Friday, 13 December 2019

Get ready for Playmobil : The Movie !


This week, the postman dropped us off a fabulous bundle of goodies to celebrate the release of Playmobil : The Movie on DVD. 



This animated action adventure follows a trio of fun characters caught up in an exciting adventure that is sure to appeal to all kids. When her younger brother Charlie unexpectedly disappears into the magical, animated universe of Playmobil, unprepared Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) must go on a quest of a lifetime to bring him home. She teams up with smooth-talking food truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan) and the dashing and charismatic secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe), along with other more unlikely new friends, including a wholehearted misfit robot and an extravagant fairy-godmother. Through their vibrant adventure, tracking down the villainous Emperor Maximus, Marla and Charlie realise that no matter how life plays out, you can achieve anything when you believe in yourself.


We received a fabulous package of accompanying merchandise, some of which has been sneaked away to reappear in Christmas stockings very soon !


I love the Playmobil figures with all their detailed accessories and I may have to pinch the Rex Dasher keyring myself !


The T-shirt is definitely more Pierre's size though.


 And the sticker book is sure to be a big hit too. We haven't collected stickers for ages, so I am sure Pierre will love it.

Looking outside at the wind and rain, I'm actually thinking this weekend may be calling for a DVD day, all sitting under a blanket tucked up in onesies, nibbling on a bowl of popcorn. Sounds like bliss !



Disclosure : We received the DVD and associated merchandise.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Book review : Death Rope - Leigh Russell


For the past few weeks, I've been racing through my random collection of books that I have bought at various times in the 3-for-£5 section at The Works, and I have to say, for the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised. Death Rope by Leigh Russell is one of them and I enjoyed it very much. Crime fiction is my favourite genre and this book ticked all of the right boxes, so it was perfect for winding down after a long and busy day at work (which I have had lots of lately !).

Death Rope is the eleventh book in the DI Geraldine Steel series, but it can be enjoyed perfectly well as a stand-alone novel. There are however several mentions of things from the policewoman's past, such as a demotion at work and a dodgy relationship with her recently discovered, drug-addicted twin sister, which make me want to go back to the beginning of the series and find out more about this multi-faceted woman.

The book begins with a wife walking into her home and frantically calling on the gardener for help when she discovers her husband's limp body hanging from the bannisters. It looks like a classic suicide, but his sister Amanda goes to the police, utterly convinced that her brother has been murdered. Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel is put on the flimsy case, but apart from the sister's claims, she has very little to go on. When Amanda is herself found murdered, the whole thing suddenly starts looking a lot more sinister and Geraldine has her work cut out trying to work out what is going on.

The story is interesting because it focuses equally on the criminal activity and the police work, so the reader gets a real sense of what goes into following up leads and trying to figure everything out. Some of the characters seemed a bit too one-dimensional - the main villain, in particular, seemed laughably horrible and I find it hard to believe that nobody would have heard, or presumably smelt, his monstrous dog, kept in the cellar with his remains of rotting meat.

Overall, though, it's a great read and watching the villains get their just desserts is very satisfying !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: No Exit Press; None ed. edition (22 Nov. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184344934X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843449348


Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Giveaway #736 : Win UglyDolls on dvd - closing date 29/12


UGLYDOLLS
Available on Digital Download and DVD on 9th December

Unconventionality rules in UGLYDOLLS, the new animated musical adventure starring the acting and singing voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle MonĂ¡e, Blake Shelton and Pitbull.

In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weird is celebrated, strange is special and beauty is embraced as more than simply meets the eye. Here, the free-spirited Moxy and her UglyDoll friends live every day in a whirlwind of bliss, letting their freak flags fly in a celebration of life and its endless possibilities.

Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) loves her square-peg life in this round-hole town, but her curiosity about all things leads her to wonder if there’s something – anything – on the other side of the mountain.

Now the UglyDolls will confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.

UGLYDOLLS is available on Digital Download and on DVD from 9th December.



I have a copy of UglyDolls on DVD to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !


UK only. Closing date : 29/12/19

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 :

Giveaway #735 : Win 2 x Dora And The Lost City of Gold DVDs - closing date 29/12

Monday, 9 December 2019

Giveaway #735 : Win 2 x Dora And The Lost City of Gold DVDs - closing date 29/12


GET READY FOR AN ACTION-ADVENTURE THAT’S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, PLUS A TREASURE TROVE OF ENTERTAINING BONUS FEATURES!

Available to Download & Keep 7th December
+
Blu-ray™ Combo Pack Arrives 9th December, just in time to enjoy with the family before Christmas, with Deleted & Extended Scenes, Hilarious Bloopers, and More!

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora (Isabela Moner, Instant Family) for her biggest challenge yet – high school ! When her parents mysteriously disappear while searching for the Lost City of Gold, Dora must swing into action and lead a group of ill-equipped high schoolers on a wild quest to save them. Hold on for a high stakes mission as Dora and her new friends navigate the jungle, outrun treasure hunters and solve ancient puzzles to unlock the mystery of the fabled city.



Now, I have to be honest here - the Madhouse kids used to love watching the pre-schoolers' cartoon version of Dora, but I wasn't sure what they'd think of a grown-up version. Where this film excels is that, while it will undoubtedly appeal to young viewers (there are just a couple of scary bits, which is why it has a PG rating), it will also appeal to the ex-fans who have now grown up. There are so many throwbacks to the original cartoon and it's actually an intentionally funny and thoroughly enjoyable film for the whole family.

The Digital and Blu-ray releases boast a wealth of fun-filled bonus features, including hilarious bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, a look at Isabela Moner’s transformation into Dora, a tour of Dora’s Jungle House, and more! Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD is “a treasure hoard of fun” (Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph) for the entire family to enjoy.

Explore a new world of family-friendly adventure with DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD available to Download & Keep on the 7th December 2019 and on Blu-ray & DVD 9th December 2019, from Paramount Home Entertainment.



First up, I have a little Dora-themed gift for all of you parents looking for a few minutes to keep the kids busy while you actually get to sit down and have a coffee or maybe sort out the Christmas tree or wrap the final few presents ! Just click on the image for the bigger, printable version.





Secondly, I'm giving you the chance to win one of two Dora And The Lost City of Gold DVDs to enjoy with your family. Just fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !


UK only. Closing date : 29/12/19

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 :

Giveaway #734 : Win 2 x The Amazing Mr Blunden Blu-rays - closing date 16/12


Sunday, 8 December 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #50


This week is going to be busy with a capital B. I have a meeting on Monday (only an hour or so but I need to hang around at work for it to start, so I won't get out of there until 7.30pm), then on Tuesday and Thursday, it's the parent-teacher evenings, so I won't get to leave school until at least 8/8.30pm. Hopefully, the kids will be able to deal with getting food ready, so I've stocked up on pizzas and other simple things to cook. While we have another two weeks to go until we're on holiday, Sophie breaks up in the middle of next week, so she'll be coming home from Thursday onwards - maybe she'll cook dinner ?! ;-)

Sunday 

lunch - we've been invited to dinner with some friends - apparently, there's lasagne on the menu ! :)

dinner -  I can cook if anyone's hungry, but we often settle on sandwiches or toast on Sunday nights. Maybe cheese on toast ? We'll see ! We'll be going to the Christmas Parade so we may want something to warm us all up.

Monday 

dinner - sweet & sour chicken with rice

Tuesday 

dinner - pepperoni pizza (will there be any left when I finally get home ?!)

Wednesday 

lunch - smoked sausages with mash & beans

dinner - meatballs with tomato sauce & ebly

Thursday 

dinner -  spaghetti bolognese

Friday  

dinner - Sophie will undoubtedly be making a list of all the things she absolutely wants to eat so I'll let her choose !

