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I have been writing somewhere else the last few months - it's a great writing platform I stumbled across by accident on the net - HubPages. If you don't know anything about Hubpages, you might want to check it out, as I've been having tons of fun writing about everything I like, while earning money from Adsense, Ebay and Amazon.
The beauty about Hubpages is that it is residual income - all of your articles payout each month with no need to click on other people's stuff unless you want to. Of course, this has led to more genuine relationships with the other writers on Hubpages for me, more focus on good writing and I've really enjoyed getting to know people. In a few weeks, I will be hosting the first Hubpages Social Meetup in Australia, in Melbourne!
I've had a good run with Dooyoo and they've been the first writing website I've stuck with for over 50 articles. It's been tons of fun and I've enjoyed seeing the high quality and calibre of the writing on here. Thank you to all of my followers who have helped me and rated me over the last few years!
I've been doing the sums on the income from writing at Hubpages and can tell you it is more lucrative than Dooyoo.
First month earnings
Number of articles: 5
Adsense Revenue: $1.05
Amazon Revenue: $0.00
Second month earnings
Number of articles: 20
Adsense Revenue: $7.45
Amazon Revenue: $1.45
Remember, I will be getting paid from the same articles each month, not once-off. I expect to add Ebay revenue the next month and also increase the Adsense/Amazon earnings. The important thing to remember is that you get paid each month by each article you earn money from, so the articles do not have a lifespan like on Dooyoo where they vanish to the bottom of the pile and only earn income if you chase people to rate it.
Here are the benefits I find writing on Hubpages compared to Dooyoo
*Your audience is Google - hence no clicking on other people's stuff to get paid
*It's residual income - builds up the more you write
*You can write anything you want and still get some money
*In the long run, you'll earn a lot more than with Dooyoo
*You get to earn cheques from Adsense, rather than gift vouchers from Amazon
*It has a great interface with lots of fascinating modules
*It's very easy, as easy as Dooyoo
*It makes you look good
*Spammers are reported and the site is kept clean of crappy writing
*Evergreen articles don't have a lifespan and perform better as they get older, not worse
*Hubpages does automatic SEO so you get featured in Google in hours
*It's a lot of fun!
If you want to join me at Hubpages, I'll look forward to seeing you on there. You can see what I've been up to at http://hubpages.com/profile/Suzanne+Day
For a tour of what Hubpages is about go here: http://hubpages.com/_31xrriquwf2d4/tour/hubpages
If you'd like to join Hubpages go here: http://hubpages.com/_31xrriquwf2d4/user/new
Best of luck to you all, and hope to catch up in the future!
The Breville TR39 Sandwich Press is a practical and very useful addition to your home - you'll find yourself using it almost every day! The toasted sandwiches it produces are fantastic and you can save money from purchasing café-style food and instead purchase nicer breads to toast in the press.
When I bought this sandwich press, I was impressed by how it was able to take all different sizes of bread (such as foccacias, breakfast muffins, crumpets and oven rolls) and even be able to be stabilised (fixed) above the bread for that extra light toasting. I find I can fill up the sandwich with lots of ingredients too - so that you get a real "meal" out of it. The plates are large enough to hold two large sized sandwiches at once.
There's no need to butter the bread when you put it in - the non-stick surface is good for dissuading sticking. Occasionally there will be a slight bit of bread stick to the plates, just scrape it off with a frypan scraper (don't use metal or it will scratch your surface) and then wash it with hot water when the press has cooled.
Beware of putting cheese in a sandwich which overhangs the edges of the bread - you'll get a good melting cheese effect but it is a bit harder to get off when it sticks to the plates! Lots of scrubbing and hot water removes it, but don't use steel wool or you'll scratch the surface!
The Breville TR39 has a chrome exterior and heats up to the right temperature fairly quickly. There are some lights which show that the power is on and another one which shows that it is at temperature and ready to use.
