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I really love the Beatles and find John Lennon an intriguing, if not always very likeable person. So, I thought this book, written by his first wife Cynthia Lennon, would be an interesting read. Affter all, she was with him long before the Beatles became famous, had his first son and was married to him throughout the sixties, until Yoko Ono came along.
The book takes us from their days together at art college, to Lennon going to Hamburg, to his reaction to them having Julian (to go on holiday to Spain!) and throughout the madness of Beatlemania. She also covers the years he lived in New York, befire he was murdered, but this is more through the eyes of her son.
It really is a very interesting read, her time with John was obviously very personal and he really does come across as someone who is very flawed. Talented and funny, but to be honest not that nice, she talks about Lennon taking the mickey out of Julian's laugh, the controlling ways of Yoko and the fact that John was violent to her during the early days of their relationship. It's not always a comfortable read! Does it ever come across as bitter? Well, yes, a little, but it would be hard for it not to.
It is easy enough to read, Cynthia is no Shakespeare, but then she doesn't need to be. It's from her point of view. There's some behind the scenes pictures of course and they are great to look at.
This is a very absorbing read, a must for Beatles fans, but a good read for those who might only have a passing interest in Lennon. I do feel I know him more. Recommended.
I have this in hardback and I'm not sure of the price as it was a Christmas present.
I am not a big vitamin taker, believing that if you have a decent diet then you shouldn't really need to take any. But, every now and then, if I have an unhealthly few days or if Im feeling a bit rundown then I will take a multi-vitamin.
Many vitamins taste rancid, so I opeted for some nice Blackcurrant flavoured ones from Bassett's. The packet I have looks nothing like the picture above (were Durex involved in the design?) and it has some pictures of blackcurrants on instead - much nicer than the one above!
The vitamins come in a small cardboard box, with three blister packs full. They are not like tables but are ore like chewy sweets or pastilles and they are bigger than tablets are. They are indeed fairly chewy - a bit like a wine gum - but not stupidly so, but my teeth are in good shape. They would be good if you struglgle to take tablets.
They do taste a bit like blackcurrant but it's not a strong taste and they don't have a particular smell.
The vitamins are a multi-vitamin - so they contain a range of vitaimns - from A to E, folic acid and some B vitamins. Obviously it can be dangerous to have too much of one vitamin so I would be careful.
Do they work? No idea. I'm still alive an fairly healthy I guess, but I don't take them very often and much prefer to get my vitamins from food, not tablets, but they are good to have, just in case. As vitamins go, they are the ones I prefer and I will stick to them.
They are quite expensive at £3.50 a pack, this is OK for me as I don'tt take them every day but for only 30 vitamins, this would be quite costly if they were for the whole family.
So pretty good for what they are, but it would be a lot cheaper to eat properly! And nicer too.
Not a nice subject this but we've all been in the delicate situation of having diarrhoea - sometimes coupled with sickness - and it's just plain miserable and nasty.
A couple of years ago I had such a bout and frankly after 48 hours of non-stop... well, you know what... I was exhausted, in pain, crying nad basically feeling totally awful. After contacting NHS Direct, I knew it wasn't anything serious, but I really needed some relief. I usually think that you should let nature take its course (unless you're about to board a plane or something!) but I had lost ten pounds by this point and I'm only a size 8-10 to begin with!
So I took two of these - they melt in your mouth and promise instant relief. You don't need to take them with any water, so they are good if you struggle to take tablets.
They certainly do work. Within 30 minutes all previous bottom related activity had stopped and I felt a million times better.
They are very easy to take and not hard to swallow and they really do work. Perfect for the times when you need some relief or you have somewhere important to go to.
They come in a handy little packet too, aren't at all heavy to carry and are OK for the over 12s, though read the guidance as always.
One word of warning - don't take these unless you are prepared for a back up in the system. I once took one of these for a motorway trip and I didn't use the toliet for four days!
Price-wise - these aren't cheap at over £3 for just six tablets but I don't think you will get better. They can be a lifesaver. I always buy some for holidays now and I can't really praise them enough.
I have been a fan of Louise Bagshawe for a while, she usually provides the perfect beach read. However, I haven't quite enjoyed her past couple as much as some of her older ones, but I found this for £1 in my local charity shop, so thought I might as well give it a go.
This story centres around Lisa Costello, an 'ordinary' Brit who wakes up the morning after her expensive, glamourous wedding to a man she doesn't love, in Thailand, to find her hotshot Hollywood producer husband Josh, lying dead in the bed next to her. She is covered in blood and holding a dagger. With no memory of the night before, Lisa goes on the run.
