Current Giveaways at Reviews by Cole

Date Fri, November 30 2012


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Anansi Boys (BBC Radio)

Date Thu, January 11 2018

anansi boysThis will perhaps be less of a review and more of a glowing recommendation for an audio drama that I thoroughly enjoyed last week. Thanks to an announcement on The Mary Sue, I discovered that the BBC had released six episodes of Anansi Boys for free to the public.

The BBC is actually responsible for most of the audio dramas I’ve enjoyed over the past year or so, and that encouraged me to branch out and find some more. So I was quick to listen to Anansi Boys, a drama based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. Now, I have read the book, but it’s been over a decade. I don’t have much of a recollection of “Fat” Charlie Nancy or Spider or anything that happens between them. I am left with more of a general feeling.

This was a great headspace to be in to enjoy Anansi Boys as an audio drama; although, I don’t think you’ll enjoy it any less if you are more familiar with the story or even if you’ve never heard of it. In that case, however, I would recommend that you enjoy urban fantasy and strange fiction. Of course, Gaiman is known for the latter.

Dirk Maggs and the BCC took the source and turned it into an incredibly engaging audio drama. The lead character, Charlie, is played by Jacob Anderson (perhaps better known as Grey Worm from Game of Thrones) who has never before acted in an audio drama, but you wouldn’t know it from this role! The audience follows Charlie to his father’s funeral, where he discovers that he has a long-forgotten brother, Spider, and that their father was a trickster god.

Spider ushers forth a wave of chaos into Charlie’s otherwise mundane life and turns it into something else entirely. I suspect that many readers will see themselves in Charlie but desire to be more of a Spider.

It becomes clear that this influence is due to causes more supernatural than natural, and the audio version of this story does an excellent job at painting pictures for the listener.

The inclusion of an original song by Jacob Anderson at the end of the tale is welcome. It’s more than just whimsical or enjoyable. It’s

The supporting cast also performs well, and I found all the sound effects and music to be superbly chosen and edited to near perfection. Sometimes good voice acting falls flat because it’s surrounded by amateur sounds. This was not the case with Anansi Boys.

The entire story is just 6 episodes long, most of which are only 30 minutes. It’s easy enough to knock out during your commute or daily workouts.

You can listen to these episodes for free for a limited time on the BBC website. There doesn’t seem to be an option to download, so you’ll need to enjoy it in whichever browser you prefer.

Head’s Up [App]

Date Fri, December 29 2017

While looking for the name and rules of another game (Blind Man’s Bluff/Indian Poker), I came across the Head’s Up app. Were I a more religious watcher of Ellen, I might have recognized the game from the segment on her show. Regardless, it looked fun, and I put it aside until I had time to play it. That time came on Christmas day.

Head’s Up is a game in which you hold up your phone so that your team members can see it. They must try to describe the word or phrase on the screen without using any of the words in the phrase or rhyming. It’s an awful lot like Taboo or similar games; although, putting on a device requires a lot less setup and fewer items.

We tuned in to the Christmas theme and also tried Cat Week and animals. There were about half a dozen categories we could play for free. After a few rounds, we experienced a couple repeated words, but I think you could get a fair amount of play out of the free app.

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That brings me to my first qualm with Head’s Up: while it’s free on Android, it’s not on iOS for some reason?

My second qualm is with the gestures. Tilting your phone enables you to pass the word or to accept it when you’ve guessed it correctly. It’s just a bit finicky. We would occasionally skip two words at a time, and someone would invariably tilt it the wrong way. This didn’t really detract from play, but it meant that we had to manually count correct guesses. Head’s Up as an app doesn’t really work for scorekeeping.

This is only further exacerbated by the fact that you cannot specify the number of teams or rounds. Every round acts like it’s own game, and you can’t really compete the way you would in Taboo.

The emphasis of Head’s Up is clearly having fun, which makes this a quick and easy party game to break out.  With options such as using accents or acting it out, Head’s Up encourages silliness in a way that similar board games perhaps do not.

My final issue is with a feature that sounds fun: the front camera will record the room and the ensuing hilarity. But the Head’s Up app tells me that nothing can be recorded because my phone lacks a front-facing camera. This isn’t the case.

It seems these issues are fairly common if you read the reviews on Google Play. Despite having issues, I also had some fun with Head’s Up. I don’t know if I would play it all the time, but I would break it out from time to time to break up the silence.

Get Head’s Up from iTunes for $.99 or for free on Google Play.

