3 FAMILY BOARD GAMES THAT WILL HAVE YOU CRYING WITH LAUGHTER (BLOGMAS – DAY THIRTY)

My family are the biggest board game fans I know. We have regular get togethers that revolve around whatever the newest release is and have been known to spend hours laughing/arguing over them.

Here are my top 3 choices right now!

Telestrations

Each player begins by sketching a TELESTRATIONS word dictated by the roll of a die. The old-fashioned sand timer may limit the amount of time they get to execute their sketch, but it certainly doesn’t limit creativity!

Time’s up! All players, all at the same time, pass their sketch to the next player, who must guess what’s been drawn. Players then simultaneously pass their guess — which hopefully matches the original word (or does it??) — to the next player who must try to draw the word they see.

smythstoys.com

This game has led to THE MOST ridiculous amount of belly laughs I have ever had in my life. The sheer ridiculously of it is astounding. It sounds so easy yet somehow we manage to absolutely annihilate any sense of sensible behaviour we may have possessed. Honestly, it’s hilarious.

Colourbrain

YOU START WITH THE ANSWERS

All the answers you need in Colourbrain are in your hand. And they’re all colours!

300 COLOURFUL QUESTIONS

What colour is the lid on full-fat milk… what colour is a sharon fruit… which colour cards would you put down?

bigpotato.co.uk

The concept is so simple (which I love! There is nothing worse than spending half the evening reading the over complicated instructions of a subpar game). As a family Colourbrain is a favourite of ours. With a group of mixed ages it can sometimes be tough to find something that’s suits everyone but this is a winner!

Top of the Pops

TUNE IN, POP OUT

Top of the Pops is back and this time it has got kazoos!


MUSIC FOR EVERYONE

You don’t have to be a music genius to play this game, you just need to know a few songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and beyond


BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Round 1: shout out (or sing) songs against the clock. Round 2: get your team to guess the artist by saying one word, quoting lyrics or murdering one of their hits on your kazoo.

bigpotato.co.uk

One word…kazoo!

This one is so much harder than it sounds so absolutely worth it for the half hour on a off ugly crying from laughter it caused on Boxing Day. If you’ve ever wondered what a Moose in mating season might sound like then ask my father-in-law to give you a song on the kazoo.

Have you played any good ones lately?

I REWATCHED BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, AND HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED (BLOGMAS – DAY TWENTY-SEVEN)

I’m an anxious little soul and one of my coping mechanisms has consistently been revisiting an old favourite TV series or film. The familiarity is so comforting and really helps me to relax or get through the more mundane, everyday tasks I find myself doing.

For the last few months I’ve been rewatching Buffy The Vampire Slayer (and Angel too!). Experiencing one of my favourite shows of all time through the eyes of an adult has been something else entirely and here are a few things I’ve observed along the way…

Buffy was under appreciated…

Guys, the girl saved the world repeatedly! She killed the love of her life without any thought for herself and step up for her friends, family and random members of the public countless times but was still given nothing but shit when she eventually came to the point of needing some backup. Buffy sacrificed her own happiness more times than I can count.

Ungrateful swines.

Xander was a bit of a dick…

I will never get over what he did to Anya and the fact he never really suffered any concrete consequences but besides that rather huge point he was just always a bit of an entitled knob really, wasn’t he?

His behaviour towards Buffy and hatred of Angel was so childish and it still pisses me off that he never got a smack for not passing on Willows Message to Buffy in the Season 2 episode ‘Becoming’.

The women in his life were consistently treated like property and whilst I don’t hate him I will never think that his class clown act made up for his horrible attitude.

At least he was good to Dawn I guess.

Anya was the best character…

Funny, sarcastic, strong, beautiful and intelligent. She was goals and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong, I’m not even sorry.

Anya’s character progression was insane. To go from a fun little one episode feature to a full blown, beloved member of the show is huge. She managed to stay true to herself whilst growing as a person and I’m still obsessed with her.

That show did her dirty though and I’m still livid.

Kennedy was pointless and annoying…

If Anya is my number one then Kennedy has got to be right down towards the bottom. I hated how overbearingly strong she came in and the way she felt so entitled to slot herself into the group, changing the dynamic and Willow. I genuinely don’t see what positives she brought to the table. The polar opposite to Tara who was selfless til the end. just a pointless love interest for the sake of it that I’d rather have done without.

Buffy & Spike were the better match…

Ok, I’m a HUGE Angel fan but do I truly believe they should have ended up together? Absolutely not. I still don’t feel like their relationship was built on anything really whilst Spike was another matter altogether.