Is she the killer? Was she set-up?
Hot on her heels is ex-FBI, celebrity journalist Sam who is set to make a fortune if he finds Lisa and gets the exclusive the world's media wants.
Becoming convinced Lisa is innocent, the pair go on the run. Will romance blossom? Will they find the real killer? Will there be a series of unlikely narrow escapes? A couple of quite frankly, not that good, hitmen? A protagonist with a not that believable reason for killing Josh?
Bet you can answer all of those eh?
Yep, this novel is predictable. To say the least. How many times has this story been done? It's written well enough and it's certainly an easy read but it was so cliché ridden that I ended up feeling it was lazy story-telling.
The relationship between Sam and Lisa doesn't really ring true for me, it didn't seem genuine, likeable enough though they are. One thing I do like, is that she always includes a strong female heroine and she has in this too.
I did finish the book, but it wasn't gripping, it was obvious what was going to happen and I wasn't actually that fussed about who killed Josh - I actually was hoping for a huge twist, but there wasn't one.
The plot is just a little bit silly and a very overused format, so if you don't mind suspending belief, then I'm sure you will enjoy it.
I really like Louise Bagshawe's earlier books, her London-based ones especially (I love Tall Poppies for example) but this is really not good enough.
If you've not read her books before, then go for an earlier one. And if you have, do what I did and pick up a charity shop bargain!
Must do better!
As I stated in a previous review, I jetted off to Thailand a couple of motnhs ago, doing a day in Dubai on the way. I have quite fair skin and plenty of freckles, though I do tan, so clearly, with temperatures of 40 degrees in Dubai, I needed some sun protection.
Along with SPF 25, I took SPF 30 with me and used that for the first few days, but once I have a bit of colour I do like to use a slightly less high SPF, but with good protection.
I have used Soltan for years and it's pretty much always on offer in Boots - so for £9 I got two bottles of sun lotion. I do have quite sensiitve skin and Soltan has never bothered me in any way. All Soltan products have five star UVA protection as well as the UVB protection - UVA ages and UVB burns so both are crucual as far as I'm concerned, I don't want to look like a crocodile in 20 years!
I also love the smell of coconut on holiday, so I decided to go for this one. All sun lotions come in the yelllow-orange bottles, with a flip lid.
The lotion is white and can be a little runny, which is a minus point but it's easy to slather on. The smell of coconut wasn't overly strong, but to be honest that wasn't a major issue, as it was mixed in with sweat, sea and sand!
I do find that the design of the bottles does mean that sand can get under the lid (mind you, sand gets everywhere) so that can be a little annoying when trying to apply the lotion, though I suppose it does double as an exfoliator.
But the main thing is - does it work? Well, simply, yes it does. Like all lotions, much of it depends on the user - do you put enough on, reapply regularly and whether you over do it in the sun. And I have to say, I did burn a little, but I think that was my two-hour nap in the sun, rather than anything else
I;m happy with Soltan and will continue to use it.
Back in May, I went on holiday to Thailand. Whilst I was mostly sunning myself on the gorgeous beaches of Southern Thailand, I also went on a jungle trip to Khao Sok National Park, an area where there have been a handful of cases of malaria.
As mozzies love me at the best of times (I have a bite on my arm as I type!), I knew that I would be eaten alive somewhere tropical. So, on the advice of a nurse, I got this spray - for the tropics you need a spray with a high level of DEET and this has 50 per cent.
It's a pump spary and advises that you put it on clean, dry skin and apply regularly, covering up legs and arms etc. As we all know, this is easier said that done when it's 33 degrees! The bottle is quite a bright green, so you certainly can't miss it.
A real downside is the smell - don't use it in enclosed spaces, you will probably choke. It really made me sneeze and cough whenever I put it on. It smells like a really strong household cleaner.
So, I used this spray in the evenings when I was in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan and to be fair I only got bitten once or twice. I entered the jungle and used this spray a lot - and quite frankly, I ended up with about 20 bites.
Now, obviously, I am well-loved in the insect world but clearly if this spray worked 100 per cent - then I wouldn't have been bitten at all, would I? It's hard to say how effective the spray is - if I hadn't worn it, would I have been bitten 40 times? I'll never know!
This cost me about £6.99 and it lasted quite well, so a bonus there. I would buy it again because I'd rather have somethign protecting me than nothing, but DEET won't be effective for everyone and there are some quite expensive repellents out there. Your best bet really is to cover up, sleep with air con on and a mozzy net!
I can't give it five stars so it gets three from me.
