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NewYork2006

NewYork2006
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Member since: 20.03.2007

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      04.04.2013 21:03
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      A good thriller, a bit of a slow starter but well worth a read.

      Edition being reviewed:

      Paperback
      512 pages
      Publisher: Bantam
      First published (in UK) in 2000.

      The Visitor is the 4th novel in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. I first discovered the series when I was given a copy of Killing Floor (the first book in the series) as part of World Book Night a couple of years ago (for those of you who don't know what this is but are interested, see www.worldbooknight.org). I finished Killing Floor in two days and was blown away by the brilliance of Child's writing, the character of Jack Reacher, the pace, the tension, the conspiracies etc. I decided that I had to read the entire series and have since acquired another 7 Child novels in the series and am working my way through them in order.

      *My Thoughts*

      The Visitor is therefore not only the 4th book in the series but also the 4th Child book I have read. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good thriller and has the typical Lee Child style of writing but having been blown away by the first book and then still thoroughly enjoying the second and third, I had high expectations for this novel and was left feeling a little underwhelmed. The premise of the story was very good and kept me interested, I just felt the pace a little slow compared to others. I had just finished a book (another thriller by a different author) which had short, punchy chapters, some only a couple of pages, which I was unable to put down because as soon as I finished one chapter I would think 'well, just one more it's only 2 pages' and I'd end up reading half the book in one sitting. The chapters in The Visitor were, for the most part, longer - some 12 pages or more - which meant that I would read a couple of chapters and then feel that was enough. The only exception to this is the last quarter of the book, where the story really started to pick up and unfold and I read the last quarter in one sitting whilst enjoying a rare day off from work. I still enjoyed the book and it in no way has put me off continuing with the series but perhaps I will go onto the next one with slightly lower expectations in the hope that I will enjoy them as much as the first 3 in the series.

      *So who is Jack Reacher?*

      Jack Reacher is an ex US Military Policeman. He was raised as a child in army barracks, receiving an education in US Army Base Schools in Europe and the Far East, never settling anywhere for very long. His father was a US Marine and his mother a French national before they died.

      Following in his father's footsteps he embarked on his own military career where he served as a Military Policeman for thirteen years, being awarded the Silver Star amongst other medals, and mustered out with rank of Major. Since then he has become used to frequent travelling and has no problem with spending large periods of time alone, sleeping in motel rooms, hitching rides to wherever he chooses to go next. He wants to see the Country and go where his feet take him rather than settling in one place. He feels tied down by too many commitments. It's for this reason that he doesn't have a driving licence, he doesn't have credit cards and he doesn't give his real name if he can get away with it.

      *The Backstory*

      The Visitor starts off just a few months after Tripwire (the third novel in the series). He has been living in a house in Garrison, a place on the east bank of the Hudson River. He inherited the house from his old commanding officer, Leon Garber, who passed away earlier that year. He had arrived at the house in Garrison when he discovered of Leon's death and was reunited with Jodie, Leon's daughter. He had been in love with Jodie for fifteen years, since he had first met her on a base in the Philippines. However, the fact that she was 15 - and his CO's daughter - he had quashed his feelings for her and they had built up more of a brother/sister relationship. Once Leon passed however, their feelings for each other were rekindled and their relationship, as lovers, blossomed. Their relationship continues throughout this story which makes it a little different from the previous three where, although he would meet women on the course of his travels and form a bond with them (and of course hop into bed with them!), we see a different side to Reacher here as he struggles to come to terms with being anchored by the house and by Jodie. This back story makes an appearance throughout the novel - maybe to emphasise a softer side to Reacher.

      *So what's this one about?*

      I'm not going to go into too much detail about the premise of the story because I don't want to give away any spoilers for those of you who choose to read it. The blurb on the back of the book however states:-

      'Sergeant Amy Callan and Lieutenant Caroline Cooke have a lot in common. Both were army high flyers. Both were acquainted with Jack Reacher. Both were forced to resign from the service. Now they're both dead. Found in their own homes, naked, in a bath full of paint. Apparent victims of an army man. A loner, a smart guy with a score to settle, a ruthless vigilante. A man just like Jack Reacher'

      I knew as soon as I read the blurb that this novel would follow along the lines of the others in the Reacher series i.e. that Reacher would be in the wrong place at the wrong time and would become number 1 suspect in a case where all fingers were pointing at him. It was no surprise therefore when the story started to run along these lines. Of course I knew that the offences they were accusing him of were nothing to do with him (for the most part!) and so it's just a matter of waiting to see how he would convince the police and how the story would unfold.

      As I mentioned above, the premise of the story is very good but I just found the pace a little slow in places and it took me much longer to read this book compared to the other Child novels I have read.

      I found most of the characters believable and likeable, however I did have a problem with Detective Harper and she often irritated me! I won't go into the reasons as to why as again I don't want to give too much away but I did find her a little fake at times and her persona just bothered me. Perhaps Child had written her into the book in this way to have this effect but I genuinely don't think he did, I guess you just can't like them all.

      The Visitor does have all the usual aspects that you would find in a Reacher novel, it just lacks some of the punchy tension and action.

      I had figured out who the 'bad guy' was from about a third of the way in (but I did occasionally think perhaps it was someone else) but not the motive and this was therefore still a surprise and as a result not too predictable. I actually couldn't work out how it was being done which made me want to read more and certainly didn't come anywhere near to guessing it correctly. Child switches the writing between that of the viewpoint of Reacher and that of the killer (and frequently towards the end of the book) in very well placed points throughout the story. The ending of the book means it can easily lead into the next novel without any questions or complications.

      Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good thriller. Although I would suggest reading the series from the beginning, this is fine as a stand alone thriller and I don't believe it would be difficult to get up to date on the back story. If you have read and enjoyed Lee Child's other novels then I would be surprised if you didn't enjoy this one, I have just found it my least favourite so far.

      The Visitor is available from Amazon from £1.89 (at time of writing) in paperback, £4.27 for the kindle edition and is also available in hardback and audio.

      Thanks for Reading
      -x-

      (This Review is also on Ciao)

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      01.04.2013 11:51
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      A brilliant premise, well placed characters - my favourite Barclay book so far!

      Edition being reviewed:-
      Hardcover
      512 pages
      Publisher: Orion (27th September 2012)

      Trust Your Eyes is the 5th Linwood Barclay book I have read and it is definitely my most favourite so far.
      I came across it by somewhat of an accident as I bought it for a relative who asked for it for Christmas but it turned out someone else had also bought it for her so I decided to keep and read it myself.

      I'm not going to go into the premise of the book too much as I don't want to give away any spoilers. However, I will say that when I started reading and the premise became clear I thought it was a very clever idea and I was surprised that it had not been thought of before.

      The blurb from the inside sleeve of the book draws you in by simply telling you:-

      'A man is moving down a street on Manhattan's Lower East Side, scanning the storefronts, taking in his surroundings, when he sees something in a third-floor tenement window. A woman's face, distorted with terror. Thomas is convinced he's witnessing a murder. Except that things aren't quite as simple as that. To some people, Thomas Kilbride wouldn't exactly be the most reliable of witnesses, and it's going to be very difficult to persuade the police to investigate. Because Thomas was never actually there. And the murder was months ago. But Thomas trusts his eyes. And that could be his biggest mistake'.

      As it would suggest, the story is largely centred around a man called Thomas Kilbride. However, it is Thomas' brother, Ray, who tells the story in the first person and therefore comes across as the main character of the story. Ray is a successful artist, specialising in illustrations for newspapers in New York. When his father passes away, he moves into the family home in Promise Falls temporarily to deal with his father's affairs and take care of his younger brother, Thomas. This is where the story starts.

