Thursday 29 October 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | Pizza Girl by Jean Kyong Frazier

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Pizza Girl by Jean Kyong Frazier - 4/5 

"Eighteen years old, pregnant and working as a pizza delivery girl, our dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She's grieving the death of her father, avoiding her loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighbourhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickle-covered pizzas for her son's happiness.

As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and untimely heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender and unexpected, Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world."

This book is weird and not like anything I've ever read before but I loved it! It's a relatively short book, only 12 chapters, not a lot actually happens but I just wanted to keep reading - the sign of a well written book!

Our unnamed protagonist "Pizza Girl" is 18 years old, pregnant and works at Eddie's Pizza Place. One Wednesday, she gets a call from a lady called Jenny Hauser who is desperate for a pepperoni and pickle pizza as it was her son's favourite from back home. They'd only just moved to Los Angeles and she wanted something familiar for him.

Even though it isn't on the menu, Pizza Girl buy pickles from the grocery store to have it made specially then delivers it to Jenny. Jenny places the same order every Wednesday. Pizza Girl then becomes obsessed and infatuated with Jenny.

I think I would classify this as a bildungsroman. We learn that Pizza Girl lives with her mother who originally came to the USA from Seoul, and her boyfriend (and father of her baby) Billy. Her father has passed away and although he was a drunk who she didn't have a great relationship with, it is obvious that his death has greatly affected her.

It shows the struggles that she is going through and I don't think she is a very likable character. It is odd for me to give as many as four stars to a book with an unlikable main character but this book has confused every part of me. I loved it.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Keeping the Kids Healthy Over Half Term with Bioglan SmartKids

[AD/Gifted - We received this package for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Halloween is creeping up on us and the lovely team at Bioglan very kindly sent C and E a spooky personalised gift box this half term.

I do worry a lot about my children's health. My daughter especially seems to catch everything that is going round and when it comes to nutrition, their eating habits can be quite rigid so I always want to make sure that they are getting a) the right nutrients and b) enough of them.

C and E were so excited to see essentially a massive present addressed directly to them - a lovely touch - and inside they found some fantastic goodies!

  • A pencil case each
  • A set of Baker Ross Halloween house crafts kits each
  • Personalised Halloween treat bags
  • Bioglan SmartKids Iron gummies
  • Bioglan SmartKids Happy Tummies gummies

C and E were absolutely delighted with the craft kits and Halloween treat bags especially. They couldn't wait to get making their Halloween houses and have them sitting on the sideboard as Halloween decorations.

I absolutely love the personalised treat bags as they are such a kind and thoughtful gift. They will definitely be kept for the children to use every year.

They have been having a gummy each every day, we alternate which one they take each day and both of them say that due to the strawberry flavour, they taste just like sweeties. 

The Happy Tummies gummies were the first kids probiotic gummy on the UK market and they are great for assisting with gut health. They also have added Vitamin C.

The Iron gummies are the only iron kids gummies available in the UK and are very important as children at toddler and preschool age have the highest prevalence of anaemia at 47.4% - this is something that I suffered with as a young child. They help support blood cells and give a boost of energy. Similarly to the Happy Tummies gummies, they also contain added Vitamin C.

Bioglan also do additional specific gummies for: 

Fussy Eaters 
Containing a blend of hidden veggies with Vitamins A, C, D2, E and iodine to support healthy growth and immunity

Healthy Eyes 
Combining the three most scientifically researched ingredients for eye health - Vitamin A, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Healthy Bones 
With calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 which activates the osteocalcin proteins that put Calcium into bone. Without K2, Calcium cannot do its job

Vitamin D 
This is one I will definitely pick up myself. At C's initial autism assessment, the doctor had recommended that we all get Vitamin D supplements as living in a relatively dark country, we don't get enough from the sun

Brain Formula 
Containing Omega-3 high in DHA

Each tub of Bioglan SmartKids supplements contain around 30 gummies and retail at around £6.99 per tub. You can find them at Holland & Barrett and all good health stores, as well as the Bioglan website. A massive thank you again to Bioglan for our amazing gift!

Monday 26 October 2020

Marvel Battleworld: Mystery of the Thanostones and Something Wild! from Funko | Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link in this post, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.]

