[MailCall Monday] 24th July

(Not so) Lame Mail

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have been entertained by my recent shopping spree on the That Lame Company sale during a trip away. Travelling between the in-laws and my mum’s only takes around an hour but for a large proportion of that there is no phone reception and therefore (shock! horror!) NO mobile internet; so there I was, much to the amusement of all, frantically stuffing things into my basket in an attempt to finish my order before entering No-Man’s Land.

Obviously, my order went through, as I came home from work on Wednesday to a lovely box of goodies.

I love how Chloe always wraps your order up in tissue and seals it with a sticker. ‚ô•

I had actually been eyeing these A4 pads for a while, and wasn’t sure I could justify buying them when “Wouldn’t a notebook just do?” but having spent the past few weeks trying various permutations of double-page spreads, I decided to spoil myself. Best decision ever! These A4 pads will be great for keeping track of the What, Who & When; and then each individual one will have it’s own pages in the notebook (which I will then probably cross-reference to the pad or something….) 

*True Story: when I typed notebook up there, predictive text suggested the next word would be a smiley face with heart eyes….wonder what THAT says about me ūüėā *

I’ve bought some of these cute snailmail cards previously, they are really cute and I thought I should replenish my stock.

I’ve also purchased these recipe cards before, and knowing that Offspring#2 will need to feed himself when he heads off to University in September, I figured they would be useful for writing out instructions for some of his favourite dishes. 

These prints were bought as gifts, but I think one may get misplaced. The one on the left is foiled and rather gorgeous.
When I opened up my order, I found a few things I don’t remember ordering!? So, I can only assume I got carried away (a not insignificant probability!) or the lovely Chloe was adding a lil extra TLC.

Thanks for the cute lil notes!

Mag Mail

I’ve been a subscriber to for quite a few years, and to be honest I’m a bit bored with it. It seems like it’s just a rehash of ideas they’ve featured before over the years.

So, any suggestions for a new papercraft-type magazine?

Beauty Mail

I signed up to the Glamour Beauty Club recently and was excited to receive my first product for review; a nifty little tub of Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads from NIP+FAB on Thursday.

 

Book Mail

This week’s mail brought another ARC from Readers First. S.T.A.G.S. is a thriller written by M.A. Bennett and published by Hot Key Books.

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend. A twisting thriller for fans of John Green’s Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games.

Greer MacDonald joins the sixth form of exclusive boarding school St. Aidan the Great and is struggling to fit in until she receives a mysterious invitation, from the most popular boy in school, to a weekend of hunting at his family’s country estate.

Once she arrives, she soon realized that the intended prey aren’t quite who she thought they were….

As usual, I’ll be posting a review prior to publication date of 10th August 2017.

Booze Mail 

I’m a product tester/reviewer for Trnd and a current campaign I am participating in is for a new Coconut Jamaican Rum called KOKO KANU.

My box of goodies arrived midweek and included a 750ml bottle, and some promo postcards featuring various cocktail recipes incorporating Koko Kanu. If you’d like me to mail you a recipe-postcard, let me know in the comments! And, of course, I’ll let you know what I think of it in a review shortly!

My mailbox was certainly rather full last week, what about yours?

Hugs, as always,

Crafty xx

A Birthday Bouquet from Prestige Flowers

There’s something wonderful about receiving a delivery of flowers, it makes you feel special, don’t you think?
So, of course, I was delighted when the lovely folks at Prestige Flowers offered to send me a bouquet from their Birthday Flowers range to review for you all.

(I would like to point out that the timing of this was a serendipitous coincidence, and had nothing to do with the fact that it was actually my birthday the following week!

I think…)

Delivery & Packaging

I had been informed to expect delivery on the Friday, I assume if you are the person ordering a bouquet for delivery you would receive tracking information; allowing you to access up to date information on your shipment.

Late afternoon a rather cheery courier arrived at the door, carrying a substantial cardboard box.

The Contents

On opening the box, the first thing I noted was how snugly the large handtied bouquet was secured inside the box.

