[MailCall Monday] 3 July 2017

Perfectly-timed Parcel

Thursday was the last day of term, it was pretty wet (somewhat disappointingly for the Little Mixers who were going to the openair concert that night!) and so, after we finished up early, a colleague dropped me off to save me from getting drenched. We arrived at the door at the same time as the postie, who was suitably impressed with the parcel he had to deliver. (As were we!) Along with the addition of stickers  a and fancy tape, the sender had ‘written’ my entire address using individual letter stickers!!

I ‘met’ Ellie on Instagram recently, when she sent me a message saying she had come across my posts and liked what she saw ( #SnailMailGeeks4Eva )

Ellie wanted to send first, and having also checked out her Instagram, I couldn’t wait!

I was not disappointed!

Y’all know how much I like a flamingo, right?!? Well, imagine a flamingo, but glittery!! ūüėć

My parcel, complete with a few crafty treats, is now on it’s way to Ellie. Hopefully she’ll like it!!

BookMail

As a member of Bloggers Required, I am offered the chance to apply for various blogging assignments. I was recently made aware of one hosted by a bookish someone I already follow on Twitter.

Dane Cobain is an author, poet & book promoter who is currently promoting an anthology of short stories by a group of very talented writers.

He subsequently approved my request and sent out some bookish post with whirlwind efficiency.

Along with a pre-publication copy of the book, Dane also included a bunch of bookmarks & cards, and a pen. This last inclusion I found particularly inspired because, whilst I post all my reviews online, it’s always useful to jot down notes & pertinent information as I’m reading; and as you know, the fact that you have a metric ton of stationery & associated accoutrements to hand is entirely irrelevant… you know full well that whilst you own six hundred and ninety-seven pens, you won’t be able to find a single working pen when you need one!
As usual, remember to keep an eye out for my review of SUBJECT. VERB. OBJECT. , so far it is a very interesting read!

To find out more about Dane and his work, you can visit his website , or look him up on Twitter; where he posts under various guises @danecobain , @socialshelves or @danebookpromo .
As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] TREAT YOURSELF! by Jessica Siskin

TITLE: Treat Yourself!

AUTHOR: Jessica Siskin

PUBLISHED BY: Workman Publishing Company

PUBLICATION DATE: 27 June 2017

EDITION: Paperback

GENRE: Cookery, Crafts & Hobbies, Food & Wine

ISBN: 9780761189800

PRICE: $14.95 (USD)

Jessica Siskin, AKA talented food artist; and Instagram sensation; @mister_krisp, invites you to ‘Treat Yourself!’ in this beautifully photographed & easy to follow book detailing 

“How to make 93 ridiculously fun no-bake crispy rice treats”


About The Book

One of the first things I noticed was the copious amount of clear photographs spread through the book. The instructions themselves are detailed yet concise and each stage is accompanied by a corresponding photo. 

The opening chapters include an introduction from the author, explaining a bit about how and why she got into Rice Krispie Treat modelling, and detailed descriptions of the equipment and ingredients necessary. Everything is well documented, with additional links, recommendations, and hints & tips where appropriate.

Another genius idea is that every single treat uses the same basic recipe. In the introductory part of the book, Jessica supplies us with a helpful table listing how many cups, tablespoons & drops are required to make batches of set sizes (named A-H for ease)

Each individual‚Äč recipe then states which size batches you need and which colouring drops are required. 

The writing style is friendly and easy to read, chatty and full of puns, it’s like reading a letter from a friend.


The Recipes

The recipes themselves are laid out alphabetically; starting with Apples and a ridiculously realistic looking 11 inch tall Avocado, includes Balloons, a BBQ complete with kebabs, a dinosaur, lollipops, a pi√Īata, a star-spangled wizard’s hat, and of course finishing up with a Zebra. 

There are even instructions for how to make Yourself  out of Rice Krispie Treats. I repeat, MAKE YOURSELF, OUT OF RICE KRISPIE TREATS. We’ve all seen those cakes with the photo of the birthday girl/boy/dog printed on top, but imagine the look on their face when they see themselves; in all their Krispie treats glory; taking centre stage at the party! (Coincidentally, this book is published the same day Offspring#2 turns 18. I’m already looking for a suitable snapshot to utilise this idea!)

