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Who is Emeli Sande?
A soulful, elegant voice with a variety of tracks to keep your interest is what I would describe this debut album from Emeli Sande. You may or may not have heard of her, depending upon your interest in today's music scene. She is Simon Cowell's favourite songwriter right now - so she must be doing something right, but what?
I first remember her as the cheeky lady who featured on Chipmunk's Diamond Rings. It was quite a catchy song back in 2010, although I never thought for a second she would be one of my favourite artists. She released her debut album, Our Version Of Events in February and some of the biggest hits off it include Heaven, Next To Me, and My Kind Of Love. She also featured on Professor Green's Read All About It, which went to Number 1, but she has done a version on her album, which I think is absolutely fantastic and is perhaps even better than the original!
Aside from her music, she is just twenty five years old, so hopefully we'll have plenty of music from her yet. Sande is from Scotland and surprisingly she completed four years at medical school before dropping out - at least she's a clever musician!
How Did I Come Across "Our Version Of Events"?
I've liked Emeli Sande's music ever since I first heard Heaven, her debut solo single. I wanted to wait until she had released a couple more though, because I have fallen for that before where you hear a song and buy a rubbish album. After she released Next To Me and My Kind Of Love, I realized that her music was my type and I started looking around at prices, and reading reviews. The reviews were mostly good, but the prices were staying quite high for a debut album.
I'm a member of Maximiles, the site that rewards you when you take surveys etc. Each survey is normally worth about 150 points and a CD you can get for 2000 points. I normally get sent 2-3 surveys per week, but I either miss them or don't qualify. About every six months I have enough to get a new CD, and this time I decided to get Our Version Of Events by Emeli Sande. They order it for you through Amazon, Play or HMV ( I presume whichever is cheapest), and then send it to you brand new. So I got mine free.
Prices, Where To Buy and Artwork
Despite being released in February it is still keeping it's price at about £6 or £7, with free delivery, usually, if you buy online. I imagine you would be able to get it used on Amazon or Play for cheaper.
I love the artwork for Our Version Of Events. It's very dark, lots of greys in there. It has Emeli Sande looking up towards the sky. I think it's simple but it stands out and you can easily see who it is without having to zoom in to search for a name.
Is The Music Any Good?
I think it's a really good album, where the tracks work well together. I like the way she hasn't put all of her hits at numbers 1, 2 and 3 and filled the rest with air - it's all good quality stuff. There is variety, emotion, excellent songwriting, and you feel that she is telling the truth. Plus... what's more she can actually sing! I know ridiculous for a singer! Here are a few key tracks that you might want to keep an eye out for:
A good opener, catchy and soulful. The chorus makes the song but I also like the lyrics to the verses. One of my favourite songs on the album.
Next To Me:
I find Next To Me uplifing and inspiring - I almost get the impression that Sande is trying to give herself that same comfort. There's a line somewhere in the song " I know there's no need for me to panic" - which suggests she's trying to calm herself down.
My Kind Of Love:
I love this song. The verses are like she is talking to a boyfriend or an ex boyfriend and then the chorus just explodes into an uplifting, musical version of a comforting hand on your shoulder that says everything will be alright.
Read All About It ( Pt.III)
This is so different to the original but in many ways better. I think hearing Sande sing the Verses and the Chorus is much better - plus the words are very powerful. See what you think.
Would I Recommend It?
Yes. Without knowing what I do now, as in not having listened to it - I would not pay nearly £7 for it. However, because it is such a good album with such soulful, sad yet at times energetic themes running through it, I would pay that. I'm even more thrilled that I got it for free, so that is why it has a 5 out of 5 dooyoo stars from me.
It pays these days to dig your hands deeper into your pockets. This is true in almost every industry in today's market, but one that may go under the radar is in fact photography and the way prints are processed. With the attention steering towards digital technology and things like iPads where they take excellent quality pictures, the need for professional photo processing is perhaps becoming less sought after. People simply just photo edit and print off the pictures onto glossy paper themselves. I think that's alright, but I do like to every now and then have my pictures developed so they can go in my album - they look more professional and I like to do it that way.
The thing that has stopped me recently has been the prices. I used to take my SD card down to my local Boots, Jessops etc and get my pictures done there - it used to take about half an hour and I would have them in my hand at the end of it, minus about £10 for 20 photographs. Then one morning I opened an email from a company called Truprint.co.uk - I had never heard of them until then, and they were offering 40 free 6 x 4 prints for new customers ( although this has since gone down to 20.) I instantly signed up, but only about three weeks ago did I upload my photos and use their service. So how did it go?
So Who Are Truprint?