Make sure you create a permanent space on the bench for this machine - it can be a little heavy to move and you'll use it often enough to keep it out! If you like toasted sandwiches from cafes, save yourself tons of money on buying takeaways and buy the Breville TR39 instead. I've never looked back since my purchase and it's quicker to make toasted sandwiches in this than to queue up behind everyone else!
Tip: Write down what's in your favourite café sandwiches and then make them at home with this press.
For example, my favourite toasty is avocado spread on large foccacia, with baby spinach leaves, chicken pieces, a hint of cranberry sauce and sliced camembert with capers.
To get chicken pieces, roast chicken Maryland in the oven, allow to cool and pull bits off the bone in small pieces. The chicken can be used for about 4 days with this method.
The Canon Canoscan LiDE 70 flatbed scanner is a good, reasonably priced scanner that allows high quality scans from any A4 or smaller sized items. It has a compact, flat shape and comes with a USB cable to plug it into your computer (no power cord required apart from the USB).
I'm sure everyone has a different way of accessing scanned files - I open Photoshop CS2, click on File/Import/Canoscan LiDE 70. This should open up a ScanGear screen where you can choose whether you want the scan to be Photo (Color), Magazine (Color), Newspaper (B&W) or Document (Grayscale). I find that doing everything in Photo Color, then converting it manually in Photoshop to greyscale provides the best result for greyscale photos as having more colours retained while scanning results in more shades and levels of grey in the end, particularly with the lower priced scanners.
In the ScanGear window, you can also choose the destination of Print (300 dpi), Image Display (150 dpi) or OCR (300 dpi). If you want to reproduce your scan as commercially printed artwork, you'll need to select a 300 dpi option.
A number of Image Correction functions is available in the ScanGear window too - Fading Correction, Backlight Correction and Remove Gutter Shadow. When you are ready to scan, simply click on the "Scan" button and the Canon Canoscan LiDE 70 will make some noises. Remember not to lift the cover until the scanner has completed its once up and once back manoeuvre.
To be honest, I don't make full use of the functions and items of the Canon Canoscan LiDE 70 as being someone who uses Photoshop a lot, I prefer to make a 300dpi full colour scan and manipulate it outside of the scanner (to allow for "undo's" and "redo's"). This means all I have to do is save the original scan and return or revert to it, instead of having to scan something twice.
The beauty of this scanner is that you can put rather thick items into it, such as books - although the more the scanner cover is opened when scanning, the more any external light will affect the quality of the final scan by making it appear more washed out.
The Canon Canoscan LiDE 70 requires Windows 98/2000/ME/XP or MacOS X and various other requirements which can be viewed on the Dooyoo main product technical specifications tab. If you are a total beginner to scanners, you'll find this one pretty adequate, affordable and simple to use. If you are experienced in printing and reproductive scanning, you'll find this scanner a good little home scanner but not as high in quality as intermediate scanners and definitely not in the same league as drum scanners. However, if you were to scan a painting or drawing and use it on a commercially printed book cover it would be able to do a reasonable job in the right resolution up to A4 size.
The Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS camera is a really handy compact point-and-shoot/video camera to own. As an experienced graphic designer, I wanted a camera to take on holidays which wasn't bulky but would still allow reasonable sized resolution photos for future use. Since my last point-and-shoot camera was from the 1990's - a little bulky, a bit low-res and not rapidly responsive with its buttons, I was very impressed with my new upgrade.
Firstly, the Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS comes with everything you need to run it - except a giant memory card. The SD memory card you get is 2 gigabytes - adequate for a run of photos, but I had to purchase more SD memory as I like to take 500 - 2000 photos on my trips. Included in your purchase should be the camera, a rechargeable battery, a battery recharger, a 2 GB memory card, instructions, software and a USB cable for plugging in the camera to your computer.
