Wednesday 27 February 2019

Lollipets - Review

We own an absolutely crazy amount of collectable toys. Between C and E, we easily have hundreds and I think that they like the idea of trying to collect them all. We recently received some brand new collectable toys called Lollipets. We have kids shows on TV in the morning before school so E was familiar with them from the advertisement (and of course, we had choruses of "I want those!") so she was very excited to get them opened and see what they did.

Firstly, the Lollipets boxes themselves are very cute. They resemble animals and even have little ears attached. They come in either a single pack or two packs and we received one of each to try out. 

There are 20 different characters to collect - elephants, mice and rabbits - and each Lollipet comes with it's own sweet treat, a lollipop. In addition, certain animals come from certain "areas". We received Monty from Lollipop Lake, Barry from Lollipop Lake and Pearl from Marshmallow Meadows in our single and double packs. There are also animals from Cake Pop Coast and Cotton Candy Canyon.

Once you've switched your Lollipet on at the bottom, you can use it's treat to get it to do things. It can follow it along, hop if you hold it above, sprint if it's held behind or dodge if it's beside. E did struggle a bit at the start to know where exactly to position the lollipop to get her Lollipet to react but she has since sussed it out. 

Her favourite thing about the Lollipets are that they react with each other. If you have two of them switched on nearby, they will be drawn to each other and move together to kiss or -ahem- sniff each other's bottoms.

The toys themselves are well made, from sturdy plastic with little rubber ears and tails which give a bouncy effect when they move. The designs vary too from bright to pastels and even some which are glittery - I'm sure E will definitely be after one of those next!

The single packs retail at £7.99 and double at £14.99 and they are available from Smyths and all good toy stores.

(We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Monday 25 February 2019

Boxy Girls Fashion Dolls Season 1 - Review

E is a child who has a slight major obsession with dolls of all kinds. She has a fantastic wee imagination so they will always be her go-to toy. We received some brand new fashion dolls called Boxy Girls and E was beside herself with excitement to open them as she'd actually heard of them via a YouTube toy unboxing channel.

If you haven't yet heard of Boxy Girls, there are four different dolls to collect (Brooklyn, Nomi, Willa and Riley) and each doll comes with four packages, all of which contain a fashion accessory.

We received the Brooklyn and Riley dolls and an additional fashion pack. E could not wait to see what was inside all of the parcels and she was already roleplaying before I'd even opened the actual dolls out of their boxes, telling me that she "couldn't wait to see what they bought at the mall online". The point of the dolls is that they are supposed to love online shopping for clothes, make up, shoes and accessories and the parcels are a new twist on a blind bag.

Each doll retails at £17.99 which I don't think is bad considering you are basically getting a doll and four blind bags. The dolls themselves are well made and I like that their knees, elbows and wrists are moveable. Upon opening, E acted as though she was really filming an unboxing, getting super excited about what her doll had "bought" and talking me through everything. As well as getting the fashion item, you also get a little sticker - E is obsessed with stickers - and a cute little pink piece of cardboard thanking you for your order. A really lovely touch!

The Fashion Packs retail at £9.99 and while these don't contain a doll, you do get six parcels for your Boxy Girl to open, meaning that you can add to your collection. I was worried that once E had opened all of the parcels, the fun would be over as that's the most exciting thing but E has had a great time making both Riley and Brooklyn talk and play together and changing their accessories and clothes depending on what they're doing (she likes to pretend they are going shopping or to the beach). I know I will definitely be buying E the Willa and Nomi dolls at some point because of how well they have been received. I know some people would be concerned about getting dupes, especially when it comes to buying additional Fashion Packs but we did already get one dupe of a pair of earrings and E just has both dolls wearing them at the same time, calling them twins so I don't think she'd mind too much.

E has actually brought her Brooklyn Boxy Girl into nursery every day since we received her and I purchased the Willa doll for her little friend whose birthday party we went to last weekend because we like them so much!

In addition to the toy fun, you can sign up to Club Boxy Girls for Boxy Girls news and chances to win some prizes.

You can find the Boxy Girls range at Smyths Toys and all good toy stores, and keep an eye out for Season 2 which will be arriving soon!

(We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 
Tuesday 19 February 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 1-5 Round-up

In the tail end of 2018, I decided that I wanted to get back into reading. I read a lot as a child and teenager but I found that I obviously had less time after becoming a parent and dealing with newborns and toddlers. Now that C and E are 6 and 4 they are more independent so I get more time to myself, especially in the evenings when they are in bed. I started using my Goodreads account (feel free to add me as a friend) and noticed that I could set a Reading Challenge for the year. I didn't see the point of setting one so close to the end of the year so I decided to wait until the beginning of 2019.

I have decided to push myself a bit and have set my 2019 Reading Challenge to 80 books. With only 52 weeks in a year, it'll be no mean feat but I am determined to try. I do share my reads as I go along on my Instagram stories and you can see them in my Highlights too. After every five books I read, I will do a little round-up on the blog about what I've been reading, rate them and give a brief review. 
Here's what I've read so far:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - 3/5

"A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight.
A prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. 
A scandal that will rock Westminster.
And the women caught at the heart of it."

