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Kezz360

Kezz360
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Member since: 09.07.2007

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      31.10.2008 12:43
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      I can't wait for Saints Row 3!

      Ever since Grand Theft Auto first came out back in 1997 (god that was ages ago!) I have always said to myself, and others, that nothing would beat it, that it is a unique game that would be on our console systems for years to come. I was right about one thing - it has been on our console systems for years and has just sold over 10 million copies of GTA IV worldwide. But now I am asking myself - is it still the best, or has something better come along to challenge it?

      ABOUT SAINTS ROW
      ------
      After Saints Row went down surprisingly well back in 2006, developers Volition Inc and publishers THQ decided to make Saints Row 2. Just to recap on the events that took place in Saints Row two years ago, we remember that there was a tragic ending involving your character and I was left thinking, is there even going to be a second one? If I remember rightly, I had successfully taken over the city of Stilwater (a city based on Detroit and Chicago), and wiped out all of the rival gangs. So, Saints Row 2 pretty much starts the way Saints Row ended. You wake up in a prison and find out that you've been in a trauma-induced coma for five years. It isn't long before you're breaking out of the prison to re-join what's left of the 3rd Street Saints (your gang). You quickly learn that your gang has fallen apart in the last five years and a lot of the city has changed. The city is now 50% larger than before with more districts such as, the University, The Marina and even a whole new underground cavern. On top of all this, three new gangs have arrived and now it's up to you to take Stilwater back and once again be able to call it "My City".

      MISSIONS / STORY
      ------
      The main story to this game is as I've just mentioned - regain Stilwater and take out the rival gangs. You will do about a dozen missions for each gang, trying to destroy them and their business. Your gang is still 3rd Street Saints but there are now three other gangs trying to takeover Stilwater, the Brotherhood, the Samedi and the Ronin. Each of these gangs report any problems to the 'Ultor Corporation' - the big cheese of the city. It's inevitable that you will become face to face with Mr. Vogel, the boss of Ultor.

      You can follow the gang missions in whatever order you want, gaining respect along the way. The more respect you have, the more missions you unlock and the more money you earn. I personally think these missions are great, they really make the story entertaining. I have found myself laughing out loud at a lot of the storylines which of course makes you want to play more and more.

      Overall, the story missions probably took me about maybe 15 hours to complete. Which is pretty substantial considering a lot of games now-a-days can be finished in 7 hours. This game probably could be finished in 7 hours, but I think you'd be pushed - driving round the city adds up!

      ACTIVITIES
      ------
      Saints Row was famous for its fun activities on the side. These activities have been included in SR2 and are completely optional but provide endless amounts of fun and entertainment and I'm currently working my way through these. Each completed activity will earn you money and there are usually six levels to each activity. As well as the original activities such as 'Chop Shop', where you are given a list of cars to deliver to a client and 'Hitman', where you are given a list of targets to kill, there have been some new additions. 'Septic Avenger' is hilarious - you have to accompany your client in a septic truck and you've got squirt the city with...crap...literally crap. If you squirt the targets on your map, you'll get more money. 'Trail Blazing' is probably one of my favourites. You are required to drive around on a buggy wearing a fire proof suit. Your buggy is also fire/explosion/crash proof and you basically follow a route and pass through the checkpoints causing as many explosions as you can. This is a great way to relive stress at the end of a really bad day at work.

      There is also a short mini-game that can be accessed via the television in your crib. It's a zombie game and you've got to survive six levels of the game. Basically kill all of the zombies using any weapon available - including a chainsaw!

      All in all, these activities are varied, funny and will keep you busy for a long time.

      GAMEPLAY
      ------
      This game has definitely improved since the first instalment. The graphics have been slightly upgraded, noticeably at night with some pretty lighting effects. One thing that has been improved is the 'pop-up' issues from the first game. I must admit I was not a big fan of the first Saints Row as the 'pop-up' fault was a major flaw in my opinion and it drove me mad when the road would just disappear, or suddenly a lamppost would appear out of no-where. Luckily, SR2 does not have anywhere near as much 'pop-up' as the first game - there is still some 'pop-up' when you're entering the city and the large buildings will appear in the distance, but as for the road disappearing, this never happened while I played.

      The controls for this game are so easy to pick up I would like to think that even my dog could pick it up - yes this is pretty unrealistic - but these controls are so simple. Analogue sticks are used to walk and move the camera, the triggers are used for shooting and aiming, right bumper is sprint, left bumper is cruise control, 'A' is reload and accelerate (yes, much to my approval Saints Row uses the buttons to accelerate and brake), I know people have their own opinions over whether or not triggers or buttons are better for driving, but I've been a champion girl racer all thanks to buttons :).

      I didn't really ever suffer any major lag, although it might struggle abit when you have a 5 star notoriety level, and then you decide to blow up the petrol station at the same time - this was awesome to see, but my system did judder abit!

      GRAPHICS
      ------
      As mentioned above, the graphics have been improved, but this game is not as attractive as the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV. I think Saints Row seems to rely more on its content than its quality, but this works so well. Sure it's always good to play a good looking game such as, Gears of War, Dead Space, Assassins Creed or Call of Duty. I think we can also agree that these games are pretty damn awesome to play, but for me, they don't have the silly fun factor that Saints Row has.

      Blow up a petrol station, a building, some cars then sprint away from the cops and look back at the awesome carnage you've left behind. This game does look quite good when you create explosions; I can't tell you how many times I've used the rocket launcher to blow up vehicle after vehicle - never gets boring.

      CO-OP / MULTIPLAYER
      ------
      A great addition to this game is the co-op facility. In the first game, you could only participate in multiplayer games via xbox live and this wasn't anything great, but now, Volition and THQ have listened to what people want and one of the things was a co-op facility. With this, you can play the whole story via system link, or via xbox live. This, I think, is brilliant. It prolongs the game and also provides great entertainment. You can also do the activities I mentioned before, together.

      The multiplayer has somewhat improved with some new activities to play. You can play as your character from single player, or create a brand new one. Some of the game modes online include, racing around the city, fighting with a rival gang to try and take hold of as many districts as possible. There is also a game mod which kind of reminds me of 'Territories' on Halo, you've basically got to spray graffiti on a wall and protect it from the other team (gang), if you fail, the other gang will spray their graffiti over yours and take hold of this 'territory'. There is also a mode where you create as much carnage as possible in the city.

      Overall, the multiplayer is a lot of fun, but I don't think it could last as a top multiplayer game. I personally prefer the co-op to the multiplayer, but that's all just personal opinion. There were some laggy issues, but this is probably due to the quick moving, huge explosions going on!

      UNLOCKABLES
      ------
      It's great to work towards something, so unlockables is a must have in any game. In SR2 you can unlock weapons, cars, homies and items of clothing. You can also unlock helicopters and planes. Saints Row was known for the fact it didn't have any planes or helicopters to fly, and this was a big let down for a lot of people. So, Volition and THQ have again given the people what they want, and have provided us with helicopters and planes, some with the ability to shoot bullets and rockets.

      There are some really interesting items to unlock. For example, if you mug 50 people you'll unlock a paintball mask for your character. If you surf a vehicle and accumulate 3 gold stars (they're like in-game praises for things you do) in the process, you'll receive an achievement and a Traffic Cone that can be worn as a hat! Yes, this is not particularly fashionable, but it sure is funny. Some of you may be frowning at 'surfing a vehicle', so to clarify, this involves you jumping on a vehicle and then while it drives around the city, you have keep your balance on the car by moving the analogue stick - it's actually quite difficult, but won't take long to do.

      CUSTOMISATION
      ------
      Now, this for me, is the best thing about this game. Obviously a great thing about the first Saints Row was the fact you could create a character rather than being given one that you may not like the look of. Well, in the first game you could customise their hair style, colour, skin colour and weight - but let's not forget that you could only be a male. One thing that really upset me about the first game was the fact that the character you played never spoke - obviously this was due to the fact that being able to create your own character would mean their voice would sound odd on some that were created. But this has been resolved. Also, you can now create a female character for SR2. Finally, a chance to strut my stuff round Stilwater as a bad ass bitch that nobody wants to get on the wrong side of. You can customise their age, weight, race, cheek bones, lip shape, eye shape, eye colour and even choose a voice for them! There are three male voices and three female voices to choose from. I spent ages creating my character and now she's blinging!

      Another customisation feature is being able to choose how they walk, how they compliment someone and how they insult someone. There are some very funny choices here and some very stupid ones, but, it's entirely up to you which one you choose.

      If you ever get bored of the way your character looks, then there are a wide range of clothes and jewellery shops in Stilwater to take your character to. There are your basic cheap chops ('On the Rag' and 'Sloppy Seconds') and then there are the more upper class clothing stores ('Impressions'). If you're feeling frisky, you could always take your character to 'Leather and Lace' where you'll find a range of bondage clothes, short skirts, knees high boots and thongs. Fellas, if you're reading this and thinking that your male character won't be able to wear any of these clothes (whatever floats your boat) then have no fear because this games allows your character to wear whatever they want - females can wear male clothing and males can, if they choose to, wear female clothing.

      As with the first game, you can also customise your vehicles, and this is a favourite with self confessed boy racers. Turn any car into a chav-mobile.

      You can now customise your cribs too. Turn your once dull, smelly, apartment into a pimp palace, complete with a plasma screen and rotating bed. Yes - the possibilities are endless.

      SOUND/MUSIC
      ------
      The sound in this game is pretty good. Explosions sound brilliant, insults that can be heard as background noise are pretty entertaining, and the music is certainly an improvement from last time.

      We all know that Grand Theft Auto has been known for its big budget soundtracks, and Saints Row was pretty disappointing first time round. However, you can certainly tell that Volition and THQ made some money out of the first game as they seem to have spent abit more money in the song choices in SR2. I only tended to flick between old pop songs, r&b and the heavy metal stuff, but I liked what I heard. You can expect to hear songs from Ne-Yo, Cassie, Amerie, Ah-Ha, Europe, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold. If you fancy listening to the more cheesy tunes, then you can also expect to hear some Paramore, Panic at the Disco! and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Like I said, a big improvement from the last game.

      I also noticed that there have been a couple of slightly famous voice-overs too. Eliza Dushku (famous for 'Dark Angel', 'Bring It On' and 'Wrong Turn') does the voice over for one of your main gang members. Jaime Pressly (famous for 'Not Another Teen Movie' and 'My Name Is Earl') does the voice over for one of the rival female gang members and Michael Rapaport (famous for 'My Name Is Earl' and 'Prison Break') plays Troy, a police officer.

      REPLAY VALUE
      -----
      I think I've made it pretty clear that this game is endless. There is so much to do, and if completing the story and activities isn't enough, there are 50 graffiti tags to be sprayed, CD's to collect and stunt jumps to find and do. I can definitely see this game lasting me a hell of a long time, and with an achievement for playing this game for a total of 50 hours, I now have an excuse!

      ACHIEVEMENTS
      ------
      The achievements are not very generous to begin with, but gradually as you progress you'll be picking them up pretty quickly. There are achievements for finishing each of the gang missions and each of the activities. There are also ten secret achievements, which I won't give away as it's a secret ;).

      In total, there are 1000 gamerpoints to get, and I think it'll be pretty hard to get 100% in this game, especially if you get achievements for finding all of the stunt jumps - this is proving to be quite a challenge!

      MY OVERALL OPINION
      ------
      As I've pretty much given my opinion on all aspects of the game, I'll keep this pretty brief. I think it's quite clear that I am really impressed with this game and I hope I have made this appealing to some of you. It's really a lot of fun and I suppose it actually goes back to Grand Theft Auto's roots. Speaking of which, I must compare this with GTA as it's the only other similar game in the market at the moment. Whilst I loved GTA IV and past GTA's, I just feel that SR2 has done something special, and dare I say it, I actually prefer SR2 to GTA IV! Yes shock horror, some people may really disagree with me, but I am not saying that GTA IV was rubbish, it's just not as fun as SR2 and when I play a game, I want it to be fun. GTA IV for me was more serious, and the extra bits like taking your girlfriend out became a little tiresome after a while. SR2 just reeks of entertainment and laughs, and I never got bored of it.