I love an enemies to lovers story arc anyway but the whole thing just felt so natural, so inevitable. Their connection was honest, gritty and relatable. I ship!!!

You can watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Disney+

FAN SERVICE, NOT FRACKING – GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE REVIEW *WITH SPOILERS* (BLOGMAS – DAY TWENTY-FOUR)

Of course I’ve always loved Ghostbusters. I’m sure most of my generation holds a special place in their heart for the iconic franchise but having a child who has become equally (no that’s a lie, MORE) obsessed has been another experience altogether.

Seeing his eyes light up at his favourite scenes, playing pretend with his older brothers and bursting into random recitals of some of the most unforgettable lines of any movie franchise makes my heart burst.

It was then I knew that the revival was going to be something special. I now had a reason to will it into being spectacular. I desperately needed it not to be a letdown.

When a single mother and her two children move to a new town, they soon discover they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

imdb.com

From start to finish the film tugged at our heart strings with the small flutter of childhood memories. Ever so subtle but perfectly executed.

Casting wise they got it spot on. Mckenna Grace as Phoebe Spengler was a triumph. Definitely her grandfathers, granddaughter but indisputably a fantastic character in her own right. The heart of the film and a link between old and new.

I wasn’t so invested in Phoebe’s mother Callie Spengler (the wonderful Callie Coon) however, that almost felt intentional. It wasn’t really her story and in a way it made the climax all the more satisfying. Finn Wolfhard’s awkward teenage Trevor Spengler was a nice offset to his younger sister. Entertaining in himself whilst allowing her to shine.

The return of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson was expected of course but no less welcome. Their characters filled the screen with another level of nostalgia (and I won’t lie, brought me to tears on more than one occasion).

The pièce de résistance however lay with the incredible amount of work it must have taken to feature the late Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler. Presented to us in such a tasteful way that it was hard not to break down in uncontrollable sobs.

The film was written and directed by Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman (who also happens to not only be the producer but also director and producer of the original two movies). In case you didn’t already know, Jason had a small part within a child’s birthday party in Ghostbusters II which is pretty damn cool. I love a full circle moment!

All in all I don’t think it could have panned out any better. Whilst I appreciate it did ride the coattails of its predecessors ever so slightly I also feel it deserves its place with the franchise on its own merit (and going by those mid and post credit scenes I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the gang).

Just so you don’t think I’ve forgotten. Paul Rudd is so wicked. Funny, charismatic and bold. Basically just another day at the office for Mr. Rudd.

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME – A LOVE LETTER TO THE CHARACTER OF PETER PARKER (NO SPOILERS) (BLOGMAS – DAY SEVENTEEN)

The character of Peter Parker has been approached in a variety of ways over the last 20 years and none of them have been wrong per say (because let’s face it, we all have our favourite Peter) but boy, have they been missing something.

I feel like in Tom Holland’s Peter we have achieved something magnificent. Character driven stories intertwined with action, fantasy and fast paced high stakes sequences.

It feels authentically Peter Parker. His super powers come second in this coming of age story which is ultimately just about a kid from Queens. Intelligent, brave and oh so awkward. Navigating his way through life, same as the rest of us.

It’s hard to go into the kind of detail I really want without spoiling anything so I think I’ll revisit this post at a later date.

No Way Home is beautifully shot and strikes the perfect balance of heart stopping and heart warming. A true celebration of the trilogy, Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Just absolutely stunning, I genuinely wouldn’t change a thing.

The superhero genre is so deeply ingrained in our popular culture, igniting dreams through the generations and truly cementing their place in cinematic history.

I just wanted to finish off by taking a moment to shout out my local cinema, Vue – Westwood Cross.

The staff are always extremely helpful and friendly but with such a huge occasion and what must have been an incredibly busy and tiring day the atmosphere was electric! The prep for No Way Home must have been rigorous but each and every staff member I encountered really put the effort in to be pleasant and hospitable. Honestly, it was just the perfect way to experience a once in a lifetime moment.

3 OLD SCHOOL SHOWS TO BINGE WATCH ON NETFLIX (BLOGMAS – DAY FIFTEEN)

Netflix, everyone has it right? Surely it’s just standard at this point. It is literally full to bursting point with amazing movies, binge worthy series and fascinating documentaries (because everyone is a true crime addict now aren’t they?!). With something new being added most days it would be ever so easy to overlook some of the older shows we once loved (or maybe those you never got round to watching in the first place!).

I’ve put together a little list of some of my personal recommendations for some of my favourite series from my teenage years. I’m hoping to turn this into a series focusing on different genres. I hope you like them and I would love to hear what is on your own watch list.

