Saturday, 30 July 2016

What I Read in July with Boolino

What I've Read This Month

Marianna has really started to become interested in books this month. She likes to sit and look through them on her own, and then will bring it over to me or Anthony to read it for her. (I can already recite her favourites from memory...) It's so much fun introducing her to new books though, putting on silly voices, and watching her expression change as she starts to understand the story.

The Great Dragon Bake Off

So I was really pleased when Boolino sent us The Great Dragon Bake Off by Nicola O'Byrne to review. This is the super cute tale of Flamie Oliver, a young dragon who is sent off to the Ferocious Dragon Academy to learn how to be big, bad, and scary.

The Great Dragon Bake Off

Except, Flamie is more interested in cakes, pies, and pastry... and when he is tasked with kidnapping a princess to eat, it's the final straw! Marianna loved the wonderful illustrations of the dragons, and Anthony and I enjoyed all the references to baking stars. (Heston Blowitail and Scaly Berry anyone?) If your little one watches the show, they will really love this book. Even if they don't, this is still a lovely story book, with a heartwarming message about being yourself, even when it means breaking away from convention.

The Great Dragon Bake Off is recommended for children aged 0 - 5, and is available from Boolino for £6.99.
Boolino Friends Badge
Read on for the other books I've read this month...


Molly the Mole: A Truth & Tails StoryMolly the Mole: A Truth & Tails Story by Truth & Tails
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2016. This is a beautifully illustrated story about a a little Mole named Molly. Molly can't help comparing herself to her friends, and it makes her sad because - to her eyes - she is found wanting. She is surprised to find that her friends see things quite differently, and realises that it is not our talents or our looks which make people love us, but our willingness to be good, kind and helpful to those around us.

The story is told simply but effectively, and is every bit as heartwarming a bedtime story as I could hope for!


Vincent the Vixen: A Truth & Tails StoryVincent the Vixen: A Truth & Tails Story by Truth & Tails
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2015. Vincent loves playing make believe with his brothers and sisters, but he comes to realise that even when they have stopped playing he is still pretending. This is beautifully written, and the illustrations are great fun. An excellent book for introducing the concept of gender identity to young children.


Carlos the Chameleon: A Truth & Tails StoryCarlos the Chameleon: A Truth & Tails Story by Truth and Tails
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2016. Carlos is a lovely vibrant green, but when he plays with the other animals he changes the way he looks so he can fit in. He worries that his friends wouldn't like him otherwise. But by the story's end Carlos has realised that the best way to make friends and be happy is to be himself.

The artwork in this book is absolutely gorgeous - lots of bright colours and funky patterns - and the story carries the message that I most want my daughter to understand: we're all different, and that's a good thing.


Heart On Track: A Teammate RomanceHeart On Track: A Teammate Romance by Jamie Athelstan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2016. Enjoyable contemporary romance with an engaging build up as Dean, used to being a track star, sifts through his emotions towards Clarke, his new competition. Is it just frustration at being displaced as number one that keeps Clarke on his mind, or is there something more to it? The two main characters share great chemistry and after reading this short story, I'll be looking out for more by this author.


True Crime: 4 True American Crime Stories - Vol 1 (From police files of the 1920s to the 1950s)True Crime: 4 True American Crime Stories - Vol 1 by Guy Hadleigh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2013. Some interesting cases I hadn't come across before, and an enjoyable short read.


The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child MurdererThe Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2016. Another brilliant book from Kate Summerscale. It tells the story of Robert Coombes, a 'wicked boy' who murdered his mother aged just 13. The crime itself is disturbing yet fascinating, as is the contemporary press coverage which surrounded it. We see an early example of moral panic over youth diversions in the form of the Penny Dreadful, and the problem of what to do with juvenile criminals.

Summerscale's detailed research enables us to follow Coombes long after interest in the case had died away, and eventually traces him to his final days and the legacy he left behind. This is an excellent read and was my favourite book of the month.


Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary ShelleyRomantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2015. When this popped up in my recommended reads I knew Wollstonecraft vaguely through her writings, Shelley for Frankenstein, and I'd never felt the urge to delve deeper. But the blurb drew me in and I'm so glad it did. This double biography of mother and daughter alternates lives by chapter - not universally popular, I know, but one of my favourite literary devices - and gives particular focus to the huge influence the former had on the latter, for all that they scarcely met each other.

Both women were fascinating; they broke conventions, defied expectations, and helped to change the world forever. I felt so angry at the injustice of how they were treated by society, and how long it actually took for women to be able to live the life they dreamed of without censure. I cried at their tragedies, and I laughed at some of the completely outrageous behaviour. This is a gripping read which I didn't want to end.


