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'The One'. That is certainly a bold statement for a perfume brand to make, but in this case I can't argue with them, this is certainly my favourite perfume.
The perfume comes in a gold box with Dolce & Gabbana clearly printed on the front, with the fragrance title 'The One'. The packaging is simply, but sophisticated in its gold colouring, which emphasises that it is the one.
The bottle itself is also simple. The glass is clear, but the perfume itself is gold in colour, matching with the packaging at the lid on the top of the bottle. Having a clear bottle means that it is easier to see how much is left inside, which is important with this fragrance as you wouldn't want to run out. The lid is a gold coloured rectangle that lifts off to reveal a small spray pump which is easy to depress.
This is a light but powerful fragrance, which is enjoyable from the top notes right down to the base notes.
The head notes, or top notes, consist of mandarin, peach, bergamot and lychee scents which give it a very light and fruity scent. I like this part of the fragrance as it isn't too sharp and heavy; some perfumes seem to have too strong head notes as if they are trying too hard to grab your attention.
The heart notes are more floral with aromas of jasmine and lily. This follows on nicely from the fruitiness of the top notes and gives it a very feminine smell.
The base notes have a real warmth as they are made up of vanilla, musk and plum.
The overall effect of these scents is a warm and fruity fragrance that is light and pleasant to wear.
The Staying Power:
This scent certainly does last well, I can still catch wisps of its scent ages after I applied it, and only a small amount of the perfume is needed for a fabulous effect, too much may make the fruity scents overpowering.
This perfume can also be bought with a perfumed body lotion. The bottle is white with a gold lid, which is at the bottom of the bottle, so you don't have to wait for ages for the lotion to run down once you start to get low. It contains 50ml (1.6 Fl oz) of lotion and perfectly matches the perfume's scent. There is also deodorant, shower gel and bath milk in the range.
I didn't find that this perfume was particularly expensive, particularly considering the use I get out of it. On the perfume shop I found a bottle of 30ml (1.1 Fl oz) for £33.50, one of 50ml (1.7 Fl oz) for 47.50 and one of 75ml (2.5 Fl oz) for £62.00
Apple sauce and a pork chop is truly a match made in heaven, one can't be had without the other.
Baxter's sauce is definitely a sauce as opposed to wet chunks of apple, this is the way that I personally like my apple sauce, so that it is easier to douse my pork chop, and it seeps into the meat. There are some apple pieces in this sauce but if you prefer more then a more expensive sauce is for you, or perhaps a homemade one; http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/applesauce has a good recipe.
The sauce goes down very smoothly and has a sweet taste that balances the natural bitterness of cooking apples, which makes for an exciting, zingy taste which doesn't overpower the meat, it rather enhances it.
The taste and saucy texture of this condiment complements the savoury flavour and chewy texture of the meat, making a more enjoyable sensation.
Baxter's sauce is suitable for vegetarian's and is also gluten free. The ingredients are apples (64%), water, sugar, modified cornflour, lemon juice, malic acid, antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid) and preservative (potassium sorbate).
The price for a jar of Baxter's apple sauce varies where you buy it. The cost usually ranges between about 95 pence to £1.30
This is a very tasty accompaniment, however I would say that I don't see much difference in taste, texture and quality than that of Sainsbury's or Tesco's own, which cost around 42p.
Right from the name this is an attractive perfume. The name diamonds was designed to appeal to 'Armani' woman; those considered to exude elegance, desirability and sexiness. This perfume certainly is worthy of this kind of woman.
The perfume came in a fairly simple box with the words Emporio Armani written, with the eagle logo in between and 'Diamonds' written below. It is also studded in a few places to look as though there are diamonds on the box. The simple design has a good effect and I like the way Armani don't make their packaging too fancy as that is the part that is going to be instantly thrown away.
The bottle itself is clear glass cut with triangles and diamond shapes to make it look like a diamond itself. The effect is stunning. On the top of the bottle is a large, rectangle, chrome spray, with a large depress button, making it harder to miss or end up with most of the perfume on your finger. The front of the bottle as the simple Giorgio Armani logo. The bottle curves itself nicely into your palm as you pick it up to spray.
The bottle contains 50 ml of perfume (1.7 Fl oz), there is a 30ml bottle available (1.01 Fl oz). The perfume itself is clear, with a slight bluish tint which gives a nice look to the diamond glass.
The head notes of this perfume, also known as the top notes, which are the first scent you sense after spraying the perfume and do not last long, have a sharp raspberry scent which I personally find a little shocking, but it then moves into the heart notes which are my favourite.
These heart, or middle notes, are very floral with fragrances of rose, lily of the valley and freesia. The base notes also have a nice scent, they are more woody with smells of vanilla and cedar. Overall it is a very refreshing scent and isn't too heavy.
Thierry Wasser designed this fragrance for Armani, and seeing as he has created scents for brands such as Dior he wasn't going to make a mistake with this scent. Diamonds follows his classic floral tones.
Once you have sprayed the perfume you definitely know you are wearing it with its strong top notes. I find the initial scent too strong for me, but as it settles in it becomes a perfume that is comfortable to wear, either during the day, to work or on a night out. I didn't find that the perfume had as good a staying power as some of my other perfumes, like Dolce and Gabbana, but it was still around for a little while and I do find that as I move about I get the occasional extra wave of rose or vanilla.