Friends

Surely this is a show that needs no introduction? Friends is so deeply ingrained into so many of our lives, like the catchphrases we hear on a daily basis…

“We were on a break!”

“He’s her lobster!”

“Pivot”

Well, you get the picture.

For those of you who don’t know (who even are you by the way?!) the series is based around a group of friends (obviously) living in New York. The trials and tribulations of the twenties something Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey (progressing into their thirties and dealing with the changes that also come with age) kept the world absolutely hooked for the ten years it aired (and broke my heart with its final episode!).

The perfect mix of heart warming, tender moments full of love and humour that’ll have your sides splitting. The celebrity guess stars are also second to none! This is one to rewatch again and again.

Number of Series: 10

Total Number of Episodes: 236

Gilmore Girls

Mother/Daughter relationships can be tricky but compared to Lorelai and Rory Gilmore I’m sure most are a piece of cake! Throw into the mix Lorelais own mother and father who live a very different life to that of her and her daughter as well as a list of love interests and quirky goings on in the picturesque town of Stars Hollow and you’ve got Gilmore Girls!

The cast is full of well known faces (Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson and Melissa McCarthy to name just a few!) and the fast paced, witty dialogue will win you over in no time!
Oh! You will also be thrilled to know the show was given a revival with ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’ in 2016. 9 years after the show originally ended!!!

Number of Series: 7 + The Revival

Total Number of Episodes: 153 + 4

Skins

Completely different to my above recommendations but perhaps the most binge worth of them all. Skins was a revelation upon its release. Dark, gritty and arguably the most realistic look into life as a teenager (in the UK). 

It’s controversial storylines really hit home with so many people. Never shying away from important issues such as mental health, sexuality and substance abuse.

The show focuses on a group of friends tackling some of the most difficult times of their lives. The series format is slightly different to the norm though. The first two focus on the original group of friends. Tony and his gang. The third and fourth series then shift to the perspective of Effie (Tony’s younger sister) and her group whilst the fifth and sixth change the lineup again entirely. The whole lot is then brought together in the seventh series with each episode focused on a character from the past.

It is utterly addictive and you will not regret watching it.

Number of Series: 7

Total Number of Episodes: 61

I hope you enjoyed my little list! Like I mentioned above I would love to hear your recommendations and favourites!


5 DOMESTIC THRILLERS YOU NEED TO READ (BLOGMAS – DAY NINE)

Firstly I’d liked to just start by saying that some of these reads contain quite shocking content and could possibly be triggering for various reasons so please proceed with caution.

As part of my 2021 resolutions I promised myself I would read so much more than I did last year. It’s one of my absolute favourite past times and I usually fly through books one after the other, just devouring pages.

Unfortunately I fell victim to the constant mindless scrolling through social media on and off all day and just found it so hard to concentrate.

Well no more! Book worm Kel is back and she is here to stay so let’s begin.

Strap yourselves in because it’s going to be a wild ride.

Am I Guilty?

Jackie Kabler

I never thought it would happen to me…

One moment I had it all – a gorgeous husband, a beautiful home, a fulfilling career and two adorable children. The next, everything came crashing down around me.

They said it was my fault. They said I’m the worst mother in the world. And even though I can’t remember what happened that day, they wouldn’t lie to me. These are my friends, my family, people I trust.

But then why do I have this creeping sensation that something is wrong? Why do I feel like people are keeping secrets? Am I really as guilty as they say? And if I’m not, what will happen when the truth comes out…?

This one was featured on the House 21 podcast and guys, I’d downloaded it before Steph had even finished reciting the blurb.

I was hooked from start to finish (I’m a bit horrified looking back on it now but my family was pretty much ignored for twenty four hours because I was just that engrossed).

Jackie Kabler just had such an amazing way of telling this gut wrenching story full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.

I read a lot of thrillers and the storyline still felt unique and fresh, something I clung to until the very last word.

My heart raced and I felt sick at this tale that really did encompass a parents worst nightmares (which is incredibly impressive considering the fact Jackie is not a mother herself).

I can’t recommend it highly enough!

It’s Always The Husband

Michelle Campbell

…unless it’s the best friend.

Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college – friends who promised they’d always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, their friendship is about to take a deadly turn.

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door, but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances, will everyone assume that it’s always the husband? Or could it be the best friend?

Oh god, where do I start? I just hated it. There was not one likeable or relatable character through the whole bloody book.

I didn’t like the way it was paced, nothing much seemed to really happen with the majority of the story being set before the the event mentioned in the blurb had even happened.

