[MailCall Monday] 21st August 2017

Snailmail

General Snailmail was sadly lacking this week! I had plenty outgoing but the only incoming envelopes held junk mail offers for home insurance, and there was the usual smattering of takeaway menus.

CurryMail

Recently a friend was telling me about Curry for Change , a project which aims to raise awareness of world hunger through encouraging both food businesses and individuals to host fundraising curry nights.

She had attended a pop-up restaurant event around this time last year, and knowing that I enjoy a) a good curry, and b) a good fundraiser; she thought I might like to get involved. Of course, I did!

I signed up, pledging to host a curry night in September, and am eager to try out some of the tasty looking recipes shared on the site in preparation for the big event.

I’ll share more about my night nearer the time, but if you’d like to know more or are interested in participating, you can visit the Curry for Change website, or visit them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

BookMail

On the other hand, there’s been NO shortage of books!!

The last week has certainly brought a lot of BookMail, arriving from a variety of sources.

First up, Tarn Richardson sent me a signed copy of his book The Fallen, along with some signed promo cards; one which he added a cheeky wee personalised message to.

The Fallen is book two of The Dark Hand trilogy , a fantasy horror inspired by WW1 events in Italy.

Set in 1915, Demonic possessions are sweeping across Rome and the Vatican’s Eagle Fountain is running red with blood. Something evil is coming…. Only Poldek Tacit, the Catholic Church’s most determined and unhinged Inquisitor can hope to push back the forces of evil and unite those for good. But what happens when Tacit finds that the path he walks has already been prophesised and that where it leads threatens the very future of a world on the edge of the abyss?

The Fallen will draw you into a dark and captivating world full of demons, werewolves, ritualistic terror and fast-paced action.

It looks like an exciting read, and Offspring #2 has his eye on it after I’m finished reading it.

ReadersFirst is a regular source of my BookMail, as I enter their weekly draws by leaving my First Impressions, after downloading and reading opening chapters.

A large number of the books they promote are by up and coming authors, and there’s always 1 or 2 that catch my eye.

It’s also a great way to expand my reading horizons as I find myself reading and enjoying books and genres that I may not necessarily pick up on my own.

A DARKLY HILARIOUS LOVE STORY ABOUT FACING FEARS – ONE SNAKE / SPIDER / POTENTIALLY UNSTABLE FOURTH FLOOR BALCONY AT A TIME.

Published by Hot Key Books, A Semi Definitive List of WORST Nightmares is Krystal Sutherland‘s second novel, and it has much to live up to after the triumph of her debut Our Chemical Hearts.

Esther Solar is unusual. It’s not just her outfits (always a costume – Red Riding Hood today) or her family, with their unique and weird obsessions. When Esther is mugged by Jonah, an old classmate, he takes everything she has, including her phone and her private list of worst nightmares. Jonah returns the phone, with nothing left in it but his number. Esther knows she shouldn’t phone Jonah – but she does.

Jonah sets Esther a challenge: to work through her list of fears together, facing one terrifying fear at a time, plus one that surprises them both…

Jens Lapidus has certainly made a name for himself in the increasingly popular Swedish noir genre, having authored three of the country’s top crime thrillers in the past decade, and Stockholm Delete looks to be carrying on his success. Having read the suspense-filled first chapters of this legal thriller I can’t wait to read on!

Emilie Jansson has just been made partner at a prestigious law firm when she is asked to work with an unusual partner. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay on the right side of the law while working as the firm’s fixer and Special Investigator. Meanwhile, a body is discovered in a remote house in the country after what looks like an attempted robbery – and a severely wounded man found near the scene is soon in the frame for murder. Emilie takes on the role of his defence lawyer. But when the trail of evidence leads back to her partner Teddy’s wayward past, Emilie begins to wonder what she’s taken on… In Stockholm Delete, Emilie and Teddy become entangled in a complex and dangerous web with deep connections to Stockholm’s criminal underworld. Both will be tested in terrible ways. But can they survive long enough to uncover the truth?

Full of intrigue; this thriller, from an author who has lived the life of a criminal lawyer, is wonderfully dark. Likened to the writing of Karin Slaughter and Steig Larrson, I am eager to read more.

I was recently approached by the lovely people at Duckworth, who asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing David Bergen‘s new novel Stranger, to be published in September.

Íso is a young Guatemalan woman who meets a charming doctor, Eric. When an accident forces him to unexpectedly return to America, Íso is left brokenhearted and pregnant. But her dreams of raising her newborn come to a halt when her daughter is abducted. Determined to reclaim her stolen child, Íso makes her way north, descending into a world full of danger.