At 8 megapixels, the quality of the photos is very good. Obviously the larger the photo gets, the more pixelated it becomes, but you can use most well-focused and sharpened images on an A5 size easily. For the best method to retain sharpness, consider not using the zoom function too much, as you lose the ability to blow up the photo size when sharpness is compromised. Although the Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS is very good at focused, zoomed photos, it is still not quite perfect.
A 2.5 inch LED screen means there is enough screen to make out both photos and videos and an automatic focusing box comes up when you partially hold down the main button (Face Detect on). Move the camera around until the square focuses on the right area and then take the photo to make the most of the automatic focus. Also, try pressing the Function Set button to get a range of options for digital macro, portrait, night snapshots, colour accent and swap and a kids and pets setting.
Some of the really useful features for me were the quick, automatic menu settings for focus and flash, which do a great job (not like those old 1990's cameras), playback gallery of the photos and the built-in video camera function which means you can take reasonable home videos easily (although not too long in length, depending on battery power and memory card size). I often take multiple 4 minute videos and put them onto a Christmas CD for family and friends using an 8 GB Kingston SD HC memory card.
Advantages of purchasing this camera:
*Very easy to use menu system and buttons
*Doesn't require any photographic knowledge to take good pictures
*Compact, nice looking, travels well, apart from humid conditions
*Has a built-in video function
*Has automatic flash and focus functions
*Photos just "look" good (sometimes this quality can defy technical expectations on point-and-shoots)
*Photos can be blown up to A4 & A5 size if well focused
*Some additional function features (eg night shots)
*Battery lasts for ages and can be recharged a lot, saving money
Disadvantages of this camera:
*Doesn't come with a waterproof case included in the package
*Memory card it comes with is a bit small (2 GB) for my usage
*Doesn't like humid conditions - will lag by some microseconds after exposure
NOTE: When I travelled to Malaysia, I noticed that the camera performed badly in humid conditions (very wet, steamy, hot weather). The camera refused to take photos when I pressed the button so it was a bit random gathering tourist shots. However, upon returning to cooler conditions, the camera worked fine again, apart from a slight permanent lag (measured in microseconds) in taking photos. I'm not sure if this is a common occurrence in these types of cameras or if mine is specially unique with this issue.
Overall, this is the best point-and-shoot camera I have purchased. It comes with a price tag at Amazon for £229.99 but in Australia I purchased it for £80 at The Good Guys. No doubt it will remain reasonable value for money (depending on where you buy it) until the next wave of technologically advanced point-and-shoot cameras hit the marketplace.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E is a great value moisteriser which "Softens, Smoothes & Relieves Dry Skin". It's a basic, budget moisteriser, the equivalent of using Sorbolene in the old days only the ingredients are much better.
Since the Body Shop started marketing cocoa butter as a prominent moisteriser ingredient decades ago, women have test driven it and found cocoa butter to be an outstanding moisteriser, especially for problem/combination skin types. If you have a shiny nose, oily forehead and acne, this moisteriser is really handy for your skin and won't cause further eruptions.
You can easily use this moisteriser by washing your face and then putting it on as a daytime or overnight application. I have often also found it handy when in the bath as a wash-on wash-off facial lotion for when you need to apply makeup for a big event. This helps to clear the skin of the daily grime while making sure new makeup can be applied without dryness. It will also help your skin feel much fresher and smoother.
The packaging is a basic no-nonsense shape, allowing for customers to upend the bottle and get out the last bits of moisteriser when they are running out. The label is simple, with the slightly ugly colours of brown, orange and purple but the information is very clear. It is obvious that Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula has been designed to impart it as a budget beauty option. I have used it for two years now and firmly believe it is THE BEST BUDGET BEAUTY OPTION for moisteriser as it also heals cuts and helps skin dryness and rashes on children.
The lotion is cream coloured and light. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula comes in a 250ml bottle, meaning that it lasts for quite awhile. At £3.50 per bottle, it's not going to break the bank!
