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cazkins

cazkins
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Member since: 09.09.2008

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    • More +
      24.08.2014 11:54
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      1 Comment

      Advantages

      • "Gripping and well written"
      • "Intriguing premise"
      • "Developed characters"

      Disadvantages

      • "Ending a little abrupt perhaps"

      A gritty, gruesome, gripping read that doesn't disappoint.

      This falls within the crime thriller genre and on the cover we’re told this is from ‘The New York Times Number One Bestselling Author’. We’re thrown in to New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis, where the brutalised body of a young woman pops out of the boot of a car. Unsure sure whether she was dead or alive before the vehicle behind hit her, she was so disfigured she looked like a zombie, thus earning herself the name 'Zombie Doe'. She is the 9th discovery this year.

      Enter homicide detectives Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac. They quickly wonder whether she may be linked to the previous 8 bodies, victims of the serial killer they’ve dubbed ‘Doc Holiday’. He’s been choosing his victims opportunistically at random across America around the national holidays. With nothing to go on in terms of evidence or leads, Liska and Kovac start investigating Zombie Doe, gradually uncovering facts and stories more sinister and depressing than they could have imagined.

      As the novel continues, there’s an almost parallel storyline involving Liska’s son, Kyle. He’s a student at PSI, a school for the talented and gifted, and as events unfold we learn of the possible links between this storyline and that of the murder investigation. But who is Doc Holiday, and what really happened to Zombie Doe?

      The premise was quite intriguing because of the way different strings were brought together. It had the right balance of complexity without unnecessarily confusing things; the web of characters brings in a range of questions, different personalities and suspicions to juggle with. Hoag builds up a sense of atmosphere and clouds the characters in suspicion, making me want to keep reading to find out the truth.

      I love the style in which this was written. Hoag writes with understated, easy confidence, making you feel like she really knows her stuff. Most characters are very well developed & seem to have been brought to life quite well, with a sense of self and personality so that I could imagine them as I was reading. I really enjoyed learning more about the Detectives & their personal lives too. It helped keep the novel down-to-earth and balance out the macabre goings on around them.

      In a similar vein, Hoag creates the scenes vividly too, breathing life in to the settings and events so that you could picture what she was creating as you read.

      Any downsides? I suppose I wasn’t as keen on the ending; I felt it was a little abrupt because I wanted more in terms of an explanation or some psychological reasoning behind the actions of certain characters.

      As for the pace, I’d say that this was kept up quite well throughout. The detective aspects were balanced between good old fashioned policing work, with interrogations and hunches, and a bit of forensic and modern day input. I liked this because it made it more believable and palpable, providing credibility and intrigue through the latter, and grittiness through the former.

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      • More +
        22.08.2014 10:06
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        1 Comment

        Advantages

        • "Sleek "
        • "Able to use a flash drive"
        • "Quick & efficient"
        • "Fantastic screen quality"

        Disadvantages

        • "None for me per se"

        I've been super impressed by the quality & performance so I'd happily recommend

        The Nexus 7 definitely looks the part with its slim (8.65mm), sleek and understated design. It weighs in at an impressive 0.46lbs / 290g, so it's lightweight, portable and comfortable to hold. The power button & volume controls are slightly towards the back but not awkward to get to, and the headphone jack & micro USB are easily located.

        In the box you get the basics, including wall-charger (doubles as a micro USB to plug in to your laptop) and starter guide. Extras such as an OTG cable or case need to be purchased separately. Setting up for the first time was quite quick and easy after the initial charge. Personalising it is also straightforward, and you can log in with a Google account if you wish to sync accounts & back up information. You can drag & drop apps to personalise the Homescreens, & change the wallpaper to make it more 'you'.

        I've been quite impressed with its responsiveness. The amount of pressure required seems just right; it's responsive to touch without going all over the place, making scrolling, dragging or typing a pleasant experience. At 7”, it boasts a decent resolution that really does outshine the competition. It has a 1080p HD IPS, 1920 x 1200 HD display (323 pixels per inch). Overlaying this is scratch resistant Corning glass. Images look clear, crisp and sharp, and colours are vivid. This makes a huge difference; the quality makes doing anything on the tablet a pleasure.

