Amazon Vine Freebies – January – March 2016

Lean post-Christmas months I’m afeard, so not much to show. Just look at this balls – three months and only two free things! This is possibly the worst thing to have ever happened in the history of the human race. Anyway – have a gander.

We’re In The Wrong Book

A couple of kids bend space, time, and reality by getting sucked out of one book and into several others. Help them! Help them now!

Rexel JOY Magazine Rack

Oh Joy! A magazine rack!

10000 Zombies

*Based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy it here
I was hoping for a lot more from this- more coherent stories for example, but given that there are thousands of different ways to open and close your tale, as well as all the good stuff in the middle, it would be difficult to make any of them coherent. This is just a bunch of easy fun wrapped inside a few thousand rotting corpses. The zombies are impressively detailed and kids will spend hours creating their favourite characters and possibly delving into their own dark imaginations to produce their own fevered stories of blood and chaos. Wisely the illustrations are given a page all of their own so that there is a full page impact, while the stories appear on the other leaf. Each creation is split into three so if you turn the top third of a page you will be decapitating one monster and giving birth to a new one- likewise with the legs and torso. So, obviously this isn’t the sort of book you will pick up and read through, it’s more of a game, partly like those ‘you open the door- turn to page 49’ books of my youth.
Parents shouldn’t worry that there is anything too graphic or offensive or terrifying here, it’s all good clean gruesome fun- the sort which kids lap up. Horror ‘maestro’ Alex Cox narrates while we get a foreword from undead metal legend Rob Zombie, so chances are that is geared more towards ‘adult’ zombie fiends rather than the youngsters. It’s cheap and worth a look if your child is showing an interest in the dead side of life.
Have you read 10000 Zombies? Let us know in the comments!

The Happets – Play With Colours

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy here
My daughter is still too young to read or even be very interested at looking at a book for too long, but it is never too early to let your child get used to the idea and touch of a book. In that case a book should be bright, colourful, and preferably have something extra to spark and hold their interest. Play With Colours (The Happets) meets all of the criteria- the wrigi is big and bold, and the illustrations are very colourful. As for the added extra, we have a felt/cloth poking from each page which the child can feel, tug,and squeeze. Each page depicts a different character, each character is colour coded, and each pop-out cloth matches the design of the character it represents so your child can learn to understand colours and matching.
Once older your son or daughter will want to know what the words mean and what the story is. At the moment my daughter likes to watch my mouth when I sing, but will only stay on my lap for a page or two of reading, even with a variety of funny voices employed. This book basically gives a description of each character and their favourite things, all linked to their core colour. Whatever the character says they like, such as a blue kite, will be shown on the page so you can point at each item and repeat what it is. Each page then is a repeat of the one before, but with a new creature, colour, and likes, but each description ends with a fun ‘THAT’S ME!’ which you can shout together.
My only warning is that the book seems to be made of extra tasty paper- my daughter loves to chew this one more than any other, but once that phase passes this will be a great book to share. For reading time that is, not tea time.
Have you read this book? Let us know in the comments!

Amazon Vine Freebies: December 2012

Phew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Vine Freebie posts so steel yourselves for an onslaught of jealousy at my acquired bounty over the next few posts.

December was a bit of a busy month for me, what with my eldest daughter’s 2nd Birthday on the 23rd, her new sis being born on the 22nd, and getting prepared for Moldy Cheese day

You didn’t think I’d forget?

Excuses aside, I have received some high quality treats over the next few months, and I’ve already reviewed most of them so as a bonus you can read my foolish words instead of me just printing a pic of the freebie with a link to its Amazon page.

Medela Purelan Nipple Cream:

Not for teeth
A Bit Nippy

‘My wife didn’t have too many issues with pain, cracking, dryness during breastfeeding with our first baby but it’s always better to be safe. Our next baby is due any day now. She has been putting the cream on early, mostly just to try, but it appears to be doing its job, keeping everything smooth. And cold… so cold. The cream can take a bit of squeezing to let out of its golden cage, but this shouldn’t prove to be more than a minor annoyance. Then you can get back to applying the cream and shivering. So… so cold.’

