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So if you have read my last review you will know that I had a bit of a spend up in benefit courtesy of my husband for my birthday. Although I am fairly stubborn when it comes to changing my mascara, I'm pretty fickle when it comes to foundation and will switch to whichever I feel is more suitable!
The past couple of months I've gone through a few, mainly because I'd started to put fake tan on and so I found my usual foundation was too light, then the one I bought afterwards was too dark when the fake tan faded!
I was about to stick to the old faithful You Rebel tinted moisturiser by Benefit when this new foundation caught my eye. I'm in my thirties now and if I am honest, I need a stronger foundation than You Rebel anyway.
Skin Test & Shades
I did already have foundation on but the Benefit woman applied several different shades anyway on top. There are 9 different shades from ivory through to nutmeg, and I think the counter lady was flirting between two of the shades for me; Beige (tagline - "I'm all the rage!") and the slightly darker shade Toasted Beige ("warm me up"). After showing me both shades on my face, we settled on beige, it seemed the most suited to my skin tone.
I really was pretty happy with how it looked on my skin but was apprehensive about how it would look with no other foundation underneath. It comes in a standard tube format with a pump top. Applying it myself the next day, I found the consistency to be runnier than I expected, but on the other hand, this foundation is supposed to have a "hydrating" effect so perhaps not so surprising. As I apply foundation to my hand and then on my face with a brush, most of my previous foundations have had a "stickier" consistency but this may be why I am going wrong and not finding the perfect foundation!! Applying this consistency took a bit of getting used to; it was watery so I did feel at times I was applying paint, but now I've gotten used to how much to apply, it goes on evenly and smoothly. It claims to be medium coverage but with a light feel, and I can certainly vouch for that.
In a nutshell: flawless, which does live up to it's claim!
I suffer from red cheeks and chin and usually use benefits Boing to cover this up underneath my foundation (and sometimes on top if it's still showing!), but I found that this gave a lot of coverage and it wasn't needed. My skin looked dewey and fresh which is amazing giving the state of my skin sometimes! The colour match was also perfect and the best match I've had for a long time.
The other benefits (haha, no pun intended!) is that it is oil free. This wasn't something I was aware of when I bought it; and it wouldn't have been a selling point for me as I don't have particularly oily skin but I am certain now I've tried it it is one of the reasons my skin looks so fresh (that along with the 'light diffusing properties' no doubt!!)
I also found that this gave a good all day coverage and I didn't really need to touch up at all (just my red chin where I touch it unconsciously at work perhaps!)
I have had several compliments on my skin in the last week since I've bought it, and it looks particularly good with a touch of Benefits Bella Bamba blusher! :)
If I could show you a picture of me before and after; I would. This is definitely one of Benefits triumphs.
On saturday, I had £150 to spend courtesy of my husband for my birthday. I need new makeup and I am tempted to go luxury for once and buy my favourite Lancome Hypnose and then my mum spotted a poster for this mascara. The image showed a picture of someone without mascara and then one with - and stated underneath that there were no photographic enhancements etc. The lashes on the second picture were pretty amazing so after picking up some other bits from the benefit range I decided to take the plunge!!
These mascara's aren't cheap....
This little silver tube will set you back about £18, and although not expensive compared to the one I was going to buy from Lancome, it does really need to live up to all it's claims and the poster boasting it's cleverness on lashes. At the counter, just to make sure I wasn't making a terrible mistake and being fooled by some huge marketing ploy, I asked the benefit lady (ok, so someone that isn't totally impartial!!) if it really was any good. She stated, rather matter of factly, that it has recently been voted the best mascara on the market or some such line. I have to say this was good enough for me - plus I was curious - so I bought it.
I am very fussy when it comes to mascaras...
I've written several reviews on mascaras and really only two get the thumbs up from me and that is my regulary mascara, maxfactor masterpiece (which is considerably cheaper) and when I'm feeling indulgent, the aforementioned hypnose by lancome. I have fairly decent lashes and these mascaras make use of these, giving my volume, good colour, curl and length. So what does Benefit's claim to do?
"lengthens, curls, volumizes, lifts & separates. Our jet black, long-wearing formula won't smudge or dry out. A specially designed brush reveals lashes you never knew you had!"
After pulling the wand from the tube, I felt a little disappointed by the brush and was extremely dubious as to how they were going to live up to their claims. The wand was short and seemed overloaded with product and after wiping some of it off, I could tell by the bristles that it was still going to go on thick.
First Coat Impressions...
They advise (as most makeup artists do) to apply the brush horizontally to your lashes at the base and almost 'wiggle' them up tot the tips to get the maximum coverage. The product felt quite wet going on to my lashes which again made me wonder how it was ever going to achieve all of its claims.
The verdict after applying my first coat - not as bad as I envisioned, but not great eather. My lashes still look short and I definitely need a second and perhaps third coat to really make a difference...
Second Coat & Final Look Impressions...
I applied the second coat hoping to see the dramatic difference they claimed on that first poster I saw. My lashes, after the second coat, DID look longer and dramatic - but they also looked horribly clumpy. I then spent the next 20 minutes going through my lashes with my eyelash comb trying to seperate them a little more.
A decent enough mascara, but I really was terribly underwhelmed. They DO do what they claim but only if you put a lot of effort in. After a couple of mornings of using this I have worked out how to reduce the clumpiness - the mascara has quite a wet formula so you need some time between coats (more than usual) to let it dry and therefor you will have less clumps. You WILL need still go over it with a lash comb and actually, an eyelash curler will still finish it off for you.
I'm mainly disappointed because it claims so much more and I didn't realise the elbow grease involved to achieve the look they promised. I can achieve the same look, with less effort from my max factor mascara for half the price. I wouldn't buy again for this very reason.
Triggered by the real life events of the Josef Fritzel story, "Room" is the tale of a mother trapped in one room after being abducted off of the street at the age of 19. After being repeatedly raped by her captor over a seven year period, she is kept company by her five year old son Jack - the narrator of their story.
All that Jack knows is his life inside this room. "Outside" is another realm and the only real people are him and his mum and the man he calls "Old Nick" who is their captor. When things change for them, will he be able to cope?
I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know a great deal about the actual story before reading the book; I remember it being praised a lot and that at the time it had been long listed for the Booker prize and so I bought it. This was probably a good thing, as the first chapter I didn't have a clue as to whether I would stick it out or not!
As I have mentioned, this story is narrated by five year old Jack and the first couple of chapters are pretty hard going. Having no clue why they were trapped in a room, I found Jacks language and the style of writing pretty difficult to follow at times. If I had known from the beginning that it was a story of a mother and child trapped by their abductor I would have perhaps thought twice about reading it; I've read those true story books before and I find them too harrowing and too depressing to continue with!
