The Book of Dragons

For that is the title of the collection of short stories from which the illustration that graced our March box cometh! It was a delight to revisit such a strange and imaginative, if also rather E. Nesbit-y collection. It’s available to read and enjoy in full and for free here, for which we are immensely grateful.

I think of all the great and lasting novels in her impressive list of works, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, and The Wouldbegoods are the two books Edith Nesbit wrote that had the strongest impact upon me. As a small and only child, the ‘absent parents, large family of banded-together siblings’ trope appealed hugely to me, and, of course, the Bastables’ entrepreneurial spirit was something I found terribly exciting and engaging. I loved how the children were rounded, flawed, objectionable, and sometimes dangerously and anti-socially awful, but by and large, with their hearts in the right place. They weren’t afraid of hard work, and had their own version of London-past that was veritable catnip to my tiny mind. I still have an affection for Lewisham I can’t imagine having developed otherwise, for starters, and, come to think of it, Nesbit’s works are certainly why I have more respect for carpet than for most household objects.

There always seemed possibility, strategy, something to think about, something to do, some way out of even the most appalling situations that befell the children in Nesbit’s works. The Railway Children is many people’s favourite, certainly, it’s the one we see mentioned most often in your subscribers’ questionnaires here at Prudence and the Crow (which surprised me – if you’d asked me to guess, I would’ve thought Five Children and It which would take that place), but for my part, I’m in the ‘floods of hopeless tears’ bit every time I get to the end of it, and, accordingly, these days I simply don’t even start it. But I turn to the Bastables fairly often. My favourite venture of theirs is definitely the one where they start up a newspaper – I recently came across some old childhood papers of mine where I’d tried to imitate this repeatedly with my own fabled characters.

Nesbit herself had a full, if rather turbulent and tragic life, as did so many of our most beloved and prolific authors. I knew very little of her until doing some googling for this post, perhaps as much by choice, as anything – her worlds are so real to me that the more anonymous she seemed, so much the better. In this day and age, though, I’m so used to following my authors online, to knowing how they look, how they react, how they write, what they love, that I thought I might break through that imaginary wall. It was worth doing, and I shan’t attempt to summarise, but, as so often, Wikipedia will give you a good headstart if you’re curious.

Nesbit’s driven storytelling, firm grasp of magical worlds and great sense of practicality amidst adventure continues to inspire and delight me whenever I return to her works. I enjoy reading them now as much as I ever did, and find I have an appreciation of her directness of language (and of her present-narrator, my best-beloved of literary devices) that only increases, however much more I’ve read in between revisiting her tales.

I wonder sometimes how well-travelled her books are outside the UK. Certainly amongst people I knew who read (to my mind, reading amongst children was not nearly as common as it is now, not, at least, in my school), Nesbit’s stories were a staple, and the BBC TV series of Five Children and It was a marvel to us all, but I don’t know if I hear of them read as widely Stateside, or, indeed, in translation. We’ve had one or two American subscribers respond with extensive joy on receiving, say, The Treasure Seekers, and say they’ve not come across the stories before, but, of course, one or two are just that, and trends take a little more development! We’d love to know, here, or on Twitter, your favourite E. Nesbit tale, or, if you’re a current Prudence and the Crow subscriber and would like to receive one of her books some time, do drop us a line through our Contact Us page on the site, and we’ll see what we can do!

We hope you’re enjoying the first breaths of spring, and that you’ve got something lovely/horrible/mindblowing/amusing/whateverdoesitforyou to read for now. The April envelope design is my favourite to date, and I’m very excited for that blog already, but, until then, Happy Now! ~Prudence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Just the Book’ – the Yuletide gifting solution!

allthestuff2015.jpgYep yep, it’s all live and happening, and will be until 10pm on 5th December, when the page expires. Here be the FAQ, should you be curious, and hopefully your questions are answered!