In a place of shifting boundaries, she must decide who she can trust, aware that a wrong decision could mean losing her daughter forever.

Stranger is a story in which the themes of immigration and refugees, exploitation and vulnerability, rich and poor collide to make a powerful and affecting novel; leaving us with the question:

Just how many borders would you cross to reclaim your child?

In a period when the subject of immigration is on many people’s agenda, the timely publication of books such as Stranger can only help others sympathize with the plight of many immigrants; who’s only want for their families is for them to be safe and secure, together.

Bergen’s electrifying story of barriers and privilege merges modern race and identity politics with a pinch of magic realism, ultimately asking – in a world full of strangers – how much are we prepared to let the borders that we draw entrap us?

I fully expect this to be a provocative and heart-wrenching tale, and am eager to share my thoughts with you.

My final BookMail of the week arrived courtesy of Penguin Random House Children’s division.

Having recently entered a goodreads giveaway for the most recent Andy McNab novel Silent Weapon, the second in the Teen/YA Sean Barker series. I was suitably excited to receive notification that I was one of winners to receive a shiny new copy AND also a copy of the original Street Soldier book, which was first in the series.

Although I have devoured a few Andy McNab offerings over the years, I haven’t yet read any of the teen-aimed books. I am eager to see how they stack up.

Mr. Crafty has also expressed an interest in reading these, so we may well have a guest post in the offing!

6 print copies seem rather a lot, so I probably shouldn’t mention the 3 E-books I also acquired this week too…

Still, at least that long bus journey home from the new job is good for something! I’m getting around an extra hour and a half reading time a day!!

Are you reading anything at present that you’d recommend?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

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#Mamamail

Mamamail is a project devised by the lovely people at The Paperdashery.

It is a charitable exchange where new mums can sign up to receive some happymail, and other(mostly mum)s can sign up to do the sending.

So far I’ve participated twice, and I’d like to continue to do so.

I suffered quite badly with PND with my first and the worry it would happen a second time out a bit of a dampener on what should have been a time for celebration with the second. I was lucky in that I had lots of support around me during a horrible time, but I firmly believe that you can NEVER have too much support at such an exhausting and emotional time, and sometimes it takes a stranger telling you that “Actually, you’re doing okay!” for you to believe it.

My first Mama was a lovely Mum named Michelle, she had recently given birth to her second daughter and was struggling with being tired and hungry (I could relate to that! Offspring#2 was a boy who liked to feed!)

She describes herself as creative, tired, and hungry and said that food and sleep made her happy!

I put together a package of treats for her; chocolate, tea, biscuits, toiletries, and a little crafty sewing kit as she had mentioned she was creative.

I knew it would be another few days before I would be able to get to the post office so, on the way home from an event that night, I popped a cheery little card in the mail; just so she knew someone was thinking about her.

A few days later I found she had tagged me in a social media post about the project, and mentioned how my Mamamail had brightened her day. She also, unexpectedly, sent me a message of thanks; which was really sweet of her. (This did however give me the opportunity to ‘meet’ her via Instagram and I just have to say that she has THE cutest girls ever!)

That gave me such a warm feeling, that I immediately offered to sign up for another round.

My next Mama is Kate, she describes herself as creative, passionate, and independent; but at the moment she is struggling with Post Natal Depression. Cats and chocolate make her happy, so I’m planning to incorporate those into her Mamamail.

I am currently putting together a little box of self care treats for Kate, and am writing a note of solidarity, in the hope that I can bring a moment of cheer to a cloudy day.

The Mamamail project is so incredibly worthwhile, and if you think you may be interested in participating in this rewarding endeavour, I urge you to go and take a look at the details and sign up.

The Paperdashery even have a great range of products suitable for #Mamamail , starting at under a pound!

Mamamail senders also receive a code for £5 off a £15 spend at The Paperdashery, but; to be honest; I’ve never cashed mine in as I signed up for the sole purpose of brightening someone’s day NOT to see what I could get out of it.

Have you heard of Mamamail? Would you consider signing up to send or receive? Or do you participate in other charitable mailing projects? Why not share in the comments below?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

[MailCall Monday] 14th August 2017

I’ve had quite a busy mailbag this week, both outgoing and incoming, with lots of variety received.