        The Nexus 7 is quite intuitive and logical to use. Even for those who are new to smartphones/tablets I would argue it's a good tablet to start learning on.
        It runs Android & is can be updated free to KitKat 4.4. I've had no problems with this & the app store provides a good choice of downloads. It comes with a 1.5GHz CPU and has 2MB RAM so it runs quickly & smoothly, which I've been very impressed by.

        Battery life varies depending on use but can average around 8 hours (of video playback, browsing etc), which I've found suitable for my needs. It has wireless charging but I've not tried this.
        I didn't intend on using the cameras, but it features a 5MP on the front & 1.2MP on the back; they're not great, but they will suffice for occasional use. Speakers provide decent sound that I don't find to be tinny.

        Transferring media is easy via the micro USB in the box using the drag & drop technique. It comes in 16GB or 32GB. I have the former as it was considerably cheaper. It does allow for flash drives (with a MICRO USB OTG cable & a cheap Nexus Media Importer app), but also has Bluetooth. Mine is WiFi only, though you can get a 3G version; the wireless signal pick up is good.

        I can't think of any downsides apart from perhaps the lack of SD card slot & the jump in price if you want 32GB or 3G capabilities.

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        • More +
          14.08.2014 11:41
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Lovely shades"
          • "Moisturises "

          Disadvantages

          • "None for me"

          In a rush to pucker up

          I was a little hesitant to get these at first because I'd previously bought a similar lip crayon that was more expensive but looked dried out on my lips, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. They're far more moisturising, last a reasonable amount of time and give a lush, soft and smooth coloured finish to my lips. I managed to bag three of these at Tesco Direct for one pound 50 each.

          The chubby crayon style balm / lip colour is becoming more popular recently, with a few brands bringing them out. These claim to give 'lightweight, long lasting intense colour and moisture' that is 'comfortable to wear all day'. The product is dermatologically tested, as expected but reassuring to know. What separates these from similar crayons is that they're designed to give the vibrant colour whilst also moisturising and hydrating lips. So it's a bit like a vibrant lippy with a good lipbalm in one.

          Each stick is coloured in the shade offered, and each shade has its own 'quirky' name. I like the design because it looks modern, colourful and summery, yet good quality.

          The outer packaging is smooth, shiny plastic, so despite being bashed around in my handbag they look undamaged and new because they seem to wear well.

          There are 14 shades available (according to some sources online); in stores such as Boots, I think I've found 7. I quite like the shades offered and think they present a good choice different preferences and skin tones. I I bought the following :

          All You Need Is Pink - The crayon itself and outer packing looks red in colour, unless it's my eyes. It definitely has more vibrant, red undertones than pinkish hues. When on my lips, however, you can see it's more pink than shocking red, and it gives a noticeable, healthy-looking colour.

          Keep Mauving – This gives a lighter appearance on lips with brownish hues.

          Give Me A Cuddle - This is a wonderful pink that you can glide over lips for a tint, or put on a few layers to give it a more vibrant, noticeable look.

          The cap comes off easily but also stays on well. The packaging looks fab and there's a twistable end that moves the crayon up/down. To use, the crayon is really easy because it glides over lips quite well.

          The downsides? The only thing for me I've noticed is a bit of damage to the top of one of the crayons itself; the twistable bottom does seem a little too eager to twist when you haven't meant to, meaning the crayon can be moved up when the caps on without you noticing if it's in your bag. It's not a huge problem, however.
          I am super happy with these. Even six quid, I would say they're a decent buy when compared to similar offerings from other brands because they glide on so well and moisturise, rather than dry out, your lips.

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        • Smashed (DVD) / DVD / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
          More +
          07.08.2014 18:17
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Engaging and thought provoking"
          • "Some great acting"
          • "Down to earth simplicity"

          Disadvantages

          • "A bit of a slow burner"

          Knowing Your Limits

          Smashed falls within the drama genre with some comedy thrown in for good measure. We’re introduced to a young married couple, Kate and Charlie. They seem to be a great pair, very happy together and affectionate with one another, and always having a laugh. However, their relationship and their lives in general revolve around alcohol, their love of music and beer and pool. It’s only when a few events shake Kate up that she starts to question whether their drinking lifestyle is a problem. It starts with turning up at work hungover, lying and a wild night out, and she starts to question the sanity of how she's living.

