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diamond_sparkles
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      08.11.2010 18:21
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      Maybe it has to do with the fact that my expectations were too high when I first watched this movie, Letters to Juliet ended up being quite disappointing to me. While I will not qualify this film as a waste of time, it certainly could have been better- and did not at all rise up to the hype that was surrounding it. Plus I was extremely, bitterly disappointed by Amada Seyfried's performance in the film (she was actually the reason I bought the movie in the first place!) However, the story is enjoyable; the plot could have used a little polishing off but is entertaining enough. Just don't expect too much from the acting though!

      Sophie and her fiancé Victor embark on a pre-honeymoon to Verona, but once there, both parties indulge in their own, separate activities. While Victor indulges in his culinary talents, Sophie helps "The Secretaries of Juliet", an organization designed to guide people with their love problems. When Sophie finds a 50 year old letter written by a certain Claire, she decides to help the woman find her first love again...

      The first thing which failed to impress me in the film was how long it took to dive into the main plot. I truly cannot stand movies which roam around endlessly for ages before finally debuting the real story. Of course, I do understand that the audience needs to be exposed to some character background and all that, but if according to me, it's absurd to drag the beginning of the movie around just to emphasize upon a couple of elements. I have to admit that I was quite bored at the very beginning and had to force myself to sit through. However, on a more positive note, the pace of the film quickens as it progresses and it becomes much less boring afterwards. Still, it was just a bit too easy to predict what would happen, which again spoiled things for me.

      As previously mentioned, Amanda Seyfried's acting was just a pale reflection of her former performances in other movies. I usually adore her performance which is why I tend to buy every movie she plays in- but in Letters to Juliet, her acting was in dire need of seasoning. Her facial expression remained wooden, her lines poorly delivered and her body language virtually non-existent. That's not to mention how there was a blatant lack of romantic chemistry with her on-screen partner played by Chris Egan. However, Vanessa Redgrave's performance was quite great: she was the one who really held the plot together.

      I would describe this film as one that gets better as it progresses. I hated it at the beginning but found it quite a pleasant watch as it went along; and by the end of the movie, I was disappointed but didn't feel like I wasted my time.

      Extras:
      Commentary tracks
      Deleted Scenes
      Extended scenes
      The Making Of
      Featurettes

      The extras were quite nice, better than the movie actually. Amongst all of them, I certainly would recommend the Featurettes and Extended/deleted scenes. In fact, in my personal opinion, the movie would have worked better if they'd kept some of these scenes.

      If you ask me, the commentary tracks are not worth it. They were a bit too rehearsed and artificial for me. I usually prefer commentary tracks with a bit more animation and producers/actors' personal opinions on particular scenes, but this Extra included none of it.

      Cast List includes:
      Amanda Seyfried as Sophie
      Chris Egan as Charlie
      Vanessa Redgrave as Claire
      Franco Nero as Lorenzo
      Gael Bernal as Victor

      Overall, I would recommend this to you if you want some light entertainment and don't mind a couple of bad performances. Three stars because it's an average, mildly enjoyable movie but two stars off for the poor performances.

      ~Thank you for reading~

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    • Couples Retreat (DVD) / DVD / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
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      08.11.2010 09:10
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      I have to say that most of my friends weren't overly fond of this film. I, however, happened to love it. It was not at all what I expected, but it was still quite an enjoyable and rather insightful movie. Of course, they could have done with less serious thematic features, but from another perspective, I liked the way in which they incorporated some realistic arguments on relationship amidst some truly hilarious elements. The cast was amazing, and whilst the romantic chemistry between the husbands and wives was quite watery, the chemistry between the friends was quite impressive. The four couples looked so at ease and friendly with each other that for a while, it got me to wonder whether they were real-life friends. In fact, along with the romance factor Couple's Retreat also gives quite a nice depiction on friendship.

      A group of friends is trying to work on their respective marriages. When Cynthia and Jason suggest they spend some days in a "Couple's retreat', the four couples agree and vacation on a tropical-island to work or solidify their marriages. However, the "dream vacation" turns out to be more than what they bargained for...

      I initially thought that this film was going to be a bit like Valentine's Day or Love Actually- especially when I saw that it involved several couples. However, this movie has nothing similar to the above mentioned ones. Still, the fact that they included four vastly different couples with different problems made it quite an interesting watch- especially for nosy pokers like myself! This film really hands you the chance to poke about in other peoples' personal lives. Also, the way that each couple tries to juggle through its own problems enhanced the realistic dimension of the film. In fact, the whole movie was not unlike a couple's therapy session- but this was thankfully far from being boring.

      The producers actually managed to find the perfect balance between serious and hilarious comical elements. Plus the fact that the main cast involves eight radically different characters keeps you from getting bored during the 'heavy' bits. As previously mentioned, there was some amazing chemistry between the actors as friends, but sadly no chemistry between the couples themselves. I have to admit that Vince Vaughn's acting was the best; there wasn't a single moment where his acting looked forced or stilted. But my favorites actors were undoubtedly Peter Serafinowicz as Sctanley and Jean Reno as Monsieur Marcel. Neither one of these two actors had a main role, but they really enhanced the comical elements in the movie. Also, Kristin Davis was quite great in the movie: I'd only seen her in the Sex and the Series movies, and I have to say that she had a drastically different role in Couple's Retreat- one which she handled quite nicely in fact.

      DVD Extras:

      Deleted scenes
      Outtakes
      Commentary tracks

      Okay, one star off for the DVD extras. Since the movie focused so much on relationships and how to manage them, I was expecting at least one Featurette on that topic. But the extras were quite disappointing, even the commentary tracks were far from being captivating.

      Cast list includes:
      Jason Bateman as Jason
      Kristen Bell as Cynthia
      Faizon Love as Shane
      Vince Vaughn as Dave
      Jon Favreau as Joey
      Malin Akerman as Ronnie
      Kristin Davis as Lucy
      Kali Hawk as Trudy
      Tasha Smith as Jennifer
      Jean Reno as Marcel
      Peter Serafinowicz as Sctanley

      Overall, nice, enjoyable movie. I might be amongst the precious few people who actually enjoyed it, but Couple's Retreat is still a movie which I watch again from time to time.

      Recommended if you don't mind something different and plenty of therapy along the way!

      ~Thank you for reading~

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      07.11.2010 21:19
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      I guess it's lucky that this Eau de Toilette was given to me as a gift because honestly, this is not the kind of fragrance I would usually buy. I have to admit that initially, there was nothing about Avon Blue Rush which drew me in: the bottle was too simple and a tad masculine, as was the scent. I usually go for sweet-fruity scents and occasionally try on something quite spicy. However, Avon Blue Rush was none of that. Instead, my first whiff of the perfume made me think that the present must be a mistake; the perfume must have been for men instead. But when I checked the box, it was clearly labeled "For Her". Still a little bit wary, I decided to be brave and try it out on my next day out.

      Like I mentioned above, the bottle is not at all impressive: my perfume is 50ml and the box certainly leads you to believe that the bottle is larger than in reality. It's just a clear, plain, oval bottle with a pyramid shaped grey cap. The eau de toilette itself is blue and with the dismal grey cap, this particular blend of colors only enhanced the masculinity of the perfume. However, if you want something different, this might be one for you. Just don't expect it to look great on your makeup table.

