Saturday, 25 October 2014

Book Review - 'The Lost Hero'* by Rick Riordan - First of 'The Heroes of Olympus' series

I was sent a copy of 'The Lost Hero'*, by Rick Riordan, to read and review in order to, also, let you know that the latest, and last, book in the series, 'The Blood of Olympus'*, had recently been released. I've never reviewed a book in order to drum up interest in a later book in a series and I wasn't sure how it'd work but, now that I've read them, I feel Perfectly capable of doing that!

When the book arrived I began reading it almost straight away but by the time I reached the end of the first or second chapter I knew I needed to stop. Before I started reading 'The Lost Hero' I knew that it was a continuation of the Percy Jackson universe but, as someone who reads this type of series already, I wasn't sure if this was going to be a totally new set of characters and story lines or if it was going to lead on from the first series - Within the first couple of chapters it became Glaringly obvious that this was a direct continuation (even if in a small way) from the previous 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' series.

Now if you're someone who doesn't obsess over reading things in the right order, or isn't too bothered about reading the previous series then you wouldn't need to worry but, the stickler that I am, I couldn't continue reading this book until I'd read the previous, five book long, series because I knew that One Day I'd want to read them and I didn't want to learn any more than I already had! I already had the Percy Jackson series so I, immediately, started reading it... it took less than a week. The books weren't the longest but the most important part of the speed at which I read them is down to the fact that they were so easy to read. There's no getting away from the fact that the series was written for a younger audience (the leads begin the series at the age of 12) but I didn't find that that detracted from the story or the characters and I was quickly immersed in this universe of Gods and heroes, of Greek mythology and terrifying quests.

If you've not read the 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' series you could easily decide to ignore the younger years of the novels and read from this newer series, with it's older characters and, thus, slightly older story lines (Still firmly YA but 15-16 year old YA compared to 12). If you're not sure whether or not you'd still like to read the original series first then I urge you to pick it up first - The 'Heroes of Olympus' series is great as a stand alone series but you'd definitely not want to read it and Then read the Percy Jackson series as you'd already know far too much about what's going to happen.

'The Lost Hero' was a cliffhanger from the absolute outset - How? Well because you begin with a character who has no memory... that's a cliffhanger without any need for further plot. But more than that you're thrown straight in to the action, within the first couple of chapters your characters are battling unknown spirits and being thrown straight into a different world. We start the story with Jason (the amnesiac), Piper and Leo who all attend a school for children who've been 'challenging' in their pasts. On a school trip they're attacked by storm spirits and suddenly learn a lot more about themselves than they could possibly have imagined (Apart from Jason who's still left with a lot unknown).

Oh yes, we're sticking with the vague. I don't want to tell you too much because that's for you to read, and find out, but I will tell you that it's fast paced, it's full of intrigue and it's gripping. Sometimes writers of YA don't worry as much about the writing quality but there's none of that from Rick Riordan, the stories are well written and the language is evocative. I absolutely loved the Greek mythology in the first series and that continues with abundance during this newer series - It's amazing how much history Riordan has woven into this universe, how many well known Greek figures are brought to life and how many obscure ones are introduced to us, and we're able to learn about. 

And the fifth book? Well I've not reached 'The Blood of Olympus'* yet - The moment I finished the first book I bought the second, third and fourth - I didn't pick up the fifth as it's brand new and I thought I'd wait until I got to the end of book four. As it happens I'm not far off, now, I'm part way in to 'The House of Hades' - I had to slow down on the books, a little, as I had other review books to read and I'm trying to catch up on other things so I wasn't able to read them at, quite, the same speed as the previous series but I am still totally hooked. Whenever I get a few minutes I pick it up to carry on with the journey that the team of heroes has undertaken - The stories are still rich and beautifully written, there's no slowing down, as the series continues, with this author, it's going to be a gut wrenching adventure until the very end! I absolutely can't wait to see what happens in the last book, it feels like I've been on a really long journey with these characters and can't wait to see how the final chapter plays out. 
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*I was sent 'The Lost Hero' in order to write about it, but I've bought all 8 other stories that I own from these series' - all opinions are honest and are my own*

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A great way to share Spotify with your little one - The 'My Songs' app*

When we were asked if we'd consider writing about a child friendly app on Spotify called 'My Songs' I was instantly intrigued - So many people use Spotify now, it's everywhere so I wondered what this app would do to make it more closely aimed at those littler people in our lives.

I have, actually, never used Spotify myself but my husband has and he's used it to play songs to Ethan but, of course, it's not something where Ethan can get too involved because it's mostly Azii's music on there and where a lot of his music is child friendly, not all of it is.

