Darkmouth : Worlds Explode – Book Review

Thomas is a real bookworm, and he’s always looking for new books to get his teeth into. I’ve always said he’s like that bit in Short Circuit where Johnny 5 reads all the books and screams “More Input, Stephanie!”

Anyway I digress. Being into his books he was really pleased to receive a new book to review last week from Harper Collins.

It was The second book in the Dartmouth Series, Dartmouth – Worlds Explode by Shane Hegarty.

He hadn’t read the first book, but theres a short round up of what’s happened so far at the start of the book, so we knew what was going on.

It’s all about a twelve year old boy called Finn, who’s a trainee Legend Hunter.

Legends are dark mysterious monsters who live in The Infested Side. In the last book Finn’s dad who is the only proper Legend Hunter left in Dartmouth got trapped in The Infested Side, and Worlds Explode sees Finn trying to get him back.

Thomas very much liked the character of Finn. It’s one that most pre-teens can identify with I think (minus the monster hunting of course) Finn’s a bit awkward, often messing things up, everyone thinks he’s not really up to the job as he’s not old enough yet and doesn’t have the experience. He doesn’t even really want to be special and hunt monsters, he’s just following his dad into it.

However he goes off on an adventure and works hard to put things right by getting his dad back, and shows everyone he’s a worthy legend-hunter.

The book is full of wonderful illustrations, maps of the worlds, pictures of the legends. We particularly love one picture which shows the scale of what Finn is up against whilst fighting in a massive battle between the half-hunters and the Legends. It really gives you an insight into the story, and helps put you smack bang in Finn’s place.

Thomas is also a big fan of the Percy Jackson series, and he says that he can see Dartmouth becoming another one of those great series of books.

The ending definitely leaves you wanting more, and is incredibly creepy. Not scary, but creepy when you think about what happens. It’s very visual, and Thomas came down straight after finishing and told me to read the last pages as it was so good.

Thomas really enjoyed reading Dartmouth – Worlds Explode and would recommend it if you like fantasy and adventure. You can pick it up at all the usual places or heres the Amazon link 

Lego Star Wars Force Friday

Never has getting up early before school been more worth it!

This morning our lovely postman rang the bell with a special delivery from Lego for us.

All in aid of Force Friday, the day when all the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens toys are released, which if you hadn’t already heard just happens to be today.

We received 2 brand new sets from the Lego Star Wars build able figures range. Theres 6 different buildable figures to choose from:

  • Jango Fett (RRP £14.99)
  • Clone Commander Cody (RRP £14.99)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (RRP £19.99)
  • Luke Skywalker (RRP £19.99)
  • Darth Vader (RRP £24.99)
  • General Grievous (RRP £29.99)

We were sent Obi-Wan and General Grievous, and were thrilled with them. General Grievous is arguable the best new character from the prequels, I mean he has 4 lightsabers, you can’t argue with that.

We didn’t have lots of time before school, so General Grievous is only half built so far (I’ll add a picture when he’s built). Thomas did however finish building Obi-Wan this morning, and he looks so cool.

He doesn’t look like he’s built out of Lego, it looks like a brilliant action figure or model. The way he stands up and holds his lightsaber is awesome. Plus he’s so flexible, you can put him in so many battle poses.  I especially like his wonderful flowing cape.

The boys didn’t have any trouble putting the sets together. It probably helps that they are both huge Lego Hero Factory fans, as the Star Wars buildable figures use a lot of the same pieces, and are built similarly.

Update: General Grievous is now finished!!

Heres a video of our special Force Friday delivery unboxing

As well as the buildable figures, there are 7 new The Force Awakens Vehicle sets –

  • Millennium Falcon (RRP £129.99)
  • Kylo Ren’s command shuttle (RRP £99.99)
  • First Order Transporter (RRP £79.99)
  • Poe’s X-Wing Fighter (RRP £69.99)
  • First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter (RRP £59.99)
  • First Order Snowspeeder (RRP £39.99)
  • Rey’s Speeder (RRP £19.99)

Jacob has already asked me for Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle for christmas. He really wants a Kylo Ren mini figure, with that super cool cross lightsabre.