      I however have to admit that in spite of my less-than-impressed reception of this perfume, I ended up liking it. Yes, the first note is powerful and a bit masculine, but after a few minutes of wearing it, I was agreeably surprised: the initial masculine scent faded to something more light and refreshing. I've been sitting and struggling for the appropriate word to describe the scent and finally came to the conclusion that the smell is simply cool- in the literal sense of the word. It's quite a fresh, airy scent, not unlike sea breeze at dawn, but minus the salty smell. There was nothing spicy, sweet, floral or fruity, but this is still quite an agreeable-smelling perfume. I honestly have not smelled something like this one before.

      After a couple of hours, I noticed that there was something rather musky about it. However, this was yet again a masculine sort of musk so it didn't really impress me. Still, this is an incredibly light perfume, and the musky scent is not at all overpowering, as in the case with other perfumes.

      What really made me love this perfume-apart from the light, breezy scent, and inspires of its masculine undertones- was the incredible staying power. I wore this all day on a hot day on Reunion Island, and by nighttime, the smell was still all over my dress. I do tend to bathe in perfume rather than just spray it on, but I think that any other perfume would have required second or third applications if I had to sight-see and explore a tropical island during summer. This one didn't though. And believe it or not, after washing my clothes, there was still a faint whiff of Avon Blue Rush. Masculine undertones or not, I would give 5/5 for the staying power.

      This is the kind of eau de cologne which I would recommend for day wear only. It's quite a casual scent and there is nothing elegant or even remotely sexy about it, so according to me, not really suitable for evening wear. I also think that this would make a great gift for a teenage girl since it's not too heavy and there are zero floral notes.

      If you want something different, something breezy and refreshing, this perfume might be the one for you. I personally don't think I would buy this again since I prefer more "girly" and elegant scents but if I receive it as a gift again, I certainly wouldn't hesitate before using it this time! If this perfume interests you, it's available for £ 22 on Ebay.Uk

      Recommended mainly because of its staying power.

      ~Thank you for reading~

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    • The Break Up (DVD) / DVD / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
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      07.11.2010 12:14
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      This is definitely a movie which i would recommend to anyone who wants an original romantic comedy. The movie was not at all what I expected and plenty of elements took me by surprise- but the whole spirit of the film remained light and preppy despite some rather depressing undertones. The Break Up certainly provided me with laughs, anticipation, and even a couple of tears. While it's quite an atypical romantic comedy, it marvelously blends humor with romance, satire, friendship to give a very realistic portrayal of relationships. Trust me when I say that this film has nothing to do with the classic elements which you usually see in typical romantic comedies.

      Brooke Meyers is an elegant art dealer. Gary Groboswki is a jovial Chicago tourist guide. In spite of their differences, the two of them fall in love and move in together. But a couple of years later, the couple breaks up but decide to continue living in the same condo until they manage to sell it. Still, both of them secretly hope to get back together again. However, when well-wishers and family decide to interfere and offer their own advices, things start getting ugly...

      I have to say that the first thing which impressed me with the movie- apart from its amazing originality- was the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Despite the regular "fight" scenes and heated arguments between them, you could still sense the very strong chemistry, and this enhanced the image that this couple was desperately trying to make it work and failing at it. The chemistry was so powerful that by the end of the movie, I was gripping my seat and hoping that they would get back together. I definitely think that it's the chemistry, as well as the actors' powerful screen presence which really drew the audience in: you end up genuinely caring for them and wanting their relationship to work. Also, both Vaughn and Aniston were great in the comic scenes together.

      As previously mentioned, there was a hefty dose of realism in the movie, despite the overall comic elements. In fact, I personally know a couple who ended up having this huge, public argument in front of all their friends. That's not to mention how many points that were raised by both parties in the film were really valid: these are actually the sort of arguments which you would see in real life. However, the amazing thing is that despite the realistic elements, the movie still does not fail in making the audience laugh. Also, the arguments scenes contrasted strongly with the romance in the movie, and that added quite a nice, original touch to it. I would in fact say that in this particular romantic comedy, the arguments come first; romance is more in the background. Paradoxically, the fight scenes really make you realize the love which existed between the couple. Prior to watching the film, I was worried about whether it would turn out to be one of these heavy movies which lecture you on the grounds and morals of a strong marriage, but I was pleasantly mistaken: The Break Up remains true to its spirited, light and preppy atmosphere from start to end.


      DVD Extras:
      Alternate Ending
      Deleted scenes, extended scenes and outtakes
      Improv with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau
      In Perfect Harmony: The Tone Rangers
      Three Brothers: A tour of Chicago
      Feature commentaries
      The Making of

      The Extras were quite great, actually. If you liked Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau in "Swingers", I would certainly recommend that you watch "Improv with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau". They explain how most of their scenes were improvised with no prior set lines, and give other insightful details about the way in which they work together in their movies.

      Like Gary, I'm personally not fond of the Tone Rangers (an accapella group in the movie), so I wasn't overly impressed that they included a bit on the Tone Rangers in the DVD Extras. But you might want to check it out if that interests you.

      Among the Extras, I would also highly recommend the deleted scenes and extended scenes: while some of them were justifiably removed, other scenes were really great and made me wish that they'd kept it in.

      Cast List includes:
      Vince Vaughn as Gary
      Jennifer Aniston as Brooke
      Joey Adams as Addie
      Cole Hauser as Lupus
      Jon Favreau as Johnny
      Jason Bateman as Mark
      Judy Davis as Marilyn Dean

      Overall, this is quite an interesting movie. It's a bit of a devilish fun to watch how two people from radically different backgrounds, with radically different friends struggle to make their relationship work. This movie gives you everything from romance to drama, comedy and sadness.

      Very highly recommended indeed!

      ~Thanks for reading~

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        18.06.2010 11:50
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        My trip to Marrakech was certainly a memorable one- albeit the fact that I got sunburned, harassed by beggars and street vendors. But I still have some fond memories of this place, especially the fabulous architecture and nightlife that greeted us. I have to say that Morocco was definitely something out of a dream. I don't have any immediate plans to go back (got other places listed to visit first!), but if I have the chance one day, I'll most certainly go again and soak in the idyllic setting. We were there for a short while since we were on a trip over North Africa but of all the African places we visited, this one seemed to be most mystical- as well as my favorite African country. We stayed at a hotel for most of the trip but also spent a few days at my friend's place, and therefore got quite an un-touristic perspective of the country.


        I have to say that being at Marrakech was like stepping back in an idyllic past, the kind that you see in these dreamy, attractive oriental films. I would rather describe this place as being a rather rugged, less stressful but just as energetic as New York. Those who've been here understand the buzz and constant movement that happens within the Big Apple: It was exactly the same in Marrakech, except that the people were a lot friendlier and there were other stuff to do apart shopping in Fifth Avenue and lunching at McDonald's.