PS – Shockingly, this review is currently sitting with a 0 of 2 helpful rating.

Disney Classics Sing Along Book and CD:

Disney Creatures
Disney Creatures

‘I’ll echo what most other people have said about this book and CD combo – good book, average cd. The book has solid, thick pages with vibrant artwork depicting scenes or people from 6 Disney classics. As is to be expected from Disney, the colours and characters are second to none, endlessly charming, and will spark the imagination of many a young fan. If I have any complaint about the book it’s that some are sparse, but I assume that is so that the lyrics are easier to read. Additionally, I don’t think we need the copyright info and song credits on each page – they could have been together on a final page – but that would be mere nitpicking.

Onto the CD – I have no problem that these are not instrumental versions, in fact I prefer the full vocal backing. However, the vocals are not from the movies in some cases which takes away from the experience, at least for a hardened Disney fan like myself. I imagine this wouldn’t be much of a problem for the younger listeners. My main complaint is the song collection, featuring two songs from Winnie The Pooh which I don’t think anyone has ever heard, and one from 101 Dalmations, which is hardly known as one of the strongest musically in Disney’s catalogue. There are a wealth of songs and films to choose from, so it seems odd to pick 3 relatively weak songs when Aladdin and Beauty And The Beast are left out. Naturally this is personal preference, and again I’m sure that the kids won’t mind. There are plenty of other cd/book combos and you can always buy movie soundtracks.

So overall this is a good, cheap product which is a bit different from the usual selection of fairy tale cds. Kids and adults alike can singalong and relive some classic Disney moments like Simba’s courting and King Louie skipping over his own arms. The last time I attempted to relive that particular moment and skip over my own arms, it ended up with a quick trip to casualty, 2 weeks of agony, and a lifetime of embarrassment, but it was all worth it for 8 seconds of hilarity’

Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics):


I haven’t got around to reading this one yet as I’m still in the middle of King’s Under The Dome and Himes’s All Shot Up, but I’m sure this will be ugly, fascinating, and harrowing.

Amazon Vine Freebies – September 2012

A decent month for the bambino as I was able to get her another book, but a better month for some other folks who were offered more than 1 Sony Vaio. Anyway, enough of the bile, here’s what I got below, along with my reviews:

Remington R7150:

Firstly, forgive anything I write that exposes me as a noob- I have rarely used electric face shavers and have never used a Rotart shaver before. I’ll get the obvious out of the way first- It’s Remington,so you can be sure that the quality will be high. If you’re a Remington man then this is another strong product which will keep you a user of the brand, but if you are a fan of the competition I wouldn’t say there is anything here which would entice you away from your preferred brand. It looks great- sleek, black, smooth, the handle, weight, and shape ensure ease of use, and the LED screen showing your remaining minutes of charge is a neat touch. The stand at first seems a little flimsy and makes the set appear top heavy, but it does the job nicely. Charging takes roughly an hour and a half for an hour’s return, but generally I just plug it in when I have
time to charge it, leaving it on charge for half an hour-that usually gives me another few weeks before the next charge (I don’t mind building up a layer of stubble). The sound when shaving is actually very quiet which surprised me, and the package comes with a tidy bag for keeping the razor out of view if you worry about such things (or for taking on trips obviously).

So, I first attempted to use this on my face after a week without shaving; for me that’s standard as I don’t mind looking like a grizzled Eastenders extra. Foolish me though, as the second I pressed the Rotary against my face it felt like a thousand wasps had landed on my face, sat down, plucked out a thousand individual hairs, and then stung me. I thought I was doing it wrong, so I flattened my skin as much as possible and tried it again gently, this time with largely the same result except with the added bonus of me punching the wall and jumping about like Rumplestilskin. Assuming it was broken, I then had a play around with the pop up razor attachment on the back. Hallelujah! This little
monster got to work straight away, mowing down armies of hairs and leaving my face looking alluringly zebra like. My brain kicked in and I realised that this razor should not be used on massive growths of hair, but on a daily basis to keep hair at a Jack-from-Lost equal level. Determined not to use an old school razor, I continued with the pop-up, giving my face a good once or twice over before switching to the main attraction. From then on, all was good, and no more walls were fisted.