      It is apparent from the beginning that there is something a little different about Thomas and it soon becomes clear that he is a schizophrenic. He has a serious obsession with maps, highlighted by the top floor of the home he lived in with his parents, until they died, which is covered floor to ceiling in maps of the world. Thomas spends the majority of his day on the internet on a site called 'Whirl 360' (basically Google Street Maps) believing that he is employed by the CIA on a Black Ops mission. Ray tries to make Thomas become a bit more independent in making lunch and washing dishes but Thomas is far too used to being looked after by his dad that it is not an easy job.

      The story switches back and forth between Ray in the first person in present time and a few other main characters in the past. Again I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to give anything away. The switches back and forth however are clear and it is never confusing due to the switch between first and third person writing. It also helps to build the story as you are reading rather than giving too much away early on.

      The ending was slightly predictable but in no way changed my enjoyment of it. I stormed through this book, reading it in a weekend. The premise had me interested from the beginning, the pace of the writing had me turning page after page. The chapters were short and punchy, some only a couple of pages. There was a definite excitement in reading this, similar to watching a thriller movie when you find yourself saying out loud 'don't go in there!' and 'run you idiot!' - though maybe that's just me! The characters were well thought out and always important to the story. I found myself endeared to Thomas and sympathetic to Ray.

      Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. Trust Your Eyes has everything a good thriller should have - conspiracies, murders, coincidental 'wrong place at wrong time' that causes a domino effect of epic proportions and a couple of characters you just want to punch!

      I read the hardback version of the book which was £9.99 from Amazon (currently £11.39) but is also available in paperback for £6.39 or on Kindle edition for £9.99.

      Thanks for Reading

      (This Review is also on Ciao)

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        06.02.2013 14:42
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        A highly enjoyable film about the different situations you find yourself in when expecting a child

        *Please note this is a film only review*

        What to Expect When You're Expecting is a romantic comedy inspired by the New York Times' bestseller book of the same name, released in May 2012, directed by Kirk Jones (the man behind Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned).

        I have been broody for about 15 years now (and that's only a very slight exaggeration!) so love everything and anything babies so I probably would have seen this film anyway. However, the fact that there were enough people in it that I have at least heard of made it more appealing.

        Cast

        Cameron Diaz: Jules Baxter
        Jennifer Lopez: Holly
        Elizabeth Banks: Wendy Cooper
        Chace Crawford: Marco
        Brooklyn Decker: Skyler Cooper
        Anna Kendrick: Rosie
        Matthew Morrison: Evan Baxter
        Dennis Quaid: Ramsey Cooper
        Chris Rock: Vic Mac
        Rodrigo Santoro: Alex
        Ben Falcone: Gary Cooper
        Joe Manganiello: Davis
        Rob Huebel: Gale
        Thomas Lennon: Craig
        Amir Talai: Patel
        Rebel Wilson: Janice
        Wendi McLendon-Covey: Kara

        Plot

        I won't go into too much detail because I don't want to give any spoilers in case you want to see it, but in short, this film follows the lives of 5 couples and their own experiences with impending parenthood. We see TV Fitness Guru Jules (Diaz) and Dance Show star Evan (Morrison) come to terms with the demands of pregnancy imposing on their celebrity lifestyle, baby crazy author Wendy (Banks) gets a taste of her own militant advice when she discovers that being pregnant isn't all glowing faces and warm feelings, whilst her husband Gary (Falcone) attempts to not be outdone by his over competitive, ex racing driver dad Ramsey (Quaid) who announces that his much younger trophy wife Skyler (Decker) is also pregnant. Next is Holly (Lopez) and her husband Alex (Santoro) who we see deal with their difficulties in having their own child. Holly wants to travel the world to adopt a baby. Alex is not so sure and Holly convinces him to join the local 'dudes group' to seek support and advice from other fathers. He realises that fathers make mistakes. But the important rule to remember is that the mistakes that are discussed in dudes group, stay in dudes group. There is no judging. And no telling the mothers about the mistakes...! Finally we see Rosie (Kendrick) and Marco (Crawford) come to terms with the result of their one night stand.

        My Opinion

        I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good romantic comedy. Although certainly not the best film of the year, it did keep me entertained all the way to the end and had some real laugh out loud moments. As explained earlier I do love anything babies so this may have had an influence on my enjoyment but I still think it would be a funny, engaging film.

        I think the roles were cast perfectly and really found myself being endeared to all the characters and their own interpretations of how they deal with this life changing event. There was nobody that I felt didn't fit or seemed out of place.

        There were some difficult subjects touched upon but this was handled sensitively and emotionally and actually caused me to well up on occasion (this isn't overly unusual, I'll cry at anything!).

        The end left me feeling all warm inside - and the Fiance to leave me along for a few hours in case I got any ideas!

        I couldn't actually convince my Fiance to watch this with me but I do think that this film isn't completely undirected towards a male audience. Yes, of course, the film is about the trials and tribulations of being pregnant and is therefore largely aimed at the female audience but the inclusion of the 'dudes group' leads to some hilarious moments as we get to see the fathers' take on things. It was actually these snippets of conversations between the fathers in the dudes group that had me laughing the most. Some of my favourite quotes are:-

        Ramsey: 'You don't know love until you wiped someone's ass...'

        Vic (Chris Rock): 'There's no such thing as ready. You just jump on a moving train and you try not to die!'

        Alex: 'You dropped your kid off a changing table?!'
        Gabe (Rob Huebel): 'Stuff just happens, okay? Last week, my kid ate a cigarette'
        Craig (Thomas Lennon): 'I caught him playing in the dryer yesterday'.
        Patel (Amir Talai): 'I picked up the wrong baby from daycare'.
        Gabe: 'I found my baby swimming in the toilet. No judging'.

        I can say without a doubt that I would definitely watch this film again. I understand it may not be to everyone's taste but if you like a nice easy to watch comedy with a few sensitive moments thrown in then I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this.

        As explained at the beginning of the review, this is a film only review because I watched this film on rental. However, this movie is available to buy from Amazon on dvd for £7.49 and on blu-ray for £10.49.

        Thanks for reading
        -x-

        (This Review is also published on Ciao under the same Username)

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        03.02.2013 17:27
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        A perfect holiday read

        'I Love Capri' is the second novel by chic lit author, Belinda Jones. My usual genre preference is a thriller with lots of action and suspense and I find that a large majority of chic lit novels are a little shallow and bore me after the first few chapters. Having read two of Belinda Jones' other novels 'Café Tropicana' and 'The Paradise Room' and thoroughly enjoyed them both however, when a work colleague offered to lend me 'I Love Capri' I was eager to give it a read.

        As with Jones' other novels, the front cover is bright and beautiful, this time showing a woman looking out over a clear blue water in the sun, with a glass of wine next to her - bliss!

        Belinda Jones is clearly well travelled and her knowledge of the world comes through in her novels, her descriptive style of writing engages the reader and helps them to feel as if they are there in the story, witnessing it from the sidelines. 'I Love Capri' is no different.

        *So what's it about?*
        From the back of the book - 'Kim Rees became a translator for the glamorous jet-set lifestyle. So, five years later, how come she's ended up in a basement flat in Cardiff translating German computer games in her dressing gown? Fortunately her mother has a plan to extract her from her marshmallowy rut: a trip to the magical isle of Capri.

        At first Kim refuses to wake up and smell the bougainvillea, but as she starts to succumb to the irresistible delights of cocktails on the terrace and millionaire suitors, she's surprised to realise she's changing. And when she meets a man who's tiramisu personified, she finds herself falling in love. But how far will she go to win her Romeo?'