On removing the bouquet, I discovered it was wellwrapped in thick cellophane and had a damp cotton pad secured around the cut stems. This struck me as a particularly efficient and thoughtful way to keep the flowers fresh during transit.

Here’s my glamorous assistant showing how well wrapped the bouquet is.

I then found another intriguing package inside the outer box….

Closer inspection revealed that this contained a large clear glass vase!

The correctly sized vase, and the already prettily arranged & tied bouquet meant that in a matter of minutes (long enough to trim an inch off the stems and mix the enclosed flower food with some water) I had a lovely floral display to admire. 

Also included was a handy care guide; complete with detachable voucher offering £5 off next purchase, another voucher featuring a discount from Naked Wines, and a lovely little gift card bearing a sweet note.

I did indeed enjoy the flowers Michael, thanks very much! ūüėÄ

Finally, nestled right at the bottom, I discovered a cute little box of chocolate truffles. These are an optional extra which you can choose to add to your floral gift, completely free of charge. 

The Bouquet

This particular bouquet is entitled Blue Lagoon; a name perfectly in keeping with the stunning selection of flowers, in various shades of blue and white, which it features.

The Blue Lagoon bouquet is currently available to order for £29.99, with medium & large versions an additional £5 & £10 respectively.

Blooms included are:

  • Fresh Lilies,
  • Eryngium,
  • White Chrysanthemums,
  • Reagan Chrysanthemums,
  • Statice,
  • All framed with the beautiful fronds of two palm leaves.

I thought the almost marbled-like colouring on the brightly dyed chrysanthemums was particularly enchanting and loved the fact that they had kept white petals here and there for added interest. I also love that they include the eryngium, I’m a sucker for some prickly sea-holly!

How did it compare to the website?

When I compared the bouquet I received with that which was advertised, I felt it was a reasonable replication.

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The Blue Lagoon bouquet as it appears‚Äč on the website.

The bouquet appears significantly fuller in online‚Äč shots (which feature the medium-sized version of the bouquet). I can only assume that the stems are cut much shorter and the bouquet is presented in a far smaller vase than that which I received. That being said, I think the number of blooms included in my bouquet was more than satisfactory.

My bouquet, straight after unpacking.

After 10 days.

 

How well did they last?

I received the bouquet on the Friday, the first lily didn’t open until the Tuesday and the next on the Wednesday; the final one finally bloomed on the following Sunday, by which time some of the other flowers were looking a little tired.

After dead-heading and a quick rearrange, the flowers lasted another couple of days.

I have now had this bouquet for two weeks but, whilst it was definitely starting to look past it’s best, I still have a reasonable looking bunch after again removing the tired heads before rearranging the remainder‚Äč into a smaller vase.

 

How Would I Rate Prestige Flowers?

  • Quality: Very impressed.
  • Value: When compared to other online floral delivery services, they are towards the less expensive end of the spectrum, a fact belied by the high standard.
  • Appearance: A varied selection of blooms, some more unusual ones are included. More delicate headed flowers are sent in bud form for freshness.
  • Delivery/Packaging: Packaged carefully to ensure arrival in good condition.
  • Longevity:¬†2+ weeks seems reasonable, especially as during this particularly warm spell, there have also been a few periods of temperature fluctuation.


I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend ¬†Prestige Flowers¬†to anyone wishing to purchase and send a bouquet via a delivery service.


Disclosure

I received this item free of charge, in return for a blog post including an honest review of the product and service.

When is the last time you sent or received flowers? Which are your favourite blooms? 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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

[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

Monday [Book]Mail Call (15 May 2017)

I’m beginning to see a trend here!

Most Monday Mailcalls seem to include some books.

I would however like to point out that my children aren’t walking around barefoot and hungry because I’ve spent all my wages on books, quite a few are advance copies that are supplied pre-publication free of charge, on the understanding that I should review them.

This week was no different…

Thanks to the lovely people at Readers First and Corvus Books, I have these two to add to my TBR.

