Saturday, 16 March 2019

Fab freebies of the week 16/3


Well, this week has been hectic, to say the least. The Norwegian teachers have been and gone and now it's time for a weekend of quality time with the kids before all the after-school meetings kick off next week. Only three weeks and it's the holidays again - I feel like I need them right now ! To kick things off in style, here's another round-up of the week's freshest freebies. Have a great weekend, whatever you're up to !

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Enter Coca Cola's latest giveaway - hundreds of instant win prizes including 240 pairs of Premier League tickets plus £50 pp for travel, 640 official club shirts and 1280 Coca-Cola & Premier League branded footballs. Good luck ! (Daily entry until 21st April)

Claim your Free Sample Plus £1 OFF any pack of DryNites nappies

Grab some free Purina dog chews or free pork puffs on Shopmium

There are still a couple of weeks left to try to win a can of corned beef

Write at least one review on Psydro to be in with a chance of winning a voucher - 100 winners will be picked at random on Friday 29th March 2019 - the more reviews you leave, the greater your chance of winning!

TRY NORMADERM PHYTOSOLUTION DOUBLE CORRECTION DAILY CARE MOISTURISER. COMPLETE THE FULL FORM to request your free samples of Normaderm Phytosolution from Vichy.

Sign up to our email database, and as well as receiving amazing deals and discounts, you'll get a FREE SensatioNail Peel Off Polish worth £6.

Guess the twenty films/TV titles and go in the draw to win one of thousands of prizes with Hask Hair (Erm, I've only got four right so far ! lol)

Do you want to receive a complimentary edit of 111SKIN products? Simply fill in this quick questionnaire before the 31st March 2019 to be in with a chance. The first 1,000 people to complete the survey will be sent an envelope filled with travel-sized skincare luxuries.

Become a taste tester for Eat Natural bars

Select some free scent samples from Valentte

Sign up below and you could be 1 of 50 lucky entrants to receive a free sample of Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Night Peeling & Serum.

If you wear waterproof footwear as part of your outdoor gear and would like to take part in a Nikwax product performance trial, please complete your details below by Thursday 28th March 2019. If you are selected you will be sent a trial pack. You will be required to trial the product between Monday 15th April and Monday 29th April 2019. Prizes up for grabs.

Request a 15ml sample of Aesop's In Two Minds Facial Hydrator

First 5,000 to enter - WIN A SURPRISE NAIL STRIP SET

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 15 March 2019

Kids' book review : Captain Cat and the Treasure Map - Sue Mongredien


Captain Cat and the Treasure Map is the first book in a brand new series of highly illustrated piratical adventures that will delight newly confident readers and their families. The author, Sue Mongredien, has already had over a hundred children's books published, including the Oliver Moon and Secret Mermaid series for Usborne and the Prince Jake books for Orchard. She is also one of the authors behind the internationally best-selling Rainbow Magic series, Daisy Meadows. The illustrator Kate Pankhurst also has some great successes under her belt, including the Fantastically Great Women and Mariella Mystery Investigates series.

Captain Cat, also known as Patch, is a clever ship's cat who lives aboard The Golden Earring pirate ship, along with her friends Cutlass the parrot and Monty the monkey. She is frequently the one to get the pirate crew out of trouble, although they never actually realise the half of what she does to save their skins !

In this first adventure, the pirate crew discover a treasure map and set out to find what is waiting where X marks the spot. Little do they know, the treasure is cursed and it's up to Captain Cat to keep them out of trouble ! 

The texts are short enough for beginner readers to read and each page is illustrated with humorous drawings, to help break up the text into manageable sections. There are also lots of jokes, courtesy of Cutlass the parrot, which Pierre thought were very funny !

It's an enjoyable new series with lots going on on each page, which is a great way of motivating new or reluctant readers. The second book, Captain Cat and the Great Pirate Race, will be out in July.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £5.99

Publishing 7th Feb 2019

Disclusure : We received the book in order to write an honest review.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Book review : Children of the Cave - Virve Sammalkorpi


Children of the Cave is the translation of a Finnish book, which won both the 2017 Savonia Literature Prize and the Kuvastaja Prize for the best Finnish Fantasy Novel. After reading the first few pages, I had to flick to the back and reread the blurb, to check that I wasn't actually reading a factual work presenting the findings of an olde-worlde research trip !