          She finds support in an unlikely place and ends up attending AA meetings. Her husband and their friends all enjoy the beer lifestyle, so she has to go solo to face her alcohol dependency. Add this to a troubled relationship with her mother and an awkward friendship with a co-worker. Will she find her marriage is built on love, or has it all just been a booze ride for them both to avoid the harsh reality of growing up and being responsible?

          The premise is quite straightforward and the film shines for its down to earth simplicity. t’s the side-issues that are confronted on her journey that make the film more interesting and unique, and I did find myself wondering how things were going to end up. It also made me reflect on my own life at times.

          The cast includes Aaron Paul (Charlie), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate), Megan Mullally, and Nick Offerman. The cast is quite understated and so although there are some recognisable faces, Hollywood hasn’t overtaken the film with sparkle. I loved Aaron Paul in this, even if I am a little biased because I love the guy anyway. I found him very easy to watch as he brought Charlie to life so well, and he also added a bit of oomph and interest to the film, not to mention lightening it up with a touch of humour when he was drunk. Mary was equally easy to watch as Kate, portraying the breakdown of the character and her reformation with ease and believability.

          This film doesn’t rely on any effects or action scenes. It’s quite straightforward and I liked this about it. The drama is built up and the interest comes in seeing the character and relationship development throughout the film, which is complemented well by the realistic acting and hints of humour to lighten the load somewhat.

          The only downside may be towards the end. It is a bit of a slow-burner at times but I didn’t mind because I found Kate and Charlie to be enjoyable enough to watch anyway.

          All in all, I would recommend this. It’s not a feel-good film by any means, but it’s engaging, thought-provoking, and ultimately a little uplifting

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        • Jackass / TV Programme / 14 Readings / 12 Ratings
          More +
          24.07.2014 12:27
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          • "Easy to watch"
          • "Made me chuckle"
          • "Reasonable acting"

          Disadvantages

          • "Not to everyone's taste"
          • "A bit tiresome at times"

          Old But Definitely Not Wiser

          Jackass is hugely popular and well-known, so this spin off film with a Bad Grandpa character made me curious. It’s a hidden camera romp that falls within the comedy genre and brings with it the essence of Jackass, but in disguise.

          Following the arrest of his mother, eight year old Billy needs to be taken back to Chuck, his not-so-doting father. Enter Irving Zisman, the eighty six year old grandpa with bucket loads of rather creepy charm and pizazz. He takes Billy, somewhat begrudgingly at first, on a roadtrip across the States.

          The rest of the film continues to see the dynamic duo get up to all sorts of mischief during their travels. Anything that could upset, offend or shock, they seem to manage. The scenes and settings vary quite dramatically from a funeral to a child beauty pageant. Remember, this is a hidden camera gig, so although scripted to a degree, it relies a lot on the responses of those around them.

          The film does loosely follow a plot, which is what additionally sets this apart from previous Jackass films. It’s nothing all that intelligent but it’s easy to follow and doesn’t take too much thought. The plot just gives a slight backbone to the film and keeps the stunts and mishaps tidy because they’re linked together for an end destination.

          I loved Knoxville in this. The make-up team did a super job transforming him in to the doddering, but ever risque, grandpa. The grandson was played by Jackson Nicoll. I often find child actors can pull a film down because they’re too wooden or unbelievable or simply irritating. Thankfully, he actually pulled it off surprisingly well. I found him to be quite easy to watch and entertaining.

          The humour was a bit of a mix; there’s obviously plenty in the way of stunts to keep Jackass fans happy, but there’s some witty remarks, sarcasm and rudeness to keep it feeling a bit sharper. This balanced quite well with the stupid humour and mindless mishaps. I did find myself laughing at points, especially the end few scenes with the beauty pageant (I actually found that part hilarious).