      I do think Saints Row has still got a lot of hard work on their hands if they want to be as successful as GTA, and in some ways, I think this is appealing to a different audience, but, lovers of GTA cannot hide the fact that this game is really good, and really brave. Anyone who fancies their chances at taking on GTA, one of the best selling games of all time, is certainly very confident!

      Taking everything into consideration, I would highly recommend this game gamers everywhere. Pick up a copy of this and enjoy every minute of it, just like I have.

      EXTRA INFORMATION
      ------
      Saints Row 3 has been confirmed by THQ and Volition and is due to be released sometime in 2010. The game is rumoured to take place in Stilwater once again with even more customisation options, new activities, and much more.

      Gameplay.co.uk - £34.99
      Play.com - £34.99

      I have also published this review on www.girlgamers.co.uk

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      • The Strangers (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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        01.10.2008 10:55
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        A brilliant Friday night shocker

        Imagine your worst nightmare. Now imagine that nightmare becoming a reality.

        One of my worst nightmares has to be having my house broken into while I am sleeping. I know this has been a reality for some people, but there is something about a stranger being in my house whilst I sleep that just scares the hell out of me.

        This film is more or less my nightmare in 85 minutes. It's about a couple Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) who have just returned from a wedding party. They have decided to stay the night in a remote family home. The drive up to this house is very silent and I was beginning to wonder if I had accidentally pressed the 'mute' button on my remote control, but what I actually realised was that Kristen and James are not happy with one another. Kristen looks upset and James looks annoyed and there is real tension in the car and immediately you are begging for an answer to your question; "What is going on between them?".

        Arriving at the house, there has still not been much dialogue so you are watching the characters communicate through body language and facial expressions. Shortly after they have arrived and settled, there is a knock at the door. Kristen and James are shocked and confused as to why somebody would be knocking on their door at 4am, but they answer it anyway. At this point, I was saying to my boyfriend that I would not answer my door at 4am unless I was 100% confident I knew who it was, but anyway, they foolishly open the door. A young girl is stood at their doorway and as there is no outside light on, we cannot see her face. She asks for Tamara, to which James and Kristen tell her she has the wrong house. The young girl chillingly asks them "Are you sure?", to which they reply "Yes". Short and sweet, the girl dissappears into the night. With obvious tension still present between James and Kristen, James decides he's going to go for a drive and pick up some cigarettes while he's out - again, I am screaming at the TV "It's stupid o' clock. Stay with her!". From this point forward, what happens is just awful and I could constantly feel my heart pounding in my chest.

        What makes this film even more chilling is the text at the very beginning; "What you are about to see is inspired by true events. According to the F.B.I. there are an estimated 1.4 million violent crimes in United States of America each year. On the night of February 11, 2005 Kristen McKay and James Hoyt went to a friend's wedding reception and then returned to the Hoyt family's summer home. The brutal events that took place there are still not entirely known". I know most films that are 'inspired by true events' don't really end up representing exactly what happened, but still, it's disturbing.

        As I said at the beginning of this review, one of my worst nightmares is having my home broken into while I sleep. But this film is much much worse than that. Imagine having your home broken into, at night, while you're still awake, not knowing how they got in or whether or not they are STILL in the house. Whilst James has gone out to get some cigarettes and some fresh air, Kristen is put through an awful lot of distress and I jumped out of my skin a fair amount of times. One scene that sticks out in my mind is when the smoke alarm goes off due to a significant amount of smoke pouring out of the log fire. Kristen detatches the smoke alarm from the ceiling and leaves it on the living room floor. After visiting several other rooms in the house because of suspicions that somebody is in there with her, she returns to the living room to find that the smoke alarm she left on the floor is now on a chair! This sent shivers up my spine and I just asked myself "what would I do?". To this day, I still cannot answer that question.

        When James does return to the house, he doesn't really believe what Kristen tells him and he checks the house to see if anybody is in and predictably, there isn't. However, there are more knocks on the doors, which turn into bangs, which turns into louder bangs of anger and frustration. James and Kristen are left, scared to death, wondering what to do. They panic because their phones have gone missing and when they think they can get away in the car, that soon becomes a definite 'no no' when their car is completely trashed. So what do they do?

        To compare this to other recent horror films would be quite challenging. It's okay to compare it to 'Saw' as it's about torturing people, but 'Saw' uses gore and physical torture as it's main entertainment where-as 'The Strangers' is purely mental torture which in this case, seems alot worse. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this movie but whether or not I can recommend this is another issue. Sure it's a good film, but it really does stick in your mind and I just don't know if everybody is ready to see this. I have seen many many horror films over the years, some good, some really bad, and this one sits over towards the good scale. I can recommend this if you don't get easily dusturbed by watching horror movies and you can forget the fact that this is still inspired by true events.

        There is just one detail that has unfortunately stopped me from giving this a 5 star review and that is that the two main characters just weren't really 'connected' to one an another and therefore I didn't feel connected to them. Sure they are playing boyfriend and girlfriend and they share kisses and hugs and say 'i love you', but I think that because this film just started straight away (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) I didn't really get chance to completely 'like' the characters. There is also afew small flaws in this film which you can probably pick out yourself. Other than that, this film is a must watch and I really did enjoy it. It lasts only 85 minutes so it'd be hard for you to get bored in that short amount of time and it's rated a '15' in the UK.

        It is possible that 'The Strangers 2' will be released in 2010.

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        • More +
          13.02.2008 11:54
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          A truly amazing novel from a brilliant author

          This book is a follow up to what happened in Emily Giffin's debut novel, 'Something Borrowed'. I was really looking forward to reading this as I thoroughly enjoyed her first book.

          THE STORY
          --
          The book starts out as 'Something Borrwed' ended. Darcy is hysterical as she's just found her fiancé in her best friends closet. Days before that she discovered she was pregnant...and the father isn't her fiancé. Darcy soon realises that being alone, pregnant and without a best friend is not a good look in New York. She tries to replace her best friend Rachael with another long time friend, Claire, but she soon realises that nobody can replace her childhood buddy.

          With no-one to turn to, and even her own mother rejecting her choices, she decides to ring a long lost friend who lives in London. Growing up together they got on well, but as they got older, Ethan and Darcy went separate ways so Darcy is slightly worried that Ethan might reject her, also knowing that he has always been closer to Rachael when they were growing up.

          Arriving in London, pregnant and perhaps hoping to find a British love interest, Darcy is prepared to start a new life. How will Darcy find life in London? Who will she fall in love with? Will she ever forgive and forget her best friend and ex-fiancé? Who will father her baby?

          MY OPINION
          --
          This book was truly amazing. I read it in two days! I don't think I've ever read a book so fast in my life, but I was hooked from the very beginning. I had read 'Something Borrowed' and I was really looking forward to finding out what happened to Darcy's life after it all fell apart. This book is just brilliant for describing situations. There are afew chapters that are mainly focused on what happened in the previous book, obviously for those people that hadn't read it this is great, but it's also a good addition for those who did read the first novel as it provides a great, brief re-cap of what happened.

          I like the way these two books link in together. In Emily Giffin's first novel, we read about the life of Rachael, and we see everything from her point of view and really feel for her, but in this novel, we see things from Darcy's perspective and suddenly, you find yourself asking, "Who do I prefer? Rachael or Darcy?". Both characters are just brilliant and in this novel, we really get to find out about the real Darcy. We get to see that she isn't really a heartless bitch who is self centred and shallow, in fact, she's just like the rest of us.

          When Darcy meets somebody in London, she thinks that her life is coming back together, especially since her new man is financially stable and is willing to offer her the life of luxury. As Darcy digs beneath what she should want and discovers that what she actually needs is love and companionship, she has to make a choice. I'm not saying what this choice involves because I do not want to spoil it for you, so read it!!

          The way Emily Giffin describes situations and characters in this book is perfect. This lady really knows how to write and I never struggled to read it, I never got bored of her descriptions or flashbacks to Darcy's childhood, because everything Emily writes about is just what is needed, and by the end of the book, you have fallen in love with so many of the characters, that it's actually quite sad when it finally ends.

          Towards the ending, it becomes pretty clear how it will end and I usually don't like happy endings, but this book deserved to have a happy one and for me, there was no other way it could've ended. Emily's characters just grow and grow throughout the book and you feel so involved with everything, and when an author can do that, then it means this book is a must-read. There are some surprising revelations throughout the novel too, which leaves you wanting more and more, and this is probably why I read it in only 2 days.

          I would highly recommend this book to absolutely anybody, but I would strongly suggest you read 'Something Borrowed' first like I did, because you'll feel more connected with the characters in 'Something Blue'. It is not a 'must' to read the first novel, but in my opinion, it's best to know Rachael's background too.

          EXTRA INFORMATION
          --
          Paperback 432 pages
          Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd (20th October 2005)

          Amazon.co.uk
          £5.49 + delivery

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          • More +
            06.02.2008 10:54
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            Pump it up!

            A REVIEW ON THE WORKOUTS

            When I first found out Davina McCall had brought out another fitness DVD I was really excited. Her previous DVD's were like a godsend to me and were, at the time, just the right intensity for my fitness level. Here, Davina takes us through 5 twenty minute high energy workouts that guarantee results if you stick to it.

            ABOUT THE WORKOUTS
            --
            Before I talk about each of the 5 workouts, I'll just quickly run through the idea of these routines. Basically, each of them are about 20 minutes long, but you are advised to do the 10 minute warm-up and the 10 minute cool down. Davina advises you to combine any two of the five workouts in one session, 3 times a week. This means that one workout session will be one hour long. She does say that it's okay to just do one of the workouts, the warm-up and the cool down but you must work really hard throughout the whole 20 minute session to see results.

            As with Davina's other DVD's, she is joined by her two personal trainers, husband and wife, Marc and Jackie. In some of the workouts, Jackie will be doing an easier version of the moves, and in others, Marc will be doing the easier versions, so if you ever struggle with anything, go along with the less advanced moves.

            WARMUP
            --
            This section is 10 minutes long and it just takes you through some gentle, non-strenuous moves to just warm up your muscles. It's very easy to follow and quite fun to do, but personally, I find that a 10 minute warm up is too long, especially when you're short of time. I actually tend to do my own warm-up that is taken from another workout DVD called Turbo Jam. It's only 5 minutes long and in my opinion, it works just as well. Once you have done the warm-up, you can then choose which of the 5 high energy workouts you want to do first.

            AEROBICS
            --
            This section is definitely why this DVD is called 'High Energy' because you really will need it for this section. This is cardio and it's non-stop. You really will need to warm up your body before you do this workout in particular, because it's a lot of jumping about and you will end up very out of breath. I would say that my fitness level has improved a lot over the past year because I've stuck to the routine of working out 3 times a week, so I know I am more toned and a lot more fit, but this section still tired me out.

            The one thing that was quite off-putting in this workout was that it is so repetitive. I actually started to get quite bored, and of course, if a workout ends up being boring, you're not going to want to do it. However, once you have done this, you'll feel like you've worked really hard, and be prepared for sore calf muscles. You are constantly advised to put your heals on the floor when you jump around, which is very effective for the backs of your legs. Just a shame that I feel I'd have to be really desperate to want to do this section again. If it wasn't so repetitive, it would be a lot of fun to do and I would do it more.

            LEGS
            --
            This section targets those thighs and calf muscles that you really want to strengthen and tone. If you enjoy squats and lunges, then you'll love this. Again, this is quite repetitive but I didn't find it quite as tedious as the Aerobics section. You are taken through several squats, lunges and stretches for your legs which feel effective and you may feel the damage in the morning.

            I quite enjoyed this section and I'd probably end up doing it again at some point. Like I said earlier, if you struggle with some of the moves, just do the easier versions. There are certain limits for me when I do squats and I can just about do all of the moves but my thighs really feel it afterwards, so it's probably not a good idea to combine this workout with the aerobics section because you're legs will be in a lot of pain the morning.