However - please do not be put off, I am so glad I wasn't. At first Jack's expressions and language is hard to grasp; everything with the room (Or "Room") is personified which is heart-breaking enough. The table isn't just "the table" its "table", like it's a friend. Human friendships are something Jack has no concept of and cannot even contemplate having only really ever had a conversation with his mother all his life. His companions are the inanimate objects that are sometimes given to him, his mother and the television which he is allowed to watch 1 hour of a day.
After a while, his narrative doesn't seem so hard to follow. Gut-wrenching yes, quirky, certainly but confusing or irritating certainly not. His childs view of the world (Or rather, his little world within the room) makes incredible reading. Plus it is clear that his mother has focused all her energies in making sure that Jack has as much knowledge and education as possible and for that reason his insights into the world are both wonderfully naïve and brilliant all at the same time!
Despite the "education" that Jacks mum is providing, she does in fact keep the biggest secret from Jack which is one of the reasons that this story is so interesting. To spare his worry and terror over their situation (and to stop any questions) she decides to tell Jack that they are the only "real" people so that he basically thinks that there is nothing outside of their little room. Even his favourite people on the TV are merely "just TV" and not a part of his world. Mostly, Jack is a happy boy, content in his little room with his toys and his mum because, lets face it he knows nothing else.
His happy narrative does not completely detract from the horror of the situation and Donoghue certainly does not make light of their situation. As well as the constant reminder that he believes this is the world and that is it, there are little glimpses into the pain and horror that his mother is suffering at the hands of her captor. Jack explains how he has to hide or sleep in "Wardrobe" when "old Nick" visits and how when Old Nick gets into bed with his mother he as to "count till he makes that gaspy sound and stops." There are other times when Jack's mother is just (as Jack puts it) "gone"; she stays in bed all day and Jack has to fend and entertain himself for the day. It is such a part of his life that he just deals with it - not that he likes it that this happens but he takes it as part of every day life.
As with the Fritzel horrors, their ordeal must come to an end, and this is another example of how touching, extraordinary and thoughtful the author can be when dealing with this subject. If you are anything like me, I am always keen to find out what happens to the person once they are finally saved and have to return to the real world, and Donoghue has managed this side of things brilliantly. With this author it is all the small details that we "normal" human beings would take for granted but for a little boy like Jack, everything is scary and completely alien. I loved his perception of the world, and found is terror of new people totally heart - breaking.
To sum up? A truly wonderful and beautiful book which does not glorify the stories we so often read in the press about captured women. The unique perception of Jack lends softness to an otherwise harrowing tale but still manages to keep the horror of the facts in the forefront of the readers mind. I've passed this book on to both my mum and my auntie who loved it as much as I do. A truly unique book that deserves all the praise it has received!
The Crying Tree
6th May 1985, Nate Stanley returns to his home in Oregon to find that his fifteen year old son, Shep has been shot during an apparent robbery. Despite trying to revive him, Nate cannot and Shep dies at the scene.
1st October 2004, Superintendent Tab Mason receives notification that, after nineteen years on death row, the man accused of Sheps murder, Daniel Joseph Robbin, will be executed in less than a month. When told the news of his imminent death, Robbin barely acknowledges his fate. Starting his prison sentence at the age of nineteen, he has spent most of his life in prison and is tired of fighting the system.
When the Nate and Irene Stanley and their daughter Bliss find out that Robbin is sentenced to death they look forward to the day when justice is served and the man convicted of murdering their teenage son. However, the American judicial system doesn't appear sympathetic to their keeness to be rid of Robbin, and as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years, they turn angry, tired and eventually depressed that nothing will happen.
Except for Irene Stanley. At the brink, one day she decides to write to Robbin and from this unravels truths and lies that could potentially blow everything apart.
Strong storyline now what?
I suspect that there are several books out there that have tackled this subject; the problems with the American justice system, forgiveness, betrayal and family secrets, for me, I try to avoid it as much as possible - Jodi Picoult seems to have this corner of the market tied down with her moral tales and twists and books filled with questions to ponder over . Fully aware from the first page that I would be delving into something deeper than a family coming to terms with the death of their son, and then their emotions when the killer is finally given a date for his death sentence, I was intrigued by how it would all play out and whether the author, Naseem Rakha, would restore my faith in these sorts of books or whether she would also turn out to write poorly written books in the style of Picoult. (sorry Picoult fans. They really really are tripe.) Spurred on by good book reviews, I read on.
This story is written from several perspectives but probably the most interesting and the most central is Sheps mother, Irene Stanley. The author does an excellent job of setting up some family background for the reader to fall back on when Sheps death is revealed. Their family it appears seems to be split in two. Shep is a shy boy much to his fathers disappointment and mollycoddled by Irene bringing them much closer than she is to her daughter, Bliss who seems to take after her father Nate much more. Nate and Irene have been married a long time and Nate's feelings for his wife are as strong as the day he fell in love with her, but yet from reading Irenes point of view I wasnt convinced she felt the same way. With this in mind and this invisible divide that seemed to be between the two parents and the two children, this was bound to be a devastating blow to irene especially. However, this was one of the reasons why I found the first half of the book difficult; I couldnt connect with Irene and felt much more compassion for Nate despite knowing that Irene had lost her son too.
As you can expect from a book tackling a subject such as a childs death, it is a harrowing book to read, and the first half really was quite grief ridden. Now that I have read it, Im not sure what kept me reading on, at moments it felt quite dark, although the author did an excellent job of illustrating Irenes state of mind during this first half, it was at times hard to take and I started to get annoyed with Irene's self pity. I am a bit torn when I look back at these pages as I am aware that grief does strange things to people and for that reason I still think that Rakha did an amazing job of putting this to paper in the way that she did.
Another saving grace of this book in its early stages is how the author has jumped from the present day back to the year of Sheps death breaking up the depression that has encompassed Irene's present day. This is really well done as it gives enough information to keep me reading and keep me guessing what happened that day.
The Turning Point
The whole tone of the book comes when irene decides to write to Robbin in prison after having her own kind of 'epiphany' at one point and at this point I knew that something was going to be revealed about that day that Shep died. Like many reviewers that I have read about, I hoped that it wouldn't go down the obvious route and ruin the potential that the book had. Sadly I was disappointed. The twist was not infact very shocking and I almost felt conned into reading a book that had such a predictable 'twist'.
What I will say is that although the twist was a let down I did like the way in which the book went after this point, and I was impressed with Rakha's writing overall especially her characterisation. Irene Stanley went from a woman whom I was running out of patience with to a woman that I admired and respected. Overall this book was a surprise for so many different reasons - yes at times it really was beautifully written and I think the concept of the story was excellent, but I expected it to move me emotionally and it really didnt hit the spot in that way. For a book that has such a emotive storyline, it left me strangely indifferent at the end - not good.
