Category Archives: review

School for Good and Evil – Review

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My daughter was very excited when the School for good and Evil landed on our door mat for her to read. She’s 10 and has been reading at almost an adult level for a few years now and will happily read 2 to 3 books per day given the chance!

She loves the whole fantasy/supernatural genre and really levitates to books like Harry Potter and How to train your Dragon so I was really hoping this was going to be a big hit for her.

She quickly got stuck in but found the text to be quite small which made the big book quite daunting for her as she is short sighted and has to wear glasses. I urged her to keep at it but she really did seem to struggle at times with it as she found the narrative to be quite lacking and maybe a little stereotypical, good is beautiful and evil is ugly.

She really relates to strong female characters and wants them to be the hero, stay true to themselves and put their morals before anything else. The whole Grimm’s style fairy tale was a strong lure with this book, she loved the more darker take on the whole pansy Disney Princess narrative but felt that the characters where a little cliched at times and would of benefitted more if they had stayed true to their nature instead of “fitting in with the crowd”.

The plot twists where what saw her through to the end as they always kept her guessing and it really did deliver some strong life lessons for the reading age of 9-14. That good isn’t always beautiful and popular and that evil isn’t always dark and ugly, basically don’t judge that book by it’s cover. It’s a very important lesson for children of this age to understand and this really made the book for her.

All in all she felt it was a good book, maybe not the next big thing since Harry Potter but a good all round read with plot twists, best friends pushed to breaking point and important life lessons we could all learn something from. She just wishes that the text was slightly bigger making the read a little easier.

You can find the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p-u0I9koYg

School for Good and Evil is available at amazon along with the follow up, School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princess .

If you would like to win a copy of the book yourself, simply leave a comment below. Winner will be chosen at random one week from today, 26th June.

 

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Love From! Magazine Review

Every little girl loves a magazine, and to be frank we have tried them all over the years. My girls being the crafty magpies they are always go for the ones with the freebies stuck to the front but who am I kidding they are always a little naff.

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However the new Love From! magazine for girls ages 4-6 is something a little special. In each issue you receive two magazines, one purely craft based with colouring in etc and one more education based with stories and puzzles all nestled together with a bumper craft kit with stickers and stationary. This type of thing is right up our alley and was happily received by all of my girls, even our eldest who’s 10!

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What makes this magazine stand out from the crowd is that each issue concentrates on one specific character and everything you receive is factored around that. This makes purchasing a little more exciting in my opinion and scraps that whole, ‘ this issue is no different from the last’ problem you find with most children’s magazines.

Issues are released every four weeks and you can find out all about them here , issues are priced just £3.25 which compared to the competition is definitely a bargain!

What magazines do your little ones love to read?

Im off now to stick fairies on to ALL OF THE THINGS!

* We received a copy of the magazine for free but all opinions are my own*

Kids Bee Happy Sand Art – Review

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I have to admit it, I have crafty kids, I don’t know if this is entirely my doing or not but any opportunity to A) make a mess or B) create something wonderful and they are there!
When I was given the opportunity to review some of the Kids Bee Happy Sand Art I was over the moon! The girls have been trying new things, the Moshi Monster Hamma Beads where a roaring success and I crossed my fingers this would be too.
Being slightly neurotic with OCD about mess, yeah I know I have a cat, dog and 3 kids and its always a mess but hey i dream of an immaculate home! I was a little worried about hoovering up sand from every nook and cranny of my tiny kitchen but i have to admit there was barely a mess at all much to the girls disappointment .
Being able to peel off small sections as you go gives even the youngest of children the skill not to randomly sprinkle sand on every surface in view and makes for a very lovely and precise finish. Even Emma who has some special needs found the kits easy peasy and having such a beautiful finished picture really made her day.
My girls LOVED making these and their little smiling faces prove just that..
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 Emma age 7 with her finished Snowman picture.
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Zoe aged 4 with her wild Alien picture.
With the wide range of coloured sand provided you can really make some special and unique pictures as you can see from Zoe’s finished picture. The larger sticky areas once peeled off really allowed for her to go with her imagination and create this multicoloured landscape.
They loved the little plastic wallets that you can slip your finished art work into to keep them in tip top condition. They grace the playroom walls and its regularly a point of conversation, especially ” Muuummm when can we do these again?” That alone says it all about these wonderful kits.
If you would like to try them yourself you can find a massive range here at http://sandartcrafts.co.uk
My girls give them a massive thumbs up and thats OK with me!
L x