The book is set in 1819 and the writer of the research notes, Iax Agolasky, who is a young Russian assistant to a French scientific explorer, is employed to accompany a research trip to the isolated Russian wilderness. He is a young, educated man who finds it quite hard to fit in with and be respected by the rowdy, hard-drinking and frequently uncouth group of researchers.

When they stumble across a group of strange creatures living in a cave, they are unsure how to react. They resemble a strange cross-breed of children and animals, making it hard to know how to treat them. Is it OK to kill them and bottle up various specimens to experiment on or should they be respected and looked after? Tensions mount in the camp and Agolasky finds himself getting secretly closer to the children, in spite of the risks.

Despite the writing being recorded in a series of notes - frequently incomplete or weather-damaged, with pages missing, so you need to read between the lines and imagine what was going on and how things were developing in the camp - you get an intense and moving glimpse into the young man's thoughts and experiences. He is the only member of the team to respect the children and care about their safety, something which - in much vaster terms - makes you think about how we react when faced with our own "others", be that through different nationalities, religions or sexual orientations. With a very Neo-Victorian, Gothic feel, I was frequently reminded of the atmosphere of Frankenstein's Monster, with the ethics of science, faith and choosing where the limits of "right" and "wrong" are set constantly at the back of my mind.

It's a very interesting and thought-provoking read, with moments of real emotion. I could really feel for Agolasky, who seems to me to be the only morally-intact member of the research team, but maybe all the great scientific discoveries and cures for past illnesses would never have been found with such high moral standards. It would be a great title for a book club to discover, as there are so many different viewpoints that could be offered and argued over.

Children of the Cave sets the tone for the rest of the exciting 'There Be Monsters' series. If you need another reason to buy a copy, remember that 50p from each book sold goes to charity.

star rating : 4/5

Children of the Cave
172pp, paperback with flaps, £12
Published February 2019
ISBN 978-1-908670-50-2

for more information : https://www.peirenepress.com/

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday, 11 March 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #11


Well, the weekend was extremely busy but it's only going to get worse for the next couple of weeks - breathe deeply ! I picked up loads of meat that was reduced for quick sale in Lidl so it's been dumped in the freezer and will be used up throughout the week hopefully. Sophie will probably get dragged into cooking duties this week, if she's still up for it !

Monday 

dinner - chicken drumsticks baked with tomatoes and onions, served with rice

Tuesday 

dinner - pancakes, because I forgot to make them last week - oops ! Not sure what the filling will be - probably ham and egg, with optional cheese, but I'm open to whatever the kids want

Wednesday 

lunch - fricadelles (spicy sausages) with spaghetti & ratatouille

dinner - I'm off out for a meal with the Norwegian teachers, so either leftovers or frozen pizza for the kids

Thursday 

dinner - pork paupiettes (little balls of sausage meat wrapped in a thin pork fillet) with ebly and carrots

Friday  

 dinner - chicken casserole with boiled potatoes and green beans

Saturday

lunch - I think we're off to a concert by train, if I remember correctly, so something quick from the station probably !

dinner - McDonald's? Not sure what time we get back - if not, sandwiches/fridge clearout

Sunday

lunch - roast chicken, roast spuds & veg (and loads of gravy !) with the Madhouse grandparents :)

dinner - sandwiches

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Fab freebies of the week 9/3


Here's this weekend's roundup of the best new UK freebies - enjoy :)

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Quick reminder : Know a child who loves Barbie? At Smyths Toys, they can be anything! Celebrate 60 years of Barbie with a FREE in-store 'You Can Be Anything' event on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of March. We’ve got a dress up box of Barbie careers just waiting to be explored. Strike a pose for your photo in the Career Barbie Box and pick up an amazing Barbie goody bag.

Calling all Debenhams Beauty Club Members! Claim your FREE mascara & perfume from Carolina Herrera.