            PUMP
            --
            This is probably my favourite of the 5. You will need some light weights for this section, I tend to have 2.5kg weights which is just about right for me. This section will tone your upper body and some of your lower body. You will be working your triceps and your biceps, so if you think you've got flabby arms or 'bingo-wings' then this section is perfect. If you don't have a brilliant fitness level already, then you're probably best going for some lighter weights and then eventually you can add heavier weights to the routine which will be much more effective for you.

            I do enjoy this workout as it's just the right intensity for me. You will be taught how to have good posture when working out which stops back strain and other injuries, so it's important to listen to what Davina's trainers (not her shoes) say.

            ABDOMINALS
            --
            Abs are very important to me. Not just because they look awesome but because strong abs help to support your back in day-to-day activities. I've been working on my abs for a year now and I am much more toned than I used to be. I have definition now which is just unbelievable actually, I never thought I would get those definition lines! Anyway, thanks to Davina's previous DVD's and Turbo Jam, I am happy with my stronger stomach.

            This section, unfortunately, is not very effective for me. I can do every movement with ease and I don't feel any pain or muscle ache afterwards. I actually thought, especially after seeing Davina's abs, that this section would be quite intense, but unfortunately, for me, it doesn't really do what it says on the tin. I would imagine though that people of a beginner fitness level would find this quite a challenge to begin with. If you're at a more advanced abdominal level, like me, then you're best off getting 'Ab Jam' or 'Ab Ripper X'.

            BOXING
            --
            This section is OK. It's very repetitive again, which I find monotonous and not very fun to do, however it's very effective on the arms, legs and stomach (if you have the correct posture) but other than that, I wouldn't get excited about doing it again and again.

            It's quite a high energy workout so be prepared to sweat and feel a little out of breath, but hey...no pain, no gain . Out of all the workouts, I always combine this one with 'Pump' as I feel they are the most challenging for me and they are the two routines that actually give me results.

            COOL DOWN
            --
            This section is 10 minutes long and it consists of a lot of stretching and breathing to cool your body down after your workout. Because this is just abit too long for me, I tend to do my own series of stretches which last about 5 minutes and are just as good in my opinion. If you have a whole hour to spare doing the warm-up, two 20 minute workouts and the cool down, then you're laughing.

            I have only done this section once, as like I said, I find it to be too long for my time scale, but it's relaxing to do and it's always good to cool your body down after an intense workout.

            SOUNDTRACK
            --
            If you've had any of Davina's other DVD workouts, then you'll know she always raves about her soundtrack, and personally, I have never really liked her taste in music, but that didn't stop me doing the workouts. However, this DVD actually has a good, modern soundtrack with tunes from Kylie and Gwen Stefani and I can guarantee you will have heard of nearly all of the other songs and they are a lot more fun to workout to. If it wasn't for these soundtracks, I probably wouldn't bother half the time!

            MY OPINION
            --
            I have to admit I was slightly disappointed with the overall outcome of this DVD. 'High Energy Five' gave the impression that each of the five workouts would be intense and would require a lot of energy, but for a couple of the workouts on this DVD, I felt I had been misled. You're probably wondering why I have rated this so highly considering it didn't seem to fit my fitness level, but I can't hide the truth that these workouts actually work and you will see results. For people of a lower fitness level, this DVD is perfect. It's one to stick with if you want to see a more toned physique and improve your overall fitness level.

            I tend to do 2 of these workouts in one session only once a week, and I do Turbo Jam (a different fitness DVD) twice a week. If Davina's DVD wasn't as repetitive then I would stick with this 3 times a week, but unfortunately, I just end up getting bored which means I don't put as much effort in as I should.

            It's always best to mix and match these workouts, like Davina will tell you at the beginning of the DVD. If you just did Aerobics 3 times a week, you would see results, but they wouldn't be as good as if you mixed and matched with some weight training and abdominal workouts. I have learnt that you need to work each part of your body to get maximum results, so this doesn't mean sticking to one routine for the rest of your life, it means you have to work your abs separately, and if you're doing cardio, then you need to make sure you throw in some weight training at some point to get that toned look.

            Overall, this DVD is very effective if you use it correctly and of course if you eat healthily at the same time. Unfortunately, it's not my first choice for a workout DVD, but these routines will be very effective for beginners and some intermediates, and even advanced fitness freaks will notice something good out of it.

            EXTRA INFORMATION
            --
            You can buy these DVD from nearly anywhere.

            Amazon.co.uk - £11.98 + delivery
            Play.com - £11.99 free delivery

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              04.02.2008 13:27
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              Scandalous!

              This was a book I got for Christmas and I was actually really looking forward to read this as it seemed right up my street for a trashy chick-lit novel.

              THE STORY
              ------
              Rachael is a 29 year old single woman working for a top law firm in New York. Her 30th birthday is creeping up on her so fast that she suddenly realises she hasn't really done much with her life. She hasn't had wild one night stands with random men she met at a bar, she hasn't had those out of control relationships that are passionate but will never work and she's never really been spontaneous. Her child-hood best friend, Darcy, has done all of those things and her 30th birthday is just afew months after Rachael's.

              Rachael starts to look at her best friend in a completely different light. She starts to become a little envious of her life. She's thin, gorgeous, confident and has all the best things. She has a job at a PR firm that she never really has to work hard at, and she also has a boyfriend, or soon to be husband, that is just the perfect catch. His name is Dex and he was introduced to Darcy by Rachael when they met at law school afew years ago.

              On the eve of Rachael's 30th, she and Dex are the only ones left from the surprise party that Darcy threw. They end up talking, drinking and seeing one another in a new light. The inevitable happens. Dex and Rachael wake up in each others arms, remembering that they slept together the night before, and deeply regretting betraying Darcy. But do they feel guilty?

              MY OPINION
              ------
              This, for me, was chick-lit writing at it's best. When I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited about reading it. I love stories about betrayal, secrets and lies and this book delivered with all three. This is Emily Giffin's debut novel and she has certainly made a great reputation for herself with this excellent first novel.

              Her structure of writing is excellent, this really is a nice, easy read that flows together so well. Sometimes when I read a book, my eyes get abit funny when I am reading pages and pages of text and I end up re-reading certain paragraphs because I didn't understand it the first time. With this book, I never did that because each paragraph, each chapter, is put together so well.

              Emily really draws you into the characters. Rachael is the average single working woman and Emily portrays her brilliantly, detailing her thoughts throughout the book. Most women that read this will feel a connection with Rachael's character as she is the one who feels lost, lonely, confused and envious of their friend who always gets what she wants. As you progress through the book, you will start to realise that we've all known a 'Darcy' in our lives at some point. The one who always gets the boys, the one who always gets the money and the one who always gets the perfect figure. Yes we've all known a girl like that at some point in our lives which makes us favour Rachael over Darcy.

              However, saying that, I mustn't forget that Rachael has done a terrible thing by sleeping with her best friends fiancé! I do not condone affairs at all, they are awful things, but somehow in this novel, Emily Giffin makes you side with Rachael all the time. Yes she has committed the ultimate betrayal in a friendship, but as the book progresses, you find out things about Rachael and Darcy's childhood and how Darcy was a little bitch at times and did some really hurtful things to Rachael.

              There are secrets in everybody's closet and this book is prime example of that. Just when you think you know what's going on, there is a little twist in the tale that made me gasp and I love it when a book can do that to me. Each character in this book is described beautifully and you have a perfect image in your head of what you would imagine them to look like, which is a definite must-have in a book like this.

              There wasn't really anything I disliked about this book to be quite honest. It kept me glued the whole way through and I finished it in about 4 evenings. I suppose one disadvantage could be that you know there are going to be two different ways the book could end, so there is no real surprise factor, but really, I am just niggling at the smallest things there!

              All in all, this book was an excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finished. The characters are brilliant and the chemistry that Emily Giffin builds is just perfect. An excellent chick-lit novel that I would recommend to anyone looking for a girly read.

              EXTRA INFORMATION
              ------
              Pages - 400
              Publisher - Arrow Books Ltd (17th June 2004)
              Paperback

              Amazon.co.uk
              £5.49 + delivery

              Emily Giffin has written her second novel, titled "Something Blue" which follows Darcy's story. This is the continuation to "Something Borrowed", which takes us through the aftermath of the first novel.

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                01.02.2008 11:17
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                Is it worth £5.99?

                When will I ever realise my obsession for shampoo? I can't stick to the same one. When one runs out, I buy a completely new brand in it's place. Still, atleast it means I can recommend and avoid certain ones.

                ABOUT TOMMYGUNS
                --
                TommyGuns is an exclusive salon in London and can boast of clients such as Amy Whinehouse, Orlando Bloom, Jude Law, Kelly Brook and Dustin Hoffman. TommyGuns products are used on the catwalks of London, Milan, Paris and New York and employ only the best. TommyGuns has built up one hell of a reputation since it began 11 years ago.

                THIS PRODUCT
                --
                I took a trip into town afew weeks ago to buy clothes and new make-up and smellies and to also find a new shampoo and conditioner range. I headed into my large Boots store and found the "salon brand" shampoos and conditioners. I recognised the likes of Trevor Sorbie and Tony & Guy, but then a brand clocked my eye "TOMMYGUN". I sniffed several of their shampoos, each one specific to a certain hair type, until I came across "Pomegranate & Orange Flower" which is a daily shampoo for all hair types.

                The product comes in an ordinary looking rectangular box shape bottle. The bottle is clear so you can see your shampoo, this is great, so you know when you're running out! The label on the front clear states the brand name and the flavour of the shampoo, along with a description of the vital ingredients that will make your hair look it's best.

                WHAT'S IN IT?
                --
                The active ingredients are Pomegranate, which gently cleanses the hair, but protects it from our harsh environment and Orange Flower, which will help to bring out a natural shine to your hair.

                WHAT'S IT SMELL LIKE?
                --
                The overwhelming smell is Pomegranate. It smells divine, fruity and sweet that's good enough to eat! When it's being massaged into the hair, you will start to smell the orange flower which is really tropical and the two together make an excellent scent that lingers in the bathroom for a good hour afterwards.

                Once your hair has been blow dried, there is only a faint smell of the shampoo afterwards, so don't expect a 'Lush' result, (meaning, the shampoo doesn't smell half as strong as those you can buy in Lush).

                THE RESULT
                --
                I was very happy with the outcome of this shampoo. I did use this along with the corresponding conditioner, but I don't tend to use too much conditioner as it would make my hair look greasy. My hair has a definite natural shine to it and it's soft to the touch. It certainly does make my hair look in good condition, however, I do think I should've opted for the volumising shampoo as this shampoo didn't really give me much volume after I had dried it. Other than that, I'm perfectly happy.

                MY OPINION
                --
                I would probably buy a TommyGun product again as I am very happy with the outcome of my hair (apart from the volume side of things). My hair looks better and feels better. Knowing that the ingredients are taking care of my hair just makes me feel better about the condition of it.

                There is one thing about this range of shampoos that puts me off buying it again. Brace yourself...a 250ml bottle (which is the biggest size you can get) is £5.99. I find this to be quite expensive, but when you look at TommyGuns client list and you know what they get involved in, you are just paying for their brand name, which is a little bit annoying, but to be fair, the shampoo does do what it says on the label.

                I found that you don't need to use that much on your hair to work up a nice lather to wash your whole head with. My hair is half way down my back so requires quite a large amount, bigger than a 50 pence piece size. It's worth me noting that this shampoo does not foam much at all, which, apparently, means it's a better shampoo. According to professionals, the more a shampoo foams, the worse it is for your hair!

                Overall, I would probably try out the volumising shampoo next, but that won't be for a while as I need to use up this product first, and then I need to decide if spending £5.99 on a bottle of shampoo is worth it. My first thoughts...yes. I love trying these things out! I would recommend this to you, but if you have thin, flat-ish hair, then try going for a different kind of shampoo by TommyGun. If you're willing to pay the price, you won't regret the results.

