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Beth03

Beth03
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    • Peggle Deluxe (PC) / PC Game / 13 Readings / 13 Ratings
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      27.03.2011 14:41
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      Go peggle crazy.

      Peggle is a fun and relatively long game available on the PC and PS3 through the Playstation Store.

      You are welcomed to the game by Bjorn Unicorn who is the headmaster of the Peggle Academy, he introduces you to his fellow 9 masters one by one as you work your way through the game. Each level displays a virtual pegboard, with orange, blue, green and purple pegs arranged in such a way, that they match an image behind them.You shoot a ball from the top of the screen using the mouse or analogue stick to aim where your ball will go. It then funnels it's way down, bouncing off pegs lighting them up as you go. You have 10 balls in total, with the ability to gain free balls for certain achievements. The angle you choose to shoot the ball alters the path the ball takes and the number of pegs you hit on the way down.
      If your 10 balls run out before you've achieved the target of hitting all the orange pegs, you have to try again, and again and again...
      Every blue peg is worth 10 points when you begin the level, each orange is worth 100, and each purple peg is worth 500 points. The position of blue and orange pegs remain the same when you begin the level, although their initial positioning is random, meaning that the game remains a challenge on following attempts at the level. There is a single purple peg per ball and this moves around the board changing one blue peg at a time. If you're going for score it's worth trying to hit a purple peg in each shot. More on the green pegs shortly.

      On your screen you have the pegboard image, surrounded by a darker coloured border, a 'fevermeter' runs up the right hand side of the screen and a gauge of score on the left. The top displays your in-level score plus your total score for all levels up to that point.
      For each orange peg you hit, your fever meter fills up and at certain intervals you get a multiplier. First of x2, then x3, x5 and x10. Your score is calculated based on the total points for the combination of pegs you hit this is multiplied by the number of pegs you hit. The fever multipliers are a great way to boost your score, so it is worth keeping an eye on this meter.
      The score meter fills up based on the above calculation, the nearer the top it gets the closer you are to 25,000 if you fill this, you will earn a free ball, the meter initially fills with a green colour but this becomes purple as your score goes above 25,000, if you reach 75,000 points you get 2 free balls. The colour next turns yellow, if you hit 125,000 points you get 3 free balls.

      When you begin the game in adventure mode, you begin as mentioned earlier, with Bjorn Unicorn, if you hit the green peg during game play, the chosen master has a secret power which can be used to maximise your chances at clearing a level. Bjorn's power is superguide, as you play through the game this will seem like the least helpful of all the secret powers. It is useful in the beginning though as it helps you get used to seeing where the ball will bounce after the initial shot. Each master has 5 levels to complete, increasing in difficulty as you play through the game. Other powers include flippers and fireball. On your first playthrough you have to use the assigned master to each level. However once you have unlocked all the masters and played all the levels, you can select your favourite master to help you beat your scores.

      The first mode is adventure mode, you have two basic challenges for each level. The first- to get all the orange pegs, the second- to clear all the pegs. Once you complete adventure mode the first time, you unlock the challenges mode, this is a further 65 levels with various aims, some to get high total scores, others to complete the level starting with just one ball.

      The game comes with it's own sequel- Peggle Nights, which is similar it just looks at what the masters do on their evenings off work.

      Peggle is extremely playable if not a little frustrating at times. It has many humourous references to keep gamers interested. It's addictive but you can dip in and out of it too, playing one level or challenge through. It retails at around £10 and is well worth this price tag.

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    • Quidco.co.uk / Internet Site / 45 Readings / 43 Ratings
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      08.02.2011 19:15
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      It's worth signing up to

      For the unitiated cashback sites are a fantastic way of making a few extra quid each month. There are a lot of them out there and there's no point signing up to multiple ones as you will make more money by being signed up to one.

      Cashback sites in general work, by advertising a certain shop on their site and when you make a purchase as normal online you will be given an amount of cash as return. They make their money through advertising and are able to pass some of this on to you.

      Quidco works like this but also offers voucher codes for a range of online shops. When you sign up to Quidco they take the first £5 you make but after that everything you earn is yours forever. They will pay you directly into your bank account once a month, regardless of what you have in your account, this separates it from other cashback sites as they often have a payout threshold. They also offer a referral system, where for each friend of yours that signs up and earns £5 you can earn up to £2.50 as a bonus, this can be split between the two of you or you can be greedy.

      What I love about Quidco is just how many shops are on their site, I'm not much of an online consumer except through sites like Amazon, which unfortunately doesn't give you cashback. My first Quidco experience was with a wallet I bought my boyfriend for Christmas, through Ebay. I received 14p for a sale that was less than £5. OK that's not much as it's just 40% of what Ebay make but it's 14p more than I would have had, if I'd just gone straight to Ebay. We did most of our Christmas shopping online this year and as a result racked up an ok amount of cashback. If you get your food shopping delivered anyway it's worth doing this through quidco as you will regularly have some money coming in. Some of the takeaway websites such as Domino's and Just Eat are also on Quidco which is great particularly through Just Eat as you can usually recover the card fee this way. There are of course larger amounts of money available through Quidco if you want to earn more than a few pence. If you book holidays, take out insurance or visit gambling sites that's where the bigger money can be found.