Saturday 

lunch - our regular Saturday lunchtime fast food trip ! Probably McDonalds as usual, unless Sophie wants to go somewhere special.

dinner - sandwiches, quiche & salads


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

Katykicker

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Fab freebies of the week 7/12


It's the weekend - breathe ! Things are so hectic at work right now, with meetings pretty much non stop, plus all the end-of-term reports to fill in. As if that wasn't enough, I've been desperately trying to make time to get our Christmas shopping done. I definitely need a few extra hours in each day ! At least we have a weekend, so I can chill out a bit (hopefully !). Have a great time, whatever you're up to. Here's this week's freebie roundup to kick things off in style.

*********************************

Fancy trying out Smol laundry pods? Trial for free. Start with 9 free washes. Just cover the £1 for postage.

Request a sample of Listerine Go Tabs and share your view - 1000 available, first come first served.

Noughty Haircare - Noughty Needs You ... get your hands on a sample of hair mask

Last chance to sign up on The Insiders - We are looking for 1,000 owners and their cats to commit to this campaign by trialing one of 20 Felix® products. All you need to do is make sure you fit the criteria in the ‘Your cat’ section below, then submit your entry survey.

And another one for cat owners - We are looking for 1,000 owners and their cats to commit to this campaign by trailing one of 20 Gourmet® products. All you need to do is make sure you fit the criteria in the ‘Your cat’ section below, then submit your entry survey.

Would you like to receive one of our card holders? If so, please fill in the form.


Grab yourselves a free pint of Guinness

Win one of 8000 prizes from Filippo Berio

Make sure you're playing the Brioche Pasquier advent calendar - I won a notebook the other day :)

Try your luck at winning one of 50 art sets from Pentel

McDonald's have 500,000 Christmas storybooks up for grabs

MyHenry are starting the Christmas countdown by giving you the chance to #WIN 1 of 100 Henry & Hetty's Christmas Adventure Books!

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, 6 December 2019

Show Your Emotions With Shmoji ! (review)


How's your Christmas shopping going? Are you all organised, with everything wrapped and hidden in the cupboard, or are you still desperately scouring the shops, trying to find a present for all those complicated people that already have everything they could possibly want or need ? I've just had a mammoth shopping trip online, so most of it is now covered ... as long as it actually turns up before the big day ! I still need to go shopping for stocking fillers though, which is where this new collectible could come in very handy.


Shmojis are the perfect way to show your emotions ... on your shoes ! Each mystery pack contains four unique characters inside, which attach to shoelaces for the ultimate customisable look. Children can express themselves and their changing moods using different variations of characters.


The Madhouse kids always love blind packs of collectibles so they excitedly ripped open the packaging. Here are the four characters that we got in the first pack that we opened. They cover everything from the world of emojis (when did people stop saying smileys ?!), including faces, animals, food and accessories.


As you can see, on the back side of each Shmoji is a little loop that you simply slide your shoelace through. This is really easy to use. However, it does mean that you have to keep unlacing and relacing your shoes every time you want to swap Shmojis, which is fine if your kids can do it themselves but can quickly become annoying if they keep asking you to do it !


They look really cool and you can add Shmojis all the way up your laces if you want - guaranteed to appeal to kids !


There are 100 characters in the current series for your kids to collect and swap with friends. They are designed to represent some of the most popular emoji characters. The Madhouse kids looked through the list of characters and suggested many more that they would like to see - I'm sure there will be further series released in the future though.


They're great as a pocket money gift or stocking stuffer. Available in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, One Stop, McColls, Spar and many independent high street retailers

RRP: £3.49

for more information : www.shmoji.com


Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Book review : Galveston - Nic Pizzolatto


Jack of all trades, master of none, as the old saying goes. When I saw on the front of my latest read that the author was the creator of the smash hit HBO series True Detective, I was dubious that he'd be able to put together a good novel, but Galveston is actually very well written. Don't just take my word for it though - it was the winner of two Best First Novel awards and a finalist in two more.

The novel introduces us to Roy Cady, who freely admits that he is "a bad man". At the start of the book, he discovers that his lungs are riddled with cancer and that his days are numbered. This means that he is very gung-ho in his attitude to life.