                EXTRA INFORMATION
                --
                This shampoo is only available online or at larger Boots stores for £5.99 for a 250ml bottle.

                The range of shampoos include:

                Fig & Plum - For frizzy, chaotic or unruly hair
                Blueberry & Ginseng - For hair that lacks confidence and volume
                Pomegranate & Orange Flower - For all hair types
                Nettle & Burdock - For undernourished dry hair
                Sage & Basil - For combination / oily or confused hair

                You can also buy styling products, which include:

                Moulding Texturing Paste
                Miraculous Volumising Thickening Style Mousse
                Climate Control Styling Spray
                Smooth & Finish Créme
                Weather Protect Dew Drops

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                  25.01.2008 15:09
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                  Not really worth a look in

                  This was a book I got for Christmas, one that I had asked for because it looked fun to read and it had received rave reviews. I think I should've chosen a different book.

                  THE STORY
                  --
                  Evie is a receptionist for a very prestigious cosmetic surgery business in London. She works for two doctors, Dr. Bennett who is a smooth talking, brown nosing surgeon, and Dr. Maitland, a reserved but friendly surgeon. She works just around the corner form Lydia, another receptionist for another cosmetic surgery business, just not quite as prestigious as Evie's.

                  Evie thinks it's time she should arrange the holiday of a lifetime. Her previous holidays have ended up in disaster and she's never really had any fun. As she begins to plan her dream get-a-way, she received a surprise invitation to a conference in the South of France. Of course, this is all work related and she is required to come along to take notes at several presentations, but Evie sees this French opportunity as a chance to actually have a decent holiday. Maybe she could meet somebody, make some new French friends or just chill-axe on the beach in-between conferences.

                  What starts out as an innocent business trip, turns into a scandalous investigation that Evie wants to get to the bottom of.

                  MY OPINION
                  --
                  I was really looking forward to reading this book as like I said above, it had received some rave reviews. It's sad to say that I am slightly disappointed with the outcome of this book. If I could give half marks, I would give it 3 and a half out of 5, but since we can't, I've chosen the lower rank of 3 instead of 4. I just wasn't as hooked as I thought I should've been. I do suppose it's never a good idea to dive into something with high expectations because the majority of the time, you'll end up being deeply disappointed and this is what has happened in this case.

                  On a positive note, I did feel there were connections with the characters and that they weren't just bodies without a face. I thought Evie was a great character, slightly clichéd, but on the whole an interesting person that I would imagine a lot of single women would relate to. Evie's 'friend' Lydia is abit of a bitch and very selfish and eventually Evie realises that Lydia doesn't have any interest in anybody other than herself. We don't get to read much about Lydia, or many of the other characters. The main character is Evie and then I would say the two doctors she works for are joint second main characters, so there aren't too many people to focus on all at once.

                  I suppose the big bummer for me was the fact that the whole second half of the book was about plastic surgery and all things medical related. I have no interest in this subject and I should've seen it coming ('Operation' Sunshine) but I didn't as there were no reviews that stated this and there was nothing otherwise to suggest it. I found myself getting more bored by the minute and I just wish it would end. It started to turn into a medical investigation!

                  I have never read any of Jenny Colgan's books before, and I don't know if I would again, especially if they turn out to be chick-lit's with a hint of crime solving, that just bores the hell out of me. If this book didn't turn into a medical investigation and just continued to be Evie on the hunt of a decent holiday, I would've probably enjoyed it a lot more. I like reading trashy chick-lit novels but this turned into an amateur crime solving genre. Such a shame.

                  However, even though I didn't enjoy this book, I did think it flowed well together and Jenny Colgan's use of language and descriptions help to rescue this book for me. The story itself does get very over the top and I was left tilting my lips to one side and frowning, thinking, "I don't think that would happen in real life". I wasn't looking for a life story, but really, this does get very far fetched.

                  Overall, if you work in the cosmetic surgery field or have any kind of interest for it, then perhaps you may like this book, but if you're looking for a nice easy chick-lit book, then stray away from this. It's not really worth a look in and I wouldn't go out the way to add this to your amazon wishlist. If you are a fan of Jenny Colgan, then perhaps this might suit you, but unforunately, I didn't enjoy this book all that much. Nice characters, flows nicely together, good use of language and character chemistry, but the change of genre half way through was a let down for me.

                  EXTRA INFORMATION
                  --
                  You can get this book from most good book stores including Amazon.

                  Amzon.co.uk
                  Hardback - £9.09 + delivery
                  Paperback - £7.69 + delivery

                  Publisher - Sphere (23 August 07)
                  Pages - 320

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                    07.01.2008 11:56
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                    Made a great Christmas present!

                    Christmas is over and for the majority of gamers, we've probably worn our consoles out because of excessive playing. However for me, I couldn't get to play my xbox until New Years Day because of several family get togethers, so by then, my thumbs were twitching and this game was just crying out to be played.

                    My boyfriend bought me this for Christmas as I asked for it because it had been a while since I had bought a brand new game, so I was really looking forward to playing this.

                    IO INTERACTIVE & EIDOS
                    ------
                    Developers IO Interactive have decided to bring us this game. Most people will recognise IOI because they have brought us the Hitman series that has become very popular in recent years and has now been made into a movie. Eidos have published this game and they have said that they hope to make a sequel to this game and want to try and make it as popular as the Hitman series.

                    CAMPAIGN - SINGLE PLAYER AND CO-OP
                    ------
                    The game begins straight away where you have just broken out of a prison van and are now on the run. We quickly find out that Kane and Lynch were sentenced to death and so have escaped death row. Lynch has had to break Kane out of prison so Kane can meet 'The 7', a 'mafia' type group who were left for dead by Kane afew years ago, meaning Kane got what we would presume, a briefcase full of money. Now 'The 7' wants this briefcase and they want it fast. They have kidnapped Kane's wife and daughter and will kill them if he doesn't work according to their rules.

                    Kane has just a couple of days to retrieve the breifcase and return it to 'The 7', but because he is fuming with anger, he quickly decides he wants to kill each and every member of 'The 7' once and for all.

                    Lynch is told to go along with Kane to make sure he doesn't try anything stupid, but it's quite clear that Lynch isn't particularly keen on 'The 7' either.

                    There are 14 chapters in this game with an optional 15th chapter to complete at the end of the game. You are required to hold hostages, invade a nightclub, rob a bank, break people out of prison and hunt down 'The 7'. Each chapter will take you about half an hour, maybe longer to complete. There are three levels of difficulty, easy (Aspirin), medium (Morphine) and hard (Codeine).

                    The story itself is very good in my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed going through each chapter and entering the next. To get through each level you are basically required to shoot alot of police, swat and participate in alot of illegal activities, which I suppose is why this game is rated 18. There is alot of violence in the game and a hell of alot of swearing but it all adds to this type of game and for me, made it all the more enjoyable. I suppose the only downside to the story is the length, it's not the longest game in the world, even though 14 chapters might sound like a nice amount of levels to complete, in reality, it's just not long enough for most gamers.

                    One of the best features to this game is it's co-op facility. Unfortunately, this is not online, but that doesn't really matter to me because I'll always have somebody to play with me on co-op, and this time round it was my boyfriend. We have just finished the co-op and we both really enjoyed it. You and a partner will basically go through the whole story together, you being Kane, and your partner being Lynch. The screen will split vertically and you do everything you did in the single player, but together, and I always love a co-op facility in games.

                    ENEMIES AND TEAM MATES
                    ------
                    Lets admit that there aren't many games that have intelligent AI. In racing games they stick to the racing line and it's near impossible to ruin that line, in sports games they aren't very aggressive and are slightly slow and wooden and in shooting games, they tend to run out into the open where it's easy to shoot them. I think Gears of War is probably the only game I have played where the AI actually have some intelligence and know not to run out into the open.

                    Unfortunately, this game doesn't have smart enemies, especially when you play in easy mode, the enemies stand out in the open and even run right past you to hide making it easy to kill them. However, this does make the game easier and sometimes that's better than a game being so hard it becomes far too frustrating.

                    Saying that, your team mates are not that thick and I found that they can be very helpful and will obey you when you instruct them to kill somebody. They don't tend to make a habit of running into the open and getting shot which is great, because you don't need to worry about them, you can just focus on what you want to kill.

                    AIMING, SHOOTING, DIEING
                    ------
                    There are afew moans and groans about the way Kane and Lynch aim and shoot. They aren't the best shooters in the world and the accuracy of the aim is not brilliant and sometimes it may take you a while to kill somebody who is hidden, but this is not a major flaw in the game, but I suppose it could be improved if the developers are considering a sequel.

                    There is nothing new about the way you get shot / die in this game. It's like Gears of War, if you start being shot, your screen will start to go red and it will darker red the more you get shot until eventually your screen goes white and you die. Your team mates can then revive you by injecting adrenaline into you, but you can only usually get away with two injections until you overdose and die completely. You can also revive your team mates with adrenaline if they die.

                    MULTIPLAYER - ONLINE
                    ------
                    This feature is probably the one that has surprised people the most. To me, this game wasn't over-hyped or even over-advertised and actually, not many had heard much about this game, so when people first discovered the online play, we were all pleasantly surprised at how good it was. The idea of it is you work in a group called 'Fragile Alliance' and you basically have to steal some money, shoot enemies as you go and then split the cash between you at the end. However, it doesn't stop there. Instead of just working together as a friendly team, you are actually required to betray your team! Yes, there is nothing wrong with shooting your team mates and you actually get an achievement if you kill them all and get away with the cash on your own.

                    However, it's all good and well trying to kill your team mates, but don't forget that they can also kill you, so be nice! It is a lot of fun online with this whole new idea and it even runs surprisingly well and I did not suffer any lag at all.

                    REPLAY VALUE
                    ------
                    This game could be played again and perhaps again especially if you want to gain all achievements, and with each level not being too long, it makes it more appealing to play it over and over until you have all 47 achievements.

                    ACHIEVEMENTS
                    ------
                    The achievements in this game are easy to get and are pretty generous. The only thing I found hard about the achievements are the descriptions! Seriously, it's like some kind of riddle or something and it's not obvious what the achievement is for until you get it. There are some great achievements to try and get which makes for great replay value such as, don't shoot any civilians in the nightclub, don't use adrenaline on a level, don't get shot on a level, get 47 headshots, get 30 shotgun kills and kill 10 people using combat mode (fists).

                    There are 47 achievements in total which amount to 1000 gamer points overall. Currently I have about 500ish but there are still a fair few for me to get which are easily achieveable.

                    GAMEPLAY
                    ------
                    This game plays pretty smoothly and I don't have many complaints other than that Kane and Lynch don't run very fast even when you press the short sprint button, but really, this is nothing major at all and you don't really need to sprint around much anyway. I didn't ever suffer any lag with the game or long loading times or anything that made the game appear to play slower, it was overall very smooth and easy to control. There is nothing too complicated about the way you move or shoot, but sometimes it might take afew attempts to get behind cover because Kane might not hug the wall straight away. I find that you need to be right on the corner of a wall or a sandbag mound for him to take cover.

                    GRAPHICS
                    ------
                    I think these graphics are actually pretty good. Admittedly they are not life changing and are nothing special or out of the ordinary, but they are pretty good and they show us clearly the violence going on. If for example you kill somebody but they are still moving on the ground a little, just walk right up to them and shoot them again which will make a fair amount of blood pour out from them which is easy to see and it looks very good. It's pretty safe to say that the car explosions aren't anything spectacular and they do look a little weak, but the flames aren't jagged looking or anything like that.

                    SOUND
                    ------
                    The sound is very good in the game and Kane and Lynch have some excellent dialogue which is spoken in a very convincing way and thankfully, the majority of the characters do not sound wooden. The guns sound very good and each one has it's own signature sound so it will become clear straight away which gun sounds the best. The surroundings also sound very good as well so I was not disappointed with this aspect of the game.

