Saturday, 7 December 2019

We're Off To Find a Unicorn - Book Review & Blog Tour

(AD/Gifted - We received a copy of this book to review and take part in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for We're Off To Find a Unicorn by Eloise White and Cory Reid, published by Owlet Press.

Our house is like a library but I couldn't resist saying yes to the opportunity to read and review this wonderful story - mostly because E is unicorn obsessed.

We've hunted for bears, elves and eggs... now we're hunting for everyone's favourite - unicorns! But readers will not only enjoy looking for the hiding unicorn in the pages, they'll also learn about our world's endangered wildlife along the way.

We're Off To Find a Unicorn is loosely based on E's favourite story of all time - We're Going On a Bear Hunt. The language is repeated throughout and by the third or fourth time, both children were able to say it along with me.

The story follows a mixed race family with one member of the family in a wheelchair; both things that we don't usually see in books so I thought that it was brilliant to see a little diversity. We see it in real life every day so why not have it in the stories that we read? They are on the hunt for a unicorn but what do they come across instead? 

The family explore lots of different environments and stumble upon a few endangered animals, ones that wouldn't usually be included in the books we've read in the past, such as a pangolin and bush baby. I felt that this was great conversation starter for us as the children had a lot of questions about the animals and I could explain more about how animals become endangered. 

E quickly discovered that as we read, she could see the unicorn hiding in each page with the family none the wiser! The imagery is beautiful and really captivated both C and E.

We're Off To Find a Unicorn is a lovely little book for young children, being both fun and educational.

You can purchase a copy for £7.99 directly from Owlet Press

Don't forget to take a look at the other blogs taking part in this blog tour too.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Christmas Gift Ideas for Adults

[AD/Gifted items and affiliate links - Some of the items featured have been gifted to me. I have also included affiliate links. Clicking through my links and making a purchase means I will get some pennies with no extra cost to you.]

I can't quite believe how fast this year has flown by and here we are, almost a week into the final month of 2019. If you are anything like me, you'll be panicking about what to buy your loved ones for Christmas as soon as December hits. I'm here to help with a gift ideas for adults. I will have a children's one to follow.

BlueRock Bamboo Toothbrushes

It is so incredibly important that we all do our bit to help look after our planet and preserve it for future generations. Even over the past year or so, I'm more conscious about what I'm buying, whether it can be reused and I don't go a day without using my reusable water bottle and coffee cup.

BlueRock specialise in bamboo toothbrushes for adults and children (BlueRock minis). They are naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic, it lasts just as long as a plastic toothbrush but of course, it's much better for the environment. They are even supplied in plastic free packaging.

The bamboo toothbrushes are available as one off purchases (£3.50-£3.90 per brush depending on order amount) or you can buy subscription for 1-4 months. With every toothbrush purchase, BlueRock will also make a donation to marine life conservation.

I think this make such a great gift for the eco-conscious and just generally as a way of easing someone into sustainability.

I have a discount code for anyone who would like to try BlueRock bamboo toothbrushes. Just pop MOAPB15 into the box at the checkout and you can get 15% off any 4 pack or 15% off the first delivery of your monthly subscription!

Guylian Chocolates
Everyone loves a fancy chocolate at Christmastime and where better to look than at Guylian? With sustainability being a priority, they have removed the palm oil from all of their chocolate recipes and have replaced it with shea butter and sunflower oil meaning that they taste even better, smoother and they also contain less saturated fat and sugar. 

Guylian have quite a range to choose from so you are sure to find something to suit everyone.
The classic Praline Sea Shells are made using hand-selected Mediterranean hazelnuts which are then roasted and caramelised to perfection. They are absolutely delicious and perfect if you have a chocoholic in the family! You can pick up at 250g box for £5 and a 375g box for £7.50.

If you have a more sophisticated and cultured chocolate lover to buy for, the Guylian Belgian Deluxe Assortment is the way to go. The box contains a mixture of the Sea Shells, Opus Luxury Assortment and Seahorses. The Opus Luxury Assortment have divine melt in the mouth flavours whilst you will find crunchy biscuit, caramel, coffee and milk truffle flavoured Seahorses. You can get a 369g box for £10.