Sent on a job by his boss - a disgruntled boss whose girlfriend he had had a fling with - Roy knows that he is walking into a dangerous situation, particularly when he is told to go in with no guns. Sure enough, all hell breaks loose but, despite losing his partner in the shootout, Roy manages to take out all the bad guys and walk out of there alive. In one of the back rooms, he meets a beaten-up but feisty girl, Rocky, and decides to help her escape too.

So begins a road-trip that reminded me somewhat of Thelma and Louise, with the couple driving along with no final destination in mind, keeping their eyes and ears open in case the police, Roy's boss and/or the bad guys come looking for them. To make things even more complicated, they pick up a little girl on the way - Rocky's kid sister or maybe her daughter ? - and end up playing happy families in a series of beaten up motel rooms.

Life isn't easy and the future looks pretty grim, but they manage to find some moments of happiness and surround themselves with a few old ladies who will help with childcare when needed. Can they really escape their future destiny though or will things end up catching up with them somehow ?

It's a gritty, grim and altogether pretty hopeless kind of novel, but you can't help but feel sorry for the down-on-their-luck couple. There is a sparkle of hope at the end but barely enough to make the slightest difference in the bleakness of life in Galveston.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (27 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751557056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751557053
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 1.8 x 12.9 cm


Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Now That's What I Call Christmas Music ! (review)


Last weekend, as is our tradition on the first Sunday of December, we got all the Christmas decorations out of the garage and spent some fun family time setting up the tree and hanging tinsel on all the picture frames. I tend to let the kids get on with it, just helping out with untangling strings of fairy lights and locating drawing pins, but I do have one very important Christmas job : keeping the festive music coming ! This year, I had absolutely oodles of fab music to choose from, as I've just received these lovely new CD boxsets to review.


Absolutely utterly perfect for this time of year is the Now 100 Hits Christmas CD collection, which contains a whopping 5 CDs full of festive classics. I have to say, this is the ultimate in Christmas compilations because ... well, whatever you want, you're guaranteed it's on there ! All the classic festive pop hits are featured : Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens, Step Into Christmas by Elton John, Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid, Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by The Jackson 5 ... If you're shaking your head saying I'm too old and there's nothing modern on there, you can choose some more recent Christmas hits by the likes of Leona Lewis, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Girls Aloud, Robbie Williams ... There are loads of golden oldies too, and can you believe it, that is all on CD number 1 ! CD 2 is full of golden oldies from the likes of Bing Crosby, Eartha Kitt and Elvis Presley, CD 3 brings us up to the era of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, CD 4 hits the classics, with songs from The Beach Boys, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, while the final CD number 5 gets back to modern artists, featuring (amongst others) Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. It's a great CD collection because there is something for everyone, so it's perfect if you're hosting parents and grandparents over Christmas. In total, there are 100 songs and it has a bargaintastic RRP of £10.99, making it great value.


As an extra treat for Christmas, the musical magicians at NOW are also re-releasing NOW That’s What I Call Disney, which is full of your fondest childhood memories. Alongside three discs of Disney joy, it features a bonus Christmas disc which includes Frozen and the Nightmare before Christmas. Once you’ve got it, you’ll never want to Let it Go! The festive disc is the one that we're playing most at the moment and it features 21 songs by Mickey and the Gang and The Disney Holiday Chorus - perfect for some festive fun with the kids !


The final offering is another 5 CD boxset, Now 100 Hits Sing-A-Long, which is guaranteed to get you joining in even if you think you don't like karaoke ! From Dolly Parton (9 To 5) and Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun) to Avril Lavigne (Complicated) and John Legend (All Of Me), there are songs to appeal to all tastes and styles. It's a great mixture of hits, perfect for a long drive or a mammoth cleaning session ... or even just dancing off a few festive calories ! 