This Dove deodrant is a roll-on and comes in several different fragrances -this one being Grapefruit and Lemongrass. It comes in a small white bottle, with a screw-lid and looks very much like roll-on deodrants do. They did change the shape of these bottles a few years ago, which annoyed me a bit as they used to be much easier to hold and made a great mic for singing into (yes, yes, I know I'm 27 and should grow up!). TThe ball is at the bottom so it's quick and easy to apply the deodrant and you stand the deodrant up on its lid. It lasts a good length of time, I do think roll-ons last better than sprays.
That aside, this deodrant is the only one I can use. I have quite sensitive skin and other deodrants tend to bring me out in a rash - Dove doesn't though.
In terms of how effective it is, I'm not someone who sweats a great deal but I never have a problem with sweaty underarms when wearing this. It doesn't leave white marks on clothes, which is also good. It dries quickly too, so useful if you are in a hurry.
I don't think this is especially strong-smelling, but then I don't tend to go round sniffing under my armpits, it smells nice enough, but not the strong smell I associate with lemon. And I can't smell the grapefruit at all. I don't tend to need to reapply it during the day.
You can usually pick this up for betwween £1.50 and £2 and I would recommend this for those with more sensitive skin. I do think this is a genuinely good product but I will take one star off for not quite smelling as advertised - and for depriving me of a mic!
Shopaholic Ties the Knot is the third in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. This time, Becky Bloomwood is living in New York, engaged to boyfriend Luke and working as a personal shopper at Barneys. She has grown up a little but still shops far too much and has an apartment full of clothes and other purchases. So far, so good.
Throw in Luke's selfish and standoffish mother, Elinor and the fact that Becky has somehow agreed to two very different weddings, one in England in her parent's garden and one at the Plaza Hotel in New York, with a enchanted forest and a Sleeping Beauty theme and both due to take place on the same day. There you have the recipe for the usual Bloomwood misunderstandings, secret-keeping, general bizarre happenings and just plain old fantasy.
If you've ever read one of Kinsella's books, then you will know her formula of sightly neurotic, good-hearted, kooky (I hate that word, but it does fit in ths case) heroines. This is more of the same. It's all written in the first person, which some may find odd, but I dont mind it.
As long as you suspend belief at any indvidual being so able to totally bury her head in the sand and get herself in the most enormous pickles, then you will no doubt warm to the main character. She is certainly likeable, though I'm not sure I could be friends with her in real life.
The same characters from previous books are there - Becky's well-meaning but slightly eccentric parents and her bezzie Suze, along with a few new ones - such as her struggling designer friend, Danny.
I do enjoy Sophie Kinsella's writing and I have enjoyed the Shopaholic series - I think this might be the weaker out of the five novels so far, in that it really is a bit unbeliveable. It's still fun and reading about the over the top Plaza wedding is funny. The characters are all (Luke's Mother aside) likeable and great fun to read about.
I do think this one is lacking a little bit in an emotional heart - some of the Luke and his Mother issues feel a little odd don't ring totally truly.
But all in all, this is a great beach read and a must for fans of the author and of the Shopaholic series. It's an easy read and I did enjoy it. I am pleased to say that they are all better than the film, which I thought was totally dire.
I read this book as part of my book club and wouldn't normally have picked it up - but am glad I did.
One Day is a book that centres around two main characters - Dex and Em - who end up in bed together the day of their graduation on July 15 - St Swithin's Day. The book then revisits the pair every year for the next 20 years - always on the same day as they met, dedicating chapter to each day.
It explores the pair's friendship, their 'will they, won't they' relationship, growing up and growing older and all the challenges, happiness and sadness that can bring. Em is very opininated and quite idealistic, whereas Dex is quite materialistic and lives life to the extreme - so clearly they do clash, but part of that is explored in the book.
It really is an interesting book, with quite a unique style. Because of the way it is set out, you do miss what seems to be fairly significant events - births, funerals, weddings - but this actually makes you want more of the story.
Dex and Em aren't always likeable, they can sometimes be quite annoying, but we can all be like that, so it does make them very relatable and you find yourself genuinely caring about them as they get older and the book progresses.
It explores growing up and gettign older and I think that is something we can all relate to, it really is well done. It also looks at life in the 80s and 90s, so if you were a student back in 1988, you will really identify with this. However, I was only five in 1988 and I still found it a great read.
Even though the style of this book could make it feel disjointed, it actually flows very well and you never feel like the characters have been lost.
There are a few moments where you just wish they would get on with it and DO IT - but life isn't perfect and this novel shows how opportunities can be missed and how life can sometimes pass you by.