Save 30% On Travel Necessities with Rosarini

Date Thu, December 28 2017

Now that most of the winter holidays are over and we’ve opened all the presents, it’s time to spend gift cards and cash (and, inevitably, return items that didn’t quite hit the spot). If you’re looking for a new store to try out, I’d like to recommend Rosarini, a woman’s fashion (sizes 6 to 22) brand from Australia. The site bills itself as minimal, but there’s something really timeless about all the designs.

The pieces at Rosarini immediately caught my eye because they seem so comfortable, but they don’t sacrifice style to do so. Tunics and leggings? Yes, please! All pieces are designed to drape and not cling, so they’ll work with a variety of body types.

The short flyaway cardigan is right up my alley, and I just adore the bold wine color (the site says the colors won’t fade, either)!

I also like how versatile the pieces are. For example, you’ll find recommendations for pieces like the high neck swing top (which I adore) that can be worn as a dress with boots or a top over leggings. The convertible travel wrap can also be worn as a shawl, top, or even a dress. I love when you can work a piece like that into your wardrobe in so many ways. It really feels like you get your money’s worth, right?

It’s great for travel, too, because you save room and potentially money when packing less. The pieces are also crease-free, so they’ll look good once you pull them out of your bag.

Right now is a great time to shop at Rosarini, because you can save 30% off sitewide with the following coupon code.

If you’re looking for more coupon codes and deals, I cannot recommend Dealspotr highly enough. I have been a member of the site for over a year now. I’ve saved money when shopping and earned gift cards.

I received compensation in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Hairsanity 2-Step System

Date Thu, December 14 2017
HairySanity shampoo and conditioner + rejuvenator

HairySanity shampoo and conditioner + rejuvenator

HairSanity exploded onto the scene in a big way not too long ago. I saw a Facebook ad. Suddenly, I was seeing videos and review opportunities, which I obviously took up.

See, it’s dryer, and my scalp is definitely feeling the effects (even if my face hasn’t gotten the message). I colored my hair darker in October, and the flakes are definitely noticeable. So I decided that the HairSanity system would be worth trying.

Admittedly, I normally just shampoo, so I’d have to add an extra step — conditioning — to my shower routine. That’s not a huge deal, however.

If you’ve ever used shampoo for dandruff, you might be familiar with the active ingredient: pyrithione zinc. It’s in almost every antidandruff product. Not so with HairSanity. The shampoo and conditioner each have different active ingredients. The shampoo contains Hydrocortisone Acetate to help with itching. That’s never actually been an issue for me, but I know plenty of people with dry scalps also itch. It also has other benefits according to HairSanity:

To get there, she started with the concept that HairSanity is skin care for the scalp. She had extensive success in her practice using hydrocortisone to effectively relieve itch and irritation anywhere on the skin. It is a proven, gentle, safe and effective treatment that is used by dermatologists worldwide. Part One of HairSanity contains hydrocortisone acetate.

But it’s the Salicylic acid in the conditioner that’s supposed to help clear flakes from your scalp. This is normally what you’d see in anti-acne products. It seems like it’s a multitasker!

Aside from different ingredients, the Hairsanity differs from other systems in a few ways. First, it comes in tubes that are smaller than your typical shampoo or conditioner bottle. Secondly, the products are rather thick. The shampoo, especially, doesn’t froth. Now, I’ve heard that the more foam, the worse a product is for your hair. However, this means you need to use more product than you might be used to ensure that it cleanses oil and other buildup from your hair.

The instructions actually say to use a quarter sizes amount on your scalp and another quarter sized amount on the length of your hair. That’s quite a bit of shampoo. I tried to get away with much less because my hair is short — just past my jaw — and I’ve had buildup in the past from using too much product. But this didn’t clean all the buildup from my hair,

Similarly, I need to use more conditioner than I am accustomed to if I want my hair to feel silky and smooth when wet. Otherwise, it doesn’t do its job.

It took a bit trial and error to decide how much shampoo and conditioner to use, but now I think I’ve got it down. When I do find the right amounts of the HairSanity system, I experience no issues. My scalp seemed to be clearer as well.

My hair also feels different, but I am not sure if it’s better. It seems thicker and more voluminous but perhaps a bit less sleek. It’s not bad, just different.

The third product I had a chance to try was the rejuvenator, which is designed to give your hair an intense health boost. According to the site:

The Rejuvenator puts hair into an ideal state even if damaged or abused by treatments, the elements, age or color.

I know that I had split ends for the first time in over a decade after bleaching and coloring mine, and this is a targeted treatment to help with issues. The rejuvenator is more of a serum that comes in a tiny bottle. I’ve used it three times, now, and there’s still plenty left. It might not last as long if you have longer hair, though.

