovely additional touch to these postcards.

  • 3 mini flat cards, featuring prints co-ordinating to the set,  all with beautifully textured matching cream envelopes.

And finally,

  • A jazzy A6 notebook, featuring dot grid pages and all over leafy printed cover.

I think the noteblock with the lovely illustrated pages is my favourite item in the Flamingo Flavour collection, what’s yours​?

Want Your Own?

If you are interested in a Paperhaul Subscription, you can find out more here

Subscriptions are £10/month, with p&p extra (£2 UK, £5 Europe, £6 Rest of World). 

Don’t forget, you can use code ” 25OFF ” to receive a 25% discount off your first Paperhaul box. 
So, what do you think of the May collection, or Paperhaul in general? If you were familiar with the previous style, which do you prefer?

Thanks for reading,

Hugs,

Crafty xx


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[Book Review] THE WEIGHT OF HIM by Ethel Rohan

TITLE: THE WEIGHT OF HIM

AUTHOR: Ethel Rohan

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Atlantic Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786491909

PRICE: £12.99

How do you carry on, when you lose someone you love?

The Story

Already struggling with his health, weight and personal relationships; Big Billy Brennan finds himself unable to cope when his family suffer a great tragedy.

Michael, their eldest son; a well-liked and seemingly confident teen; commits suicide.

Whilst wife & mother Tricia thinks that trying to return some semblance of normality to family life is the way forward, Billy sees it as an impetus to improve his life and that of those around him. 

Inspired by their youngest kids’ sponsored walkathon, Billy decides to get fit whilst simultaneously raising both funds and awareness for suicide prevention charities.

He embarks on a weightloss and exercise programme that very quickly takes over his life. Weighing in at over 400 lbs, he decides he wants to lose half; the only problem is, he is so morbidly obese and unfit that even walking to the garden gate is a struggle!

Although he has a few moments of weakness, he gradually garners the support of colleagues, reporters and the local residents; and this spurs him on.

The only problem is, those he feels should be supporting him the loudest; his wife, kids, sister and parents; all, for various reasons of their own, don’t want him to succeed.

‘Conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of comedy and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring.’ – Eowyn Ivey, international bestselling author of THE SNOW CHILD

First Impressions

The cover is intriguing; the illustration seems light-hearted, in direct juxtaposition with the subject material.

Further into the story, there is also an element of who will fill Michael​’s boots on the farm.

The author’s vivid descriptions of Billy’s thoughts & feelings, and his all-consuming desperate need of; and enjoyment from; comfort eating make for uncomfortable reading. 

Each member of the Brennan family is trying to cope with the pain of their loss in the best way they can. I can understand Billy’s need to do something, but Tricia’s wish to try to return their day-to-day to normality (or as normal as it can be) is equally as valid.

However I must admit to feeling an irrational amount of irritation with regards to the responses of the grandparents. At first, it seems they are just old and set in their ways, but as we learn more about Billy’s own childhood, it becomes clear that they have always been particularly cold.




Hopefully Billy finds some peace through his weightloss and improved wellbeing endeavours and perhaps as he feels better both about and within himself, so too will the rest of the family. 

Thoughts

The author writes about the family’s feelings of loss, grief and uncertainty in a thoughtful manner and whilst saddening in places, i can imagine that reading it at or after a time of loss may prove a useful aid to processing the mixed emotions felt.

On a personal note, I know one of our family stories that always encites giggles is from around the time of my father passing away. Anyone looking from outside would probably find it somewhat crass but the reality was (and still is) that this particular moment of mild hysteria kept us going.  

Rating & Recommendations

A touching story, I rate this bittersweet and uplifting tale 4 out of 5 stars.

The author deals with highly emotive subjects such as suicide, addiction, grief and loss in a sensitive manner; whilst introducing just the right amount of humour.

The Author

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland; Ethel Rohan now lives and works in San Francisco.

She is the author of two short story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through The Bone. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The New York Times, PEN America and The Rumpus; as well as reviewing for the New York Journal of Books among others. 

You can connect with her via Twitter or find out more at EthelRohan.com.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Atlantic Books, via ReadersFirst  publication.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! I’d love to hear whether you have or would like to read this!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[MailCall Monday] 29 May 2017

Last week was certainly busier on the mail front!

Bookmail

This week brought two ARCs from publishers Bonnier-Zaffre, via ReadersFirst. They actually arrived as I was packing for a weekend away, so the timing was perfect!

