Friday 22 March 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 6-10 Round-Up

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was setting myself a reading challenge for this year. I am still powering through and recently finished books six to ten so I'm back with another round-up. If you missed my first round-up post you can read it here. Also, if you'd like to add me as a friend on Goodreads, you can do so here.

You by Caroline Kepnes - 4/5

"When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore when Joe works, he is instantly smitten.

But there's more to Joe than Beck realises and much more to Beck than her perfect facade. And the obsessive relationship quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences..." 

I absolutely loved the Netflix adaptation of You so of course I was going to jump on the bandwagon and read it as soon as possible. 

I felt that it was so much better than the show. I loved the crudeness, the pop culture references and I think the timeline and "relationship" between Joe and Beck is better. It's written very well, especially the long sentences with no punctuation when Joe is starting to stress out. It made me feel stressed reading it!

If you enjoyed the TV show, you need to give the book a read too!

Normal People by Sally Rooney - 4/5

"Marianne is the young, affluent, intellectual wallflower; Connell is the boy everyone likes, shadowed by his family's reputation and poverty. Unlikely friends, and later lovers, their small town beginnings in rural Ireland are swiftly eclipsed by the headly worlds of student Dublin. Gradually their intense, mismatched love becomes a battleground of power, class, and the falsehoods they choose to believe." 

I enjoyed this book but given the hype and awards that it's won, I expected to like it more than I actually did.

It's an easy read about the relationship between Marianne and Connell from the end of school and through university. They are just two (I'm cringing at using the title of the book) normal people so I feel like a lot of people could resonate, at least with some of it.

I was a bit let down by the ending and felt like there was more to give. I wouldn't shout from the rooftops that it is the best book ever written but it's definitely worth a read.

The Magic Touch by Kelly Florentia - 1/5 

"Once bitten, twice shy Emma King is in no rush to join Harry's bustling, big, fat Greek Cypriot family and become Mrs Georgiades. So it comes as no surprise when, after plenty of Dutch courage, his proposal of marriage at a family gathering is met with rejection.

Emma doesn't need a piece of paper to prove how much they love each other. They're solid - unbreakable. After all, Harry's a loving and loyal partner whom she trusts implicitly. But when she accidentally stumbles across a flirtatious text message on Harry's mobile phone from a female colleague alarm bells start going off in her head. 

Overcome with suspicion and an impending fear of losing the love of her life, Emma goes on a mission to get to the bottom of his secret affair with the help of her best friend Ola, her ninety-three year old neighbour Alistair, and Harry's sister-in-law's app 'The Magic Touch'. Because no one is going to snatch Harry from her - no one!" 

I don't like giving such a low rating but I need to be honest with how I feel about a book after reading. 

This isn't a genre I'd usually pick but I won a copy and I'm trying to be open minded with this reading challenge so I thought I'd give it a try.

I felt like it was far too cliché and cheesy and I anticipated so much of it. It had a lot of eye rolly unbelievable moments too. Not one for me, I'm afraid.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver - 5/5

"One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach...

Seth Beauman can't sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she's talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home...

And someone is watching..."

What a fantastic writer. Such a dark and twisted book following Seth, a man who can't sleep and phones random numbers hoping for a connection, his wife Maeve, Hadley Serf who ends up accepting Seth's call and Ant, a man who works for the Samaritans.

All of this is tied together with killings where the women are bleached, wrapped in plastic and dumped. But who's doing it?

Absolutely brilliant and so well written.

Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt - 4/5


In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.


Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She's discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.


DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It's only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking...

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?" 

I really enjoyed 'Hush Hush', the first book in this series so I was eager to see how this book would hold up and I think it's even better!

You are instantly gripped by a couple of murders in the first chapters, then it's full of twists and turns. It was great to see more of DS Grace Allendale and her now fully fledged relationship with journalist Simon.

I read Hush Hush quite a while ago so I liked that there were little reminders of what happened in that book. It's probably okay to read this as a standalone if you haven't read the first book but I definitely recommend it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books for the ARC. Tick Tock will be published on 2nd May 2019.

Have you read anything good lately that you would recommend? 
Tuesday 19 March 2019

Getting the Children Excited about Fashion with shopDisney

(We have been gifted the products mentioned in this post from shopDisney, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.) 

Now that C is 6 and E is 4 I'm making more of a conscious effort to encourage their creativity and let them make their own choices when it comes to buying clothes for them. I also have them choose their clothing for the day whereas previously I'd select things that I like.

C tends to stick to what he feels comfortable in, usually jeans and chinos with a t-shirt which is either emblazoned with a funny quote or character that he likes. We've always loved the skater style on him and like that he feels the same way and it shows off his personality.

E is a typical girl who dreams of being a princess so she would live in dresses if she could - she even always requests a nightdress to sleep in! As long as it either has a unicorn on it, is princess themed or sparkly - she'll be drawn to it like a magpie.

Being a Disney obsessed family, C and E were very excited to get their own little bundle of goodies to make the clothes choosing process a bit more fun for them! When I visit shopDisney I always tend to flock towards the toys and mugs with clothing not being something I'd go in for specifically but I was really impressed with what we received and it completely changed my mind. I've been stalking the kids fashion section of the website a lot ever since!

C is a Spider-man fanatic and has been since he was very little. He could tell you anything about him so he was very pleased with his Spidey haul containing a pair of pyjamas, a raincoat, a t-shirt, socks and figurines.

E has recently become Moana's biggest fan and even dressed in her Moana costume to see Disney On Ice last year. She will always be playing 'How Far I'll Go' on her tablet and act out the scene as if she is Moana. Ariel is another favourite of hers (and mine actually) - I think it's the red hair and the fact that she's a mermaid. E's haul contained an Ariel dress/cropped sweater combo, Disney Princess braid hair clips, Moana sunglasses, a Moana Animator doll and matching pyjamas for her and her Moana doll to wear.

