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Stewwydablue

Stewwydablue
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Member since: 19.12.2009

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    • More +
      28.09.2014 13:57
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      • "Lasts a long time"

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      • "Too much lavender"

      It's not bad, but it's not great either

      Yankee tarts are one of my many guilty pleasures, along with the Hunger Games (yes I know its aimed at teenage girls) and Yorkshire tea bags (I’m from Lancashire and was taught at school that God made the Pennines to keep the white roses away from us) that I’ve been introduced to through Dooyoo, so thanks!

      For those that don’t know, Yankee are an American company who make predominantly wax based scented products like differing sizes of candles in glass jars and tarts, but they also make car air fresheners, pot pourri, reed diffusers etc. A tart is a wax disc that releases its scent when melted in a tart burner, which is like an oil burner but with a deeper well to hold the molten wax.

      The latest tart to be vaporised in our front room is Yankee’s Lavender Vanilla. Unfortunately, this is one of Yankee UK’s retired scents (according to Yankee Candle UK’s retired scents webpage) but it is still available on the internet on various sites, so don’t be disheartened if you fancy giving this scent a go as it is still available to buy, you just need to search a bit on the net.

      It smells of the obvious, but with a hint of musk and bergamot. I can’t really pick up on the musk which is surprising as it’s normally a distinctive smell, but there is something a little more floral than the lavender in there so that must be the bergamot. The vanilla makes for quite a sweet smelling effect which is common to quite a few Yankee scents and I think is what gives the tarts their appeal – they’re good enough to eat and make the best air fresheners ever.

      However, this particular scent is slightly “old ladies perfume”, I think there’s too much lavender. It’s nice enough, I don’t mind a bit of lavender but this is too much. It’s like my front room has held a Saga Holidays convention just before I enter the room and the smell of Grandma has remained. I normally gush praise for Yankee tarts, but I can’t for this particular scent. I can praise the tart for it’s lasting power though, as like most Yankee tarts it lasts for a lot longer than the eight hours that Yankee suggest.

      Overall, if you like lavender you should like this tart. Three stars from me, thanks for reading.

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      27.09.2014 14:42
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      • " it should help"
      • "If you need to vomit"

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      • "No insight into the game at all"
      • "What a big head"

      Don't bother, just don't

      Teeth and Tan

      I enjoy reading football autobiographies, and mainly stick to Man City related ones. However, Robbie Savage’s autobiography caught my eye in a charity shop recently, he’s one of the game’s most notorious figures from the last ten years or so (before he retired and did that dancing program) and I now listen to him on Radio Five Live. Should be an interesting read then eh?

      No. What a plonker. He bangs on about how much it upsets him when people judge him that don’t even know him, so to right that wrong he put the book out. However, the big flaw in that plan is that he comes across as a big time Charlie, a flash Harry – all the things that he says upset him when people think those things about him.

      In my opinion, he never should have left Leicester. Had he stayed, he’d be respected by more football fans as a man who made a big difference at a modest club and was instrumental in the success that came Leicester’s way during his time there. With each subsequent move away from Leicester, as a football fan I don’t think he ever recaptured the form he showed at Leicester, although to believe what he says in the book about his level of skill you’d wonder why he was never given the Ballon D’Or award. Every time he says how he was the most this, the most that, a little bit of sick came into my mouth. The biggest plonker, or the most whitest teeth, perhaps.

      If he set out to change opinions about footballers, he’s failed. Overpaid – yes. Read how much he’s spent on cars and houses. Overrated – yes. Think about all the time he spent injured. Brash and a bragger – definitely. He mentions at one point exactly how much money he gave to a charity – not classy at all Mr Savage. He also mentions a lot how he was a youngster at Man Utd, and how they let him go, and how they let him go, and how they let him go. Get over it, if he was as good as he says then surely today we’d be talking about the class of 92 featuring Beckham, Scholes, Butt et al?

      Too many times reading this book I was shaking my head in disbelief – “has he really admitted to this?”. Either he has a wicked sense of humour and it’s meant to be a parody where he has the last laugh on us, or he really is dense.

      Football fans – if you were thinking of giving this a try, don’t bother. You don’t need to endure 264 pages of big headed self glorification to confirm what most of you probably already think of him. If you want a really good and interesting football biography to read, try any of the ones written about Bert Trautmann instead (google him).

      One star, it’s that bad.