  1. What do I do? First, go to our shop! You pick a genre (Classic Thriller (think Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming), Historical Romance (think Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt), Youth Fiction (Enid Blyton, Puffin books), Classics (Penguin Classics, Brontës, etc) or Random (…which is random). You purchase this through Big Cartel.
  2. What do you do? First, once the offer has closed, we will contact everyone who has purchased this individually to check the details of delivery addresses, gift messages and so on. We can ship directly to you, or straight to your recipient. Please note we can’t take individual book requests, or tailor book choices through this communication – that’s what we do in our PatC box, which remains available for purchase throughout!
  3. Once everything is good and correct, we randomly select a book from your chosen genre, wrap it up beautifully in printed brown paper (the design pictured is last year’s – the Crow has designed a new one in the same vein for this year!), slip in a library card, a card with your gift message on it, and a tiny candy, and then we send it on its merry way!
  4. Can I buy more than one? Yes, you very much can. However, if you need them shipped to more than one country you’ll need to check out separately for each country, otherwise you won’t pay the correct P&P costs.
  5. When buying more than one bundle, don’t worry about the recipient addresses. We will contact you to check names and addresses for all purchases.
  6. Some genres are more limited than others. Whilst our offer ends on 5th December, some genres will sell out earlier than this, so, if you’re set on something, don’t delay!

For further details about our gift options and subscription boxes available, please read our lengthy Tales of Yuletide Joy post!

 

 

Tales of Yuletide Joy

pclogomainGreetings and salutations, all! We are here, at last, with our festive winter plans, and, hopefully, some clarifications for you, thanks to the art of the long-form blog.

Things to be covered herein: What a recurring subscription is, when you can buy one. What you can buy between now and January 13th. Purchase and posting dates. Our special Yuletide offer, the return of the popular ‘just the book’, for anyone who needs a Secret Santa/stocking filler. Gift certificates.

Yep, there’s a lot to talk about!

  1. Recurring subscriptions. These are currently closed until January 13th. A recurring subscription is one in which PayPal automatically bills you the cost of your box on a certain date every month. Should you wish to purchase a recurring subscription for yourself, but also want to start now, you’re very welcome to purchase a one box for December and January, and then subscribe when we re-open the ability to do so for February – we’ll continue your subscription straight on from there.
  2. Right now at Prudence and the Crow and until Jan 13th you may purchase a One Box, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month box. You may do this for yourself, or for a friend/relative/partner/other human/probably don’t get your dog one. Do remember that we’ll need your friend’s name and address to be able to send it to them, rather than your own default PayPal one.
  3. Last purchase date for a December box is 5th December. All boxes purchased after this will be/begin with a January box. See further down for info on purchasing January boxes as gifts. All US/Canada/Australia/NZ December boxes will be despatched on or before 14th December. European ones will be sent by the 15th. UK ones will be posted by the 21st. These be the last posting dates as set by Royal Mail.
  4. On 27th November we will be opening our Yuletide offer, ‘Just the Book’ once more! This little bundle will be a random vintage paperback, beautifully wrapped with a handwritten gift card, along with one of our library cards in its card holder. These cost just £6, inc. UK P&P. The book is randomly selected from your chosen genre, so this is not a suitable gift for smallest children or people who have very strong opinions on their books – the regular PatC box option is where we take the recipient into account! This offer closes on 5th December. All books will be sent by 19th December.
  5. Gift certificates! On 6th December, for 24 HOURS ONLY any 1, 3, 6 or 12-month box purchase from us comes with a free physical gift certificate, which will be printed, hand-signed and stamped, encased in a fine envelope and posted out to you (in a second envelope) or your recipient (there’ll be a special form for this) right away in time for actual gifting over the festive period. From 7th December onwards, you will receive a printable PDF gift certificate to fill out, or email on, yourself.
  6. Phew! That’s all for now. Have a handy timeline of our winter business at PatC:

NOW – purchase a 1, 3, 6 or 12-box for/starting with December for yourself or a friend.