          The downsides? It won’t be to everyone’s taste. In fact, lots of the humour and jokes some would find distasteful. I quite liked some of the humour and sarcastic tone, though not all of it was particularly original. I did, however, find that some scenes or elements were a little over-done. For instance, a gag running longer than it should which resulted in it becoming a bit grating or lacklustre. This took away some enjoyment from the film because I wasn’t always hooked on watching it, so at times I would say I found myself a smidge bored.

          All in all, this is a Jackass movie, so be prepared for Jackass humour and silliness. It’s nothing altogether too shocking but the acting was fairly good, the hidden camera real-life responses were entertaining and I enjoyed some of the comedy.

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        • The Quiet (DVD) / DVD / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
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          09.07.2014 13:25
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          1 Comment

          Advantages

          • Intriguing
          • "Easy to watch"
          • "Some decent acting"

          Disadvantages

          • "A tad slow"
          • "Nothing spectacular "

          The Quiet is quite understated but worth a watch on a quiet evening

          The Quiet is a thriller, blended with drama. We''re introduced to Dot, a young woman who has recently been made an orphan following her father''s death. She is deaf and mute, and is sent to live with her Godparents, who already have a daughter of their own of the same age, Nina Deer. Dot has obviously been through a traumatic experience and the upheaval of moving isn''t going to be easy. Nina, however, seems to only make things more difficult for her. As a popular cheerleader in highschool and used to the attention of her father, she doesn''t take too well to this change in the household. Her mother seems often to be out of it, drunk or passed out somewhere, but she spends most of her time at school, where she''s popular. Dot, however, seems quite withdrawn and reserved, but her inability to hear or talk makes her a good sounding board. Nina starts to confide in Dot, with the notion that she can share secrets that will not be heard nor passed on. However, she starts to wonder whether Dot may have secrets of her own. As the film continues, we see some of these secrets from both girls start to emerge. It looks as if not all is quite as it seems in the Deer household. The blurb I''ve seen somewhere actually describes it as an ?erotic and suspenseful tale of sex, lies and betrayal'', though I''d say this is overegging the pudding a bit. It has its sexier moments, but they don''t overtake the film nor do they make it too cheap. The sexiness is to add to the darker undertones and create atmosphere, which is achieved quite well. However, it did seem to lack a bit of oomph at times. I thought the anticipation and suspense of what was to happen next could have been made edgier. As for the premise, I thought it was intriguing but nothing overly spectacular; I''d guessed a few things that turned out to be true before we were half way through. The pace was quite balanced throughout, though I could see that some may find it a tad slow at times. It could have been jazzed up with a bit more action and it almost had a bit of a TV movie feel to it, so it''s nothing extra special in terms of scenery or effects The cast included Camilla Belle, Elisha Cuthbert and Martin Donovan amongst others. The girls do a fairly good job at keeping our attention and being believable in their respective roles, keeping the film quite down to earth. Other characters add a bit of interest as we learn more about them and they are, for the most part, quite watchable.

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          • Tami Hoag in general / Fiction Book / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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            01.07.2014 16:22
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            1 Comment

            Advantages

            • "Depth of characters"
            • "Fantastic writing style"

            Disadvantages

            • "None for me"

            Hoag provides the right dose of crime thrills that keeps you coming back for more.

            Having read (and reviewed) several Tami Hoag novels now, I can say with some confidence that I''m a fan of her work. Being a bit of a crime thriller addict, the genre of most if not all of her books falls within the genres I really enjoy to read. The latest book I''ve read was actually by Hoag, entitled ''The 9th Victim''. I''ll be giving that a glowing, 5 star review. Hoag is an American author. In fact, she''s the Number 1 New York Times Bestselling Author! She seemed to start her career with romance novels, then branched out more to the crime / thriller arena by initially blending her style towards romantic suspense. The last few books by Hoag I''ve read have been crime thrillers, where romance is only a minor role. What I love about her books is the way in which she writes. Her writing flows and is easy to read; I can imagine the scenes and characters well through what is said and done. She paints a picture of each character and builds them up until they''re three dimensional. I find that I can more easily identify and empathise with her characters because of her style of writing and the background information and small flourishes she provides. I also like the wit and sarcasm she brings out in some characters, adding some light relief. Hoag is able to create a web of characters and link them well, sculpting the relationships between them. I never find myself confused by an array of characters in her novels because she clearly defines and creates them and how they link with other characters. In a similar fashion, the author moulds each scene and setting well so that it''s easier to visualise. You can imagine what is happening and where it is happening like it''s playing out in a movie (well, almost!). Hoag builds the atmosphere well, creeping in some tension and suspense along the way. What I also find really positive about Hoag''s novels is her use of knowledge. She adds credibility to what she writes because she knows her stuff, interweaving fact and criminology and forensics with the fiction. But she doesn''t baffle or overload the reader either, which is important. She keeps things down to earth with the characters and adds the edge of crime thrills through description and terminology. Most of her crime fiction balances gore with detective work, and the premise involved is usually clever and intelligent, so you''re kept guessing throughout. All in all, fans of Hoag shouldn''t be disappointed by her more recent crime thrillers because she seems to be consistent and reliable in her style. Those new to Hoag who enjoy these genres should check her out because her work is addictive!