I have always been a massive fan of all things Funko. I collect the Funko Pop! Vinyl figures so I was really excited to be sent a couple of new toys in their range; Marvel Battleworld: Mystery of the Thanostones and Something Wild!

C was especially delighted to see Marvel Battleworld: Mystery of the Thanostones as he has been a Marvel fan since he was a toddler - something that has only grown as he has gotten older.

Funko has combined collectible Marvel figures with a fun tabletop game to bring us Marvel Battleworld. These are a type of blind bag and once you've opened battle ball, you'll find:

  • 1 Hero
  • 1 Hero card
  • 1 Thanostone containing 1 Mystery Hero
  • 1 Mystery Hero card
  • 5 Battle cards
  • 1 Attack Die
  • 5 Danger Tokens
  • 1 Danger Coin
  • Instructions

Caleb was so excited to see Goose (Vers' pet cat from Captain Marvel) inside our battle ball. There are 30 to collect with 60 battles to take part in. These figures can either be Common, Rare or Ultra Rare which adds to the excitement. Although you can battle alone, I think the game would work best if you are playing against a friend who also has a battle ball.

The objective is to win enough battles (3 battles for one Battle Ball) to win the game. If you lose 3 battles, your heroes are defeated. It took us a watch of the How to Play video and a few reads of the instruction leaflet to really understand how to play but once you've got it, it's simple. 

When we eventually got to crush our Thanostone, E was delighted to find Captain Marvel (although maybe we should have seen that coming considering we got Goose!)

More Battle Balls means building the best superhero team to battle either alone or with your friends. We will definitely be getting some more of these for Christmas!

You can purchase the Funko Marvel Battle Ball from £6.99 or the Mega Pack for £17.99. All of which are available from Tesco, Smyths Toys Superstores and Asda.

Funko have also released a series of collectible card games called Something Wild! Aimed at age 6+ it is perfect for family game night and they contain a mini Funko Pop! Vinyl figure, really sticking to the look of the brand.

Something Wild! comes in six different themes; Aladdin with a Genie figure, Villains with a Maleficent figure, The Nightmare Before Christmas with a Jack Skellington figure, The Little Mermaid with an Ariel figure, Toy Story with a Woody figure and Mickey and Friends with a Mickey Mouse figure. We love Toy Story so were pleased to get that themes, although I'd probably love any of them to be honest! We are such big Disney fans.

Something Wild! is a simple, quick card game for 2-4 players and it only lasts roughly 15 minutes so perfect for younger players who are only being introduced to card games.

Inside the box, you get:
  • 45 Character cards (numbered 1-9 in five different colours)
  • 10 Power cards
  • 1 Pop! figure
  • Instructions

The goal of this game is to be the first player to score three Powers by creating a "set" (three cards of any colour with the same number) or a "run" (three cards of the same colour with numbers in order).

Each player gets three character cards to begin with, whilst the stack of Power cards is left on the table with the top card turned face up. The youngest player starts first and plays one of their cards onto the table. If you play a card which is the same colour as the Power card, you get to take the Pop! figure. If you have the Pop! figure in your possession you can use the active Power card on your turn.

The game keeps playing with each player putting a card forward until someone makes a set or a run. Once the first player has made either of those, you take the Power card. First to three wins! You can only ever have five cards placed in front of you so if you haven't made a set or run, they will have to be discarded before you can continue. Some cards will also have an additional rule that can be used when that card is played.

It is a really fun game for all the family!

You can find the Something Wild! ranges at GAME and all good retailers for £7.99.

You can follow all things Funko on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | The Vow by Debbie Howells

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link on this page, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.)

The Vow by Debbie Howells - 4/5 

"Two weeks before her wedding, a stranger stops Amy in the street and warns her she's in danger. Then that night, Matt, her fiance, doesn't come home. Desperate, Amy calls the police - but when Matt fails to emerge, she's forced to call off her wedding day.

Then another man is reported missing, by a woman called Fiona - a man meeting Matt's description, who was about to leave his fiancee for her. He was supposed to be moving in with her - but instead, he's vanished.