If Truprint were a pony it would not be a one trick pony. It has many talents. The main theme of Truprint, however, is that you upload your photos and then you can either develop them as you would normally, like at Boots, or you can make photo books, or make a mug with one of your photos on. It turns into a good gift shop as well because lets face it, people just love photographs!
There is a lot to choose from including cards, canvasses, posters, mugs, and stationary to name just a few. They also do lots of special offers, including the free prints for new customers, and once you've joined you get a free print for every x number you order. On your home screen there is also things like 20% off photo books or free delivery, depending on what they are focusing on that week.
I really like the concept and the fact you can either use it as a photo developing service, or as a gift shop, or both! I have used it a couple of times in the past three weeks, mainly because I'm a sucker for a bargain and when they say 25% off, I fall for it!
Like any company, they vary their prices according to demand and make the profit that way. 6 x 4 prints are 9p each after any free prints, and 8 x 6 are 40p - just to put things into perspective. I ordered 51 6 x 4 prints, with 2 8 x 6 and 1 collage of all the prints that I ordered and with shipping it came to £8.37. This did however, include my free prints.
Photo books and other products are a little more expensive which is where I suspect they make their money from. They entice you in by you uploading your photos and then you will receive handy emails with one of your prints on a canvas - so that you can see what it would look like. They do look good, and if the pictures are of your children, family or animals it is going to be difficult to not buy something like photo books, a canvas or mugs. A cheap 6 x 4 photo album starts at £5.99 - but you then end up finishing it with nice glossy paper which is extra, and also adding extra pages, which guess what? It's extra! A canvas will set you back £29.99 for a 12 x 12 square - which is quite expensive in my opinion - especially when sites like Groupon and Wowcher offer these all the time.
Site Layout and Ease of Use
The layout of Truprint.co.uk is miles ahead of similar sites. Once I had joined Truprint, I then registered with a couple of others to see if they were doing similar offers. However, I found their site layout awful and it took an age to upload pictures. Truprint is different because it does not take very long at all to upload your photos. It takes such little time that I even uploaded my entire photo albums from my computer, backed them up on a usb and then deleted them off my computer. The site is easy to navigate, with clear headings for everything and if you do decide to purchase prints, it is quite easy to work your way to the checkout!
Delivery And Quality
Having always used Boots, Jessops and such, I was a little wary of putting my faith in an online retailer to develop my pictures. I ordered on the 14th July, they were dispatched on the 17th and I got them about the 21st of July - so a week. I don't think this is too bad - if you wanted them in a hurry you would get yourself down to Boots, but I couldn't be doing with the hassle. With my delivery, I received a 25% off my next order which is quite a discount really and free delivery.
I was eager to look at the quality of the pictures and I have to say, I was really impressed. I think they may even be better than Boots. They are very sharp with every little detail showing up. I particularly love my 8 x 6 prints - I'm going to frame them and put them on my wall - they are very good quality and I'm just waiting to buy a good enough frame now! The prints were packaged nicely, with the 6 x 4 prints all together and likewise the 8 x 6.
-Can order prints from the comfort of your computer screen.
-The initial offer is excellent - £8.37 for 53 photos in my eyes is anyway.
-I was really impressed with the quality.
-Easy to use site.
-They do great offers - free prints initially, vouchers, 1 free print per x amount you buy.
-After your initial order, it can be quite expensive, or no cheaper than going to Boots.
-It can be a wait to get your prints.
-You can be tempted to buy more by their emails, which you get a couple of times per week.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
I had a good experience with Truprint and will continue to use them. I was impressed with the quality, the prices, and the offers they use. If you are a person who gets a few pictures developed every now and then I would probably stick with who you go to at the moment - because Truprint won't be much better or any more convenient. However, if you, like me love photos and process regularly then this could be for you. Truprint comes with high recommendations from me.
I'm not usually a Next girl. In fact I can't stand the shop. Overpriced "fashion" for average quality in my opinion, but hey I'm not here to talk about the brand but rather a product and that is a perfume called Define. I received this perfume as a gift a couple of weeks ago and really was not expecting much having spotted the NEXT logo on it. I usually go for middle priced fragrances such as Calvin Klein and Yves St Laurent or Jean Paul Gaultier, so this for me is a little bit of a step down - but nevertheless I thought I would give it a go.
Where To Purchase And Price
Being a Next brand you can only purchase this from this store, or the only other alternative may be eBay - but then there are likely to be delivery costs on top, so it is probably more cost effective to purchase from your local Next store. There are two sizes available which is good in my opinion, particularly if you have never tried a fragrance. It means if you do not like it, you haven't forked out the cost of a big bottle. A 30ml bottle costs £6.50 and a 75ml bottle costs £10.