You can get a few varieties on the fragrance - I often opt for "fragrance free", although even this has a slight fragrance, reminiscent of most creams. According to the bottle "fragrance free formula also helps smooth and blend unattractive marks and scars" which is why I originally chose to try this product with my coarse and acne-scarred skin. Over time and with regular use, the cocoa butter and the vitamin E work together to lessen skin scars very well - I'm often sceptical on beauty products which promise reasonable scar fading capabilities, so you can imagine my delight at finding one that actually works and is very very affordable!
I love Dooyoo and enjoy finding out about new products or more affordable products to switch too. Dooyoo has personally influenced about 40 products I have purchased as I like to find out more about big-ticket items in particular and need independent reviews, not an advertiser's reviews!
However, there are still some improvements that I believe would help Dooyoo's service.
BEING ABLE TO TELL WHAT REVIEWS YOU HAVE RATED
When I click on a friend's page to find a new review to read, it can be very confusing and unnecessary waste of time to go through the list finding out what I have and haven't read. I remember the review content, but many times not the heading names (especially as some titles don't impart what the review was about, even if they are rather catchy). Visited links being in a different colour would assist immensely.
I WANT TO BOOKMARK MY FAVOURITE REVIEWS
There are some reviews that are so sublime, so fantastic and so useful that I want to bookmark them. Instead of doing it in my web browser and filling up my already crowded bookmark system with useful reviews, maybe a bookmarking system in Dooyoo would help me to look up the information again when I need it? From Dooyoo's perspective it would encourage people to log in again to read it and increase some activity on the site.
I WANT TO SEE WHICH OF MY FRIENDS HAS A NEW REVIEW
The newest reviews section is constantly changing and that's a good thing! However, a week's worth of new reviews means that I don't notice a friend's review which was published two weeks ago (unless I check the newest reviews page every day) and I don't realise they have a new review until 6 months later, when they've checked in again with me. Email alerts can be a bit annoying if everyone was to send out an invite to read their new review. How about a small module to show what your friends have written lately? Having a date with the article would help too, as a review written nine months ago might not be appropriate to what I'm looking for today.
POINTS SYSTEM & LOUNGE ARE HARD TO FIND
Can we have the Points Levels page in a more prominent spot? Each time I consider what I want to write, I have to delve deep into the bowels of the Dooyoo site rules pages to find it. Additionally, your general "lounge" and forums pages are hard to find........unless I'm not looking in the right place?
Overall, Dooyoo is miles ahead (that's a joke...Dooyoo...miles) of most other review sites out there. It works, it's easy to read and it's really useful with independent reviews that are all based on truth and sense. Continual improvements (not necessarily with design, more with functionality) that assist Dooyoo members will help grow the site more and cement the community in their appreciation of good reviews and helpful products.
My 4 year old son loves listening to music when he sleeps. Although I tried out different toy radios, the music always sounded crackly with bursts of static and the receiving of the stations was not very good. I decided to purchase a useful, "genuine handyman" radio for my son, who is very good at breaking things. So far, the Sony ICF-S22 has proven itself to be a high-quality, tough radio, suitable for toddlers (as long as they don't bend the antenna!)
The Sony ICF-S22 is a compact and attractive silver hand held portable radio with simple knobs and a decent volume. Reception from the radio is high quality, no crackles and static at the normal volume. This radio has the usual features of AM/FM tuner, earphone input and a built in speaker. An LED light shows battery energy and whether it's tuned correctly.
Two AA batteries are required to run the radio and these last well. The Sony ICF-S22 is lightweight and portable, excellent for occasions such as picnics, walking around in the great outdoors and for party music when you can't be bothered setting up a stereo. I have often found myself "borrowing" it from my son for these types of occasions and he is really proud to lend me his "real man's radio".
The best part about this radio is the lack of parental guidance needed. You don't need any instruction leaflet as getting the music happening on this radio is dead easy - my 4 year had it figured out 5 mins after unwrapping it. Also, the batteries take awhile to run out which means less stuffing around in general.