I have now finished the seventh book in the House of Night Series, "Burned" and I think (finally) my desire to read more and more is waning - reasons why? Well let me explain...
Seven books on, we are following the same gang with a few amendments here and there. Following straight on from the dramatic end to "Tempted" (of which I won't go in to as I'll probably get told off for spoiling things) Zoey's soul has shattered and she has gone to the other world. For all intents and purposes, she is dead - although her soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it is wandering free until someone can work out a way to save her.
Queue Stark. Stark is a late addition to the gang at the House of Night and although he has had several ups and downs, it is only in the last book that we really see him take a step into the foreground in terms of important roles. Stark - who has taken it upon himself via an oath to become Zoey's guardian - is beside himself with guilt for not protecting her from what happened with Kalona. Therefore to redeem himself he is determined to bring Zoey back from the other world, despite the risk that she may come back a changed person in terms of her feelings for him. With the help of Stevie-Rae and Aphrodite, Stark figures out a way to get Zoey back even though it puts him in great danger.
IN the meantime, Stevie-Rae is having her own issues. Her (quite frankly bizarre) relationship with Kalona's half-bird half-man son is still going strong and now she has to try and keep secrets from her friends and her boyfriend whilst she figures out what she is going to do.
*** Audio books ***
So let me tell you how I found all these goings-on. Firstly, as you will see from this category, I had this book as an audio book on my iPod. This is the first time I have ever done this, as it was suggested to me by my fitness-nut best mate that I give it a go to keep me less bored in the gym/running. However, I didn't find the distraction a good one. The American voice of the narrator put me on edge a bit (couldn't help it, maybe it's just the American accent) making the sometimes cringey characters even more cringey in my head. They sounded bad enough when I had created my own pictures of them, but with someone else putting their spin on it, it seemed even worse.
Secondly, I found myself drifting off and thinking of other things. I have to admit now this may be due to my level of fitness; after pushing myself more and more on the treadmill, I realise that I may not be one of those clever women who can multi-task; listening and taking in a story whilst running and gargling my heart in my throat is clearly not a skill I've mastered.
Lastly, it just took so bloody long to get through! Again this may be the fact that it's an audio book which I clearly didn't love but the beauty of these stories up until this point was that they were a quick, entertaining read. I think I was in the gym for 2-3 months every day before I got anywhere near finishing the story. I suppose that's good value for money!
*** And the rest? ***
Now that I've got my gripes about Audio books out of the way, I shall attempt to give you the rest of my opinion on the book.
The parts that I did find interesting were that for once, the story was told in several different voices (although hard to distinguish with one voiced narrator..sorry! Last mention!) Zoey at times seems a little self absorbed with all her boy trouble and it was at least nice to see the point of view of Stevie-Rae, Aphrodite, Stark and even Rephaim for once. As I have mentioned, I found the whole Stevie-Rae/Rephaim story a bit disturbing but towards the end of the book I found some of the elements around Rephaim and their relationship a bit easier to swallow.
However, this is possibly my only highlight to this story. I found it drawn out and frankly quite dull. This book seems to have totally pulled away from the original premise, and if I hadn't read any of the other books, I would be hard pushed to know it was about vampires. I can't even say there is plenty of drama - I felt that a lot of the time I was listening to drawn out chapters where there was no story or character development. The sections with Zoey in the other world were also completely boring and long winded.
*** Overall? ***
I don't think I need to spell it out anymore, I found this a really poor book to listen to and I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I won't be reading the next one. I have a colleague at work who has suggested that the next book is much better, but unless I am low on reading material, I will be staying well clear.
As for audio books, who knows? Maybe hearing a book where I don't know anything about the characters will help. I'll perhaps give it one more shot!
*** Additional Info: ***
Audio book bought from Amazon for £8.99 - now selling for £12.10!
-- The Story --
Tiger Starr has bewitched an adoring public by bringing old Hollywood glamour back with her amazingly glitzy and sexy stage shows. It appears that she has it all; the riches, the fame and any suitor she pleases. However, Tiger never lets anyone get too close; there are secrets she wants to keep buried.
As she prepares for the most important show of her career to date; it seems that someone is out to spoil her carefully constructed life. Tiger's immense success has attracted a lot of jealousy, and so there are many likely candidates - could it be a discarded lover, a rival show girl or even her jealous little sister? Tiger will have to fight for survival by giving the performance of her life...
-- The author - Immodesty Blaize --
The author of this book is a well known British burlesque dancer, and that for me was enough for me to want to read this book; there is something so glamorous about burlesque dancing; I just love the sexiness of it; the beauty and yes, all the glamour! Having read a couple of reviews, I could see that this would be a book that would stay true to the style of burlesque and fall into that glitzy chick lit kind of book - the perfect relax-in-a-bubble-bath book!
-- Descriptive Glamour --
Did it disappoint? No it didn't. From the very first page, the author delivered on the glamour aspect, creating the perfect backdrop that transported me to the world of burlesque and into the life of Tiger Star. The author Immodesty Blaize has a real knack for description, especially when this is sometimes a part of the book that I am not always keen on too much of. Everything was written so beautifully, from the sequin and feather outfits, crystals, birdcages, and stage props, it was a joy to read about.
-- Tiger Starr --
It is true to say the the characters were of course stereotypes and exactly what you would expect from a book of this genre. Not only is our lead girl talented and beautiful with the world at her feet, but she is also incredibly likeable and kind-hearted to all the other characters in the book. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but some of the characters depicted are fairly hateful! The redeeming quality that pulls Tiger back from being completely unbelievable is her vulnerability. Despite bearing all on stage, everything else in her life is closed shut and the contrast of the two parts of her personality works brilliantly. Teamed with a dark secret which gives it a much needed darker edge, Tigers story is compelling.
-- ...and the rest --
There are some interesting secondary characters in this book; perfectionist manager Lewis, ambitious and unlike able dancer Georgia, camp and dramatic best friend and stylist Blue and handsome but dangerous publicist Rex. To give the author her dues, all of these characters play an important role in the overall story, with only a few of the other characters not really seeming to have much of a purpose. However, possibly the most important character in Tigers story is Sienna and for the most part, she isn't very likeable at all! I've noticed that Immodesty Blaize's second book features Sienna and although I warmed to her by the end when everything is revealed fully, she was hard work and I'm not sure how well I'd like a full book of her!
Overall this is the perfect guilty pleasure with plenty of sex and sizzle and some stand-out characters. Immodesty Blaize knows her burlesque world and this comes across in this book. However the upbeat world of Vegas is off-set with some darker themes which are tackled very well indeed. There are only a few small niggles that I have; a few of the smaller story lines either didn't make a lot of sense or just didn't tie off very well but overall, I am very impressed!