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            • Blindness (DVD) / DVD / 8 Readings / 7 Ratings
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              30.06.2014 10:22
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              1 Comment

              Advantages

              • "Simple yet intriguing"
              • "Interesting psychological undertones"

              Disadvantages

              • "End lost some impact"

              Blind Leading The Blind

              We''re thrown in to a city, which seems to go unnamed, where a man seems to go blind at the wheel of his car. It''s ?white blindness?, where all that can be seen is blazing white. The doctor isn''t sure but tells him what the specialists need to be looking for. The Doctor, who remains unnamed also throughout the film, goes home to his wife, also unnamed. See the pattern here? It seems this ?white sickness? is spreading and becoming an epidemic. The Doctor develops it too, possibly due to being near his patient and perhaps catching this presumably contagious mystery disease. In a flood of panic within the city, the authorities decide to heard up those affected and put them in to quarantine. They''re taken to an abandoned mental hospital and form their own ?society of the blind?, where authorities stand guard with guns and literally throw them food parcels, always at a distance from fear of catching their blindness. When you throw a bunch of people together in isolation from society as we know it, a group mentality evolved. The common order is quickly upset, with criminals and the physically domineering taking advantage. Although it''s blind leading the blind, there is a divide in status between leaders and subordinates. Unbeknown to anyone else besides her husband, one woman walks the afflicted in the quarantine with her sign unaffected. . It was an interesting premise and quite simplistic in essence. Yet it was this simplicity that drew out some engaging moral dilemmas and the underlying hints of group psychology kept me gripped. It was in part a tale of human kindness, empathy, hope, understanding and resilience. Those affected were stripped of vision, suddenly, with no explanation as to why or whether it would be forever. They''re secluded, kept away from the rest of the world and left with uncertainty. Then you have those keeping them locked in there, obviously using their authority to allay their own fears of ?catching'' this blindness. It''s the interesting dynamics of what happens within the group of blind people that makes this film. It reminds me a touch of the Zimbardo prison experiment, so perhaps I got a bit more enjoyment because of my interest in human psychology. Mark Ruffalo (the doctor) and Julianne Moore (the doctor''s wife) as the two protagonists, plus other characters, mostly seemed quite believable. I enjoyed watching them and this worked well with the film as a whole as it was able to gradually build a sense of atmosphere and mystery. The not-so-good aspects? I''d say for me it was just wanting more from the film. I did think the ending wasn''t as well constructed as it could have been. It was designed to give a message but it got a bit washed out and I don''t think it came across, or was perhaps obvious enough, for the viewer. It therefore seemed to loose a bit of impact at the end.

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              • More +
                27.06.2014 09:00
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                4 Comments

                Advantages

                • "Fantastic writing style"
                • Engaging

                Disadvantages

                • "None per se for me"

                A curious kidnapping... A super read.