        ******************PLACES TO VISIT***********************


        ****Transportation****
        To get around in Marrakech, you can either take a taxi, bus or even horse-drawn carriages. I only tried the taxi and bus (I felt sorry for the horses!) and while the bus gives a more 'local' feel to your visit, a taxi is certainly more expensive but really more comfortable than the bus!


        ****Djemma El Fna****
        Judging by the vast number of tourists- and locals alike in this place, I guess that the square must be one of the most popular Marrakech spots. The Djemma El Fna is basically a fabulous square where you can experience both the culture, as well as history of Morocco, and that's not to mention the amazing food stalls and vendors. We went there twice, once by day and the second time in late afternoon and I certainly would recommend an evening visit to this square. It most definitely is another world at night! The place provides amazing entertainment in the form of snake charmers (yes the snakes DO dance to the music!!), magicians, fortune-tellers, musicians and of course, the omnipresent vendors (of both edible and non-edible items alike). It was a bit like being in a carnival full of vibrant colors and sounds. I heard that there was even a fire-eater around but I unfortunately never managed to watch this. The place is literally infested by tourists at night, but the locals also come to mingle with us and it all provides a very exotic blend of cultures. We had fun stapling the some local snacks which included wonderful coconut and milk delicacies and spicy food among others. There are plenty of food stalls around, but if you want a more comfortable place to sit, you can always pop in the small cafés that are scattered around the square. The prices are quite reasonable, especially for such entertainment. In fact, I would say that the strong fusion of smells, colors, entertainments, music and crowds can get a little bit overwhelming but it certainly is a unique experience. You might even see an acrobat pop out of nowhere. My friend laughingly remarked that it was like being in an Oriental version of Disneyland, only better!


        During the day, the square is much less quiet and entertaining, but there are some wonderful fruits and vegetable stands around. I most certainly recommend that you sample some of the amazing, ripe and exotic fruits- even if you're not much of a fruit person. Dkemma El Fna certainly provides sensory galore! What I will however deplore about this square- as well as about every place that has vendors- is that the vendors can get really, really irritating at times. They seem quite friendly and extrovert but if you say no to their products, get ready to be harassed. I was personally followed by a street vendor who was literally forcing me to buy some sort of 'natural' beauty product and in the end; my friend had to be quite rude to him, after which all the vendor's initial friendliness evaporated. We did manage to get some un-forceful shopping done, but most of the time, the vendors really do annoy the hell out of you and in the end, we bought their stuff just to get them leave us in peace! Having said that, other vendors were genuinely nice and always up for a chat so I'll definitely not put all the sellers in the same basket! I would say that this square really does define the mystical atmosphere that Morocco is so reputed for.


        ****The Souk****
        Oh my goodness- the clothes, the jewelry, the handcrafted things, the sheer beauty of it all...Every shopaholic's dream come true!! My friends had to literally drag me out of the Souk, which I think translates into 'marketplace'. I personally believe that you can find absolutely everything over there, and as usual, haggling is quite a common sport. There were fabulous items made of leather, gold, silk, cotton, beads, as well as extremely original metal jewelry. I fell in love with some exquisite Aladdin-style slippers and believe me: you won't find more wonderful slippers anywhere else! Also, some people were making the shoes (especially leather shoes) right in front of you, and this was the case for basket-weavers and other wooden items. It was quite interesting to see the agility with which they crafted their articles and you can easily remain riveted in front of the stalls all day long!
        Of course, you can expect some extremely inflated, 'tourists' prices! I was so giddy by the fabulous display of articles that the shopaholic in me took control and I was ready to purchase every single item at full price, but my friend luckily started haggling and it was amazing to see the price drastically lower in front of your eyes! Haggling soon became a favorite of mine and most of the vendors were good sports about it. Of course, we weren't free from imposing vendors over there too, but the good thing was that most of them were in stalls and they couldn't really follow us around like the street vendors did! We occasionally bumped into somewhat imposing beggars too and initially fell sorry for them- but we would soon learn (the hard way) that feeling sorry for them would mean an enormous chunk out of your budget since Morocco is really full of beggars. We went to some places where we literally had to flee them, and that threw our enthusiasm off a bit.


        ****Marrakech Museum****
        If you read my other travel reviews, you'll see that I do my best to visit at least one museum in every country that I go to. The Marrakech Museum will definitely give you a brilliant insight into the history of the country, as well as an exquisite display of art. I would say that this is the most un-boring museum I ever visited, and being in there was not unlike being in an art gallery that contains plenty of artwork, sculptures and designs. The museum is in fact in a palace and just stepping inside takes your breath away. Fans of architecture will most definitely marvel in it; like nearly every building in Morocco, the palace is intricately constructed and boasts of traditional Moroccan décor. I really enjoyed my visit to the museum because more than giving a sneak peak in the past, there was (again) a very mystical and relaxing air to the place, and this was only enhance by the interior water fountains and peaceful, albeit elegant colors which greeted us. You may also find carvings, old coins, stamps as well as books in the museum but to be honest, I was more impressed with the décor and general atmosphere. We were with a tour guide- a really nice man- who explained a bit about the history and culture, but he was speaking in heavily-accented English which was really tough to follow. I could see a couple of French tourists looking quite lost too! But if you ever go to southern Morocco, it is worth paying a visit to the Marrakech Museum. Also, it provides a fine haven of tranquility away from the hustle and buzzing streets of the city.


        ****Cuisine****
        I won't stop gushing about the magnificent diversity of the cuisine. There was just so, so much to eat and something for each member of our group- Marrakech does provide for everybody's tastes! When we stayed at the hotel, we had a choice between an English or Continental breakfast, as well as typical breakfast food such as fruits, yogurt, and fresh juice, amongst others. Lunch was generally the main meal of the day and this was our chance to staple some of the finest Moroccan food. We mainly ate out for lunches but on the rare occasions when we've stayed at the hotel, I recall that we were usually served three courses: The starter was generally a soup or salad, very unlike what I'm used to. There was one particular soup made with lentils, lamb and peppers and while it was really delicious, it was quite spicy and a tad too heavy for my taste, at least as a starter. Lunch at the hotel could be something classically European or Moroccan. We of course opted for Moroccan dishes and I have to say that most of the food included lamb. If you're a vegetarian, I don't think that Moroccan cuisine will cause a problem, though, because there are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable available. However, I do feel sorry for vegans who are visiting this country because most of their food include milk, cream, and/or any animal by-products.


        Dinner at the hotel was not unlike lunch and was either a la carte or buffet. However, our board was for breakfast and dinner only and lunch was extremely expensive at the hotel so we opted to eat out. Food is not at all hard to find in Morocco- there are food stalls scattered everywhere on the streets. Or if you're worried about hygiene like me, there are smart little cafés and pubs everywhere. The food outside the hotel was quite different and had more of a local air to it. Moreover, I was lucky to experience genuine, un-touristic Moroccan cuisine when I stayed at my friend's place. She cooked some of the best delicacies for us. However, I have to say that most of the food was quite spicy so if you're eating out, be sure to ask them to lay off the spices a bit, especially if you can't stand hot food. I personally love everything about Moroccan cuisine; it really does provide a medley of colors and tastes in a single dish.