Love in Row 27 is definitely not my usual choice of reading matter, but having had the opportunity to preview the opening chapters of Eithne Shortall‘s new Rom-Com, I’m actually looking forward to finding out if Check-in desk operator Cora puts her cunning plan of matchmaking singles on her Aer Lingus to good use and finds romance herself post-break-up.

D.B. Thorne‘s crime thriller, Troll, looks to be exactly my cup of tea however, and I can’t wait to read all about Fortune’s search for his estranged; and now missing; daughter Sophie. 

If you’d like to read my thoughts on these books, keep an eye out for my reviews, coming soon!

I believe receiving ARCs of books is an honour. The authors entrust us, the reviewers, to treat their fledglings with care. It gives us the chance to broaden our literary horizons; I have recently  I found myself reading and enjoying a far greater diversity of genres than I would normally select myself.

The least we can do is take the time to read the words that have taken so much of their time and soul to write, give an honest review and respect any requests to hold any blogposts etc until nearer publication date. (And whilst I try not to be judgemental, I always think it’s terribly rude when I see people selling or giving away these books as soon as they receive them.!)
Have you received any bookish mail recently?

Thanks for stopping by,

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘DEAD LETTERS’ by Caite Dolan-Leach

TITLE: DEAD LETTERS

AUTHOR: Caite Dolan-Leach

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus

PUBLICATION DATE: 4th May 2017

GENRE: Fiction, Suspense/Thriller

EDITION: Paperback

ISBN: 9781786491305

PRICE: £12.99

Dead Letters is the debut novel of, writer and literary translator, Caite Dolan-Leach.  Although now living and working in Paris; she grew up around Finger Lakes, New York’s largest wine producing region, which probably explains why both areas are described in great detail and so vividly.

What’s the story?

We meet Ava, midflight from Paris to New York, her first trip ‘home’ to the family vineyard in two years. It’s a trip she’s only making because her mother (who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) emailed with news that Ava’s twin sister is presumed dead after a fire broke out in a barn on the property.

We know that Ava fled to Paris to escape both her discordant family life and a significant act of betrayal by her sister. The family business is failing, their absent father had distanced himself from them, and they were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with their mother’s illness. 

Ava likes to think of herself as the sensible twin, whilst Zelda was the wild one; but as she starts receiving emails, notes and letters purporting to be from the presumed dead Zelda; Ava too starts to lose control. 

Whilst caring for her mother, attempting to mend relationships with her father & paternal grandmother and trying to come to terms with the original betrayal; she finds herself in the midst of a strange alphabetical scavenger hunt, spiralling all the way from Ava to Zelda. Convinced that Zelda is still alive and in hiding, Ava and her ex-boyfriend (& Zelda’s… remember that betrayal!?) try to uncover the truth. Believing Zeld has manipulated those around her to play along with her devious scheme, Ava gets drawn further and further into what she sees as a game her sister is determined to win.

Unsure of what to believe, and drinking heavily, Ava’s behaviour becomes erratic; and she starts wearing Zelda’s more Bohemian clothes. She gradually uncovers more truths than she is comfortable with and as the alphabet progresses, discovers more about herself, her sister and their wider family.

What I thought

Prior to receiving a physical copy of this book, I had the opportunity to read a digital download of the first few chapters; isn’t it interesting how some books so often turn out entirely different‚Äč from how you originally envision they are going to? My original thoughts, two chapters in, were: 

I really enjoyed reading the first few chapters. I particularly liked the author’s‚Äč descriptive style of writing. The scattering of emails throughout the prose adds detail. The cover hints at mysteries to be unearthed. 

The title ‘ Dead Letters ‘ intrigues me as the postal service uses this term for undeliverable damaged or lost mail. It has left me wondering if there will be missing correspondence…. Perhaps Ava is correct in her assumption that her twin sister Zelda, already famous for her erratic and eccentric behaviour, had faked her death; but the loss of some important piece of mail puts her in danger. 

I am eager to find out what the betrayal was (it has been hinted at previous infidelity, did Zelda ‘steal’ Ava’s boyfriend; or date someone she knew her sister liked) and to discover more about the dynamics of this discordant family. 