                    MY OPINION
                    ------
                    I thought this game was actually pretty good. Out of all the near Christmas releases for the 360, I am glad I chose this game. I really enjoyed playing it and if there is a sequel I will definitely be buying it. I will admit that this game is not as violent as I thought it would be, but with certain games causing controversy because of it's violence (cough cough 'Manhunt' cough cough) I suppose it's best for the developers to not make it too extreme, just to keep people sweet.

                    I thought the story was really good and you really start to become part of the Kane & Lynch team and want to make sure that Kane gets his revenge on 'The 7'. I have just finished this game on easy mode. I didn't want to set my level of difficulty to medium or hard as I did not know what to expect, but I think it's safe to say that even in easy mode, it can be quite difficult and the police and swat teams certainly have no mercy for Kane or Lynch and will pound bullets into you until are dead.

                    There is one thing that's quite annoying. There are perhaps about five achievements to get if you play as Lynch, and you can't play as Lynch in the main game. I have figured out that the only way you can play as Lynch is if you play co-op with somebody else in co-op and select Lynch as your character. Obviously this is abit unfair for people who don't have anybody to play with in co-op and it means that they could get every single achievement in the game, but can't get the Lynch achievements until they find somebody who is willing to play with them. There is no choice on who is who in co-op. Whoever is player 1 will be Kane, and player 2 will always be Lynch.

                    I would probably keep younger kids away from this game, not for it's violence but for it's swear words. Kids under 12 years old would most definitely pick up the words Kane and Lynch use in this game, and every other word they say begins with 'f' and ends in 'k', so it's just worth noting that. But other than that, I would happily lend this to my 13 year old cousin because the actual physical violence is probably not as bad as what you might see in the Grand Theft Auto series!

                    Even though I have completed the story to this game, I will still continue to play it for a while as there are still some achievements that I want and because I don't have anything else to play yet until my boyfriend finishes Assassins Creed!

                    I really didn't know what to expect from this game as I had never played the Hitman series and some people said there are certain aspects of that game that are in this game. But I really enjoyed this game, despite some poor reviews from certain gaming websites, I would recommend this to 360 owners as a fun, shoot 'em up style game with some great violence, great voice overs and a great story. It's easy to follow, easy to control and has some great achievements that are not impossible to get.

                    Overall, a great game, that I would highly recommend because I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.

                    EXTRA INFORMATION
                    ------
                    This game received mixed reviews but on the whole it was well received and had average scorings of about 7/10.

                    A sequel has been mentioned, but not confirmed.

                    A one point, this game sponsored 'Prison Break' because of the breakout at the beginning of the game and the prison breakout in the middle of the game.

                    You can buy this from:
                    (The Limited edition box comes with an extra disk that contains game trailers and concept art etc)

                    Play.com
                    Limited edition: £39.99 delivered

                    Amazon.co.uk
                    Normal edition: £27.98 + delivery

                    Gameplay.com
                    Normal edition: £29.99 + delivery for 1st class
                    Limited edition: £34.99 + delivery for 1st class

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                    • More +
                      10.12.2007 12:05
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                      An awful adaptation of an awful tragedy

                      A REVIEW ON THE MOVIE.

                      *PLEASE NOTE, THERE ARE SOME GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF VIOLENCE AND TORTURE IN THIS REVIEW AND MAY CONTAIN THE ODD SPOILER*

                      This is something I wouldn't normally watch because it's not enjoyable to see a young girl being tortured while in the care of her aunt, knowing this was all based on true events.

                      CAST
                      --
                      Directed by:
                      Gregory Wilson

                      Starring:
                      Blanche Baker -as- Ruth Chandler
                      Blythe Auffarth -as- Meg Loughlin
                      Daniel Manche -as- David Moran
                      Kevin Chamberlin -as- Officer Jennings
                      Madeline Taylor -as- Susan Loughlin

                      Year:
                      2007

                      Running Time:
                      91 minutes

                      PLOT
                      --
                      When Meg's parents die tragically in a car crash accident that leaves her younger sister paralysed for life, she and her sister must go and live with their aunt until some permanent accommodation can be found for them. Aunt Ruth Chandler has abit of a reputation for being a hard-nut and generally not a very nice person. All of the boys from the neighbourhood spend almost everyday at her house drinking beer and smoking, bearing in mind these boys are only about 10 years old.

                      It becomes very clear that Ruth and Meg do not get along. Ruth, for some reason, does not like Meg, and decides to show her just how much she thinks she is a nuisance. Ruth encourages the boys in the neighbourhood, including young David, who becomes Meg's friends from the beginning, to torture Meg in unspeakable ways and to 'teach her a lesson' because she's a filthy tramp, or so Ruth says. Ruth even tells Meg that if she won't take the punishment, she will be forced to watch her younger, disabled sister to take the punishment for her.

                      This whole film is based on true events and according to critics and other people who know the real story, this is a great adaptation, although it doesn't show half of the stuff that actually happened to Meg because the torture and violence is so graphic and unthinkable, it would become far too uncomfortable to watch.

                      THE TRUE EVENTS
                      --
                      Just before I give my opinion on the film, I'll just fill you all in on the actual story behind this film. Jack Ketchum wrote a book called 'The Girl Next Door' in 1989 and he based his story on a girl called Sylvia Likens, who was left by her parents in the care of a single mother called Gertrude Baniszewski. Unfortunately for Sylvia, she became the target of abuse and rage from Gertrude and was subject to appalling abuse from both Gertrude and her sons and the boys from the neighbourhood. Sylvia was kicked in the groin, had several cigarette burns on her body and, probably one of the worst injuries was the way the top layer of her skin had been peeled off in several places.

                      After three months of torture, rape, burns and utter pain, Sylvia sadly died as her body could take no more pain. She had endured three months of non-stop torture from a woman who should've been caring for her.

                      MY OPINION
                      --
                      This is probably the worst film I have seen in my life. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean 'worst' because it was a rubbish film, I mean 'worst' because it is absolutely horrific. It is not the type of film you would show to anybody or even recommend to anyone because it's an awful account of how a young girl was subject to abuse that she never deserved. I was pre-warned about this film by several people before I sat and watched it. I was told that if I enjoyed my life, I shouldn't watch it because it will make you very depressed. I am always one to watch a film that is being spoken about whether it be for good reasons or bad, but I actually regret watching this and knowing about this young girl because it really upsets me how she was put through so much pain for three months solid, and nobody spoke up about it.

                      This film was made this year but this story is set in the 1950's. I have never heard of any of the actors or actresses so I of course approached this film with caution and didn't expect the acting to be top notch. After watching it, It's safe to say that the acting isn't brilliant from Blanche Baker, but apart from that, the acting is very good and believable especially from Blythe Auffarth who plays Meg Loughlin who is based around Sylvia Likens.

                      Although there is no real explanation in the movie as to why Meg becomes Ruth's unfortunate target, it does become a little clear that Ruth doesn't like the fact Meg is beautiful and slim with a clear complexion, so Ruth and her boys make sure she is no longer the object of male affection and disfigure her face and her body, and they also do some unthinkable things to her vagina, which I will not go into because it makes me sick to the stomach at the thought of it, and even sicker because these are true events. She is stripped naked and tied up in the basement of the house. The boys aren't allowed to touch her naked body because Ruth tells them she is a slut and a tramp and she doesn't deserve to be touched, however, she goes back on her word when she allows the boys to use her as a bike and lets them rape her one by one. Poor Meg also suffers from several cigarette burns and her face is constantly being punched and kicked so she eventually becomes unrecognisable.

                      I had never heard the name 'Sylvia Likens' before or even heard of a book by Jack Ketchum, but I am considering reading his novel after watching this film. Yes I did admit I do regret watching the film, but now I have seen it, I am interested in what actually happened and would like to read Jack Ketchum's novel just out of interest.

                      I did not enjoy this film, and I usually say that when I think a film is utter garbage, but this film is very powerful and there are no happy moments in this film so I must forewarn you that watching this will make you think about it for hours after, and it's very upsetting and sick. There aren't many graphic scenes, but as a viewer, it's quite obvious what is going on in the movie and I honestly didn't want to watch it actually happening. We see Meg being badly beaten, raped and treated like a piece of dirt and we also hear of her being abused and see things from different angles in the movie that make you thankful you can't actually see what's happening.

                      Please do not watch this if you already don't like the sound of what I have written. It really is not for the faint hearted and it will haunt you for hours afterwards. Infact, I still think about it now, and I watched this film 3 days ago. It is a compelling movie about ungodly acts on a young girl who did nothing wrong. I can only suggest you watch this, if you like watching movies based on true events, other than that, it really isn't an enjoyable film, but strangely enough, it's one of those film that you must see. The only reason I watched this film was because it gets excellent reviews and it is becoming a very talked about film. It certainly does make you think what pain actually is. Yes there is internal pain when we are heartbroken or emotional, but external pain is certainly put to it's limits in this film and make you question if moaning about a headache or a bruise is really necessary. This film goes to new limits and it's very well done. I was never bored and even though this film is only short, it kept me glued to the screen from the very beginning. The last 15 minutes of the film are very upsetting and uncomfortable to watch and I even found myself getting angry and upset, which can be quite rare when watching a film. Never has a film had me so involved like this one.

                      Other than the fact this film is brutal to watch, it is also a film that will open your eyes to how sick some people can be. This film is moving, deep and gripping. I'm glad the cast can actually act and perform in this movie, otherwise it might not have been so involving for the viewer, but it really draws you in with a slightly unknown cast of characters and a brilliant overall movie that should not be seen by the squeamish.

                      EXTRA INFORMATION
                      --
                      This film came out in America on December 4th 2007.

                      Stephen King has been quoted saying:

                      "The first authentically shocking American film I've seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint. This is the dark-side-of-the-moon version of Stand By Me."

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                        28.11.2007 10:46
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                        Could've been an excellent novel

                        I have become obsessed with reading now-a-days and at the minute, I just love curling up with a good book in the evenings. It's the perfect opportunity for me to unwind and relax and the perfect opportunity for my boyfriend to play his games!

                        I couldn't wait to dive into this book as it's Holly Peterson's debut novel and I had heard many good things about this book on several review websites.

                        THE STORY
                        ------
                        Jamie Whitfield is living on 'The Grid', one of the most exclusive places to own an apartment in New York. She is a mother of three kids and has a husband who is a very successful lawyer, but not so brilliant at spending time with his kids. Jamie works part-time which stuns alot of the other women living on 'The Grid', but Jamie doesn't want to be a 'stay-at-home-mom'. She is a successful producer at a top American broadcasting company. Jamie already has two members of staff in the household to help with chores and cooking but after gossiping with some of the other women on 'The Grid', they suggest she should hire a manny. Now, Jamie isn't as sociable as these women, nor does she shop as a religion. She feels very out of place as she wasn't brought up the way these other women were, so of course she is unfamiliar with the term 'manny', so she's told it means a male nanny.

                        Jamie thinks this would be ideal as her eldest son, Dylan, is going through abit of a rough time and it makes it even worse that his father can never be around to support him. One day, while Jamie is walking through the Park, she notices a group of special needs kids playing a huge game of human chess. She clocks the guy who is teaching them and watches from a distance to see how he handles the kids. Amazed at what she see's, she approaches him and asks him all sorts of questions including his name, which is Peter Bailey, before giving him one of her cards and requests that he call her about a job she may offer him. After interviewing several people for the manny position, the only person she see's fit to look after her kids is Peter Bailey.

                        Over time, Peter begins to shine. He is great with the kids, especially Dylan and he's also great for Jamie, but should she be looking at the manny in THAT way? Does she still feel the same way about her husband, even though she has suspicions he is sleeping with one of the women on 'The Grid'?

                        MY OPINION
                        ------
                        Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations, which was very dissapointing because I really wanted to like it. For starters, the book doesn't even revolve around 'The Manny' despite the book being called this. This book should've been called 'Jamie Whitfield's Job' because for me, there was far too much focus around Jamie's job at her broadcasting company and about a scandalous affair between a small-town girl and a Congressman. I very rarely actually read about the manny. Yes Jamie thought about him when she was alone, and even when she was with her husband, but because we don't actually get to read that much about him, I didn't believe their chemistry was real.