Psychologies Magazine – A Review

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I had never come across Psychologies magazine before i was approached to review the new look copy. Sure I had seen it on the shelves before but i had never gave it much thought.
Mainly because i had no idea of the content but it just never screamed at me from the shelf, well i tell ya, if like me you have been passing it by, you are missing out.
It is crammed full of news, reviews, books, film, art, ideas … the list is almost endless! It isn’t stuffed full of adverts like many popular magazines, which to me is a massive selling point, there is nothing worse than flicking through half a magazine before you actually find something suitable to actually read.
As i have never read an issue before it had a face lift its hard to say what in fact they have fixed but in my opinion they have struck a home run. Its informative, it reads great, the interviews are relevant, even to me and i aint no fashion mag reader, give me a cup of tea and a craft mag any day!
Its one of those that you take to your comfy chair, with a brew and a cheeky biscuit when no one is looking and simply loose yourself for an hour, taking in all the beautiful photography and gripping stories, there is even recipes nestled away near the back!
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If you want to try a copy for yourself they are currently offering a fab deal for 3 issues for £3, yeah 3 for £3!!! Especially at £3.90 a copy this is one of those deals where you would be mad not to!
You can find it here 3 for £3 offer available at www.kelseyshop.co.uk/psy/c101
 
I hope, like me you will never pass by a copy of Psychologies mag again! * Adds to shopping list*
 
L xx

Save the Blow Dry – Review

Have you every had your hair done, or spent hrs hunched over the bathroom sink attempting to pull off some extravagant hair do before a big night out only to realise, after you are finally happy with your creation and you’ve lost 3 hrs of your life and you are now officially running late, that you need to shower! Yeah i hear you all scream in sheer panic! Well fear not, there is a new item on the market that claims to save you from yourself, Save the Blow Dry.
When i was asked to review this i have to admit i was a little excited, i have short hair and with 3 young children finding the time to style or straighten my hair each day is a real pain in the proverbial so this was something secretly i had been praying to the ethos for.
I shower (well if you can call it a shower when you have a line of small voices on the other side of the bathroom door asking where this is, can i eat this, can the dog go out… you get the jist!) So as a mother I’m fairly time strapped.
But honestly, with this i can style my hair at 5am (yeah we have a puppy, its like having a baby all over again!) then shower at 8 when everyone is up and i know i won’t end up with crazy mum hair.
Its a beautifully soft micro weave inner that sucks away any moisture inside the cap allowing for frizz free locks and its an epic pink colour with a vintage flower design protective outer, granted with not much hair and a tiny head it did feel a little on the large side for me but for all you girls with long luscious locks there is plenty of space to tuck it all away and to top it all off it lived up to expectations. It didn’t ruin or flatten my hair and it kept it super dry and just as it was when i put it on.
I can see this really taking hold in bathrooms all over the world, i mean who has the time these days to waste in front of the mirror, girls there’s a world out there to take over, put down the straighteners and don the Save the Blow Dry!
And not just here to make you look fabulous, Save the Blow Dry support Khandle Light, a charity supporting communities in India, providing safe drinking water, each Save the Blow Dry sold through their website directly funds two weeks, yes TWO WEEKS worth of safe drinking water for a family.
Whats not to love?
You can find more about Save the Blow Dry here http://savetheblowdry.com
Or about Khandle Light here http://www.khandel-light.co.uk
Until next time..
L x

Reasons My Kid is Crying Competition and Review

If you haven’t heard of Greg Pembroke’s blog, Reason’s my Son is Crying you are missing out, it is seriously laugh a minute and as a parent you can relate with the images as you are probably witnessing one as you scroll through his blog page.
And now the good people at Boxtree have turned this internet phenomemom into a hardback book, so everyone can have a good old chortle into their tea on a rainy afternoon while the mini people are having a nap/terrorising the dog/planning an escape route/crying because its a Sunday!

Here’s a little more about it…

REASONS MY KID IS CRYING
Greg Pembroke Published by Boxtree on 10 Oct 2013;
£9.99 hardback
THE BOOK OF THE MOST POPULAR TUMBLR PAGE, REASONS MY SON IS CRYING.
It all started when busy father Greg Pembroke posted a few pictures online of his three- year-old son, mid-tantrum, alongside the reason his son was crying:
He had broken his bit of cheese in half. 