Since that exciting first attempt, I’ve been using the Razor more regularly- it is comfortable to use but doesn’t give anywhere near as
close a shave as a 49p plastic razor would, but that’s fine with me as I don’t mind some hair on my chinny chin chin and facey face face. I still use the pop up for my Rapunzel-esque sideburns and for more accurate coverage around the ill placed mole on my neck. So, all in all this is a great razor if you are going for the modern, stylish, not quite clean shaven look, but you should look elsewhere for a truly close shave.

Noisy Animals:

Noisy Animals continues the series of brightly coloured, button-bashing books from Igloo. Having been previously impressed with their Old Macdonald four button book, Noisy Animals is an original tale accompanied by a new set of animal sounds to experiment with. The noise level on this book seems to be slightly less than on Old Macdonald; if anything that is an improvement as Old Mc’s sounds were perhaps too loud (especially after 100 presses in a few minutes).

The original story sees a farmer discovering that a pig is missing (at feeding time!) and so he makes his way around the farm to try and find Mr
Pig. Over the course of the four double pages you will meet the various farm animals depicted on the cover, and you and your child can press each button when one of the animals appears. There are more words on each page than there was on the Old Macdonald book, so this may be a step up for your child when they are starting to read. The noises are realistic enough, and the sound doesn’t suffer too badly from that cheap, echo tone that some books of this type do. The artwork again is suitably bright, the animals are plump (and possibly succulent), and everything has that smiling, charming quality which is so inviting and infectious- most children will happily sit on your lap for a few read-throughs before getting bored. My (at time of writing) 21 month old daughter is more interested in lift-the-flap books at the moment when it comes to reading time at night, but through the day she prefers pressing the buttons on this book and flicking through the pages herself. She is past the page eating stage, but the pages here are nice and thick and would take a good amount of suckage to damage. All in all,this is another winner from Igloo, and considering the price for these books, I may have to pick up another few!


I haven’t read or reviewed this yet, but as I love all things Japanese, I’m sure this short story collection will get the thumbs up from moi.

The Devouring (Sorry Night Part 1)

Simon Holt’s Devouring (Sorry Night 1) begins with that good old horror standard- the story within a story. The story within is actually quite horrifying and the central story once it gets going is fairly disturbing with lots of nice gruesome moments for younger horror fans. Again parents beware- there is minimal swearing, but there are plenty of moments which might be too much for younger or more sensitive readers. I believe children should be exposed to horror fiction (whether in book or TV form) at a relatively young age, and this book explores both the pros and cons of that way of thinking. On one hand exposing them may prepare children for real life horrors, helping them to cope better, though on the other hand it may help to bring out a darker side and can have dangerous effects. It may be simpler to say that horror simply makes for a damn good read or viewing.

The Devouring focuses on Regina, an adolescent girl and avid horror fan (her references to movies and texts may get kids into the classics of the genre), her eight year old brother Henry, and her friend Aaron- nerd and love of serial killer histories. Other characters come and go, but the central trio are interesting and loveable enough to help the pages turn. Reggie and Henry live with their father after their mum left without saying goodbye, and Reggie acts as surrogate. On a night before Christmas Reggie reads a strange horror journal she recently found in the bookstore she works in to Henry, and of course it terrifies him. The book tells of creatures called Vours who (Body Snatchers style) take over your body and send your sould off to a hell made up of your own fears. They only come one night a year, and only attack those most scared. Of course, it’s only a story, and of course Sorry Night comes and bring the Vours to Henry (Evil Dead style) after reading the book. A race to save Henry begins, but there may be a larger threat on the horizon.

The Devouring is a quick read which should leave readers thirsty for more. There are plenty of the usual horror cliches but hopefully most readers will not have encountered them before and there are plenty of other surprises and shocks to keep us enthralled. The plot and characters are interesting, the bad guys seem genuinely evil and threatening, and the scary parts come thick and fast. Part 2 will definately be one to look forward to and Simon Holt may well be writing scarier stories than the more established Darren Shan- judge for yourself.

The Mask