27th November – the ‘Just the Book’ offer will go live. Links will be posted in all the usual places.

5th December – the ‘Just the Book’ offer closes, and it’s the last day to order/start with a December box.

6th December – You can purchase a January box, or buy a 3, 6 or 12-month  bundle to start with a January box. It’s Physical Gift Certificate Shopping Day! Links will be posted everywhere.

7th December – 1st January – you may continue to purchase January boxes. If you purchase for someone else, you will be automatically the proud recipient of a digital gift certificate you may print or forward to the recipient as you wish.

24th December – 2nd January From midday on the 24th, the Crow and I will be officially closing our metaphorical office doors and taking a break from customer service until midday on 2nd January. We will not be checking email or social media. If you should have any customer service issues during this period, please, please, please use the Contact Us form on our website to ensure that we receive your message and, on our return to work, can get back to you ASAP.

13th January – Recurring subscriptions will re-open, and January despatch week will begin, and yay!

That is it! Also, don’t forget, we do have a FAQ that you may wish to peruse before making a purchase or asking us anything.

We hope you are all as bright and well as can be this uncommonly sunny November day, and we’ll keep you posted with everything we’re doing along the way!

~Prudence, and the Crow

 

 

 

Verily, We Swim in Books!

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Greetings all! It’s a little while since we did any communicating in longer-form, so, Prudence here, with a touch of housekeeping and a couple of updates!

In PatC-world, we have been reunited with our worldly belongings, from which we’ve been separated for over a year whilst relocating. It’s wonderful to have everything back, but it’s a little overwhelming, having boxes stacked ceiling-high and all manner of things to sort, share and get rid of!

The best part of this for me was having my grandparents’ books home with me at last – I was fortunate enough to inherit all their hardbacks, which range in quality and interest, but all bear my grandmother’s name, scribbled in ageing ink inside the cover, often with the date she bought and read it, or the details of the person who gave it to her. She and my grandad bought each other books for every Valentine’s Day (also their anniversary), birthday and Christmas, and I love seeing their marriage in terms of those gifts of fiction. I also have my great-aunt’s very random travelogue books, mostly Victorian accounts of the Far East and South America, which make for interesting reading. It’s hard not to drop everything and immerse myself in these wonderful, and sometimes dreadful, books, but there’s work to be done, so they must wait!

In the world of housekeeping, a couple of points!

New Subscribers – the address we will have for you is your default PayPal address. If this address is NOT the one you’d like your box delivered to, you do have to drop us a line and let us know, otherwise, that’s where it goes! You can pop the address you’d like the book to go to either in the questionnaire you’ll find at the end of the payment process, or through the Contact Us page on our site.

Price Changes – It’s April, so that means the cost of postage has risen once more! Alongside that, most of our suppliers raise prices around this time, so we’re going to be reviewing costs over the next month or so. Consider this a little forewarning, if you are thinking of signing up! We will never raise the cost of subscriptions for those who are already signed up, so, as long as your payments are continuous, you will only ever pay the cost of the box when you take out your subscription, regardless of any future raises for new subscribers.

Box Business – We’re still a work in progress, and everything isn’t quite as polished and consistently brilliant as we’d like! I try really hard to balance things out during the run of a subscription, and as ever, do know that, at this point, unlike most (indeed, all the ones that I can think of) other subscription boxes, we do not have any partners, nobody pays us to include anything in our boxes, and we do not receive any free inclusions from others in order to promote them and increase the value of our boxes. Think it looks a little handmade around here? It totally is! We love that about our boxes, and we’re always working on making each box more awesome than the last. The Crow and I buy or make all our inclusions ourselves, and we always try to make them fun, well-sourced and entertaining. One day we might partner up with people, if we get the right offer, because we’d certainly, especially in the world of teas and sweets, like to be able to promote our favourites, but we’re discerning, and also control freaks, so that’s one for the future.

