BTM Subscription: Book and Besties Review

Hi! I hope your November has been fantastic so far and that it’s been full of fun, friends, family and festivity.

I have just returned home from our village Christmas light switch on, which as usual had a gorgeous atmosphere; kids running around giggling, free mince pies being passed out, a fantastic live band playing out of a wagon, roasted chestnuts and plenty of hot chocolate and marshmallows. The light switch on itself per tradition was done in stages, but the main village road was all alight and looking festive as we returned home.

This month has been quite a good reading month, as was the end of October. The seasons changing has quite an impact on my reading habits, blankets and hot drinks help!

This week’s edition of PAP is ever so slightly different to usual, as rather than reviewing a book and a hot drink, I’m reviewing a Book subscription BOX!

Now some of you may have heard of book subs and others may think ‘and what the heck are they’. I’ve previously been a subscriber of the Rare Birds Book Club which I found to be a fantastic way of being introduced to books by Women authors that I’d never heard of, wouldn’t have picked up necessarily, but absolutely should have read. The Pact We Made by Layla Alammar was my first ever book and it’s one that has stayed with me. Anyway, after 18 months of rare birds I found I was wanting more Hardback books on my shelf, and Rare Birds (at the current time of writing) is entirely paperback.

So! After a lot of discussion with my friend Charlotte over on Instagram (@Charlotte_reads_and_knits) about book subscription boxes (we met virtually through rare birds book club!) , she convinced me that Books That Matter was 100% worth a try. Now, honestly – this took me a while to eventually sign up to. I was worried that I wouldn’t use half the stuff in the box and it was more expensive than rare birds, and we have to pay for delivery.

There is I must say – before I continue – the choice of ‘book only’ sub, but I liked the idea of opening up a box of goodies, so I went for the more expensive full box subscription.

So, after receiving mine, I thought I would share with you all the details, what’s inside and my review of the subscription and of the book I received, if you were also thinking about signing up to one and wondering if it was worth it. So let’s dive in.

BOOKS THAT MATTER BOOK AND BEST FRIENDS AUTUMN SUBSCRIPTION BOX:

To say I did a Happy Dance when this box arrived, would be an understatement. Firstly it’s packaged properly in waterproof packaging, (no soggy cardboard or battered books!) and it arrived pretty promptly.

I was initially worried that my box wouldn’t arrived as my order seemed to say ‘on hold’ forever but customer service via email assured me all would be fine, and it was.

So, what’s in this box?

  • Favor & Grace Wax melt in ‘Cosy Book Club’
  • Bird & Blend in ‘Gingerbread Chai’
  • 2 Faace masks, ‘Sweaty’ and ‘Tired’
  • Kamila Shamsie’s novel ‘Best of Friends’ in Hardback
  • Bookmark matching book
  • Tote matching Book

The total cost of these goods at retail price (I would estimate) would be somewhere in the region of £28.

FAVOR & GRACE WAX MELT – COSY BOOK CLUB

This smells absolutely DIVINE. Think of an old book shop, then add on some nice warm musky vanilla cosiness, and you can smell this bar. I’ve used about half a small bar, I’ve had it on for at least 10 hours and it’s still there! My tote bag smells of it as does the book from being in the box and I never want it to lose that scent! Vegan, palm oil and cruelty free. This will be an easy re-buy for me.

Small bar £4.50* + shipping: Click here (opens up a new Tab)

BIRD & BLEND – GINGERBREAD CHAI

Now I’ve sampled a Bird & Blend tea or two in the past (another Charlotte influence!) but I’ve never tried any of their Chai. So I was mega excited when this cosy sounding tea turned up in the box! I enjoyed a cup whilst I read through the middle part of the book. I found it warming, my throat felt nice and hot (in a good way!), it was a rooibos spiced with ginger and cinnamon, but also had that gorgeous Cardamom flavour which I adore in a Chai. It produced a nice fresh flavour whilst also being quite a cosy, comforting tea.

15 bags £6.55* + Shipping Click here (opens up a new Tab)

FAACE MASKS – SWEATY AND TIRED

So far I have only used the ‘tired’ mask (tired = my life XD) and I loved the feel of it on my face. You leave it on and dont wipe off. I did find in the morning (I put on before bed) that I did have a bit of pilling, but my skin was fresh and felt soo smooth and calm. My skin felt soothed and cared for. I’m not sure I’d pay the full pay price tag for this as my skin changes so much through the month, but it is a really nice product.

£27* + shipping /100ml Click here (opens up a new Tab)

BEST OF FRIENDS BY KAMILA SHAMSIE

So, when this book came I was super excited to pick it up. Firstly I’ve heard lots about this author (Home Fire is one I’ve seen so many glowing reviews on), she’s a Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and originally from Pakistan but now lives in London. I was super excited to read something by a female author (BTM is like Rare Birds in that regard!) that might be from a different cultural standpoint than my own.