      This year Quidco have placed a challenge on their site, they reckon you can save £1000 if you do all your shopping through the site. That to me sounds like a very logical reason to sign up. (If you want a referral link for the extra money, message me.)

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        01.02.2011 20:03
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        If you're ever in a spot of bother they are definitely worth a phone call.

        I never knew how much the British Red Cross did in this country, we've all seen the news when there's been a bit of severe weather and they've said that Red Cross volunteers are helping people but they do so much more than that.

        I recently was referred to their Skin Camouflage service and have also used their Therapeutic Care service during a hospital stay. These two services allow people to feel better about themselves, Skin Camouflage is effectively make up which you can use to mask scars or discolouration of the skin. A friend of mine told me about the service so I rang the Red Cross near me and asked if I could be seen by someone about some scarring. They sent me a self referral form, I think in some cases doctors can refer you. I filled this in and was given an appointment a few weeks later. I visited the clinic where the volunteer spent a good 20 minutes identifying a good colour match for my skin and then she showed me how to apply the makeup. She then gave me a letter to take to my GP for a prescription and within a week I was able to cover up my own scars at home.
        The therapeutic care I received came in the form of a massage as I was in hospital already one of the nurses arranged for me to see a volunteer, I have since found out that volunteers regularly visit care homes and hospitals delivering massage to patients and their carers which can be a real boost when you're feeling tired of medical treatment.

        I checked out their website and it seems they do even more than this. They have a team of people who are able to respond during severe weather (floods/snow)

        They also have a team who will go out to domestic fires and check that the families have access to accommodation and can phone insurance companies etc.

        They have a service for helping people get to hospital appointments or with doing their shopping for a much smaller fee than a taxi service.

        They loan wheelchairs and commodes which is particularly useful if you have granny coming to stay for christmas, they'll even deliver the equipment straight to your door.

        They run first aid courses for businesses and community groups.

        Visit schools to teach first aid skills and talk on world issues such as AIDS and famine.

        They offer practical help to refugees and asylum seekers, offering interpreting services and providing hot meals and warm clothing to families who have nothing.

        They can help you find a lost family member/relative and pass on messages even in warzones.

        The charity is a worldwide organisation and its goal is simply to help everyone which in my opinion makes it a fabulous organisation. I had no idea they did so much and remain grateful for the help they were able to give me. If you're ever in a spot of bother they are definitely worth a phone call.

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          21.11.2010 16:59
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          The end to a series of books full of highs and lows.

          Karen Kingsbury is set out as a person who is big on family life having a large family of her own. She grasps the concept that the family unit is a tight knit community made up of individuals who will all have their struggles and approaches her books with this in mind. The Baxter series of books are an organic portrayal of an American family.

          We first encounter the Baxter family in a book entitled Redemption, and Sunset is the final book in the series (the fourteenth to be precise.) There were 5 books all with titles beginning with the letter R, these were followed by a set of books with titles which all began with the letter F and the final set is the 'S' series. The structure of the series means that we get not only a study of the Baxter family but also the town in which they live.

          Karen Kingsbury has created a predominantly believable family who feel like a family you know and love from, in my opinion, the third book in the series, Return. This is in no way a criticism of Kingsbury's characterisation technique, more a comment on how at first reading these books I was unsure if Redemption was simply a standalone title and this feeling didn't entirely go away while I read Remember.

          Throughout the series each member of the Baxter family is given a couple of books each as well as many mentions throughout the other books. Sunset focuses on three members of the Baxter family. Luke, John and Ashley. John is about to embark on a new adventure in life by marrying his longtime companion who he becomes close with following his wife Elizabeth's death at the end of the first set of books. As often is the case, some members of the family disapprove to a point as they miss their mother but for the most part they are happy to see their father happy. Ashley and Luke who both experienced crises of faith in earlier books have had old feelings resurface as Ashley struggles to move on from her past when it collides with the present, and Luke allows pride to get in the way of living his life to the fullest.

          The book is a wonderful conclusion to the series of books in which the reader is invited to share so much of the family life. It also encourages the reader to not become complacent when it comes to the things that have stopped them from having the full relationship with God in the past.

          Karen Kingsbury is the ideal christian author, offering inspiration and emotion in every chapter and sunset is no exception to this. In criticism the writing style can at times be a bit convuluted and often twee or convenient if not both and this may be offputting to lovers of literature. The story's interest does make up for this though. If you are just interested in a good yarn, this may well be perfect for you.

          Whilst there is enough story in this book to read it without reading the others I would suggest reading them in order as you will then experience a full journey. The book is available online for £8.99 and you may be able to order it in your local christian bookshop. These books are perfect for any christian woman from the age of 13 plus.

          For the non religious chick lit lover, you may also get some enjoyment from the book as there are elements of a family life which are unaffected by religion and faith and even though these messages permeate each page the books are an easy read which carry a lot of emotion.

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            23.10.2010 14:35
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            Great treat

            A bath ballistic from Lush is the perfect accompaniment to any special occasion, a pick me up after a stressful day or just a little treat when you want pampering.

            Ranging from £1.50 ish to £3.00 ish, upon entry to a Lush outlet you are assaulted by a strong melody of smells and I primarily blame the bath ballistic section.

            Your eyes also get a treat with a visual feast of colours and cute little details from flowers to hearts.