I bought this book because I'd seen it on the shelf of a few supermarkets and kept being drawn to it so I had really high hopes that it would be good.

The book started really slowly and I didn't feel myself liking any of the characters at all. The jumping between narratives and timelines confused me, I don't usually get too confused by this but it just happened too much.

It took the twist to happen, around halfway through, to pique my interest but then it sort of went downhill again. The story itself was generally good but it felt a bit too unrealistic and the cliffhanger style ending irked me a little.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult - 4/5

"The Center for women's reproductive health offers a last chance at hope - but nobody ends up there by choice.
It's very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.
Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real; a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.
Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark Of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people - the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment - to this point.
And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose."

I won this copy from a web giveaway at NB Books and I couldn't wait to get stuck in after reading the blurb even though it probably isn't a book I would choose myself.

A Spark Of Light is a very, very good book centering around a women's reproductive health centre and tackles the topic of pro-life and pro-choice. I wasn't a fan of how the story was told backwards chronologically at first (I think I like things more linear), but those two twists that I didn't see coming at the end made more sense that way and I knew instantly why it had been written in that style.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward - 5/5

"Maddie and Ian's romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now, sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.
But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo. 
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?"

This isn't the actual cover as I won this uncorrected proof copy from the publisher, Quercus Books, in an Instagram giveaway.

You are drawn straight in with a main character who is obviously struggling, mentally, and then a murder. The chapters flit between the Day of the Killing, the week's leading up to the killing, Maddie's therapy sessions and from the early 2000's to present day - all focusing on Maddie and Ian, how they met and how their relationship develops. It has a fantastic twisty ending and everything is tied up very nicely. A very good read! It will be published on March 21st and I would really recommend getting your hands on a copy.

Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan - 4/5

"Eliana Hughes should be over the moon. She has her dream job, a loving husband and a baby on the way.
But when a threatening note arrives at the hospice where she works, Eli's life begins to spiral out of control. As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to expose Eli's husband as a cheat, Eli finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts. And as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.
Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother - and stay one..." 

I had Apple Of My Eye on my Goodreads 'want to read' list for months leading up to it's publication date and I found it on sale at Tesco a few days after it's release and couldn't leave without buying it. It is a really fantastic thriller told from the perspective of Eli (Eliana), her mother Angela and a third unknown woman, "Louise". It is so creepy the whole way throughout and I liked that it was locally based (Belfast/Derry). I was kicking myself that I didn't see "it" coming!

Believe Me by JP Delaney - 4/5

"A British drama student in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.
When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to help lure their suspect into a confession. But it Patrick Fogler really a killer... Or is there more to this set-up than she's being told?
And that's when Claire realises she's playing the most deadliest role of her life..."

One word to describe this book would be: bizarre. But not in a bad way. The book that you start reading seems completely different to the book that you finish reading. 
Claire, a British actress in the USA, starts working for a divorce firm trying to catch out straying husbands via hidden camera in a bar. A murder occurs and she helps the police out, trying to trap the suspect but it completely spirals. It's a book full of murders that all seem to be based on an obsession with Baudelaire's 'Les fleurs du mal' poetry. 
It is so twisty that you don't know which way the book is going to go and I actually sat in disbelief at the end and I already feel like I need to read it and enjoy it again.

Have you read anything good lately or have any recommendations for me? 
Friday 1 February 2019

What I Won - January 2019

In my first blog post of the year, Hello 2019, I mentioned that I wanted to bring back my 'What I Won' series. If you are new here, comping is my main hobby and I love winning things that myself and my family can use. At the start of each month, I'll be writing a blog post detailing what I won the previous month. I'm going to change the format slightly though. Beforehand, I would just write what I won chronologically but I think this time round, I will separate them into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and web wins to see which method has worked best. So without further ado, here's what January 2019 brought me!

Facebook Wins
£50 Love2Shop gift card from Smart On Cartons

£20 Costa Coffee gift card from Costa Coffee Ireland 
1.5ltr box of Echo Falls Summer Berries from Nisa Locally
Kids GPS Watch from KidsNav

Instagram Wins
USA Beauty Bundle from A Life With Thrills 

Sriracha and Beef Jerky bundle from The Curators

L'Occitane Almond Hand Cream from L'Occitane 

Bundle of Swizzels Matlow sweets from Swizzels

Twitter Wins
A copy of 'Believe Me' by JP Delaney from The Book Matchmaker

'Learn Mandarin Chinese by Paul Noble' set from Collins Dictionary
A set of five books (the Costa Book Award winners) from Costa Coffee

Web Wins 
A copy 'A Spark of Light' by Jodi Picoult from NB Books

Runner up prize of two sachet refills of cleaning products from Eco.3

January was a decent enough month with some fab wins. I like voucher wins so I can spend it what I what and book wins are becoming my favourite things to win at the moment so I was very pleased with the amount of books that came my way in January.

Did you win anything nice last month?