Amy refuses to believe Fiona's lover can be her Matt - but photos prove otherwise, and it soon becomes clear that Matt has been leading a double life. As the police dig deeper, two conflicting, yet equally plausible stories emerge from two women who allegedly have never met.

The wedding day never happened. But the funeral might."

What a great read!

Amy is getting married to Matt. She has an 18 year old daughter called Jess from a previous relationship and feels like she is given a second chance at love when she meets Matt.

Amy is a herbalist and creates remedies from plants that she has grown in her garden. This is an integral part of the story. Whilst delivering an order, an old lady randomly approaches Amy and tells her not to trust Matt and that she is in danger. Amy thinks nothing of it. That night, Matt disappears and she reports it to the police.

Another woman named Fiona then reports her boyfriend as missing. It turns out to also be Matt and she claims that he was about to leave Amy for her. He had been leading a double life. But is Matt the only connection that the two ladies have?

The story is told from the narratives of Amy, Fiona and Jess. We learn that Jess has never liked Matt but said nothing because she thought that her mother seemed happy.

We also have flashbacks of an tragic event that happened back in 1996 between a Kimberley and Charlie. In true thriller fashion, everything unravels and makes sense as you read on. It had me totally gripped! 

Tuesday 13 October 2020

The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge - 5/5 

"When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he'd have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she's invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her grandmother's care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!

But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess's life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?"

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this wonderful book today and what a beautiful read it is! Thank you Aria Fiction.

Jess and Nik meet on a flight from Nuremberg to London after a toy trade fair. He is an Australian toy manufacturer who is visiting London to get some ideas from other locations and Jess is the manager of a toy shop.

I went into this book blind and assumed it would be a typical festive themed romance but it is so much more than that.

Jess's grandmother is in a residential care home called Willow Court and they get the sad news that it is closing down. They won't get to have their annual Christmas party and understandably, the residents are devastated at the prospect of moving out and being split up.

Nik accompanies Jess to the care home and charms everyone there. It was lovely to see the dynamics between the residents and learn more about each person's backstory. Alf is definitely my favourite as he loves a good conspiracy theory - even coming up with one about Nik!

Jess's best friend and roommate Oliver is suspicious of Nik, stating that no one is that nice and willingly visits the care home of a relative of a girl he only just met. I instantly thought the same upon reading and assumed it was too much of a fluffy, easy, cut and dry romance but I couldn't be more wrong.

There is a really deep backstory for Jess regarding her family life and relationship with her mother and Nik shares a lot about his life too. It's written so well and I just loved every bit of it!

It is a beautiful, heart-warming, Christmassy book that is full of not only romantic love, but the unconditional love between friends too.

Thursday 8 October 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | The Move by Felicity Everett

[This post contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link on this page, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.]

The Move by Felicity Everett - 2/5 

"Karen is driving through a strange landscape into a new life. Always a city girl, now she is on her way to an idyllic country cottage, refurbished for her with impeccable taste by her husband Nick. They’re making a fresh start.

But something is awry in the new house – it’s not just the fact that Karen and Nick are ill at ease in one another’s company – that their recent history is far from picture perfect, it’s the whole vibe. The landscape is breathtaking by day, eerie by night. If the countryside is supposed to be a place of peace, far away from curtain-twitchers, who is the person watching them from the hill? And who are their new neighbours?

With Karen only recently emerging from a dark place in her life, can she find the trust in her husband Nick to let go of events that have followed them to their new house?"

The book opens with Nick and Karen moving into their new home in the country. They lived in London previously and it becomes clear that Nick bought the house and renovated it while Karen was getting help with mental health issues. The reasons for that becoming clear as you read on.

It is obvious that Nick is gaslighting her. He seems perfect to everyone else, buying her a new house, moving his life in the city which he loves to a home in the quiet countryside, even setting up her own space (complete with kiln) for her to making her pots and other pieces. Their relationship is obviously troublesome and Nick's relationships with his sons (Ethan, with Karen and Gabe from a previous marriage) are very different too. I would have liked to have seen more from these characters.

I felt like the book plateaued out a bit. It was basically a book about their life in this new house with no real chase or climax. A few parts got me a bit excited but nothing really came of it. Not one for me.