                        Jamie immediately likes the look of Peter Bailey and gradually, his way with the kids and his personality draws Jamie in in further, but as she's married, she restricts herself from doing anything with him. To me, it happened suddenly when they both started to talk about getting together and her splitting up with her husband. I actually thought I missed some major chapters, but flicking back, I realised I hadn't. There is really nothing in the book that gives away Peter Bailey liking Jamie Whitfield, it's all one sided from Jamie's part which is probably why I never saw a spark between them.

                        One thing that I wasn't particularly keen on was the way Jamie's job was the focus of the story. Pretty much every chapter contained pages and pages of Jamie at work, and I was sat thinking "so where does the manny come into all of this?" I even found myself yawning at particular bits because her job was of no interest to me at all, I would've preferred to be reading about something to do with manny, after all, isn't that what it's supposed to be about?

                        However, given I have talked about the disadvantages to this book, there were afew things that kept me hooked. We are left guessing about a possible affair between Jamie's husband and one the other women on 'The Grid' which certainly provides some shock value to this book, and there are also afew other moments that will leave you gasping and putting your hand over your mouth, which I always enjoy reading. Also, when Jamie starts to discover her feelings for the manny, this is enjoyable to read as she is constantly questioning her loyalty towards her husband but the lust she feels for Peter is unstoppable. It is such a shame I didn't click with this book but when I read a book with more than one main character in it, I expect to know about the both of them, their ins and outs and their thoughts. But unfortunately, this book seems to skip those important aspects which is why there wasn't any umph between any of the characters, otherwise this book could've been an excellent debut novel.

                        I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book as even the ending was abit of a dissapointment. I was hoping the ending might make up for the lack of real passion in the story, but it didn't. This book has a great story behind it and I just wish it could've been told in a more passionate and believeable way. Don't go out of your way to buy this book, but if you happen to see it on offer somewhere, then perhaps you could give it a go and see what you think, but I can't recommend this book i'm afraid.

                        EXTRA INFORMATION
                        ------
                        Apparently this book might be made into a film adaptation some time in the near future.

                        You can buy this book from:

                        Amazon.co.uk
                        Hardcover - £7.00- + delivery or used and new from £2.99
                        Paperback - £3.49 + delivery

                        *Please note that on the amazon website, the synopsis reads slightly differently from the hardcover and the paperback, but they are the same book with the same characters I have mentioned here*

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                        • More +
                          27.11.2007 11:09
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                          Hip Hip Hooray!

                          The time has come for me to get all giddy at the thought of playing yet another Tomb Raider game. My boyfriend thinks I'm weird that I get excited over a game that contains a female heroine, but the truth is, I have loved the Tomb Raider games since it was first released many years ago.

                          ABIT OF HISTORY ON TOMB RAIDER
                          (For those of you unfamiliar)
                          ------
                          The very first release of Tomb Raider was back in 1996 where we see the fictional British character, Lara Croft, on a hunt for artifacts and other historic items in places such as Egypt and Peru. Six of the Tomb Raider games were developed by 'Core Design', but the last two Tomb Raider games were developed by 'Crystal Dynamics'. Lara Croft is probably one of, if not THE, most recognised video game character of all time.

                          Still going strong, Lara takes us on her 8th journey in this part re-make of her very original story back in 1996.

                          THE 8TH INSTALLMENT
                          ------
                          This year, we follow Lara through what I like to call as abit of a flashback to when we first saw her on our screens eleven years ago. The whole point of this game is that it is supposed to be a re-make of the very original Tomb Raider to celebrate Lara Croft being ten years old. We are taken through the same places as the first installment and for those of you who would recognise the scenarios from Tomb Raider 1, you will see similiar resemblances in the levels, but of course, this 8th installment has much better graphics, and I should hope so too after nearly eleven years!

                          You of course can enter Croft Manor which is pretty much the same as the Mansion in Tomb Raider:Legend. Here, you can complete a puzzle that will lead you to the good old maze outside where you will need to find certain objects to complete the overall puzzle. You can also do this puzzle as a time trial to receive an achievement.

                          In the main game, you start out in Peru, where as usual for the first section of the level you go through a little tutorial but those of you that played Tomb Raider:Legend won't need to take much notice of this as the buttons are all the same. After making your way through Peru, Greece and Egypt you will come to the The Lost Island which is of course "the boss level" where the puzzles become harder and the way through the level becomes more and more challenging. Watch out for the lava!

                          Each level has it's own "boss" and of course they get more tricky the further through the game you go. Each level also has it's own common enemy, for example in Peru the common enemy is the wolf, then in Greece it's the Tiger, Egypt it's the gorilla's and the mummy's and in The Lost Island you will encounter huge bat-like creatures that fire heat balls at you so be prepared to start using your better guns as you progress further.

                          ARTIFACTS AND RELICS
                          ------
                          Something that is well known in the Tomb Raider franchise is the fact that throughout the game you can pick up several relics and artifacts which will unlock rewards for you. I absolutely love this feature as it creates excellent replay value and I'm pretty anal in the sense that I have to find all of the secrets! Instead of their being just 3 secrets per level like in most of the Tomb Raider games, this installment allows us to pick up more than 3 or less than 3 and only certain levels contain 'Relics' which are harder to find and more difficult to actually get to, meaning you probably have to go back on yourself to get to the Relic.

                          Collecting just one artifact will most likely unlock atleast one thing from the Reward section in the main menu but it's always best to collect as many as you can find, so I usually end up spending hours on one level, trying to find all of the secrets. Of course all of this is optional, but find them all and you will get achievements.

                          UNLOCKABLES
                          ------
                          As mentioned above, to unlock items in the reward section, you need to find as many Artifacts and Relics as you can. If you succeed in finding any, once you have completed the level, save it and go back to the main menu and have a lock at what you have unlocked. Chances are it will most likely be some concept art or some music, but if you're lucky enough to find more than one Artifact or a Relic, you will unlock outfits for Lara and commentaries for each level too so you can listen to the developers talk about how they made the levels and why they decided on certain things. Kind of like choosing the Director's Commentary when you watch a DVD.

                          I have finally managed to find all Artifacts and Relics so I am lucky enough to have unlocked everything possible and now when I play this game over in 'Time Trial' mode, I can listen to the commentaries, or play Lara in a different outfit, some of which are quite funky.

                          TIME TRIALS
                          ------
                          Another great replay value. Like with Tomb Raider:Legend you have the option (again, you do not need to do this) of playing through each level again against the clock. If you succeed, you will eventually receive achievements and increase your gamerscore. I must point out that I haven't completed the whole time trial section as I am finding it quite hard! I have only done half of the game as I got far too frustrated to go any further. You are on a real tight time limit and it's best not to worry about killing everything and focus on making all of the jumps and climbs first time round because if you don't, be prepared to start all over again.

                          GUNS
                          ------
                          Lara will start off the game, as with other Tomb Raider games, with her trusty pistols, of which you will have unlimited ammo. Eventually you will pick up the Shotgun which is great for those up close and personal moments of killing those annoying wolves, and then as you progress further you can pick up .50 caliber pistols and Dual Mini SMG's. You will receive achievements for picking up these weapons. Ammo for these guns are very generous and will constantly pick up ammo for each of the weapons you have so you should never be short of any bullets.

                          FEATURES / DIFFERENCES FROM THE ORIGINAL
                          ------
                          There are of course afew different elements in this game when you really dig deep and compare it to the original version from 1996. The graphics of course is the most noticeable difference, but there are some features that have been added in and taken out. For example, you no longer have binoculars or a PDA, you instead have a grapple hook which you can swing from or wall run with. Some of the enemies will be larger than those in the original and others will appear to be smaller. Some of the levels will also look slightly different and some aspects from the original have been taken out and replaced altogether, but this is only supposed to be a re-make not a complete copy.

                          A great addition to this game is the fact that you can now do one-shot kills. I'm not talking about head-shot's with a sniper rifle, i'm talking about the adrenaline charge. When you come across enemies in the game, if you shoot them enough, they will get angry and they'll charge at you, once they have come close enough, your screen will blur a little and a prompt for you to hold the 'B' button and a direction will appear. If you do this while still locking onto your enemy, your guns will lock onto their head and with just one press of 'RT' will kill them instantly. It actually took some getting used to, but eventually I became a pro!

                          THE XBOX 360 VERSION
                          ------
                          Whenever I really want a game, I sometimes tend not to wait for the UK version and try and import the game if possible. However, I was patient this game and I waited for this version to come out in the UK and bought it on the release date. Just recently, you can now buy this game from the Xbox Live Marketplace which will cost 2400 Marketplace points which is equivalent to about £20 or so. However, to actually play this game, you will require the Tomb Raider:Legend disk, if you don't have this, then you won't be able to play Tomb Raider:Anniversay from the Marketplace.

                          GRAPHICS
                          ------
                          The graphics don't look much different than those in Tomb Raider:Legend. Lara is more curvy and less jokey looking, meaning her boobs are no longer pointy like in Tomb Raider 1. The levels are stunning to look at it, especially those with waterfalls and greenery, alot of the views can be quite breathtaking. Lara has been upgraded with over 7,000 polygons so she certainly looks better than in the original version. A very nice looking game, smooth edges, great colour and excellent environments.

                          GAMEPLAY
                          ------
                          Lara handles much differently than when she first popped into our consoles ten years ago. She doesn't seem to walk on a 'grid' anymore and you definitley have more freedom of movement. She automatically grabs ledges where-as in previous versions, you were required to press a button to hang onto a ledge. She handles very well, but sometimes she doesn't do what you ask her to do. Sometimes when I wanted her to grapple a hook from above, she just didn't want to do it which meant if I was in mid-air, I would have to climb back to where I was before. This didn't become a major problem for me though, and nor did the dodgy camera angles that happened only rarely, but it was still a little annoying not being able to adjust the camera to your desired view. However, this never became a big problem.

                          SOUND
                          ------
                          The sound is much better than the original. The guns sound great, her footsteps on the floor sound very good and her screms are realistic when she falls to her death. Another great sound feature is when you're swimming and she loses her breath which means your health bar will start to decrease, but once she reaches the surface in time, she will take big gasping breaths and even cough like she's got water stuck in her throat! It's great!

                          The animals and other creatures also sound very good and quite scary and monstrous, and the music that comes with meeting an enemy is distinctive and dramatic so you always know when you're about to become face to face with a grissly bear.

                          ACHIEVEMENTS
                          ------
                          The achievements in this game seem to be alot harder to get than in Tomb Raider:Legend. Most of them are the same, such as, complete the level in Easy, Medium and Hard or get all of the secrets, or complete the time trials. However, there are some really difficult achievements to get this time round, such as completing each level without dying! Now that is very hard as I think this goes back to Tomb Raider's roots where you get so frustrated at not being able to make certain jumps or not being able to solve the puzzles, and of course there are some spike traps and long falls that would probably make you scream yourself especially if you're trying to get the achievements for not dying.

                          Currently I have about 500/1000 gamerscore for this game and that includes finishing the game on all difficulties, finding all of the secrets and weapons and completing each level individually.

                          MY OVERALL OPINION
                          ------
                          I will admit I am slightly bias when it comes to any Tomb Raider game and I can safely say that I haven't actually played one bad TR game. Yes, some people may disagree with me and say that TR5 and TR6 were terrible and strayed away from the point of 'tomb raiding', but I don't really care about that. What I care about is actually enjoying the game as a whole and I actually enjoy getting frustrated with it too as it makes the game last longer and it becomes your Everest.

                          Tomb Raider:Anniversary was a game I was highly anticipating and now that I have completed the story, I actually feel a sense of achievement and glory, as sad as that sounds. This game, for me, was alot harder than TR7 and it definitley goes back to it's roots. There are alot more puzzles to complete in this game and I really enjoy doing those because some of them actually require alot of thinking about and one of them actually required me to write down the technique because the puzzle had to be solved in a certain order! I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle aspect of this game as it took me back to when I was 8 years old and playing the original version. I have been ver tempted to get a walk-through off the internet because some of the puzzles were just a little hard and finding all of the Relics were even harder, but I managed to resist.