Having been fairly recently given a multi million pound facelift, the Mountbatten leisure centre is now hoping to be a training centre for the Olympics and pull in new members to use its upgraded leisure facilities. Previously, I had been using the more elite and incredibly expensive David Lloyd leisure centre in Port Solent - convenient for me at a 15 minute walk especially as I didn't have a car at the time. However, paying £67 a month for the privilege just wasn't worth the effort, and having switched jobs and gotten a new car, I could now afford (or the opposite as the case may be) to look elsewhere for a fairly decent gym.
Location & Access
Mountbatten is situated next to Alexandra Park, its a great location for me and I should imagine anyone who lives in and around central Portsmouth. I tend to go first thing in the morning and from Port Solent it takes me less than 10 minutes in the 6.15 am traffic. However, getting out of Portsmouth is a nightmare at the best of times, and as I work on a business park in Whiteley in the other direction, leaving Mountbatten at 7.45 on a weekday can be stressful. Generally speaking, for most people going in their leisure time, this location is convenient, has several large car parks (being a leisure centre it can get very busy there on Saturdays) and best of all, has a fairly decent view from the treadmill! You can see the motorway crossing into Portsmouth, but underneath that, you can see the lake and in the dark winter mornings, it can be quite mesmerising looking out when you aren't quite awake yet!
Having been upgraded recently, you can imagine that Mountbatten's facilities are fairly top-notch. The gym has the standard machines from treadmills, rowers and cross trainers to weights spin bikes and other machines I'll never know how to work or will ever use.
They also have a 50m Olympic size swimming pool and it really is quite impressive. One side of the pool is always open via a moveable central boom so at least so there will never be a time when you arrive at the leisure centre only to find that the pool isn't open!
Other facilities that I am yet to personally experience is a childrens pool, sauna, jacuzzi, sunbeds, massage/treatment rooms, steam rooms. Outside boasts track facilities, and the centre also has various exercise classes and badminton courts.
Changing room wise, I don't really have any complaints. They are mostly clean and spacious but again I put that down to the times I usually go to the gym. When I arrive there is always a cleaner in the women's changing room, and I am rarely ever in the changing room with anyone else at that time in the morning! My only complaint would be the hair drying facilities. There are plenty of mirrors, sinks and lockers, (as well as six private changing cubicles) but the hair drying facilities leave a lot to be desired; they seem old and outdated, and I think it would take me a week to dry one strand of hair on the power that comes out of the tiny little ends of them! I tend to take my own hair-dryer into the gym with me but even this is risky; sometimes I will arrive and someone else is using their hair-dryer in the (one and only) available socket, and sometimes the cleaner will be using the vacuum with that socket. Having long thick hair and needing to be at work for 8.30 doesn't give me a lot of time to dry it if I have to use one of these bad boys! I cant imagine how it would be if I went during busy periods!
I currently pay £40 a month for my gym membership which gives me access to all the gym, sauna, pool etc. facilities at any time as well as any of the classes that I want to attend. I believe I also get one free badminton session a month with a guest - but don't quote me - badminton isn't my thing so I may have made a mistake on that one!
You will also have to pay an extra £20 for an 'induction' when you sign up which you will have with one of the gym trainers. They will go around and show you how to use the machines correctly and, like most gyms, will offer to give you a training programme where they will assess your level of commitment, how long you will exercise for etc., and take your measurements and weight and set out an exercise plan for you to do to achieve whatever goal you want.
Its a reasonable price for all its facilities so overall it is good value for money for me for the amount I go to the gym these days. Its close to my home, its perfect to fit in first thing in the morning when its quiet and for the majority of the time I have the gym to myself and the gym and changing rooms are kept lovely and clean.
A welcome change from David Lloyd would be that the members only changing room is only open to over 16's - which means no screaming children or running around/hiding under towels/ in lockers/splashing water about etc. (sorry mums reading this, I love children, but why can't they keep under control in gyms when members have paid good money for a 'leisure' facility? Was never relaxing in David Lloyd, and usually after a good swim and sauna, I'd leave the changing rooms feeling more frazzled than before!)
Despite the changing rooms being excellent, I still think they need new hair-dryers or at least some more plug sockets! I've been told by my Uncle a few things about this leisure centre that has put me off using some of the facilities (he is also a member). He attempted to use the jacuzzi only to find a couple pretty much having sex in there, he's seen members of the public walk straight through open barriers without paying - the receptionists not even taking a second look, and he has caught people smoking in the changing rooms. I don't want to focus too much on any of these things (although the jacuzzi thing as put me off trying it in there, sorry to be prude!) as I haven't experienced most of them - except for the smoking. Twice I've gone into the changing rooms to smell cigarette smoke.
My gripes tend to be directed towards the exercise classes. I would love some more dance related classes as I find this lacking on their schedules - a lot of their classes don't really appeal to me and I did find that David Lloyd had a better range. Having said that, I would attend some of their classes but find their timings don't suit my work hours. They either start too late (I'd go home and not go back out again!) or they start too early. I got very excited this week to see they are starting a Zumba class, but that it would be from 5pm - no good for any working girl who wouldnt reach the gym til 5.45!
My last point is on some staff attitude. I'd been a member of the gym for all of four days before I was furious with a situation I found myself in at the gym. I had attended the gym at 6.30 again, only to not be able to get in the main doors. I knocked on the door (they are glass, so you can see right in to the reception) but I was basically ignored. I stood and waited. Finally another couple came to the door and asked why we couldn't get in. Finally, a member of the reception staff came out and told us bluntly that the duty manager hadn't turned up which meant they couldn't open the doors to the public. There was no apology, and there was no further explanation, and it was almost as if our presence was an inconvenience to her. Never mind the fact that it was an inconvenience to me having gotten up early, needing to wash my hair but knowing that Id be late for work now I had to go back home and change! Consequently I wrote to them and complained and they did apologise and offer me a session with a personal trainer which I accepted - however this was November, and I'm still waiting for them to follow up on their offer!
If you live in the area and you are looking for a decent gym with an amazing pool, this is the deal for you. You can get a swim only membership too if you would prefer, and this leisure centre is great for kids ( I see them all streaming in there on a Saturday morning!) If you are looking for a peaceful time, I'd recommend going first thing where you will be amongst a handful of people working out (usually all the same people which is nice!) otherwise this gym is pretty hectic! If you aren't a fan of little kids ruining your gym time, then I would definitely recommend this gym - that is if you aren't using the swimming pool on a Saturday and if you can get past groups of them in the reception on a weekend...once you are in the changing room or gym, you are again safe!
One of benefits new line, "Girl Meets Pearl" is what I'd like to call the new and improved version of Benefits "Moonbeam" and "Sunbeam". I have had "moonbeam" in my make up bag for about two years now, and really only use it when I remember to. The problem with it is that it was a bit too runny for me and the small brush didn't seem the ideal way to apply the product. The good news is, this is, this one works a treat and I pretty much use it every day!