If you are looking to buy this perfume remember that it is an Armani product and you are going to pay for the name, a lot of their perfumes are around £40 for a 50ml bottle. I would recommend shopping around online as you may be able to get 30ml bottle for about £20 on the right websites. The perfume shop website may be a good place to look.
Evolution is a definitely one of my favourite shops. It is a gift shop and is quite unique, although I have seen some of their products in other shops, but always at the same price.
Evolution has a range of products from small items of furniture, like stalls and tables, to keepsake boxes, trinkets and candles and incense to small toys like wooden planes, miniature ukuleles and flashing jellyfish.
Their home ware section consists of the keepsake and photo boxes, unique teapots and clocks, bookends, salt and pepper figurine shakers and animal doorstops. They also have lots of wooden models like elephants and giraffes, as well as some glass ones. Evolution sells a great range of beautiful picture frames, and ornaments like jewellery stand and patterned wind chimes.
The light and scent part of the shop has many unusual candles; shaped as flowers or hearts. You can buy different flavoured incense from them as well.
Their accessories include small bags and purses, although these don't look particularly practical to me; they don't have pouches to keep certain things in so you would have to just dive in and some of them look as though they are fit to fall apart. Evolution also sells scarves, animal key rings and a range of jewellery. A lot of the jewellery is wooden, beaded, or small guardian angels. They sell bracelets, necklaces and a few rings and earrings.
At the moment Evolution are publicising their range of cupcake accessories. They are selling jam pots, salt and pepper shakers, teapots, mugs and more, all in the shape of cupcakes. I have to say I am quite tempted by these; they have a very cute look, but are still acceptable for a mature woman.
The majority of the items in Evolution are of a reasonable price. Most of the candles are between £2.50 to £5.00, with just some of the very large and intricate ones being more expensive. I think this is great value anyway, but as they have such detailed candles it is particularly so.
The home ware range is a bit more expensive, but it is not begrudgingly given as they have some really pretty and useful items. Most of the pepper shakers are around £6.00, whereas some of the more decretive items like book ends and door stops are £12.50. Some of the keepsake boxes may seem over priced, there is a quite small, plain wooden box for £10.00 in the shop at the moment, but it is of good quality.
A lot of the jewellery is quite cheap or reasonably priced and the scarves are only around £5.00, although most of these scarves are more for aesthetics than to keep you warm by the looks of them. The little purses and pouches are around £3.00, which I think is a fair price for them.
Evolution believes in ethical trading. They are owned by the Windhorse Trust which shares out the company's profits to projects that they are in support of. The company also promotes the Buddhist way of life, even though most of the staff are not Buddhists themselves.
The aims of Evolution are to pay a fair price for the products they then sell, build up personal connections with all of their suppliers, ensure that all have fair wages and they are working in suitable conditions, be aware of any environmental issues and give back some of their profit to aid the communities where their products are made. They also want to nurture craftsmanship.
I love to go and just browse in this shop most of the time, whenever I go into town I nip in, even if I have no intension of buying anything. My favourite things to look at are their keepsake boxes, I have bought a few of them to keep little mementos in, they do have some really lovely ones. I also like their little figurines, I have bought my sister some of their little elephants; she loves them.
I really like their candles and incense, and although I tend to buy my incense from markets looking through Evolution's range gives me ideas for what I would like to get. They have some very unique candles, although with some of them it would be a shame to burn.
The chain of Evolution shops appears to be growing, which I am glad about as it is not only a shop with beautiful products, but also one with reasonable prices and a fair working ethic. As Evolution is owned by the Windhorse Trust it is unlikely that as the company grows it will forget its aims and principles.
I am not a fan of trawling round shops, fighting through the crowds, to return home with some top which I only bought so I didn't feel that the battle was a waste of time. So when I found out about ASOS I thought this is the way for me.
ASOS is an online shop which sells clothes from leading brands like All Saints, Wheels and Dollbaby and French Connection, and they have their own ASOS Collection. A lot of their clothes are cheaper versions of outfits seen on celebrities, hence the acronym As Seen On Screen.
Having a shop online makes things so much easier for the shopper. There is a search bar where you can write a description or product code if you know it, or if you're not sure of what you're after you can hover over dresses, tops, t-shirts, knits, jackets, jeans and more categories. Once you have decided what sort of thing you are looking for you then have the choice to narrow the search down by colour, size, price range, brand, celebrity style or product type. You can also reorder the products according to relevance, price and how new it is.
There are also sections for men and children, beauty, designer, outlet and life. You can also search through the lists of brands.
So what about prices? ASOS ranges from the ridiculously expensive (£385 for a dress and you can match that with £120 for a pair of leggings) to the perfectly affordable; tops for £6. They also have a clearance sale on most of the time and you can sometimes get discounts through if they start sending you their magazine. These are usually £10 off if you spend over a certain amount.
The website itself does have quite a nice layout; it is clear and easy to use without looking too bare. The homepage has the logo and departments at the top, along with a search bar, shopping bag summary, account log in, help and option to change the currency. The rest of the page shows models in the latest fashion, a 15% sale and the September issue of the magazine. Once you've chosen the item you want to look at you can flick through three or four photos of it, with certain products also the different colours. You can also zoom in on certain areas and make the whole picture bigger. I like that the item is always shown on a model to give you a better idea of what it would look like when being worn, even if most of them are stick insects. There is a choice of what sizes are available, sometimes in 6, 8, 12, or in small, medium, large, but always with the numbered size beside it and a size guide to help. There is information on the product, care, delivery and returns. There are four products shown that would 'Complete the Look' and items other customers bought with it.