      ISBN 978-1-84596-716-1
      RRP £8.99

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      24.08.2014 21:28
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      • "Very good thriller / horror"

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      • "None really"

      Another belter by Koontz

      I am still on a quest to own and read every Koontz book ever written, and like many others, this book “Shadowfires” was a charity shop bargain. It was originally put out under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols, something he’s done with a lot of his earlier books. I find with Koontz that his books are either exceptionally good or just plain average. Read on and I’ll let you know what I thought of this one.

      The story sees Eric Leben, a genius scientist with bad intentions, kill himself right in front of his wife, Rachel, who is in the process of divorcing him. He has been working on a genetic “cure” for ageing and possibly even a cure which will give people years onto their lives by restructuring the body’s genes. The latest batch of this cure was able to bring laboratory mice back to life, so he thought he’d try it on himself – hence the suicide.

      However, the cure isn’t ready yet, and although it brings him back to life there are some very disturbing side effects – his body rewrites its own genetic code and transforms Eric into a raging monster, a modern day Jekyll and Hyde. His anger is focused on hurting Rachel, who he views as having spurned him by refusing a multi million dollar divorce settlement. The hunt ensues, but I won’t reveal the outcome here.

      I really enjoyed this, and have suggested my wife reads it – she only reads about a book a year so I only recommend crackers to her. I would say that this is up there for suspense with other Koontz books like “Watchers” and “Intensity”. Rachel has a love interest, Ben Shadway, who I found to be a very well written character. Koontz brings him to life piecemeal, and eventually it's revealed that there is a link between him and the Defence Security Agency agent, Anson Sharp, who is tracking Eric and Rachel in order to suppress the secret of Eric’s potentially world changing research. Sharp adds an extra twist of terror and suspense to the story as he is ruthless in pursuit of Rachel, Ben and Eric, all the while Eric is eerily able to be one step ahead of his pursuers.

      Eric manages to become the hunter rather than the hunted at one point and is after Rachel whilst she is temporarily separated from Ben. What happens is far fetched, but griping and brilliant to read all the same. As the cure takes control of Eric, his body changes and he becomes more animal like. I enjoyed Koontz’s descriptions of Eric’s changing body, they all helped to add to the terror.

      I would recommend to those who like a good horror / thriller with a huge dollop of suspense. Also, of course I would recommend it to Koontz fans, that is if you haven’t already read it. Its currently available on Amazon for £7.19 brand new paperback, or £3.99 on Kindle. Five stars, thanks for reading.

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      • Piggy (DVD) / DVD / 14 Readings / 14 Ratings
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        24.08.2014 18:08
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        • " you'll like the violence"
        • "If you're a bit twisted"

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        • " low quality"
        • "low budget"

        A dull British film, overly violent, don't bother.

        I have a rule in life that has always served me well - British films are always crap. This film is no exception to that rule. It's about a bit of a pathetic character named Joe whose elder brother is killed after a bit of a handbags at dawn session in a pub. Joe is then approached by a man called Piggy, who whilst claiming to have been one of brother's friends then offers to help Joe seek retribution on the group of lads who killed his brother.

        It's all quite predictable and dull, and I think the writers have tried to compensate for this by adding some pretty sickening violence - the worst scene for me was the "kicking" scene. Whilst watching the film, it was like I was waiting for the actors to start acting, they never did. All the cockney wide boys in it wouldn't even get jobs as extras in Eastenders. In fact, if you want to watch a gritty drama set in London then you would probably be better off watching Eastenders.

        It's not very believable, how Piggy and Joe aren't caught is a mystery to me. Considering that Joe would have a motive in that they killed his brother, when the members of the gang start going missing one by one and Joe isn't even questioned by police is daft. Also, another hard to believe bit was when Piggy bought Joe a knife as a present, saying "you love cooking, don't you, I know how much you love cooking". It's just daft, like they let a work experience kid write some of the script.

        They manage to get all but one of the gang, who is in prison for drugs charges. So, in order to get the last member, Joe bottles someone in a pub then stays whilst the police come in order to guarantee he gets into prison in order to finish the job. This is where the film ends, it doesn't show if Joe manages to get the remaining gang member or not. I hope this doesn't mean that there is a sequel planned.

        I think they've added the over the top violence in order to compensate for the fact that the plot is terrible. It doesn't improve the film though, it's like self immolation because you feel a bit of a chill - sometimes just putting a jumper on would do.