He’s also got his eye on Poe’s X-Wing Fighter, as he’s after one of the super cute BB-8 mini figures. Plus there seems to be a lot of projectiles included, which is always a plus for him.

 

Thanks so much to Lego for making our Force Friday super!

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Dixit – Review

Dixit is a delightfully different and clever card based board game that we’ve been having lots of fun playing recently.

Dixit is unlike any game we’ve played before, it’s emotional, thought provoking, and had us in fits of laughter.

The game is really simple to play, although might sound a bit different when I try to explain how to play.

Each player has 6 cards. The storyteller of the round describes one of their cards, and the other players have to choose one of their cards that best fits what has been described.

You can choose to describe your cards in words, song even mime.

The chosen cards are then laid out and everyone guesses which card was the one being described originally. You get points if you were correct and move around the board.

That is a very simplified version of the rules, and it may not make much sense but it really does when you start to play. You’ll soon get it.

We started off simply describing the cards to ease our way into the game, but were soon miming, singing songs, dancing, poetry, it all started to come out.

The cards are so beautifully illustrated and imaginative that you can really get creative with your stories.  The remind me a bit of the illustrations you get on Tarot cards.

The best part of the game for me was the fact that everyone had fun. No arguing, no tantrums, just a good time as a family. Thomas who’s officially the most competitive game player, and worst loser in the world actually commented whilst laughing half way through the game that he was losing and he didn’t care as he was having so much fun. I was truly shocked by this as he can have such a bad attitude when losing some times.

It just goes to show what a good game can do.

Disclosure: We were sent a bundle of board games including Dixit by Esdevium Games to give an honest review

 

Rummikub UK Championships and Review

Have you played Rummikub before? Well I hadn’t and I don’t know why as it’s a great game. Highly addictive, easy to pick up and play, a great game for all the family.

To help promote the UK Rummikub Championship Heats which are taking place online at the moment,we were sent a big box full of lots of different Rummikub Versions, and we set about learning how to Rummikub!

Rummikub is a game which has been around for over 50 years. It’s a tile based game.

The aim of the game to use all of your tiles by placing down sets and runs of numbers. You can do this either by using your own tiles, or by manipulating the tiles already placed.

I’m going to be honest and say that initially I was apprehensive about wether we could all learn to play as it looked quite daunting. I couldn’t quite grasp what to do from the instructions, and as such was having trouble explaining the rules to the boys. So we ended up watching a few videos on Youtube and that really helped us. It’s so easy when you start playing, you just have to get it first.

We decided to try out classic Rummikub first. To play your tiles you need to have a run of 3 or 4 tiles, a run being either consecutive numbers in the same colour e.g. 1,2,3,4 or the same number in different colours e.g. 4,4,4,4  in black, blue, red and orange.

It’s a brilliant game for getting you and your youngsters brains whirring. It’s a brilliant brain teaser, and great for honing maths skills as you have to make sure your first move adds up to over 30, and from then onwards you add up your score every turn.

After that we had a game of travel Rummikub, which is exactly the same game just a handy miniature version perfect for holidays and train journeys.

In the picture the tiles don’t actually look that much smaller than the classic version, but they are. They’re Dinky.

Next up was  Junior Rummikub. We probably should have done this one first to ease our way into Rummikub, but we didn’t notice it until afterwards.

As you’d expect it’s a simplified version of the main game. However it’s not simplified enough as to be boring or too easy. It’s a great introduction to the game for younger players and again a great tool for learning maths skills and mental arithmetic.

The main differences are that you get little stars when you place tiles down, and that the tiles go from 1-10 instead of 1-13.

After we’d got to grips with the classic Rummikub the junior version was a bit of a step down and we weren’t as keen on it.

However I think we’d have enjoyed it much more if we’d played it first, and it’s a better version for younger players.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next version we picked up was Rummikub Express, which is a quick to play dice version of the game.

As you can see our cat Harry was very interested in all the dice shaking and had to be part of the action.

Rummikub Express really is fast and furious. The game only lasts 6 dice throws for both of you, and possibly less if you can’t find any number matches or manage to place all your dice down.  At the end of your 6 throws whoever scored the most wins.