Once the item is chosen you can go to your bag and chose to pay securely through the account you set up with them. You can ask them not to save your card details. At this point there is a chance to put in any discount code you may have and to choose delivery.
For delivery there is a Super Saver which is free and takes up to six working days, but I've never known it to take more than four. The UK Standard is £3.95, or free if you've spent over £75, and takes three working days. UK Next Day delivery is £5.95 or free if you've spent more than £100, you can only do this before 7pm on weekdays and before 2pm on a Sunday. UK nominated day is £5.95, you can choose up to seven days in advance. UK same day delivery, it is for selected post codes only, costs £7.95 and has to be ordered before 2pm midweek and midday at weekends. There is international shipping. To the Americas it takes about seven days and costs about $6.00. There is also an express option which takes about three days and costs $12. To Europe it takes about five days and cost is from Euro6.00, or express is to days and the price is from Euro12.00. For the rest of the world it costs £10.50 and takes five days, express takes two days and costs £20.
I have always been happy with the products I have bought so I can't tell you how reliable they are but the product must be in its original condition and must be returned within twenty-eight. ASOS promises to refund the product, but not the delivery charge. They will also exchange for a different size or colour.
I love this website, not just the way of shopping but the products they have too. I don't think I've ever been on the site without going 'Ooo I'll have that, but I like that, oh and that!'
This is a beautiful story of family bonds, a little romance and a mystery.
Cassandra thought her Grandma Nell had always been the same; quiet, sometimes stern, loving but liked keeping herself to herself.
However Nell had once been the life and soul of every party and deeply in love with a local man.
So what had changed?
On Nell's 21st birthday a family secret is unleashed on her, making her realise that she never was this Nell who lived in Brisbane with her Ma, Pa and four sisters.
She gradually detached herself from this life and began trying to solve the mystery the secret left her, a mystery she passed onto her granddaughter, which would take her to the other side of the world.
I absolutely love this book. Even the title 'The Forgotten Garden' and the front cover (by Loupe Images) of an old gateway leading into the garden draws you in.
The relationship between Nell and her granddaughter is very touching, although I felt sorry for Cassandra when she discovered that the woman she thought she had no secrets with had had a whole other life that she hadn't told her about. Even so, I like the way the younger woman was so able to understand how her grandmother would have felt; when Dot has told her how Nell was found she says:
' "She must have felt so alone."
"Too right," said Dot, "All that way by herself. Weeks and weeks on that big ship, winding up on an empty dock."
"And all the time after." '
None of Nell's sisters understand what she means, even Cassandra herself isn't sure, but that is just how Nell did feel.
Another thing I like about this book is the way it jumps between pre-war 1900s to the 1930s, 1970s, 2005 and Eliza Makepeace's fairytales. This way of writing holds the interest of the reader and keeps them one step ahead of the characters.
Kate Morton is very good at coming up with names that reflect the personality of the characters; Eliza Makepeace is one of my favourite names in the book as it really does sound like the name of a fairytale authoress. Her brother, Sammy, also suites him name, and their father is not made to sound any less masculine by his surname when it is matched with the name Jonathan. Nell particularly suites her name, which gives the impression that with Hugh and Lil, who gave her that name, was where she was meant to be. Also the name Leslie conjures up an image similar to that described of Nell's daughter.
The way the book was written between the points of view of Eliza, Nell and Cassandra heightened the feeling of unity between the women of the family.
Through the book we find Nell as a stern, independent woman, but we get to see her as vulnerable when she is searching for her parents.
I found this book for £7.99 which I was definitely willing to pay for it, but it can probably be found cheaper. The book is 645 pages long.
The final book in the Harry Potter saga promises to be the most scary, thrilling and dangerous one yet.
Following the death of his beloved headmaster Dumbledore at the hands of Snape, Harry has been left the formidable task of locating and destroying You-Know-Who's remaining Horcruxes.
The task, seeming so impossible, has left Harry feeling isolated and hopeless, as more and more good people are turned, in fear, towards the Dark Lord, and he must leave Ginny and Hogwarts in order to fulfil his charge, but, as always, he is never totally alone. No matter how tough it gets, Ron and Hermione will be there as long as they can be.
But even they can't lift the weight of what he must do to save the good people of the wizarding world and unsuspecting muggles alike.
However on top of this mammoth task Dumbledore has left a puzzle for Harry and his friends to solve; The Deathly Hallows. How can they discover the answer to the professor's riddle? And is Riddle himself already after them? Who will the Hallows recognise as their master?
This book has the task of bringing the series to a climactic end and answering the questions that have been raised in previous books. 'The Deathly Hallows' does a good job of fulfilling this.
We are finally able to understand why Harry can feel You-Know-Who's strong emotions and actions and why he has the ability to speak parseltongue (the language of snakes). This was a mystery not fully understood by Dumbledore himself but all comes clear in the last book.
The reader is also finally able to see the result of the prophecy, for better or worse. More simple things are also explained, like how Aunt Petunia knew about Dementors when Harry saved Dudley from them in the fifth book, and we are finally able to find out which side Snape is truly on.