** So what is it? **
"This soft golden-pink liquid pearl glides on for a breathtakingly luminous complexion. Twist up & pat on over make up or wear alone for a dewy luxurious lit-from-within glow. It's pure pearly pleasure!"
As the Benefit tag line above suggests, "Girl Meets Pearl" is a highlighter, used on the face over your make up to highlight areas where the sun naturally hits your face. The result should be a fresh, dewey look, a subtle sheen on the skin which, if applied correctly can look amazing. To put it simply, its a highlighter!
** Packaging & Ease of Use **
This packaging is slightly more modern than the usual retro look of other Benefit products, but nonetheless it looks glamorous and appealing!
It comes in a a pink tube and at first, I had a difficulty working out how to use it! After taking off the lid, I pushed it, pulled it, even resorted to trying to unscrew it until eventually I looked up on the web and found out that if I kept twisting it in a certain direction, eventually Id see the product. Voila! A few more twists and little beads of product start appearing on the top through the little holes.
These little beads coming up make for perfect and easy use. With "moonbean" I had to literally dot lines on my face and then subtley smudge them in, but with Girl Meets Pearl, the beads pop up and I can literally press the tip with the product onto the areas of my face (usually my cheekbones and occasionally the my eyelids, just underneath the brow). Once the product is on, its really ease to lightly smudge the product to blend. The beauty of it is, there is usually only a small amount and so you dont end up looking like a sparkly/shiny mess!
Needless to say, I'm really pleased with the overall effect, and it is long lasting. I've had friends ask me what the lovely bronze is on my cheeks and I like to think that it makes my skin look fresh. I usually use it on top of "You Rebel" and as I have mentioned in my "You Rebel" review, have occasionally mixed the two products together to give a really dewey, hydrated look to my skin.
This is a great product - I would never have bought it unless it was actually tried on me, and I was so impressed with the overall effect created on me after my Benefit make over that I had to have it. The price can range vastly depending on where you buy - I bought in Boots for £22 but I've also seen it selling for £24 and recently saw it on ASOS for £19.60. I have however read a few reviews saying that there isn't much product - I have only had mine a couple of months and as I've mentioned, used it almost every day I've worn make up so I'm not sure how long this is going to last, but for the effect its created, Id still say it was worth it!
It is safe to say that the only reason I picked up this book is because it was on my like for like list - reviews saying that the author, Jo Nesbo, is the "next Stieg Larsson". I enjoyed all of the Millieum books from the late Larsson and obviously its sad and a tragedy that he is no longer with us and so the chance to try a new author whom some say could take his place was a definite pull for me.
During the first snow in Oslow, a young boy wakes to find that his mother his missing. Upon looking outside, he discovers a single snowman with his mothers scarf wrapped around its neck. Soon, DI Harry Hole realises that this is not just a one off case; that many women have disappeared over the years; all wives and mothers. A further connection is established when Harry receives a mysterious note signed from "The Snowman" and Harry realises that all the women have disappeared at the sign of first snow. As if it couldn't get any worse: a gruesome discovery is soon made - the severed head of the latest missing woman....placed on top of a Snowman.
** So, does it live up to the Larsson comparisons? **
Yes and No. There are certain aspects of this story that make it completely obvious why this connection has been made. Firstly, this book is set in Norway, and so the Scandanavian connection is clear between Nesbo and Larsson. Other obvious connections are the inigmatic main character of DI Harry Hole who has some similarities (and many differences!) to Mikael Blomqvis, the journalist
-come-pretend-detective from the Millenium Series.
Then there is Harry Holes new team member, Katrine Bratt, who at first introduction, appears to be nothing special but later bears some similarities to the very unique (up until this point?!) protagonist and main character in Larssons books, Lisbeth Salander.
I have read some interesting things about publishers of crime novels from international authors, one being that usually publishers "cherrypick" which authors to translate and release to a UK market. It is obvious to me that the publishers are seeing pound signs when reading Jo Nesbos books - there are quite clearly enough similarities between the books for it to be a no brainer in terms of popularity - and their hunches were right - "The Snowman" has proven to be popular. Attaching the tag line "the next Stieg Larsson" has clearly done the trick! I won't be too sarcastic about it however, as I'm glad it has been released, I was very impressed.
** More about the characters **
DI Harry Hole is a jaded inspector, seperated from his partner and her son and trying to pull through an alcohol addiction. At the point of metting Harry he is pushing himself to the limit and teetering on falling off the wagon so many times throughout the book I lose count (occassionally he does fall off spectacularly). It makes for interesting reading, especially as it is Harrys opinion the reader is relying on to guide them through the perils of finding a serial killer! Often infuriating, grumpy and annoying, he is no doubt a curiously fascinating, smart and ultimately ilkeable character. This is unsurprising, as although Jo Nesbo is relatively unknown in the UK, he is nonetheless well known in his own country and Harry Hill has starred heavily in his other books. I guess through practise and building on his character, Nesbo has Harry Hole down prefectly; skillfully creating the perfect main character to head up these books.
Katrine Bratt, as I have mentioned already, appears to be nothing more than Holes sidekick at first. Within chapters of her first appearance, a grudging respect blossoms between Hole and Bratt and the chemistry between them is clear. There is no particular romance in this book but much is made of that there is some kind of sexual tension between them. Good because any kind of complicated romance would have taken away from the main story of the serial killer!
There is much about Katrine that I wouldn't want to spoil but her similarities to Lisbeth Salander become more and more apparent as the book wears on. If there are follow up books featuring Harry Hole, I would be very interested to see how the story progresses.
** Storyline **
This has got to be one of the creepiest crime thrillers I have read for quite some time. Nesbo does an excellent job of hooking the reader in from the very first chapter - a sex scene, a creepy snowman an a kid whispering "We are all going to die"...ok I admit it, I wasn't sure after that chapter where exactly the book was going to go, it didn't all add up and it was too bizarre for words but I had to admit, it had me intrigued and I wanted to know how it all fitted together.
As it turns out, the story is pretty straightforward but still the snowman aspect is a great hook and the way in which it is played out is expertly done. I would imagine it is hard for crime thriller writers to keep the killer a secret all the way through the book without frustrating the reader through a lack of clues, but I think nesbo also makes a good job of this. It wasn't until literally the last couple of chapters before the person was revealed that everything clicked into place and even then I think that the last part was meant to be obvious to the reader. Some of the death scenes are pretty gruesome and they had me on the edge of my seat.
Overall, this was a book that I looked forward to reading when I had a spare moment, I enjoyed the characters, and I enjoyed the anticipation of what might happen next. My only criticism would be that once again the foreign names could be a tad confusing - more than confusing in fact. I spent some time going back and forward - like I did with the Stieg larsson books - to work out who was who but that is no fault of the authors just one of those things that happens with unfamiliar-sounding names I guess!
