Friday, 21 September 2018

Gangster School 2 by Kate Wiseman Book Review for Zuntold Books (Age 8+)

We reviewed the first Gangster School novel and I'm very happy to be back with the sequel, Gangster School 2. Subtitled The Brotherhood Of Brimstone, the second book sees the main characters settled into their school and more settled into who they actually are, and what they stand for.

Charlie and Millie aren't exactly cut out for a criminal life, but they are expected to take that path and this is their second year at Blaggard's School for Tomorrow's Tyrants.


It doesn't take long before our heroes to discover the reason for some mysterious happenings is not as ghostly as it first appears. This is like Scooby Doo but with a genuinely perilous twist and there are a couple of moments when I wondered how serious things were going to get.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Jeans For Genes Day - Friday 21st September

Tomorrow is Jeans For Genes day and up and down the land people will have an extra dress-down day, when they can come to work or school wearing the world's most popular outfit, jeans and a t-shirt, and it's all in the name of charity.

We've all heard of Jeans For Genes, but do you know where your donation goes?


The money raised by our donations to Jeans For Genes goes to the Genetic Disorders UK charity, who work to improve the lives of children born in the UK with a genetic disorder. These are often rare disorders which are unable to raise money in their own name, mainly because we've never heard of them, and that makes us the lucky ones. 500,000 UK families aren't so lucky.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

GB Posters - Posters, Frames, Mugs, Keyrings and Gifts Reviewed

A couple of weeks ago we received a parcel that equated to an early Christmas for us. A huge box full of products to review for GB Posters. My grown up kids and young boys all had a chance to add something to the wishlist, and we had a real mixed bag including Fallout, Skyrim and Playstation, Star Wars, the Periodic Table and the human skeleton...


I'll cover the posters later (most of them cost a mere fiver), first the branded or licensed products. GB Posters have literally hundreds to choose from, ranging from Ariane Grande and Adventure Time, to Yu-Gi-Oh and Volkswagen. You can browse them all on the Brands A-Z page.

My family young and old had no trouble finding some of their favourites. These are exactly the sort of thing we give at Christmas as stockingfillers, they're great for adults and awkward teenagers.

How do Modern Toy Manufacturers Successfully Reach Their Audience?

This article is written by Larisa Wong...

Major toy producers such as LEGO and HASBRO have existed for decades in one shape or form. While there is no doubt that they dominated the physical retail environment in the past, they have made an equally massive impression within the digital community. After all, parents are now turning to the Internet to shop for the latest and most popular items. Although kids will hardly care about the mechanics involved with online retail sales portals, parents could learn a thing or two. Perhaps you have been thinking about advertising your own custom-made toys to a virtual audience. If so, this article is definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Scrawl Grown Up Party Game Review for Big Potato Games (age 17+)

Our latest big kid adult game review for Big Potato Games is brilliant. It's called Scrawl and it's a grown up game (recommended age 17+) because it can all turn out a little risque or NotSafeForWork, in fact it's pretty much guaranteed. The game suits 4-8 players, but you can have as many as you want if you play teams. It's hilarious and makes an excellent party game, ideal for young people or when friends are round and the kids are in bed.


Inside the box is everything you need, including 8 white board pens and 8 little felt board wipes, 8 bulldog clips and writing boards, loads of 'Scrawl cards' for writing/drawing on, scorecards and game cards with 240 different scenarios to play.

Minecraft STEM Challenge Books Review (age 6+) For Carlton Books

This month's review for Carlton Books is a pair of books unlike any we've ever covered before - and they are a real hit! We've been sent 2 new Minecraft STEM Challenge books - Build A City and Build A Theme Park. These are exactly as they sound, books which will show your child how to complete some really complex projects within the game of Minecraft.


My boys love science and challenges, and STEM activities are something I actively encourage. Minecraft has been popular in our household since it was very first released and my eldest son played it. Since then all of our children have played, and as it's our policy that we should understand what they're up to online, we've also had a go.


I showed my 8 and 9 year old boys the books and they both chose one, then swapped, so were both excited by both books. I've never seen them both get into a project so quickly, and within minutes they had both chosen and made a good start on a project build.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

TBC Smiles...49 Months

I'm writing this month's Smiles post a day early because tomorrow we'll be delivering the second of our Freshers off to uni. It's been a more emotional time than I anticipated, I think I might even miss having to come downstairs at 2am to tell them to be quiet.

We gathered 6 of us together for a 'goodbye meal' of Veggie Tacos which my daughter made with me. It was lovely to spend the time with her before she went. I'm definitely going to suggest to our other two uni students that we cook something together too, maybe at Christmas. Cooking together is something we've always done and you don't think about the fact you'll miss it, until you realise it won't be possible.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Cooking And Eating Healthy Food at Uni with the Co-op And Britmums

I have 3 young adults off to uni this September and 2 of them are freshers in their first year. It's a scary time for them, but also for me, and I've tried to prepare them all for independence as best I can. This includes making sure they can cook themselves something hearty and filling without breaking the bank or missing out on the nutrition they'll need to stay healthy.


I'm delighted to be working with Co-op Food on a campaign to get students cooking and eating healthy meals. It really is something I'm passionate about and I've even put together all of my family's favourite and most-used recipes, as well as a few others, on my recipes page. I have tried to keep costs down, skill levels easy and nutritional value high. There is rarely a prouder moment than when I discover one of my young people cooking from one of my recipes.


The Co-op meanwhile show their commitment to students by offering a 10% discount at over 2000 stores nationwide with a TOTUM card (previously called NUS Extra). This starts at £12 a year, so you can get your money back very quickly just on Co-op food shopping. That's on top of the regular Co-op member rewards.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Minecraft: The Crash by Tracey Baptiste children's fiction book review (9+)

I know you are thinking 'A Minecraft novel?' and maybe think it's just been churned out because it'll sell on the back of that, but you'd be wrong. This official Mojang book by Tracey Baptiste is a great story which is really well written and offers adventure and real life in a mix which really pulls the reader in. We want to have a happy ending and right from the start we doubt that will be possible...


The Crash refers not a computer programme, but a real car crash, which renders our main character in a full body cast immobile in hospital. Bianca has a broken body and is desperate to know what happened to Lonnie, who was driving at the time. No-one will tell her and she begins to suspect she knows why.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A Date With My Cat with Whiskas Cat Casseroles and Vegetarian Beefy Pie

Okay, a friend date with my cat is not something I'd ever have anticipated writing about and the people who have known me longest are entitled to laugh loudest. Go on, enjoy yourselves. Cats really weren't my thing until Gary landed at our door and forced us to care about him by being ill and cute. I've headed with his best model shot, you can see the cute...


I'm not made of stone, I tried to resist, but even I relented and it's taken a mere 2 years to get to this point... Cats will rule the universe one day. Whiskas have asked me to conjure up the perfect evening with my cat. Even Gary was surprised when I told him.


I'd have gone for the cinema, bowling and a nice sit down 3 course meal, but happily cats aren't generally allowed in restaurants or cinemas and they are rubbish at bowling, so I've settled for Gary's preferred choice, date night in. (That's a lie, but I'm not sitting on the back step for 3 hours watching the drizzle.)