Hermione and Ron's tension that has grown over the years is eventually resolved and Harry and Ginny are given the chance to sort things out. Even the wedding of Bill and Fleur gave the book a different edge, as, despite the death and fear going on around them, everyday things like weddings were still taking place and Mrs. Weasley could act like her busybody self.
Alongside all of this there are new things to learn, like Dumbledore's dark past and the Deathly Hallows he was after.
I liked that Harry didn't go to Hogwarts in his last year. It gave the final book a different dimension which was needed after the previous six following the same pattern, but it wouldn't have been right for it not to end there. Also it was nice because a lot of Harry's older friends, like Oliver Wood, Katie Bell and Cho Chang, weren't at Hogwarts anymore so the last book would have lacked a sense of unity.
The final battle, which rightfully took place in Hogwarts, didn't put the series to shame; J.K. Rowling and Harry finally showed their potential in this book.
The Half-Blood Prince is JK Rowling's sixth creation in the story of Harry Potter, taking place in Harry's penultimate year at school, just over a year since the return of the Dark Lord.
With the return of You-Know-Who now widely accepted Dumbledore has been allowed to return to his post as Headmaster at Hogwarts.
Harry, meanwhile, has plenty on his mind, what with the death of his Godfather, Sirius, the chase through the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic, the change of Minister for Magic from Cornelius Fudge to Rufus Scrimgeour and now Dumbledore is coming to visit him at the Dursley's house; a strange start to his sixth year, his magical and non-magical worlds seem to be intertwining.
School isn't any less strange. Snape has finally got the job of Defence against the Dark Arts teacher and Slughorn has his old position as potions master. Harry comes across an old second-hand potions book which belonged to 'The Half-Blood Prince' who has made his own alterations to the recipes which, as Harry Discovers, have brilliant consequences, but who is this prince and is Hermione right to mistrust the book after Tom Riddle's diary (in 'The Chamber of Secrets') or is she just jealous.
That isn't the only strange thing going on, where does Dumbledore keep disappearing off to? When is he going to stop keeping Harry in the dark? And what lessons does Dumbledore have in store for him?
'The Half-Blood Prince' is a great mix of fantasy, action, and some mystery as Harry learns more about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's history and his secret to immortality.
Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was looking at the memories of other wizards and witches and learning about the mystery that is You-Know-Who, like seeing bits of the past such as the happenings at the House of Gaunt.
Harry must be frustrated waiting for Dumbledore's lessons, but as a reader I didn't feel I was impatiently flipping through the pages written to fill in the gaps as there was still the mystery of who the Half-Blood Prince was.
Also Harry's friendships become tested again as they grow jealous of his results in potions and Lavender Brown drives a wedge between Ron and Hermione, reminding the reader that they are still teenagers with teenage issues.
I enjoyed the adventures with Dumbledore as it was the most exciting and most dangerous magic Harry has ever faced and this, along with Dumbledore's bravery, intelligence and sacrifice give Harry what he needs to complete what his headmaster began.
'The Order of the Phoenix', the fifth book in the series, narrates the period between He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named coming back to power and the rest of the wizarding world coming round to face that fact.
Harry is fed up. He has had to spend all summer with the Dursleys, cut off from the wizarding community after watching Cedric Digory die and You-Know-Who come back from near-dead.
However the wizarding world soon finds him as two dementors descend on him and his muggle (non-magical person) cousin, Dudley, in an allyway.
Forced to summon the Patronus charm, Harry is now in trouble with the ministry and faces expulsion for using magic when he is underage and in front of a muggle. As Dumbledore comes to defend him it becomes clear that none of the Ministry for Magic are prepared to believe Harry and Dumbledore that the Dark Lord has returned, and Cornelius Fudge (the minister) is convinced the headmaster is just fear mongering so he can get his job.
Following this Dumbledore is replaced as headmaster by the ridiculously strict Dolores Umbridge, whose actions force Harry to take matters into his own hands by training other students with skills that will actually help them against Death Eaters.
Then there is the prophecy. One about Harry and You-Know-Who, and the Dark Lord wants it, but are Dumbledore's Army enough to take on the Death Eaters without the help of their adult counterpart the Order of the Phoenix?
Well the series is certainly gaining in excitement and length book by book, it's a good job J.K. Rowling makes these books so impossible to put down, or it would take years to finish them at its 766 pages, compared to the second book's ('The Chamber of Secrets') 251.
The book starts off with Harry stuck at 'home' with the Dursleys, scavenging newspapers from bins and hiding in bushes to hear the news, just to find something out about what the Dark Lord is doing. You can really feel and understand Harry's frustration at being kept in the dark, when he is the one who has so often faced the danger. However the arrival of dementors in Little Whinging give the reader a real idea of how much the return of You-Know-Who will affect the lives of Harry and his friends.
I enjoyed the creation of Dumbledore's Army as you got to see how much Harry has learnt through his extra-curricular activities and I like the feel of unity it gave in the face of You-Know-Who and Dolores Umbridge's tyrannical rule of Hogwarts.
J.K. shows that she hasn't exhausted her imagination in the first four books as she comes up with names like Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks who is a metamorphmagus, meaning she can change her appearance at will, similar to her previous creation from the third book 'The Prisoner of Askaban' the animagus that can change into the form of an animal.
'The Order of the Phoenix' does a good job of turning the series from the relatively light hearted story of a boy learning about magic, to the darker themes brought in at the end of the previous book.