Fill in the form for a Vegan Protein Powder Free Sample

Soothing & Moisturizing All Natural COCONUT OIL for Face & Skin - Subscribe to get a free sample!

The Insiders are looking for 100 owners and their cats to try PURINA® PRO PLAN® with OPTISENSES™, a scientific and nutritious cat food.

A great offer from Sopost ... Discover M·A·C Powder Kiss: our Lipstick with a blotted, moisture-matte finish. Sign up below to claim your free swatch sample of ‘Devoted to Chili’ Powder Kiss Lipstick; a warm brick red. Sample size 0.05g. #MeetYourMatte

Anker have a great giveaway with 101 prizes up for grabs - Prizes:
1st Prize: Samsung Galaxy S10
2nd Prize: Anker Wireless Charger (40 Available)
3nd Prize: PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable (60 Available)

Grab yourselves a voucher for a FREE glass of Jameson's whiskey, ginger & lime

For your chance to win a bottle of Zoflora EVERY DAY, try your luck at the Wheel of Paw-tune game (250 prizes up for grabs)

There are 2,000 free tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show at NEC, Birmingham

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 8 March 2019

Book review : Into The River - Mark Brandi


I'm not sure who picked the cover picture for Mark Brandi's Into The River, but it's brilliant - fiery red and troubling, moody, dark skies, leading down to the intriguing, inviting, mesmerising waves that seem to want to drag you down to see what lies below ... or at least what lies beneath the cover !

Into The River was first published in 2018 in the author's native Australia under the title Wimmera and this original title - the name of a region in the state of Victoria - gives an idea of the Australian setting. Think flour mills and grain storage silos, sheep and national parks ... err, that's about as good as it gets !

Ben and Fab, two childhood friends, spend their days playing cricket, fishing for yabbies (like lobsters), riding their BMX bikes and lusting after a pair of Nike Air Maxes. They're just typical eleven-year-old kids, drifting towards high school and their teenage years. They don't talk about Fab getting hit by his father or Ben being unnerved by his next door neighbour's sudden death. When a burly newcomer, Ronnie, arrives in town, the boys stake him out, convinced he's a secret agent, or at least some guy who's bigger than Fab's dad. He offers Ben his first job around his house ... and a whole lot more.

Time moves on and Ben moves away. Twenty years later, Fab picks up the narration. Two local boys spot a strange wheelie bin in the river and, pulling it out, discover that its lid has been painstakingly bolted shut. This will be the event that unlocks the truth about what went on in the past.

As a child of the same generation, I loved the portrayal of the boys back in the eighties. Modern readers, used to mobile phones, internet and endless child safety campaigns, probably won't really understand how kids could end up in these kinds of situations, but back then, it definitely happened. I can remember heading off for the day with my friends with no way that my parents could get in touch with me, unless I decided to call home from a phone box. I can also remember hearing the odd tale at school that would certainly raise a few shocked looks now, and much bigger stories involving famous people, such as Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Michael Jackson, to name but a few, are finally making their way into the headlines.

I loved the way the story was told, with lots left to the reader's imagination. It's only a short book - about 240 pages - but certainly packs a punch.



Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Giveaway #713 : Win The Story of the Second World War for Children - closing 21/3


This year marks the eightieth anniversary of the start of the Second World War, a war which saw horrific numbers of casualties in the trenches but also at home, with families hiding away in air raid shelters when deadly bombers brought the danger straight into Britain itself. My grandad shared many stories of his time fighting in Europe and my grandmother on the other side of the family told us of life in wartime Britain, with women going out to work for the first time and struggling to find food to fill the family's tummies, but also the great sense of solidarity and looking out for each other in the neighbourhood.


The Story of the Second World War for Children is a great resource for explaining what the world was like at the time, giving details of the causes of the war, what it was like living through the war years themselves and finally the happiness and sheer relief when the end of the war was announced.


The texts are short but they are packed with detailed information and there are numerous illustrations and photographs to help break up the texts, making it an approachable book, even for reluctant readers. It's the perfect resource for school projects, but is also an enjoyable read for leisure.