Finally, for someone who loves to really indulge in the evening, the Guylian Temptations pouches are perfect. These contain beautifully wrapped Belgian chocolate Seahorses contain flavours of coffee, original hazelnut praline, dark praline, soft caramel, milk truffle, and crunchy biscuit. These are available in two sizes; 330g and 496g and you can pick these up for around £4-5.

Adult Micro Scooter

Who said kids get to have all the fun? Micro Scooter have branched out from children's scooters to adult ones too. I think these would be great to get out on as a family all together - imagine the fun you'd have! They would also be great if you are wanting to be a bit more eco-conscious and leave the car behind on your commute.

Available in Berry Flex Deluxe, Blue Flex Deluxe, Micro Classic White and Micro Speed Mint, there will be one to suit everyone. You can even opt to get it personalised with a name too. These are available to buy from Micro Scooters with prices starting from £139.95.

Stripey Blankie Knitting Kit

If you are buying for someone who is a novice at knitting, the Stitch & Story Stripey Blankie Kit is beautiful. I feel like there is nothing better than a baby blanket that has been knitted with love and it's a great way to practice and get a feel for knitting.

It comes with a complete beginner's guide to knitting, beautiful Merino wool, a sewing needle, the Stripey Blankie pattern and you can choose whether you would like needles included or not. This retails at £52 with needles and £44 without. 

BBC Countryfile Live

For fans of Countryfile on the BBC, they are doing two events next August in Castle Howard, York and Windsor Great Park. There is so much to see and do from watching interviews live on stage to watching some fabulous chefs in the Le Creuset kitchen and many more. You will also have the opportunity to meet some of the stars too - Matt Baker and John Craven to name a couple.

The tickets are priced at £12 each on the Countryfile Live website and you can add a festive gift wallet for just £3. 

Sandisk Flash Drive

Things like this are always great for techy people! the SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 Flash Drive lets you quickly copy and go. It is up to 35 times faster than a standard 2.0 drive so you would be able to transfer an entire 4K movie in less than 40 seconds. It is also password protected to ensure that it doesn't get into the wrong hands.

You can pick up a 64GB flash drive for $19.99 or a 128GB for $31.99 from Western Digital Store.

T-Zone Glitter Face Mask

I love a wee pamper and it's so important to get some time for self care. The T-Zone Glitter face masks make a lovely little addition to a present and I actually think they work especially well for part of a Secret Santa gift.

It helps to draw out impurities and keep your skin clear and the Witch Hazel Extract helps refine pores. I love that the glitter is biodegradable and is made from plant cellulose. You can buy these for around £2.99.

Sleep Master Sleep Mask

These are divine! Made from beautiful satin fabric they feel so nice to wear and they even come with a little matching bag to pack them away in and some little ear plugs. I think the Sleep Master Sleep Mask would be perfect for anyone who travels a lot, works shifts or just likes complete peace and quiet at bedtime.

My partner works shifts so would definitely use this a lot when he is coming off a night shift. They have fantastic light elimination and the padded band helps to reduce noise. You can purchase this from Amazon for around £20.

Tru Bamboo Cheeseboard and Porcelain Markers
I absolutely love a cheeseboard at Christmas but I've always been the type to just stick it all on a plate and everyone eats what they want. Tru Bamboo have changed the game for me with their beautiful extra large bamboo cheeseboard and porcelain cheese markers.

The cheeseboard itself is amazing quality and even has a little drawer containing your cheese cutting tools. The fact that it is made from bamboo means that it is naturally antibacterial and it is hard wearing too. I love the little engraved panda image on the drawer too - a cute touch! 

Combining the cheeseboard with the porcelain markers makes it easier for your guests to tell which cheese is which and it just makes it looks so aesthetically pleasing too. They even come with a gold pen to label with. These can both be purchased from Amazon with the cheeseboard retailing at £24.99 and the porcelain markers are £4.95.