The fourth volume in the story of Harry Potter brings us to the Triwizard Tournament.
The schools of Beauxbatons in France and Durmstrang in Bulgaria come to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament which used to be held every five years, although it has been a long, long time since the last one due to the death toll. Participants must be over seventeen years old, one will be chosen from each school by the Goblet of Fire. SO when a fourth competitor is chosen by the Goblet and it is thirteen year old Harry Potter there is shock and disapproval amongst the schools, and a great task ahead for the young, inexperienced wizard who now has to steal from a dragon, swim to the depths of the Great Lake and survive a maze.
But the question remains; how did his name make it into the cup guarded by an age line charm? And does it have anything to do with the reunion of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's followers?
The Goblet of Fire continues to up the thrill and excitement of the series as you begin to see that, rather than just being a lucky baby, he is actually a talented wizard as he is able to fulfil tasks deemed too difficult and dangerous for a magician of his age.
I liked the way the book started; instead of just droning on about Harry's terrible summer with the Dursleys, we being by hearing a bit of Tom Riddle's (You-Know-Who's) past; the fate of his family, and that he currently has a plan that involves Harry Potter. Starting the book in this way shows that the series is moving away from the happier books in the beginning and are getting darker.
Not only is it exciting to read how Harry copes with the danger of the task and the need for deduction powers, but you also see how unpopular he becomes when, against the rules, he is entered into the competition, with people making badges saying Potter stinks. It shows that despite being wizards and witches the students are just normal children, still prone to jealously and still characters that can be related too, even though they can do magic. The ball was also a nice touch as it had the same effect.
This book is the second instalment in the series that follows the young boy Harry as he grows into a wizard, in a world where he was a celebrity in without even knowing it existed.
After missing the train at platform 9 ¾ thanks to some mischievous house elf, Harry and his friend Ron Weasley crash land at their school for witchcraft and wizardry; Hogwarts.
This year looks set to be as terrifyingly dangerous for the daring wizard and his friends as their first with the Dark Lord 'He-who-must-not-be-named' Voldemort (oops) determined to seek his revenge on the young wizard who as a baby was the only one able to defeat him.
As the walls start whispering to him is Harry starting to go mad? Or are there even darker secrets contained within the magical school? And is it Ginny's, Ron's little sister's, sanity everyone should be watching out for? Who is Tom Riddle? And what is the significance of his diary? Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, team up again to try to save the wizarding world from the most evil warlock attempting a comeback.
Although there may be something a bit cliché about a young orphan going on adventures and saving the world, this is still definitely a thrilling read as J.K. (Joanne) Rowling certainly has the knack for writing a page
Rowling has boundless imagination, coming up with spells like 'Transmogrifian Torture' and potions like polyjuice potion that can make you look, smell and talk like someone else.
Even without the magic the book is still exciting, with all the rule breaking, and then of course there is quidditch; a wizards sport played between the houses, which gives light entertainment and rivalry from the threat of he-who-must-not-be-named and Slytherin's heir.
I liked that we started to learn a little more about You-Know-Who's past as Rowling gives the reader little snippets of information to piece together along the way through the series. We are also introduced to the secret world of the house elves by the charming little creature Dobbie, in this way we learn more about the culture and traditions of wizards.
The Trio: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger
Harry is famous for surviving an attack by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named when he was a baby. Although not the best at magical knowledge, he is brave and very skilled at defence against the dark arts.
Ron is his best friend who he meets with his family at Platform 9 3/4. Although grumpy at times Ron is a good friend and often Harry wouldn't have succeeded without his. His family is Harry's honorary family.
Hermione is a little geek. She is the top of every class and always has her head stuck in a book. She is a good friend and the brains of the operation.
The Author: J.K. Rowling
She first came up with the idea for Harry Potter whilst travelling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. There have been more than 400 million copies of Harry Potter books sold and there are now films based on the books.
Thanks to the series J.K. Rowling has gone from living on welfare to being a multi-millionaire in the space of five years and in 2008 the Sunday Times placed her as the twelfth most wealthy women in Britain.
She puts some of that money to good use supporting many charities, including Comic Relief, One Parent Families and Multiple Sclerosis of Great Britain. For these efforts she was placed as runner up for Time Magazine's Person of the Year Award in 2007. Rowling has also received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).
This may not be the best book in the series, as it is an in between book following on from Harry's introduction to this magical world and slowly building up to the climax you feel is coming the seventh book, but it is still worth a read.
OK, so I couldn't help myself, so I liked 'New Moon' more than 'Twilight' and I wanted to know what happened next, so I moved onto Eclipse.
Jacob hasn't given up the fight for Bella, he is even prepared to fight dirty, but so is Edward.
The question is will Bella realise that, no matter how much she loves Edward, Jacob is the path her life would have taken if it wasn't for the existence of monsters? And will she give in to Edward's righteousness and do things the proper way to save her soul; will she be his wife?
And in more horrifying news: an army of newborn vampires is growing in the nearby city of Seattle, and it seems that once more evil is after Bella, is this by chance or is a familiar enemy behind this? And will this act of vampire-law breaking attract the interest of the Volturi, bringing forward Bella's day of judgement?
I wouldn't say that I like this instalment better than 'New Moon', but it is better than 'Twilight'.
The growth of the army and the fight against them made the book the most exciting yet, so did the culmination of the Edward versus Jacob fight over Bella.