Contacting Us – We love to hear from you! Love it! But if you have a query, or anything that requires an answer, you must, must use the contact from at prudencenandthecrow.com – it’s the only way to ensure that we see it, and we like to keep a copy of all our correspondence with you. Don’t send us details through Facebook or TWitter etc, as a) we don’t check them so regularly and b) we can’t guarantee we’ll actually see them, owing to the high level of both correspondence and spam we get through social media channels!

Let’s go back to some fun things – I’m so, so happy to see Ursula K. le Guin getting some love from Radio 4 of late. The Earthsea Chronicles were hugely, enormously formative reading experiences for me, and I still find them so powerful, so gloriously well-constructed, it’s so exciting to hear that they’re about to be dramatised for the dear BBC. The fun has already begun as well, with the two-part dramatisation of The Left Hand of Darkness finishing this weekend, and the wonderful interview with the master herself which you can also find via that link. Anyone with any interest in sci-fi, feminism, great story-telling, the power of language, the language of power, magic, world-building, or any combination of the above, if you aren’t familiar, or even if your familiarity is simply a little distant, I implore you to go and enjoy all that there is to offer from her works.

We’re so excited by every new subscription we receive. I always look forward to new questionnaires, and we love, love getting to know your likes, shaping a corner of your library, seeing your #patcbox #shelfie photos, all of that. I love when I’m out and about, and I suddenly come across the perfect book for Sarah in Lancaster, or the very novel that Jamie in Edinburgh has been hoping to receive for months. We genuinely love what we do with our hearts, and we promise to keep working hard to make our boxes as enjoyable, as curious, as readable as possible.

All the best this Spring,

P (and the C).

Dear Bloggers: Advice For Would-Be Reviewers

In light of many recent requests, might I point to some recommended reading…! Also, subscriptions are open 😉

Let's Not And Say We Did

 

Having had and been involved with several successful online businesses, I’m very familiar with the blogosphere’s role in promoting and reviewing such things. We get a lot of requests around all these businesses for reviews, features, requests for donations to things, offers to sample our products, any which way you can think of phrasing the getting of something without paying for it, we get them. Thing is, whilst, as I say, we know and love a good reviewer, we very rarely end up responding to anyone, because the requests are just so unhelpfully written, or missing vital information. And when you’re trying to get something for free on the basis that you’re going to review it on your excellent blog, if you can’t ask for it properly, it doesn’t give great hope for your blog being, well, worth our getting involved with.

But we get SO many poorly-phrased/organised requests…

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Review: My first Prudence and the Crow box!

Such a lovely review of a June #patcbox within!

A deal of nothing.

After developing a seriously major obsession with subscription boxes a month or so ago (it started with Lootcrate and I haven’t looked back) I stumbled across Prudence and the Crow and instantly had to subscribe.

As a humongous literature nerd and generally book-obsessive human, it seemed totally perfect. Prudence and the Crow is a monthly vintage book subscription service, sending you a hand-picked vintage or used book based on the specifications you lay out when you subscribe, plus a few little goodies, too.

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Mary Stewart, 1916-2014

Greetings, all. Prudence here.! This post is in memoriam of the glorious Mary Stewart, writer of so many wonderful things, and, most importantly to me, of my favourite book of all time, in any genre – Ludo and the Star Horse.

It’s a beautiful tale of a boy and his horse, who, when covered in a snowdrift, find themselves making a strange and terrible journey through the zodiac. It’s all the feelings, perfectly told. It makes me sob like the child I was when I first read it, every time. It’s wonderful. I dream of adapting it into a film one day. Literally, I dream of this a lot.

Mary Stewart died last week, at the magnificent age of 97. She left us with some incredible stories, and she built blocks of my childhood (time spent playing A Walk in Wolf Wood, for example!), and she wrote the magnificent Merlin quintet which is always, always a joy to come back to.