        I won't go into too much detail of the story as I don't want to give any spoilers if you decide to read it yourself, but, in short, Kim Rees - international translator - has fallen into a bit of a rut. Happy to lock herself away with her flat mate, Cleo, watching trashy TV and eating junk food, her comfortable life is ripped from its seams when her mother tells her she wants her to come with her to the Isle of Capri. Her father, Kim's Grandfather, has passed away, leaving Kim with £5,000 and no clue what to spend it on. He also left behind a clothes boutique on Capri which he part owned with the handsome, Luca. Kim's mother wants to take over the running of the shop but not having spoken a word of Italian since she was a little girl, she asks Kim to go with her to be her translator.

        Kim hates the idea to start with, worrying more about whether she'll be able to record all the episodes of Corrie and the other programs she'll miss but as she lands on the Isle of Capri her mind, and heart, starts to warm. As she spends more and more time on the island she learns more about herself and discovers the truth about her past. The question is, will she ever be able to return to her 'normal' life in Cardiff with Cleo? You'll have to read it to find out!

        As with Belinda Jones' other novels, her descriptive style shines through in I Love Capri, I almost feel like I've been there now! However, I don't feel that this book hooked me quite as early on as 'Café Tropicana' and 'The Paradise Room' did. The beginning was a little slow and it wasn't until Kim arrived in Capri that the story started to unfold and the pace picked up a little. Although, this being only Jones' second novel, this can probably be forgiven a little.

        All in all I enjoyed reading this book. I was actually a little surprised with the ending as I thought it was going to be yet another predictable chic lit book and I thought I knew how it would finish from around half way through. However, Jones' through in a curve ball at the end which was a nice surprise.

        As I explained above, I borrowed this from a colleague. However, you can purchase this book from Amazon from as little as 1p (plus postage) for a second hand paperback and is also available in Kindle edition for £5.22.

        If you enjoy a good chic lit book, or have read Belinda Jones' other novels and liked them, then I have no doubt that you will enjoy this. It took me a little over 2 days to read from start to finish - a perfect holiday read.

        Thanks for reading
        -x-


        (this review is also published on Ciao)

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          31.01.2013 14:42
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          An easy holiday read

          Those of you who have read my book reviews before know that I love nothing better than settling down with a good book. About 90% of my vast bookcase at home is occupied by thrillers but occasionally the murders and violence and tension become a little too much and I have to take a break for a while for fear of attacking the Fiancé in my sleep! It's times like these that I turn to the good old chick lit book. With the thrillers I can get fully caught up in the storyline and thrive on the suspense but I find it much harder to really get into a chick lit book. Don't get me wrong, I still, for the most part, enjoy reading them (and not having to think too much) but to really keep me interested it has to be better than 'average'.

          Unless I am picking up the next instalment by a favourite author, in which case I don't even bother to read the blurb on the back, I am generally drawn to books purely because of their cover. If the cover or title doesn't intrigue me then I don't pick it up to have a look, unless I have heard rave reviews about it.

          I bought this book (among others, I can never just buy one book!) with a voucher I had been given for Christmas a few years ago. I had selected my 'next instalment from my favourite author book' and still had some money to spend so spent half an hour wandering around the shop. 'Pictures of Lily' caught my eye, again, purely because of the cover. It was clear it was going to be a book about a relationship because the picture on the front was a silhouette of a man on one knee in front of a woman but it was the pretty pink and purple colouring and the glittery writing that drew me to it.

          *From the Back*

          'Will you marry me?' I think of you, then. I think of you every day. But usually in the quietest part of the morning, or the darkest part of the night. Not when my boyfriend of two years has just proposed. I look up at Richard with his hopeful eyes. 'Lily?' he prompts. It's been ten years, but it feels like only yesterday that you left. How can I say yes to Richard with all my heart when most of it has always belonged to you? I take a deep breath and will myself to speak...Ten years ago when Lily was just sixteen, she fell in love with someone she really shouldn't have fallen in love with. Now, living in Sydney and engaged to another man, she can't forget the one that got away. Then her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to make a decision that will break her heart - and the heart of at least one of the men who love her.

          So from the description on the back it was clear that this was about 'the one that got away'.

          However, what I hadn't realised until I began to read was that the first half of the book was set 10 years ago when Lily was just 15/16. I found this helped the reader to engage with Lily and the story because rather than just starting with '10 years ago I met this man, he left bla bla bla' the reader got to see first hand how it all began.

          I don't want to go into too much detail about the story because I think the description above from the back of the book gives a clear enough idea and I don't want to spoil it should you choose to read it. But in short, 15 year old Lily is more than disgruntled by the fact that her serial dater mother has packed up her comfortable life in England and moved her to the other side of the world to set up home with a man she has only ever spoken to on the internet, in Adelaide Australia. Lily is forced to quickly adjust to her new way of life and takes a job at a Conservation Park to fill her days. It is there that she meets the handsome Ben and they quickly build a friendship because of their love of animals. Lily starts to feel for Ben in more than just a friendship way and hopes the 12 year age difference won't matter......

          The second half of the book is set in present day, 10 years after Lily first moves to Adelaide. Now living in Sydney, her boyfriend Richard has just proposed to her. Caught on the spot and not wanting to offend him she says yes. But does she actually want to marry him? Can she ever really get over Ben and move on with her life? Well you'll have to read the book if you want to find out because I'm not going to tell you!

          The style of Toon's writing meant that the book was an easy read and I did get through the whole book in just a matter of days. However, I found it very predictable, not only with how it ended but with a few other storylines throughout the book, which meant that, for me, there was no real suspense of 'ooh I wonder how it's going to end!'. When it ended the way I thought it would I was not at all surprised but I did, in any event, find myself feeling pleased for Lily. I think because the book had started 10 years in the past when Lily was just a lovestruck teenager, helped the reader to engage with Lily because it almost felt like we had grown up with her.

          The only fault I can find with this book, which thankfully only occurs for the first few chapters is Toon's explanations of the differences between English words and Australian words. At some points I found myself thinking 'ok, I get it, you've been to Australia!' which were distracting me from reading the story. I spent a year travelling Australia about 10 years ago so I am already aware that Australians call trainers 'sneakers' and flip flops 'thongs' etc so I didn't need it constantly explained to me but perhaps if you've never been you wouldn't know this and it might have proved helpful. I don't believe this had any benefit to the storyline however and seemed a bit pointless, almost like she was 'filling space'.

          In any event, I have not read any of Paige Toon's other novels so cannot compare either the story or the style of writing to those but I would, most probably, read another book from her after reading this. Despite the predictability of the story and the Australian explanations mentioned above, I did find it an enjoyable read. A perfect holiday book.

          This book is available from Amazon from 1p (+ postage) if you're happy with it being second hand. Otherwise you can pick it up new from £1.54. There is also a Kindle edition available for £4.99.

          Thanks for reading


          (This Review is also published on Ciao)

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          22.06.2012 21:39
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          An excellent toothpaste that I will be using from now on

          *Please note, this review is based on a 15ml tube of Toothpaste*

          Until fairly recently I've been a believer of Colgate toothpaste and have used their brand for many years and wasn't looking to change. However, A few weeks ago I was sent a 15ml sample of Oral B Pro-Expert All Around Protection to try.

          When I took the tube out of the box it didn't look any different to any other toothpaste claiming to provide all around protection. It stated it 'protects the areas dentists check most' such as cavities, gum, plaque, sensitivity, enamel, tartar, whitening and breath. The tube was a standard white and blue colour for a toothpaste so, again, did not look any different to any otrher brand. The tube came with a leaflet which assured me I would discover a long lasting slick feeling on my teeth. It also said that the toothpaste is slightly grainy but the grains dissolve in the saliva and release the toothpaste's active ingredient.

          Reading that the toothpaste was grainy did not fill me with confidence, I have to admit, but I was willing to give it a go.

          The first thing I noticed when I unscrewed the lid from the tube was a strong smell that reminded me of the dentist. Not a great start! I thought. The tube had advised me it would be cool mint but I didn't notice much of a mint smell coming through.