At an affordable £10, I was very impressed with the quality of the radio and have found it so far to be quite durable and well built. It's light, a nice size and a great radio to take anywhere. I would highly recommend this radio for a present for children as it's not complicated and provides hours of entertainment.
The Body Shop's Vitamin E Cream Cleanser is a good quality cleanser that will leave your skin feeling healthier and fresher. Offering "moisterising, protecting and all-round skin conditioning" it is my favourite product from The Body Shop's Vitamin E Range because it works well and is reliably stocked (sometimes you find a great product and then it gets discontinued...)
I find the best way to use this product is in the bath or shower, where the skin is well cleaned before applying the cleanser. The skin absorbs the cleanser well, even in a brief application, so it's preferred that all traces of makeup are removed beforehand, otherwise you can get pimples from the absorption of it. Think of this cleanser as one which removes and replaces facial oils containing impurities. It's a great cleanser to use after a long workday with oily skin - just wash your face a few times in the bath or shower, apply the cleanser and wait a few minutes, then wash off with water. Don't use soap for your process or the skin will feel a bit stretched.
The Vitamin E Cream Cleanser is not tested on animals, and supports community trade with soya oil from Brazil and shea butter from Ghana. The ingredients include the usual amount of indecipherable chemical compounds but I find that vitamin E combined with any kind of body butter (for example cocoa butter or shea butter) is very beneficial for the skin and promotes proper moisterisation and healing.
I tried the full range of Body Shop Vitamin E products over the years and found the Vitamin E Moisture Cream to be too heavy for my oily skin. The Exfoliator felt nice but seemed superfluous given that a facewasher did the same job. I found the cleanser to be the best all-round solution that does the most for your money.
The Vitamin E Cream Cleanser retails for around 15 pounds but obviously this varies depending on where you live and which year it is. I do recommend the Cleanser for good quality every day skincare but you need some spare cash to invest in a regimen of it.
The Fragonard Perfume Set is absolutely amazing and is my favourite perfume ever. It's a box of 10 tester sized perfumes of 2ml each so you can try out the Fragonard range and is guaranteed to have a few scents for everyone!
I received my Fragonard set from my sister, who holidayed in Paris and visited the perfumery. She visited quite a few and told me that Fragonard was her favourite, hence she spent quite a bit of money on the set as a special gift for me.
The ten scents in the set include:
*Lune De Miel
*Étoile du Sud
*Réve de Grasse
These are different to the other scents listed in the previous review of this product. I believe Fragonard vary the scents in these boxes as they update their fragrances.
My two favourite fragrances from this box include Arielle (which leaves you smelling like the finest of fine French bath salts) and Réve de Grasse (which smells very fruity/floral, reminiscent of melons).
The beauty of the Fragonard perfumes is that they are very long-lasting fragrances, lasting for 12 hours and especially good for people with sweat/BO problems. You will walk around all day in a daze, wondering why you never discovered such a wonderful product like this before. Additionally, the fragrances are feminine - subtle and soft and in no way overpowering, and men seem particularly attracted to them. I have had many seductions occur with the Arielle perfume in particular.
The tester box lasted me a year as I had a dab daily out of each of the bottles.
I highly recommend this sample box of Fragonard perfumes, as it is a good way to try what they have on the market without committing to a huge price tag. Trying each one over the 12 hours allows you to choose the best one. It's also a great gift idea!
The price of this box varies depending on what's in it and where you buy it from. I received my second box courtesy of Ebay (unopened) for £6.30 which was a steal, but the regular price is around £25.00 or so.
For most of my life, I've used mouthwash on a weekly basis, right after flossing my teeth, in order to get rid of any major occurring bacteria and plaque and avoid additional dentist trips. I've tried them all - from Listerine to generic brand mouthwashes and I've finally settled on Colgate Plax as a good brand mouthwash that doesn't cost too much (after all, it is only mouthwash).