Within a week the blog had featured on countless news, radio and television websites around the world, including The Daily Mail, Buzzfeed,
ABC News, Yahoo, MSN, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Good Morning America and The Today Show.
This book collects together photos sent to Greg from parents across the globe, documenting the many, completely logical reasons why small children cry. (‘I let him play on the grass’ . . . ‘We told him the pig says “oink”’ . . . ‘The neighbour’s dog isn’t outside’).
Together, they are both a fond portrait of the universal, baffling logic of toddlers – and a reminder for burned- out parents everywhere that they are not alone.

Greg Pembroke lives in Rochester, New York with his wife and two young sons. He divides his time between working as a radio advertising copywriter, and looking after his sons at home.

http://reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com/ 

As a coffee table book it seriously is laugh a minute, all the images are large and bright and you cant help but chuckle along on each page for the weird reasons that toddlers suddenly have a melt down.

I suspect that many if not all of you will relate to at least one reason per page, i know i did! However don’t expect any details about the people who submitted the images or about Greg himself, apart from a few lines on the inner page, however i suspect that’s the whole point.
The book has clear ‘chapters’ under headings like ‘ Domestic Bliss’ and Sibling Rivalry’ to categorise the images into easily found areas if you just have to show you friend/mother/neighbour the funniest thing you ever did see!
All in all its a delightful book that’s a real eye opener to those that have long since forgotten what its like to share your home with a toddler or those who are yet to reach those delightful years.

Now you have the chance to WIN this book with our very own ‘Reason’s My Kid is Crying’ Comp! 
Simply follow and RT this comp on twitter any time today sat 16th nov 2013. You will then be placed into a draw to win this book and a xmas book bundle. Ends 9pm tonight, Winner announced Sunday
good luck guys!!

Star Paws Sticker Book Series – A Review

Brand new titles in the amazing STAR PAWS sticker book series!
STAR PAWS is back, and it’s better than ever! This brilliantly funny, silly and utterly addictive sticker book series is taking the world by storm! Perfect for all ages, all animal lovers, and anyone with a sense of humour! STAR PAWS is packed with over 250 stickers and more daft jokes than you can count, for dressing your animals up ready for fashion shows, medieval battles, festive fun or even a mission to the moon!
 
Get ready for work everyone! It’s time to pick some exciting careers and dress up a whole host of animals in STAR PAWS: AMAZING JOBS. There are plenty of outfits to choose from, including doctor, gardener, spaceman, film director, dentist, pop star and wrestler – you’ll be completely spoilt for choice!
 
ISBN 9781447241461
 £3.99 | PB | Age 3+



Step into a medieval world of chivalry, heraldry, dramatic battles and revolting peasants with STAR PAWS: KNIGHTS. Meet and dress the dashing Sir Arthur Sixpence and join the Knights of the Hound Table as they joust and feast and attend Knight School! Design shields for the brave, apply pustules to the poor and enjoy dressing up dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits in some truly amazing medieval outfits!      
 

ISBN 9781447236924
£3.99 PB Age 3+
 
 
 
 
 
 Enjoy the complete retail experience, animal dress-up style, in the fabulous STAR PAWS: SHOPPING! Choose hats in Bears Accessories, help out in the changing rooms, become a stylist, a beautician, or simply shop until you drop! There’s so much to try on and so much to buy – everything from smelly perfumes and crazy fingernails to nice new pants.
 
ISBN 9781447241478                                                                                                                                                       
£3.99 | PB | Age 3+           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There are presents to wrap, feasts to prepare, snowballs to throw, halls to ‘deck’ and Christmas jumpers galore!
Help spread some Christmas cheer with bells, bows, snow-white beards and jazzy winter knitwear. And look out for the mistletoe…!
The PUURFECT Christmas gift for anyone and everyone!
ISBN 9781447236917
£3.99 | PB | Age 3+    
 
 
 
 
 
I had never heard of Star Paws before I was asked to review it and i have a sticker book addict in Emma. She usually goes for the really expensive ones by Osborne from Waterstones and she simply adores them, well i say adores as she has defiantly found a new love in these gorgeous sticker books.
They are fun and easy to do for all ages, my youngest is 4 and had THE best time with her Amazing Jobs book and even our eldest at 9 with the Shopping book really enjoyed it.
They are fun and educational all at the same time whilst allowing the child to use its own imagination to create something that sparks interest in them and we all know how hard that is right now with TV and computers dominating their life.
The images are delightful and if you are a bit of an animal lover like myself, you will spend as much time just admiring the pictures inside 😉 .
They are of excellent quality and well worth the £3.99 retail price and i think these will be taking the place of our regular Osborne sticker book as they get the thumbs up from me as well as all three of my daughters!
We have squirrelled away the Knights book for a family member for Christmas, I know he is going to be delighted with it! But ssshhhh don’t tell the kids or I’ll have a riot on my hands!
I’m seriously looking forward to getting my hands on the Pirate and Super Hero’s ones!!      
 