Like the very greatest writers, I always feel I’m in safe hands when I pick up one of her novels. If I’ve been consuming contemporary literature in abundance, over-reading the pulpy things, or struggling through something I’m not enjoying but want to know how it ends, sometimes I come back to her stories for that perfect sensation of flying through prose like a hot knife through butter, for the comfort of being with a writer who’s so completely comfortable with their craft and characters that all that’s left for you to do is read, read, read and enjoy.

I’m so utterly grateful for her works, and never tire of sharing Ludo and the Star Horse, amongst her other works, with anyone and everyone I can. Rest in Peace, Mary Stewart, and thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for all the stories.

 

Spring Has Sprung! And Recoiled.

Phew, yes, well, apologies for the slight gap in communications – Prudence has been experience some serious wisdom flourishing in the tooth area, which has caused a lot of pain and stomping about, and left little time for wise words and thoughtful posts! But with the pain subsiding (liberal consumption of coconut oil and chewing aloe vera right off the plant, both these things are highly recommended!) normal service ought shortly to be resuming!

First up, do allow me to link you to a couple of lovely, lovely blog posts about our March boxes from two of our fine subscribers: this fine review from Mundane Sundays, and, from GirlInTheNerdShop this lovely review. Thank you so – we really appreciate your words and thoughts, and indeed all the pictures, emails and feedback we’ve had from all of you! If you’re Stateside or further abroad and haven’t received/have only just got your box, fear not – we’ll love to hear your thoughts as and when you receive it!

Secondly – you’ll note we’re shipping on the 12th this month, rather than our usual 13th, and that, simply, is because the 13th is a Sunday. Don’t want the boxes hanging about sadly overnight, so we’ll have them winging their way to you earlier instead (although it probably won’t alter the delivery time all that much XD).

Thirdly! We’ve got a couple of really lovely goodies lined up for the next few boxes – it’s such a joy to discover, one by one, wonderful craftspeople working in the UK we can commission things from that we weren’t sure still existed! And, of course, there’s so much we make and do ourselves, but this means that we extra-appreciate being able to support fellow small businesses nearby.

Spring has decided to mock our plans to spend the weekend relaxing in the garden and running like lambs in the sunshine by bringing up further bouts of hail and icy winds that make us want to retreat right back to the tatty old armchair with every mug we own filled with a different tea, and every blanket that can be found heaped up atop us whilst we read our way through everything we’re about to send around the world…ah well, we can but dream! We’ve a visitor from Sweden this weekend who informs us that they’re ankle deep in snow and minus temperatures, so, best to be grateful, I suppose, for it…not being that!

And the long-unmentioned Book Club! With everything heaping up about us, Prudence never did get to finishing Kate Atkinson’s Human Croquet again (okay, okay, and she’s also caught up with a Game of Thrones reread but who isn’t?!) but the Crow did, and she pronounced it “heavier going than I’d anticipated, with dislikeable characters…swathes of clever stuff, but more stuff that seemed which would be cleverer than it was…isolated passages of beautiful text which didn’t have anywhere to go…very strange and spattered with pitfalls…I can see how it might be someone’s cup of tea, but it wasn’t exactly mine. It’s not long since I finished it, and I’m struggling to remember what happened…” Prudence, meanwhile, remembers that she enjoyed it considerably more than that, and is going to do some doubletime to finish that alongside this month’s read which is…

Tom’s Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce! It’s the Crow’s choice. We’ve both read it before. Prudence recalls reading it a lot as a child and being quite in love with it, writing-wise, but then always rather emotionally ruined by something else about it, and then of course there was the BBC adaptation that neither of us quite remember either, but Prudence knows she cried during it (not unusual – she cries during virtually anything).