So far I think i agree with Ava’s belief that Zelda wasn’t dead, but don’t think she will still be alive by the end of the book (or indeed, even at the present time in the tale!) 

This First Look has left me wanting to read more.

However, now that I have finished reading, I think differently. The story that I imagined was going to be a suspense-filled thriller full of twists turned out to be more of a family saga. There was a lot of character development and A LOT of wine. Gallons of the stuff. At first the wine descriptions and tasting notes were quite fun (& thirst-inducing!) but whilst the vast quantities of alcohol drunk by the Antipova family are a necessary plot point, the continual stream of booze got a bit wearing after a while. 

Ultimately, this book wasn’t what i thought it was, however i still enjoyed it; in particular the idea of the alphabetical scavenger hunt and the descriptive prose used by the author. I did not like the main characters, I found them unlikeable on the whole! 

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars; the high concept intrigued me, but ultimately didn’t deliver it to me in a way i personally found enjoyable.

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

[Book Review] “FIND YOUR AWESOME” by Judy Clement Wall

  • Title: FIND YOUR AWESOME 
  • Author: Judy Clement Wall
  • Published by: HCI Books
  • Publication date: 4th April 2017
  • Edition: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780757319754
  • Price: $14:95 (USD)
  • Self-Help , Crafts & Hobbies


Find Your Awesome

A 30-Day Challenge to Fall in Love with Your Playful, Imaginative & Colorful Self

by Judy Clement Wall

Part self-help book, part adult colouring & activity book; this lovely offering will appeal to those who love to doodle & scribble, and anyone who enjoys ‘Wreck this Journal’-style books.
Essentially a self-love & self-worth workbook, “Find Your Awesome” takes the idea of a 30 day challenge and turns it into a book. Taking the realisation that whilst we have no problem telling those around us how awesome they are; we find it difficult to extend the same courtesy to ourselves; self-confessed artist, writer, doodler, and love warrior Judy Clement Wall challenges us to 

“Fall in Love with Your Playful, Imaginative & Colourful Self”

through a set of daily challenges designed to encourage you to do just that.

Judy’s writing style is Awesome, she has you nodding along and giggling at the many witticisms she shares. Nevermind being a self-love guru; it seems like she’s the kinda person that would do your soul good just by knowing her! Someone you’d love to hug, hang out with, drink tea and eat copious amounts of cheecake with; regularly.

The book is a fun read, at times touching, and actually quite eyeopening – through sharing her own story of opening herself up to embracing her own Awesome badassery she gives us the impetus to proclaim our own. 

In case you haven’t worked it out yet; I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I must admit, I never really ‘got‘ the whole Adult Colouring thing, I understand why people enjoy it; it just never clicked with ME. But, this? This I can embrace. I’m obsessed with daily/monthly challenges but sometimes get bored if they are the same thing repeated (a month worth of photoprompts is fine, once you’re into your 3rd month, it gets a bit ‘mehhh’) The clever thing here is that the style of challenge differs from day to day; some days you doodle, some days you write, others you send a text; it keeps it varied and interesting.

Fancy a sneak peek at some of the challenges? I’m happy to oblige:

  • Doodle your perfect t-shirt
  • Text love
  • Writing yourself a love letter
  • Appreciate your body in all its awesomeness
  • Make time for you by writing a Not-To-Do List
  • What’s your Personal Manifesto?

Another idea suggested throughout the book is choosing your favourite challenge(s) and turning them into month, or even year, -long challenges in their own right; similar to the author’s own Year of Loving Fearlessly challenge.   

Now, obviously, you can work through the book on your own, but I was excited to discover that Judy is running a free online group, starting May 15th, where you can sign up now and then complete the challenge alongside [as she puts it herself] “a posse of like-minded love-warriors”. I have, of course, signed up; and now I’m off to buy a physical copy to play with.


Rating

I award this book 5 out of 5 stars. I found it Awesome! 


Connect with the Author

     



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