There are oodles of pictures, with many photos, diagrams and reproductions of posters, which really help give you an idea of how things were at the time. There are also feature boxes, which develop a topic that is likely to be of particular interest to readers, such as life inside a U-boat or tips for being a great jungle fighter. You can also take a look at the inside of famous tanks, aircraft, U-boats and aircraft carriers.


While the book features some immensely sad and destructive moments, such as the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it also shows how the war brought about major advances in weaponry but also medicine and technology.

Paperback - 64 pages - 245 x 283mm
Published March 2019
ISBN 9781783124503




I have a copy of the book to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.


UK only. Closing date : 21/3/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize.

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Giveaway #712 : Win 2 x The Nutcracker and the Four Realms DVD - closing 20/3


From the Studio That Brought You Beauty and the Beast ...

Disney’s dazzling adventure The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale and the beloved ballet The Nutcracker - carried audiences along with 14-year old Clara (Mackenzie Foy) to a magical, mysterious world with breathtaking performances by Misty Copeland plus sweets, snowflakes, soldiers, scurrying mice … and no shortage of surprises. Destined to become an annual viewing tradition for adventurers of all ages, the film arrives home instantly with never-before-seen extras and deleted scenes on Digital-Download on February 25th and on Blu-ray™ and DVD March 11th 2019.

In The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Clara travels along a golden thread, presented at Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual party, eagerly searching for a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a music box that holds a priceless gift. When she enters a mysterious parallel world, Clara encounters a Nutcracker soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and three Realm regents, including the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). Ultimately, she must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve the key and return harmony to the unstable world.

Bonus features include a discussion with American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland about her role as the enchanting Ballerina Princess, her personal history with The Nutcracker ballet, and her inspirational and historic rise within the world of dance. Extras take viewers on the set to meet both new and reimagined characters, and discover how the Land of Sweets, Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and mysterious Fourth Realm were created to such dazzling effect. Deleted scenes provide a look at magical moments that didn’t make the final version of the movie.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is available on Digital Download from Feb 25 and on DVD & Blu-ray™ March 11.



I'm delighted to have two copies of the DVD up for grabs. Just fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.


UK only. Closing date : 20/3/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize.

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

coming soon !

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Book review : The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore - Kim Fu


As a European reader, summer camps always seem typically American to me. Putting together a big group of teenagers - or, as here , pre-teens, as the girls are aged ten - in tents with little supervision and a lot of time to get into trouble seems like an accident waiting to happen, and that's talking as a teacher ! I can see that giving children a little bit more responsibility and control can be a great way of turning them into more aware and responsible human beings though. Both of these aspects are developed in The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore.

The story begins with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets and songs by the fireside, but there are also the first notions of jealousy and kids trying to be top dog, as you'd expect. Split up into small groups, they all head off to a nearby island for an overnight kayaking and camping trip. Each group has one adult and the five girls that the book follows - Nita, Dina, Siobhan, Andee and Isabel - find themselves led by the sprightly but elderly Jan, who pushes them further than the organised camping spot. When they awake next morning and find that she has died, they realise that nobody knows where they are and set off to try to find a way back home. 

The book slowly reveals how the girls managed to get back home, while also looking ahead to see how they developed into adults. There are happy endings and sad endings, but throughout them all, echoes of Camp Forevermore can be detected. 

The tale of the girls on the island reminded me slightly of Lord of the Flies, with dominant personalities struggling to take control and others just going along with the status quo. I kept forgetting how young the girls were - for some reason, in my mind, they kept morphing into disgruntled teens. It was interesting to follow them in their later years, and see how such a traumatic event could reverberate through their lifetimes in such a variety of ways. It's an interesting read that I raced through in just a couple of days.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99 (paperback) / £4.99 (Ebook)

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (15 Feb. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1789550165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789550160




Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday, 4 March 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #10


Things are going to be pretty hectic at work for the next few weeks, with end-of-term meetings after school and a week-long visit from the Norwegians, for our communal project. On top of that, the in laws are coming up at the weekend for the one year anniversary of Madhouse Daddy's death. I'm just planning on getting through one day at a time ! I'll be looking for simple dishes to cut down on time in the kitchen (and hoping that Sophie will jump in to cook dinner on the evenings I get in late !)