        It's often on Sky On Demand, and is available on Amazon for £2.93, if you've got three quid you fancy wasting.

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          23.08.2014 20:18
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          • "Good for fans of Motorhead"

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          • " feel like he's brushed over big parts"
          • "I wanted a bit more"

          Autobiography of the Motorhead front man

          I've recently been on a musicians' autobiography kick, and Lemmy's "White Line Fever" has been one of the many I've read and enjoyed. If you've never heard of him, it's probably easiest to say he's the bloke who sang the Ace of Spades. So now you know!

          He's been about a bit has Lemmy, before Motorhead he was in Hawkwind. One constant throughout the book is his love of "upper" drugs - mainly speed and coke. Another constant is his love of having sex, which actually turned my stomach slightly. It wasn't so bad reading about a man in his twenties having so many different women after shows and on the road, but when he's still bragging about doing it in his forties and fifties, it's a bit like hearing that your mum and dad actually have sex.

          He focuses a bit too much on the rock and roll side of taking drugs and that lifestyle, and brags that his doctor said he should never have a blood transfusion as the purity of new blood would kill him. That's not so rock and roll, that's daft. Also, he doesn't mention anything about the effect on his mental state that all the acid and later cocaine has had - I'm sure it must have when you've hammered it as much as he has.

          What I did enjoy was his thoughts about music, for him it's all about the music and I can't knock him for that. He's been there, played there, snorted that and smoked the tshirt so as a big music fan myself I was interested to read what his thoughts were. I also liked some of his views on life, for example how this generation is being raised to be a generation of estate agents as there's no more mavericks anymore in music.

          It's not a bad book, but as I said before he does seem to brush over a lot of the darker side of life he surely must have been immersed in due to his massive drug habits. If you want more honesty, try Ronnie Woods' book. Three stars, thanks for reading.

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            23.08.2014 15:27
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            • "Most Zombie genre fans should enjoy"
            • "Helps to fill the "hungry gap" for TWD fans"

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            • "You might find it confusing if not familiar with TWD"
            • "May be too graphic for some"

            Excellent third book in the Walking Dead series

            If you’re like me and are counting the days until The Walking Dead returns to our screens, in the meantime you may want to try the books connected to the series. These aren’t the comic books (which the series is based on), but a series of novels featuring the series’ best known characters.

            This particular book, Fall of the Governor Part 1 is the third by R Kirkman and J Bonansinga and sees things getting out of control for the Governor, Phillip Blake in the settlement of Woodbury. For those that watch the TV series, you’ll know that he is a brutal and unhinged leader, and the book reflects this – the intensity of the depraved depths he plunges into is shocking as is his mental state.

            There are slight differences between the books and the TV shows, for example the Governor is not quite exactly who the TV shows present him to be – can’t say any more without dropping a massive spoiler and also the encounters between the Governor and Rick et al aren’t exactly the same in the books as they are in the TV episodes. However, don’t let the slight differences put you off – to a Walking Dead fan it’s all food and we are hungry in the year long gaps between each series.

            This book sees some pretty bad violence towards Rick and Michonne, exacted by the Governor as he thinks that their very existence threatens his control over Woodbury. Some of the torture scenes are extremely graphic so I wouldn’t recommend for those who haven’t read anything heavier than Harry Potter – I would say the tone and language in the book is about as explicit as Shaun Hutson. Without saying exactly how, Michonne manages to escape the Governor’s hold and a showdown occurs as a result. I won’t say the exact result of that showdown, but it doesn’t take much to work out that as this book is Part 1, then someone / something must remain alive in order to make it into Part 2.

            I would say I enjoyed this book more than the previous two as there are more recognisable characters in it from the Walking Dead TV series. Fans should enjoy, but read in order for completeness, don’t start with this book. Five stars.

            ISBN 978-0-330-54138-1
            RRP £7.99

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            • Sainsbury's Basics Crisps / Snacks / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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              23.08.2014 14:56
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              • "low in salt"
              • tasty

              Disadvantages

              • "not massively filling"
              • "a bit flimsy"

              A very well priced bag of crisps

              I live where I work for most of the week, and have to feed myself. As I’m not shopping to impress (do you realise how fussy kids are when we do the family shop at home?) I can get a lot of the basics range foods that my kids would, for reasons only known to them, turn their nose up at. Something I always have in as they’re cheap and plentiful are Sainsburys Basics Crisps.