            Each ballistic is carefully constructed around fragrances which will have a different effect on your mood. As a result there is a ballistic for everyone as you will almost certainly be able to find one which every girl you know will love.

            Like every lush product the bath ballistic range is made up of members which may only be on sale for a limited period of the year as well as classics and they do phase new designs in and out from time to time, but if your favourite disappears, there may be one that is similar and there is always retro lush. If demand is high enough the decision makers at Lush headquarters will usually bring a product back.

            For the uninitiated, bath ballistics are very easy to use, once you're ready to get in your bath get the ballistic out of its yellow paper bag home and drop into the tub.

            For the price I always think its a shame that you would use a whole one in the bath as often you can get sufficient fizz in half a ballistic. So what I tend to do is give them a good bash with a hammer and use the dust in my first bath and half each in another 2. That's seriously better value for money.

            If you're stressed a 'waving not drowning' ballistic will give you a purple bath to help you get a good nights sleep.

            If you're bunged up the limited edition ' winter bath' will give you a snowy experience and put you back on the right track quicker than lemsip.

            If you're into a more natural yet moisturising experience the ' geophyzz' will give you a gorgeous green tint to your bath whilst deeply moisturising your skin and is very earthy in scent.

            If strong scents aren't your thing or you're looking for a present for a pregnant friend the baby bath ballistic is adorable and whilst a little smaller than some of its big sisters is just as effective.
            There really is something for everyone and if you're not sure the Lush staff will happily advise you to find something suitable for your needs.

            Lush ballistics are an adventure in every fizz and definitely worth going in to your nearest shop for a sniff. There will be demonstrations available if you want to know what effect they will have on your bath before buying a couple. If you're looking for some stocking fillers this christmas, just be advised that they don't come in the most discreet of packaging and the smell, pleasant as it is, will be detected early on. They are nonetheless great presents and I always hope to get a wide selection each year.

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            • O2 / Telecommunications Service / 24 Readings / 23 Ratings
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              17.09.2010 20:31
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              Fantastic network

              I've been with O2 for about 5 years-during that time there have been highs and lows but overall I feel their services have been more than satisfactory.

              I began on Pay as you go during which time I mainly used texts and made a few shorter calls my average spends per month were in the region of £15 and the service I received when I thought my phone was experiencing problems was relatively helpful, but I always spent at least 15 minutes on the phone/in store trying to get my problem sorted out.

              About 3 years ago my phone reached the end of its shelf life and expired on a train en route to an interview for a placement, I had a bit of time before the interview so I went to the shop to see if I could buy a new but cheap phone. I was still waiting for my loan to come in so even if they had bullied me into taking something more than I could afford, I couldn't have paid for it.

              My experience in the store was excellent, the assistant was very helpful and prepared to show me something which would meet my needs and requests. I am extremely picky with shoes, clothes, drinks and phones and probably a few other things and sometimes it is really hard to get something I am happy with. The assistant showed me a phone which I thought would be outside of my budget, but it had all the features I would need, I really didn't want to buy a phone for the sake of it when there was one that I really wanted. Then the sales assistant asked me how long I'd been on O2 for, I told her that it had been about 2 years and asked why. She checked on the systems and because of all my top ups, consistent use and loyalty I was entitled to about £80 of a handset, she also set me up on a great tariff and gave me a further 10% discount, this meant the phone I wanted would cost me less than £50 including a transfer of my balance and a £5 top up.

              I don't know if they still offer this discount but I was extremely impressed with this and it made me really favour them as a network.

              I began hearing about simplicity and was really interested when I looked into it I knew straight away it was the best option for me, For those of you who've seen the publicity but still don't know much about it. O2 send you a sim and you're allowed a pretty generous allowance of texts and minutes for a fixed amount each month, but if you think you can do better elsewhere and want to stop using it, unlike a contract you can simply contact them to cancel. I much prefer this to pay as you go as you know exactly what you're going to spend each month. You can keep track of your remaining allowance by sending a blank message to 21202. If you go over your allowance you will be charged for anything you spend. I have done this a few times. My rule of thumb with contracts/bolt ons/tariffs is to adjust when I go significantly over my bill 2 months in a row.

              Your bill can be viewed online and you can set up an account to view this, the bill is always very detailed outlining numbers you've text/called and how much you've been charged for any internet use. I've never encountered any hidden charges or major problems, and on a couple of occasions when I've had financial issues paying a higher bill, I've been able to move my billing date and put notes on the account that I'll pay them which has meant no credit issues.

              Keeping customers is very important to O2 and they're happy to make adjustments to keep you with them. Some offers are made for new people but if you express disatisfaction to an extent you can get the same benefits. The general service is very good, polite and helpful. Also because they employ quite high amounts of call centre staff, generally you're not on hold too long.

              The only reason I would leave O2 is if I moved into an area with no signal. Generally the coverage of the network is very good and I would definitely recommend them to anyone wanting to switch networks. Obviously another downside of any network other than orange is that you can't benefit from Orange Wednesdays.

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              • Sex And The City 2 (DVD) / DVD / 30 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                12.09.2010 17:22
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                Its ok as a film but not as a continuation of the TV show.

                This film did not receive the best reviews, but having highly anticipated it for 2 years, and enjoying the series I was really not prepared to be put off. Whilst I can to an extent see the points of the negative reviews I was not personally disappointed either.