It’s very clever, and a really fun variation of the classic game. I would probably take both Rummikub Travel and Express if I was going on holiday or a day trip as they are both small and portable and highly enjoyable.

Lastly we played a few games of Rummikub Word. Which is the same idea as classic Rummikub, however using word tiles rather than numbers.

This was the hardest to play of the different variants for us, as my boys are very good with numbers but can sometimes struggle with spelling. For me it was a bit frustrating as I was trying to play properly but Thomas ended up just putting an S or Ing on the end of all my words. Not to say that’s not allowed, manipulation of the tiles is part of the game, however it did get a bit annoying.

I will carry on playing with him though as I know it will do his spelling good to play around with the tiles and give different words a go, however I think I would enjoy this one a lot more playing with someone older.

If you fancy the sound of Rummikub or are already a fan then why not have a go at the online UK Rummikub heats – but hurry as you only have until the 29th of August.

Signing up is easy – simply join the Rummikub Online Championships and register by visiting www.Rummikub.com, going on the Facebook page, Google Play or downloading the app.

 The highest scoring eight UK finalists from the Online Championships will be invited to take part in the Rummikub UK Final taking place in September in central London. The highest scoring player will then go on to represent the UK at the World Championships in Berlin, alongside their fellow Rummikub Champions from around the world.

As part of their prize, the UK Champ will win a round trip to Berlin including a luxury three nights stay at The Ritz hotel!  

Disclosure: We were sent the bundle of Rummikub games to review as part of our participation in the John Adams games group. All opinions however are our own.

Crayola Colour Alive Minions – Review

After our previous fun with the Crayola Colour Alive Mythical Creatures colouring book, we were thrilled to be sent the new Crayola Colour Alive Minions set.

Crayola Colour Alive is a series of colouring books complete with special marker pens. When coloured you can scan your pictures into the free app which then magically pops them off the paper and onto the screen.

As you can see from the picture opposite, it really does look like your coloured image has come to life in front of you. You can have great fun taking pictures with your coloured creations.

In our last few we had a few problems with the app responding, but these seem to have been fully resolved in the latest update as we had no problems at all.

As well as taking pictures with your new friends, you can also use the app to add more colour or special effects like glitter or for the Minions their favourite Bananas to your creations.

Here a few other pictures that Jacob coloured in and we played around with in the app.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crayola Colour Alive is a great way to get your gadget loving kids creative with pen and paper again. Best of both worlds if you like.

We’ve had great fun with both of the Crayola Colour Alive books we used, so am definitely going to be on the lookout for some new ones.

Disclosure: We were sent this Crayola Colour Alive book to review. All opinions are our own.

 

Lego Jokerland 76035 – Review

For the last few weeks we’ve been having tons of fun playing with the latest Lego set we were lucky enough to receive for review – Jokerland.

The Jokerland Lego set is totally, totally awesome. Possibly the best Lego set that i’ve seen.

Having a son who’s a Lego Batman fan he literally freaked out with joy when he saw it, and wanted to get straight to work putting it together.

We had tears when I said no as we were leaving that morning to go on a caravan holiday, however I explained that he had something amazing to come home to and he soon cheered up.

As soon as we got home he dived straight into the box, and set about building this mammoth set.

The Jokerland set comes in at a very substantial 1037 pieces,  in 8 different bags inside the box.

The set comes with 8 mini figures:

  • Batman with Super Jumper
  • Robin
  • Beast Boy
  • Starfire
  • Harley Quinn
  • Poison Ivy
  • The Penguin
  • The Joker
  • Plus two cool little guys – a Jokerbot and a tiny Penguin who holds dynamite.

The manual is a little strange as usually with the big sets you get 2 or 3 different manuals, but this one is a big fat phonebook of a manual with the whole build detailed in one. I think I actually prefer it like that as it makes it easier to keep tucked away for if we need to build it again.

The set is marked as an 8-14 age range, so I thought I may have to give my 7 year old Jacob a bit of help along the way. However he must be a master builder as he worked hard and built it all himself over the course of a weekend.