These CDs would all be great as a stocking filler or Secret Santa gift, but if you want to get all hi-tech, you have another option. Listening is made even easier with the NOW Music app, where subscribers can access all the NOW compilations plus even more playlists and music, for only £4.99 a month with no contract or adverts. It's the easiest and most enjoyable way to access music on your devices .


Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Giveaway #734 : Win 2 x The Amazing Mr Blunden Blu-rays - closing date 16/12


Lauded by Mark Kermode as one of his Top 20 Children's Films in The Observer, The Amazing Mr Blunden is set for a brand-new Limited Edition Blu-ray release courtesy of Second Sight in time for Christmas.

Adapted from Antonia Barber's novel The Ghosts by celebrated director Lionel Jeffries (The Railway Children) who also helms this mesmerising family classic, The Amazing Mr Blunden arrives in a stunning collector's edition, with a brand-new scan and restoration and rigid slipcase with new artwork by Rich Davies. It includes Barber's original out-of-print source novel exclusively reproduced for this release, a soft cover book with new essays by Kevin Lyons and Kim Newman, plus a reversible poster with new and original artwork.


The slew of special features includes audio commentaries and cast interviews, an exclusive new interview with famous fan Mark Gatiss and much more. It will be released on 9 December 2019.

The mysterious but kindly solicitor Mr Blunden visits Mrs Allen and her young children, offering her the position of caretaker at a derelict country mansion. More surprises are in store when the children encounter the ghosts of two former young residents and find themselves transported back in time to help their new friends right a 100-year-old wrong.

Starring Laurence Naismith, Lynne Frederick, Garry Miller, Rosalyn Landor, Marc Granger, Madeline Smith and Stuart Lock, The Amazing Mr Blunden is the perfect nostalgic treat for the whole family.

It has a distinctive 1970's feel to it that adults will love to look back on. Perfect for watching over Christmas for a blast from the past.

  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Second Sight Films
  • DVD Release Date: 9 Dec. 2019
  • Run Time: 99 minutes



I have two Blu-Ray copies of The Amazing Mr Blunden to give away to lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !


UK only. Closing date : 16/12/19

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 :

Giveaway #733 : Win Hannah the Spanner and the Polar Bears - closing date 2/12

Sunday, 1 December 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #49


December is here, which means it's finally time to get out the Christmas tree and get my Christmas CD playing on the stereo ! I think we may even head into town later on to see Father Christmas abseiling down the belfry - the kids aren't keen as they say they're too old for it, but I want to see the Christmas market and the fireworks afterwards, so I may try bribery ! Sadly, this also means that it's the rest of the end of term meetings all next week, so I'll be home late (and knackered !) on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday - not fair ! I actually sat down and finished off all my school reports yesterday, so I can finally get back on top of things around the house. This week is a quick-and-simple meal plan, as (hopefully) the kids will be preparing half of it ! Pierre has recently been asking me to help him learn how to cook dinner, so we switched over to spaghetti carbonara for one of last week's meals and he also made spaghetti bolognese - yay ! Not bad for a ten year old, I have to say. He even cooked up a burger for himself for lunch and managed not to burn the house down, so things are looking good !

Sunday 

lunch - leftover mince with veggies (onions, carrots, sweetcorn, tomatoes and chickpeas) & rice (it tastes better than it sounds !)

dinner -  sandwiches, toast, soup ... something along those lines. Or we may end up nibbling things at the Christmas market and fireworks possibly.

Monday 

dinner - bangers and mash, with onion gravy and peas

Tuesday 

dinner - beef meatballs and spaghetti, with tomato sauce

Wednesday 

lunch - I have some veggie sausages for a review (and also some chicken nuggets in case the kids hate them !), with baked potatoes and beans

dinner - sweet & sour chicken with rice

Thursday 

dinner - pepperoni pizza

Friday  

dinner - fresh pasta (bought, not home made ! lol)

Saturday 

lunch - our regular Saturday lunchtime fast food trip ! Probably McDonalds as usual.

dinner - there may be some leftovers, if not toast or sandwiches


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

Katykicker

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