                This review is of the film only, the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out in the UK at the end of November, just in time for fans of the series to expect it for christmas from loving partners and friends. If the previous release is anything to go by there will be some fun special features about the series and it will be worth its £12 or £17 price tag. Its also worth pointing out that this is a significant reduction as SATC The Movie was the first Blu Ray I owned and cost £25 at the time. However the first is now available for £6 so if you can wait until next christmas it will certainly be cheaper.

                The film features the 4 first ladies of New York and their husbands and friends. There are no new characters that play major roles, instead it just brings back more faces from the TV series. I felt this was a double edged sword of a decision, Louise from St Louis, was a fabulous addition but that film was more Carrie Centric, it was also nice to see the old faces back in action and to find out where they'd been. However it did mean there was only so far for the story to go. The individual characters storylines are a fair representation of where you would expect them to be 2 years after the previous film. This makes a pleasant change to other films where time moves forward but the characters don't in any realistic way.

                The film begins in a similar way to the first with Carrie reminding us for what seems like the millionth time about when she first came to New York and met her best friends. It then moves quite slowly through a plot which shows Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte and Carrie being stressed about different elements of their lives which they are unhappy about. I've always as I think many others have, liked to view the women as making up one woman with each representing a different facet to the other. Miranda is stressed about her job, Samantha, her age, Charlotte, motherhood and Carrie; what else is worried about her relationship with Big. Then they get the chance to leave New York again as in the first and most of the rest of the film takes place in Abu Dhabi. For a 2 hour film based on a show which was set in New York this film spends what can't be more than 40 minutes in New York.

                The adventures of Abu Dhabi range from illegal/inappropriate behaviour with members of the opposite sex, karaoke, camels and cheap shoes. All of this makes for an interesting enough plot and certainly one which is amusing to watch.

                Other highlights include a drinking scene with Miranda and Charlotte where they talk about the problems of motherhood and Liza Minelli singing Beyonce tracks.

                As situations get resolved in this film the strength of each of the characters shines through and you do end up feeling fairly uplifted. Miranda is definitely a voice of reason having a better record of solving the others problems than any of the others.

                The fashion element in this film is somewhat downplayed, which is a disappointment as so much of SATC comes down to fashion. At the same time though I guess this could be taken as a sign that the girls are growing up and fashion plays less of a role in their lives.

                The music in this film is less exciting and enjoyable than the first, it opens with Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind, but that is really the only good song on the soundtrack. The quality of the picture was good and the sound well balanced.

                As I said earlier, I wasn't disappointed by this film, it wasn't as good as the first but I wasn't expecting amazing things from what I'd heard. I was disappointed with the lack of New York as whilst a change of scenery can help with perspective it can also be equated to running away from your problems. At the end of the day SATC has to be New York based to work.
                It was a good laugh and had I not seen the first film I would have been less disappointed. If you are a fan it's a must see, particularly if you like Aidan but if you've never seen it I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it as it is not a reflection of the rest of the series.

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                  11.09.2010 14:22
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                  A great christmas present which your daughter will love for years.

                  If you're looking for a present for your teenage christian daughter this christmas, you may want to consider the Stacey Orrico album, by Stacey Orrico.

                  Released in 2003 this album features 12 songs which appear to be the outpouring of a young christian girl's heart. These honest outpourings are packaged with a pop and dance sound which anyone who enjoys this sort of music will be very comfortable listening to.

                  The album is well constructed with a solid tracklisting of songs and whilst they don't carry an overarching story, the words all carry meaning and the melodies blend well together.

                  The lyrics are catchy, particularly the choruses of stuck, hesitation and bounce back.

                  As with any dance based album there is a degree of autotuning on some songs in small segments but overall her voice is very strong with a nice tone.

                  One feeling that is present in a number of tracks is the feeling that I feel would resonate with young girls, that of wanting to help others, but needing strength from someone else to help them do so. What love's about which is the final track on the album is one song which reflects this feeling well.

                  The tracks could be heard playing in any teenager's bedroom, the advantage for any christian being a distinct absence of inappropriate language. This said the song stuck, which is the first track on the album made an appearance in the UK chart, when it was released as a single. My favourite song is I promise, which is a love song and a nice chillout from the 3 tracks that precede it which are more lively. Predominantly this album is upbeat and thought provoking.

                  Currently, on Amazon this album costs 12.99, I paid £10 in a special offer at my local church bookshop 6 years ago so the price is not really dropping. If your daughters like the likes of Corrine Bailey Rae or Mariah Carey they will probably enjoy this album.

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                  06.09.2010 13:22
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                  Not the best film SJP and HG have ever done.

                  Film Only

                  When I first heard about this film I was quite excited, I like Hugh Grant and he doesn't make nearly enough films, I also love Sarah Jessica Parker.

                  The plot also appealed to me, the concept of a separated couple being pushed together by circumstances in itself sounded amusing. The fact that they were a high powered city dwelling couple being thrown into the middle of America sounded even more so.