          So, now knowing that the toothpaste would not only be grainy but smell like the dentist, I reluctantly applied it to my toothbrush. The toothpaste is a little thicker than others I have used, almost gel like, with white grains in it. I applied a little water and proceeded to clean my teeth.

          It was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. It still didn't taste particularly mint like but wasn't too dentist like either! When I closed my teeth to clean the front it did feel a little like I was cleaning with sand, due to the grains, but it didn't last long.

          Finally I rinsed and looked at my teeth in the mirror. I was surprised at how clean my teeth looked. Generally I think I clean my teeth well anyway but using this toothpaste just once seemed to really clean in between my teeth and they generally looked whiter and brighter. My breath felt fresh through the day and I did, in fact, have a slick feeling on my teeth even after lunch.

          The 15ml tube lasted me about 10 days and now that I have gone back to my original toothpaste I have really noticed a difference between how clean my teeth felt with the Oral B toothpaste compared to my regular one. For this reason, I will be purchasing a tube of Oral B Pro-Expert All Around Protection as soon as my other brand runs out.

          As explained, I got a free 15ml sample. However, you can pick up a 75ml tube from most chemists/supermarkets for between £3 - £4. This is a little more than I would normally spend on toothpaste but when it comes to having clean teeth and fresh breath, I haven't found one that compares to this one yet so am happy to pay the price for the quality.

          Thanks for reading
          -x-

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            20.06.2012 21:42
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            A gentle shower gel but has an offputting smell.

            Being one of the unlucky ones who suffers from sensitive skin, I have to find cleansing and beauty products that are gentle enough not to bring me out in dry, red, itchy skin. I have a few 'staple' products that I know I can rely on but sometimes, particularly if I see an offer on, I like to try something new.

            It was on one of these offers that I picked up a bottle of Sensitive Balance by Nivea. On a boring food shop round the local supermarket I saw it on offer for £1.00 and my eye was drawn to it as it said 'Sensitive Balance - for sensitive skin', so picked it up to have a look. The wording on the front told me that it was a gentle care shower gel for sensitive skin with natural chamomile extract. I thought I'd give it a try and put it in my basket.

            ~My Opinion~

            The next morning in the shower I put it to the test. The gel is clear in colour and quite thick (gel like!) in texture. When I first put it on my shower puff I thought it smelt quite pleasant - not of anything in particular but not a bad smell. However, once I started to apply it I found the smell a little strange and wasn't overly keen on it. Again, it didn't smell of anything in particular and wasn't overly offensive but it wasn't very nice. The likeability of a perfume of a product is, of course, different for every user and so I can completely understand others reviews of this product that have said they love the smell, I however prefer something a bit more fruity or sweet smelling.

            As a sensitive shower gel however it works very well. I have never had a reaction from it and my skin feels clean after use. I do find that I still have dry skin after a shower and have to apply moisturiser but this is standard for any shower or bath product as I just generally have dry skin.

            A little does go a long way and I have been using it for over a month now and still have a quarter of the bottle left. I do use a shower puff which does mean that less shower gel is needed and I would therefore always recommend this to save the pennies. I know I would get through the products a lot quicker if I was applying them direct to the skin.

            ~The Packaging~

            The bottle is a clear plastic so you can easily see how much of the product is left in the bottle. The colours of the text and pictures on the bottle are blues, pale greens and yellows and I suppose represent the 'sensitive' aspect of the product. It is not an overly eye catching bottle but it does clearly explain in large font that it is for sensitive skin. The lid of the bottle is a flip lid which is fine if your hands are dry but can get a little tricky with wet hands.

            ~From the Back~

            'The caring soap free formula with natural chamomile extract has been especially developed for sensitive skin. The soothing foam gently cleanses and moisturises your skin leaving it feeling calm, soft and beautiful. Relax and rejuvenate with every shower.' It also tells us it is pH skin balanced and dermatologically approved.

            ~The Price~

            As I said, I managed to pick up a 250ml bottle for £1.00 but you should be able to get it for between £1.00 - £2.00 from most supermarkets and chemists.

            ~Overall~

            So in conclusion I have been satisfied with this product for its cleaning abilities and sensitive ingredients but I would not choose to buy it again due to the smell. I think there are other products out there that clean and sooth just as well but with a smell that appeals much more to my taste.

            Thanks for reading

            ~X~

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          • General / Discussion / 33 Readings / 30 Ratings
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            19.06.2012 15:03
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            50 things about me

            I've been away for quite a while but intend to be back now as much as possible so thought I'd introduce myself to the new faces that don't know me with '50 Questions', so enjoy!

            1-What is the wallpaper on your computer screen? Why did you choose it?
            I'm at work doing this so it's just a blue screen. Boring I know! At home it's a swirly pattern of pinks and oranges and blues. I picked it because it was pretty!

            2-Mexican food, chinese food, indian food, italian food, french food or american food.
            Can I say all of the above?! If I had to pick I guess I would say Chinese. Or Indian. Oh I don't know! Ask me something else!

            3-Do you have any tattoos?
            Nope. & don't intend to - ouch!

            4-Do you have any siblings?
            Yes, an older brother.

            5-Have you ever broken a bone?
            Yep, my collar bone - I fell off a roundabout when I was 6!

            6-Do you believe in superstitious things such as breaking mirrors?
            Yes. I tell people I'm not but I try to avoid walking under ladders, cracks in the pavement, breaking mirrors, black cats, magpies.......

            7-Do you like those end of the world movies?
            Yes but there needs to be something slightly different about them now otherwise it's just the same old story.

            8- Do you eat more fruits or vegetables? What's your favourite fruit and vegetable?
            I probably eat more veg than fruit but I try to eat enough of both. Favourite veg is potatoes - roasted, mashed, fried I'll take any! Favourite fruit - erm....maybe watermelon. Though I don't eat it very often as quite expensive. I do love strawberries too.

            9-Who were you most likely to play during school nativities?
            Something lame like a tree! I went for main parts but always ended up in the background. I'm the lead in a play at the moment though so it was obviously their loss! ;)

            10-What's your opinion of the dentist?
            Hate it. But I know I have to go so put up with it!

            11-Have you ever had a speech impediment?
            Nope.

            12-If you had to choose, what is the worst movie you've ever seen?
            Ooh, good question, there have been some stonkers! Not sure I could pick just one though. I'll have a think and come back to this if I think of something.

            13-Do you like meeting new people?
            Yes and no. All my friends would say I'm outgoing but I'm a little shy to begin with and can take me a while to be comfortable with them and be myself. Generally I would say yes though.

            14-If you could, which celebrity would you date?
            Bradley Cooper. Two words - Yum Yum!

            15-What would you take with you on a deserted island?
            My Partner, my best friend, a James Patterson Book and a notepad and pen.

            16-Do you know how wide your hips are in exact inches?
            No. I had a fitting for a Bridesmaid Dress the other day but didn't like to ask!

            17-What would you say is the worst part of high school?
            The bullying. I was bullied for the first three years and it was awful, worst time in my childhood.

            18-How old will you be on your mother's 68th birthday? Is that old to you?
            I'll be 42. I think it will depend on how my life has turned out by then. I think you're only ever as old as you feel but if I still don't have a child by the time I'm 42 then yes I will fee old I think.

            19-Ever thought you were dying of something?
            No.

            20-Have you ever wanted to be a doctor?
            No.

            21-If you were dying who would you say goodbye to first?
            Horrible question, don't like the thought of it. Would have to be my mum I think. Then my best friend, then my partner (is that bad that it's not the other way around?!).

            22-Do you like to babysit children?
            Yes. I'm very broody at the moment so love being around children - babies in particular. Although some of my friends have children that I would steer clear from if I wanted to keep my sanity!

            23- Do you often forget where you put things?
            I do seem to now that I am in my 30's!