Upon opening, I don't think I've ever seen two children more happy. A few weeks on and given the choice of their entire wardrobe, they will 99% of the time choose these items. I think it's the power of the character! E wore her Ariel dress and sweater on non-uniform day to school because she was so desperate to show it off to her friends, and had great pleasure in telling them "It says 'call me on my shell'!" We've had quite a few compliments from strangers on C's Spider-man raincoat too.

As a parent, I like to find good quality clothing at affordable prices considering how quickly the children grow. This is what you get with shopDisney. I had a preconceived idea that character clothing has to be expensive but, for example, the raincoat is only £24 which is absolutely fantastic for the fit and quality and I know you could spend a lot more somewhere else on something that won't last as long or look as good. Due to the sheer amount of times that C and E have chosen to wear their items, they've been washed a lot and the fit and colour hasn't been compromised or damaged at all.

If, like me, you tend to venture more towards toys than clothing at shopDisney - take a browse there. You won't regret it!

Monday 18 March 2019

BRIO Airplane - Review

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

We are massive fans of the BRIO brand here and have reviewed a few of their products over the years, all of which are still played with to this day.

C and E were very excited to receive a new addition to their collection - the Airplane set!

Inside the box you get the airplane itself, a pilot, passenger, suitcase and rolling stair cart. Instantly the kids got right into playing and using their imagination - something that I love that BRIO encourages. C decided he would always like to be the pilot and E, the passenger. They like to come up with little scenarios, what the pilot would say and where the passenger was lucky to be flying off too. Both of them seemed to really enjoy it.

The top of the airplane opens up and inside there are three "seats". The little characters can bend and sit tightly in (their arms are poseable too) and C discovered that if you turn the suitcase sideways it can fit too. The rolling stair cart adds to the realness and it connects magnetically to the wheel of the airplane, meaning that the characters can board just like we do in real life.

I like the mix of plastic and wood with BRIO. The people and suitcase are made entirely from plastic but the airplane and stairs are a combination. They are all very sturdy and, judging by the sets we already own too, I know they will last a long time.

Although it can be played with as a standalone set, the kids have found it very exciting to play with all their BRIOworld sets together and be able to play in different ways with various ideas. This set is recommended for children aged 3+ and even at 6 years old, C still has lots of fun with it.

The BRIO Airplane set retails at £19.99 and you can find out more and purchase it at the BRIO website.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Twisty Petz Collectable Toys - Review

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

E was very excited to be sent some Twisty Petz collectable toys recently and upon opening I instantly felt like they were just made for E. If you aren't familar with Twisty Petz, they are little animals made from beads or gems that transform into jewellery. E is an animal lover and a total girly girl who loves her make up, dresses and jewellery.

We received a three-pack Twisty Petz set, two single-pack Twisty Petz sets and a four-pack of Twisty Petz Babies. 

There are 70 different pets to collect from cats and ponies to llamas and unicorns so E couldn't wait to see which ones she'd got. As well as having a multitude of animals to collect, they come in lots of different colours and finishes - metallic, pastel, rainbow and pearlescent - so you can be as creative as you want when you are joining them together. Like any collectable toy, you can get Limited Edition ones which is always a treat - E got a Chi-Chi Cheetah and it was as if all her Christmases had come at once!

To play, you simply pull the head and tail of the animal and it straightens out. The end of the tail can be inserted into a hole on the head then worn as a bracelet. If you have more than one pet, you can connect them together to make longer necklaces or you can think further outside the box and even make a little fashion accessory to hang on your backpack. To put them back to animal form, you simply insert the round bead into the main 'body' gem and twist the legs around. This took a little bit of practice for E at the start and she would ask me to do it a lot but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

The single-packs are self-explantory, you get one pet but the three-packs are quite exciting as you can openly see two of the pets but a third one is hidden as a surprise. The Twisty Petz Babies are just smaller versions of the bigger Petz and E likes to make little families when she is playing with them as the animals. The Babies set also comes with a little gem shaped case and extra charm - a lovely addition!

I do worry a bit when it comes to things with beads because, at only four, E can be quite rough and I have to warn her that they could snap and we'd have beads everywhere! Twisty Petz are very sturdy so we didn't have an issue with this at all.

I really like that they are toys that are small enough to be taken to a restaurant or into nursery but have a dual purpose so the excitement isn't lost and E can play with them in a few different ways.

The Twisty Petz packs are priced at £4.99 for a single pack, £9.99 for the Babies four pack and £14.99 for the three pack so there is something for all budgets. You can find these at Smyths and all other major toy retailers.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

What I Won - February 2019

We are now into March (already - I can't quite believe that!) so it's time to share what I won in February this year. You can read my January wins here.

Facebook Wins
A copy of 'The Magic Touch' by Kelly Florentia from Accent Press

The Lego Movie 2 Emmet clock and Wyldstyle watch from ClicTime

Hello Kitty Hi-top trainers from love it! magazine

Instagram Wins
Case of Pago Tropical Fruit Juice from Pago

Wine and Chocolate Valentine's Hamper from United Wines

Personalised writing practice boards from ASD Bright Ideas

Twitter Wins
The Lego Movie 2 Minifigure from The Lego Movie 2

Marshmallows from Happy Mallows

Web Wins
White Creme Egg 

All in all, February hasn't been as successful as I was expecting! I am entering the same amount as usual but it just hasn't been a lucky one for me. Fingers crossed that March is a little better.

Did you win anything nice in February?