The reduction of dandruff is really the selling point, and HairSanity does seem to do a good enough job at that. It’s noticeably better but not completely cleared. However, the price tag seems a bit steep given how much product you need to use and how small the tubes are, to begin with. it’s a bit hard to say you should buy this product over another if you’ve experienced luck with something else. But, you can order the complete system for free right now. including the rejuvenator, if you just pay shipping, which is a pretty sweet deal.

For some people, however, that will be worth it, and I cannot blame them. I’d rather spend more on a product that does what it claims that “save’ money on one that doesn’t.

I received product to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Walmart Introduces Walmart Pay + Streamlines Savings Catcher

Date Fri, December 8 2017

I was excited to log in to my email the other day to see changes coming to Walmart’s Savings Catcher program. You may remember me writing about it in the past. Essentially, Savings Catcher is a feature of the app that gives you back any difference in price with local competitors. Basically, you scan your receipt and the app looks for lower prices. If another store sells the product for lower than Walmart, you get the difference back.

The options for redemption include a Walmart eGift card or Bluebird. I opted for the eGift card, which meant that I had to log in and redeem the money to a gift card and could only use it online. I would frequently order things site-to-store with this money.

I’ve saved almost $90 in this way and like Savings Catcher (and saving the app also saves receipts that you can use for returns). But having to manually log on and use eGift cards wasn’t super convenient. So I am happy to see some of the upcoming changes announced that were recently announced. These include.


Your rewards will automatically be transferred to a Savings Catcher eGift card each time they’re earned. No need to manually redeem your rewards.

Your Savings Catcher eGift card will be automatically saved to your account for you, so you will no longer receive emails with your
Savings Catcher eGift card bar code.

The ability to transfer rewards to a Bluebird card will be discontinued.

Walmart Pay will become the preferred way to spend your Savings Catcher rewards in-store. Additionally, you will continue to be able to spend
your rewards on

You don’t have to immediately spend your rewards when they’re transferred to your eGift Card. You can choose to accumulate them as desired.

I don’t typically pay from my phone, however, so I took a look into how Walmart Pay will work. I already use the app. Walmart Pay requires shoppers to register a preferred payment method.

When you’re in the store, the checkout will have an option for Walmart Pay. You’ll need to enter a 4-digit code and scan a QR code on your phone to complete the transactions. Buyers will receive virtual receipts for their purchases.

These transactions count as in-store purchases, so I am not sure if you’ll be able to use Savings Catcher with them (you currently can’t do this with online purchases). Overall, I think shopping at Walmart will be more convenient and this is a smart move.

Game Day With HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays [Review + Giveaway]

Date Thu, December 7 2017

Are you a fan of game day? You excitedly wait for the big day. You buy snacks, maybe drinks, for the friends and family who will fill your home. If you’re hosting, you probably do some cleaning beforehand. You might wear something special.

And when the game starts, you’re riddled with excitement. You’re rooting for the best guys to win. You feel like you’re giving it your all..

I bet you think I’m talking about football? And, yea, that’s what most people think of when they think of game day. But when I think of games, I think of board games (and sometimes video games). So when I got the chance to review HORMEL GATHERINGS® party trays, the expectation may have been that I would do it while enjoying a game. Sure, plenty of people around me are fans of the Pack (pretty much the only professional sports team that has any traction in Wisconsin!), but it’s just not my thing. I may have read quickly and assumed they meant any games.

But I think that’s okay, because HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays work just as well whether you’re gathered around the TV to watch sports, the dining room table to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones or the coffee table while you try to best your friends at a card game or Taboo, well, these party trays work pretty damned well for all of those (and more, really!).

game night with hormel gatherings party tray

Game day? More like games night!

I found myself at Walmart looking for a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray with a coupon in hand. Because the deli is so close to the door in my local store, I didn’t have to look far. I was also with a friend who mentioned that these party trays are available at local grocery stores, so they’re easy to find.

The display had a few options, both the larger Party Trays and the slightly smaller Snack Trays. But you still get quite a bit with the snack trays. It was pretty easy to make my choice. I went for honey ham, turkey, and cheddar, which is available both as a Party Tray and a Snack Tray. It Includes both meats, two types of cheese and two sleeves of different crackers.

If you’re not into ham and turkey (more for me, I say!), then Hormel Gatherings Party Trays also come in salami and pepperoni (also available as a party tray) or pepperoni or just ham and cheese. I think there are enough options for everyone.

