Category: Reviews

Jun 25

Review: June 2016 OwlCrate

Books/Writing, Reviews 4

Now for the pictures and all the awesome details of the amazing OwlCrate box! As I mentioned, I’ve been a subscriber for quite some time, and while I’ve posted some unboxing photos on my Instagram, I’ve never written a full review of the box! Shame on me. So here we go!

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It comes to your mailbox looking like this. I practically do a happy dance in the mailroom every time I pick one up!

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Dun-dun-dun! Isn’t it pretty? My cat really appreciates all the crinkly paper, by the way. He photobombed the first attempt at this photo trying to get to it.

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The full contents! Now, here is what made me realize that I really, really don’t want to ever unsubscribe: the book they chose for this month, was one that I had added to my TBR list just a little over a week ago. And? This is the second time OwlCrate has managed to do this to me. They’re that good.

List of contents:

Book (most important, right?): My Lady Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I’ll have to confess I’ve not read anything by any of these ladies, but the premise of My Lady Jane sounded so fascinated it went on my list straight away. One of my (many) favorite things about the OwlCrate box is the author’s note that they always include with the books. It makes it feel so special, and I really like hearing the author’s thoughts on the book and whatever else they decide to add. I read the note and keep it inside the book on my shelf.

Such nice touch!

Such a nice touch!

Extras (because they are always awesome!):

A Funko Pop Mystery Mini! From the Disney Princess collection. I love Funko Pops so much. Disney I’m not quite as crazy about, but somehow I managed to get the mini from what has to be my favorite recent Disney movie (btw, if anyone got Merida and doesn’t want her…*hinthint*):

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“Brave,” if you were wondering. Because who doesn’t love a fiery Scottish princess turning her mum and 3 little brothers (of which this is one) into bears?

A bee-yoo-ti-ful bracelet from the very talented Jami Butler at RichLoveShoppe.

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Yes. Be jealous.

Awesomely adorable bookmarks from Crafted Van. I really need the coffee set. Also the cats. All the cats. But can you please add orange or orange and white kitties? 😀

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So stinkin’ cute!

In something of a departure from what they’ve done in the past, also included was a $10 off coupon to My Bookmark…which, I will be completely honest – I’m using as soon as I get done writing this review. Because OMG. I need one.

Look. At. These. (photo from the My Bookmark site)

Also with (no individual pics, but they are all in the contents photo) a cute little paper crown, which I think was a great touch for those with eager young readers that aren’t quite of age for a box of their own. The Red Queen quote print is beautifully done on a heavy cardstock, suitable for framing or hanging however you like. As usual, there were coupons from all the contributors to the box and a sneak-peek at the next OwlCrate (the card almost hidden under everything on the right in the full content picture). The awesome book choice and the sneak-peek for next month together just sent me over the edge. I’ll be subscribing to OwlCrate for a long time to come!

Now if you want to get yours  – and there is still time to sign up for the July box, which reportedly includes another Funko (squee!) and is themed Good or Evil – click through here and sign up! The referral will get me a discount on my subscription, hehe.

This box was bought by me and this review is completely honest and unsolicited – I received no compensation whatsoever, just wanted to share my favorite subscription box!

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May 25

Time for a Change?

Books/Writing, Crafting, Reviews, travel 0

I feel like I cover too many topics on this blog. From creative pursuits, to books, to travel and hiking, to pets…too much. I think I’m going to try to focus on one of those things, and maybe keep my other ramblings on another (or more than one other) blog.

Heads up for a change in the near future. Hopefully near, anyway. Hehe.

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Sep 18

Bookish Things

Books/Writing, Reviews 0

Maybe it’s the change in weather. Maybe it’s a release from some work-related stress. Maybe it’s a little more time after losing Timmy. Regardless, I’ve developed an interest in reading again. Right after deciding I didn’t have to force myself to finish Jane Eyre. Hm.

First of all, WTF is with the vampires? I knew there was a big rush of vampire books thanks to the Twilight books and the TV show “True Blood,” but good gods alive. Do people never, ever get tired of them? Supernatural is fine, when done well. But variety is the spice of death. Er, something like that. Please, how about something else? Also…WHY all the YA novels? Why? I don’t need to be reminded of just how whiny 16 and 18 year olds are, or just how drama-filled their lives tend to be. Nor do I want to read about the reject-Hermione-type exception to those generalities. And I most definitely do not (I’m 24) want to feel like a cougar for being attracted to the main male character. Alright, rant over.