                  Sarah Jessica plays Meryl Morgan, a real estate legend, PETA supporter and Democrat.
                  Hugh plays Paul Morgan, a lawyer, who is basically the same as any other character Hugh Grant has played, English, with a bit of an ego and selfish.
                  The two of them have separated after an infidelity on Paul's part and while he is sorry for what he has done, Meryl cannot forgive him. As an attempt to talk to her, Paul invites Meryl for dinner. After the meal he walks her home in the rain, a romantic gesture which goes wrong when they witness a murder. They enter the witness protection programme and are sent to live in a small country town in the state of Wyoming.
                  Not surprisingly getting away from the pressures of city life, give them an opportunity to reconnect and this is precisely what happens.

                  The colours used in the film have the glossy finish to it that films of recent years have carried and the gloss is a good similie for this film in general. The music is weak, the script full of poorly timed jokes and humour and a range of stereotypical portrayals attempting to pass themselves off as clever. This is all hidden under the thin veil of gloss that was the films marketing.

                  The best part of the film is really the supporting cast, the 2 assistants played by new actor Jesse Liebman and TV actress Elisabeth Moss have a good chemistry together. The couple in the small town whilst stereotypically small town hicks are an amusing addition. There is a fair age gap between these two which is a little odd.

                  This film was just average and while enjoyable on a Sunday Afternoon, it was predictable with a twee ending. Whilst I would still probably watch this again, it would have to be 99p on DVD to make me buy it and preferably found in a charity shop so I felt it wasn't a wasted purchase.

                  I don't think this is in any way a signal that the 2 leads careers should end, but it would be nice to see some better script selection taking place. As a romantic comedy this film ticks the boxes but as an avid rom-com fan it really didn't tick mine in the way I would have hoped.

                  I would recommend this film to female fans of SJP and Hugh Grant, I don't see many men getting any enjoyment out of this, its more of a watch with friends and talk over the dialogue kind of film than a sit down and cuddle on the sofa film.

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                  • Harvest Moon (DS) / Nintendo DS Game / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                    30.08.2010 18:39
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                    Who knew farming could be this much fun!

                    A game based on farming simulation? Sounds pretty dull until you really think about it, growing crops to sell, tending animals, meeting villagers, acquiring items. If you don't like strategy games then you'll want to avoid the harvest moon franchise.

                    Harvest Moon DS is the best game for anyone with a business mind, a fondness for animals or a desire to form meaningful relationships with fictional simulated characters.

                    The game begins with a series of cut scenes revolving round the goddess of crops and a witch princess who 'accidentally' banishes the goddess to another dimension/time. She then accidentally sends creatures known as Harvest Sprites to the same place. Ultimately you appear and after telling the witch princess your name she decides she wants you to retrieve the sprites by working hard at your farm.

                    Once at your farm the fun can begin, you are accosted by a few different characters who tell you information such as the mayor telling you when the shipping will be collected. A Harvest Sprite is rescued pretty much straight away to teach you the basics through a tutorial channel available to watch at any time throughout the game. A second sprite tells you what the weather forecast will be- and is amazingly accurate everytime.

                    Once the game begins you need to prepare the land for farming an activity demonstrated in one of the tutorial videos. It is not a bad idea to spend the first day doing this and exploring the surrounding town. To grow crops you need to order seeds from the supermarket via the phone in your house, the phone is your way to order other things such as upgraded tools, new buildings for your farm and animals to care for.

                    Time passes quickly with a clock displaying 10 minute interval based time as well as the day of the week and the season you are currently in. It also tells you how far through each season you are. All of this is essential to playing the game as any shipments must be made by 5pm after this time anything you store in the bin you will lose. Its also important to be aware of the days of the week as certain places are only open on certain days. The passing of each season means you can only grow certain crops at certain times and any crops that are unharvested on the first day of a new season will be lost forever. Once shipped your crops will bring in different amounts of money depending on what they are and how long they take to grow.

                    Another element to this game is the animal care, you shouldn't buy an animal until you have built an appropriate shelter as they will become unhappy and won't produce anything for you. In this game you can buy chickens, sheep and cows. All of which are lucrative purchases, the chickens lay eggs, cows produce milk and sheep can be sheared daily for wool. You will have to feed them daily as well as ensuring you say hello to check their health. If sick you will need to buy medicine for them. They cost you money to own, feed and heal but do produce something for you to ship daily which is especially useful in winter. Ducks appear at your farm when you build a pond for them to land in and you can care for them in the same way as chickens.

                    Building shelters is costly but worthwhile. To make building cheaper the best thing to do is to collect stone and wood otherwise you will have to pay for the material and the labour. Once built the buildings can be used to store your materials and animals. You can build from 4 different materials, fodder, lumber, stone and gold lumber. Choosing your material is important as if you don't choose a good material the building may collapse so best to try and save up to invest in a better material.

                    To build up relationships with female members of the town you will have to give them gifts, its a little sexist but if all men gave us gifts we'd fall in love too. You have to give them the right gifts and a lot of them to win their hearts. The colour of the heart in the bottom of the screen will change as they begin to develop an interest in you. Giving girls gifts is a good way to lighten your rucksack of things you find in the town.

                    The aim of the game is to manage your farm and help it to thrive, you also have the secondary aim of retrieving the harvest sprites. You can really only do this by carrying out tasks daily and eventually unlocking them. If you need help on your farm you can pay the sprites to do some work for you such as watering your crops.