              For 75p, you get a large multipack bag containing 12 individual bags of ready slated crisps. The larger, outer bag is in Sainsbury’s distinctive orange and white packaging which most of their Basics range comes in. Each bag has 18g of crisps inside, which to be fair is about 7g less in weight, or crisps, than the average bag of Walkers. However, the price of these Basics range crisps beats branded crisps hands down I think, six and a quarter pence per bag!

              Another thing about these crisps which some may see as a bad thing is they are a bit flimsy and not a very thick cut of potato. If I may replace that cloud with a silver lining, how many times have you had a mega thick crisp like a Roysters or one of those kettle jobbies cut into your gum when biting into it? It doesn’t happen with these crisps as they are a lot thinner and therefore break up in the mouth instead of cutting into my gums. Another plus point about the thinness of them is that they are brilliant for putting into butties – my favourite is ham and cheese with a bag of these crisps in there too. They crush well so that your filling doesn’t slide out of the gaps between the slices of bread that bigger, thicker crisps with a curve shape would make.

              A big plus point for me is that they are surprisingly low in salt – each 18g bag has only 0.19g of salt in there, which is only 3% of an adult’s daily reference intake (the amount an average adult would consume daily). I’m not bothered about fat, I have a secret weapon against it. It’s called exercise. But for those who are, an 18g bag is 8% of an adult’s reference intake, so you do the maths while I do the crisps.

              For those who aren’t “crisp snobs”, or who don’t have children who are, I strongly recommend these crisps if you just want a ready slated variety at a spectacularly low price. As they have kept the weight of the bags down in order to spread them out a bit further, I think I will knock a star off – even though it pains me to do this. It’s just that most of us are probably used to getting a few more crisps in the bag than the amount these contain and it took me a bit of getting used to. A very strong four stars though, thanks for reading.

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              • More +
                23.08.2014 14:19
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                • " not too harsh like some mint and citrus products are"
                • "Mild effect"

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                • "Can be expensive if not on offer"

                A very pleasing shower gel to use, smells great too

                There are some things which men shouldn't reveal in public forums. One of those is that I regularly use my wife’s shower products, and as a result I’ve discovered that I love the smell of coconut. As I work and live away, I often by my own showergels to use solely when I’m away – a recent trip to Sainsburys had me find various flavours of Radox showergels on offer so I bought the coconut kiss along with another two varieties.

                In the same way that Yankee candles are, it smells good enough to eat. It’s not the greatest of ways to start the day in the shower though, it doesn’t give you that slap in the face that certain citrus or mint flavoured showergels do. However, (I’m about to reveal something else here that perhaps should remain unsaid) it is a very sensual smell and I can’t help having a quick sniff of my arm throughout the day of the sweet coconut, so long as no one is looking. I would say that the sweetness and smell is similar to coconut icing, but far better for my teeth as I also use (without her knowledge) my wife’s toothpaste instead of showergel for brushing my gnashers with.

                It lathers up really well and feels very silky when rubbed into the skin, in the same way that my wife’s bubble baths do when I use those as showergels too. Shush, don’t tell her. I’m guessing the silkiness might come from the milk which it also contains, it’s not just a showergel containing coconut extract.

                For one pound a bottle, I thought this was a little bit of Harrods style luxury at Aldi prices. I’ve seen it in other shops for upto two pounds a bottle, so I’d recommend only getting it when it’s on offer at half the price. I keep mine at work, there’s no way I’d take it home as my wife would use it all up. The cheek of it. Five stars.

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                21.08.2014 18:11
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                • "Brilliant plot"

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                • "Some may be put off by the length"

                Another Koontz classic, give it a go!

                I’d been putting off reading this mammoth of a book for a while, it’s a whopping 728 pages (including Koontz’s rant at the back about freedom – more on that later). I’m glad I did though, it gave me something more than the usual Koontz fare, it’s a book that provokes thought.

                Following a pattern that he’s used to good effect with other Koontz books, it’s about a man and a woman who are being chased by a secret organisation so omnipotent, so evil that there is a real sense of terror for the two people on the run.

                The main male character, Spencer Grant has constructed a life under the radar for himself, due to a very bad past. The main female character, Ellie, is on the run from the afore mentioned secret organisation who wish to kill her to protect the knowledge she has about them. Their paths cross in a restaurant, Spencer is smitten and decides to drive to her house. While there, he is witness to a SWAT raid with lethal intent, fortunately Ellie is not in at the time. Now both Spencer and the bad guys are chasing Ellie, all the while Spencer himself comes under the spotlight of the shady government organisation whose resources are seemingly limitless.