L xx                                                                                             




My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish – A Guest Post Review

My eldest is a avid reader and, like me, will literally read anything. When she was asked to review the big summer reads by Macmillan Children’s Books she was so excited so couldn’t wait to get started.
The first book that caught her eye was My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara and heres what she had to say about it…

Age Group: I would say 8-12, I’m 9 and i loved it!
Characters: There were pretty good but there is quite a few so at times it was a bit confusing.
Why I liked it: It was really funny and I laughed a lot!
If there is a sequel i would read it, I would also try the other authors books as they might be funny too.
What I didn’t like: Just to many characters for me, sorry.
Illustrations: They where really good so I would of liked to have seen more.
It was stuffed full of comedy, it even has a funny like flip cartoon on all the pages, so it makes me laugh even when I’m not reading it.

I would recommend this to my friends and anyone else that likes to read, it took me less than a day as it really caught my imagination as it was really funny. If I was stuck for something else to read I would read it again.
Thank you for reading

Elissa

If, like me, you have never heard of it here’s a little about it to wet your appetite,

SYNOPSIS

Finding Nemo meets Shaun of the Dead – two laugh-out-loud stories about an evil big brother, a best friend to the rescue and one big fat zombie goldfish! ‘Sami was still holding the goldfish. “Swishy little fishy,” she whispered, over and over. Frankie stared at her with his big, bulging, glowing eyes. Suddenly a little light bulb went on . . . Frankie was a Big Fat Zombie Goldfish and somehow he’d hypnotized my best friend’s sister!’ Tom’s big brother is an Evil Scientist who wants to experiment on Tom’s new goldfish, Frankie. Can Tom save his fish from being dunked in radioactive gunge? Er, no. In an act of desperation Tom zaps Frankie with a battery, bringing him back to life! But there’s something weird about the new Frankie – he’s now a zombie goldfish with hypnotic powers, and he wants revenge . . . Tom has a difficult choice to make – save his evil brother, or save his fishy friend?

Out to Lunch – Update



As you know, we are fighting for restaurants and pubs across the UK to start offering 5 simple things, to ensure they start giving our children an acceptable level of service.
To help fight for these things we are asking parents like you to leave behind a review slip on the table after your meal on the way out – and to take a picture of your meal and share it on the Organix Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/Organixfood.

You can find the review slip in our Campaign Family Pack (which you can download here:http://www.facebook.com/organixfood/app_520471391351376). We need 500 downloads by the end of the summer and every review helps!

So get reviewing guys to make our family restaurants even better!

L xx

Are our children getting a raw deal when we eat out?

As a family of five we used to eat out at least once a week as a way of spending time together as a family as we rarely eat together at home with my husband working different shifts daily but over the last 6 months we have eaten out less and less due to the soaring costs and really poor food, once at a Bella Italia my eldest found cardboard in her fish finger, no not on it but actually INSIDE IT! From then on I’ve always read the children’s menu carefully before choosing to eat out yet its always fallen short and the Organix and the Soil Association reviews of children’s menus across the country have only added to my woes when it comes to eating out.