The Packaging and The Fragrance
The packaging resembles, for me, something you would give as a gift - a cheap gift albeit. It is plastic with a gold and black boxing, with some ribbon tied round it. Like I say, from the look of it, you really wouldn't think much of it but it really does pack a punch in terms of giving off a nice, fresh smell. The bottle is very nice, clear with gold and black writing. On the Next website the description of this perfume is:
"An oriental fragrance with exotic flowers and warm musks." To be honest I do not really agree with this description, however I do like the fragrance. For me, it is fresh, and reminds me of a florist. What I particularly like is that it does tend to last all day, which some of the larger brands should take note of as theirs lasts a couple of hours and then it's gone. Define is not overpowering, and quite often I'll be sat next to someone or opposite somebody and they will say "what nice perfume you are wearing" or "what perfume are you wearing?" The first time somebody asked me I thought it was going to be because it smelt horrible and was offending others!
I have the 75ml bottle, which I think will last a long time - I have been wearing it quite a bit and the bottle is still nearly full. You only really need to use one spray to get the fragrance of this perfume, so it makes it great for lasting longer!
The only negative that really lets Define down for me is the packaging - it screams cheap. This surprises me because nothing in Next is cheap so I don't understand why they would design a cheap packaging for a perfume? Other than that, it is all good.
Who Does It Appeal To?
I think lots of women would be surprised that they would like this perfume, even those who often buy more expensive brands. Define could be given as a christmas present, especially to youngsters and teenagers and women of all age groups are all likely to like this.
Would I recommend It?
I would recommend it, but I don't know whether I could wear it all the time! I do like my quality perfumes though it does make a very good replacement, because although cheap it doesn't smell cheap.
Recently I have been full of cold after catching, presumably, some kind of virus whilst I was visiting my mum in hospital. I have felt so congested and full of "snot" - sorry to be so graphic but that is the best way to describe the feeling! It feels like my lungs are full of it too, and breathing was slightly difficult for a few days.
I went down to my local chemist and explained my symptoms and at first they tried to sell me Vicks vapour rub - the branded equivalent that sells for about £4 per 50g. I initially agreed, but out of the corner of my eye I spotted Bell's Vapour Rub for £1.12 and asked the sales assistant if it was the same basically. She said yes. I thought why pay much more for the same product?
The colour of the packaging is very similar to Vicks, as Bell's use greens and blues to sell the decongestion product. The slogan, if you can call it that, is "For clear, cool breathing." The feel of the gel is the same as Vicks. I hate the feel of the gel, but that's because I hate having sticky fingers and it does tend to leave your hands greasy, with the need for a good wash.
The scent is strong and instantly decongesting. The instructions say to rub it on your chest, neck and throat area before you go to sleep - but because of the feel of it I tend not to do this, however everyone to their own! Instead I get a flannel and rub in a good amount to it and use it on my pillow throughout the night. I find that I am able to breathe clearly and freely throughout the night - something I am unable to do without Bell's Vapour Rub. I wake up in the morning now, with a clear chest and feeling slightly better each morning.
Another option it gives you to do, which I have not tried is to put some in some boiling water. This is meant to be really effective for decongesting throughout the day when you cannot really rub the gel on your chest because of the smell, as it is overpowering.
You can buy Bell's from some supermarkets and chemists, although it is probably easier to get hold of online. The cheapest I have seen it is £1 per 50g, just remember if you buy online you will most likely incur delivery charges. It will last a long time - I've had my virus for a week and have been using it 2 or three times per day, as well as at night and I still have half a pot left, and I don't exactly use it sparingly!
I would definitely recommend Bell's Vapour Rub to anyone who has a cold, the flu or those who have problems breathing. I really cannot see the difference between this and Vicks, only the £3 price difference! I am a firm believer that sometimes the cheaper products are the best.
Why I Chose It?
I have had terrible luck recently on the shaving gel front. The ones I have used in the past have either felt like rubber, not done the job properly or have just been rather nasty. This week I was in Tesco and noticed this rather colourful purple tin - which immediately caught my eye. If the packaging didn't catch my eye, the price certainly did! £1.10 for a shave gel is fairly average for a basic brand like Tesco, Superdrug, Wilkinson etc although having used it I would say that it was well worth that price.
With some products price outweighs quality, which is certainly not the case with this shaving gel which slightly surprised me. I thought it would do the job, i.e allow me to shave my legs, but certainly not the quality shave I got.
The gel itself is a purple colour and it feels very silky and smooth, which actually feels very nice. The razor simply glides through the gel and takes off the hair, in almost an effortless motion.
The scent is berry, as described, although it is not one of the overpowering, hideous aromas that nearly knock you off your feet. I thought Tesco did a good job on that front - mainly because the scent is berry, and nobody wants to be smelling of berry all day.