                    The town consists of 2 islands joined by a bridge, you can visit all areas on the map during one day if you want to. Though your farm may be a bit neglected if you choose to do this. One thing to be aware of in this game is the way your character gets tired out very quickly and if a skull appears above his head you should stop work and find some food to restore his stamina. Even if your crops haven't grown you can forage for restorative ingredients in the town's open fields. If you don't eat and continue working you will end your day abruptly and lose some money as a forfeit.

                    The great thing about this game is that because each day only lasts for 15 minutes or so you can play it on a train or bus journey and achieve quite a lot. The phone option makes buying things a lot more convenient and you are able to store a lot of items at one time. Each time you play you can explore new options, such as improving your relationships or trying to maximise your profits as early as possible. The game has a great longevity because of this which makes it well worth the money you'll pay for it. The game is currently available for around £20 from retailers such as Amazon, you can also pick up a second hand copy for around £10.

                    Graphically the game is pretty good and I can't really fault it, it has chosen a style and sticks with it throughout the game. Everything is clear and the scenery is pretty detailed.

                    If you're looking for a DS game for a child this christmas, this game should give them hours of fun, the animals are very cute and it will teach them a bit about money management at the same time. It will keep them quiet for hours and isn't that why you brought them a DS? If its more for you, you'll be thoroughly entertained too unless as I mentioned earlier strategy games aren't for you.

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                      30.08.2010 11:01
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                      Good old fashioned clean country fun

                      This is one of the tallest attractions in the Magic Kingdom Park at WDW in Florida. Located in Frontierland and neighbour to runaway mine train themed ride, Big Thunder Mountain. Splash Mountain is a great version of the classic log flume ride.

                      The queueing for this ride is more often than not up at the hour mark so make use of the fast pass facility if you don't love waiting. A good time to ride is when everyone else is distracted by parades and fireworks if you've seen these once, its worth hopping on attractions like this and Big Thunder instead.

                      Generally speaking this is a slow paced ride where you get spectacular views of the park, an occasional nice cooling splash of water and lots of fun country style music. Based on the Song of the South Brer Rabbit segments, children are treated to well designed sets and moving characters including Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. Essentially you take the role of Brer Rabbit using a boat as your vehicle to escape from the clutches of Brer Fox and Brer Bear. The boat takes you all around the 'creek' where you encounter a great number of creatures who are all happy to say 'How Do You Do.' Brer Fox and Brer Bear are on the hunt for you and desperate to catch you and you narrowly escape them a number of times seeing how they planned to trap you. One of the faster moments on the ride is when you are in a dark chamber illuminated by little bees and hives and you go over a series of speed bump style hills in quick succession.

                      This ride is not however fun for any child/adult scared of heights as after a series of mini dips you finally will plunge down the high point pictured next to this review into a mean looking briar patch. As you descend towards the patch a flash occurs, you may want to pull silly faces/lift your arms up for a second to pretend you're braver than you are when you get home etc.

                      You emerge safe but incredibly wet from the briar patch and all of your friends are there to welcome you back from the clutches of Brer Fox and Brer Bear in an enchantingly cheerful room with a model riverboat and dancing creatures with the refrain of Zip a Dee Doo Dah playing as you return to the docking area and are then able to exit the ride.

                      You walk round and enter the photo screen area where shots from recent rides are displayed, if you wish to buy your photo use your photo pass to have the picture scanned and then decide if you want to buy it. They cost in the region of $15 and I have known many a person position their loved ones on the bridge by the drop to take a picture as their boat falls but you'd need a pretty good zoom to make sure it was them.

                      From here you follow a path into a gift shop with a range of souvenirs from your ride and brer rabbit themed gifts. It also sells beautiful wooden pieces some of which are a little too big to stow in your hand luggage. You can also access this shop from outside the ride so if you haven't been able to ride you can at least browse in here. You can buy your photo from here or from anywhere else across the Magic Kingdom that sells photos you can also order any of the photos on your photo pass when you get home.

                      If your child is under 40" tall they won't be able to ride, I remember being very happy aged 7 when I was tall enough to ride, I rode it as many times as I could and still visit once a day when I'm in the Magic Kingdom because it is so much fun. The ride is also not suitable for people with neck, back, heart conditions or who are pregnant. This is due to the force of the drop but obviously it depends on your specific condition.

                      The ride is a great way to cool off from the Florida heat though and you will dry off quite quickly. Of course you have the option of a waterproof poncho, personally I enjoy riding this when its raining or after a day at the waterparks. That way I'm already wet and don't have to worry about getting other rides wet. If you're looking for a thrilling ride at the Magic Kingdom where you can also get wet and be moving slowly enough to appreciate the scenery this is definitely one for you.

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                        24.08.2010 19:08
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                        Fabulous hotel worth a visit and at least one nights stay to complete your holiday.

                        I first visited this hotel all the way back in 1993 at the very mature age of 6. I have since returned to the Walt Disney World complex 8 times and have visited this hotel if not stayed there on each of those visits.