Book Mail

Three print copies this week (I also read & review E-books, but they don’t land on my doorstep…)

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In political thriller LORETICUS, J. B. Lucas has created a remarkable historical world that has parallels in both ancient Rome and modern diplomacy. I am eager to learn more about Loreticus ; in this historical fiction published by Type & Tell; as he plays spy-master to the emperor, finding himself in a tangled web of intrigues and deceit when the new emperor goes missing and Loreticus attempts to find him.

Published by Zaffre, Chris Whitaker‘s phsycological thriller ALL THE WICKED GIRLS introduced us to the troubled Raine Ryan, who finds herself with an unusual ally when she throws herself into searching for her missing sister Summer. With tension already simmering in their struggling small hometown of Grace, Alabama; it starts to emerge that not all may be as it seems with the smalltown model student, musical prodigy and all-round ray of sunshine….

Likened to tales such as The Roanoke Girls and Fargo, I have already heard great things about this one!

GOOD FRIDAY , published by Zaffre, is the third in Lynda La Plante‘s Jane Tennison series; charting the early career of the young Jane who is to become the central character in La Plante’s highly acclaimed Prime Suspect series. Set in 1970s London, Tennison finds herself a key witness after surviving an explosion during an IRA attack on a tube station, all whilst trying to convince her superiors that there is clear and present danger closer to hand than they may realize.

I love La Plante’s writing, and very much enjoyed Prime Suspect: 1973, the recent TV dramatisation of Tennison, the first novel in this series of prequels.

Look out for my reviews around publication date, all three are released 24th August!

(S)Nail Mail

The lovely Laila asked me to review her Jamberry nail wraps, so by the time you read this, we’ll be partway through our Seven Day Challenge. (Offspring#1 has more photogenic nails, so we’re both trying them)

Make sure you pop back later in the week to read the review and find out what we thought!

Flair Mail

Someone must’ve sneaked a punky pins order into my basket when I wasn’t looking!

They’re doing their mystery / blind boxes again, so I grabbed a few as they make great little gifties.

*I can neither confirm not deny that a certain amount of swapping around and pilfering may have or may not have occured.*

Beauty Mail

Birchbox sent out a replacement for the Whish face mask that was missing from my August Mermaid Vibes box.

Their customer service team is really fantastic; so far I have found that any issues are dealt with, to my great satisfaction, both professionally and speedily.

Mag Mail

Another issue arrived of the magazine I keep meaning to cancel. Please, someone keep poking me until I do it.

It DID come with a cute snowflake die though, so it’s not all bad!

Sample Mail

I received some Lemon Detox info and a free sample of Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup.

Supposedly it is going to

  • cleanse my body of toxins
  • Increase my vitality
  • Improve my digestion

As well as giving me

  • shinier, stronger hair and nails
  • clearer skin and eyes
  • And a greater sense of well-being.

*Watch this space*

Looking forward to trying these free samples from Aveeno. Their moisturising products usually leave my skin feeling fab.

And a Card

You hear a lot about truly awful in-laws, so maybe we are just lucky in the fact that we both get on well with ‘The In-Laws”.

My mother-in-law sent me this lovely card to celebrate my new job, that I start today.

So, that was my week’s incoming mail, did YOU receive anything interesting?

See ya at the mailbox next time!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

Disclosure:

All ARCs supplied free of charge by publishers, via ReadersFirst.

Jamberry samples sent, for the purpose of review, by Jamberry franchisee, Laila

Free samples are described as such.

[MailCall Monday] 7th August 2017

Notebook & Pen Swap

I received my swap parcel for the Notebook and Pen Swap hosted by Jessica over at The Paper Trail Diary.

I was partnered with Emma, from A Cornish Geek and we were tasked with selecting notebooks & pens based on each others preferences, packaging them up, and mailing them off; before the deadline of August 7th.

Emma stated a preference for hardbacked A5 or greater notebooks, containing plain paper pages, hopefully in pastel colouring, and preferably featuring a literary or motivational quote. 

This seemed like it should be a super easy request to fulfill but for some reason I really struggled! I tried all the usual suspects: Paperchase, WH Smith, The Works, TK Maxx, Tiger, various online small businesses who stock stationery, both Asda & Tesco’s large stationery & back to school ranges, amongst others but had little success. Eventually I realized I was going to have to cheat a little, and I hope she didn’t mind! 

Anyway, enough about that! Let’s get on with admiring the goodies that Emma selected for me, shall we?

Inside a big bubble mailer I found a fabulous A4 bright pink notebook emblazoned with MAKE THINGS HAPPEN in gold foiling, isn’t it marvellous?