The individual recipes are easy to follow, each step is clearly explained and any additional equipment or decorating ingredients are detailed at the beginning, alongside the required number of differently sized & coloured batches. The top of each page is also clearly marked denoting how hard each particular build is; bearing Easy, Medium or Advanced coloured banners. 

Also included are traceable (or downloadable) templates to make moulding your shapes easier. They are easily transferable to the reverse of baking parchment, then you can set to work moulding each batch of mixture.


How Did I Get On?

Of course, I had to give it a try, and since I was reading this book over National Doughnut Week (6-13 May), I just had to plump for misterkrisps Donuts recipe.

 I used chocolate crispies and didn’t add colour to the mix, if I was doing this again, I would probably add brown colouring or cocoa to my mallow mix.

I had 6 mini donut silicone moulds, so I used those. A ‘G’ Batch of mix filled those, plus I had enough left to mould 2 more by hand.

Half were iced with melted dark chocolate before being dusted with glitter sugar & coloured sprinkles, whilst I topped the remaining four with a coat of pink candy-melts and a drizzle of milk chocolate.

Jessica’s instructions were simple to follow and the opening chapters even include photographs of what the contents of your saucepan should look like at each stage, along with appropriate timings for a midsized batch. Speaking of which, I cannot believe how easy the cleanup was at the end; I filled my saucepan with hot soapy water whilst I put away my extra marshmallows etc and when I came back to it 5 minutes later, the remaining butter/marshmallow/crispie mix just wiped off!! 


What Did The Victims Think?

The Other Half: “Yummy!” and “mmmm..marshmallow-y”

Offspring#1: “I liked them, I guess!?!”

Offspring#2: “They were some good doughnuts” whilst simultaneously reaching for a second

& Me? I found it a bit on the sweet side but yummy, and I’m sure I’ll be making lots more Rice Krispie Treats in the coming months!

Rating

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars, as it is a real treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds! 

Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


As always, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you here again soon, and in the meantime; have you tried anything from an interesting new recipe book lately, or have you got an old favourite to share? 

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Monday MailCall] 12 June 2017

BookMail

Monday brought Bookmail from two different sources.

I finally won¬†a goodreads giveaway! I¬†know¬†that the actual number of individual giveaways you enter make no difference to your chances of winning, but still… you’d think I’d win something after hundreds of entries!! Well, finally, I did!

Published by Bloomsbury Kids, Countless is Karen Gregory‘s debut book. It tells the story of Hedda, a young woman who; whilst suffering from an eating disorders; discovers she is pregnant. Countless then proceeds to weave a tale about the strength of love, heartache, and human resilience.

I was very taken with the beautiful cover, the pictures really do not do those lovely glossy embossed colour drops justice.

As usual, I’ll be sharing a review after I’ve read it, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!

The next bit of book mail was another ARC via ReadersFirst. I actually won this one a while back but as it has only just arrived, I guess it got waylaid somewhere in the mail!

Exile is the sequel to James Swallow ‘s spy thriller Nomad. Recommended for fans of ¬†Robert¬†Ludlum’s Bourne¬†saga, and also TV series such as Homeland, it’s sure to have plenty of action and intrigue.

(And, you know the drill by now … Review coming soon ….)

That’s so LAME!!!

This bright pink parcel of prettiness is from That Lame Company. I might have spoilt myself a little as a pre-birthday treat.

IMG_20170606_171412415

I ordered the May #Box of Lame. It is most definitely NOT lame!!

You can see my full review here, but in the meantime, I can share a little extra that I couldn’t‚Äč resist adding to my order…

How cute are these snailmail cards?

Cards

As last week was birthday week, there were also a few birthday cards dropping through the letterbox.

So, what about your mailbox? Did you receive anything exciting last week?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[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‚Äč’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

[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‚Äč 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