                Koontz has a couple of different plot formulas that he uses – there’s either a supernatural twist to them or a fugitive being chased by a deadly secret organisation. Obviously this book follows the latter formula, but in my opinion it’s one of his better ones.

                Later on in the book, the head agent who is chasing Spencer wrecks the life of a police officer who he crossed swords with whilst chasing Spencer. This interesting subplot ties in with the main storyline at the end of the book to quite good effect, but I do think that a couple of hundred pages could have been shaved off if this element had been left out. It is this subplot which leads to Koontz’s author’s postscript attacking the then (1994) asset forfeiture laws which the policeman was subjected to in an act of spite. Considering how potent American government agencies are, I am surprised Koontz was so bold in his attack. However, he’s still alive so maybe they’ve let him off with his rant!

                A very good plot, thrilling, manages to keep a fast pace even over its 700 plus pages, well worth a read. Five stars.

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                  21.08.2014 17:04
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                  • "Sweet smell"
                  • "Very strong smell"

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                  • "Availability might be an issue"

                  Not just for Christmas, smells good any time

                  I’m not sure exactly when it started, but our local Asda now sells Yankee products from the “Simply Home” range of scents in a few different formats – tarts, candles etc. Mrs Dablue and I normally only buy the tarts (being good northerners, we tend to go for the cheapest option) but last Christmas we did a “free” shop for goodies using the change we’d saved all year in a jar. One of the treats we got with this saved up cash was a medium jar of the Cranberry Zest scent as we thought that out of all the different scents they had on sale, this one was the most Christmassy.

                  For those that don’t know, Yankee are an American company who make predominantly wax based scented products like differing sizes of candles in glass jars and tarts, but they also make car air fresheners, pot pourri, reed diffusers etc. Although the jar candles are quite expensive as a one off purchase compared to buying the tarts, they do work out as quite good value for money as they last for a long time (Yankee suggest between 110 and 150 hours) and the jars come with a lid which can be re-used for all sorts of things once the candle has burnt out.

                  This medium candle, Cranberry Zest, has the very rich, sharp and fruity smell of juicy ripe cranberries mixed with the sweetness of oranges. The smell also has a touch of cinnamon in my opinion, which adds a bit more richness and is probably what made us think it was a scent perfectly matched for Christmas. However, on various websites that sell this scent, I have not found any product description during my research that backs up my claim of cinnamon. Answers on a post card please.

                  The wax is a very appealing deep ruby red, imagine a smoky glass of port. Like most other Yankee wax products I have used, the strength of the smell this blasts out makes Geoff Capes look like a weakling. Think of it as a very pleasant smelling nuclear strength air freshener. A burning candle takes about ten minutes to fill a room with the scent and it’s most noticeable when you leave the room and re-enter after a short while.

                  I would recommend this to those who like the fruitier Yankee scents, some night say that £13 is a bit steep for a candle, but they do last a very long time. Would work well at any time of year, not just Christmas. Five stars, thanks for reading.

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                  • More +
                    21.08.2014 16:13
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                    • "Quite open"

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                    • "May not appeal if you're anti LFC"

                    A very honest and open book by one of LFC's most solid ever players

                    I’m not a fan of Liverpool FC but I have always rated Jamie Carragher, hence the reason I’ve just finished reading his book. If you’re into football autobiographies, I can recommend this one. It isn’t perfect and there are one or two contradictions within it, but there are a couple of standout chapters.

                    These chapters are about that night in Istanbul and his feelings about Everton. The Istanbul game where Liverpool came from three nil down to win the Champions League against AC Milan is worthy of a book in itself, but I feel he does a great job of giving his perspective as a player in that historical game. Any football fan should enjoy reading that, unless you’re firmly anti Liverpool. He describes very well the monumental effort it required to get the score level and take the game into extra time, and gives an insight into what was said in the dressing room at half time.

                    His “Everton” chapter was very well written, bearing in mind that he was brought up as an Everton fan and in some Liverpool fans eyes isn’t one of their own. Some serious justification was needed in this chapter, and he manages it very articulately and without any hint of desperation or being overly self defensive. He lays out some very rational, logical points as to what his feelings for Everton are now, how he came to feel like that and why he thinks he made the right choice in severing his ties with Everton. I think both Liverpool and Everton fans would find this a fascinating insight.