        Moreover, eating out was really cheap. We paid very little for large, heaped plates of wonderful food that I could barely finish. The one thing that I will deplore about Moroccan cuisine is that it can be a little too fixated on meat at times. I am generally not much of a meat eater and while I love exotic cuisine, I prefer light dishes. But the food that I stapled was really heavy, meaty and smothered in cream, curry and spices. Do bring some antacid with you since it's so delicious and really, really hard to say no to! I would recommend that you try everything in small quantities because trust me when I say that there are some very rare, very exotic dishes all over Marrakech. Drink-wise, we were faced with both alcoholic as well as virgin drinks made of milk, almond, and nutmeg. And of course, wine, beer, champagne and vodka were present. But my friend was desperate for some tequila and we couldn't seem to find any. I will recommend that you try out some of the drinks which are sold on the square at night; they really do concoct the most alluring drinks right in front of your eyes! Tea seems to be very popular over there and they make it with every spice unimaginable- starting with mint, ginger, pepper, and even chili powder!


        ****Nightlife****
        With the rather conservative attitude of Morocco, I certainly wasn't expecting much of nightlife but I was in for a major surprise. While the best nightlife experience for me was on the square, we certainly had a wide range of activities to do at night. Believe it or not, some nightclubs were so wild that we finally had to leave. But most of them provided some great entertainment and a fabulous atmosphere to dance away all the calories. The best nightclub I visited was in Marrakech. I can't recall the exact name, but I do remember that there was a really great open-air dancing space. Like various other buildings in the city, the nightclub had plenty of large terraces where you can either dance under the stars, or simply relax and admire a gorgeous view of the city lights with a drink. We also visited some great, cozy pubs and that gave us a marvellous opportunity to chat with the locals. Most of them were really friendly but some men acted like they've truly never seen girls before! As part of nightlife, you may also find casinos, and nightly expeditions to deserts, hills and lakes. I was personally too exhausted during the day to really enjoy the nightlife but the city is definitely as alive by night as it is by day.


        ****Most of the Locals were friendly but...****
        Like I mentioned above, the locals were a friendly bunch. However, I can't get over how irritating some people were over there- which is why I'm knocking a star out. Some (not all since I made some great friends) Moroccan men seem to want to pounce on anything female that moves on two legs! A girlfriend and I went shopping alone once and we were literally followed all the way down the souk. I have to admit that it was quite funny at first but after a while, the constant gesturing, cat-calling and gibberish (trying to flirt in English and failing morosely). They were even pathetically trying to grope at us. However, I will stress on the fact that most of the men that I met there were friendly; there is a line between being naturally flirty and being a pervert and I was lucky enough to encounter less perverts. Having said that, we were often in groups and these people maybe didn't dare approach us like they did the one time we were alone. Also, there were times when we were literally surrounded by swarms of children demanding money. They really wouldn't let go of us until we finally threw some bills in their faces and ran for it. But that was again an instance when we went out in pairs. I would definitely recommend that you walk about the streets in large groups to avoid all the hassle. I also noticed that when we were with tour guides, neither beggars nor perverts harassed us. However, that really made me deplore the lack of security, especially for tourists. I could barely see a cop anywhere on the streets.


        ****Norms and Regulations****
        As I mentioned before, my friend warned me about some rather strict norms to follow if you want to enjoy your stay in Morocco without any trouble. I was to be the visiting party and I guess that it's common courtesy to familiarize and adopt the norms of a country when you're visiting it. For starters, conservative clothing- especially for women- are generally preferred in Morocco. While some people advise that you show only the face and hands, I sometimes wore knee-length skirts and despite the occasional frown, I didn't really have any problem. I will, however, seriously advise you against wearing your shortest miniskirt and go out for a walk on the streets! I also heard that they frown upon women in tight clothing. Moreover, my friend told me that it is advisable to avoid any overt, exuberant public displays of affection with your loved one. Kissing and being touchy-feely on the streets might really throw a very damp towel on your trip.


        ****Linguistic Dimension****
        The main language is Arabic but they are extremely fluent in French. They also speak English but at times, it was so heavily accented that we could barely understand a thing. I also heard them speaking Italian and a little bit of Spanish, but much less often than French.


        ****Money, Money, Money.. ****
        A trip to Marrakech might be expensive, but might be cheap also- it all depends on where you'll stay and what you'll do. We spent quite a lot on our luxurious hotel but since we also stayed with my friend, our accommodation budget didn't go over the moon. Also, the food was quite cheap in most restaurants, and the same goes for transport. However, I would recommend that you be careful when selecting your various entertainment and activities because there are plenty of tourists traps about. Marrakech is one of the main touristic cities of Morocco so be particularly careful over there! While there definitely are some expeditions that require guides, many excursions could be carried out independently, and you can save some money as well. The reason why I'm saying that is because during my stay, there were plenty of people who came up to us and offered to make us visit certain places for a rather hefty sum. Of course, you should never, ever go for these bogus guides and while I'm sure they will pester you like they did to us, firmly refuse and look for registered guides instead. And like I mentioned, be sure to haggle a lot in the souks because you can often bring the prices down to half the original price- and haggling is certainly a fun slice of Moroccan culture!
        According to coinmill, one Moroccan Dirham (local currency) today equals to £0.08.


        ****Do I recommend? ****
        If you're interested in experiencing another culture, I definitely do recommend. Marrakech is mystical, picturesque and packed full of culture and exotic oriental traditions. I really did enjoy my trip over there and as short as it was, I think that I did manage to make the best out of my vacation. However, remember that this is an extremely conservative society and be sure to ask your agency about the norms to follow and safety precautions. Don't be put off by the long list of norms and regulations since I personally noticed that as conservative as the locals are, they aren't such a bad bunch. Well, not all of them anyway. Be careful when you travel alone and do your best to be shake off pests in the form of perverts. Of course, like I noticed, the best thing to do would be to go out in groups. But overall, my trip was an exceptional one- full of exotic food and really mystical places to visit.




        ~Thanks for reading~
        (an edited version of this review is found on ciao)

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          18.06.2010 08:14
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          This is definitely among the best perfumes I ever used. I have a penchant for crisp spicy fragrances- and this perfume really does blend everything that I like: Elegance, subtlety, spiciness and freshness. I purchased this in L'Artisan Shop in Paris and I have to say that for once, I had didn't have my customary hard time in selecting the perfume. This one definitely won over me with its very exotic fragrance and freshness. I usually go for more subtle tones but there was nothing subtle about this one: If perfumes had their own strength of characters, I would say that Poivre Piquant would be among the strongest out there! For those who are familiar with Indra (yet another one of my favorite perfumes), I would say that Poive Piquant bears some resemblance to Indra- but it's just more spicy and exuberant and certainly more original. The one downside is that it tends to irritate my skin so I wear it over my clothes, and thankfully, it never ever leaves any stain. I would say that this perfume definitely conveys a sense of mystery, elegance and a subtle hint of sexiness.