The two books could not be more different!

The Mayfly by James Hazel, with it’s murder and intrigue, is certainly more like my usual choice of reading material.

Whilst The Farm Girl’s Dream by Eileen Ramsay seems rather different to the historical fiction I would normally select, I was intrigued by the fact it was set in and around my local area. I’ve picked up a little bit about both farming in Angus and the mills of Dundee during the Victorian era, so I’m eager to find out how accurate it is!

Both are published on June 15th, so keep a lookout for my reviews nearer the time! 

A Thank You Gift

I must admit to being somewhat confused by this one, as although the envelope bore the sender’s franking, there was no covering note included.

It was only afterwards that I had a vague recollection of completing a survey for museum services at one of the local universities.

Dundee University Museum Services is run by a delightful chap by the name of Matthew; and as well as curating fantastic zoological & medical history museums; they organise a varied programme of exhibitions, talks and events throughout the year.

A Cutie Fruity (May Boxcitement)

I was surprised to receive this as it doesn’t seem like a whole month since I told you about the last one!

Anyway, I’m just giving you a sneak peek as I’ll be posting a full unboxing later in the week

 In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Boxcitement you can check their website, or see my review of last month’s ‘Lost in the Woods’ box (where you’ll also find a code for 10% off your first box!)

A Stationery Swap

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a swap, but when I noticed the lovely Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence was hosting one of her regular #BringBackPaper Stationery swaps, I had to join in. 

She runs these very efficiently, you just email a note of interest and include your address, then she pairs you up with someone and emails you both the others address. You then have until the end of the month to send your partner a selection of stationery goodies, with a budget of £5 (and yeah, of course I always manage to stick to that)  

This time I was paired with someone named Stephanie, from London. I don’t think I’ve come across Steff before, but perhaps I’ll now get a comment saying “Hey! It’s MEEEE!! You know me as xxxx on yyyy

When I saw the nicely tape decorated envelope, I knew what it was, as I recognised the return address on the sender’s label as being the one I had written on my parcel a few days before. 

Inside the envelope, I found a decorated cellophane bag full of lovely papery bits.

There was a good mix of stickers, paper, tape samples, postcards & embellishments.

I loved having a good rummage, especially discovering what sort of treasures were in the stuffed envelopes.

I just hope Steff enjoyed opening her goodies as much as I enjoyed opening mine! 
So, that was the contents of my mailbox, did you receive any interesting mail last week?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty, xxx

If it fits in an envelope, it’s still a card

It’s my mother-in-law’s birthday today.
Over the years, I have pushed the boundaries of what counts as a card (1/2 size 3D replica shoes, complete with shoebox, to match the handbag we bought her being one example. The birthday greeting was found on the label inside.) but as this one fits inside an envelope, I think I am justified in calling it a card!

The base box is cut, scored and folded from one A4 sheet of card.

Cross strips to add depth to your arrangement of embellishments can be made from card or heavyweight acetate.

It’s easier to apply the outer box décor before you stick the box together. In this case, I used a few offcuts of co-ordinating 12″ scrapbooking paper.

Once you insert the supports inside, you can start building up your display.

I used some fabric flowers, layered onto card stems; and added some ‘MUM’ bunting and a tiny card and envelope which adds a personal message.


The basic design can be embellished to suit a variety of ages & occasions :

  • New Home? Make the outer box out of Kraft card, and embelish with household items
  • Baby? Fill with toys, rattles & other baby accoutrements
  • Birthday ‘Gift’ filled with party accessories such as party hats, balloons, champagne glasses etc
  • Favourite hobbies
  • A favourite book, film or TV show can offer many ideas for objects to utilise
  • Wedding? Hearts, flowers, champagne, rings etc. Often an invitation will hint at the colourscheme for the day, so you can create a keepsake and greeting in one!
  • Favourite characters make great themes for children’s birthdays.

What themes would you make one for? And how would you embellish it?

It would be great if you shared your ideas!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘Love in Row 27’ by Eithne Shortall

TITLE: LOVE IN ROW 27

AUTHOR: Eithne Shortall

GENRE: Romance

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786492036

PRICE: £7.99


The Story

Heartbroken and home from Berlin after the breakdown of a 2 year romance, Cora finds herself working the check-in desk at Heathrow where a serendipitous policy change regarding a pause on self-service means she finds herself in the position to play Cupid (indeed, this becomes the name her flight attendant friend Nancy affectionately calls her). 