            24-Do you go on a lot of holidays?
            No, I would if I could but money stops me :(

            25-Have you ever met someone with the same biggest fear as you?
            Not that I have found.

            26-Would you rather write with a pen or pencil? Why?
            A pencil generally. When I'm working on a new novel or poem I like the comfort of being able to erase something rather than scribbling it out.

            27-Where was the best school trip you ever went on?
            I did my work experience in France which was cool. Otherwise it would have to be Chessington World of Adventures!

            28-Are you a controversial person?
            No I don't think so.

            29-What would you say your average word per minute count is on a keyboard?
            60-70wpm

            30-What was your favourite and least favourite subject in school?
            My favourite was Spanish. I loved the language and my teacher was awesome. Also English and Drama. Least favourites were Maths, Geography and Science.

            31No, I like to keep my nails longs and in good condition.

            32-When was the last time you went to the library?
            I often go for a look around but haven't taken anything out for quite some time.

            33-Do you like fiction or non-fiction books more?
            Fiction. I love a good thriller. I wish I had time to read all the books in the world that I want to!

            34-Do you treat others as you'd like to be treated?
            Yes I would like to think so.

            35- What type of child were you?
            I was always the 'boffin' (hence the bullying). I had a great circle of friends and I would like to think I was a nice child :)

            36-Are you someone who likes to get into arguments and fights a lot?
            Well I don't think so but my partner tells me I nag a lot and my mum has always said that I've turned moaning into an art form! So maybe!

            37-Do you swear a lot?
            It depends on who I'm with and the situation. As a lawyer I have to remain professional at work but with certain friends over a glass of wine then maybe a little more than I should!

            38-If you had to get another tattoo, what would it be and where?
            I wouldn't get one.

            39-What's your favourite Tv show?
            I don't have one favourite but if I could choose 3 it would be Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy & The OC.

            40-Does personality weigh out the sense of good looks?
            Yes. I know a lot of very good looking people who are either boring or arrogant!

            41-What is your favourite thing in your bedroom?
            My partner!

            42-If you could change one thing about you what would it be?
            I would be slightly taller

            43-Do you have any regrets? If so what are they?
            No. There are a couple of things in my life that I wish hadn't happened but they make me who I am today and I wouldn't be where I am without them so I don't regret them.

            44-What colour hair do you have?
            Dark blonde.

            45-What colour eyes do you have?
            Green.

            46-Favourite sound?
            Michael Buble singing.

            47-Favourite quote?
            Shoot for the moon, at least if you miss you'll land among the stars

            48-Are you trying to achieve something at the moment?
            Yes, I'm trying to clear my debt!

            49-If you could do one thing for someone what would it be?
            Ensure that my mum knows how much I appreciate everything she has ever done for me and how much I love her.

            50-What would you change?
            It's hard to pick just one.

            Thanks for reading!
            -x-

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          • More +
            10.06.2012 20:28
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            An easy, enjoyable, page turner of a read

            I was given this book as part of this year's World Book Night (for those of you who don't know what this is but are interested, see www.worldbooknight.org). My preference of genre to read will always be thriller but I do like a good chic lit book occasionally if I need a break from guns and blood and suspense! This book was given to me after a stint of reading 5 thrillers in a row and I was starting to dream about terrorists and murderers so thought I should read something a little less violent! So it came along at just the right time.

            The cover of the book appealed to me with its colourful typefont and a picture of a woman surrounded by shopping bags, looking at a long sheet of paper headed 'Bills'

            I had heard of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series but hadn't actually got around to reading any of them yet so I was not sure what to expect with Kinsella's writing style but picked up the book with an open mind. I'm pleased to say I wasn't disappointed.

            ***************
            So what's it about?
            ***************

            From the Back:

            'Meet Rebecca Bloomwood. She has a great flat, a fabulous wardrobe full of the season's must-haves, and a job telling other people how to manage their money. She spends her leisure time...shopping. Retail therapy is the answer to all her questions. She knows she should stop, but she can't. She tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money. But neither seems to work. The letters from the bank are getting harder to ignore. Can Becky ever escape from this dreamworld, find true love, and regain the use of her credit card? The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic...the perfect pick me up for when it's all hanging in the (bank) balance.'

            I won't go into the story in too much detail as I think it would spoil it if you do choose to read this book. But, in short, Rebecca loves spending money. Whatever it is on and wherever she spends it, she gets a buzz from handing over her credit card and taking her goods home in a crisp, new carrier bag. Letters from the bank are either hidden in drawers or responded to with the most ridiculous excuses. Bored of her job, apart from the free cocktails and lunches, she goes shopping for a bit of excitement. But unfortunately, as Rebecca discovers, the party must end sometime. She has to start taking action and dealing with the consequences. But will she ever be able to stop the spending?!

            *********
            My Opinion
            *********

            I found this an easy, enjoyable read which, thanks to the glorious weather we had a couple of weeks ago, read it over a weekend in the garden.

            Kinsella had me laughing out loud at points and I actually saw a resemblance to Rebecca in myself when she was trying to justify why she absolutely needed that new handbag or pair of shoes and dreaming what she would spend her lottery winnings on if she won the jackpot. I could relate to Rebecca so easily that I warmed to her right from the start. I'm pleased to say that I've tried to be a bit more frugal over the past few years but some of the scenes in this book could literally have been lifted out of my life!

            The chapters are relatively short and the story is fast paced that I found myself zooming through it to see what situations Rebecca would get herself into next. A quirky addition to the book, which aided in its enjoyment, was the inclusion of the letters from the bank, credit and store card company providers etc. It is these such letters that commence the book and sets the scene for the story to come. The content of the first letter suggests why Rebecca is in the situation she is and the following 3 make it clear that Rebecca is not inclined to pay off her debts and is happy to ignore the situation at hand. These letters are then interspersed throughout the rest of the book - at the end of chapters - which, not only tell a story in themselves so that Kinsella does not have to (as Rebecca) but are a clever way of keeping the reader interested.

            The characters are well thought out and captured perfectly, there were none that I felt didn't fit with the story or the location set. Kinsella gives the reader enough description of the characters that, for me, they actually started having faces and I could visualise them when reading. This is not something I am always able to do if I am not connecting with the story.

            Overall, I was very pleased with this book. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and am definitely going to read the next in the series soon.

            As I said, I was given a free copy of this book but - at the time of writing - you can get it from Amazon from 1p (used) and £2.94 (new) for a paperback copy and £4.94 for a kindle download.

            Thanks for reading
            -x-

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          • More +
            08.01.2012 18:53
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            An enjoyable read about Christmas, friendship and love

            For those of you who know me from my reviews you will know that I love to read. I generally opt for a good thriller with loads of suspense but occasionally I like to settle down with a good chic lit to take me away from the murders for a while! Therefore, for a chic lit to keep me interested and give it a good review it needs to be much better than just average.

            I am always drawn to books purely because of their cover. If the cover or title doesn't intrigue me then I don't even bother reading the back. This book caught my eye whilst on a girly day out with my mum (and she picked up a book which was on offer for buy one get one free and she didn't want a second one so I chose one instead!) and this was no different - I was drawn to it from the cover. Not only because I found the black with pinky/purple illustrations striking but because the title suggested it was about Christmas. Alongside reading, Christmas is my absolute favourite thing and I relish every moment of it, from shopping for presents, decorating the tree, cooking the turkey...and so when I found a book that appeared to encompass my most favourite time of the year I just had to find out more!

            From the back:-

            "All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas...So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.
            But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year..."

            As the blurb on the back suggests, the main character in this novel is Lydia, a Barrister living in London with her boyfriend Stephen. She tells herself she is happy in this relationship until she discovers a Tiffany Engagement Ring in his sock draw which changes her world. Does she want to marry him? Does she really love him? After all, when they got together she was so totally on the rebound from her summer romance Jackson that she didn't really have time to stop and think about what she actually wants from a relationship. & although she is strong, practical and logical when it comes to her career, she is a big softy at heart. A lover of old romantic black and white films like An Affair to Remember and Breakfast at Tiffany's she longs to find that fairytale romance and the Happy Christmas she is so desperately seeking.