Lauded as "clinically tested by dentists", Colgate Plax provides 12 hour protection against bacteria and plaque. It comes in a 500ml bottle and is described as a "coolmint mouthwash".
While the idea is to gargle with it once or twice a day, I found once a week a good enough usage plan (due to busy lifestyle, teeth not naturally being accustomed to ongoing removal of bacteria etc etc) and have been doing the once-a-week plan for several years. Colgate Plax is great for ridding yourself of pesky throat bacteria (such as cold and flu germs), especially when used in conjunction with a salt water gargle for chronic coughs.
I decided to try Colgate Plax when it was on special for £2.50 as the price of Listerine in Australia was equivalent to £9.50. I just wanted a generic, OK-tasting, bacteria-ridding mouthwash that wouldn't set me back a small fortune once a year. I am pleased to say I would be happy to pay £4.00 for the product if it wasn't on special next time.
After trying Colgate Plax, I am pleased to say it did the job well and covered all bases - from tasting OK to actually working and making the teeth stay more plaque free. As a full time smoker, my mouth is not the easiest place to keep clean and Colgate Plax did fit the bill very well. I am pleased to report that there have been no emergency dental visits and that with a once-a-week teeth floss, this mouthwash seemed to work extremely well, making the teeth feel healthier without the brittle feeling that Listerine gives smoker's teeth.
My only wish is that it would work on children - my two kids do need a gargle of something now and then!
I had the pleasure of purchasing a bottle of Escada Moon Sparkle fragrance (created 2007) while in Malaysia recently. It's a really beautiful eau de toilette for women with a mid-strength evening fruit and flower bouquet.
Opening with notes of strawberry, blackcurrant, citrus and red fruit, the fragrance moves onto middle tones of sweet pea, freesia, jasmine and rose. The last notes which remain on the skin after an evening's wearing include raspberry, musk, sandalwood and amber in the base.
I find that when you first put on the fragrance, it is strong and fruity, but within 15 mins you can smell more floral than fruit. My favourite time to make the most of the fragrance is about 1 hour after putting it on, hence I like to spray once on my evening out (if my handbag's big enough at the time!)
It takes about seven hours to have the fragrance turn extremely subtle and wear off, so it's reasonable lasting fragrance.
Escada Moon Sparkle comes in a nice looking pink/purple gradated glass bottle. It's quite large for 100ml and the glass walls are not especially thick, which means you feel like you get more for your money. However, it's not easily transportable due to size and is more of an ornamental dresser fragrance. The silver capped lid is of a high quality - the perfume does not degrade the lid over time and a plastic fitting holds the nozzle in place so tipping the bottle upside down results in no leakage.
The box it comes in isn't very memorable, hence I won't worry about emphasising the delights of the box here.
Escada Moon Sparkle is quite well priced at £18.69 new on Ebay. I paid £24.00 for two Escada fragrances (£12.00 each for 100ml) from a street vendor in Kuala Lumpur, after talking him down from £123.00 for two. Escada is a good brand with sensual and feminine fragrances that avoid smelling "cheap" so it's worth paying a little more to get a desirable fragrance like this one.
Moon Sparkle captures perfectly the essence of a gracious summer's evening. It is the kind of fragrance you would wear to an evening at the theatre, to dinner with a loved one or even for a night on the town. Men don't object to it. Women really seem to like it. It even works in bra and knickers, making you feel sensual, desirable and very rich. Highly recommend.
I'm a lazy printer person, which means that I don't like having too many printer consumables or having to constantly replace paper in the tray and so on. When my last commercial inkjet printer died (it was a gifted freebie, hence the use of inkjet) I decided to research and purchase a top-notch budget black and white printer that would compliment my home office for the next ten years, with minimal consumables and a great price.