          The bottle is similar to other Artisan bottles: Tall, and rather rectangular with a large, flat gold/copper cap. It's transparent and you can easily spot the pale yellowish liquid inside. What I found quite funny was how the perfume looks weak and rather watery in the bottle but it's definitely one of the spiciest scents around. Therefore, I think it's safe to say that the bottle is certainly not an accurate reflection of the fragrance. The firm, solid shape, however, makes it easy to hold and easy to use. It also caps/uncaps very smoothly- something which I genuinely appreciate, especially when I'm in a hurry.


          I have to say that I was extremely pleased at the very first spray. It certainly didn't stink of pepper, like the title suggests, but it was rather an amazing blend of sugar and spice which really does titillate the senses! The dominant scent was definitely a sort of milkfish-peppery smell, topped with something sweet and slightly musky. After the initial scent fades off, something a little more earthly is revealed, maybe a touch of jasmine and most definitely honey. I also recognized some whiffs of sandalwood, but I might have been mistaken on that since the box doesn't include sandalwood on the list of fragrances included in the perfume. However, the sweetness was amazingly present despite the powerful spiciness of the perfume. What truly pleased me, however, was the way in which the perfume managed to remain quite light and refreshing: I certainly expected something heavier and more overpowering, considering the strong spicy scent but I guess that the honey scent masked the heaviness a bit- which is a good thing since am not overly fond of heavy perfumes. In fact, according to the Artisan website, the blend of sugar and spice in this perfume is supposed to be reminiscent of the Indian wedding tradition of mingling sugar and pepper to make life sweet and passionate. I have no idea if that claim is true but I can definitely vouch for the fact that there's something really, really original about the scent- I personally never came across a perfume which could bring to mind both sweetness and blazing spiciness before. Also, I really liked the simplicity of the scent- it smelled spicy, honeyish and slightly musky, nothing more. There were no additional flowery or fruity smells. I would say that after a couple of hours, the spicy smell lightens a bit to reveal a crisper note.


          Like I mentioned above, the staying power is excellent. I can definitely smell it on my clothes the following day. To top it all, I usually have the tendency to spray a huge cloud of perfume in the air and step into it so that it clings to my hair and clothes and believe it or not- this even leaves my bedroom smelling absolutely divine. I would consider this perfume to be both appropriate for day wear as well as evening- but I would personally wear it in lighter doses during the day, especially on hot, sunny days. But this is definitely the perfect fragrance for an elegant evening occasion. However, if you've got sensitive skin, avoid spraying this directly on your skin- I prefer applying it to my clothes since it tends to burn my skin a bit. According to their website, the complete lists of ingredients would be pink peppercorn, white pepper, milk and honey. Except for the milk & honey bits, I would say that the other ingredients are not at all sensitive skin friendly but it thankfully doesn't stain my clothes- therefore not a real drawback.


          Overall, I would most definitely recommend this perfume if you are in the mood for something sweet and spicy. It really does smell of pepper, although it's (thankfully) perfectly masked by the scent of honey and therefore keeps you from smelling like a kitchen. The scent is not at all subtle but it's not overpowering either and the amazing lightness of it keeps you feeling crisp and refreshed. You can buy it from the Artisan website:
          www.artisanperfumeur.us


          The price is £65 for a 500ml bottle. I know it's not that cheap but if you want to indulge, believe me when I say that this perfume is definitely worth every penny!



          ~Thanks for reading~

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          • Dear John (DVD) / DVD / 48 Readings / 47 Ratings
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            17.06.2010 22:54
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            I have to admit that this is one of the rare Nicholas Sparks books which I didn't read before watching the film. But the movie did bear a very strong resemblance to the overall spirit of his other work, The Notebook. This definitely is one of these profound and romantic films, and the best I've watched in a long time. In true Nicholas Spark's style, the story was kept simple but extremely sweet and poignant. And that's not to mention the fact that there was an amazingly sizzling lead actor to feast my eyes on! The acting was just as perfect as the story, and everything was enhanced by the profound chemistry between the lead actors. I've never been one for war movies and usually avoid them as a rule but I have to say that the blend of romance and war was really, really wonderful in the movie.


            John is a young Sergant from the United State Army. He's on leave but since his father is rather introvert, John spends all his time surfing and on the beach. This is where he meets Savannah, a college girl on her spring break. A series of circumstances lead the two of them to start dating and eventually fall in love. But Savannah has to go back to school and John back to the army. They decide to maintain a long-distance relationship through letters, until John's return after a year. However, after the 9/11 attacks, John decides to extend his stay in the army...will their relationship survive after he'd chosen duty over love?


            I think that this is one story which many people can relate to, especially because of the long-distance love theme. Having had a long-distance relationship for a year myself, I have to say that their depiction of long distance love was extremely, extremely accurate. It added a very powerful sense of poignancy to the story- and this was only enhanced by the actors' voice-overs as they read the letters. Since I didn't read the book, I have no idea if the letters have been copied directly out of the book- but I can say that they certainly did carry typical Nicholas Sparks's romanticism. A large part of the movie is based on the reading of the letters and believe me when I say that they truly were deep and extremely intense.


            The acting was quite perfect. I really loved Channing Tatum's depiction of the serious, quiet solider- he somehow managed to pull of his role without appearing too dull or boring. Also, Amanda Seyfried delivered quite a flawless performance. I've previously seen her in films such as Mama Mia or Mean Girls and I really admired the manner in which she managed to switch from her usual preppy girl roles to the intense Savannah in this one. Moreover, like I mentioned, both actors exuded extreme screen presences which was only enhanced by the strong chemistry between them. Their body languages and gestures were in perfect synch to each other and most definitely conveyed the whole sensation of loving and romance.


            Main Cast includes:
            Channing Tatum as John
            Amanda Seyfried as Savannah
            Henry Thomas as Tim
            Scott Porter as Randy
            Richard Jenkins as Bill Tyree
            Keith Robinson as Captain Stone
            Leslea Fisher as Susan


            DVD Extras include:
            Alternate Endings
            Deleted Scenes
            Commentary tracks


            I certainly would have liked to see some more Extras than these, but they were all fantastic. The alternate ending is extremely poignant but I have to say that I liked the ending they kept much better. The deleted scenes were okay, there was nothing overly special about them. But the commentary tracks were really great: One track is by the cast and director and the second is by Nicholas Sparks and the screenplay writer. I found it extremely informative and gave another depiction of the happenings.


            Overall, if you're a fan of Nicholas Sparks' works, this is definitely not one to miss. It's not as amazing as The Notebook but extremely profound and full of feelings. The acting was terrific, the chemistry very much present and the lead actor a total hunk. Highly recommended indeed!



            ~Thanks for reading~

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              17.06.2010 12:22
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              While this perfume holds for quite some time, I don't think this is quite something for me. I received this as a gift but frankly speaking, the overpowering floral smell was a bit too generic for me- not to mention the fact that I seriously risked smelling like a mobile atomizer. However, if you happen to have a penchant for somewhat heavy and intense scents, this might just be the perfume for you. The staying power is quite okay in fact, it lasted for hours when I wore it. I, however, learned the hard way that this cannot be applied on clothes- it stained my clothes and the stain is still refusing to come out! Personally, I found myself smelling a little bit like my granny and her own overpowering floral perfumes when I wore this! Had this been a light floral, I wouldn't have minded it as much but the heaviness of the scent really bugs me.