It's really easy to find the 'My Songs' app, using the 'App Finder' app you just look for the one with the big yellow smiley face - You might not be surprised to find out that that stands out quite easily, haha.

The app, once you've got it, looks as you can see above - It's bright and eye catching, it'll really capture the attention of most children because they're going to know that it's for them and they're going to want to know why!

Again, as you can see in the pic, there's a long list of song types, within which there are play lists - Party, playtime, rhymes, pop, sports, learning and films are just some of the categories and then within these there's at least one, and often more, play list. It's all super simple to use and within each section there's a button to click -5 and +5 so that you can get songs aimed at either of those two age groups.

Ethan's favourite playlist is the 'Movie Songs' playlist - It starts with Frozen and then has Despicable me and Toy story, he was hooked. He loves his films but he has to be rationed otherwise he'd watch them all day so this is a great way of giving him a movie-like fix but not having him glued to the telly - That said, I think we both quite liked it too, haha. We both get Frozen stuck in our head a lot and other Disney songs are rather familiar to us too - In fact 'Happy' from Despicable Me 2 was put on Loads at our wedding as both Ethan, and Skye, went nuts whenever it came on so that song even has a bit of sentimental value.

Ethan was really excited every time we used the app, I think he really loved the idea that it was especially for him - He likes music a lot and if it's something that he recognises then even better. The good thing about the app is that you'll have songs that they recognise mixed in with ones that they won't, that way you're introducing them to something new as well. 

Maybe not the best quality picture ever but this is Ethan dancing, I tried to get him to slow down a bit so I could get a better picture but he was having none of it - I guess this one shows, quite well, how excited and happy he was about it, though, he really enjoys listening to music and bouncing around like a loony.

Considering that this app is free, and you can run it on a standard, free spotify account, it's a great idea. If you're having a children's party, looking for some seasonal songs (Halloween and Christmas sections are on there, too) or just enjoy listening to songs with your children then this is a great way for them to get involved and take a bit of ownership in what they're listening to without you having to worry that it'll be put on random and they'll end up listening to Slipknot on the next song (which is why I have to be wary when letting Ethan listen to my music haha). 

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*We weren't paid for this post but we were sent a children's CD as a thank you - This post is totally honest, though, we all think that this app is great*

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Even toothpaste can be spooky this Halloween! Beverly Hills Formula Perfect White Black Toothpaste* Review

I was a little taken aback when I was asked if I wanted to write about a 'spooktacular' toothpaste this Halloween... It's not exactly the sort of thing you expect to see when you open up your inbox, that's for sure. The Beverly Hills Formula 'Perfect White - Black Toothpaste'* is exactly that, though, absolutely worlds away from your normal whites and blues!

The toothpaste was, originally, sent to me for Ethan to try but when I found out that it had very mild abrasion I wasn't sure it was for the best - I've been trying it out, though, so that I can tell you if it's any good and I think that we'd only need to wait a few more years for Ethan to use it, but I'll explain why a little later on.

The reason that this toothpaste is black is because it has 'activated charcoal' in it - It's claimed to be an effective but, also, safe way to whiten teeth and it's also said to combat plaque, gum disease and bad breath. I have really weak teeth and they tend to get discoloured easily so I am always interested in good products for my teeth, but I'm also, always, quite sceptical too.

Before I squeezed any of the toothpaste out I wasn't sure if it was going to be 'black' as in Really black. I half thought it might be white with a black stripe, or maybe a grey sort of colour but, no, this stuff really Is black! As such, you can see why this is being called a 'spooktacular' toothpaste, what better a way to encourage your kids to brush than with something so fitting with the Halloween season?! Add that on to the fact that Halloween is a time when little ones are encouraged to eat more sweets than normal, this product could be a real saviour in lots of homes!

You might be thinking 'But didn't she say she didn't want her son to use it because it's abrasive?' and if you were, you'd be right. My son is only 4, though - I discussed this with my contact and her children who are more about the 10-year-old mark use this and she's happy for them to. And, to be honest, I really understand why. Although they have to discuss this toothpaste  being abrasive you really wouldn't think of it that way when using it (I don't like really abrasive products myself) - When you use it you get the subtlest hint of something slightly powdery but only very very gently, I'd never have guessed that it was abrasive at all if it wasn't for the graph on the side.

If you look at the photo above you can see some graphs, the one to the far right is to illustrate how low the abrasiveness is in this product and the 'Perfect White Black toothpaste' is the one at the top, the absolute lowest by far. When they say it's low abrasive, they really do mean it. I avoid whitening toothpastes as I don't want them to cause more damage than good, if they're too harsh, but I definitely don't feel that I'm at any risk for this and, if Ethan wanted to get this one Halloween in a few years time I'd definitely say yes!