                        It is one of 3 hotels situated next to the Magic Kingdom Park and is within easy walking distance of the Park's entrance. As it is so close it also has a monorail service which runs roughly every 5 minutes between the hotel and the park via the other 2 hotels on the other side of the lake. Having been there as a child and as an adult for a stay of more than 1 night I can honestly say it is the most family friendly of the 3 hotels. Based on contemporary architecture with a strong american theme the main building is a 14 storey giant tower in a trapezium shape made of grey concrete and literally thousands of tiny square windows.
                        The decor is equally contemporary to its period, in my visits in the early nineties I remember the colour scheme being very strongly grey with little angular rectangles of different colours. Now it is decked out with blacks and browns, leathers and woods. Parking is the first part of your experience as you go to check in, having never driven myself it is worth pointing out that there is a shuttle bus service for those without a car to the main transportation centre. I have however been a passenger, parking was never a problem for my family and if it had been there was always the option of valet parking.

                        The hotel offers a premium experience, sumptuously cosy beds, well furnished and equipped rooms all come with a cable tv for the kids entertainment or for you to unwind after a long day of disneying. There is also a fridge useful for storing any drinks, a hairdryer and ironing board and the rooms are cleaned to an excellent standard each day. If you need any additional products such as shampoo the chambermaids and hotel staff are always very pleased to oblige. Wifi is available in the rooms for an extra charge. The rooms in the tower come with lovely views of the Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain attractions. These are also visible from the car park. As well as accommodation being available within the tower you can also get a room in the car park in a building of 2-3 stories. You won't just get a view of cars if you choose one of these rooms as there are plenty of well designed flower beds to look at in the car park.

                        The tower has 12 floors of accommodation as well as a whole host of ways to occupy your time, running through the centre of the hotel is a monorail track which is where you hop on to get to the park or to visit one of the other hotels. The hotel also comes with a games room and a swimming pool. Both of which are great places for the family to go and spend some quality time and maximise your holiday experience. These are free to guests of the contemporary resort. There is also a beach on site at this resort located right next to the pool. You can also hire water sports equipment and go skimming across the lake. There is a spa and sauna perfect for unwinding after a hard day, treatments are available for a surcharge starting at around $50. If you're looking for a great way to start your day head to Chef Mickey's for a character breakfast just make a reservation at the same time as your booking. Whilst we've never encountered any difficulty getting a table we have had to wait a couple of times and these days to eat anywhere in the complex requires forward planning. There are also a number of other premium priced restaurants available if you're looking to really enjoy your holiday. We tended to eat our main meals in the park. The other great feature of this hotel is the retail therapy on offer. There are several shops all located near the monorail track selling a range of themed merchandise so that you can take a souvenir of your stay home with you.

                        The cost of staying in the hotel is not as cheap as staying offsite but it is the cheapest of the 3 hotels located on the lake with rates per night starting at £182 depending on season and the type of room. The rates can get as high as around $1500 though that is the price of a very expensive suite.

                        On my last visit the staff and service were as high as I ever remember them being and I cannot recommend the resort highly enough to anyone looking for a place to stay which is so close to the park. If you cannot afford to be a guest, don't despair any visitor to the park can hop on the monorail and make their way around the public areas of the hotels. This is a great way to get out of the rain or spend your final few hours before driving to the airport and a great opportunity to pick up any final gifts for people.

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                      • Heroes / TV Programme / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                        22.08.2010 18:54
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                        A brilliant show with a fabulous story

                        When I first heard the call to watch Heroes from one of my housemates to all of my others. I thought to myself, that does not sound like a good show. I thought it was going to be some random people deciding to dress up in superhero costumes to cash in on the comic book film trend of the early 21st century.- I was heading out anyway and so gave the 'social' a miss.

                        18 months passed and I met my boyfriend who was in the mood to watch the show again and as he's been right about things I might like so many times before I thought I would give it a go. I was pretty much instantly hooked. As it turned out it was actually really interesting and quite addictive.

                        The show actually looks at the lives of people from across the globe who have all exhibited strange abilities, such as being able to fly and tell the future through visionary art, and how their paths ultimately become interconnected. The episodes are 45 minutes long and structured fantastically to give you a look at each persons story but leave you with enough to want to go straight onto the next episode to see where the story takes you. We managed to work our way through the first series in time to catch up with the second series.

                        The cast is made up of people whose names may well be familiar to you and includes the likes of Ali Larter (Final Destination, Clerks2 and Legally Blonde) and Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls), Hayden Pannetiere and Zachary Quinto have both been given many more roles since appearing in the show, notably Zachary played the role of Spock in the recent Star Trek film. There isn't masses of interaction between the cast in the early episodes as they are spread out- technically just across the US and Japan but it's pitched as a global phenomenon so I will phrase it as such.
                        By the end of the first series it is clear that there is more to their powers than meets the eye and that there is a big back story to be unveiled, the second series see them working together increasingly as they realise they are unique and need to stay together in order to survive.

                        The second series was cut short due to the writers strike and lasted a mere 13 episodes compared to its prior series this was quite disappointing as they had to rush the story more but they did their best to make it less noticeable. It is worth remembering that the second series is shorter when purchasing as it should always be significantly cheaper- but I have seen it not be. The blu ray box set of the first 2 series does come with the alternate ending to series 2 which is worth a watch for anyone interested in that sort of thing.
                        The third series was back to normal as was the fourth however the show has now been cancelled and the story is incomplete. There are rumours of it getting a TV movie to complete the story which would definitely be worth it- I hate leaving a story half done.