If you’ve got an extra big party, the biggest tray size is the HORMEL GATHERINGS® Supreme Party Tray. It contains multiple types of salami, two types of cheese, crackers, and olives. Although, I’ve never been a fan of olives myself.

Whatever you choose, it’s refrigerated. When I got to my game night, I opened it up and had to open individual packages of meat and cheese. Not a big deal. The tray has compartments for each type, so they can stay separated.

Now, the idea of a party tray isn’t a new one. You don’t need to expand on it. The formula of meat, cheese, and crackers is pretty good. And I think Hormel did a good job with this one!

I thought the meats were quality, not grisly, and the crackers were tasty. My biggest complaint is that the cheese is a little small, certainly smaller than someone would cut if they were making a meat and cheese tray by themselves. It’s not a huge deal. I’m just a cheese lover from Wisconsin. ;)

Other people seemed to enjoy the snacks, which are ideal if you’re sticking to finger food or don’t plan to have a whole meal for a while (I had a bit left, so I took it home to continue snacking). I’d definitely pick up a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray in the future if I needed something quick and easy and didn’t necessarily have something else I’d like to bring. I think the trays are likely to be a hit at your next party.

If HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays sound right up your alley, then stay tuned because I’ve got a giveaway for you. Two lucky winners will get enough to try a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Snack Tray (the run around $13 at Walmart, and the coupon covers it entirely) or a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray (about $16 at Walmart, and the coupon covers most of it). That’s a pretty great deal!

All you need to do to enter this giveaway is to use the Gleam form brlow.

Remember that some entries are daily, so come back to win!

Good luck!

HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray Giveaway

The prize will be rewarded as one $15 coupon to redeem at retailers that carry HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays.

I received product to review in compensation for this post.

DERMA E Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask

Date Tue, December 5 2017

I cannot believe that it’s almost December. Where has this month, no this year!, gone?! November was busy with birthdays, road trips, and Thanksgiving, so I didn’t have much time to talk about the Derma E products that I received this month as an ambassador. In fact, they sent me two boxes of stuff to try, so I’m behind, y’all!

DERMA E Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask

DERMA E Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask

The first box contained their purifying products, one of which is actually the charcoal cleanser that I already tried and liked. Check out my review here.

The other product in the box was their Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask. Now, I’ve only tried one another mask in my life, which I recently wrote about. But I’ve been pretty pleased with Derma E products and their quality, so I had higher expectations.

Unlike many masks, the Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask comes in a tube like other Derma E products. You squeeze some out and put it on your face. How could it be different than any other mask? Boy, did I have a lot to learn!

The Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask has a bluish grey tint due to Kimarine® Wakame, Bladerwrack and Activated Charcoal, and I didn’t find that I needed a super thick layer of it. As I applied, I noticed that I could see it drying in real time. The mask changed to a light grey sky shade and felt much tighter. It seemed to crack as it dried but stayed in place.

Some spots did take longer to dry than others, but I was in a hurry. I actually grabbed my hair dryer on cool to finish it off.

DERMA E Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask dry and wet

The mask when dry (left) and wet.

Another difference between Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask and the other mask that I noticed was texture. It contains Apricot Seed Powder, so it also exfoliates. I didn’t pay enough attention to this the first time I used it. I had just exfoliated, and my skin was pretty sensitive to the mask.

There was a tingly feeling that was a bit aggressive, and I could tell my skin was becoming red as I used it. However, my skin often becomes red. I paid attention, and it didn’t get any worse. When I rinsed off the mask, which was far less messy than the My Organic Zone clay mask, the redness went away pretty quickly. I made a mental note not to exfoliate beforehand the second time so my skin wouldn’t be as sensitive.

I did look up reviews to see if anyone had any negative side effects with the charcoal mask. One person experienced redness as part of a more severe reaction and only one person mentioned any tingling, but she liked it. It may just be how the mask interacts with my skin.

I used it a second time without exfoliating to see how it would feel. I didn’t rub it in quite as much as the first time. The tingling was still there and a bit too intense for me, but it lessened at the mask dried. My skin was much less red because I remembered not to exfoliate twice – d’oh! I didn’t experience any of the weird sweating like I did with the other mask, and redness went away pretty quickly after I washed it off.

And, my skin feels ridiculously soft after using the mask. it’s hard to stop touching it.

So while I don’t love how it feels when it’s on, it’s a temporary effect that has no negative consequences. The DERMA E Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask seems to work pretty well overall. I would use it again because I like how soft it makes my face but probably not regularly because I don’t love how it feels when it’s on.