I would definitely recommend this book and I hope to read a few more of Nesbos books in the future.
Over the years the quality of my make up has improved drastically and I put this down to getting older! My complexion, although generally good (not really spotty plus I am blessed with an olive skin tone) is getting older and I have found that I need much more coverage than I usually do. I have spent the past year using a foundation from Max Factor but I felt that this was actually too heavy for me. Having used different kinds of Benefit products and liking the results, I had what I would consider a massive benefit spending spree a month or so ago after having a make over. I am just a sucker when it comes to someone telling me what suits me, and so I literally bought everything the bloody woman put on me, including "You Rebel"!
At my consultation with the benefit lady in Boots, I told her that I needed enough coverage to even out my skin tone (I am a bit red across my nose and on my chin) and cover any occasional spots, but I didn't want to feel caked as I had felt with my current foundation. The result was that she suggested You Rebel as it is a tinted moisturiser and therefore would provide me with the coverage I needed but would feel lighter on my skin.
**Packaging & Ease of Use**
For anyone who hasn't heard of the Benefit range or seen any of their branded stuff, it really is a treat for the eyes; most of the packaging for the make up is a little bit retro and very very pretty for those magpies out there!
However, You Rebel doesn't really fall into this category and is much more brash in its design than the other bits. This moisturiser comes in a tube a bit like a toothpaste tube and is a bright red with the You Rebel name across the tube. There are no other fancy logos or pictures on the tube at all.
The good thing about the design is that it is very easy to use - squeezing from the bottom of the tube like you would a tube of toothpaste of course! I've since learnt that you only need a small amount of product (more on that in a bit) for coverage which I squeeze onto the back of my hand. I tend to use a foundation brush to apply as I find this gives a more even coverage across my face.
**Coverage & Colour**
Despite the Benefit consultant telling me that this foundation would be a light coverage as it was a tinted moisturiser, I didn't find this to be true but its not necessarily a bad thing. I've used tinted moisturisers in the past and this one is definitely heavier. I definitely felt that the application was very heavy when it was put on me and the first couple of times I used it myself I was pleased with the general effect but unhappy how shiny my face was in places as well as it feeling a bit heavy on my skin. I've since, as I have mentioned, worked out that I do not need as much product as first thought, so I guess if you are using this it takes a bit of experimenting to get the right coverage first!
Now that I have got the right amount to apply to my skin, I am really pleased with the results I have. The first night I wore it I was at a party and was thrilled with the pictures I saw of my skin that night (see my profile picture that was the night and I have never seen my skin look that smooth and healthy half way through a night of drinking!)
I am also pleased with the colour of this moisturiser. I have read plenty of reviewers who weren't happy with both the heavy texture and the colour but luckily for me, this tint is perfect for my skin tone. They have no brought out a benefit light so I imagine that there was a massive need for this as You rebel original is clearly meant for medium to darker skin tones. If this is you, I would suggest you try it!
Very pleased. I've now been using this along with the other products (which I am bound to review!) almost every day and its proven to be long lasting on my skin and I can see that its a product that will also last a while as only a small amount Is needed. Benefit has always been a firm favourite for me, but now so is You Rebel.
**Things To Note:**
Contains Aloe, Vitamin A and Vitamin E as well as SPF 15 protection
Mix it with a little "Girl Meets Pearl" - Benefits new product - review up soon!
Dr Gary Lasch is found dead at his desk after his skull was crushed by one of his sculptures. His wife is accused of his murder and the news stuns the elite community that they live in in Connecticut.
His young, beautiful wife, Molly, claims that she has no recollection of the event but the evidence against her is overwhelming - she was found in the house covered in his blood. To escape life imprisonment and a murder conviction, Molly accepts a plea bargain of manslaughter and is sent to prison.
It is now six years later, and Molly has been released from prison. Those who love Molly plead with her to move on with her life now that she is free, but she is determined to prove her innocence some way or another and makes a public declaration to that effect in front of a group of reporters gathered at the gates of the prison waiting for her release. Amongst the reporters is old school friend Fran, an investigative reporter for a true crime television series.
Molly convinces Fran to produce a programme on her, and although reluctant and convinced that Molly did commit the crime but under some kind of stress or pressure at the time, she soon begins to think that there might be something else to it...but who wants Fran from finding out the truth at any cost...?
I'd read a book by this author on holiday and when someone requested a book swap with me for one of my older books that wasn't shifting on RISI, I decided to go with her again to see how it compared. The author, Mary Higgins Clark, has a very formulaic way of writing and structuring her books, much the same way that most crime writers have their safety formulas which afford them so much of their success. This is the second book I have read about a fairly wealthy and attractive married woman from the suburbs of America accused of a crime that she obviously didn't commit. (This isn't me ruining the book, its quite clear Molly didn't murder her husband, else, why would there be a whole book about a woman spending the last 6 years in prison only to find out she did do it after all?)
Despite the obvious similarities, this didn't put me off, as like the previous book, I soon found myself hooked. From what I can see there are two main reasons why this book (and probably the rest of the authors books) is a success. Firstly, the author is excellent at developing the main character. Molly, quietly determined was a character I found believable and extremely likeable. No, there was nothing outstanding about her in my eyes but that made her all the more real. Not only was the main character well drawn, but so were the secondary characters of Molly's friends and also those characters who appeared to be molly's foes.
Secondly, although the plot is very same-y to the other book, "No Place Like Home" the author still manages to create a great deal of suspense and intrigue around the main plot. It wasn't clear to me until the final chapters who it was who killed Gary Lasch, as the author cleverly weaved several "read herrings" into the story which had me going back in forth throughout. As well as several possible suspects, there were several mini plots which kept the whole story ticking over and making it a book I looked forward to reading.
As you may have gathered, there is nothing truly outstanding about this book, yet I do enjoy a good murder mystery and Mary Higgins Clark provides the perfect stories for me to get wrapped up in. Satisfactory conclusions are a big factor into whether I think I book is good or not - it doesn't have to be a happy ending as long as it fits - and this hit the spot for me. I'd read her again.
***Who Is Mathilda Savitch?***
After the death of her older sister Helene, Mathilda is trying to negotiate her way through adolescence and come to terms with the fact that Helene is never coming back. Her parents - especially her alcoholic mother - are not able to comfort her as they struggle with their own grief over the death of their daughter. With America about to delve into the biggest national tragedy they have ever experienced, Mathilda fights to find out the truth about what happened to her sister when all is crazy around her.