One tip that he has for a good Jokerland build is to use a base plate or two if you have some big enough,  to help keep everything together. We found that the Penguins Deadly Duckies falls apart really easily if not built on a solid plate. You obviously don’t have to, but it makes it easier.

Jokerland is made up of 4 distinct parts –

  • Penguin’s Deadly Duckies fairground ride
  • Harley Quinn’s Wheels of Fire Bike ride
  • Poison Ivy and the Carnivore Free Fall ride
  • Joker’s Jokerland Fun House

Penguin’s Deadly Duckies ride is Jacob’s favourite as he loves Penguin the most, and even laughs like him at times. The Duckies look really good, and you can spin the ride around by twisting a button at the back.

Jacob likes to load Batman and Robin into the ducks and then try to get them to be flung out by spinning the ride around as fast as he can. It’s definitely the Deadly Duckies then.

My pick for the best ride would be Poison Ivy’s Carnivore Free Fall. It’s one of those tall freefall rides that most of us have been on at the funfair, only made out of a man eating plant. Plus you can’t get off the ride as your handcuffed in place.

Harley Quinn on her Bike probably looks the most impressive of the rides, as it spans the whole length of Jokerland.

You can hang any of the mini figures onto the underneath of Harley’s bike , hanging precariously over the flaming garbage cans. Then It’s time to call Batman to save them in a daring escape.

A very clever piece of Lego engineering and imagination.

The main bulk of the set is taken up by Joker’s Funhouse Jokerland itself.

The entrance has warped joker smile mirrors on either side. Next up is a bow tie which you can make spin, then up again is a huge Joker head with moveable eyebrows and bowler hat.

Inside Jokers Mouth is a platform for his tongue which you can use as a spring to push Joker into the mouth, down the slide and into the Toxic Tank at the bottom. Or if he’s unlucky Joker can push Batman down the slide. Depends on what mood your in!

Lastly the Two other things you have are a shoot-o-matic cannon which shoots out cannon balls, dynamite, even custard pies.

However probably the best part of the whole set is getting an amazing looking Batmobile. It’s so awesome, and Jacob absolutely loves that he made a Lego Batmobile and that it looks so cool.

The Batmobile fires missiles out of the front and the back.

The front missiles are the long stick type, however the rear shoots out stud missiles.

The giant batwings on the back of the bat mobile make it look “beast” as Jacob says.

Another brilliant part of the set is all the little extras you get. Theres Batarangs, Dynamite, Cannon balls, custard pies, handcuffs and special handcuffs with cool locks on them.

The Jokerland set has been really well thought out, it’s so creative. There is so much play potential to be had with this set.

Some days Jacob has huge superhero battles, other days they are all friends and just go on the rides together. He has had so much fun and enjoyment out of the set already. He has been especially careful, much more so than usual to keep everything looking just like when it was built as it’s such a great set he wants to keep it built and together forever.

With an RRP of £89.99 it’s not a cheap set, but in our opinion it’s definitely worth the money for the amount of play potential it has. Simply having the amazing Batmobile and 8 different Mini figures makes it a must have set.

Obviously it’s not something I would buy on a whim, but for a birthday or Christmas gift I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Thanks so much to the Lego Uk and The Lego Family Bloggers Panel for sending us this amazing set to review

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Inside Out Plush – Review

Thomas and Jacob went with their grandmother to see Inside Out over the weekend, and had a great time.

They really enjoyed all the characters, and their personality traits being linked to the emotions.

Both of them plumped for Anger as their favourite character. Apparently every time he went mad and blew off some steam it was really funny.

We were lucky enough to receive a really funny ‘Fear’ Inside Out plush toy to review thanks to Disney.

I love Fear’s shiny shoes, which glitter and shine. Also his adorable purple cord trousers and Houndstooth sweater.

Considering he has a large sticky out nose, and a piece of sticky out hair on his head, he’s surprisingly soft to hold and cuddle.

For the price (£12.95) in my opinion the plush is a brilliant representation of the scaredy cat movie character.

The ‘Genuine, Authentic, Original’ Disney Store badge sewn onto his sweater lets you know you have the real thing, and a high quality product.