Personalised Socks

I am a sucker for anything personalised and I think these socks from Sparks & Daughters are adorable! The My Little Bear socks can be personalised for either mummy or daddy in a range of colours and you can include up to three children's names. The socks are super soft and great quality so would make a lovely gift for a loved one.

These can be purchased from Sparks & Daughters for £15.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Celebrating the Release of Frozen 2 with Flair Toys' Magic Ice Sleeve, Ice Walker and Whisper & Glow Dolls

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

It feels like everyone has been eagerly awaiting the release of Frozen 2. My five year old daughter is obsessed with the first movie and for the past few months has repeatedly asked me "How long now 'til the movie?" The children went to see it yesterday and had the best time; E has been singing Into The Unknown since!

To celebrate the release of the movie, we were lucky to receive a Frozen 2 blogging box from Flair Toys containing a few items from the new toy range. Inside the (very exciting) box we found a Disney Frozen 2 Magic Ice Sleeve, a Disney Frozen 2 Ice Walker and a Whisper and Glow doll. You can take a look at E's unboxing here.

First up, we had to open the super cute little Anna doll. It is a mini doll so it's perfect for little hands. To activate the doll, you simply blow over the tiny hole on the top of the doll and it will light up. Each time you blow on it, it will change colour! 

There are 11 different characters to collect and although E does love Anna, I think we will have to try and collect the rest. They are very cute and I think they'd make for lovely stocking fillers this year. They retail at £5.99 each. 

E was eager to try out the Ice Walker next and of course she had to be dressed as Elsa to do so. You  get one Ice Walker inside the box which attaches over your shoe. It does require 3 AAA batteries which are not included so be sure to have some so you don't have unhappy children!

Once batteries are inserted, you pop it over your shoe using the elastic strap and once it's secured you're ready to go. The sensor is activated by the movement of your foot so once your foot hits the ground the imagine of snowflakes are projected onto the ground.

The strap can be tightened or loosened to fit any shoe and it went on E's trainer perfectly. She thought it was a lovely addition to her Elsa costume and wig and made her feel a bit more authentic. This retails at £29.99 which I do find a bit expensive for what it is and does but in the run up to Christmas I'm sure you will be able to find it a little cheaper.

Finally, the piĆ©ce de resistance - the Magic Ice Sleeve. This is the one that both myself and E were excited about trying out. The Magic Ice Sleeve comes with a sleeve that goes onto your child's arm first and can be held on using a loop over the middle finger. The detailing on this is beautiful and very reminiscent of movie Elsa's outfit. 

Similarly to the Ice Walker, the sleeve is fastened on using an elastic strap and the shape of the sleeve means it is comfortable to rest your arm in. You get both a magic ice can and a refillable water bottle. Both of these can be used in the sleeve so if you end up running out of the silly string one, you don't lose any play. You can buy the refills for around £10 too.

To play with the magic ice can, you need to shake it vigorously for around 15 seconds, remove the lid and clip it underneath the arm with the red dot (found on the top of the can) facing upwards. You then pull the triangle part over the hand gently as this is what will activate the spray. Once it is in place, you tilt your fingers upwards to push up on the triangular part. This, in turn, hits the edge of the can, releasing the silly string. You can see E's reaction to the first time we did it in the video below.

The Magic Ice Sleeve is so much fun and E was in fits of laughter playing with it. It is recommended for outdoor use but with weather not being on our side, we had to do it indoors. In ended with me having to hoover the wall and ceilings so if you are using it indoors, be careful with your stuff! This retails at £29.99 but honestly, I'd pay it over and over for the delight that it's brought E.

All of the Flair Frozen 2 toys can be found at B&M and Smyths Toys Superstores.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 51-55 Round-Up

[This post contains affiliate links meaning that I earn a few pennies if you buy through my link.]

It has been about two months since my last book round up as it is tough to find the time to read now that I am having to balance work with my blogging too. Anyway, here's my last five book reviews!