Cora and Nancy have a system where suitable single candidates for love are sat together in row 27. Cora gets proceedings started by a bit of surreptitious Facebook research to choose the best matches, then Nancy oils the wheels with coffee and an encouragement to chat. 

As the book progresses, we learn more about Cora’s failed romance and her mother’s ailing health. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Sheila is now living in a research clinic and as she was (as an ex-employee) instrumental in her daughter getting the Airline job, Cora finds herself torn with the idea of moving on elsewhere because leaving the airport also means leaving behind all the stories and memories to be shared about her mum; that soon Sheila will be unable to remember. 

Cora becomes obsessed with her matchmaking, to the detriment of her friendships, and her own possible chance at romance; when Nancy attempts a little matchmaking of her own, between Cora and the tall, dark and handsome Charlie from airline security.

A particularly entertaining thread that runs through the book is Cupid’s attempts to find love for frequent high-flyer Ingrid, a Swedish businesswoman; and the only passenger to cotton-on to the matchmaking scheme.

Throughout the story we remeet a few more frequent targets, such as Aiden; a handsome doctor who intrigues & infuriates Cora in equal measure on his weekly return flights to Ireland.

Thoughts

The book cover design is whimsical and fun and whilst i don’t tend to go for chick-lit or romances; i really enjoyed the humourous writing, the witty repartee between Cora & Nancy, and the touching way that the issue of Alzheimer’s is addressed as we learn more about Cora’s mum Sheila’s ailing health. 


Rating & Recommendations

Both witty & touching, I rate this entertaining read 4 out of 5 stars.


I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book and found myself glad I tried a genre I would normally overlook.

I would recommend this book to fans of Marian Keyes, and those who enjoy a romance with plenty of humour.

The Author

Based in Dublin after having previously lived in London, France and America; Eithne Shortall is a former student of journalism at Dublin City University.

She is an arts correspondent for The Sunday Times, and Love In Row 27 is her debut novel.

A self-confessed committed matchmaker from an early age; she enjoys sea swimming, cycling and eating scones; when not concerning herself with other people’s love lives.

You can connect with the lovely Eithne Shortall on Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Corvus, via Readers First, in exchange for an honest review.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[MailCall Monday] 22 May 2017

The last week started off pretty slow in terms of interesting mail…

Like everyone else’s letterbox in the UK at present, there were a fair few electioneering flyers & some very tempting takeout menus.
Towards the end of the week, however, the fun stuff started arriving.

This is a NinjaBookBox​ Month.

NinjaBookBox is a quarterly subscription that includes a book and a selection of associated goodies. The items are all sourced from Independent publishers and small businesses, making for an unusual & exciting box. 
You can see my full unboxing post later this week, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek…

Also, feel free to use my referral code HEATHER15 to get 15% off any purchases over £5 in the Ninja Book Shop. You can even use it to get a discounted ‘A Grand Adventure’ Summer Reading Box

The Rest of This Week’s Bookmail 

The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman is a contemporary fiction tale, full of love, obsession, and alternate realities.

Twins Aidan & Diane live in a small American town, next door to Collin; artist, actor, misfit.

Collin becomes involved with Aidan’s teacher, Nina and this is where the web woven by Arkadia; the large gaming company which dominates the town; tightens around it.

Nina, is the daughter of Arkadia’s owner.

Both Aidan & Collin become increasingly immersed in Arkadia’s online gameworld, Everwhen.

When Aidan receives a mysterious black boX which allows him to physically enter the gameworld, he finds both the reality and his perceptions of the two worlds become skewed.

As Collin also finds himself pulled deeper into the game, Nina begins to suspect there is something far wrong but doesn’t know how to help.

When the two world collide, everyone involved find their lives changed, and their loyalties torn.

 

In exquisite detail, Allegra Goodman explores what happens when an alternate reality takes over one boy’s life, and the forces at work behind his obsession: the all-encompassing gaming realm that becomes more authentic than his real world.

This gritty and thought-provoking read seems to me to be reminiscent of the storylines of Tron, or the Spy Kids 3D movie; or Superpowerless, by Chris Priestley. 