Monday 

dinner - chicken fillets with BBQ sauce, sweetcorn and rice

Tuesday 

dinner - spaghetti bolognese

Wednesday 

lunch - beefburgers and leftover spaghetti with ratatouille

dinner - gratin dauphinois (creamy baked potato dish) with pork chops & veg

Thursday 

dinner - mac & cheese with baked ham & tomatoes

Friday  

 dinner - flammenkuechen (Alsace style "pizzas" - flatbread topped with cream, bacon and onions) with salad

Saturday

lunch - probably dinner at the Chinese restaurant (we'll see what the in laws want to do)

dinner - probably kebab (they usually want to grab one before going home)

Sunday

lunch - roast chicken dinner

dinner - home made pizzas - we'll buy some pizza bases and everyone can load up their own with the toppings of their choice (I may be out with the Norwegians)

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Fab freebies of the week 2/3


Can't quite believe we're into March already - where is the time going ?! Oh well, it's the weekend which means it's time to chill out for a bit and catch up with the week's best freebies. Have a great time whatever you're up to :)

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P&G are giving away 120,000 free sample sachets of Olay Whip

This week on CheckoutSmart, you can get a free Lloyd Grossman Risotto Kit, Fridge Raiders Combos BBQ Mix and Oasis Aquashock Spicy Raspberry

Sign up to be a product tester for St Tropez VIP Beauty Panel

On the Essence of Arcadia facebook page :  FREE BEAUTY PRODUCT TESTERS WANTED. Looking for people to trial our products and other brand products with 100% Free products in skin care and aromatherapy. No catches, all explained in detail. No catches or hidden terms. Ask us about it now and see

Send a product photo to Cadbury's and win in their Premier League Legend competition

Coca Cola also has a huge football themed giveaway going on with daily entry

Baking and Cookery Private Club - Free Products & Benefits (but you do need an Amazon Prime account for free delivery)

Know a child who loves Barbie? At Smyths Toys, they can be anything! Celebrate 60 years of Barbie with a FREE in-store 'You Can Be Anything' event on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of March.
We’ve got a dress up box of Barbie careers just waiting to be explored. Strike a pose for your photo in the Career Barbie Box and pick up an amazing Barbie goody bag.

@BigDirtyRock have a few T-shirt samples - you need to pay for postage but they're pretty cool

The world's best Alcohol Free Premium Sparkling Brut, it's that good, you wouldn't have guessed its Alcohol Free! Now launched in the UK and available on Amazon.
To the On & Off Trade, this will certainly stand out from the crowd? Contact me for sample

Try our No.1 serum #AdvancedNightRepair today. Get your FREE 7ml deluxe sample*, simply download your voucher and show it at your nearest Estée Lauder counter. #PowerOfNight

One to watch ... @dirtshredders
Thanks to the peeps that have already made contact with us. Our product is still going through development. Keep an eye out, we shall soon have some free samples to give away, UK only. #mtblife #uk #freefrom #natural #mountainbike #dirtshredders #wax

Ninkus blog posted at www ninkus co uk/blog is about the Ninkus brand, what Ninkus stands for. Get free samples via admin@ninkus.co.uk.

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Board game review : Dixit


We recently received a new bundle of games from the Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club to get to grips with, and I was really impressed because, once again, they've managed to unearth three games that we'd never even heard of. For this month, we started off with Dixit, which is a brilliant game for families. According to the box, it is for players aged 8+, but I think younger players could get involved and enjoy playing in a family environment too.


We love the box for this game, which features a riverside scene with flowers, mushrooms and rocks dotted around a central hole, which is used for packing everything else away.


Each player takes a little rabbit-shaped playing piece and sets it on the first square. You will move around the board as you win points on each turn.


The only other thing to do is to distribute the playing cards, so it's extremely quick to set up. The cards are beautiful, intriguing images that you will need to describe, in a simple sentence or just a few words. You can use cryptic clues, if playing with slightly older players. 


Once the storyteller for the round has described his picture, each player must hand over a card that resembles the description. These cards are then shuffled and placed down on the table. Everyone must pick card they think belonged to the storyteller. You will win points if you pick correctly, but if other people pick your card, you'll win even more points !