There is one, ever so slightly little point, that I've missed out with all this talk of graphs and anecdotes... What do I think of this toothpaste? Well, as it happens, my teeth have never felt so clean with a manual brush! Honestly, I love it. It's comparable to when I use an electric toothbrush which I consider very impressive. I've not done any photos, and I'm not suddenly going to be blinding people with my smile, but I definitely feel that this has whitened my teeth a little and I will definitely carry on using it until the tube runs out and I'll consider getting it again after that.

The toothpaste can be bought from Superdrug, here: , for £4.99 - There's still plenty of time before Halloween to go and pick it up, give your children a non-sugary Halloween surprise! 

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*I was sent this product for the purpose of review but all opinions are honest and are my own*

Saturday, 18 October 2014

An Exciting Makeup Revolution launch - 'The One - Blush Stick'* range - With Swatches!

Ok, imagine you've had a nice lay in, your child hasn't got up to anything naughty and you've had a good night's sleep. Imagine heading down stairs after helping the little one get his clothes and start getting dressed, you open your front door and in the porch is a, not tiny, package with very familiar branding... It's Makeup Revolution time!

And then, just take a moment, and imagine my excitement when I realised that the Whole range of  the new 'The One - Blush Stick'* blushers were in my possession. Needless to say I was Very, Very excited and I made some interesting sounds. There's been a lot of new releases recently (hardly surprising) and these are definitely going to stir things up a bit, in my opinion.

The range consists of 8 products - There's four matte shades and four normal/shimmer shades of each colour. There's 'Dream', 'Pink', 'Rush' and 'Malibu' plus the matte version of each. They are thick, chunky cream blush sticks and some of these shades are Definite dupes for the £30 counterparts which are very popular within the beauty world. In contrast, these Makeup Revolution versions are £5 which means you could buy almost the whole range for the same price of one of their high end counterparts... Anyway, you probably want to see the shades? See some swatches? Oh if you insist!

Though, sorry I know, I do need to make a quick mention of the fantastic outer packaging for these. The four standard shades come in a box with a gloss to it and the colour band at the colour band at the top has a beautiful sheen to it. The matte shades come in a, shock horror, matte box - This might not seem important but if you like to keep these in the box (which I will be) it helps massively with finding the right shade and it, also, makes it easier when purchasing.

It goes slightly further than that, too, each of the tubes of product is either glossy or matte depending on which product you have, too - The only down side is that the tubes don't have the shade names on but, at least, you know if it's a glossy or matte one (this is why I'm keeping them in the boxes).

Anyway, go on then, product photo time! 

These two soft pink shades are 'Dream' and 'Matte Dream' - As you can see 'Dream' is a super pale, almost quite pink whereas the matte version has a hint more colour and a little more warmth to it. 

Next up we have 'Pink' and 'Matte Pink' - Pink is a much more barbie pink whereas 'Matte pink' is a more coral shade. 

These two shades are 'Rush' and 'Matte Rush' - Can you see a hint of a dupe in this photo? Maybe? As you can see 'Rush' is an orangey/coral shade with gold glitter in it and 'Matte Rush' is a much deeper, more dense shade. 

Ooh another dupe maybe? Here we have 'Malibu' and 'Matte Malibu' - Similarly to the previous shades, very similar shades but 'Malibu' has golden shimmer in it. 

And to the swatches! In the same order as the previous photos - 'Dream' would, obviously, make a much better highlight shade than a blush, in most cases, though that obviously depends upon people's skin tone. 'Matte Dream' though, would make a gorgeous baby pink blush shade - It's very pale but it is pigmented. 

The 'Pink' shades next - 'Pink' is probably the non-matte shade with the least shimmer in it, with these two it's more about a change in shade. 'Pink' is more sheer than 'Matte Pink' too, it's still a shade you'd need to use with a light touch. Talking of which, just Look at 'Matte Pink' - This product goes on incredibly intensely straight away and has a slight hint of raspberry to it once swatched; you'll need an incredibly light hand with this shade and that's something which continues through the rest of the range when it comes to the matte shades. 

I've given you two photos for 'Rush' and 'Matte Rush' because 'Rush' really needs to be seen in two lights. As you can see, above, in one photo you can see the colour better and in the other you see all shimmer. Now I'm sure you can see what I mean when I talk about a dupe with the shade 'Rush' that coral/orange/peachy tone with that stunning gold shimmer is going to be a real must for a lot of people. But don't forget 'Matte Rush' - An incredibly pigmented shade, this one comes out as more of a peachy coral once swatched and I just Love it; dabbed on lightly I think this would make a perfect summer shade (though Rush, definitely, would too)

Anyone seeing that other dupe? 'Malibu' is much more sheer than it's matte version, again, and it's got plenty of golden shimmer in it (though that doesn't show up as much in photos as it does with 'Rush') - I think this photo shows how gorgeous it is, and how it could easily match up to that £30 version that comes to mind. Now both 'Malibu' and 'Matte Malibu' are very dark shades and, for the majority, would be great as bronzer shades - I think these might both be too dark for me but I'm definitely going to have a go with contouring with them Very, Very lightly.