            For Lydia, Christmas has never really been a happy time. Her father left her mother and her at this time of year and Lydia remembers this experience and the many Christmases after with the stepmother or without seeing her father at all and one quite awful incident with a stuffed dead Hedgehog! So when her and Stephen are invited to spend Christmas with her oldest friends, Alex, Katy and Joanna, and their respective others/children in the beautiful setting of Cumbria, she is delighted, hoping that that this Christmas will be the best one ever. She also hopes that being with other people rather than being alone with Stephen, as he suggests, will mean he won't have the chance to propose and she will have time to think about what her answer will be.

            I won't spoil the story too much in case you choose to read it but let's just say Lydia's Christmas doesn't turn out quite like she hoped. With broken heating, a mutilated turkey and a baby born on Christmas Eve, Lydia's Christmas is very eventful, even before the matter of her current boyfriend, her summer romance turning up at the door and a hunky stranger are thrown into the mix!

            My Opinion

            As Chic Lit's go, I did find this an enjoyable one. The fact that it was set over the Christmas period certainly helped me with the enjoyment of it but Scarlet's ability to make me actually laugh out loud in certain points and reduce me to have tears in my eyes at others means that I was definitely on to a winner. Considering this is Scarlett Bailey's debut novel I think she may have a long and fruitful career ahead of her and I would certainly read her next novel should there be one (which she promises us there is). I found her portrayal of each of the characters and the different personalities they encompass interesting to read. Although at times I found the women slightly pathetic(!), at others, I could quite clearly picture myself getting into the same situations with my nearest and dearest and was easily able to identify with the relationship they shared and the love between four girlfriends which no man can ever get in between!

            Scarlet describes the setting beautifully and although I have never actually been to Cumbria I now feel like I have, or at least, I certainly want to! Her description of the Hotel they are staying in, the snow topped roofs of the village and the ambience in the local pub meant that I could picture it so easily.
            And even though I could see the ending coming from about two thirds of the way through the book, Scarlet still delivered it beautifully so that when I reached the last page, I actually let out a little sigh of fondness for Lydia :)

            However, there is one criticism of this book and that is the clear 'editorial' mistakes throughout it. Having studied English Language and Literature and having had the chance to have some of my own work published, I am particularly anal when it comes to spelling and grammar. I am happy to forgive a writer, and their agent/editor, a couple of mistakes within a book, particularly on a debut novel, but the amount of them in this book really meant that I wasn't fully able to become involved in the story, as I usually can so easily with a well written book, because I was forever noticing the mistakes which were interrupting and distracting. Mistakes such as 'I felt like was caught up in a whirlwind', 'it means to the world to you', 'about what it's supposed feels like', 'why didn't you didn't tell me' and 'get away him from there!' can be found all throughout the book, at some points on every page. As I said before, this did distract me from the story which is disappointing because otherwise this would have been a perfect debut novel.

            Otherwise though, I found this an easily enjoyable read about two of my favourite things - Christmas and Love :) and I would recommend it to any likeminded chic lit readers out there.

            As I said earlier I managed to pick this up for half price but usually it would have been £6.99. Amazon are currently selling it for £4.38 (new). It is available both in paperback and as a download.

            Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
            -x-
            (This Review is also published on Ciao)

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            • More +
              27.07.2011 15:08
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              An easy chick lit read, not as good as other Adele Parks books.

              The majority of my book case at home is taken up by thrillers and crime novels. However, occasionally I do like a good 'Chick Lit' book to break up all the suspense and tension :)

              I picked up a copy of Tell Me Something by Adele Parks from a second hand book shop. I have read a couple of Park's other novels and so was drawn to her name initially and then after reading the blurb on the back decided I would give it a go.

              The story, without giving too much away, is based around Elizabeth - a die hard romantic who wants for nothing but a handsome Italian husband and lots of babies with said husband. It seems her wish is soon granted as she meets and falls in love with Roberto and they rather quickly get married. Unfortunately, even though they seem to try A LOT they do not have any joy in conceiving.

              When discussing their lives/parents/jobs etc, Roberto informs Elizabeth that his parents 'have a business in the wine trade' in Italy. Elizabeth thinks this fits is perfectly with her dreams of marrying into an Italian family and imagines Roberto's parents on a Vineyard, crushing grapes with their feet. She is therefore delighted when they decide to move to Italy to help with the family business, which unfortunately since the passing of Roberto's father, has not been doing so well.

              However, upon arriving in Italy and moving in with her mother-in-law, Elizabeth soon discovers that she will not be getting the perfect Italian life she was hoping for and doesn't have time for baby making as most of her time is spent working in the 'family business' (which is not quite what Elizabeth was expecting) and enduring her mother-in-law's evil rants.

              This book was a very easy read and for the most part was enjoyable enough. The ending of the book was obvious to me from about halfway through so there were no surprises in that respect but I still felt happy with the ending. I liked Park's description of Italy from Elizabeth's eyes and although I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Italy, I could imagine it would be how it was described in the book.

              The one part that did get on my nerves a bit was Elizabeth's attitude to getting pregnant. She came across completely desperate and in a few places I took Roberto's side when they were arguing about it. I am sure this was how Park's intended to portray her but I did find her so completely pathetic in some places and as a result found it hard to warm to her. I do understand a woman's desire to have a baby and frustration in not being able to conceive but it seemed to take over her whole life so that she couldn't focus on anything else.

              However, having said that, I did completely take her side where her mother-in-law was concerned. Raffaella was portrayed perfectly as the strong Italian mother, revelling in the return of her prodigal son but failing to hide her absolute distaste in the wife he has brought along with him. She appeared to have 'selective language understanding', ignoring Elizabeth when she spoke to her insisting that she couldn't speak English very well but then understanding perfectly when listening in to Elizabeth and Roberto's conversations/arguments or when explaining to Elizabeth just how beautiful and wonderful Roberto's ex is and oh by the way, she happens to live practically next door.

              The other characters in the book are conveyed clearly enough, if a little stereotypical at times (such as 'Chuck' the American stranger who just happens to be everywhere at the right time).

              As I have already said, I found this a very easy read. A perfect 'beach read' book, not too though-provoking, annoyed the hell out of me in places but warmed my heart in others :)

              I paid 75p for this from a second hand book shop but it is available new in most book shops and you can get it from Amazon from £1.69 new and 1p used.

              Thanks for reading
              -x-

              (This Review is also on Ciao)

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              • Zorro / Theatre / Musical National / 45 Readings / 41 Ratings
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                17.03.2008 15:30
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                A passionate, sexy and action packed musical. Highly recommend.

                Having a best friend who works in marketing resulting in him often being sent free tickets to opening nights, parties etc usually has its benefits. He even got sent two free tickets to the Brits but couldn't go (I was gutted!) and so instead, when he was sent free tickets to the press night and world premier of the musical Zorro in Eastbourne he asked me to go. 'Riveting' I thought - not quite the same as a night at the Brits - but as the tickets were free we decided to go along.

                I am pleased we decided to go as 'Zorro' was everything you could hope to get from a musical and even more!

                ************
                Who's Zorro?
                ************

                Zorro (Spanish for 'Fox' and how he came to get his name) essentially created the genre of 'masked, caped crusaders'. Before Spiderman, Superman, Batman & Robin and the likes of other masked heroes who lead a double life of citizens by day but crusaders by night, was the debut of Zorro. His creation, over a century ago, was down to a pulp fiction author by the name of Johnston McCulley, who introduced the world to Don Diego, a Spanish nobleman who disguises himself in a mask and cape to defend the people of California from the acquisitive and tyrannical designs of various villains and corrupt officials.