The writer of "Mathilda Savitch", Victor Lodato, has achieved great success with this book being praised across the board for his careful and thoughtful use of language throughout. Mathilda is the narrator of her own story, and the inner workings of her mind are laid out on the page making her an insightful, quirky and independent character. I'll say now that my opinion on this book changes greatly from the first half to the second, but for the beginning half, I feel that the author pitched her voice just perfectly. Not only does her voice come across believable, but she is one of those characters that a reader is unable to forget.
The book blurb will have you believe that this is a book about mathilda discovering what happened to her older sister a year ago - the story that Mathilda tells at the beginning of the book is that her sister was pushed in front of a train and she is determined to find out who did it. What is clear from Mathildas thoughts and actions throughout the book is that she isn't coping with her grief and by finding her sisters killer she will find closure.
For the first half of the book, I started to think that "Mathilda Savitch" had the potential to become a much talked about book for years to come. Several times in the book I tried to think who Mathilda's quirky, intelligent but confused voice reminded me of; the answer is "The Catcher In The Rye's" Holden Caulfield. Both confused, both make profound but simple and accurate statements about life but also are troubled and epitomise teen rebellion. However, I found that I was mistaken when, mathilda's voice goes from being a quirky adolescent to a girl who has more than her fair share of issues...yet no one seems to have addressed them except from something called "the tree". as much as I enjoyed Mathildas narrative, and as much as I'm sure the author would love his book to be in the same category as "The Catcher In the Rye" Mathilda has a fair way to go to get to the level of enjoyment and satisfaction I felt in reading Holdens story.
***Poor Mathilda...Help Her!***
There are some things in the book that I found hard to get my head round and at first I have to say that mathilda isn't a character that was likeable immediately. Despite the loss of her sister, her false bravado and behaviour to her friends didn't endear her, but thankfully with more insight into her life, I came to sympathise with her and understand her need for attention. However, the biggest thing that makes this book great is probably the one bit that will put off future readers. The narrative voice of mathilda is a forceful one, and quite frankly it is hard to see why there is no other characters in the story that seem to realise the damage that this young girl is causing herself.
Set as the backdrop to Mathildas personal mourning is the sudden and unexpected act of terrorism against America. 9/11 sends mathildas view on the world spinning even further. Seeing a man shoot himself on the telly and saying to the world "You Will All Die" has not done a lot of good for her already troubled young mind.
Overall, I found that this story was a good attempt but unfortunately was a bit off the mark. Mathilda as a narrative is unexpected, thought provoking and far from predictable. However, the downside of this is that mathilda is often quite unbelievable and it is hard to try and understand why a girl who is doing her damnedest to get herself attention still manages to be ignored by those around her.
BEFORE I BEGIN, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THE 6TH BOOK IN THE SERIES AND THEREFORE THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN INFORMATION REVEALED IN THE BOOKS LEADING UP TO THIS POINT - I'LL TRY NOT TO SPOIL TOO MUCH, BUT IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO REVIEW A BOOK WITHOUT REFERRING TO STUFF THATS HAPPENED PREVIOUSLY!
~~~What Is Zoey Up To Now?~~~
It feels like Zoey and gang have come a long way from the very first (cringeworthy) books in this series, especially since, when you look at the timeline a bit closer, she could only have been in the vampire school a mere couple of months!
Zoey has had to deal with a great deal in this time frame, and despite sending Neferet and kalona away from the house of night (and it appears out of the Country) Zoey and her fledgeling gang are far from safe.
THis story picks up mere few minutes after the drama ends in the 5th book and Zoey and friends are left exhausted but relieved but knowing the war is still on. The Cherokee legend continues in this book and remains its central focus, with Zoey coming to terms with the fact that she is the reincarnation of A-Ya (created by the Cherokee women out of clay to trap Kalona). With this knowledge comes a problem not even Zoey thinks she can fix - due to her ties with A-ya, she isn't sure how long she can resist him, as A-ya was created to love Kalona as well as trap him.
With Kalona getting into her dreams and with him teaming up with Neferet to take over the world (oh so cliched baddies but it works!) how will Zoey sort this mess out?
~~~Oh, Zoey Et Al, How You Have Grown!!~~~
One of my first thoughts when reading this book was how far the character development has come along in some places. Now that we are on the sixth book in the series, there is less need to return to previous plot lines, spending pages at a time going over the characters personalities, their relationships and plot lines. By this point, it is a given that by reading this book, most people would know the basic storyline and the majority would have read most of the books leading up until this point. It is a blessing, as the two writers have in the past had a cringey way of going over the old story lines, pulling out cliches and stereotypes about Zoeys friends that could be quite hard to read at times and had me embarrassed that I was reading this series at all!
~~~Mother/Daughter Duo Wisen Up to Criticisms?~~~
For those who didnt know, the daughter part of this duo was brought on board to make sure that her mother was writing authentically enough about teenagers and that the language was sufficiently "cool" enough. By this point in the series, I felt like there was a slight change in writing tactics and It makes me think that the writers have actually listened to (reluctant) fans of the book like myself and realised how far the characters in the book contradict themselves in terms of what they say.
Despite some grown-up dialogue about sex and dealing with world - affecting issues (in the vampire world that is!) the language and attitude of Zoey is often embarrassingly childish. This book is a bit of a departure from that, perhaps to do with listening to the fans but also because of the serious nature and action filled plot line that has developed over the past two books.
Some of the characters have developed quite successfully during this book too, showing sides that we hadn't previously seen and opening up the book to different avenues. Firstly, there is Eric. With Zoeys never-ending trail of admirers, the two authors did well in sewing the seeds of Eric downfall in the last book. Without down-right turning him to a baddie , they did enough to successfully make the reader care very little about him which doesn't damage a fans point of view of the characters in the book, careful laying of these foundations were important to make sure there was no backlash!!
Secondly, Aphrodite's softer side has flowered even more and continues to become a good draw to this series, eclipsing almost the role of the rest of Zoey's gang (excluding Stevie-Rae). Perhaps not featured a huge amount in this book, her influence and story lines are still the important ones in Zoey's journey, and there is no doubt that this will continue in the rest of the book.
Stevie-Rae is a character that is hard to fathom, but I appreciated her full return to the series in this book. At first confused by the way in which the books blurb makes out she is a baddy, I wasn't sure if I was disappointed or pleased to find that her secrets in this book served a genuine purpose and is further proof of her humanity despite first being dead, and then "un-dead".
~~~The Usual Love Life Dramas But With An Explained Twist~~~
As for Zoey's love-life, this continues to be a drama, but at least in this book, partly to do with Erics relationship with Zoey, it doesn't become the main focus of the book. The continued presence of Kalona in Zoey's dreams add a new and dangerous dimension to Zoey's man issues but I liked the development of her relationship with Stark, her new warrior. More than this, my affection for her human "consort" , heath has grown immensely. Heath must be the most unrealistic teenager on earth, coming across as almost perfect when it comes to anything to do with Zoey, but still he is one of my favourite characters of this series after reading this book. The whole love circle that Zoey finds herself in with all of the men who like her is almost explained away as normal by this book, again, the authors having sewn the seeds of how zoey can have so many relationships in the previous book.