After reading about inkjet vs laser, I decided to opt for laser as the impressions per consumable is dramatically improved (value for money). The Brother HL-2140 stood out in terms of affordability, reliability and minimal upkeep.
Printing up to 22 pages a minute, the Brother HL-2140 is a bulky, but excellent budget home printer. It has a 250 sheet paper capacity, eliminating the need to keep constantly putting paper in and the manual slot allows the printer to take on labels, envelopes and cardboard with ease. It also seems to detect the use of the manual tray automatically so you won't get accidental printouts on paper when you intended it for the manual tray.
Consumables necessary to run the machine are very few - a large toner cartridge which costs around 9-18 pounds/AU$15-$30 (depending on where you shop) will keep you in business for many impressions. I purchased 2 extra toner cartridges as it saves me having to go and hunt for them when I'm ready to replace them. It's been a year since I bought the printer and I'm still using the original cartridge though. Look out for deals where they throw a cartridge in for free as well as a 12 month warranty.
The printer has a resolution of 1200dpi which is of an adequate commercial print standard for black and white photos - however the manufacturer recommends using the 1200dpi to improve your small fonts instead as the Brother HL-2140 is meant to be a great text printer, not a photo printer. Other features include 8MB memory and USB 2.0.
The controls and buttons on the printer are very very simple - if there's anything wrong, a big button flashes red. All you need to do is check the paper, check the file isn't too big and turn it off/on again. Luckily, turning it off doesn't result in losing the print job unless you leave it off for a few minutes.
The price of the Brother HL-2140 is very reasonable. I paid about 49 pounds/AU$80, (inc cartridge and warranty) which is very cheap. I have owned the printer for a year and had absolutely no trouble with it and highly recommend it for a home office which prints 20-100 pages per week (but not entire novels per week!)
The Brother HL-2140 is one of those rare products that offers amazing value for money as it is a quality product going cheap. I highly recommend it above other mono laser printers.
"Chasing Harry Winston" is a pleasant chick-lit paperback following the lives of three women as they weather relationship issues and pursue the man (or men) of their dreams. Reminiscent of the easiness of Jackie Collins novels, but with more depth and realistic characters, "Chasing Harry Winston" is a good novel to read when you're feeling lazy and want some premium relaxation in your afternoon novel.
Lauren Wisberger has taken the time to follow through with thorough research and believable characters which make "Chasing Harry Winston" far less trashy than it would have been in other author's hands. I found myself relating to some of the issues in the story and I'm sure it would also appeal to many women in this way.
Emmy is newly single, dumped by her long term boyfriend for a younger woman and vows to sleep with a different man on each continent to break the pattern of devotion to non-committal men.
Adriana is a party and glamour girl who has never tried settling for one man - she explores what it feels like to invite stability into her relationships and also discovers how good it feels to have a job that fits perfectly and allows adequate independence from her rich parents.
Leigh is at the pinnacle of her career but is engaged to a man who doesn't excite her and finds the man she desires is already married.
Described as "Sassy, insightful and sooo Sex and the City", "Chasing Harry Winston" is at times romantic, bewildering, funny, meaningful and amusing. The characters are easy to follow and an engaging plot holds your interest all of the way through. The three main characters are as easy to relate to as real friends are and the general description and storyline throughout the book shows that Lauren has put a lot of effort in to create an international bestseller that appeals to lots of women.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lauren Weisberger is the author of "The Devil Wears Prada" which spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists. The film version starring Meryl Street and Anne Hathaway won a Golden Globe Award and grossed over $300 million worldwide. Her second novel, "Everyone Worth Knowing" was also a New York Times bestseller. She lives in New York City with her husband.
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Year Published: 2008
IBSN No: 9 780007 262717
"Village of Stone" is a very haunting, visual story, about a girl growing up in a rural village in China. It is well written and very descriptive, holding the reader's interest by exploring the people and culture of the village as well as the landscape.
