Friday 27 September 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 46-50 Round-Up

The end is near! I've recently finished my 50th book so I only have 30 to fit in before the end of the year. I'm really hoping that I can do it!

I wrote in my last round up that I had a ton of Netgalley reads to get through and such is the case this time round too, all ebooks, so no pretty book photos again!

What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts - 4/5

"After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she'd already found 'the one' - that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What's the worst that can happen?

Well, it's pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later, Lil discovers she's pregnant. She's single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it's hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil's ready to do the baby thing on her own - it can't be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he's not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn't ignoring Lil after all..."
This is the classic tale of girl meets boy, girl gets pregnant, now what?

Lil has just broken up with her boyfriend of eight years and finally puts herself out there again six months later. She meets Max and has a great time with him until it all goes pear-shaped. 

Although I felt like it was quite cliché in some places, it was a nice, easy read and it did make me want to keep reading to see what would happen next (why I ended up finishing it in less than 24 hours!)

I loved all of the characters and it was just enjoyable to read.

Who Killed Ruby? by Camilla Way - 4/5

"You never know what's going on behind closed doors...

If you passed it on the street, you'd see an ordinary London townhouse. You might wonder about the people who live there, assume they're just like you.

But inside is a family trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they'll want answers.

Perhaps they'll believe the family's version of events - that this man is a murderer who deserved to die.

But would that be the truth?"
I love a psychological thriller that keeps you on your toes.

When Vivenne was eight, her sister Ruby was murdered (whilst heavily pregnant) by her then-boyfriend Jack. Only Vivenne was at home with Ruby at the time and her evidence helped put Jack in prison.

32 years later, Vivenne now lives with her 13 year old daughter Cleo. She starts receiving things to with her sister/sister's death in the post and at the same time, her daughter is chatting with a teenage boy online but nothing is as it seems.

The pace of this book is brilliant. It's so fast and you end up being suspicious of everyone. There were some instances where I had to suspend belief but the plot is great. 

The Scandal by Nicola Marsh - 4/5

"My life is like one of those cheap snow globes my twins collected when they were younger. Shiny and pretty on the outside, blurred beyond recognition when shaken.

Ever since her twin girls left home, Marisa has felt there’s something missing from her life. Her sprawling mansion is no longer filled with laughter and chaos, and she’s desperate to feel needed... and to be distracted from the secret she’s been hiding from her husband for all these years.

Coffee with her best friends might be the only thing holding Marisa together. But Claire and Elly have their own secrets. Like why Claire hasn’t been to work in weeks, or why Elly won’t tell anyone who’s buying her flowers.

When Jodi, a pregnant young girl, turns up at Marisa’s doorstep, Marisa is quick to come to her aid. She sees herself in Jodi and she knows how devoting yourself to looking after others can take up all your time in the most marvellous way.

But Jodi’s arrival quickly pushes everyone’s lies to the surface. The father of her unborn child is someone the women know very well, and Marisa starts to wonder if her obsession with helping Jodi might come at a devastating price…"

This is a great twisty psych thriller.

It's told from the narratives of Marisa, Elly and Claire - three friends from the Hamptons - and Jodi, a 25 year old PA who is expecting a baby after a one night stand.

Jodi travels to the Hamptons to confront the baby's father, hoping to receive a payout. It is so well written with, as the title would suggest, a few scandals thrown in. You end to suspecting everyone but it keeps your interest and leaves you wanting more.

Betray Her by Caroline England - 2/5

"Best friends forever.

That's the pact you made.

You'd do anything for her.

And you have.

She's always had it all.

If you could take it for yourself . . . would you?"

This was a tough one for me to get through. It follows Jo and her friend Kate who have had a complicated relationship since they met at eight years old. Now, they are in their 40s and we have lots of flashbacks to their time at school.

I can't get too into the plot without giving anything away but honestly, I found it a bit boring and a little too slow for me. The ending was really good and I just wish we had a little more of that excitement throughout the rest of the book.

The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson - 3/5

"Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn't part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months' time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?"

This is a book that I could imagine as a Netflix romcom that I'd put on for background noise but secretly love.