                This falls within the crime thriller genre and on the cover we''re told this is a ?Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller''. We''re introduced to Justin and Libby Denbe, a couple with a seemingly perfect life, living with their 15 year old daughter Ashlyn in a Boston town house and enough money to buy whatever they wish without worry. Justin owns Denbe Construction, a multi-million dollar construction company passed on to him by his father. Whilst ambitious and hardworking, Justin was seen as an admirable boss by his close and loyal workers, and to the outside world a loving husband and generous father. However, all is not as it seems. Wonderful husband has been cheating. Libby wants to make their marriage work so they plan a date night, but after that night they''re never seen again. The Denby family, daughter included, are kidnapped that evening. Enter Private Investigator Tessa Leoni, who has been hired to look in to the events on behalf of Denbe Construction. The local law enforcement also enter the party, as do the FBI. However, as hours tick by without a ransom, they worry that perhaps it''s not your ?usual'' kidnapping case. The rest of the novel follows the work of the different agencies as they investigate. We learn more about each character, relationships are developed and we delve deeper in to the workings of the family and construction crew. We also familiarise ourselves with the abductors. What I loved was the depth and diversity. We go from an upper class area of riches, to deep in the White Mountain National Forest, where the expanse is so huge and so desolate that the hopes of finding the family are like a needle in a haystack. The richness is complimented by the depth of the characters themselves; Gardner has a way of bringing the characters to life and making them vivid, and the same is said for how she paints each scene. The detective aspects in this novel are good, though there''s a little less on the criminology side of things. There''s less blood and gore or use of sophisticated tech to analyse evidence, and more old fashioned detective work. The premise is quite straightforward on the surface, with the web of characters intensifying the mystery and keep it interesting. I probably did guess the ending but it wasn''t a completely predictable done-deal. Gardner''s writing style is what really makes this novel readable. She built the atmosphere well and raised the tension and pace at different points throughout. Any down sides? I guess you can''t like every aspect of a book, nor all of the characters, but there was little that put me off or irritated me, aside from a few elements of a couple of characters. However, those are the characters she made and she still brought them to life well. I do think she has a superb writing style and manages to create a detective mystery in the lush landscape she paints in the reader''s mind.

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                • The Change-Up (DVD) / DVD / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                  24.06.2014 08:39
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Some amusing moments"
                  • "Easy to watch"

                  Disadvantages

                  • "Nothing new"
                  • "Quite silly in parts"

                  Lesson Learned: Do Not Pee In Public Fountains

                  The Change-Up falls in to the comedy genre. We''re introduced to Dave Lockwood, a hard-working & successful lawyer, juggling a busy schedule with his wife Jamie, their two young children plus one baby. His childhood friend Mitch, however, is quite the opposite; single, not always in good employment but always up for taking the easy options and shirking responsibility. But that''s all about to change. Whilst drunkenly weeing in a water fountain the two wish they had each other''s lives just as lightning strikes. Well, as the saying goes, you should be careful what you wish for when publically urinating in a fountain! The next day they wake up in each other''s bodies. After the initial freak-out, they decide they need to go back to the fountain to reverse the wish. However, it''s been moved. Dun dun duuuuuuuun! Whilst they try to track down where it''s gone, they realise that they need act ?normally'', because no one would believe them otherwise. This gets rather confusing, trying to mentally switch the characters in your head. The rest of the film follows these two guys in their friend''s life. It''s literally a case of one walking in the other''s shoes and they get a bit of a surprise. It''s a bit of a drama in one sense because it has moral undertones and makes you reflect a bit on your own life. However, it''s predominantly a comedic romp with the two characters fluffing up, making mistakes, making fools of themselves and generally getting in to mischief. The premise is nothing new and is really just a slight slant on older movies where two people change bodies. Ring any bells? Yep, sure does. I hated the whole peeing in the fountain then lightning striking jazz. It was cheesy and irritating, but it was somewhat in keeping with the tone of the film. The fountain mysteriously being moved, however, was the point where I sighed and thought I really need to pick better movies to watch. It was fairly amusing at times to watch each guy trying hard not to completely ruin the other''s life. The comedy was a mix between silliness, which I''m not a big fan of, and almost sarcastic quips, which I prefer. I did think it could have been sharper and more witty to have made it more appealing. That said, the two guys, Bateman in particular, helped to bring the funny elements out well simply because of how they come across. The cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann, amongst others. Reynolds'' performance is unlikely to win awards and he was a little irritating at times, but he wasn''t overly bad. Bateman helped in this respect because I do find him quite watchable. Together they made a good team, and this was supported well by Leslie, who provided was more down-to-earth. This won''t win awards and it''s not really anything original, but for a light-hearted bit of entertainment you could do worse.