As for the plot, well it is successful and readable because, having got to this stage in the series, all of us readers just want to see how it pans out. The last book was pretty action packed, and this book takes us on a journey out of America, but I would say it is not as jammed full of action as the previous book. The ending of this however, makes me believe that in the next book, we are in for a treat...at least that is what I hope!
Tim Blake's worst fear is realised one afternoon when his daughter, Sydney, fails to return home from her summer job at a local hotel. After visiting her place of work, Tim becomes even more concerned when they insist they have never heard of her; that she has never worked there.
Frantic, Tim and his ex wife begin asking everyone Syd knew to find out where she could have gone and Tim starts to worry that she might not even be alive. That is until Tim starts to get threats against his life and realises that there are people that want to find Sydney as much as he wants to and it becomes a race against time to find her before they do.
Yet another book by best selling crime/suspense/thriller novelist Linwood Barclay that has been hyped so much it is hard to avoid it when you walk into book shops! But does it live up to the hype I hear you ask?
As always, Barclay sticks to his tried and tested formula - someone close to the main character goes missing; the main character becomes determined to track them down and then becomes the main suspect in the crime. All this happened in the previous book I've read (Never Look Away) and this formula remains a fixture in "Fear the worst" storyline. As much as I'd like to complain about this, it is a fixture that he uses to great success even if it is a tad frustrating and predictable.
Barclay always manages to create a strong, usually male, lead character and Tim is no exception to this. Strong, a good father figure by all accounts but with enough flaws and vulnerabilities to make him believable and likeable. Tim is a single dad with a failed career behind him but who is starting again doing something he likes, searching for love but finding the wrong person in the process. It is all perfect, and really sets the scene for what unfolds with his daughter.
The storyline of a missing person is nothing new, especially as I've already mentioned, in Barclays books. However, I found this one more compelling purely because the missing person is in fact his teenage daughter - surely every parents worse nightmare. So from the moment Sydney goes missing, the reader is wondering exactly what is going on. Often, Barclay makes these stories quite complex which can become utterly confusing (but in a good way!) when thinking about the reasons or motives behind someone missing/dead etc etc.
In fact, I've discovered that Linwood Barclay does do an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing; I may have had an inkling of what was going on, but I could never quite connect the dots until the closing chapters making it a very compelling read indeed. However, I found that at the stories revelation, I was less impressed than I had been with other books of his. The whole scenario which has led to Sydney's disappearance didn't seem all that believable to me, even if I did suspend my belief and walk into the world of fiction books. I've enjoyed his books in the past where I've seen a grain of something that could happen in real life, but this one seemed straight out of a movie script and was a massive disappointment to me in its final chapters.
Overall I'd say this was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Readability wise it is no problem, I enjoyed it and as always, enjoyed trying to work out possible motives or reasons why Sydney was missing. Once again, as I've mentioned there is a compelling and likeable main character in Tim Blake whose opinions and perspective helped to create and sustain the sense of mystery surrounding his daughter's disappearance. However, I did feel let down by the revelation, dramatic? Yes absolutely, believable? Nope, for me not in the slightest; this has taken a bit of power away from Barclay. Not his strongest to date, but a book you could pick up and get stuck in to nonetheless!
Determined and career-driven Christine is a barrister who believes that nothing will get in her way of being appointed to the Queens Counsel and taking silk.
Her daughter Isabelle is an up and coming designer who has a huge amount of talent but who keeps on making mistakes which is stopping her making it to the top.
Victoria is the mistress of multi millionaire Massimo Rivelli. Constantly frightened she will be replaced by a younger model, jealousy and greed often cloud her judgement and soon she is interfering in both Christine and Isabelle's life. But do all three of them know they are in more danger from Rivelli than they could ever imagine?
Written by Rupert James has done a very risky thing by writing a book like Silk. Falling firmly into the sexy sizzle side of womens literature, he is up against successful writers such as Tilly and Louise Bagshawe amongst others who managed to combine sexy and determined characters, glamorous locations and raunchy, powerful storylines. So can a man write a successful book in this genre...?
The answer is no...not really anyway. Firstly, I do think this book is a bit let down by the back page blurb. When I actually got into the story, I realised that there was a lot more going on than the back page led me to believe, and so I think a lot more people would pick this up if they knew this! Despite that, the book was overall badly executed and could've been written so much better in terms of characterisation and storyline...
In no way does James's characterisation live up to the likes of the Bagshawe sisters. Usually within this genre, the women are strong and determined and I felt that Isabelle, Victoria and Christine were strong, but not strong enough. A plus side of this is that they showed more vulnerability in their weaknesses, but they did not really endear themselves to me at all.
One of the reasons why I didn't feel connected to any of the characters particularly was because, despite it being a hefty book, there seemed little depth to the characters on the whole. Isabelle seemed flaky and needed her best friend to carry her for most of the book, Christine seemed super smart but super stupid in some of the decisions she made and Victoria from the beginning was made to be the woman to help destroy their lives and so there isn't much compassion for her situation from the very first page.
Mostly though, I was disappointed in Isabelle's character. Upon introduction to her, I thought I was going to love her. Doing her first important fashion show, she seemed fearless, extremely talented and beautiful. However, a quick downward spiral into drug addiction that was never fully explained and a constant and apparently unreasonable grudge against her own mother just made her seem like a spoilt little child who cannot cope in the real world. This was a huge disappointment for me as the reason that I read this genre is for the powerful women succeeding against the odds.
Now I don't suppose I'm ruining the story by telling you that "succeeding against the odds" is still the main order of the day in this book but still, the storyline doesn't do a lot to promote this. The storyline itself left a lot to be desired. Much like the characters, I felt that often things in the story happened completely out of the blue, with very little explanation. Isabelle's problem with the drugs, the sudden dark side of Rivelli..It seemed over the top and unbelievable as there was no real build to these plots in the first place.
On top of that, these stories often deliver on the romance side of things (ok ok, the sex!) but this was a huge let down too (excuse the pun!). There was no sexual chemistry between the characters and so reading about their romantic encounters was about as exciting as watching me read the book. The biggest romantic storyline was probably between Isabelle and Dan, and even that took the whole of the book to develop and by the time it did, I'd lost all interest!
Yet, I read on. There was nothing particularly horrendous about this book and so I read it with some interest but not a great load of enthusiasm. If the author had introduced certain themes earlier or had gone more in depth with some of the characters, I might have written a better review. Not only that, it lacked the sex, sizzle and glamour to really give this story some pow!