It's a great game for children, forcing them to think about language (adjectives and adverbs for describing the images, for example) and the pictures are beautiful. I was worried that we'd soon get bored of using the same picture cards, so I was very pleased to see that there are numerous extension packs available. You will also find that, depending on the people you play with, you will pick easier or more cryptic descriptions, which adds extra variety.

It's lovely to find a game that is so simple to set up and inspires people to talk to each other, think about language and interact with lovely artwork. The Madhouse kids took a while to get into it, but they now have no problem coming up with interesting and surprising groups of words to keep everyone nicely confused !

RRP : £29.99



Disclosure : We received the product from the Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club in order to share our honest review.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Book review : The Good Friend - Jo Baldwin


Jenny hasn't had an easy life so far. Her mum died of cancer, leaving her to be brought up by her dad, who wasn't big on public displays of affection. She did have a close friend though, called Kath, and a boyfriend, Tom, who helped her keep a smile on her face. Then her dad decides that they need to move to Australia to continue her swimming career. Even worse, Kath encourages her to go and Tom decides to call things off with her and go to work in Jordan. 

Putting on a brave face, Jenny makes a go of things as best as she can, but her heart isn't really in it and she eventually decides to come back home and try to get back together with Tom. Confiding in her best friend, she learns that things may not be quite as simple as she first thought though : not only is Tom with Kath now, she is also pregnant. So that's the end of that.

Eight years later, Jenny has had enough of swimming, even if her father still wants her to continue. She goes on holiday to the south of France to catch up with Kath and Tom, as well as their very cute little girl, Rosa. Roped in to help sort out their new gîtes over the summer, Jenny extends her stay for a few weeks, lapping up the Languedoc sunshine and reconnecting with her old friends. It doesn't take her long to realise that all is not well between the couple though - could this be a chance for her to reconnect with her lost love? And what is going on with Kath? Is she just depressed or is there more to her than meets the eye?

It's a well-written psychological drama, which takes its basis in another look at the classic love triangle. I felt ill-at-ease in the beginning, when Jenny obviously still has feelings for her ex, despite his new relationship, but Kath's vindictive and manipulative behaviour makes it hard to really feel sorry for her. I'm still not sure she really gets fair treatment though, as if she is genuinely depressed, surely she should be supported more. I felt that there was more of a backstory with her mother, but this wasn't really developed, which was a shame. I'm not sure there could actually be an ending in which everyone finds happiness, but the final chapter didn't really offer a sense of closure, which I would have preferred. It's an enjoyable read though, that I raced through in just a few days

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: RedDoor Publishing Ltd (21 Feb. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910453668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910453667




Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The February "Degusta & Chill" Degustabox review


Last week, the postie delivered a brand new Degustabox for us to discover. I called the kids, we all stood peering in as I peeled back the flaps and .... oooh we could all already spot some tasty treats that we fancied getting our mitts (and our lips) on !


Last month's New Year Degustabox focusing on healthy treats was received with a slightly less enthusiastic response, so the kids in particular were very pleased to see that this month's box was full of tasty treats and drinks that they couldn't wait to try. I think this month has the balance just right, with lots of tempting versions of things that we already eat, along with a few unusual or extra healthy options to sample. Time for a closer look.


Strangely enough, the kids went straight for the sweets - now there's a surprise ! There were two packets of Bebeto Watermelon Jelly Gum (RRP 2 x 50p) which were met with enthusiastic murmurs and lots of bag rustling ! I did actually get to have some and they are tasty. I particularly loved the fact that they contain real fruit juices and we were impressed with the price, so we'll be looking out for these in the shops.


They weren't so keen on the idea of The Snaffling Pig Co Pork Crackling (RRP 2 x 75p) though, so I got to munch on that all by myself ! There were two flavours of snaffle packs in the box, in Perfectly Salted and - my favourite - Low & Slow BBQ flavours. I haven't had pork crackling for years and I loved these - I can see why they've won 9 Great Taste Awards.