In this book I found that both Bella and Edward grew on me a little, whereas Jacob went the other way.
Both Bella and Edward answered the questions the previous books had raised for me about their relationship; Bella does love Edward for more than just his looks and scent that make him irresistible to humans; 'I love him. Not because he's beautiful or because he's rich! I'd much rather he weren't either one. It would even out the gap between us just a little bit -- because he'd still be the most loving and unselfish and brilliant and decent person I've ever met. Of course I love him. How hard is that to understand?'. Edward also told Bella that he would still be as attracted to her when he wasn't drawn in by the smell of her blood; 'You will always be my Bella, you'll just be a little more durable.' Edward was also more tolerant and understanding in this book, he didn't try to stop Bella visiting Jacob even though he didn't like it, whereas Jacob preferred to antagonise.
However Bella is still selfish when it comes to Jacob; she can't have them both but she still tries. However she does finally realise this and tries to make amends but the damage has already been done and it is much too little too late. Jacob himself began to get on my nerves, I know he loves Bella so much and can't help it but he really did begin to irritate me with his arrogance.
It was nice to get to know some of the other characters more. We learn about Jasper's past as it helps with solving the problem of the army, and we get to understand why he finds it so difficult to adapt to the veggie-vamp way of life.
Rosalie also manages to open up to Bella and, although they can never truly be good friends as long as Bella is set on joining their family, it does bring them closer together as the end of Rosalie's human life was horrific.
Although I haven't read 'Wuthering Heights', I think that this book is based a little on it as in 'Eclipse' it says; 'I think it's something about the inevitability. How nothing can keep them apart -- not her selfishness, or his evil, or even death, in the end...' and the story of Heathcliff and Catherine is often mentioned.
One thing that bothers me in this book is a fault in the research:
'How did Sam end up as the Alpha, and you as the... the Beta?'
Jacob chuckled at my invented term.'
When talking about a pack of wolves there is usually a Beta dog, or enforcer, which is second in charge, so Meyer evidently didn't do enough research.
'The Return of The King' is the grand finale of the trilogy the Lord of The Rings. It combines together the tales of the nine members of the fellowship who had been separated in the previous book. As with the previous volumes, this one is split into two books; Book Five- 'The War of the Ring' and Book Six- 'The Return of the King'.
Gandalf the grey takes Pippin to Gondor where they meet the Steward whose ancestors have watched over the land in the absence of a King. The wizard warns of an imminent attack on the country by Sauron. The Steward takes on Pippin as a servant to repay the debt they both believe is owed by Boromir's life being taken to save Pippin. Boromir was the son of the Steward, and his preferred heir.
The Steward descends into madness as the Dark Lords hoards of orcs bear down on his land and war ensues.
Aragorn, with Legolas and Gimli, set out to find the oath breakers from centuries ago who remain undead until their debt is paid to the heir of Isildur. They must go to the Paths of the Dead to summon them.
This war must be fought to save the race of the mortal men, but it also has a dual purpose; to hold the attention of Sauron and his innumerable forces of orcs from the plight of two small hobbits.
Sam carries the ring in his master's place. However he manages to recover Frodo from the orcs and they continue through Mordor, disguising themselves as orcs.
Can it be that Gandalf's plan of distraction will outwit the Dark Lord? Can Frodo and Sam actually make it to the 'Crack of Doom' and destroy the evil ring? And what will happen to the lands of the mortal men and all who fought in the War of the Ring.
This book is definitely able to live up to the hype and suspense created by the long build up of the previous two volumes. We are finally able to see a plan forming and how the separation of the fellowship may have been for the best in achieving this cause; had Sauron's armies not been in Gondor it is highly unlikely that the hobbits would have made it into Mordor.
The psychological battle between the persistent ring and the determined hobbit continues in this book, and becomes harder the closer Frodo gets to Mordor. Despite the attack of the spider, it must have been some relief to have Sam take the ring for a while.
'The Return of the King' brings together the two separate stories that have been unfolding across Middle Earth very well. The pace of this book is much quicker than the second novel, it is a good pace; keeping the reader entertained without leaving them behind. Although even darker than 'The Two Towers' it is a refreshing read, if you follow on one book to the next, as it doesn't drag like the second volume does at times.
The journey home is very quick and not particularly full of story, but it doesn't feel like it is missing anything because the real ending is before that, the last couple of chapters are more of an epilogue, so that the reader feels happy that the hobbits made it home in one piece.
About the series-
The trilogy of 'The Lord of the Rings' is made up of six books, published in three volumes; 'The Fellowship of the Ring' which introduces us to the quest and those that take on the challenge, 'The Two Towers' is the book when the members of the fellowship go their own way, and it documents the hardships they encounter, 'The Return of the King' is the big finale where it all comes to a close, for better or worse.
'The Return of the King' was originally going to be called 'The War of the Ring' as Tolkien believed the chosen title gave too much of the story away, as a result the fifth book would have been 'The End of the Third Age', but it was the publisher who chose the title for the volume.
'The Two Towers' is the second volume in the trilogy of 'The Lord of the Ring', with book three; 'The Treason of Isenguard', and book four; 'The Journey to Mordor'.