Coral begins her story as woman in Beijing and describes her current existence, living with her boyfriend, Red, on the ground floor of tower block in Beijing. Her job in a video shop feels pointless to her and her accommodation is claustrophobic and unnatural. When a huge surprise arrives in the mail for her, it reminds her of the "Village of Stone" where she grew up and her sad story about her past.
"Village of Stone" covers many issues about growing up in rural China that are not often covered in conventional literature.
Coral is parentless and lives with uncommunicative grandparents who do not seem to have any idea how to show love to a child. The village people are too busy scratching a living from the land to help; indeed, they do not know that Coral was kidnapped and imprisoned under a bed where she was subjected to child abuse for a long time.
On escaping her kidnapper, Coral seeks to leave the village to escape her past - a common theme in life for China's youth who hide their poverty stricken, cruel backgrounds in modern cities.
The descriptions of the culture of the Village of Stone involve some explanations about deities, stories, superstitions and the village's close connection with the ocean. This part of the narrative is beautifully done and makes the reader completely visualise the village as it was seen through Coral's eyes.
Other themes, covering death, birth, friendship, love and loss are covered flowingly into the narrative, making for a very rounded story that gives a real sense of the type of community and culture to the writing.
I found this book entrancing and would highly recommend it for an unforgettable read if you want to be transported somewhere else. It's not escapism, it's a good book to learn about how rural Chinese grew up in those times.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Xialolu Guo is a novelist, essayist and filmmaker. She was born in a fishing village in the south of China in 1973. After being awarded an MA in film at Beijing Film Academy, she came to England to study at the National Film and Television School. The short film she made there, "Far and Near", has been screened at the Edinburgh Festival and on Channel 4 and won the 2003 IC/Becks Futures Prize. "Village of Stone" is the first of her books to be published outside China.
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Year Published: 2004
IBSN No: 9 780801 176068
"A Year In Provence" is a pleasant read that follows a couple who live in a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the Luberon in France for a year. The story follows all of the nuances of the seasons, from truffle hunting and car breakdowns in the snow to tourist crowds on nearby beaches and seasonal produce at markets and restaurants. While the author focuses on the area of the Luberon where he resides, he also encompasses a wider cultural view of the French in beautiful, flowing text that is easy to follow. This book is for people who would like something comforting and delightful to read - interesting, sometimes funny and definitely able to whisk you away to another place and time.
The characters in "A Year In Provence" are well articulated, from the Massot, the grumpy neighbour who likes to hunt and dreams of selling his house for a fortune, to the strange behaviours of the tradesmen who help Mayle restore his house. Mayle describes casual encounters with locals and restauranteurs to add extra flavour to his story - their opinions and traditions are noted and applied to further Mayle's French experience.
Some amusing anecdotes from the book include the missing mailbox (was it the postman or a gypsy?), the purchase of a stone table which was so heavy only ten men could lift it, and the aquisition and painful installation of a boiler to keep the freezing temperatures at bay during winter.
If you like to read books which take you to a different world, then "A Year In Provence" will not disappoint. The author has a great grasp of language as well as a well-refined ability to enjoy life through curiosity and good humour. This book passed me by many times and when I finally got around to reading it, I was entranced. It made me put my own life in perspective by encouraging me to be fond and curious about where I live and what I do.
Warning: You must have some interest in food to "get" this book!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Mayle spent fifteen years in advertising, first as a copywriter and then as a reluctant executive, before leaving the business in 1975 to write books. His work has been translated into seventeen languages and he has contributed to the London Sunday Times, the Financial Times and the Independent, as well as Gentlemen's quarterly and Esquire. "A Year In Provence" won the British Book Awards "Best Travel Book of the Year" in 1989. Its sequel "Toujours Provence" was published in 1991. Mr. Mayle and his wife live in Provence, France.
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year Published: 1991
IBSN No: 0-679-73114-8