Sam and Phoebe meet by chance at St Pancras station when their trains are delayed. Sam is going to the Isle of Mull in search of his father and Phoebe is spending a year between France and Italy. They get to know each other well in a few hours and agree to meet back at St Pancras in a years' time, once they've done what they set out to do.

With most romance books, I need to suspend belief and just go with the cheesiness. I love the characters of Phoebe and Sam and the individual stories of their adventures during that year, and although they are well written, it seems so long. When the year is up, everything seems so rushed and the plot of the last 30% of the story did irk me a bit.

Sunday 22 September 2019

Foodie Roos - Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affliate links, meaning that I will earn a few pennies if you purchase through my link.]

The amount of collectible toys that C and E have between them must be in the hundreds. They love trying to collect the entire range of whatever toy it is and it's very exciting when you get a full set.

Foodie Roos from John Adams have gone one further and created mini collectible plush toys! The kids really love plush toys and have an abundance in their beds that they couldn't bare to part with - even the scruffy ones they've had since birth! 

One day in Yummyville, these animals were enjoying their favourite foods and ate a bit too much. They then turned into their favourite food and became a Foodie Roo!

Each Foodie Roo comes in a little pot and on the front you'll see a peekaboo rectangle as a sneak peek into who will be inside. You'll also see either Popcorn, Gummies, Chips, Cookies, Fruit Cup, Soda, Pretzel, Juice or Cereal. Each of these categories have two different Foodie Roos to collect plus you could be lucky enough to find one of two rare treats, so there are 20 available in Series 1. 

E couldn't wait to get opening and see who was inside each pot. We started off with our Gummies one and found Bouncy Bear inside. You also get a sheet of stickers, a collector's guide, two connectors and an instruction manual. The instruction manual shows how to turn the pot into a little room for your Foodie Roo. The stickers can then be used to decorate it. I really like this concept as it means there is minimal single use plastic and you have an instant playset.

The smell of the Foodie Roos are really quite strong but E absolutely loved this about this. We opened a few others afterwards; Citrustripes from the Soda collection, Berry Hop from Fruit Cup, Whale-Ale from Juice and Pretzquirrel from Pretzel. Each of them are very different, not only by smell but texture and weight too. We instantly felt as though Citrustripes and Whale-Ale were very heavy in comparison to the others, obviously as a drink would be heavy in a glass or cup. You can also hear the sloosh if you shake them. If you give them a squeeze, the textures are reminiscent of their food.

We have some very exciting news. When we opened the last pot, we were greeted with a foil sheet over the top that said "Winner winner! Rare treat inside!" E actually squealed at the top of her lungs and ran to tell her daddy that she'd got a rare one. It was adorable. There are two rare Foodie Roos to find; Raccoon Macaron and Sugarphant, we got Sugarphant and E was very adamant that it smells like frosting.

Now, all of the Foodie Roos currently live in E's bed as she can "smell them whenever she wants when she's going to sleep".

The Foodie Roos from John Adams are priced at £7.99 each and are available from Smyths and all good toy retailers. I know E will definitely be wanting some more of these and I think they'd be great for stocking fillers or a little gift for all those schoolfriends' birthday parties!

Friday 20 September 2019

Zuru Smashers Dino Epic Egg - Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links meaning that I will earn a few pennies if you purchase through my link.]

C loved Zuru Smashers when the first series came out so he was beyond excited to see that the new addition to the range were dinosaur themed!

He was absolutely thrilled to get some goodies to test out - the Dino Epic Egg and two Dino 8 packs.

C was instantly drawn to the huge Dino Epic Egg and couldn't wait to see what was inside. Once you've taken the packaging off, you do as the name suggests and smash it! The "shell" will then come apart so you can take out the contents.

Inside we found an egg-shaped pouch filled with goodies, six Smashers dino eggs and a scratch map. The pouch contains Dino Dirt, Fizzy Lava, Glowing Slime, Fossil Rock, Ice Age putty as well as some tools.

This is where the scratch map comes in. You scratch the first panel to see what to open first, right up to panel 5. We started with the Dino Dirt. Inside the resealable pouch (very handy!) you have a type of kinetic sand with two dinosaur skull bones hidden inside so you have to dig through it.