It's so good that I cannot even think of any legitimate negative points, which is most unlike me, as I usually like to make a point of making others aware of both the positive and negative aspects of a product.
Would I recommend It?
Absolutely! The price is average but the quality is far from average and I would go as far as saying that this shaving gel is the best I have ever used - something I am not afraid to state. It is well worth the money!
What Is It?
Complan is basically a meal in a drink. It contains all the goodness of a meal plus 26 vitamins and minerals your body needs. There are lots of reasons why somebody may use Complan for instance some elderly people do as their digestive system cannot cope with the bulk of food, people who are losing weight opt for these as they are healthier, and finally people who are underweight or who are losing weight consume these as with full fat milk they can be fattening, especially for one drink. It all depends on the quantity you drink and any extras you add in, for instance you can add in ice cream as well.
The packaging says that it provides energy, helps maintain good health, provides nutrients, and contains B vitamins, iron, Vitamin C and Calcium. The drink itself is like a milkshake, you simply pour some milk into a glass, add the mixture and whisk. There are four flavours of Complan out currently and these are: Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla and Banana. You can get Complan in most supermarkets and almost every pharmacy, although the prices do vary significantly. The average price seems to be around £4 for a box of four sachets, although I am quite sure that you would be able to ask your GP for a prescription if you have health problems.
Why Did I Buy It?
About a month ago I was prescribed some new medication for my migraines and one of the side effects is weight loss. Before beginning the medication I was 9 stone exactly and in the month I am now 8 stone 6, so the weight is falling off quite a bit. The doctor who prescribed me the medication recommended that I try Complan once or twice a day as well as a meal, to keep my weight stable.
I purchased my Complan off the internet from Amazon and because I had a gift card remaining I think I had £1.20 left to pay, when I brought two boxes which came to £8.40, including delivery. Although I got it cheap this time because of the gift certificate, I still think that £8.40 for eight sachets is rather a lot, especially considering my doctor told me to have two per day. That means eight sachets will last only four days! It would work out very expensive having to pay out nearly £16 per week for Complan!
The drink itself is quite easy to make. The instructions say to make it in a glass, but I would actually make it in a jug first - mainly because you get lumps in it otherwise and it tastes foul! Hopefully by making it in a larger area you might be able to whisk out the lumps. I will warn you now it tastes nothing like banana and the taste is not very nice in the slightest! In fact it is pretty disgusting. I have used only one sachet of the banana Complan and gone onto the Strawberry instead.
The packaging is really clear and concise, meaning you can read the instructions on how to make the shake without throwing the contents of the box everywhere or over the kitchen floor. It also tells you about all the different vitamins and minerals that Complan contains, probably to make swallowing the drink a little easier!
Obviously, my weight has now stabilized and I'm still at 8 stone 6. I have tried to eat more food as well, but it really isn't as easy as that when you have no appetite.
I think the price has to be the biggest put off to anyone really, unless they can get it on prescription from their GP. This would only really happen though if you had a medical condtion that warranted it, or it was a long ongoing thing. Nevertheless, £16 per week for replacement meals is a fair bit, whatever your income.
The other big let down is the taste I'm afraid. From the reviews I read, I was led to believe that it was just like drinking banana milkshake - and I tell you I love banana milkshake! Trust me though, it isn't. It's bitty, lumpy and too milky to start with and the flavour is no way banana. In fact I would be surprised if that drink had ever seen a banana.
Would I Recommend It?
Of course, everyone has different tastes, but I'm not sure many people like the idea of a sick shake - which is what Complan Banana practically is. Sure the idea, and the theory is there they just need to work a bit harder on the flavouring. 2/5 for me.
One essential in my handbag is my Maybelline Superstay 24hr Concealer. I discovered it by chance about a year ago and have used it since then religiously. I have one of those skin types that no matter what you do with it or what you put on it, it always comes out in spots. Obviously it goes without saying that I do my morning and evening ritual of spot treatments, but there is only so much you can do and beyond that it's about trying to cover them up.
The concealers I was using previously just wasn't doing it. Firstly they wouldn't cover up the spots and secondly when they did they couldn't have been more obvious that I had concealer on - as this great big blob would just sit there. It was horrible! Anyway, a friend of mine told me about Maybelline's 24hr concealer and said that is was really good, plus it comes in different shades.
The next day I went down to superdrug and found it quite easily. This concealer is in a long tube with a white lid and on the body of the concealer it has the name of it. The price is £6.19 in superdrug, although a quick search just told me that it is available from about £3 elsewhere - so it may be worth searching around. Also, something that may be of note is that superdrug are doing 3 for 2, so you could get 3 lots and only pay for 2.