Some of the comments on the book itself talk about social commentary but to be honest, I'm not sure that's what the author intended - it's just a book about two people who could be any one of us and their lives.
This is a great book. Funny, sad and genuinely heartwarming. Read it.
I have been using this cleanser for as long as I can remember - it claims to be purifying and cleansing. Like all Simple products in comes in the familiar green and white packaging and promises not to have any harsh or perfumed ingredients, though the latest version contains vitamin pro-5.
I use this as a make-up remover primarily and I also use it to take eye make-up off. It did used to say on the bottle that it was gentle enough to do this, but it doesn't seem to say that anymore - but I haven't had any problems, my eyes haven't been affected.
I do have skin that is prone to spots so I do try to keep it as clean as possible and not to overload it with chemicals or ingredients - so the Simple brand is ideal.
The bottle itself has a lid and you then squeeze the cleanser out. You can't see how much is left but this isn't an issue. The cleanser is white, doesn't have a smell and is fairly thick. I don't find that it is too runny. My skin feels clean afterwards and moisturised too - but not too greasy. I also use it on my neck and that feels clean too. I find it good for getting make-up off but also for general dirt! It also doesn't aggravate any spots, which is good.
I find that I use a fair bit - probably two ten pence sized-blobs - to take my make-up off. I find that I don't need to scrub hard to get my make-up off, which is good for my skin and good because it doesn't take too long to take my make-up off!
The fact that I have been using this for probably ten years shows how happy I am with it. It doesn't cost a fortune either, so it's good value for money. I find that it lasts for about a month and I use it every day.
I'm happy with this cleanser and would reccmmend it - I can't really think of any cons to using it.
I am not blessed with the kind of hair that effortlessly flows down my back, looking thick, healthy and glossy. Oh no. My hair does indeed flow down my back - but it is super-fine (my best 'friend' once said I had hair the exact same consistency and colour as a Barbie doll. I took this to be an insult) and very fluffy.
My hair is naturally fairly straight - though it goes wavy if I don't blow-dry it - but holds more static than a power station. So, you can see my dilemma - I need something to smooth the static but also something that won't weigh my hair down and make it look greasy.
Step foward, Sheer Blonde Spun Gold Balm. This product comes in a circular silver tin, with a twisty lid and contains a yellow-gold balm. It doesn't have much of a smell and you need to use a small amount between your fingers, to smooth over the hair. The tin is wasy to store and the product doesn't get the container greasy.
It is a little gooey and you have to be careful to only use a small amount -too much and your hair will look like it needs a wash. I find that a small amount works well and smooths my hair, making it less fluffy and calms down the static. I recently used it on holiday in Thailand - the humdity and my hair did not get on - and it worked well. The downside is that it does make your hands greasy and you need to give them a wash after.
Because you only need a very small amount, it lasts for ages. I actually can't remember how long I've had mine, but it's years and it hasn't gone off or lost any effectiveness, so good value for money.
I'm not sure it really makes the hair blonder as it claims but I don't really use it for that. I've not really used it for hair texture either so can't comment on that but it is good at smoothing hair.
I've had it so long, I can't remember how much it was but I would recommend it to fellow Barbies!
Logic is - put simply - a toothpaste for cats and dogs. It looks like a normal toothpaste and comes in tube just like human toothpaste. I squeezes out of the top as normal toothpaste does and isn't too gooey, so not too messy. It's more of a gel than a paste. I've only used it on my cat so I don't know how good it is for dogs.
My cat's teeth are a bit manky, so I bought this off the Pet Meds website - it advises either brushing your pet's teeth with your finger or by popping a splodge on their paw to lick it off.
I quite like my hands and arms as they are, so in the interests of self-preservation, I first attempted to put this on the paw. In turns out I didn't need to, the cat quite likes this and licks it out of the tube. He does sometimes refuse it, but that's purely to anny me and remind me who's boss, rather than anything to do with the paste. I admit my cat will eat pretty much anything (he loves pasta) but it beats having to chase him or pin him down - as I have to with his worming tablets! Thumbs up for the ease of applying!
Are his teeth any better? Well that's hard to say. I've only been using it on him for a few months so it will take a bt longer to know that. I also give him Iams as the vet receommnded them for his teeth too. But for a few pounds, it certainly beats the alternatve of future kitty dental work!
This is a good little product - cheap, easy to apply, the cat finds it quite tasty and it might help prevent painfula nd expensive surgery. What's not to like?
It cost me about six pounds and I use it a couple of times a week on the cat (it does say use daily but I have the memory of a goldfish) and there's still plenty left.