RAW DEAL FOR CHILDREN IN UK RESTAURANTS
Out to Lunch league table exposes the truth about 21 chain restaurants and pubs children’s menus
  • Post horsegate, only one chain could reliably tell parents where their meat comes from
  • Almost half of restaurants do not offer vegetables or salad with a majority of their children’s main meals
  • Only 1 restaurant offers children’s cutlery as standard
  • Jamie’s Italian, Wagamama and Wetherspoon’s ranked highest
  • Burger King, KFC and Prezzo have scored the least points on a league table
Britain’s leading restaurants and pubs are giving children across the UK a raw deal with children’s menus dominated by the usual suspects, like nuggets, burgers and sausages, few fruit or vegetables, and not even the provision of children’s cutlery, it has been revealed today following new research from the Out to Lunch campaign from the Soil Association and Organix.
Out to Lunch is calling for the restaurant industry to improve standards and make changes to their children’s menus. The investigation shows 66% of parents think the food provision for children in restaurants is not good enough. 21 popular high street restaurants and pubs were surveyed looking at what’s on the menu for children over a three month period, revealing that:
  • 12 out of the 21 restaurants and pubs have children’s menus dominated by nuggets, burgers and sausages
  • Eight out of 21 chains don’t include vegetables or salad in the majority of their children’s main meals
  • 10 don’t include a portion of fruit in any of their children’s puddings
  • Only 11 out of 21 chains were willing to tell us if their food was freshly cooked and where it comes from. Of the 11, only 4 were making and cooking the majority of their children’s food in the kitchen: Jamie’s Italian, Wagamama, Carluccios and Café Rouge
  • Only one chain (Jamie’s Italian) could reliably tell parents where its meat came from
  • Only 1 offers children’s cutlery as standard
  • No restaurants have signage welcoming breastfeeding on their premises
  • Only 2chains offer a children’s drinks menu free from added sugar and sweeteners
In line with the research, Out to Lunch has today issued a league table ranking the 21 restaurants and pubs to show the industry and consumers what chains are offering children.
Jamie’s Italian, Wagamama and Wetherspoons have come out on top of the league table, while Burger King, KFC and Prezzo scored the least points.  Although average meal price varied from restaurant to restaurant, this did not determine where chains came in the rankings.
Joanna Lewis, Head of Policy at the Soil Association comments: “Our investigation reveals that most high street restaurants are not even meeting the most basic standards families should expect when they eat out. Most are still churning out children’s menus dominated by the usual suspects – burgers, nuggets and pizzas –turning the table into a battlefield for any parents wanting their child to eat well. With 1 in 3 children now overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, it’s time for these popular chains to use their influence in a positive way.
“Restaurants need to raise the bar and listen to parents who are saying they want fresh food not ready meals for their children, and the same kind of variety you’d expect as an adult. In the wake of horsegate, it also rings alarm bells that only one restaurant knows where its meat comes from.”
The Out to Lunch campaign is calling on all high street restaurants and pubs to:
1.       Offer all young diners the choice of a children’s portion of adult meals
2.        Serve freshly prepared food, not ready meals
3.        Offer free water to families on arrival
4.        Offer children’s cutlery as standard
5.       Make breastfeeding mums feel welcome
Anna Rosier, Managing Director at Organix says: “Four out of 10 parents (40%) told us they eat out once a fortnight or more with their families. If restaurants and pubs want to ensure business stays strong and see customers return, they need to start improving what they’re serving to children.
“We want families – parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles – to help get behind our campaign to see change. Restaurants will only start improving if we start being more vocal about what we’re seeing and vote with our feet.”
Out to Lunch is asking families to carry out four simple steps to back the campaign:
  1. To tell restaurants what they think. The Out to Lunch downloadable Campaign Pack includes a review slip to make is easy for families to leave it behind on the table.
  2. To be vocal and share feedback with family and friends.
  3. To vote with their feet. If a restaurant is not up to scratch, don’t go back.
  4. To support by wearing the ‘I support Out to Lunch’ badge on their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
“With the summer holidays upon us, families will be enjoying eating out more often and we want to see thousands of reviews being left behind this summer, not only in chain restaurants, but independents too. If we create enough noise, together we can help make change happen,” continues Anna.
Jamie Oliver, founder of Jamie’s Italian which came first in the league table said; “Since the first Jamie’s Italian opened we’ve always kept things kid-friendly with our funky viewfinder menus and super-tasty food, so to come top of the table is a fantastic achievement, and more importantly, confirmation that we’re doing things right. We believe that the quality of the kids’ food should to be right up there on the same level as the main menu, and I truly believe that we have a brilliant offering that both kids love and parents can trust.  
“Over the years, I’ve learnt that if you give kids a bit of ownership over their food, they’ll really embrace it, so that’s exactly what we’ve done with our “shake me” salads. Every dish on the kid’s menu comes with one and it counts as one of a child’s five a day. I’ve seen parents completely amazed that their kids are eating salad, and that’s down to the fact that they’ve been involved and had fun putting it together.
For a more detailed insight into the Out to Lunch league table visit www.soilassociation.org/outtolunch.
Restaurants can find out how they size up, and get support and advice on the small steps, and bigger steps, they need to make by downloading the Out to Lunch toolkit.
League Table:

A truly shocking discovery on all fronts, with your help to spread the word hopefully something will be finally done to change these statistics!
L x