Even once I had paid for it, I was still a bit dubious - obviously I had tried it in the shop, on my hand and it felt nice, thick even. It wasn't until I got home and used it properly that I really noticed the difference, and having a fresh looking face has given me so much more confidence. You apply it a bit like mascara, it has a similar type of brush, although I have recently purchased a concealer brush because it smooths the edges more and makes it less visible that you have concealer on. You can either use the brush directly like that or how I used to do it was dab it on my finger - and then rub it in evenly around your face. I then follow it with a foundation and some powder.
I think it looks good and even other people say how fresh faced I look, even younger. It does last a long time - though I am not sure whether I would say 24 hr? I think that is perhaps a bit of wishful thinking on Maybelline's part! There are a few shades to choose from including light beige, medium, and a darker one too.
The only negative I have is that in some lighting it does show up if you haven't spent the time rubbing it in properly - because it is so thick and creamy. It isn't something you can do quickly or "blindly."
I have been struck down by an awful virus this week, hence the sudden surge in reviews. The thing I hate the most about a cold/virus above all is the bunged up nose, but coming in a close second is the painful sore throat. I'm lucky in the sense that I do not get many of these colds but when I do, boy do I get them! The first thing I reach for my throat is Strepsils Extra - which in my opinion do help take the edge of the pain, but I do think it is psychological, slightly.
Strepsils are available from about £3 in all good supermarkets and other outlets, although the prices do vary. I tend to always buy these "extra" ones rather than the cool, warm ones etc as I find they are the only ones with a bit of punch behind them that do help take the pain of a sore throat away.
I like the taste of the blackcurrant flavour over the honey flavour that they do - although I would avoid eating or drinking anything after sucking on one of these as it makes it taste horrible! Been there got the t-shirt!
The advantages of using Strepsils Extra are the pain relief from your sore throat and they also numb the back of the throat which is great, the blackcurrant flavour is nice and the smell is also yummy, and they are well priced.
On the down side, I would say that only having two flavours to choose from in a world where people can have anything they want is a slight negative. I find the packaging very boring and unattractive - surely they could come up with something a little more imaginative?
I guess the ultimate question though is it all just psychological?
I first went to Paultons Park about 10 years ago when I was still about 14 years old. During the summer holidays my parents always used to do the tour of the theme parks with me, my sisters and my niece who was very younger at the time ( 3 or 4). Paultons Park was by far the best out of all of them for everyone. It was good for my niece because obviously it is very geared up towards young children, and over the years have added new features such as Peppa Pig World. For me and my sisters the rides weren't too scary as youngsters but as we have got older they have got some adult rides there which we now find fun. I think my parents found it relaxing - which is alot to say for a theme park! There are not many people and the queues for rides are relatively short.
Over the years the price to get in has gone up, obviously, but then hasn't everything? For an adult the price is £24, although this can be reduced to £21 if you buy in advance on their website. Seniors are £21.50, reduced to £18.50 if paid for in advance. You can get a family ticket of 3 for £69.50 or a family of 4 for £92.00, but this £92 can be reduced to £80 if you buy beforehand so it is well worth thinking about pre-buying tickets. Children under 1 metre go free, now there's something!
Paultons Park is great if you have young children. You walk in and instantly there are play areas, water areas, and picnic areas where you can sit down and let your children play. Of course there are the rides, which have height restrictions but there are alot geared towards very young children. If your children are not into rides and are scared of them, then there is plenty else to do. For instance there is a train that takes you around the park but be warned this does take at least an hour so if it's hot don't forget the suncream! There are also lots of characters walking around handing out balloons, taking pictures etc - all good fun and the children love it!
Throughout the park there are lots of animal enclosures, which of course is fun for the children as well as educational. Most of these are also in the shade, which could prove a welcome relief if you go during the summer months and need a break from the searing heat. There's all sorts of animals from meerkats, birds, flamingos, tortoises, wallabies and penguins - where you can also watch them being fed at certain times of the day.
As for practical issues like toilets and restaurants there seems to be lots of those around. I say restaurants, but they are just quick fast food places, not branded, but they sell hot dog and chips, burger and chips etc. Nothing particularly nice but for what it is it is okay. I suppose that is one of my only complaints that perhaps they could have a "nicer" restaurant where if you did want to eat something other than chips then you could, but it is no big issue. I would suggest if you do not like fast food or fatty foods then to take a picnic because you will not find anywhere that sells anything else.
My only worry is that Paultons Park is expanding and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger rides, geared towards adults which of course will lead to more adults in the park. This is not a problem in itself, but I would quite like Paultons to stay as a young theme park and not a Chessington etc.