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah - 5/5

"It's time to take your place on the jury.

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?"

Wow. This books is definitely up there as one of the best books I've read this year.

Jodie is white teenage girl with facial deformities who accuses four of her male classmates of rape. All of the boys are Muslim. Before contacting the police, she informs Zara Kaleel, a former barrister now working as a rape counsellor. She is also Muslim.

The story is so deep and thought-provoking. You have Jodie who is used to being bullied and judged her whole life, the Muslim boys and how they are perceived in London and you also hear about Zara's background; how she had been shunned by her family for fleeing her arranged marriage and doing her thing and, in her words, not giving into oppression and standing up for herself.

As Zara is Muslim and on Jodie's side, prosecuting against four Muslims, the community in London turn against her in scenes that are so emotional and disturbing.

The court scenes are fantastically written and I honestly don't think I can fault this book at all. I am left wanting more.

Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks - 4/5

"Daisy and Simon's marriage is great, isn't it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes - Daisy's used to it, she knows he's letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again."

I loved 'I Invited Her In' by Adele Parks so I was very excited to read her newest release.

Simon and Daisy are married with a six year old daughter called Millie. The story follows their relationship, the lies that each of them are telling and how everything comes out. It's so well written and at times you aren't sure what the truth actually is. 

There are so many great topics covered - infertility, alcoholism and controlling relationships, to name a few. The ending where we find out the absolute truth shocked me and I'm still not sure what I think about it!

Expectation by Anna Hope - 3/5

"Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry - and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends. Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?"

To me, this was just okay. It reminds me a lot of Sally Rooney's 'Normal People' and I really didn't get the hype with that one.

Lissa, Hannah and Cate have been friends for years and are now in their mid-thirties. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the three women with a few flashback chapters in between.

Lissa is an actress, still trying to make it and catch her big break. Hannah is in a long-term relationship with Nathan and they are struggling to conceive. Cate got married to Sam quite quickly after meeting and they have a baby; Tom. Each of the women aren't without their problems and it honestly just felt a bit boring for me. It's as though the book trundles along with no real excitement and I don't think it helps that I didn't really warm to any of the characters.

Gone by Leona Deakin - 4/5

"Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read: YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME. DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren't worried - it's just a game. But families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all. And something that makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people. But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?"

A great debut thriller!

Augusta Bloom is a psychologist and private detective who, at the beginning of the book, is having appointments with teenager Seraphine Walker who she believes to be a psychopath.

Parallel to this, we are told about a few people who have gone missing after receiving a card on their birthday which simply says "Happy first birthday. Dare to play?" One of the poeple targeted is Lana. Lana gets on Augusta's radar as she is friends with the sister of her colleague, Marcus Jameson.

The two work together to suss out why these particular people have been targeted and what they're doing. It is a jam-packed thriller with some fabulous twists, even if some are a bit unbelievable! It's very obvious that the author knows a lot about psychology. 

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith - 3/5 

"Hannah Thompson loves her family beyond words...but sometimes she wishes they would recognise her as more than just 'mum'.

Eldest son Dylan is soon to be flying the nest, sixteen-year-old Scarlet keeps asking about penalties for worryingly specific crimes, they've forgotten World Book Day and Benji will absolutely not be Where's Wally again, and it's at least two days before she and hubby Nick can sit down for Wine Wednesdays...and even longer until Fizzy Friday.

Determined to find herself a job that she loves, earn a whole lot of money and to have her teenagers respect her as 'Hannah' as well as 'mum'; it might sound like a tall order, but she's a mum on a mission." 

More Than Just Mum follows 43 year old part-time English teacher and mother-of-three, Hannah Thompson. She is fed up with teaching a subject that wasn't her specialty and parenting teenagers so she tries to reinvent herself. 

Channelling her inner E.L. James, she attempts to write her own Fifty Shades-esque book.

Although the book is funny in parts, it trundled along with no real chase or climax.