Aragorn begins searching for the missing ring bearer who decided at the end of the previous volume to go alone as the ring was starting to corrupt those meant to protect it. In his search Aragorn comes across Boromir who is dying. He explains that he received mortal wounds from the arrows of orcs who have captured Pippin and Merry, and that Frodo has left with Sam after Boromir tried to get the ring, for which he is sorry.
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas set off after to orcs to try to rescue the hobbits, but the hobbits themselves manage to escape and come across the Ents, who are tree-like giants. These giants are very slow moving and talking, they are very much like trees except that they can walk, talk and see. They tend to keep themselves to themselves but when the hobbits highlight the destruction of their wood by Saruman they feel anger and surge up against the orcs.
Gandalf returns to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as Gandalf the white. There is much to be done to save the countries of men from Saruman's evil and from turning on each other. They must also try to find their small friends Pippin and Merry, there is little hope of finding the other two hobbits now.
Frodo and Sam have been followed by Gollum, the previous owner of the ring before Bilbo. They capture him and recruit him as a guide to Mordor so that they have a chance of making it to the 'Crack of Doom'. Frodo pities Gollum, and the tortured creatures seems to truly respect his new master, but can he really be trusted?
It was a shame to see the fellowship broken but this also made for a more exciting plot as you can catch up with what is going on in three different places; the countries of men with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, Fangorn Forest of the Ents with Pippin and Merry and the outskirts of Mordor with Frodo and Sam, and have the suspense of wondering if they will ever be reunited. Despite the breakdown it is nice to see the friendships in their smaller groups grow, particularly between Gimli and Legolas. Frodo and Sam's relationship also strengthens, while Sam still sees Frodo as his master, the Baggins hobbit becomes more and more fond of his friend and faithful servant.
Gollum provokes some interesting feelings in the reader as you see how much Frodo pities and trusts him, you want to do the same, but it is hard to put aside your suspicions.
I liked the Ents, although irritatingly slow, they seem to be kind and wise creatures, but capable of great rage when they discover their trees are being cut down by the wizard. J.R.R. Tolkien is clearly capable of great imagination, shown by his personification of trees.
This book was very enjoyable; there was still some action and interesting storylines, such as the goings on in Rohan, however it certainly is the common case of 'the middle book'. This volume seems to spend too much time wrapping up the end of the introductory book and leading us into the climax of the final volume, making 'The Two Towers' somewhat of a nothing book when compared to the other two.
'The Two Towers' is definitely darker than 'The Fellowship of the Ring' which still had some of the warm style of 'The Hobbit'. You begin to realise in this book that not everything is going to go as was originally planned in the Council of Elrond, with the nine split into four, two and two. The main darkness of this book comes from the ring trying to get a firmer hold of its bearer. Usually the ring is easily able to manipulate its owner into wearing it and desiring it, but Frodo is different, it takes a lot more power to crush his resistance as hobbits are not selfish by nature. The ring is desperate for Frodo to wear it so that it can be found by Sauron. It is a tough psychological battle.
Tolkien certainly has a way with words, he makes it very easy for a reader to visualise the landscapes of the world, Middle Earth, that he has created. You can also imagine the creatures he describes that inhabit this world, such as the orcs and hobbits.
This is the first instalment of the famous trilogy documenting the attempt to destroy the renowned evil ring.
Prologue- about hobbits for those who haven't read 'The Hobbit' (aka There and Back Again) and the Shire.
Book One 'The Return of the Shadow'-
Starts with Bilbo and Frodo celebrating their joint birthday, then Bilbo disappearing. Bilbo leaves everything to Frodo, including a ring (after much persuasion of Gandalf's part). Gandalf the wizard warns Frodo to keep the ring safe.
The book then jumps to almost twenty years later. Gandalf returns to Frodo and finally explains some of the ring's darker power which Bilbo had only used to make himself invisible. It is a very evil and powerful ring; 'one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them'.
In a battle long in the past Sauron, the dark lord who made this evil ring himself, was overthrown by the Elves and then men of Gondor and Arnor, and then fled, allowing peace to return.
But the shadow has returned; Sauron knows where the ring is and what unlikely creature has it; a hobbit. Frodo must get the ring to Rivendell, an elf-haven, so that its fate can be decided.
He sets off with his friend Samwise (Sam) Gamgee, and cousins Peregrin (Pippin) Took and Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck, although he does not initially let them in on his secret, he should have left with Gandalf but he doesn't return in time.
Frodo, Sam and Pippin take a less used road to Frodo's 'new house' in Crickhollow, but on their way have to avoid the Nazgûl. With some assistance they reach the village of Bree where they come across Strider, a friend of Gandalf and now their guide.
Even with the help of Strider their journey isn't without hardships as they continue to be chased by the Nazgûl and Frodo is stabbed with a cursed blade, but Rivendell is soon nearby.
Book Two 'The Fellowship of the Ring'-
In this part of the first volume the news of Saruman (the previously white wizard) new allegiance with the dark side is spread, and it is decided that the ring must being thrown into the 'Crack of Doom' in Mordor, those that have come together to protect the ring bearer on his route to Mordor are met. The Fellowship consists of Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, Strider (now discovered to be called Aragorn), Legolas, Gimli, Boromir and Gandalf the Grey.
The nine must now undertake a treacherous journey through snow, over mountains, the mines of Moria which have been taken over by orcs and other deadly creatures.
What remains of the fellowship make it to the next elf-haven; Lothlórien. It is after this that the rings power to corrupt beings to show. Frodo believes he must take this journey alone so save the rest of the fellowship.