The ending was also quite abrupt and felt rushed and unfinished. I would say that I’m a fan of two different types of ending. The ones with a twist that just leave you wanting more and those that wrap everything up, nice and neatly so that you feel satisfied. This has neither.

I definitely wasn’t enamoured with it.

What You Did

Claire McGowan

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.

Coming across this one completely by chance on kindle unlimited was certainly a treat.

Claire McGowan, you have a new fan!

Whilst being told from mainly the perspective of what I would say was the main character ‘Ali’ you are also given glimpses into the psyche of various other guests at the aforementioned reunion which was a refreshing change of scenery at times.

The characters all felt well rounded and realistically flawed. People you could easily know in real life.

A hard read with some upsetting content but something I’m very glad I took a chance on.

Blood Orange

Harriet Tyce

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

I had heard so many amazing things about Blood Orange and for the most part I can say I wasn’t disappointed!

Honestly I do think it was a little bit predictable in parts but that didn’t stop me loving every minute of this twisted tale about a woman’s family life and mental well being balancing on the edge of a face paced career.

The storyline was dark from beginning to end which I really liked although I think I’ll definitely opt for something a lot lighter next time to compensate!

The Other Woman

Sandie Jones

When Emily meets Adam she knows he is the One.

That together they can deal with anything that is thrown at them.

But lurking in the shadows is another
woman, Pammie.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother.

There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants…

Oh my lord, what can I even say. My heart legit hasn’t even stopped thumping yet. I read ‘The Other Woman’ in one day because I genuinely just couldn’t put the bloody thing down.

I was sucked in very early on, dying to know what the hell was going on in this awful woman’s head whilst also still not massively warming to the books protagonist.

The whole plot was just utter madness yet still managed to be believable in a way.

I’m always up for suggestions if you feel like you’ve read something I’d like so throw them at me!

WANDAVISION DISNEY+ REVIEW (BLOGMAS – DAY SIX)

Haven’t watched WandaVision on Disney+ yet?: Watch here.

Hands up if you’re a Marvel fan! When these most treasured stories and characters started making their way to the big screen in what is now known as the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) over ten years ago I was both hesitant and overjoyed. Thankfully (in my opinion) it has been done justice (mostly).

‘WandaVision’, a Disney+ original series based on the ‘House of M’ story arc has been one of its most exciting additions so far. Full of mystery, suspense and intrigue as well as a healthy dose of humour and heartache. It has everything you could possibly want from a Marvel release and I honestly think it’s a worthy rival to any of the bigger budget movies.

Set three weeks after the events of Avengers: End Game (2019), Wanda Maximoff and Vision are living an idyllic suburban life in the town of Westview, New Jersey, trying to conceal their true natures. As they begin to enter new decades and encounter television tropes, the couple suspects that things are not as they seem.

Wikipedia

Sounds confusing, right? Well it is but in the best way possible!

Wanda is played by Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of the ICONIC Olsen Twins) in such a way that you both adore and fear her, with power that seemingly knows no bounds hiding a vulnerability you can’t help but be drawn to. This is perfectly complimented by Paul Bettany’s Vision, A vibranium-synthezoid (kinda like a fancy robot) brought to life by a combination of the Mind Stone and Tony Starks AI J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), the love of Wanda’s life whose deeply honourable intentions don’t always align with her own.

If you’re a fan of the MCU (which you need to be really or you won’t have a clue what the hell is actually going on) then you will be pleased to see quite a few familiar faces thrown into the Wandavision mix. I do love a cameo!

With nine Wandavision episodes ranging anywhere from half an hour to fifty minutes, there was a lot of time to explore the new world that Wanda and Vision found themselves in. Discovering secrets and betrayal along the way, all leading to the most heart wrenching conclusion that anyone could have imagined.

The series leaves you wanting more by opening the doors to various storylines that will undoubtedly be told in future Marvel releases. Which is great as WandaVision was written as a limited series with no plans for any further episodes (although you’ll be happy to know that we WILL see Wanda again in ‘Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ which is due for release next year).

All in all I genuinely don’t think the the story could have been told any better than it was and Elizabeth Olsen is a shining jewel in the MCU crown (or should that be infinity stone in the gauntlet?!). I hope her presence becomes even more prominent in the next phase of the franchises universe.

To finish off I just want to add some of my favourite parts of the series:

– Wanda’s retro Scarlet Witch costume. Well everyone’s really!

– Evan Peters popping his head in. What a treat!

– How effortlessly the show seemed to jump between time zones and tropes.

– Every single opening credit scene. They deserve a blog post of their own!

– The sheer amount of marvel Easter eggs we were graced with. The attention to detail is immense.