The cute ribbon markers are incredibly useful for splitting sections or marking places, don’t you think?

Interestingly, she had similar thoughts on pens as I did (remember the pens I mentioned here recently? Well, this is the swap they were for) and these colourful ballpoints will be very well used!
Lastly, can I just draw attention to the delightful notecard?

How did she know that Dolly is my Spirit Animal?? 😂😂
I look forward to using those pens for writing many important notes, on the things that I am going to make happen, in my swish new notebook. 

Book Swap

July was Book Swap month in Jocelyn from The Reading Residence ‘s #BringBackPaper campaign.

I was paired with Kathryn, AKA BookwormAndTheatreMouse , and the challenge was to select and send each other a preloved fiction book. The only clues we received was the other’s least favourite genre, so we knew what to avoid. Kathryn admitted to not being much of a SciFi fan, so I skipped the bookshelf full of distant planets and robot overlords, then chose a copy of a thriller I enjoyed reading a few months back. I packaged it up with some tea and chocolate, because what’s the point of settling down with a new book without making yourself comfortable? and sent it off.

Meanwhile, the lovely Kathryn was doing exactly the same; so I came home from work one evening to find an interesting looking bubble envelope, emblazoned with the #BringBackPaper hashtag, waiting for me.

 

I received a copy of INDIGO DONUT by Patrice Lawrence, I haven’t read it and the blurb sounds intriguing.

In Bailey’s opinion, Indigo didn’t look like she needed a hero. One by one, she looked Mona, Saskia, Betti and Kay in the eye. Then she gave them the finger, slow motion. Headphones on again, she sauntered off towards the science wing. He’ll. That was … She was …

Indigo lives with her foster mum, Keely. When she meets Bailey at sixth form, serious sparks fly, but Indigo has a secret that could ruin everything between them before it’s even begun.

Bailey‘s blown away by Indigo; she’s so different to other girls. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who knows more about Indigo’s past than is normal, he is forced to make an impossible choice.

I’m looking forward to reading this as I enjoyed Orangeboy, the first novel by Patrice Lawrence. (I think everyone else enjoyed it too, since it won a Waterstones Book Prize and was shortlisted for many others.)

Important Paperwork

Midweek, I received written details of the amendment to my terms and conditions of employment. Basically, it’s just confirmation of my start date, job title, new location & pay grade.

I pick up my swanky new uniform when I start next Monday.

Some EXTRA Beauty

Birchbox’s discount code for July entitled users to an extra mystery box. Mine wasn’t delivered alongside my July box, but their customer service team were on the ball and soon sorted it out; and the courier dropped it off just as I was heading to work on Friday.

The EXTRA box I received was actually June’s Daytripping Birchbag; a delightful pastel zippered pouch; inspired by Brighton Beach and it’s chalk-coloured beach huts, sorbet ice-creams and dreamy watercolour sunsets.

 

Inside my lovely Birchbag I found:

  • A full-size MEECH AND MIA Brow Liner, in shade #21 (RRP £12.99)
  • A full-size 50ml tube of COWSHED Cow Pat moisturising hand cream (RRP £18)
  • A 50g sachet of SCRUB LOVE Invigorating Coffee Body Scrub
  • A set of ECOTOOLS Enhancing Eye Brushes (RRP £6.99)
  • And a dinky 2.5ml sample jar of BOBBI BROWN EXTRA Eye Repair Cream 

As I mentioned, I received this free of charge, but full price would have been £10 plus £2.95 p&p. Given that 3 items were full-size products worth a total of £27.98 AND it came in such a delightful & very useable bag, I think this one was a real bargain for anyone who received this June offering!

If you fancy trying Birchbox for yourself, you can save £5 off your first box by signing up via my referral link (Birchbox also credit my account with a small amount to spend in their online store)

Even MORE Beauty : August Birchbox

Given that Saturday morning was the third time in a week that the same delivery guy was met at the door by a frightful vision of unmadeupness, he is probably wondering why I buy all these Beauty Boxes….

This time he was bringing my August Birchbox; the choose-your-preference item this month was a Spectrum brush, in one of two colourways; as usual I ticked the ‘Surprise Me!’ box, so I’m eager to see which colour of brush I received and what else is enclosed.

You can see my full unboxing of August’s themed Birchbox here.
So, that was the contents of my mailbox this week, what about yours?

Until next time,

Hugs, Crafty xx

[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. ♥

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 😂 *

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

[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!! 😍

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

[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​ 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