Next up we did the Fizzy Lava. I was expecting this to react like a bath bomb so I filled a bowl of water and C happily dunked it in. They weren't lying when they call it lava - we thought it was going to overflow! It fizzed and bubbled up and the kids thought it was great! When the bubbles had subsided we found four dino feet bones.

The Glowing Slime was next and C was a bit grossed out by this. He doesn't really like the feel of slime! I dug through it for him and found yet more dino bones! We then are able to keep the slime to play with another time (well, E will!) in the resealable bag.

The Fossil Rock was probably C's favourite as he could get hammering away at the fossil. This one took quite a bit of time but he was determined to find whatever was hidden inside. Guess what? More dinosaur bones!

The Ice Age Putty was my favourite for sure. It, again, comes inside a resealable egg so can be played with again at a later date. It is very sticky and I loved the addition of the glitter. After finding our last bones, we could then refer to the instruction manual and get building our dinosaur skeleton using the eleven pieces that we discovered.

I am massively impressed with the Zuru Smashers Dino Epic Egg as it is packed full of fun activities and I know that any dino fan will love it. It is fab from a sensory point of view too as you have a lot of different textures to work with and it isn't just doing the same thing, like opening a blind bag, over and over again. For the price of £24.99 (currently £19.99 at the time of writing) it feels like such a bargain!

The Dino 8 Packs are reminiscent of the Smashers that we had a couple of years back. You get a collector's guide so you can see the name of the dinosaur that you hatch from your egg and you can also see if they are common or rare. We also were lucky enough to find some fossils that needed dug out too, adding a little bit of extra excitement!

Once you've smashed your egg, there is no need to throw the pieces out and have a lot of waste. The six pieces slot back together to create the egg shape again. This takes a little bit of practice though!

The kids love collecting these types of toy and use them after to create little scenarios together. The Dino 8 Packs are £7.99 each.

You can find the Zuru Smashers Dino range at Smyths Toys and if you head over to my Facebook page, I have a giveaway running for a £25 Smyths voucher so that you can buy some of your own! 

You can keep up to date with Zuru on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and Smyths on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

OKIDO Which Way? Game - Review

(AD/Gifted - We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links meaning that I will earn a few pennies if you purchase through my link.)

My eldest child C is on the autism spectrum and, as a result, is a very logical thinker. He has a keen interest in maths and science, always telling me that he wants to build things or be an engineer when he's a grown up.

OKIDO Which Way? is a fantastic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) game which teaches the fundamental principles of programming to children aged 4-8. C is almost 7 and E is 5 so they were excited to be able to play it together. They are familiar with the CBeebies show, Messy Goes to OKIDO so instantly recognised the characters.

Inside the box you get:
  • Magnetic gameboard
  • 16 magnetic tiles
  • Magic car
  • Mission wheel
  • Screwdriver
  • 4 x batteries
  • Instruction manual with a sheet for keeping score
The object of the game is to spin the wheel to get a mission. Each mission will be classed as 'Easy', 'Medium' or 'Hard', depending on how many stops it has and how far away they are from the start. 

On your magnetic gameboard you will see START next to an image of Messy. The magnetic tiles work as a road and you will see other characters such as Geoffrey and Mayor Oki. Your mission will be to get Messy to visit some of these other characters. You need to use the magnetic road tiles to get Messy to their friends using the shortest route possible - you don't want to run out of tiles!

Once you've finished, switch your magic car on and place it at the start. If your route is correct, it should follow the road tiles along to its destinations.

We had so much fun playing this game - me included! - and it is honestly a lot better than I'd assumed it would be. The scoreboard on the back is a nice touch and not only did it get us all to think about what we were doing, it is a game where the children weren't competitive. They liked brainstorming ideas together to work out what to do next.

It is one of our favourite games to play now and we will definitely keep bringing it out on family game night. I love that it's not only fun but educational too, encouraging cognitive thinking and problem solving.

You can purchase your own OKIDO Which Way? Game from the OKIDO shop for £30.00.