15 Celebrities Who Have Killed : From The Limelight To The Court Room (Serial Killers - Murderer - Criminals Crimes - True Evil - Horror Stories - True Crimes - Violent Crimes)15 Celebrities Who Have Killed : From The Limelight To The Court Room by Richard Berrington
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Interesting premise, and there were a couple of stories I hadn't known about. What lets it down is the lack of proofreading / editing.


The DC Dead Girls Club: A Vintage True Crime Story of Four Unsolved Murders in Washington DCThe DC Dead Girls Club: A Vintage True Crime Story of Four Unsolved Murders in Washington DC by Jason Lucky Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2014. I had heard of these cases vaguely, but this book really filled in as much detail as is known. The saddest thing about these stories is that none of the murders were ever officially solved, and the majority left police mystified. An interesting - if tragic - read.

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Friday, 29 July 2016

Friday Frivolity: Camping

Friday Frivolity

Camping. It's something I should love. My dad tried his best; every year we'd pile into the car to go and pitch the tent for good clean air and outdoor fun. And every year I complained about the insects, and the damp, and the general outdoorsyness of the whole experience...

Google found me a few memes which summed up my childhood camping views:

Thursday, 28 July 2016

What I've Won in July

What I've Won This Month

This month has been a bit quieter - but still very successful!

 49" LG TV from Bargain Booze.
☆ Copy of The Cranks Bible vegetarian cookbook from Amuse Your Bouche.
Some awesome handmade decorative paper flowers from Bespoke Gifts by MrsJ.
 What Is Sound Healing? by Lyz Cooper.
 Mini Coca Cola football from Tesco.
 Nutrition and Health QCF course from A Glug of Oil.
 £10 Amazon voucher and a copy of The Fireman by Joe Hill from RRW Magazine. I won the flash fiction competition. :)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review: Messy Me Splashmat

Messy Me Splashmat Review

We've been putting the Messy Me splashmat through its paces - here's our review!

Messy Me Splashmat Review

About Messy Me

Messy Me is a lovely family owned business based in Farnham. Established in 2012, they pride themselves on creating stylish products for mess - or, more specifically, for containing mess! Your little terrors can be as much as they like on Messy Me oilcloth. It's all going to be easy wipe afterwards.

The product range has grown steadily and now includes lots of infant must haves, from highchair covers and cushions, to tunic bibs and aprons. Even better is the fact that they all come with free UK delivery.

Marianna tests out a Messy Mat

About The Messy Mat

I didn't realise quite how messy a weaning baby can be until Marianna decided she wanted to start feeding herself. So, of course, the dining room is the one room in the downstairs of the house that has carpet. (It was like that when we moved in...) This meant that when I was asked which Messy Me product I would most like to review, it was a bit of a no-brainer.

The Messy Me splashmats are 90 x 120cms, made of hard wearing oilcloth with wipeable hems, and can even be machine washed at 30ยบ C. In short, they couldn't be more perfect for sticking under a highchair during mealtimes. Priced at £24, the mats come in a star pattern in four different colours - classic navy, olive grey, dusty rose, and teal blue - or a really pretty vintage floral design.

Messy Me splashmat in teal blue

Our Messy Me Experience

We went for the teal blue star design - the colour is gorgeous. The quality is great too; Messy Me sources their oilcloth from Denmark with the hemming and finishing done in the UK. It's a really good size, with plenty of material around the highchair at dinner time, and the material itself is sturdy yet supple. Marianna is happy to sit on it, even with bare legs, which says it all really!

I love that the mat is so easy to clean. For today's photos we set the mat up in our hallway which, technically, is all wipe clean but in practice is an exercise in sloshing mess from one bit of the floor to another. With the mat I can just pick up the whole lot and sort it out over the kitchen sink. Much easier.

Messy Me Mat

Marianna had great fun mixing up some flour, icing sugar, and milk - and I had a great time just wiping it off and being done with the whole thing. :) I love that it's something we can use again and again, even as Marianna gets older. Right now we're using it for messy play and as a highchair mat, but it's a good size for using at a table for craft projects too.

To find out more - or to get your own mat - check out the Messy Me website. You can also connect with them on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Dolly Diversity

Dolly Diversity

Dolls are like little people, so it makes sense that they should reflect all the glorious diversity of the human world. Sadly, just like their full scale counterparts, these dolly minorities tend to be overlooked. Here are a collection of posts designed to show the huge variety of dolls out there, if you know where to look for them.

Dolls Without HairWheelchairs and Walking Aids for Dolls
Pregnant DollsLGBT DollsDolls with Cleft Lips and / or Palates
plus size fashion dollsDolls with Down's Syndrome

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Clone Dolls

Clone Dolls
Clone Dolls - Kellogg's Calico LassieClone Dolls - Fab-Lu Randy and Mary-Lou
Clone Dolls - Telsalda Wendy and Cheeky

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