The last couple of days I have come out in a terrible cold. Today on my weekly shopping trip to Sainsbury's I picked up my favourite pain relief - Sainsbury's Ibuprofen. I buy these weekly, not because I am addicted but because I get bad migraines and this is the only half decent pain relief out there. Nothing will get rid of a migraine, but the idea is to reduce it's intensity to at least be able to cope with it and Sainsbury's Ibuprofen certainly do that. So, because I trust them, I picked up a pack today and hope they will take away some of the aches and pains of this terrible cold, which I am sure they will.
The reason why I first started buying Sainsbury's Ibuprofen was because of the price. It costs £0.30 per packet for 16 tabelts of 200mg. This equals just 2p per tablet there abouts, and this is so much cheaper than Nurofen or any of the other "famous" brands, which simply put do not work - for me anyway.
They come in a small, visible box which is handy when you have pain to be able to see them quickly. Alot of pain killers these days come in great big boxes which quite frankly is silly. The instructions are very clear on the back of the back, and there is also a leaflet inside the box as well, which if you are taking for the first time you should read. It is amazing the amount of medications that can interfere with Ibuprofen! For ease of use for the blind there is also Braille on the front of the box as well.
Sainsbury's Ibuprofen is in my opinion a good painkiller and would be a good start for headaches, period pain, dental pain, aches, etc although of course the results are not going to be spectacular for £0.30 a box! For best results you can alternate with paracetamol, as they work together to give better pain relief.... apparently.
From reading the back of the box, these are not going to be good for people who have a stomach ulcer or who have ever had one, and this includes bleeding in the stomach as well. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients on the packet ( do check before you buy!) then please don't buy. People who are taking other NSAID painkillers or daily Aspirin medication shouldn't be taking Ibuprofen. If you are pregnant you should speak to a doctor first, and if you have heart, liver, kidney, or bowel problems you also should speak to your doctor first.
Phew.. that was a lot to get out! As for my experience. I really cannot rate them highly enough. I would never buy Nurofen, never. I think they are overpriced and make too much money, when in fact their product does not work. Sainsbury's Ibuprofen on the other hand does, it may not be morphine standard but then you do not expect that, you just want a little relief and for 30p you really cannot go wrong.
Everything and Nothing by Araminta Hall has to be the strangest book that I've read in years, if ever. It was interesting, the characters were there - in fact all three main characters are totally mental which makes for great reading, but somehow the plot was lacking. Hopefully by writing this review I will be able to explain what I mean.
Ruth and Christian are an ordinary family - they have two children, Betty and Hal. Ruth and Christian have grown to practically hate each other, they argue over everything, they don't talk to each other or show affection, and a while back Christian had an affair with Sarah, someone he worked with. Ruth forgave him, partly because she was due to give birth to Hal in a few weeks and she sees herself as weak.
After Hal was born, Ruth suffered some kind of breakdown, and decided that the only way to get out of it was to go back to work. Both of them have good jobs, on good money and it was argued they could easily live on one salary. Instead they both work, and thus need a nanny.
Step forward, Agatha, or Aggie as she let the family call her because " it sounds friendlier." Aggie is very messed up, she was abused when she was young and left home at the age of 16. As you can imagine, these things from her past come back not only to haunt her but also her new employers as well.
Aggie for the most part of the book is every parents dream. She looks after the children well, they like her, she is a good cook, she cleans, she takes them out, she's fun and she is helpful. However, the saying clearly rings a bell here " if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is!" and this is true with Aggie. At first she can hide her hidden anxiety about wanting to take Hal but towards the end she finds it difficult to deal even with Ruth and Christian, as she finds them both a couple of idiots.
Ruth is very fragile in my opinion as she tries to juggle her priorities, wants and needs but also the expectations of others. She feels she needs Christian but from reading the book I'm not sure she loves him - he is all she has ever known and deep down I think she wants to start afresh but she isn't stupid and realizes she has two young children to look after. Other times however, you think what an awful mother as she doesn't seem to want them or care. I suppose she is having some kind of renewed breakdown but is too proud to ask for help. The only person she tries to seek comfort from is Christian but they seem to be too busy arguing to worry about comfort.
Christian on the other hand doesn't seem to feel as much as his wife. He seems childlike. His friend even said that he thinks he has some autistic traits as he doesn't think about where other people are coming from. That said he does seem to care for his children very much, and Ruth too but in his own little way.
I guess the thing that struck me most about this book, which was written very well, was if you spend all your time concentrating on what is behind you, like Ruth and Christian over the affair, then you will never be able to see what is in front of you, as in Aggie taking Hal. A good read, but not thoroughly thrilling.
I recently read the first novel by Sophie Hannah called Little Face and was pleasantly surprised. I then ordered another in the series called Hurting Distance and awaited more shocks and thrills. Following on from Little Face we are in the same town with the same detective, DS Charlie Zailer, DC Simon Waterhouse, Gibbs and Sellers.