                    Unlike some footballers’ autobiographies, his is coherent and reads well. There’s plenty of his own opinions about certain big games, incidents and situations which was refreshing as an outsider to hear from him. Unlike Robbie Savage’s book where he spends most of it boring us about how much he spends on designer shirts and cars, Carragher’s book gives us plenty of insight into how he sees the English game, its flaws and strengths and how he sees his role in it. There are some controversial views of his about what it means to him to play for England which are divisive – you will either see his point of view and agree with him or be raging mad at yet another over paid, over privileged professional who puts club before country. I think that he explains it well enough for most reasonable people to agree with him in that he saw England duties as an anticlimax. Maybe it’s a northern thing like Carragher says, Wembley is a southern attraction and means more to those in the M25 perimeter as we have our own cathedrals of football ‘oop norf. As I said, that particular section of the book is divisive so make your own mind up once you’ve read his balanced arguments.

                    One of the best football autobiographies I’ve read, and you don’t have to be a Liverpool fan for it to appeal. Five stars.

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                  • More +
                    11.08.2014 15:53
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                    • "very easy for my daughter to follow and pick up on "

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                    • " look out for it on offer "
                    • "a bit expensive"

                    A great story for small children by a popular author

                    What the Ladybird heard uses some very simple rhyming couplets to tell how a ladybird that lives on a farm with other animals heard some burglars go through a plan of how they were going to steal the farm’s prize cow. We are not talking of a plot with the complexity of the Lord of the Rings, so I think I will be forgiven for revealing all. The ladybird tells the other animals of this plan, and they trick the burglars into thinking they are at a different way point when sneaking into the farm – the goose neighs so the burglars think they are at the horse box and turn the wrong way to the prize cow etc. The burglars end up in the duck pond which wakes the farmer, and the police come to arrest the burglars.

                    The rhyming couplets are simple, but that's not a bad thing. This is where Mrs Donaldson deserves every penny from every book she sells – my daughter quickly picked up on these and it helped her to remember the story. After only a few times of reading it through with her, she was able to recite the story word for word with me. Simple things are often the cleverest things, and the rhymes are sort of a stepping stone for my daughter to get interested in books. Once she became familiar with the story, she looks forward to me turning the page so that she can “read” the next page out loud with me.

                    Anything that gets my kids interested in reading is welcomed by me. Another aspect to the book which has helped to grab my daughter’s attention is the very bold and bright primary colours used in Lydia Monks’ illustrations. They are quite striking and the colours grab the attention, but then there is no M.C Escher level of complexity to the drawings which would serve as a distraction.

                    If I were to tell my daughter some sort of Aesop’s Fable type meanings from this story, I suppose it would be that you should never trust a ladybird as she grassed the robbers up the first chance she got – times are hard and I can understand why the men wanted to steal the prize cow. Or, I would probably say instead that the ladybird wasn’t scared when she heard of the robbers plans and she got all her friends to help her stop the two crooks, so neither should my daughter ever be scared of doing what she knows is the right thing to do. Moral guidance from farmyard animals, very Disney.

                    I would recommend this to those with children aged two to about six, but shop around – the £6.99 RRP is far too pricey. For the effect it has on my daughter, it’s simplistic genius and just the fact that it’s a good length story to read small kids at bedtime,I think that the full five stars is a fair award.

                    ISBN 978-0-330-51385-2

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                  • More +
                    17.03.2014 10:17
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                    A collaboration between two very good writers

                    Jointly written by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, the Long Earth is the first in a trilogy about modern day mankind being able to step sideways into past alternative planet earths, with the help of a home made machine called a stepper.

                    Some of you my have heard of Mr Pratchett - he's responsible for the hugely successful Discworld Series of books about an alternate earth called the Discworld, and Stephen Baxter is a science fiction writer who has also written some non fiction books. I'm a bit precious over "my" Pratchett, I like his brilliance to be his only and have always been wary of his collaborations. However, I've yet to actually be disappointed by one of his joint ventures and the Long Earth is no exception.

                    The main character is Joshua Valiente, a boy who built a stepper and was one of the first to move across into an alternative planet earth. It turns out that he has a special talent for being able to step without a stepper, and also without feeling the severe nausea that most people do when stepping, which means that he can step across the worlds very quickly. He is recruited by a soft drinks vending machine with a conscience (it went to court, "Lobsang" has been granted human status - it's very "Pratchett", just go with it!) to see how far back they can step to and the rest is just brilliant - I'll give my opinions about it all below.