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                • More +
                  14.05.2014 13:34
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Cute design"

                  Disadvantages

                  • "Not very secure"

                  Drinking With Kitty

                  I love Hello Kitty so when I came across this I was tempted to get one for myself. Begrudgingly, I bought it for my friend's 6 year old daughter instead.

                  Hello Kitty products can be found everywhere these days but I came across this in a discounter store (B&M) for around 3 quid. I think it's a reasonable price for a branded item and kids things these days with characters on can be quite pricey anyway. It's designed with a white flexy straw with a cap on the end and claims to be for children 3 yrs and upwards.

                  I love the design of this as it's cute and colourful, and looks reasonably good in terms of it lasting. I know it's been washed numerous times now and has suffered a lot of knocking about, but it's still looking pretty good without any fading. It is a little on the tacky side, but then again it is made of plastic!

                  The girl in question seemed to really like the cup and had no problems using the straw. The lid goes on ok and clips down, but I wouldn't say it's overly reliable. I don't think, for instance, a 3 year old having their little mitts on this would be a great idea as it could quite easily come off in their hands or if dropped on the floor.

                  It's probably not going to last for years and it's not intended to, but it will definitely bring a smile to a Hello Kitty lover's face.

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                • More +
                  14.05.2014 13:28
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Reliable use"
                  • "Reasonable price"

                  Disadvantages

                  Not Bic But Not Bad

                  I''m a Bic Biro girl at heart but we often have these pens in the office, and I''ve been persuaded that there are other good, cheaper, alternatives out there.

                  5 Star do a range of office products that are usually more competitively priced than their branded alternatives. You can get a pack of 50 at a sale price of just under a fiver on Amazon at the moment, which is a bargain.

                  These are standard ballpoint pens and I tend to use the black ones. The ink comes out well and they write smoothly, without feeling scratchy or too faint. I''ve also found them to be quite reliable and long-lasting, making them good value for money. Despite being very simple in design, they''re easy to use and hold; they have a cap lid and no fancy grip, but I find with my (right-handed) use they''re comfortable enough for short term use.

                  The downside for me is that the feel a little tacky and not as firm in terms of the plastic as I''d like. I still prefer my Bic Biro for quality of the pen itself, but if you want to save on pennies then these are a good alternative.

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                • More +
                  14.05.2014 13:22
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Some good offers"
                  • "Tasty food"
                  • "Chilled atmosphere"

                  Disadvantages

                  • "A little worn"

                  An Oldie But A Goodie

                  I have a few favourite watering holes in Cheltenham and the Old Restoration has been one of them. It''s in the centre of town on the High Street, but at the end of the road, so a little out of the foray of people when the town gets busy.

                  This is an old pub and one that''s quite well known. It has a friendly vibe and the staff are usually quite warm and helpful, making it the type of place you can enjoy going for the staff and generally knowing what to expect there. The building is quite attractive and there''s plenty of seating with different areas, so you can usually find somewhere to go whether you want a relaxing sit down meal, lively drinks at the bar, or a comfy sit in one of the booths. They also have free WiFi, which is something I always like to see as a bonus.

                  They have a good menu that''s quite simple but reasonably priced and the food I''ve had here has been really tasty. They have a good range of drinks that are probably reasonably priced, though I do find some a tad on the pricey side, bottles especially.

                  There''s darts and a new addition of a pool table in case you''re interested. They also do evening events, so you can enjoy board games one night or a quiz the next, there''s usually something going on. It varies as to whether it''s busy or not in the Old Restoration; I''ve been on afternoons when it''s quite quiet and have enjoyed chilling out with a drink, and equally at 11pm when they''ve put on some cheesy music and there are a few more people around. When there''s sports on they usually have the big TVs on and that can get a little loud, however it has a good atmosphere for the most part.