The first part of Hurting Distance is actually very well written. Sophie Hannah seems to have got a good grasp for the plot she wanted to create, and seems to be in sync with the main character, Naomi Jenkins. Naomi has been seeing a married man called Robert Haworth and every Thursday they meet at the same hotel and delight in adult activities. She is sure that he will leave his wife, Juliet, soon who he feels sorry for because she is weak and would fall to pieces if he left. Robert also told Naomi never to go to his house, ever.
One Thursday Robert simply does not turn up at the hotel, despite him being obsessive about their plans. He is the type of person you would bank with he is that trustworthy, or so it seems. Naomi knows something has happened to him, but she has no idea what. One unique feature of Hurting Distance is that Naomi's entries are usually talking to Robert, which can be slightly weird at first but later on you feel like you are in the middle of a love triangle gone horribly wrong.
Naomi is a sly character in my eyes. If I knew her personally I would not trust her, but as a main character in a plot this is exactly what I want. Naomi knows what she wants and how to get it and in my eyes that equals dangerous. Nevertheless, she is the most stable character in the book, except of course Simon Waterhouse.
It is also quite a weird scenario that she finds herself in. I know that some people have affairs with married people, but Naomi genuinely believes that Robery will leave Juliet soon. In fact she thinks it will be any day now. As a reader we know that will never happen because we are not stupid, and that is credit to Sophie Hannah's writing skills.
Charlie Zailer is even more distubed in Hurting Distance. I tell you if there are any Detective Sargeants out there who are as messed up as she is then I worry, seriously, for the police forces around the country. I don't quite know how she gets away with it, especially with a boss like Proust, who is a typical grumpy, obsessive, annoying boss. He is the type that will pick up every little mistake, and Charlie makes a lot of them.
She is still reeling from not being with Simon, that is her problem. The problem has been made worse by the fact that Simon said he may call Alice (Little Face) and see how she is getting on. Charlie has taken this as he wants to pursue a relationship with her. In the end he doesn't even call her, but her anxiety causes her to do some desperate things, that could result in her losing her job.
Charlie made up a boyfriend to spite Simon and called him Graham. On her trip away to Scotland she meets a Graham and instantly forms an attachment to him, really because his name is Graham, in my opinion. Because she is so keen to start a relationship she doesn't realize that she is actually getting involved with a dangerous rapist.
I found this book weird. I'm going to be honest. I cannot say I enjoyed it because I didn't. I managed to read through until the end because the writing was good and I wanted to find out who it was and why. I would recommend it for those reasons but just be warned it will make you feel like you have been cheated. By that I mean of time, it will seem like you knew the answer in the first few pages, yet wasted time on the whole book. Having said that, without reading the book you would not get to explore the characters and their weird ways.
I recently saw one of Sophie Hannah's books in my local bookshop and read the blurb. It was interested and pulled me in. I did not buy in on that occasion but I did remember the name of the book for future reference. Little Face.
I am not a mother myself but from the excellent writing skills of Sophie Hannah, I fully understood how scary and alarming it must be to come back and find a baby, that isn't yours. Worse still, if your partner does not believe you, more so if people begin to think you are crazy. I loved the way Sophie Hannah put Alice Fancourt, the mother of the newborn baby (Florence), into this situation because not only did she put Alice into an "everyone is out to get me" scenario, she puts the readers into it as well.
When Alice first realizes that Florence, her baby, has been abducted and replaced by another baby, she keeps onto her husband, David Fancourt and also her mother in law, Vivienne Fancourt. It's not long before the reader begins to suspect the two of them, either in it together or just one of them. David Fancourt is actually a horrible, nasty man and although he doesn't physically harm Alice he emotionally tortures and abuses her. For instance he makes her strip in front of him even though they never see each other naked, he makes her wait to go to the toilet even though she is desperate and another time he makes her eat of the floor. The emotional abuse is a theme of the book but not something that pops up every two minutes, it just re-inforces the issue that David Fancourt could very well be the person responsible for the baby swap. In fact as a reader, you want it to be him.
Another issue of the book is David's first wife and mother to his first son, Laura was killed two years ago. As a result David gained full custody of his son, Felix, and they all began to play happy families with Vivienne in her home. These sort of things throughout the story begin to point to either David, Vivienne, a partnership or that Alice is in fact crazy. The last of those is possible, even though as a reader you know there is something in what the writer is telling us. Nevertheless it remains a possibility, particularly with the police.