                          The good old interactive cut-scenes are back where you need to press buttons in a sequence to get through it and continue to game. I always enjoy doing this, mainly because it just actually looks like you're the one doing the fancy slow-mo tricks.

                          This game managed to last me about 15 hours or so, but of course I still have time trials to complete so my accumlative time is likely to increase by afew hours or so. I only tended to play this game at the weekend as my boyfriend plays the Nintendo Wii during the evenings in the week, which I don't mind watching at all, and to be honest, i'm so tried in the week I don't even have the energy to play my games. So at the weekend, I like to sit and enjoy playing one of my favourite franchises. This game lasted me about 4 or 5 weekends, but if you were to play it over a number of days, it would probably only takeyou 2 maybe 3. This game is significantly longer than Tomb Raider:Legend which is great because I sometimes hate these modern-day games that only last 8 hours.

                          This game will frustrate you, as it really frustrated me and sometimes I ended up gritting my teeth and turning my xbox off like some spoilt little brat, but there are certain levels in the game, especially the last level where you are required to climb over a lava pit and you will come across moving platforms and timed poles and grapple hooks. This was annoyingly hard and not making the jumps first time was very stressful, but I still enjoyed it as it made me determined to get through it, and when I eventually did, it felt good.

                          I cannot wait for the next Tomb Raider installment which has already been rumoured for next year some time, so I am really looking forward to that. If you are a fan of Tomb Raider or Lara Croft, then I would definitley recommend this game to you, but I must say I thought this game was alot different to Legend, and it certainly goes back to the artifact searching and tomb raiding like in the original, so the developers definitley delivered when they said it would be going back to Lara's roots.

                          Overall, this game is a must-buy for any Tomb Raider fanatic or anyone looking for a new decent game to play. This would probably make a great Christmas present for someone, and with the price of the game not being a standard £40 tag, it's a bargain from nearly every shop you find it in. Grab this game as soon as possible and enjoy even more adventures from the worlds favourite British heroine, Lara Croft.

                          EXTRA INFORMATION
                          ------
                          This game is available to buy from:

                          Amazon.co.uk - £24.98 + delivery
                          Gameplay.co.uk - £24.99 + 99p first class delivery or free 2nd class.
                          Play.com - £24.99 delivered

                          I have also published this review on www.girlgamers.co.uk

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                          • Good Luck Chuck (DVD) / DVD / 33 Readings / 33 Ratings
                            More +
                            26.11.2007 10:48
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                            It's watchable but don't expect too much from it.

                            You're a guy who was cursed from a young age by a gothic girl who was obsessed with you. You think nothing of it at the time, but later on in life when you have a job and a house and you feel you have a steady love-life, things start to go a little pear-shaped when it becomes noticeable that every girl you get with and have sex with ends up marrying the next guy she dates. What if I told you that as a result of this, you get to have sex with some of the most beautiful women in the country? Probably some guys' dream, but this is what happens to Chuck Logan but somehow he's not as enthusiastic as he should be.

                            CAST
                            ------
                            Directed by:
                            Mark Helfrich

                            Starring:
                            Dane Cook -as- Charlie "Chuck" Logan
                            Jessica Alba -as- Cam Wexler
                            Dan Fogler -as- Stu

                            Release date(s):
                            USA - September 21, 2007
                            UK - November 9, 2007

                            PLOT
                            ------
                            This film starts out as a flasback in 1985, where we see a group of kids of about 12 years old playing spin the bottle. The way they are playing it is that when a guy spins the bottle, whichever female the bottle lands at, they have to go in the closet with them for 7 minutes and do what they want. We see Chuck and his best friend Stu talking about 1st base means and what a blow-job is. They both set their eyes on the girls they want to take into the closet, but unfortunately for Chuck, the bottle lands on the gothic girl. Once inside the closet, the gothic girl tells him how much she loves him and starts to rip his clothes off, but when he leaves the closet before the 7 minutes are up, the gothic girl puts a "hex" on him and basically tells him he will be unlucky with love and women when he gets older.

                            We move to the present tense and Chuck has grown up into a good looking dentist and is still best friends with Stu, who has become a boob surgeon. Chuck has alot of luck when it comes to women, he can basically get whoever he wants but hasn't ever fallen in love yet. When one of his ex-girlfriends gets married, he of course invited to the wedding and a toast is made to him for him being "a good luck charm". Soon, word gets out that Chuck Logan is your ticket to finding your soulmate, and it isn't long before his phone is bombarded with messages from women who want to sleep with him so they can find their soulmate and husband afterwards.

                            Chuck would be mad not to sleep with all these women who are offering themselves to him so he buys boxes and boxes of condoms and has alot of sex with alot of women and funnily enough, they all find their future husbands within days of sleeping with Chuck. It isn't long before Chuck realises "what is sex without love?", to which is best friend Stu just cannot understand, sex is sex to him. But Chuck has met Cam Wexler, a girl who is quite clumsy and dorky but she's different to other women he has met before and he immediately clicks with her. Cam of course knows about Chuck being "a lucky charm" but she doesn't believe it at all so she's more than happy to sleep with him after thier 3rd date, but is Chuck willing to risk losing his first love because of some myth about him being a ticket to marriage?

                            MY OPINION
                            ------
                            I'll start by saying that this film is predictable even before you put the disk into your DVD player. We all know how this film is likely to end, but still, that didn't put me off wanting to watch this. I'm not Jessica Alba's biggest fan as some of her films are a little shallow and don't really show she can act, however I will say that she can actually act in most parts of this film. Dane Cook is a well known comedian in America but I know him as Mr. Smith from Mr. Brooks.

                            The whole idea fo this film was good, but it was never going to be anything huge or outstanding from other comedies. You have your good-looking main lead guy who is very funny and of course you need a good-looking girl who is also funny as his co-star, but no comedy is complete without that one guy who is crude, vulgar and hilarious, and Chuck's on-screen best friend Stu is that guy. I actually looked forward to seeing him on-screen more than anybody else because he provided, for me, the majority of the comedy. He comes out with quirky one liners that will really make you laugh, and he makes a complete arse out of himself that will make you cringe.

                            Jessica Alba is convincing as the hopeless woman not wanting to get too attached to Chuck in the beginning as she is a little cautious of him due to his reputation. Dane Cook is a very believeable character and after his performance in Mr. Brooks it's really obvious that he can do well in a serious role as well as a comic role.

                            There is always something going on in the film so I didn't actually ever get that bored, but I found that the majority of the funny bits were seen in the trailers and there aren't many other comic moments other than the parts you see advertised, which is a shame and it annoys me when comedy films do this. I also felt that because this film was so predictable throughout, I did sometimes just want the film to get a move on and end because I knew what was going to happen, but I still sat through it and there were still some funny moments, especially from Stu, that kept me watching. There are also some cliché moments in the film which I suppose is what makes it so predictable which is a shame because this film has a good cast and it's just a shame that the story was so see-through.

                            The on-screen chemistry is noticeable and Alba and Cook are convincing as a couple who both want each other but there are obsticles in the way that prevent them from being together in the beginning, so everything about this film is good other than the predictable story and very expectant ending. It's probably worth noting that finding a good, different and original comedy is hard to find these days and this film is not my discovery, it is just simply another romantic comedy that doesn't require alot to think about and doesn't scream out "pick me!" on the DVD shelf in Blockbusters, but it's watchable and I suppose it's worth watching if you're bored on a Sunday afternoon.

                            However, this film did make me laugh even untill the very end which is probably why I have given this 3 stars, because it does contain humour and sometimes it can be quite vulgar and crude, which I always find funny because i'm quite immature at heart, but don't expect anything original to come out of this film, it's a bog standard romantic comedy that is watchable but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to you.

                            EXTRA INFORMATION
                            ------
                            In it's opening weekend the film was number 2 in the US box office and it grossed $13.6 million in 2,612 theatres.

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                              21.11.2007 11:33
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                              Repair your heat damaged locks!

                              What is it with me and smellies? All I have asked for at Christmas is products to pamper myself silly with! After reading a review on this product, I got so excited at the thought of trying a new shampoo on my hair so I rushed onto the Boots website, and ordered myself this shampoo in a miniature bottle that cost only £1.59.

                              WHO IS TREVOR SORBIE?
                              ------
                              Trevor Sorbie is a male hairdresser who began cutting hair at the age of just 14. It wasn't long before he was a stylist for Vidal Sassoon and then working for Toni & Guy and John Frieda. He opened his first salon in 1979 and launched a hair care range in 1986 which is still going strong to this day. He was also awarded an MBE in 2006.

                              THIS PRODUCT
                              ------
                              This particular Trevor Sorbie product claims to be the ideal preparation for healthier looking hair. To get this sort of hair obviously you need to take care of it yourself but with pollution in the air and the use of straightners and hair dryers these days, we are gradually ruining our hair.

                              This shampoo is designed specifically for people like me who use their hair dryer almost every night. Luckily, I don't need to straighten my hair, but if I did, I would be ruining it twice as fast. The formula in this shampoo is supposed to repair and protect heat damaged hair, so I suppose you can only imagine how excited I was at the thought of repairing my heat damaged hair.

                              With the help of some of the ingredients such as Benzophenone 3 or 4, which absorbs UV light and 18 methyl eicosanoic acid which is the key to natural looking shine, I was definitely expecting my hair to look, feel and actually become more healthier.

                              THE BOTTLE
                              ------
                              I really like the design of the bottle. It's designed the same way as most other Trevor Sorbie shampoos and conditioners. A slim long bottle with a slanted cap. The bottle is see-through so you can see the product so it's easily recogniseable when you are running out. All the information you could ever need to know is on the bottle, including the product name, the ingredients and directions for use.

                              THE SMELL
                              ------
                              This smell is quite unusual actually. It's not really fruity and it's not all that strong, but for some reason, it kind of reminds me of a Strawberry Milkshake with a little perfume zest. Yes thats kind of a weird description, but it's definitely not a common 'shampoo' sort of smell.

                              THE TEXTURE
                              ------
                              I really like the texture of this shampoo. To begin with, when you pour it onto your hand, it's quite runny but still has a thickness to it and it looks pearly in the right light. Once I have applied the shampoo, you are advised to massage it in for 2 minutes, but I can't be bothered to stand there rubbing my head for 120 seconds so I usually do it for about 45 seconds. The texture of the foam is really soft and you really do work up a lather, but not too much so you could have a bubble bath with the foam! The smell lingers around the shower for a good amount of time aswell, even after you've rinsed.

                              MY OVERALL OPINION
                              ------
                              I must point out I used this shampoo in conjunction with the corresponding conditioner, but I only tend to condition a little of my roots and more of the tips of my hair so it makes it easier for combing with my hair being so long.

                              Once I had dried my hair the usual way, I took a look in the mirror and was definitley impressed by how silky it looked. It certainly did look alot healthier even after just one useage! When I rang my fingers through my hair it felt so soft I found it hard to stop! Now, I tend to wash my hair on a night, dry it and then sleep on it so I don't have to do it in the morning before work, because it would be abit of a rush because there is so much hair to blow-dry. With the majority of shampoos and conditioners I have tried, I have woken up in the morning to find my hair uneven, straggly and even sometimes greasy. Before I used this product, I was using the Tigi Bed Head range for Brunettes and this is probably the best thing I have ever used. However, it now has some competition because Trevor Sorbie has created a legend. I can wake up in the morning and see that my hair is the same as how it was before I got into bed, there is no mess, no knots and no straggly wavy bits of hair.

                              After continued use, I noticed that my hair is really starting to look like it's in better condition. It doesn't look dry and whispy at the front of my hair anymore where it obviously had too much heat on it at some point, it now looks smooth, defined and repaired. Knowing that this product is now protecting my hair from constant heat makes me confident that I will always have healthy looking hair.