This is a novel about friendship, identity, class, money, politics, morals and social standings. It’s a book with dual timelines, generating warm feelings of nostalgia, but I guess also hard memories for those that lived through them in that time and place.

The Synopsis:

Zahra and Maryam have been best friends since childhood in Karachi, even though–or maybe because–they are unlike in nearly every way. Yet they never speak of the differences in their backgrounds or their values, not even after the fateful night when a moment of adolescent impulse upends their plans for the future.

Three decades later, Zahra and Maryam have grown into powerful women who have each cut a distinctive path through London. But when two troubling figures from their past resurface, they must finally confront their bedrock differences–and find out whether their friendship can survive.

Thought-provoking, compassionate, and full of unexpected turns, Best of Friends offers a riveting take on an age-old question: Does principle or loyalty make for the better friend?

The story begins in the 80s – think Michael Jackson on the radio, posters of idols on walls and ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman being the cool girl song of choice.

We are introduced to Zahra and Marayam, two friends at an elite school for kids from high social standing in Karachi, Pakistan. Whilst firm friends, Marayam clearly has more money in her family than Zahra, being a grandchild to a leather empire, and spending her summers in Kensington London, whilst Zahra evidently does not. No matter the personality differences, the differing desires for who they’ll be in later life or their financial circumstances, Marayam and Zahra are close, like sisters.

For the first 50% of the book, we spend our reading time in the 80s in the girl’s childhood, in Pakistan. I found this to be the most enjoyable part, the part of the book with the most fast paced plot line, the foundations for the girl’s future. The political landscape was interesting, and provided both macro and micro changes in environment for the girls, their futures and the plot. At this age they were still making silly decisions and discovering themselves and their identity that had interesting outcomes. I felt that this was the strongest part of the book in terms of plot and character development.

The next 50% of the book, we wake up in modern day London. Both Marayam and Zahra live there, have high flying, elite jobs and this became more of a politically written part of the novel given the difficult themes discussed and so it took more of a turn towards moral and political misalignment between the women as adults and the impact that that has on friendship. Interestingly the difference in wealth as children didn’t have an impact as such, but as adults these differences have bigger impacts on their lives and livelihoods.

CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 3.5/5

I think one thing to note is that I didnt expect this to be the most easy of reads, it’s no secret that I find award winning books have ‘quirks’, such as no punctuation, difficult phrasing, strange line spacing, etc. Well this one is chapters. Each chapter is 25% of the book. Yep.

I did find that there were page breaks/pause stops but honestly, just write a new chapter? please!

I felt the girls so strongly through the first part of the book, I could have honestly just lived in the 1980s with them for a lot longer. Their personalities were so strong, as were their family members and I really felt them through the pages. I definitely feel like this book was one of two halves, the second half I didn’t feel that the characters related to their childhood counterparts. It was entirely different characters.

I kept getting the ladies mixed up and I felt that the supporting characters were just names on a page. The ending was also very abrupt.

Given all of what I’ve just said, I did really enjoy the tone of the writing and the exploration into life in both Pakistan and in Britain. Pakistan was fascinating to me.

I would recommend to lovers of literature and to those interested in exploring friendships, cultures different to their own, and who enjoy reading books set over different timelines.

RRP £17*

In summary..

So finally, how much does a Books That Matter Sub cost I hear you ask? Well, for a box like mine, it costs £18.50* plus shipping, which given that I said I guessed the total box value was £28 (ish), then it is good value for money and a fun way to try something new. It is a bit of a bummer that you have to pay for shipping, but I think the quality of the packaging is considerably better than others where it is free. I also signed up to a 6 month sub, so there is a discount there.

What I also really think is pretty cool is that you can go back and buy past boxes if they have remaining stock, so if you want to buy this box, at the moment you can! There is a book club which I haven’t joined in on just yet, there’s an app, a podcast, a blog, lots to keep you engaged.

I think the boxes are really exciting and I did actually want to or have used everything inside, hurray! I’ve never been a tote bag person, but that tote bag is now saving the planet one shopping trip at a time, and I love it!

And Finally:

This review is not an ad or affiliated with any brands featured, it’s just my review of something you may have seen! However you can also £5 off your first box using my refer a friend code: REFGFRM7RZB9Q

To do so click this link: Subscribe to Books That Matter (opens up a new Tab)

Note:

-* All Prices correct at time of publishing, online prices do fluctuate so please check before you buy!

So that’s it for this weekend readers! I hope youve enjoyed this book subscription box review, if you have please like/follow/comment/share!

As always you can find me on socials @papyrusandpeppermint , so please connect with me if you have instagram/goodreads/Facebook.

Have a great week

Until the next Chapter,

Emma X0

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