It’s always strange, rereading books you loved as a child, some twenty years later. Prudence recalls reading the series about the Blossom family – The Blossoms and the Green Phantom, The Not-Just-Anybody Family, those…and as a child, she loved them; America seemed virtually alien and the entire setup was utterly exotic and fascinating to her, as an only child in London. Coming back as an adult, she was a bit…confused by the memory of that love, for the books, sure, have their sweetish and amusingish moments, but in other places, they’re rather bleak and difficult and just…what inspired such love? What was it?! The sheer idea of having siblings? The dog? The dusty, odd world of rodeo and coyotes and strange hats? Perhaps. It’s truly odd to be left cold by something you know you used to find warmth in. Here’s hoping that’s not the Tom’s Midnight Garden experience!

Reading anything good this month? Fancy picking up Tom’s Midnight Garden along with us? Any further tips for grinning and bearing the arrival of the wisdom teeth?

As ever, if you’d like to sign up for a one-off box, fixed period subscription or continuous subscription to the Prudence and the Crow Vintage Subscription Box Service, do head over to Prudence and the Crow and we’ll see you there!

 

 

The March Box: Last Orders, Please!

 

ImageYep, it’s your last chance to get yourself a March subscription box! You’ve until midnight in your applicable country to sign up to receive a box containing a vintage paperback book chosen just for you*, and several other excellent surprises! Hop over to www.prudenceandthecrow.com to subscribe – genres include YA, sci-fi and children’s, or select ‘random’ to request something different, and we’ll do our best 🙂

It’s been a fantastically exciting month over here at PatC HQ. We’re thrilled to welcome so many new like-minded and excited subscribers – thank you all so much for your lovely messages and contributions! We’ve a Merit page in the works to collect all your excellent reviews and blog posts, and, and, so exciting, we’re going to be awarding actual physical Merits of gratitude and wonder! More details on that to follow, but know that, for now, we’re super appreciative of all your sharing and reviewing.

We’re a most bespoke and caring two-person business here, and if we’ve learnt anything over our years online, it’s that nothing is so valuable as the feeling your customers have about you. With this being the sort of thing where we hope to have a closer relationship with customers as subscribers, obviously, the better the relationship we can have…and the more we can kindle that feeling we’re going for, the aforementioned post-based 1980s kids’ club! Or, the beautifully-made membership pack, or the ultimate fan bundle…there’s nothing Prudence loves so much as a bundle, and she’s pretty sure she’s not alone in that! So! We’re most excited to see all your unpacking videos and blogs, and look forward to providing a page to share and reward all such efforts.

In other news – the rain has finally ceased! We were fearful of being washed away, every last page, but fortunately the sun’s out, and the books are as grateful as the garden! Not least as they get to accompany us out there for afternoon tea, their little pages happily soaking up the sun as they’re fervently turned in the chase for the story. We’ve had some gorgeous acquisitions this month, many of which were chosen especially for the March boxes, and we’ve loved hosting them in this period between buying and packing. It’s always the best part of what we do, sending them on their merry way, and we hope you get all the pleasure from them that anyone might get from a book!

Finally finally – happy World Book Day! We’ve done our bit dressing up – Prudence was George from the Famous Five, and the Crow was her infamous alter ego, the Mymble’s Daughter! Whilst out and about on errands earlier, it was wonderful to see all the local kids dressed as such a tremendous cross-section of the literary population…although I seriously hope some of the Joffreyalikes I noted were, in fact, say…Peter from the Narnia books, or, indeed, anyone else…very scary! It’s incredible to see how many kids are captured by books at such a young age – as someone who also was, I wholeheartedly think it’s the best way to be.

So, without further ado, that’s all aboard the March box, with love from www.prudenceandthecrow.com and we’ll see you in the next blog for a post with just a touch more content than this 😉 Meanwhile, get out there and get that Vitamin D, kids!

*provided you fill out the handy questionnaire at signup! Feel free not to, of course, but obviously with so much less to go on, you’ll be the happy recipient of something a touch more random – but still in your chosen genre, of course!