It is recommended to readers who enjoy works by Margaret Atwood, Lionel Shriver, Maggie O’Farrell, Donna Target, Jonathan Franzen, or Anne Tyler.
I was very taken by the gorgeous cover, and I can confirm that that bright explosion of colour is even more beautiful in real life!

Look out for my review of it nearer the publication date of 1st June 2017!
So, that was the contents of my mailbox this week, what about yours?

Hugs, 

Crafty, xx

[Book Review] ‘The Women of the Castle’ by Jessica Shattuck

TITLE: The Women of the Castle
AUTHOR: Jessica Shattuck

GENRE: Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED BY: Bonnier Zaffre

PUBLICATION DATE: 18 May 2017

ISBN: 9781785762710

PRICE: £12.99

The Book

The Women of the Castle tells the tale of three women, and not only how they cope with both the loss, trials & tribulations of war but also how to survive in the aftermath.

The story begins with aristocratic German Marianne von Lingenfels helping host a party at Burg Lingenfels, her aunt-in-laws family seat. The castle has no electricity or running water as it is not inhabited.

It is November 1938, and the Lingenfels and their friends are nervous about Hitler and his Nazis. They know war is coming and the men hatch a plan to assassinate Hitler. Marianne is more interested in politics and literature than ‘ladylike’ pursuits such as sewing or cooking and fashion, and so she is party to these discussions. During the course of the evening, Connie, her childhood friend dubs her The commander of wives and children, entrusting her with a list of those close to all those involved in the plot. At first Marianne feels somewhat belittled by this, but in time she begins to realize that she is serving an important role by locating and assisting the survivors.

Towards the end of the war, Connie’s wife Benita and their son Martin become the first of her flock, followed by the Polish Ania and her sons. These three become The Women of the Castle as they set up home together in what remains of the old family castle.

Repeatedly raped, Benita is a broken shell of her sunny & beautiful former self. The capable Ania has secrets, and together the three women make the best of what little they have.

After the war is over, the women still have both their present and their pasts to deal with, if they have any hope of surviving the future.

Truths are ultimately uncovered, and friendships are changed forever.

For seven years, Jessica Shattuck conducted research specific to the book and research into her personal family history, combining aspects of both to weave an intricate & truthful tale which is observant & believable.

The Women of the Castle is a touching and compelling read.

Thoughts

“In war, they made impossible choices. Now, they must live with them.” Or so reads a tagline on the cover. To my mind, in times & situations such as those, rather than make choices people simply do what they have to in order to survive; very often there IS no other choices. 

The cover image itself is hauntingly atmospheric, and i like the way the women, whilst seemingly so small in comparison to the towering castle (an analogy for ‘the establishment’?), appear strong and solid against the softer muted look of the architecture. 

Ratings and Recommendations

The Women of the Castle is both thoughtprovoking and insightful, and I don’t hesitate to award it a 5 out of 5 stars rating.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction, in particular the World War Two era, and/or Womens’ History; or those who enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, The Reader and The Light Between Oceans.

The Author

Jessica Shattuck lives in Massachusetts with her husband and 3 children.

You can find out more at jessicashattuck.com or connect with her via  Facebook or Twitter.

A Strange Coincidence

Near the beginning of the book, Marianne travels across the country in an effort to retrieve Martin, the son of her childhood friend Connie and his wife Benita, from the Children’s Home where he had been interred after his father had been executed and whilst his mother was held elsewhere.

He was looked after by the elderly Frau Vortmuller, best described as Matron of the home. He later recalls her fondly as she treated her young charges with kindness.

We are told of the Mutterkreuz, or Mother’s Cross; a pinned badge or medal awarded to German women who had borne & raised at least 4 children in a manner befitting the ideals of the government of the time; which she wears with pride.

Whilst I have previous knowledge of this item, I had never seen one, nor indeed was I absolutely certain what it looked like, as I had up until now only read or heard descriptions of these blue and white crosses with a gold star.
Imagine my surprise when, the very next morning after reading this passage, I stumbled upon one whilst browsing the upcoming lots in our local auction house.

It was a somewhat chilling discovery.

 

Do you enjoy historical fiction? I especially enjoy works (such as this) where you get the impression the author is knowledgeable about the time period they have set their writing in.  

Do you have a particular time period you favour when it comes to historical fiction?

Any recommendations?

As always, thanks for reading!

Hugs, Crafty xxx

 

 

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book; from the publisher, via Readers First; in exchange for an honest review.