              The bottle most definitely reflects the scent. Old fashioned and simple, it's literally the kind of bottle which I would personally except to smell very flowery. The bottle is softly rounded and transparent to reveal the pale gold liquid inside, and it's topped with a nice white cap. It's however, not that easy to hold and might slip quite easily. Another issue that I've got with this bottle is that the cap gets a bit tricky to open and close- the shape means that I usually have to jiggle it to close the perfume again, and that's usually quite annoying when I'm in a hurry.


              As soon as you open the bottle, the predominant scent is definitely a blend of Roses and Freesias. If you ask me, these two flowers smell quite overpowering on their own and it might not have been such a great idea to blend them together. Moreover, the first spray carries a very strong whiff of alcohol- or at least this particular generic smell which you usually get in air fresheners. Thankfully, the initial smell doesn't take long to lighten up and it soon reveals other, more pleasant smells. I would say that it the secondary smells are just a touch fruity, maybe something like papaya or melon. While these scents would have been great on their own, I'm not overly fond of a blend of papaya, rose and freesias. There was also a hint of something a little more spicy or musky and this was definitely followed by sandalwood. Moreover, according to the box, this perfume is also supposed to contain honeydew and some other earthly fragrances, along with jasmine (as if it needed more floral), but frankly speaking, these were extremely hard to discern under the powerful floral smells. I was quite dismayed to see that while the rose-freesia smell lightened up a bit after some time, the overall perfume remained quite heavy and too intense for me.


              It's also quite powdery to the skin and that's definitely not a pleasant sensation. Also, I would certainly say that one spray is more than enough- the smell is really too heavy for me to spray more than once. That's quite a shame because I usually like to be spray myself extremely liberally before I leave home. But it definitely has plenty of staying power. In fact, this really clings to the clothes and I would smell it all over my blouse the following day- which wasn't such a good thing since I truly am not fond of this perfume. But if you're interested in the perfume, you definitely won't be disappointed by the staying power because it's really, really strong. Just wear it over your clothes like I did because it really causes ugly stains.


              The good thing is that it seems to be gentle on sensitive skin. This is supposed to contain alcohol but it must be in quite low doses since my skin neither burned nor got irritated- and believe me when I say that my skin's sensitive enough to flare up at the very first drop of an alcohol-filled perfume. If I were to wear this perfume again (which I seriously doubt I will), this is not something I would wear for an evening, neither for an important daytime occasion. It's rather something which I would consider suitable for rather boring family gatherings, job interviews or the likes, because according to me, this perfume is too dull, too overpowering and too generic smelling for other occasions.


              Overall, I would recommend this only if you happen to like heavy flowery smells. It's a bit too generic for me but my best friend happen to like it, so maybe I don't like this so much because it's simply not my style at all. The staying power is really great, though, so you might be entirely pleased with it if floral's your thing. Not for me, I'm afraid!


              Unfortunately, while Amazon stocks other Clarins perfumes, this particular one is not available over there. But you can purchase it on the following site- with worldwide free shipping:
              http://www.fragrancex.com


              The price is at £42.96 for a 50ml bottle.


              ~Thanks for Reading~

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                17.06.2010 08:17
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                I've always loved Yves Rocher products and the Yves Rocher Jardins du Monde fragrances. Comme une Evidence was the first time I was stepping out of the Jardins du Monde perfumes and while it's an okay-smelling perfume, I don't think that I'll be buying it again. Frankly speaking, this doesn't smell like any perfume I've tried before- it has a somewhat husky, woody smell which I wouldn't ordinarily go for but there was that particular originality about the blend of fragrances which made me want to purchase it. The smell is nice, but the staying power is rather weak. Also, I found myself not wanting to wear it often because as original as the smell might be, there is something a little synthetic or artificial about it which put me off a bit. I usually go for Yves Rocher because of the very low doses of alcohol which their perfumes contain, since I have extremely sensitive skin, but this one flared my skin up a little.


                The bottle is quite gorgeous actually: Small, square and pink. It's really simple and firm to the grip, therefore allowing fantastic ease of use. The same perfume can also come in other, taller bottles in other shapes but I have to admit that I personally prefer this one- looks more original and elegant, and complete with bear spray (which again facilitates ease of application). However, I don't think that the bottle is an accurate reflection of the perfume itself since I didn't really find anything elegant about the smell, even if it smelled really original.


                The smell which is most dominant on the first spray is undoubtedly floral: I would say a blend of lily of the valley and something like green tea or the likes. This is very rapidly followed by more earthly scents like musk, sandalwood, and it's also supposed to contain oak moss but I'm not sure what oak moss is supposed to smell like so I can't really identify this in the perfume. It however, does smell very, very outdoorsy and slightly exotic. It's not really a spicy perfume but comes close to it. I would say that it's a blend of oriental and tropical scent. The mélange of woodsy and floral really does produce an extremely original scent and this was surprising to me since Yves Rocher perfumes usually include fruity scents. I don't however recall smelling anything remotely fruity in this one. In fact, after the initial lily of the valley scent fades off a bit, another blend of floral scent whiffs off; I can't be entirely sure but I believe that it's a blend of roses and something mossy or leafy, but definitely woodsy. I have to say that the fragrance does provide an overall impression of freshness and really does bring to mind the various scents of nature and woods.


                However, on a darker note, one of the reasons why I don't think that I'll be purchasing this again is because of its rather weak staying power. For me, this perfume is definitely daywear and not at all suitable for evenings and believe me when I say that this does not stand a chance in a hot summer's day. If I wear it in the morning, it can be completely gone by eleven or noon- it barely (or doesn't even) stick to skin or clothes. Also, like I mentioned in my other perfume reviews, I tend to be quite liberal with the atomizer and really do put on a lot of perfume before I go out but I unfortunately cannot do that with Comme une Evidence. While it's a rather light and airy perfume, I noticed that more than a few sprays will result in an extremely heavy, extremely intense and quite overpowering smell which doesn't fade away easily- until it just completely evaporates altogether!


                Like I said, this also tends to irritate my skin a bit. While it thankfully doesn't cause the burning sensation which I get with some other perfumes, it definitely leaves my skin tingling and reddish in color. However, the good news is that I can apply it on my clothes since it doesn't stain at all. I even tried it with a satin blouse and there wasn't any stain- but after a couple of hours, there also wasn't any perfume either. If you buy this perfume, I personally find it suited for day-wear: casual dates, lunches or job interviews. This is not something which I would wear at night or for more formal occasions since as great as it smells, the perfume is more outdoorsy than elegant.


                I think it's a real shame about the staying power because it really did smell extremely divine and original. Overall, three stars for the smell and two off for the weak staying power and for not being gentle on sensitive skin. This is available for purchase on the Yves Rocher website:
                www.yvesrocher.co.uk


                The price is £35.00 for a 30ml bottle.