                    Firstly, the whole idea of alternative planet earths without people, buildings, technology etc absolutely appeals to and fascinates me. Imagine if such a thing existed? It would be like space travel and time travel all rolled into one - every nerd's dream! Some stories come to life in a very graphic way due to the way the environment or scenes within the book are described, this book was as visual to read as watching a film in my opinion. Very well done Mr B and Mr P for bringing the Long Earth to life. I'd love to pay a visit myself!

                    I liked the way that as people get the hang of stepping, there are large movements of people who travel the earths as pioneers, homesteading and going back to a way of life where craft skills, woodsmanship and agriculture were king, as opposed to the world we live in where everything stops if the computers at work decide to "say no". I found this another appealing factor to the book. The flip side of this is that a welcome dose of realism is added to that concept - the lands of plenty were starting to be stripped of their resources and police forces had to work out a way of dealing with crimes in those other worlds, a point well made by the authors that humankind as a species never seems to learn how not to destroy things or how to look after the planet we have already been gifted.

                    I'd recommend this to Pratchett fans who like / love his style but yearn for a setting other than Discworld. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and can't wait to read the next book in this series. Five stars, thanks for reading.

                    RRP £18.99 (hardback)
                    ISBN 9780857520098

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                    • Sainsbury's Basics Teabags / Tea / 51 Readings / 51 Ratings
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                      16.03.2014 00:08
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                      Excellent value

                      As much as I love drinking coffee, I've had to stop drinking it from late afternoon onwards as it has started to affect my sleep. Instead, I've moved onto tea bags after three o'clock - I know they still have caffeine in, but on average tea has about half the caffeine content and I have noticed a difference as I'm no longer still wide awake at two in the morning. As I'm not a tea expert, I didn't see the point of spending a lot of money as I don't notice too much difference when it comes to tea. At 27p for a box of 80 Sainsbury's Basics Tea Bags, surely it was worth a gamble?

                      It was, definitely. Yes, I know that for such a cheap price, they've probably used the floor sweepings from a more expensive make of tea bag. However, it doesn't taste of floor sweepings and actually makes quite a tasty flavoursome brew. The only big difference I've noticed is that to get a strong brew, I have to leave the bag in for slightly longer before I add the milk than I would for a more expensive tea bag. For less than half a penny per bag, I'm sure I can cope with that.

                      I haven't noticed that they lose their flavour quickly if left out of an airtight jar for long, as opposed to Sainsbury's own make Chai tea bags which lose their flavour quicker than United fans have lost their loyalty this season. I've convinced the person at work who is in charge of the brew fund to switch to buying these, we've slashed the amount of money we were spending on tea a month and instead buy more biscuits.

                      I've sang the praises of other Sainsbury's Basics range products in previous reviews, and these tea bags are more proof, in my opinion, that the Basics range really is good value for money, without skimping on quality or taste. I'd recommend these to anyone who just wants a good cuppa for a fraction of the price you're probably already paying elsewhere. Five stars, they're that good.

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                      • More +
                        10.03.2014 20:52
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                        Another great smelling scent from Yankee

                        This was another tart that we got as part of a massive stack for Christmas off various relatives. It was very gratefully received - we're still getting through them now and it's spring time! This tart has a wintery feel, but also has a freshness which I think works just an air freshener without making your room smell like a scene from a Christmas time love film.

                        For those that don't know, Yankee are an American company who make all sorts of wax based scented products and other air freshener type things like reed diffusers and pot pourri. A wax tart is a petal / shell shaped disc of scented wax that releases its scent when melted by using a tea light underneath an oil burner. This particular tart has the scent of fresh snow and woods, as if you were out on a winter walk, hand in gloved hand with a loved one. I would say that the wood scents give it warmth, and the fresh air scent is strong, crisp and clean like ozone on the beach but without the smell of a Fleetwood trawler.

                        Like most Yankee tarts, this still continues to blast out a scent when being melted well after the 8 hours that Yankee suggest - we use four tea lights on ours which gives us about 12 hours of melting time. This scent is still available in various formats on different websites. I would recommend to those who prefer a fresh, non food related Yankee scent, and as it's available for a pound on most websites it's good value too. Don't be put off by the winter connection, it's more of an outdoor scent. Five stars, thanks for reading.

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