Inside Out Plush toys and much more Inside Out merchandise can be purchased from the Disney Store shops, and Disneystore.co.uk

 

Thunderbirds Are Go Super Cool Promo

Heads up International Rescue members! Check out this brilliant promo video for the new range of Thunderbirds are Go Toys by Vivid being available at Toys R Us.

As keen participants in the Thunderbirds are Go blogger missions, we were given an exclusive early access to the video, and obviously had to pass it onto you all as it’s so awesome.

Jacob laughed and laughed. He thought the idea of Thunderbird 2 actually delivering the toys to the store was hilarious.

We loved the ITV show, and can’t wait to get our hands on our own Tracy Island, Thunderbird 1 and all of International Rescue.

Think Thunderbirds are going to be top of a lot of christmas lists this year!

 

 

 

 

Yoshi’s Woolly World – Review

This month i’ve been feeling like everything around me is cute, cuddly and woolly, and it’s all down to the latest game we’ve been reviewing on the Wii U as part of the Nintendo Family Bloggers – Yoshi’s Woolly World.

The game is a beautiful puzzler, full of colour and cuddly yarn filled enemies.

Jacob and I absolutely love this game, and we especially love that we can play it together as two Yoshi’s helping each other out to finish the level.

In the game you jump around and flutter between platforms, collecting yarn balls and tossing them at enemies as you go.

You can find yarn balls inside big sewing boxes dotted around the place, and also make yarn balls from your enemies instead of eggs as Yoshi usually does.

As well as shooting your yarn balls at enemies, Yoshi also needs to throw them to create platforms, or sometimes to find secret entrances and hidden rooms.

Each level has tons of collectables to find as you play. If you can find them all you can unlock bonus levels.

One of the funniest parts of the game is when Yoshi suddenly unravels, and then knits himself into an accessory like an umbrella, or a mega Yoshi. It’s exciting when it happens to see what Yoshi is going to change himself into.

Another great feature is the really cool way Yoshi’s Wooly World can use Amiibo’s.

The new Woolly Yoshi Amiibo is definitely my favourite Amiibo so far, he’s gorgeous.

However in the game, if you have other Amiibos like Bowser or Mario, you can change your in game Yoshi to change into one of those.

Mario Yoshi is the funniest we think, as it’s hilarious seeing Yoshi with the plumbers curvy little moustache.


I so wish I could knit as we had such an amazing box of crafting things sent to us from Nintendo with a copy of the game, including some yarn and knitting needles. I’ve even been on Youtube trying to learn as I would love to make a cuddly Yoshi of my own, but to be honest I’m getting nowhere. I will get there eventually though, I’m not giving up :)

Yoshi’s Woolly World is a really fun game, whether playing alone or with a friend. I like the way that if you want you can power through the level as fast as you can and progress onwards. Or you can take your time and try to find every single collectable and hidden area. It’s really up to you.

Thanks so much to Nintendo for our awesome Yoshi’s Woolly World Bloggers box.

 

 

Minions Top Trumps – Review

Top Trumps are still one of my favourite games to play with the boys. I’ve loved playing Top Trumps since my days in the primary school playground, and am delighted they are still around to play with my children today.

We have lots of great sets in the house already, but this week we added a new one to our collection – Minions Top Trumps.

The cards all feature scenes from the new Minions Movie, so you can laugh along as you play recalling all the hilarious bits of the film.

All the cards are rated in the usual Top Trumps way. This time around your cards are rated against

  • Cleverness
  • Bravery
  • Leadership
  • Mischievous
  • and Top Trumps Rating

Out of all the scenes, my favourite card is ‘Serving the Pharaoh!’ as it’s the one with the Minions building the pyramids, which I thought was so funny.

For fans of all things Minions this is the perfect game.

You may have noticed from the picture that the cards look a bit battered around the edges. This is after only one week of use, so you can tell how much they have been used already.

Jacob couldn’t put them down, and that was the problem. He took them to school and carried on playing with his friends even when it started to rain. I’ve had to promise to get another set as soon as I can because he loves them so much, and theres no better endorsement than that.


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