                ~Thanks for reading~

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                • More +
                  16.06.2010 23:10
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                  Contrary to other Tintin books, The Seven Crystal Balls was published in a newspaper called Le Soir in 1943. This is the thirteenth book in the series and is preceeded by Red Rackham's Treasure. The reason why I personally like this book is mainly because of the very powerful exotic themes which occur: Incas, crystal balls, spells, mysterious illness...this episode is definitely a far cry from Tintin's gangsters and criminals or petty thieves, but is quite an enjoyable and extremely captivating one. The story itself revolves around ancient curses and as usual, Hergé based himself on real-life anecdotes about ancient Egyptian curses. It certainly did provide a break from the political themes which usually surround the episodes.


                  Tintin and his friends are perplexed: Seven m embers of an archaeological expedition who recently came back from an Incan tomb are all being affected by some mysterious illness. They're all falling in deep coma only to be awakened by mysterious, albeit invisible torture which plagues all of them at exactly the same time everyday. The only clue to their investigation is crystal fragments that are constantly by the ground next to the victims. Tintin and his friends go to the last surviving explorer and visit his house, but the strange events follow them there...Meanwhile, Professor Calculus puts on bracelet which he found in the garden and suddenly disappears the following day...


                  The feeling of danger is certainly present in this episode, but I would say that it's more subtle and less prominent than in other books. It's more like a very slow built up of tension and danger which would finally climax in the next episode, Prisoners of the Sun. I particularly liked this slow built-up of danger in this book; it certain differed from Hergé's usual style. Another different element which I loved about this book was Captain Haddock. Like I mentioned, this episode followed Red Rackham's treasure, whereby the Captain strikes it rich and goes to live in the manor. This book depicts Captain Haddock in an entirely new light. I really smiled when I saw him dressed in a very aristocratic manner, wearing monocles and trying to horse ride. This new dimension to the Captain really did lighten the mood and often acted as really effective tension breaks.


                  Yet another difference was in the manner in which Hergé started the story: Instead of diving straight in the adventure, he introduced the plot beforehand for once and really prepared the readers for the rather complex plot. I think that this might be due to the fact that concepts were quite unfamiliar, at least to me. The slow pace was therefore quite nice in the sense that it helped me in feeling comfortable with the whole themes of curses and ancient Incan legends before delving in the main plot. In fact, the overall sensation of mysticism and exoticness was enhanced by elements such as a show featuring hypothesis and mind readings and the likes. I was truly bowled over by such additions to the story.


                  Overall, I certainly will recommend this book both to those who are familiar with Tintin and those who have never read it before. It's filled with intrigue and suspense and the adventure is constantly punctuated by mysticism and exotic elements. I've also read the sequel and can definitely say that this book is a stunning start to the following one. Highly recommended!


                  ~Thanks for Reading~

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                  16.06.2010 15:34
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                  I usually love Christian Lacroix's stuff- but I've never tried a Lacroix perfume before this one. And I don't think I ever will. When it comes to buying perfume, I'm quite biased in the sense that I judge the perfume by the price first- the more expensive usually means better quality and I really should have kept that in mind when purchasing this one. I have to say that the very trendy bottle really drew me in- along with the really great smell on the tester. But as beautiful as the bottle was, it was filled with empty promises and nothing else. The perfume smells nice at first, but after the initial sweetness wears off, it ends up smelling quite strange- and that's not to mention the fact that it barely lasted two hours. When I wore this, I had to constantly re-touch on perfume- and this really annoyed me because the majority of my perfumes are long-lasting ones. That's not to mention the fact that this is not at all gentle on sensitive skin and really burned me at first.


                  The bottle is definitely eye catching and alluring: The box itself is a very zesty, very summery blend of yellow and blue; the same colors that are vividly splashed all over the bottle. Moreover, it's very softly rounded in a rather oval and slightly rectangular manner which allows a firm grip and ease of use. The cap is just as beautiful in transparent blue. This was by every means, the bottle of my dreams and literally the kind that doesn't make me pause before whipping it up in my purchases.


                  The perfume promises a zesty blend of jasmine, vanilla, pear, apricot and must to make you feel alive and energized. Frankly speaking, when I spray it, there's an overwhelming, albeit sweet smell of jasmine and pear. It's quite overpowering but gradually fades to something which can be described as a blend of zesty, fruity and sweet. I still had strong hopes pinned upon this fragrance since despite the somewhat heavy scent; it smelled quite nice and original. I think I've never had a perfume with pear before and it certainly added a touch of fun to the overall smell. But barely thirty minutes (or so) later, the perfume had really lightened up and revealed strange notes of musk, roses, and something fruity but not at all pleasant. I have no idea what that mélange was but whatever it was, it was really far from being nice. Truth be told, it was rather like stale or really, really old perfume, or like these really, really cheap colognes that are packed with alcohol. The floral scent was still very much present but by then, all fruity smells seemed to have evaporated- which was a shame since the sweet pear smell was among the main factors that encouraged me to buy this in the first place. In fact, the blend of pear along with floral notes brought to mind tropical smells that was so wonderful that I just couldn't help but feel seriously disillusioned when it wore off so, so quickly.


                  In trying to remain true to the fun-packed spirit of this perfume, I'd worn it to a party and like I said, the perfume was extremely short-lasting. I had to (very unwillingly) retouch every few hours; in a way that was a good thing since the fresh application masked the rather weird smell that emerges after the base notes wear off. I do know that I shouldn't complain that much at the price I paid for it but I was seriously miffed since this is a Christian Lacroix product. I think that despite the fact that it seems to evaporate after barely an hour, I would still have liked this perfume had it retained the initial sweet-fruity smell, instead of fading into the bizarre scent.


                  Overall, recommended for short-time use only (or if you just want a pretty bottle to place on your vanity table). Be really careful if you have sensitive skin though since this is not sensitive skin friendly. The initial scent is good but shame about the weird smell. I don't think that I'll be buying this one again. However, if you want to try it out, it's available on Amazon.uk at £9.60 for a 30ml bottle. Good thing I paid only about £5 for mine!



                  ~Thanks for reading~

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                    16.06.2010 12:37
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                    I think that this episode is the most calm and less adventurous Tintin adventure ever. But that doesn't mean that this is a boring book- quite on the opposite, the addition of Bianca Castafiore to the episode provides some delightful laughs and hilarious instances, especially some which involved the ever-grumpy Captain Haddock. I think that to those who followed the series in order, this one must certainly provide quite a nice and somewhat peaceful break from all the rather dangerous and thrilling books in the whole series. I read somewhere that this particular episode was rather a narrative exercise by Hergé, whereby he would see whether he could maintain suspense in a plot where nothing much happens. I can most assuredly say that the suspense is very much present through the whole story- despite the fact that it's quite light, fun and preppy than the other book.


                    Captain Haddock and Tintin are taking a stroll through the countryside when they come across a Gypsy family living in pitiful conditions. The Captain invites them to stay on the grounds of his large estate. On his return back home, he learns that Bianca Castafiore, famous and eccentric opera singer will be coming to stay for a few days. In his rush to run off to Italy and hence avoid meeting the somewhat irritating singer, Captain Haddock trips over the stairs and ends up in a wheelchair. Now he has to endure Castafiore while he's trapped in a wheelchair, and reporters are making stories up about a romantic affair between the Captain and the singer. To make matters worse, her precious jewels suddenly get stolen...