                  The only downside is that it does feel a little worn. You can tell in places where there''s been some water damage, or carpets are frayed, or the toilets aren''t very nice. It''s a shame that I think it could do with a bit of updating, but other than that it''s one I''d recommend checking out and I''ll continue to be a customer for the relaxed, down to earth feel to the pub.

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                • More +
                  14.05.2014 13:11
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Good price"
                  • "Supple material"

                  Disadvantages

                  • "Have to keep hitching up"

                  Soft skinnies for a non-skinny jean lover

                  I''m not one for skinny jeans normally but I wanted something to tuck down my boots over winter and when it''s raining. I''m also quite short, so tend to find skinny jeans far too long and they end up looking ridiculous.

                  The Primark soft skinny is designed to have the skinny fit (tight on the legs, narrow at the ankle) but with a far softer material. I got these for a tenner, so the price was right and far cheaper than similar alternatives in the likes of Top Shop or New Look.

                  I bought mine in dark denim and find the colour to be quite flattering and they go with anything. The colour can run ever so slightly so bear this in mind when you buy them; I''d wash them quite quickly and on their own when you first get them.

                  These fit quite well in one sense; I''m a size 8 and find them to be true to size and hug my legs and bum. I''ve noticed a lot of jeans can sag, which these don''t. Not initially anyway. The downside is that after several wears and a few washes, the material does start to give a bit. Around the waist now I''m finding the need to hitch them up as they drop down, making them more uncomfortable. The fit around the legs still seems to be good, however.

                  The material is soft and supple, which I really like, meaning I can actually walk, bend my legs and sit down! It''s just a case of bearing in mind the stretch of material over time. They may not be a staple in your wardrobe for years to come, but at this price they''re a reasonably good buy because they''re comfy and look good.

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                • The House Bunny (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
                  More +
                  14.05.2014 11:05

                  Advantages

                  • "Light & comical"
                  • "Easy to watch"

                  Disadvantages

                  An easy but silly, fluffy watch

                  House Bunny falls within the comedy genre. We''re introduced to Shelley Darlingson, a stereotypical skinny blonde with curves in the right places who has spent the last few years living the dream in the Playboy Mansion. She grew up in an Orphanage and so this lifestyle has become her life and her family. That is, until she turned 27 and was told she''d be evicted. Turns out that at 27 you''re no longer beautiful and attractive enough to be a centrefold or a House Bunny. Go figure. She has no idea where to turn as she literally seems to be out on her own with nowhere to go; in desperation, she tries her luck at becoming a house mother for a sorority. The only sorority house she can get in to is one full of ?misfits'' and they''re about to lose their house. Unless they get 30 pledges in the next few months, the rival sorority girls will take over the house.

                  So, the rest of the film then sees Shelley pretty much taking over and trying to transform the Zetas, the girls'' Sorority name, and bring the boys their way and away from the competition. She attempts to jazz up their looks, dumb down their intelligence and make the house the place everyone wants to party at. The question is, will she succeed and get those 30 pledges?

                  The premise is very straightforward and nothing new, it''s just packaged in a different way. It''s a tale of moral undertones revolving around issues of identity, sexuality, friendship and simply knowing who you are. There''s a bit of romance thrown in for good luck through a side story relationship between Shelley and Oliver.

                  The flick radiates chick flick vibes. It''s colourful and girly and quite cheesy at the best of times. It''s really not my kind of thing, yet it was easy to watch and quite entertaining at points. I do, however, think this was more to do with the cast than anything else. It''s a bit sarcastic and really quite obvious in its attempts at both humour and injecting moral contemplations.

                  The cast includes Anna Faris (Shelley Darlingson), Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Colin Hanks and the infamous Hugh Hefner himself. It was interesting to see Hefner, if for no other reason than his awful acting. Dennings was quite obvious in her ?misfit'' role which was unfortunate. The same goes for Faris, though she actually each aspect of her character well. I still find the whole dumbed down blonde gig quite overdone and too cheesy for my liking. Having said that, that''s what the film is all about. Over the top, silly, pink and fluffy.

                  It''s too cheesy and obvious for me to like it much, but it was still quite easy to watch and comical at times, providing reasonable entertainment when there''s nothing else on and your brain cells are fried at the end of a long week.

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