                Since his creation, Zorro has seen many transformations and has appeared in numerous short stories and films, including 'The Mask of Zorro', which hit our screens in 1998 as an adaptation of the 1940's film with the same name and it's sequel in 2005, 'The Legend of Zorro'.

                Throughout the years, however, one thing has remained the same with the Zorro stories and that is the settings. Zorro has always been tied to California and Barcelona.

                *******
                The Plot
                *******

                The musical of Zorro follows along the same lines as the stories.

                Diego, played by the rather handsome Matt Rawle, rejects his birthright and his father's wishes (The Mayor, Don Alejandro, played by Earl Carpenter) to stay in California and learn about responsibility, dignity and honour at the Academy and instead runs off to Barcelona where he travels with a group of gypsies, dancing, singing and sword fighting (and general womanising) to earn money on the streets.

                However, when he unexpectedly bumps into an old friend from California and he learns of his father's death and the resulting oppressing of the locals by Captain Ramon, Diego heads back to California to find out for himself the truth about what happened to his father.

                He does not like what he sees when he returns to California and knows that he has to defend his father's honour and bring down Ramon and his Army. He does not want the townspeople knowing it is him, however, and decides to disguise himself in a mask and cape.

                *************
                The Characters
                *************

                The characters are well thought out and expertly assigned to the actors playing them.

                Matt Rawle makes for a very dashing Diego by day with his tight trousers and white shirt, accompanied by his sword and whip (I think I fell in love with him a little bit - good job The Boyfriend wasn't with me!....) when travelling with the gypsies.

                Adam Cooper did an excellent job as Captain Ramon, portraying the evilness of his character but he was more than a mere baddie (which is why I found it rather odd that some of the audience actually booed him when he came out to take his bow at the end!) and his raw emotions shone through expertly, giving the audience a reason for his actions, sparking from jealousy.

                Aimee Atkinson played the part of Luisa, Diego's old friend from California who he bumped into in Barcelona and convinced him to return home. Although a very good actor, the character of Luisa just annoyed the hell out of me. Far too pathetic for my liking! It was clear as soon as Luisa and Diego met in Barcelona that they would have some kind of relationship but whether they actually fell in love/got together was still not quite explained to the audience.

                Other than Diego, the character who left most of an impression was Inez played by Lesli Margherita. Inez is Diego's gypsy friend from Barcelona. A complete opposite to Luisa, Inez was loud, confident, brash and reminded me a little of Amy Winehouse (before she went wrong!).

                Nick Cavaliere played the role of Garcia - one of Ramon's henchmen. It was apparent from his first appearance that he would be a central character and his lovable appearance and clear lust for Inez made him far too endearing to be evil. His genuine likeability surpassed his role and his expert performance of his song 'One More Beer' in Act Two had the audience laughing and singing along.

                The actor who had one of the hardest jobs was Daniel Gentely who played Chego, a mute gypsy friend of Diego. He did not have a single line throughout the whole show and therefore really had to step up his acting. He did so wonderfully. The audience was shown the character of Chego through his acting and his vulnerability and sincerity shone through and his scene in Act One when trying to explain to Diego that he should disguise himself in a mask and cape was hilarious and had the audience in stitches.

                There are many more amazing actors and actresses in the production, too many to mention or this review will go on forever, but the above are the main characters and well worthy of a mention.

                ***********************
                Musical numbers/staging etc
                ***********************

                One thing that every actor/actress on the stage had in common was their fantastic dancing abilities. The entire show was packed full of breathtaking dancing (and the productions included flamenco dancers from Madrid.) led by internationally-renowned choreographer Rafael Amargo.

                Some of the fight scenes were like nothing I had ever see before on a stage and more of what I am used to in a blockbuster action movie - Matt Rawle has to perform lightning whip tricks as well as spectacular fire-throwing. He even swings from a rope over the heads of the audience while wielding his sword. The sword fights are fast and furious and completely real which makes it even more exciting.

                The music throughout was thanks to the world famous and Grammy Award-winners, the Gypsy Kings. They're one of the most successful bands in history (with songs that everyone would have heard of - such as 'Bambaleo') and France's biggest musical export and yet they are a very rare type of band - they are famous for their music and not their celebrity antics - you wont read about them in papers or see them on tv on a daily basis. The Gipsy Kings are drawn from two sets of brothers - the Reyes and the Baliardos - although the line-up has changed somewhat since their creation - and have become global superstars since the release of their album (and single Bambaleo) in 1987.

                A solo guitarist would come out at different points throughout scenes and strum away and that guitar music gave rise to the most poignant and breathtaking scenes

                *******
                Overall
                *******

                I could go on for ages about this musical as it really did have such an impact but overall, Zorro is a passionate, sexy, awe-inspiring, astounding and truly authentic work of art with fantastic dances, scenes, characters, magic tricks and special effects abundant. It has been a while since I have seen a show that left as huge an impression as Zorro did and I am even considering seeing it again when it arrives at the west end in the summer as I think the whole production would be even more remarkable on a bigger stage. As you can imagine, I highly recommend you see this if you get the chance!

                ****************
                Where can I see it?
                ****************

                As I explained before, I had free tickets to see this at the world premiere and press night at Congress Theatre in Eastbourne so I don't know how much the tickets were.

                However, the show is still touring before arriving at the west end and you can catch it at the following venues:-

                Southampton - Mayflower Theatre - Wednesday 19th - Saturday 22nd March 2008

                Glasgow - King's Theatre - Tuesday 25th - Saturday 29th March 2008

                Manchester - Opera House - Tuesday 1st - Saturday 5th April

                Milton Keynes - Marlborough Gate - Tuesday 8th - Saturday 12th April 2008

                Thanks for reading
                -x-

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                  03.03.2008 14:25
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                  A pretty bubble bath aiding softer skin.

                  From the front of the bottle:

                  'Radox Moisture Soak Herbal Bath, proven to relax. With calendula renowned for skin conditioning properties. With a blend of natural herbs and minerals.'

                  Please note - I am reviewing the 500ml bottle but Moisture Soak Herbal Bath is also available in a 1 Litre bottle.

                  I have quite sensitive skin and so I often find that when I have had a bath my skin is left feeling dry, tight and itchy afterwards and I have to lather myself up in moisturiser. Therefore, I am always on the lookout for a product that will add to the hydration of my skin. I saw this bubble bath in Sainsburys a couple of months ago. The Boyfriend always buys the Muscle Soak from Radox (the big manly blue bottle he tells me - 1 Litre size) but the 500mls sizes were on a Buy One Get Free Offer for all the Radox Range. So I managed to persuade The Boyfriend to forego the big manly 1 Litre size of his and opt for the smaller 500ml size so that I could try the Moisture Soak. We got both bottles for the small price of £1.79 (and I still have some left in my bottle after two months so it is definitely good value for money).

                  The main thing that drew my attention to this bottle - other than the fact it said Moisture Soak in big letters on the front - was the fact that the bubble bath itself is a pretty baby pink. Being very much a girly girl I love everything pink (to the extent where The Boyfriend gave up fighting it resulting in us having a rather pink dominated kitchen and a blue and pink bathroom) and so I knew that the bottle would look lovely next to his blue bottle in our bathroom. (Yes, I know that is a rather lame excuse for buying a product!!).

                  I'm pleased to say, however, that besides looking pretty in the bathroom it is a very good bubble bath. It has a pretty, feminine, clean smell (sort of flowery/fruity) which I love and a little really does go a long way (as I said before, I've had this over two months and I've still got just under a quarter left). The bottle is tall and thin with a pretty pink screw on cap. I have never found any problems with pouring it or the bottle getting in a mess and the bottle curves in slightly at the bottom aiding easy gripping.