                        I thought I would hate Heroes but it has become one of my favourite programmes. I think it is a show that most teenagers and adults can enjoy, it's got a great balance between Sci-Fi and Action. The back plot is fascinating but each of the individual stories are executed brilliantly. This show makes quite a good alternative to watching a film with your partner and will obviously last quite a long time. It really is worth a watch.

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                        • Pikmin 2 (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 49 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                          05.08.2010 22:02
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                          This is a great way to waste your life away

                          I adored the first Pikmin game but had been unsuccessful in finding a copy of Pikmin 2 so I was thrilled when I heard this was going to arrive on the wii. They also rereleased the first game with the new play control system (which basically means you use the wiimote and nunchuck.) I cannot review this game compared to the gamecube game I can simply explain the hours of fun I have had playing this.

                          The storyline of the game follows on from the first which to recap centres around captain olimar an alien from the planet hocotate crashlanding on the home planet of the pikmin. The captains mission is to rebuild his ship before his life support systems fail. The parts of the ship are scattered across the planet and it is your job- aided by pikmin to find these parts and return them to the ship. Captain Olimar returns home to his beloved planet at the start of the second game to find the planet has been hit by a crippling debt and the company he works for has gone under. When a 'souvenir' from the captains travels, rolls out from his rebuilt ship, it is collected by a debt collecting robot ship and discovered to be worth a fortune. Olimar's boss the manager of the bust company decides to send Olimar back to find more treasure and clear the debt.

                          The game can be played as a 2 player game and this co-op element can make it much easier than the first to set 2 groups of pikmin on one task. The first game was basically 5 simple levels with various challenges needing to be completed to finish the game in the time limit. The second is different to this and far bigger, as a result there is no time limit. It differs as this time the levels have sublevels where most of the treasures are hidden.

                          The character list is significantly bigger, all of the bosses and little bosses as I call them are back, but there are also a range of new ones to fend off. You can play as Olimar, Louie or the President depending on which stage of the game you are at. There are also 2 new types of pikmin purple ones which can carry 10 times as much as regular pikmin and white pikmin which are poisonous to the bosses and can destroy poison pumps (similar to fire pumps.)

                          A day takes about 30 minutes to complete but on the second a day is extended when you enter a cave. The game gives you as much chance as you need to explore that cave. You use the nunchuck to control the directions your characters move in and the wiimote to control the actions of your pikmin. Its great to have a game on the wii which uses both the controllers and is so much fun. Wii games that aren't in the party vein are a rarity in themselves and this is a great game which makes owning a wii worthwhile.

                          Nintendo announced a third and I can't wait to try it out. I have replayed these games so much setting myself new challenges each time. Such as collecting more pikmin etc.

                          The game is currently available for a little more than £20- which you could use your next dooyoo voucher for and I'm certain you wouldn't be disappointed. If you like strategy games this game is definitely for you as you can grow the amount of pikmin you have in order to have enough to find treasures and return them to the ship safely. You have a limit of 100 pikmin to take into the caves or have out of their ships (named onions) at any time- which against some bosses can be really tough. There is a lot to explore. If you haven't played the first one yet either I suggest asking for both this christmas, you will get hours of fun out of both.

                          Oh and its worth mentioning that the pikmin are totally adorable.

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                            01.08.2010 17:19
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                            A garage album with few standout tracks

                            Having had the opportunity to meet the man himself recently, I thought it would be good to reacquaint myself with his music a bit. When he was a big star I have to confess I liked most of his stuff and though I didn't own many albums back then I borrowed this one off friends a lot. So I went out and bought a copy for a massive 75p at my local CEX.

                            The album has 13 songs and the track list on this 2002 release is as follows 1- Slicker than your average, 2- What's Your Flava? 3- Fast Cars, 4- Hidden Agenda, 5- Eenie Meenie, 6- You don't miss your water, 7- Rise and Fall, 8- Personal, 9- Hands up in the air, 10- 2 Steps Back, 11- Spanish, 12- What's Changed 13- World Filled with love.

                            The album hasn't really moved on from Born to Do it and maybe that's why Mr David just didn't have the staying power of the artists like Madonna and Kylie who are constantly reinventing themselves. The genre itself died a fairly quick death with the resurrection of dance music which is still found in nightclubs across the country. It isn't a bad album if you like this sort of music and if you were a fan at the time of his fame then its a nice nostalgia kick. If you're too young to remember him or his bo selecta days then you probably missed the garage era completely and this will be a whole new experience for you. My favourite track on this album is "You don't miss your water" which is more of a ballad track. "Hidden Agenda" isn't bad either. It should also be mentioned that Sting- a musical legend appears on the track Rise and Fall and this is one song which any music fan should definitely listen to.

                            Craig David wrote or cowrote the majority of the tracks on his album and considering it was 8 years ago that means he released it aged 21 and had probably penned most of these when he was even younger still. This does set him apart in terms of respect but the fact we hear so little from him these days suggest he's resting on his laurels somewhat.

                            If you missed this album when it was new/fashionable, you may as well give it a miss this time round too. If you want to find out what all the fuss was about I recommend Born to Do it over this one. The tracks on this album were underplayed at the time and the Sting duet makes it worth the 75p pricetag I got it for- just!

                            You can obtain this album and the singles through the various download services such as iTunes and HMV digital or buy it second hand as I did.

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