We get to know three people really well in Little Face, Alice, DS Charlie Zailer and DC Simon Waterhouse, as well as the two suspects. DS Zailer has problems from my point of view - she was rejected by DC Waterhouse and since has held grudges over it. She will not back down and will at any opportunity turn a conversation into something sexual. It makes for great reading trying to establish whether Zailer and Waterhouse actually like each other or whether they just have a professional relationship. Waterhouse becomes fascinated with Alice and is not sure that she is crazy when everyone else thinks she is.
I was literally on the edge of my seat with this book, especially when Alice goes missing with Little Face. The baby that was left instead of Florence has been nicknamed Little Face and it stuck throughout the book. As the end nears some twists and turns happen, ones we were expecting perhaps and ones we were not. I was disappointed with the ending, not least because I was so thrilled by the rest of the book.
I hope Sophie Hannah's follow on books include Zailer, Waterhouse and some more of that superb writing of hers. I am still giving it 4 stars because until the ending it really was excellent.
I'm Sorry Cadbury but I picked up some of these the other day, after a rather stressful day all round. I saw them and thought, "what an attractive pack" and they looked quite nice. They were half price at my local supermarket, down to £1 from £2. I never pay £2 for chocolate goodies, so I was rather impressed that I got them half price.
Let's go in for the positives first shall we. Like I said, the packaging and design in excellent, but you wouldn't really expect anything else from Cadbury, would you? I like the gold foil - stands out alot from the blues and reds of the other chocolate goodies. You get quite a few "rocks" for the size of the bag but I'm afraid that is where the disappointment begins.
I got the first rock out and my first thought was "didn't I used to make these when I was 7?" You know the ones I mean, with rice crispies and chocolate and it looked a right royal mess by the time you had finished? If you were anything like me, you would then try and fob them off on your family as masterpieces - a bit like Cadbury in this instance. My second thought was that it was shaped like a dog turd.
I do not even know what it is supposed to be - obviously crunchie of some sort given the name, but there were bits of chocolate, rice crispies, caramel. I don't know what Cadbury were thinking here as their other products have always been good - tasty, original and different - these are just weird.
Cadburys only saving grace is that they don't taste horrible, but they do not taste nice either. Kids may eat them however the older generation may see through the gold foil packaging as cheap marketing attemps. Cadbury needs to get back on form!
I passed my driving test in December 2010 and all along my driving instructor advised me to try and get finance on a newer car from the outset, as I had been learning to drive in a brand new car. It made sense and so whilst I was still having lessons I was collecting brochures and just visiting showrooms to try and feel around for the right car.
Once I had passed my test it was all about going back through which cars I liked and picking a favourite. It was between the Aygo and the Ka. I am so glad that I went for the Aygo. I won't claim that it will give you the smoothest, comfiest ride in motoring history but for between £8000-£9000, what do you expect? I pay just over £150 per month on a hire purchase deal, not from toyota themselves, but still a very good deal - not bad for a new driver and a new car.
The thing I love about the Aygo the most is that it is nippy. Most 1.0 litre engines just lack that for me, and now I've passed my test for a couple of years I have driven others and they just don't go anywhere. The Aygo does. I don't claim to be a "boy racer" but I like to drive and at the traffic lights I can pull away from BMW's. I can also hold my own in the inside line, where most cars of the Aygo's class, simply cannot.
Inside is fairly stylish, average sporty seats, with plenty of storage space. The CD player is nice and clear, as is the controls for heating and hazard light. The dashboard is also simple but I like it - the fuel meter and speed display are very clear - so no excuses if you get pulled over! There is plenty of room in the front, both for the driver and the passenger. There is lots of leg room and the seats can go back quite far, in fact the only thing that is lacking really is a nice arm rest! The back has room for two passengers but I would only say children as adults would find it very tight back there.
The Aygo can easily get to a speed of 70 on dual carriageways with no problems and driving on a motorway was actually very pleasant. The boot may look small on appearance but it is quite deep, and fits my mums weekly shopping in which feeds a family a 5 - and trust me there is a lot of shopping!
There are obviously some down sides to the Aygo, as with anything and for a car of this value you would be a fool to think otherwise. My biggest gripe is the missing air conditioning. Because the Aygo is such a small car, the inside of the car gets hot very quickly, and even with windows open and the cold heater on, it is still very hot.
Because the gearbox is quite a small one when you are pulling away sometimes it short shifts and you tend to be jerk forwards a little bit. I don't find it too bad now I am used to it, but I could see it being an issue for those wanting a perfect car.
Finally, a little more overall room wouldn't go amiss, especially in the back and I really wish I had gone for the 5 door instead of the 3 door. Mainly because I take my dog out in my car and he sometimes struggles to get in the back, so that is my fault but for others trying to decide whether to get a 3 door aygo or a 5 door, I would go 5 door all the way!