                              Trevor Sorbie is a salon quality brand but can be bought in most supermarkets or shops like Boots and Superdrug. Tigi Bed Head can only be bought in salons and online and is probably double the price of Trevor's products. My verdict? I think that if you can get the same results as a salon quality product by using a cheaper range, then it's obvious i'm going to choose the cheaper range. Once I have run out of my miniature bottles of Trevor Sorbie, I will be buying bigger bottles of it. I have used this product now for over a week and have got the same results all the time, so it would stupid of me to buy a bottle that cost £12 when I could buy a bottle that was £5 and get the same results.

                              I would highly recommend this product for girls and women who constantly straighten and blow-dry their hair. If it's looking a little dry in places because the heat has damaged it then this product is going to repair those patches and give you excellent results. Please do not be put off by the price, especially if you've bought Tigi Bed Head products in the past, the cost of this product is nothing.

                              Please remember that as with most shampoo's that claim to repair and protect, it doesn't take just one usage, you will have to continually use it for a while to take full advantage of it's perks. I for one will be using this shampoo on a regular basis now and will recommend this to anybody suffering from heat damaged hair.

                              EXTRA INFORMATION
                              ------
                              You can buy this product direct from Trevor Sorbie's website, or Boots.

                              TrevorSorbie.com
                              250ml £4.49 + delivery
                              75ml £1.59 + delivery

                              Boots.com
                              250ml £4.49 + £2.95 delivery
                              75ml £1.59 + £2.95 delivery

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                                16.11.2007 11:33
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                                An excellent debut novel!

                                There is probably nothing better than booking some time off work so you can leave the country and go on holiday. Lucy McCarthy does just this and plans to jet off to Australia to watch her two best friends get married. Now, to get to Australia, you usually have to stop off in Singapore which is a 13 hour flight on it's own, so just imagine what would it be like if you got a text message from your other half just before your flight takes off, and it reading something from your worst nightmare!

                                THE STORY
                                ------
                                Lucy McCarthy is really looking forward to seeing her two best friends, Molly and Sam, get married. They live in Australia where she used to live for years with her mother before they decided to move to London, so Australia is like a second home for her. Just as Lucy is taking her seat on the plane, the usual announcement is made from the air hostess informing everybody to turn off thier electrical items off, including mobile phones. Lucy remembers that she hasn't turned her phone off, so when she reaches into her bag to turn it off, she notices she has one unread message, and of course, human instinct is to read the message quickly. She does just this, and is sick to the stomach when she reads what it says. Somebody has text her from her boyfriend, James', phone and it says that they have just slept with James, fourth time this month. Lucy has frozen, unable to move or speak, but eventually she turns her phone off and the plane makes it way into the sky for a 13 hour trip to Singapore, before they make their way to Australia.

                                What would you do for those 13 hours? How slow would time go by? Well, eventually, she reaches Singapore and rings her boyfriend, who of course denies everything, so Lucy tries to put it at the back of her mind.

                                When arriving in Australia, Lucy realises how much she misses this place and how much her two best friends have changed, I mean the last time she saw them was when they were all about 13 years old, and they're into their mid-twenties now. One person who has changed completely is Sam's younger brother Nathan, who is two years younger than Lucy. Nathan has grown into a surfer with messy, sexy hair, a great body and a cute smile. Lucy can't believe that 12 years earlier he was a skinny, spotty, annoying teenager.

                                With Lucy still having doubts about whether or not James, her boyfriend, has cheated on her, she gets a little too close to Nathan and can't control her feelings for him. It's now up to Lucy. What does she do? Does she stay loyal to James even though there is a possibility he has been sleeping with someone else? Or does she fall for this transformed surfer dude who really makes her feel like herself?

                                MY OPINION
                                ------
                                I was hooked from the very beginning of this book. The book immediately starts with Lucy reading that awful text message. You really do put yourself in her shoes and wonder how would you feel? Paige Toon really grabs your attention and has apparently used some of her own experiences in this book. Paige Toon used to live in Australia when she was younger so i'm sure she must relate to her character Lucy. I really like the way Lucy's character is so personal and vulnerable, you will really have a connection with her and a sense of girl power will overwhelm you.

                                I'm sure we've all met a guy like James. Successful, good looking, good sense of humour and secure, but there is always something niggling away at you, and that something is trust, you've never quite trusted him. Well that's what Lucy feels about James, so when she receives this text message, it makes things alot worse for her and you can only imagine what she feels. The way Paige Toon describes this is very funny indeed, she doesn't hold back when it comes to thinking the truth, Lucy ends up thinking exactly what all women would think in her situation which is what I like about this book, you are very involved and almost feel as though you are either reading about yourself or a very good friend.

                                The use of humour in this book had me turning page after page for hours on end and I ended up finishing this book in just three days. I was laughing out loud and my boyfriend was looking at me with a concerned expression as if to say "it's just a book"...but really, this will have you laughing, gasping and smiling as we follow Lucy through her love-life trauma. I could not put this book down, but when I did, I was desperate for more which is definitely a sign of a good book.

                                This is Paige Toon's debut novel and it's definitely not her last. I cannot wait to read more of her material and I just know she's going to do well and provide some good competition for other chick-lit authors out there. I can't recommend this book enough, I was hooked from the very beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed it and was actually sad to be reading the last page.

                                The only downside, but it's nothing major as it hasn't affected my star rating for this book, is that towards the last few chapters it does turn into a love story and I'm not really one for a soppy happy ending, but please do not let that put you off because the rest of the book is gripping, humourous and strong. I can't believe I read it so quickly, but when you have a good book, there is usually nothing else you want to do other than read it until the very end. I loved the way Paige Toon describes all of her characters, she really makes you have a clear image of what they look like, and I loved the way she had some shocking, jaw dropping moments too!! Trust me, this book is well worth a read.

                                EXTRA INFORMATION
                                ------
                                Pages: 400
                                Publisher: Pocket Books (16th April 2007)
                                Amazon.co.uk: Paperback £3.49 + delivery

                                Paige Toon is working on her second novel which is due for release in April 2008 titled "Johnny Be Good".

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                                  12.11.2007 10:22
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                                  Devour this!

                                  It wasn't so long ago that I had just finished reading Tasmina Perry's debut novel 'Daddy's Girls', I then wrote a review about it giving it 5 stars and saying that it was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I stated I would be buying her second novel, and that is just what I did. As soon I got my amazon voucher from dooyoo (thank you to everybody who made this possible) I could not wait to process my basket and await the arrival of this book. I managed to finish this in only 3 days which is pretty quick considering I don't do late nights, I work full time and I am obsessed with just 'relaxing' infront of the fire.

                                  THE STORY
                                  ------
                                  Karin is a successful entrepreneur for an exclusive and expensive swimwear line called 'Karenza', she is rich and confident and not afraid to show people who is the boss. One person who Karin cannot stand is Molly Sinclair, once a sought after model in her prime, Molly is now single and desperate for a husband who can fund her expensive lifestyle, and of course Molly has a daughter who she looks as a burden in her life. Summer Sinclair definitley inherited Molly's good looks and is also a model for some top magazines, however Summer doesn't have the same life interests as her mother and this can cause alot of friction in their mother-daughter relationship. Finally, we have Erin who eventually makes friends with Summer, with them being the same age and having the same sort of interests. Erin was a country girl living with her Grandma until she decides that Cornwall is not a place for her to write her own novel and so she decides to move to London. To start with, Erin is employed by Karin as her assistant, but really she is a dog's body running around after Karin and pleasing her no matter what. But towards the end of a charity event Erin has prepared for Karin, she is offered an opportunity she just cannot refuse.

                                  Meet Adam Gold. The bee's knee's. The sex symbol. The very rich man. Adam is the owner of Midas Corporation which specialises in property redevelopment, turning even the shabbiest of buildings into something expensive, luxurious and sought after. Adam's business was originally just based in America but seeing that there is room on the market for him in London, he decides to move there and continue his business. He of course now needs a new PA as his American PA is home-sick. He is a guest at Karin's charity event and spots talent in Erin. He quickly learns Erin is only employed by Karin for just afew days before she is out of work again, so Adam takes full advantage of the opportunity and insists that Erin becomes his new PA, earning....wait for it.....£70,000 a year!

                                  With Karin interested in Adam for his good looks and pure sex appeal she is determined that she will bag him, and not Molly Sinclair who is desperate to marry a man like Adam to fund her expensive habits, including cocaine. Erin and Summer also like the look of Adam and can't resist his charm, but who will end up with Adam, and what dirty secrets, affairs and lies will be uncovered along the way?

                                  MY OPINION
                                  ------
                                  Wow, wow, wow, wow! I am STILL getting over the shock from the ending of this book. Honestly, this book is just jam-packed with gripping storylines, secrets, lies and lust. I was hooked from the first page and I could not put it down, which is why I finished this book within just 3 days. Every night I would have my shower, get my dressing gown on, pop the fire on and read and read and read until it got too late and I knew I had work the next morning. We get to know these four girls individually before anything dramatic happens. We get to know that Karin lost her husband on a tragic boat accident, that Molly is a cocaine addict and will sleep with anything with a pulse and a big bank balance, her daughter Summer is more reserved but so stunning she stands out, and that Erin has a hidden beauty that catches the eye of one or two men she comes across in London.

                                  Of course, what we all know, as a reader, is that each of these women has a past and some of it is so scandalous it makes Desperate Housewives look like a TV show for kids in the morning! I can compare this book to Desperate Housewives as it happens, because each of these women have secrets and goals, and if that means screwing someone over in the meantime, then so be it, because Molly and Karin always get what they want.

                                  I loved the way Tasmina Perry describes her characters and describes those steamy sex scenes. She really draws you in as a reader and you get an excellent picture of what is happening. She also grips you in as each chapter ends like an episode of Desperate Housewives, where something major has just happened and you just can't resist knowing what the outcome is going to be. But of course, with the TV show, we have to wait a week, where-as with this book, we just turn a page and continue the story.

                                  There are so many twists and turns and alot of back stabbing that I even found myself gasping, which made my boyfriend ask what I had found out that was shocking! When I told him, he just rolled his eyes and laughed. It is abit over the top and far too scandalous for real life, but I think that's what draws me in. That's what makes this book an excellent read and by the end, you are just dying to have your questions answered, and the way Tasmina does this is brilliant. I was truly shocked in the end and I couldn't actually stop thinking about it! Yes that's sad but it really was a perfect way to end the book.

                                  I would highly recommend this book for any woman looking to spice up their book collection. What's great about this is that, after reading 'Daddy's Girls', some of the characters names (Serina Balcon is one of them) are mentioned. Nothing too major so that you HAVE to read 'Daddy's Girls' before this, it's just great how the whole glamourous environment is all too familiar and well known amongst the groups of billionaires and models. If I were to choose out of this book and Tasmina's debut novel that I reviewed afew weeks ago, I would say that Gold Diggers is probably the better of the two, but I would still strongly suggest you read both of them as they are two great novels from one great author who I cannot wait to announce another novel.

                                  This book is perfect to devour on a hot beach, but since we are getting colder and colder, then this book would be perfect for sitting infront of the fire with a nice glass of wine, or in my case, Vanilla Vodka and Orange! If I could, I would've taken this book into work with me and read it on my lunch break, but I think we all know that having our lunch at work is not always a good idea because you get mithered left, right and centre.

                                  Overall, this is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and had me shocked in several places. I am a lover of Desperate Housewives and this book did remind me of the shocks, twists and revelations that happen on the TV show, so if you love that, you will adore this book.

                                  EXTRA INFORMATION
                                  ------
                                  I can't seem to find this book in paperback version, so I had to use pretty much my whole £10 voucher to buy this in hardback form.

                                  Amazon.co.uk
                                  Hardback new - £8.44 + delivery
                                  Hardback used and new - from £7.00 + delivery

                                  Pages - 512
                                  Publisher - Harper (2nd July 2007)

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