                  The bubble bath foams up easily resulting in lots of lovely smelling bubbles and I do feel that it is conditioning my skin. I do still have to apply moisturiser after most baths due to my sensitive skin but I definitely feel softer and more moisturised than after using other products (even ones that claim to do the same thing).

                  This bubble bath does claim to be proven to relax. They don't go into detail as to how it is proven - perhaps the calendula adds to that - and I wouldn't say that I find this bubble bath any more relaxing than any other but I would definitely recommend this bubble bath to anyone who wants softer skin or anyone who just likes a pretty smelling bubble bath for a very generous price.

                  Thanks for Reading
                  -x-


                  This review will also be published on Ciao.

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                    28.02.2008 15:29
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                    an excellent cleanser and great for sensitive skin.

                    There are many different ranges of cleansing lotions and washes from Virgin Vie but I am reviewing Perfect Balance Take Comfort Cleansing Lotion

                    I suffer from very sensitive skin which dries out quickly when using soaps and some bath/shower products etc. I have therefore had to search for a face cleanser that is effective enough that it will get rid of make-up and daily dirt etc but is gentle enough that it wont completely dry out my skin and leave me with a blotchy red face (as some cleaners/soaps have done). Thankfully - I think I have found the answer!

                    Having a Virgin Vie Consultant for a friend comes in quite handy as I not only get an assortment of free/discounted goodies but I also get advice on what products I can use that wont irritate my skin.

                    Last November, after trying yet another face cleanser and feeling disheartened when my face was left feeling dry, tight and itchy, I expressed my concerns to my friend. She handed me a Perfect Balance Take Comfort Cleansing Lotion and told me to try it.

                    I was sceptical that evening as I pumped a little of the cleanser into my hand, spread it over my face and proceeded to wipe it away with a cotton pad but to my surprise, my face not only felt refreshed from the slightly cooling sensation of the cleanser but did not feel really dry. (I do apply moisturiser after I use it but you may not have to as it does definitely moisturise my skin more than other cleansers I have tried).

                    I have been using it for over three months and I am delighted to say that I have still not found any problems with it!

                    On the front of the bottle is the Virgin Vie logo at the top and 'Perfect Balance take comfort cleansing lotion - Brings balance to normal and oily skin' at the bottom.

                    On the back of the bottle - 'smooth away the grime of the day with this gentle, skin friendly cleanser. Kind to dry skin, but firm with impurities, this cleanser helps to restore order to skin that's off balance. Naturally derived oils and skin compatible moisturisers effectively lift away grime whilst respecting the skin's hydration levels. Lemon, horsetail and nettle extracts help tone and refresh for healthy, happy skin'.

                    I have a smaller bottle than is available to buy from the catalogue or from their website (as my friend had a 'travel' size version which she gave to me to try) which contains 125ml (as opposed to the 250ml which is available from their catalogue/website. As I said before, I have been using it for over three months (approximately 4/5 times a week) and still have just over half left. I find that two pumps of the cleanser is enough to cover my whole face.

                    The bottle is see through so you can clearly see how much of the toner you have left. The cleanser itself is white and glides across the face. Not too thick and not too runny - just perfect! It has a pleasant, slightly fragranced smell and feels really refreshing after a long day. It really does feel like my face is getting a good clean.

                    Top Tips:

                    This cleanser works much better when you wash your hands before applying it (as it seems a bit pointless applying a cleanser with dirty hands).

                    I get better results when I apply the cream to my face and massage in and wipe away with a cotton pad (I usually use two pads each time - one for my eyes and one for the rest of my face) rather than applying the cream directly to the pad and wiping it across my face.

                    If you are wearing heavy make up then you may need to apply and wipe your face twice.

                    I always follow up this cleanser with a toner as it makes sure I get rid of any traces of the cleanser or dirt left on the skin.

                    As I said before, this product is available to buy from their catalogue or website at a cost of £11.00 which I think is excellent value for money considering how long it lasts, or you can buy direct from a Consultant (or hold a Virgin Vie party where you can try the products before you buy) details of which you can get from their website - www.virginvieathome.co.uk

                    I highly recommend this to all and especially to those of you with sensitive skin who spend ages looking for a product that doesn't iritae.

                    Thanks for reading.


                    This review is also published on Ciao.

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                      26.02.2008 17:43
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                      Lindsay Boxer is back with the other members of the WMC to solve three cases!...

                      Those of you who have read my reviews before will know that I have an immense love of reading and James Patterson is undoubtedly my favourite author.

                      The 6th Target (co written by Maxine Paetro who James Patterson paired up with on the 4th July and the 5th Horseman) is the 6th instalment in the Women's Murder Club Series, which although ostensibly not as read as Patterson's Alex Cross series, for me it is still just as thrilling.

                      For those of you not familiar with the Women's Murder Club series, here is a brief rundown of its members:-

                      Lindsay Boxer is a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department and was recently promoted to Lieutenant. She is a divorcee who is currently in a long distance relationship with Joe and she has a border collie called Martha. Lindsay is the central character throughout the series and often adopts the role of narrator.

                      Cindy Thomas is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and often uses her friendship with Lindsay to get info on the hot new news stories gripping the nation.

                      Claire Washburn is the Chief Medical Examiner for San Francisco and is Lindsays oldest friend.

                      Yuki Castellano is a San Francisco District Attorney and the newest member of the Womens Murder Club.

                      The 6th Target centres around three cases. Firstly, an armed, self confessed 'madman' unloads his gun on a ship full of innocent victims in a burst of gunfire leaving several people dead and one member of the Womens Murder Club fighting for her life. Yuki gets the chance to act as prosecutor, but going against one of the best defence attorneys around, can she manage to put this man behind bars?

                      Secondly, children of wealthy families, along with their Nannies, are going missing but no ransom notes are being received by the families. Lindsay (recently demoted to Sergeant!) works with her new partner, Richie Conklin, who we have met throughout the series, to find these children alive and find out who is abducting them.

                      Lastly, mysterious murders, both human and animal, are occurring all over Cindy's Apartment block and with another Womens Murder Club member potentially in danger, Lindsay does all she can to protect her.

                      On a more personal note, she also has to deal with her relationship with Joe and the effect the long distance has on them.

                      The novel is consistent with other James Patterson novels. The chapters, as always, are only a couple of pages long. This adds to the suspense and the intensity of the novel as it entices the reader to keep turning the pages and not to bore easily or lose interest. As always, we get to see most sides of the story with the novel switching between the first and third person. The chapters and scene changes flow smoothly into each other however, so it is clear to the reader who is narrating or what case it is about etc.

                      With the demotion of Lindsay to Sergeant we see her back in the 'field' a bit more than in the last book and it is refreshing to read about her working with her new partner instead of Jacobi who she worked side by side with for so long. We also see a relationship develop between Lindsay and Richie her new partner and I actually wanted them to get together but you'll have to read the book to find out whether they do or not!

                      Although I don't think that it is vital that you have read the previous Women's Murder Club novels, it may be a good idea so that you have a better understanding of all the characters and the relationships that Lindsay has with people outside the WMC.

                      Overall this is another fantastic read from James Patterson with action, drama, sex and thrills abundant and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good thriller of a read.

                      The 6th Target also has a typical James Patterson, simple but attention grabbing cover. A pale blue background with The 6th Target in large purple letters and James Patterson below in smaller dark blue letters (and 'with Maxine Paetro' underneath). There is a small picture of a child's rocking chair in the top right corner, indicating the main case of the novel (the missing children).

                      This book will be available in most bookshops. I bought the hardback version which always comes out prior to the paperback (and I can't wait that long for the next James Patterson instalment!) and you can buy it on Amazon from just approximately £3.00. The 6th Target is also available on audiobook.

                      Thanks for reading!
                      -x-

                      This review is also on Ciao

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