When the Madhouse kids were younger, they often used to drink fruity drinks from the Appy Kids Co, but I didn't know that they also produced individual cartons of Whole Milk (RRP 2 x £1). I was actually surprised to discover that these were really popular. Up until now, the Madhouse kids will drink milk if it's made into hot chocolate or cold chocolate milk, but I don't usually bother giving them plain milk. It turned out to be a major success though, which is great news. These cartons are available at Morrisons stores nationwide. 


I haven't eaten pesto since Madhouse Daddy died, because the Madhouse kids don't like it and a big jar is too much just for me, so I was pleased to see a jar in the box. This Reduced Fat No 14 Basil Pesto from Sacla (RRP £2.50) has no added sugar or salt and the cheese is replaced by tofu, making it suitable for vegans too. Lovely stirred through a bowl of leftover pasta when I need a quick lunch.

Next was a pack of Clearspring Organic Seaveg Crispies Turmeric (RRP £2.59 for 3 packs), which are a toasted nori snack, made with just four simple ingredients. I'll be honest, we weren't sure about them, but we've tried other seaweed-based products in the past that we weren't keen on, so I think it's just down to personal taste. It's a shame because they're gluten free, vegan, high in fibre and contain only 18 calories a bag.


The next product intrigued us - two packs of Deli Kitchen Folded Brioche Flatbreads (RRP 2 x £1.25). The brand wants to inspire consumers to branch out from the traditional lunch options of sliced sandwiches and salads and try their new range inspired by breads from across the globe. Here at The Madhouse, we love this idea. This brioche folded flatbread is a rich, melt-in-the-mouth flatbread, perfect for burgers or with griddled steak and gooey cheese.


There is a recipe card in the box that suggests two serving options : Brioche Folded Flatbread with Philly Steak Melt and Brioche Folded Flatbreads with Smoked Salmon, Watercress and Caper Scramble. Hmmm, so many options ! These are in the freezer at the moment but will be transformed into a quick lunch or dinner very soon.


Choc Chick Plantain Bites & Quinoa Pops (RRP 2 x £1.85) were another brand new product for us. They are a dairy and gluten free snack that combine the wholegrain goodness of quinoa and the tropical loveliness of plantain with the finest Ecuadorian single origin organic cacao. With 50% less sugar than your average chocolates, they offer a guilt free indulgence that we enjoyed snacking on.


Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Fusilli (RRP £3) is a new (to us) product from a brand that we got to try in a previous Degustabox. (We had their Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettucine in the January 2018 Degustabox.) The Fusilli are high in protein and fibre, organic, vegan and naturally gluten free, so just add your favourite vegetables or sauce for a healthy family meal. It's not something that I would have bought if I saw it in the supermarket, but the kids happily wolfed it down !

And finally, there was a bottle of Orangina (RRP £1.30), which I had to sneak away to the fridge and drink all by myself once the kids were in bed to avoid arguments ! The soft sparkle and real citrus pulp always hit the spot, offering a refreshing and delicious drink.


On the cards in the box, there is also news of an Instagram competition and a recipe for Baked Cod with Basil Pesto and Puy Lentils, which sounds rather nice.

A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Monday, 25 February 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #9


Well, all good things come to an end, and after a lovely, relaxing half term, we're back to school and work - boo ! After a good rummage through the freezer, I've discovered there seems to be loads of pork in there, so I'm looking up some new recipes to use it up.

Monday 

dinner - Creamy Paprika Pork with spaghetti

Tuesday 

dinner - prawn (or chicken for those who don't like prawns) chow mein

Wednesday 

lunch - burgers, rice & a bag of frozen veggies

dinner - Pork chops in BBQ sauce with mac & cheese and salad

Thursday 

dinner - this recipe for slow cooker pizza casserole looks like a good idea

Friday  

 dinner - Tortillas or enchiladas, either with the usual chicken or this could be a good way to use up more pork !

Saturday

lunch - kids' choice of fast food - probably the old favourite, McDonald's !

dinner - Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread with salad, tomatoes, etc

Sunday

lunch - chicken with rice & green beans, or maybe roast potatoes and gravy - we'll see how we feel !

dinner - sandwiches and/or fridge clearout

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

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