Will the fellowship remain intact? And is there any hope of the ring making it to Mordor without being noticed by the Dark Lord Sauron, or his ring-wraiths the Nazgûl.
The first chapter still keeps some of the warmth that was in the style of storytelling of 'The Hobbit', however after then it turns darker. There is a lot to be learnt in this book, for the characters and the readers; just what is the power and history of this ring? This makes the book a little slower than 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King', however there is still plenty of action and excitement, but this is a little bit scarier than most fantasy adventure novels. The action in this book is lighter than that in the following two, it feels as if each book leads into the other until it reaches a long anticipated climax.
This book takes the opportunity to introduce each character. I enjoyed getting to know each of the nine and their back stories. There is some humour in this book, although perhaps not quite a much as there is in the next two as it has to weigh out the drama.
Some people may find that they get a little 'bogged down' reading the Lord of the Rings, so if you do find this book a bit heavy going then perhaps the rest of the trilogy isn't for you, but I found that the book moved on well. The fellowship is the lightest of the three to read as it still has some similarities with 'The Hobbit'.
The best part of 'The Fellowship of the Ring' is seeing these friendships grow into the strong bonds of loyalty and love that will save them later in the trilogy
In the beginning of this book Frodo is reluctant to leave the Shire, as doing so is a very un-hobbit thing, but he decides that he must go in order to save the Shire. Frodo chooses to step forward as the ring bearer for the chance of destroying the ring. This was his destiny as, being a hobbit, he was less susceptible to the rings power of corruption. Frodo shows great bravery in standing up to Boromir and deciding to take on the responsibility of the ring alone.
Samwise Gamgey (Sam)
Sam is a very endearing character and, unlike most hobbits, interested in myths and adventures; 'Me, sir!,' cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. '"Me go and see elves and all! Hooray!" he shouted then burst into tears.' Sam is considered by some to be the real hero of the trilogy as he stands by his Master Frodo (he started out as Frodo's gardener) no matter what, and puts all his concern for his own welfare behind that of his concern for others. He is brave and able to keep up morale.
Peregrin Took (Pippin)
Probably my favourite character of the trilogy would have to be Pippin. He is the youngest of the four hobbits and hadn't yet 'come of age' (under 33) when they set out. He is incredibly cheery, but at times thoughtless and misses the Shire before the others. His thoughtlessness almost costs him and Merry the chance to accompany the fellowship but Gandalf finds their loyalty endearing and allows them to continue.
Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry)
Merry is probably the most intelligent and perceptive of the four hobbits. He also has a teasing sense of humour; when one of the Sackville-Bagginses said that Frodo was a Brandybuck and no true Baggins, Merry told him that 'It was a compliment; and so, of course, not true.' Merry was always prepared; in Rivendell he was found reading maps and plotting their route.
The rest of the fellowship was chosen so that all of the remaining free races in Middle Earth should be represented.
He is a ranger; someone who roams about and no one really knows what it is he gets up to. It is discovered by those who didn't already know, that Strider's real name is Aragorn and that he is the heir of Isildur, King of men, who cut the ring from Sauron's hand in battle. Aragorn is very fond of the hobbits and admires them, he is determined to protect them. Besides being an ancient heir to the throne of men, he also has another side story; Arwen. He is in love with an elf, the daughter of Elrond, who cannot allow it because men are mortal, she will either have to see him die or Elrond himself will have to let his daughter go and see her age and die.
He is also of the mortal men; Gondor. He wishes to use the ring to save the people there, but the Council of Elrond explain that the ring cannot be used without corrupting it's user and alerting Sauron to its whereabouts. He initially accepts this and joins the fellowship, but he cannot resist the ring. Boromir is not a bad man, he just wants the power of the ring to save the people of his country and he is weak to the power that the ring wields.
Gandalf the Grey is a powerful and brave wizard with great knowledge. He believes in the strength of the little hobbits, shown particularly when he allows Pippin and Merry to join the fellowship. He is willing to put himself in mortal danger to save the hobbits so that they may continue their quest.
Legolas the elf is one of the most cheerful of the group, at times even more so that Pippin. He is an unrivalled archer and a dangerous warrior. He is also very loyal to Aragorn, Gimli and Frodo.
Gimli is a dwarf, and is the son of Gloin from 'The Hobbit'. He is very honourable and wise, also brave in battle. There is a tradition of hostility between elves and dwarves and initially Gimli and Legolas continue this custom, however they do become fond of each other and their rivalry and friendship makes for a very enjoyable read as it lightens some of the darkness of the book.
About the Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is a story told in three volumes; 'The Fellowship of the Ring', 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King'. Each story follows the progress of a hobbit and his friends as they journey to Mordor to destroy the evil ring. The first volume documents the formation of the fellowship of nine. The second book tells the individual tales of those nine once they become separated but still continue on their quest to rid the world of evil corruption. The final book brings the trilogy to an end, for better or worse.
About the Author
J.R.R. Tolkien was a novelist, poet and professor from England. His most famous works are 'The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Silmarillion'. A lot of his work was published posthumously, apparently because he didn't believe they were good enough.
He was awarded with a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen in 1972.
I would thoroughly recommend this book, it is well worth the read, particularly if you are into fantasy and like a good old-fashioned baddy. This is definitely one of the greatest fantasy books of all time.