I think it's safe to say that this range is rather impressive! I really love some of these shades and I still like the ones that I don't think would suit me as much. I think these are going to be a Real hit and even though they cost a little more than a lot of Makeup Revolution products, at £5, they're still an amazing bargain compared to other offerings and have some beautiful shades available. If you want to check the range out then you can here: 

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*These products were sent to me for the purpose of review but all opinions are my own and I think that the photos speak for themselves*

Glossybox UK - Unboxing / Review - October 2014

I got my Glossybox a few days ago - Normally I'd post about it straight away but I've been poorly (actually unwell as well as bad fibro times!) so I haven't got around to writing it up. Still quite poorly but at a bit of a loose end so thought I'd try to get some writing done - And you all need to know what's available in this month's Glossybox.

The theme, this month, is the Pop Art theme - I'd normally show you the little blurb on the card that comes with the box, at this point, but I didn't get a card this month! I did get a card with a giveaway on one side and a preview of next month on it... Please stop putting previews in the boxes, Glossybox, I want a surprise!

 I was looking forward to this theme, though, I thought it'd be a chance to try out some new, bright, simple products... well let's see what I got.

And this is what I got - You might be wondering where the colour is too? Well I remember seeing something about 'which colour will you get' on their Facebook page so, with the mascara and the black polish... well I'm guessing I got black...mmm

First up I got a small 8ml sample of the Rimmel 'BB Cream - Matte' in the shade 'light'. I really do like getting high street products in boxes but tiny samples of high street isn't quite as exciting - I already have a sample of this and it wouldn't be expensive to buy. I like getting samples of higher end items or bigger sizes (I don't mean full size but bigger than 8ml) of high st. This is a nice enough product, though, so I'm sure I'll give this a go. To be honest, if this had  been part of an otherwise amazing box I would have been happy but because I'm not thrilled by much else in the box it makes this seem less appealing.

This was the preview item from last month's box - I was hoping that the preview thing was a one off but seems not, we have a preview of next month's box in this one which is disappointing.

Anyway, this is the  best item in the box - A travel sized, 50ml, tube of Nuxe 'Masque Creme Fraiche de Beaute' - I love Nuxe and this is a product of theirs that I've not tried before so I am more than happy to have a good sized tube of this to try out. 

Next up it's a perfume sample! Woo! Ok I'm being sarcastic, most people get a bit funny when there's perfume samples in boxes and I must say I have got a tonne of little vials bouncing around these days... But! Well I don't mind it when a perfume sample is a proper little bottle - And these bottle is really cute, you can see the half heart cut out which carries on to the other side of the bottle.

The perfume is an Yves Rocher product and it's called 'Quelques Notes d'Amour' - It's a very sweet fragrance with a lot of floral notes in there too. I don't think it'd be to everyone's taste but I quite likes it in a sickly sweet sort of way.

Next up is a So Susan 'Flutter Mascara' - It's very nice to have a full sized cosmetics product in a box but I already have this mascara, from another box (I had actually thought it was GB but I'm not 100%) so I'm not overly excited - Also, this is why I think that the Pop Art colour I got was black which just means that the theme was pointless for me.

Yay for getting a Ciate nail polish in a box! Boo for it being black... I like black nail polish, but I have a very good one and Really don't need another. If I'm getting a Ciate I'd really like it to be a nice colour, I'm really disappointed that it's a black. It is a higher value item so I'm sure if other people got other colours then it'd have been a much better item for them.

Lastly I got this Etre Belle 'Liplift Peel' - This is a white, creamy consistency and has a very standard, body cream sort of scent to it... it's not the nicest thing to have on your lips and if you accidentally get any in your mouth it doesn't taste very nice. It has a few granules in it but I wasn't wowed by it - I'll stick with my tasty sugar scrubs I think!

So... yes. No colour at all, an item I didn't like (which is Very rare), a Ciate in a shade I really couldn't have wanted less, a duplicate full size mascara, a duplicate tiny tube of Rimmel BB cream, a cute little perfume sample and an awesome Nuxe product.

It's not an awful box but it's probably the worst box I've had, to date, it just isn't for me - If I'd had a better colour Ciate and a different product in place of the mascara then I'd have been much happier. 

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