As I've said before, I find Carole Matthews a little hit and miss, but as I only paid £2 for this book in Oxfam, I decided it didn't matter too much whether it was any good or not.
It's a kind of magic centres around Emma, a 30 year-old with an eccentric, forgetful and rather unusual boyfriend, who she dumps after he turns up to her 30th birthday plastered and passes out in her cake. She stills loves him but wants him to be a better boyfriend.
Things take a turn for the bizarre when Leo meets an unusual woman called Isobel - who turns out to be rather 'magical'. Do he and Emma get back together? What is Izzy's secret? Does Leo learn to love and does Emma loosen up?
Like most Matthew's novels, there are a few quirky characters in this - namely Leo's city work buddies. I enjoy her writing style and it is easy to read and follow. The chapters are quite short and flip between the viewpoints of the main characters, which I enjoy as it gives you a different perspective.
In terms of plot, I found the magical aspect of things a little odd, when compared to what this author normally writes about - I can't help but wonder if she was trying to outdo Cecelia Ahern - if so, I'm afriad Ahern does this kind of thing much better - it's hard to say what without giving the plot away but it centres aound something quite otherworldly.
I did like the characters, especially Leo and I warmed to Emma through the novel, I was less certian about Isobel.
One thing I did find annoying and quite preachy was several references to women delaying childhood for careers and being unable to settle for men. I found this quite a stereotypical image - many women I know would like to have kids, but want to have met the right person first - it's not all about careers! I found the references quite irritating.
Overall, I did feel there was something lacking in this book - I wasn't truly convinced of Leo and Emma's lobe for each other and didn't feel that excited about them. I also found some of the plot a little off.
It's still a decent read and did enjoy it, but I think the author is capable of much better.
Like most women, I am forever in search of the perfect mascara - you know that one that will give me thick, full lashes for less than a tenner. As part of this search I picked up Maybelline's Falsies mascara, which claims it will give me these lashes.
The tube cost me about £7, which is reasonable and the tube is purple and quite thick, with a curved wand. It looks like quite a young, trendy product. The wand is easy to grip and hold.
I have reasonably long and thick lashes already and I like them to look fairly natural in the day and a bit vampier when I go out.
This mascara is very thick and whilst I can see the idea behind the curved wand (you have to make sure you're applying it by using the right side of the wand - see the diagram on the packet) it is very densly packed together and this leads to too much mascara on the wand. This then leads to... clumps. Not a good look.
I've found I can combat this a little by scaping the wand on the tube before applying it but even then it is still a bit clumpy.
On the positive side, it does make eyelashes look thicker, darker and longer (though they certainly don't look like they're false!) - though the effect us ruined a little by lashes being stuck together! I would invest in an eyelash comb for use with this product! One coat is usually enough for me, though I have used two for nights out.
I find is lasts OK, gets me through a working day easily, so not bad. It can be tricky to get off, it takes a fair amount of wiping with cleanser.
So for a reasonably cheap mascara it does a decent enough job, though the clumping is the real down side. I'm still searching for that perfect mascara though...
I have been feeling pretty rubbish this week, with a runny nose, sore throat, barking cough and general ickiness (yes, that's a medical term.)
So in order to hopefully relieve some of these symptoms, I went and had a look in Boots. I wanted something that would help all my symptoms and be OK to take without causing drowsiness etc.
Looking round, I saw that Lemsip cold and flu tablets were twice the price of these Boots ones. So, I went for the Boots option, which was around £2 for 16 tablets. They promise to help relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and contain vitamin C.
The tablets come in the standard blister pack, in a box, and are capsules, rather than tablets. They are pretty easy to swallow and don't really taste of anything. They contain paracetamol so you can't take any other products containing this.
The usual restrictions regarding age and pregnancy apply and you will need to follow the guidelines for taking them as well as check the ingredients for anything you may be allergic to.
So... did they work? Am I now snot-free, cough free and glowing with health? Well, no I am not. I still have all my symptoms and I can't say I feel any better at all, thanks to these tablets. I have taken them for a couple of days.
Now obviously, we all react differently to medication - that's why some people have a great time on morphine and others - like me - puke up.
So, if you're someone who finds these sorts of tablets help, then I'm sure they are as good as the Lemsip ones - the ingredients are pretty generic after all. If you're like me, and have finally decided that the only things that get rid of a cold, is plain old-fashioned rest and time, then I wouldn't bother with these.
If you have a high temperature, then just normal paracetamol will do a better job and cost a lot less too! My opinion? Save your money, take a couple of paracetamol and get an early night.