So how about the werewolves in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series? Excellent alternative to vampires, in my opinion. I just finished the first one, Soulless. Apparently I’m a bit late on this bandwagon, but better late than never and all that rot. In the interest of full disclosure I’ve always had something of an interest in shapeshifter mythology, so as soon as I figured out there was more werewolf than vampire in this particular story it moved up my to-be-read list. Then it was offered as a B&N Free Friday book, so…

Two words: Hot. Damn. I was expecting a crime/mystery of the noir sort. What I got was a racy little number that while maybe a little short on the intricacy of a mystery plot, delivered a lot in terms of humor and style. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book so fast. Not that it would have anything to do with the sexual tension between awesomely snarky, intelligent Alexia or the cursed, given to profanity and frequent roaring but ever-so-sexy Lord Maccon (with a Scottish accent to boot). Highly recommend and I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Also this kind of changed my mind entirely about Goodreads. Previously I had sort of written it off as not being nearly as good as LibraryThing. It’s not, as far as library cataloging goes, but when it comes to book recommendations it was right on the money. 🙂

It’s been while since I updated my reading list here, so, for the 75 Books in 2012 Challenge:

35.  The Serpent’s Shadow, by Mercedes Lackey
36.  Chocolate Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke
37.  Parker Pyne Investigates, by Agatha Christie
38.  Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: a Beginner’s Guide, by Rosemary Gladstar
39. Walkin’ on the Happy Side of Misery: a Slice of Life on the Appalachian Trail, by Junius R. Tate
40.  Round Robin, by Jennifer Chiaverini
41.  Still Life, by Louise Penny
42.  Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker, by Elizabeth Hartman
43.  The Other End of the Lease: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, by Patricia B. McConnell
44. Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts, by Jacquie Gering
45.  Soulless, by Gail Carriger

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Sep 04

Goulet Pen Company – Review

Reviews 7

I used to try to do reviews quite often, but I haven’t done any for awhile. So today I’ll dust off my reviewer hat and offer my review of an awesome company that has left me very happy in all my interactions with them. I started thinking about them last night when I pulled out pen, paper, and ink to write some long-suffering friends reply letters (they are coming, I promise).

First off, the Goulet Pen Company has the most amazing website for fountain pen and ink knowledge and comparison that I’ve come across. As a relative newbie to nice pens and inks, I honestly can’t do without all their comparison tools.

The Swab Shop is both useful and fun. Since the multitude of fountain pen inks available were what first drew me to fountain pens, having a way to compare (with reasonable accuracy) a large number of different colors is vital. Of course you can’t tell everything about an ink from a swab sample, but you can narrow it down to what colors you really like, and then order a little sample so you don’t pay out for an entire bottle right away.

Speaking of samples. They offer samples of every single ink they carry. I might have a slight problem. Ahem.

Their Nib Nook is yet another brilliant comparison tool. For those of us who can’t just randomly dish out for all the pens we would love to try, we can at least see something of how they write. Because no matter how beautiful a pen is, if it only writes broad and I hate anything wider than fine…we will be very sad. The designations different companies give their nibs are not always similar, so examples are great. Personally, I have my heart set on a Namiki Falcon with a Soft Fine nib thanks to this tool. Sigh.

The most recent of the Goulets’ interactive tools is the Pen Plaza, which is yet again, amazing and helpful in every way. The amount of detail they put into measuring the pens they sell is already astounding. Now they’re compiling that and images of the pens so that we can see the differences as well as read them. Since most people have a decided preference for the larger or smaller (me!) pens, this is also incredibly helpful for internet buyers.

Can I have these? What about just half of them?

 

Goulet Pens keeps a large assortment of brands of pens, inks, and papers/notebooks. While I don’t see many of the more expensive fountain pens listed on their site, there are several other brands listed in their special order section. Since I’m far from being independantly wealthy, I love that most of their pens are within my “affordable” range even if some of them are still a definite splurge.

My most recent order from Goulet Pens. Love the secure packaging.

Ordering from Goulet is quick and painless – they accept Paypal as well as other forms of online payment. Their shipping is lightening fast. I do live in the same state, so that may make them a little quicker for me than for others, but everything is shipped Priority Mail so it’s still very quick. The packaging is superb and something they’ve obviously put a lot of time into, considering the fragile nature of a lot of the items they ship. I wish I’d taken a picture before I unwrapped everything, but I was in too much of a hurry to see my new pretties.

Everything arrives wrapped in Goulet blue plastic wrap. And I mean wrapped. Sometimes I think I need a blowtorch. Then inside, anything particularly fragile is wrapped again. Inks samples are in their own bag. Ink bottles are wrapped again. I know Brian mentioned on their blog that they were experimenting with some different, more environmentally friendly packing options (and I did get packing peanuts in mine – but they were in bags, so easily reusable), but I am not aware if any permanent change has been made yet. Nothing I’ve ordered has ever been broken or damaged or leaked, so I hope they keep it that way!

Speaking of their blog, Brian Goulet keeps a very fun and informative blog, Ink Nouveau. While keeping readers up to date with happenings in the store, he also regularly posts how-to and informational videos, like the wonderful Fountain Pen 101 series. I’d like to just issue a general thank-you for explaining some of the very basic fountain pen terminology and issues without making us newbies feel like idiots.

The Goulet Pen Company is a pleasure to buy from, and I think they give much back to their customers – not just merchandise, but knowledge and service. I certainly hope they are around for a lot longer and I will happily continue to patronize them.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated or otherwise influenced by the company or others in the writing of this post. All opinions are mine.

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