                    I loved the manner in which Hergé depicted the relationship between Captain Haddock and Bianca Castafiore. If you ask me, these characters two really drew out the most comical elements in each other- not to mention how they seemed to have quite some strong chemistry and this only served in enhancing the comical elements present in the story. Like I said earlier, the whole story has a rather preppy note to it and this was only enhanced by the really, really hilarious scenes which involve the Captain and his eccentric house guest. I think that the most special element all through the story is the general air of fun that lingers- even after the theft and the investigation. It was quite another experience to see Tintin in the middle of an investigation under such a light-heartened note, and while I was expecting something really, really dramatic to occur, Hergé went completely against his general stylistic devices in this book and maintained an amazingly casual atmosphere, in spite of the suspense. Also, to add to the already funny happenings, some other minor comical elements are added in the form of Nestor as well as the Thompson & Thomson pair. However, I would say that for once, humor was mostly based on the Captain rather than the two detectives.



                    Overall, this is not the most adventurous Tintin episode ever, nor is it the most thrilling one out there. But I will still recommend this book for sheer entertainment factor and giggles that it provided. Bianca Castafiore is according to me, one of the greatest and most developed characters of Hergé- she's a rather recurring character in the series and often appears in various episodes to provide breaks from tension. Hergé manipulated this character in such a way that I just can't help but laugh out loud whenever I see her in any other Tintin episode- which is why I simply adored the fact that she ended up having her own episode where she shines amongst the main protagonists. This book is filled with good-humor, a wonderful dose of suspense and plenty of fun: Most certainly recommended!



                    ~Thanks for reading~

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                      15.06.2010 23:08
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                      I never even imagined that perfume could shimmer until I received this Molton Brown as a gift. At first I thought it was one of these body oil shimmer but to my surprise, this ended up being perfume which literally adds a glow to your skin. Of course, this only encouraged me to indulge very liberally, often spraying my arms and cleavage with the perfume, just to have that particular shimmer. But even if I tend to use this too liberally, the perfume never comes across as being too overpowering. On the contrary, it remains amazingly light and very, very exotic. I have to admit that I was a little bit apprehensive with the ginger bit- I'm not much of a ginger fan and wasn't overly keen to smell like one but to my very pleasant surprise, the ginger scent was very artificial and quite nice-smelling.


                      The bottle exudes typical Molton Brown simplicity. Like nearly all of the other products, this perfume comes in a large oval bottle, which allows a nice, firm grip. There's definitely not much chance of it slipping from your hand with this shape! The bottle is transparent and reveals the rich-looking, reddish liquid inside. I have to admit that the box is much more elegant than the bottle: Its earthly tone does bring to mind oriental and exotic fragrances, which I believe is an exact reflection of the fragrance itself.


                      The smell was quite simply divine. The first spray literally transported me back to the time when I visited India. I was expecting this perfume to have an oriental appeal; I just didn't expect it to be so, so refreshing, exotic and delicious. The very first smell was definitely ginger and cardamom. But worry not- there's no way you'll be smelling like a kitchen (I was seriously worried about that!) because like I mentioned earlier, the ginger/cardamom smells are quite artificial- and not in a bad way. They just smell like very sweet, polished and yet spicy, far from the real kitchen deal. The initial spray is heavy but lightens considerably after some minutes and reveals some other exotic fragrances such as musk, sandalwood and if I'm not mistaken, there's also just a tiny little touch of something flowery. According to the ingredients, this is supposed to contain ginger, sandalwood, cardamom, Indian tuberose and golden micro-particles (for the shimmer). I honestly don't recall any whiff of the tuberose but I loved the way in which the gingery-cardamom smell blended with the musky scent. If you ask me, the spiciness of this perfume adds a very alluring and appealing dimension to it.


                      To enhance what, according to me, is one of the most wonderful fragrances I ever experienced, this perfume is rather long-lasting. It doesn't linger for hours but hold for quite some time. I found that only two applications are required during one whole day. This perfume seems rather okay for both day and evening wear- it's intense but not overpowering and the oriental ingredients add a very exotic appeal to it. However, I prefer to use it at night so that I can make the most out of the shimmery particles. Honestly, if I'm liberal with his perfume, I barely have to use any other shimmer oil. And like I said, it's an intense fragrance but not so heavy that you can't use it in liberal amounts to really draw the shimmer out. The shimmer gives you a faint, golden glow, rather than gold fake tan. I noticed, however, that the shimmer can rub off quite easily and has a tendency to stick to clothes. Having said that, if you're interested in the fragrance and not the shimmer, it would therefore be quite easy to rub the glow off.


                      Overall, I will certainly recommend this product. It's mild on sensitive skin, lasts for quite some time and the scent is extremely oriental and spicy. The shimmer seems like an added bonus to an already perfect product. The perfume is not available on Amazon, but you can get it on www.moltonbrown.com at £30.53 for a 100ml bottle.

                      Molton Brown strikes again!



                      ~Thanks for reading~

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                        15.06.2010 15:55
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                        Like most of the Tintin comics, Tintin in America was first published in Le Petit Vingtieme in 1931. This episode definitely reflects some of the real-life happenings at the time, mainly about gangsters such as Al Capone and the riots caused by rival gangs. I will not say that this is my favorite Tintin book: While the illustrations and adventure are as wonderful as ever, it was a bit too dark for me, which is why I tend to favour the later, and somewhat lighter Tintin episodes. This in fact follows Tintin in Congo and continues on the same theme of Tintin clearing the city of gangsters.


                        World-famous reporter and his world-famous dog, Snowy are now heading for Chicago to continue his mission of capturing the fearful Al Capone and his henchmen. He temporarily captures him but the police refuses to believe his claim and a series of circumstances lead to Al Capone escaping yet again. Bobby Smiles, Capone's greatest rival, is also a gangster and invites Tintin to join his gang. But when Tintin refuses, he finds himself with not only Al Capone but also Bobby Smiles on his tracks. Will he be able to clear the city of the greatest gangsters?


                        Along with it being rather dark, I also didn't like this particular adventure because it has too many stories that weave in and out- making it quite tough for me to follow. The adventures are all very complicated and the number of gangsters that Tintin has to capture means a number of fights and escapes and in the end, it turned out to be a little overwhelming for me. Also, there were plenty of repetitive patterns in this episode: Tintin often catches a gang which escapes and he captures them again and they escape again....and the same pattern occurred with most of the other people that he has to capture. At some point, the repetition took the luster out of the adventure because it took the suspense out of it all.


                        On a brightener note, however, this also has an exotic appeal since Tintin ends up among Red Indians and this lead to some Western scenes reminiscent of Lucky Luke. I personally liked these bits because they are quite original and rather rare scenes for Tintin: In all the episodes I've read, very few depict the ace reporter in the typical Western scenes which include ropes, horses, lassos and guns. I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression about this book: The adventure was certainly an exhilarating and quite well-crafted one, but it just wasn't my kind of read at all- which is why I'm not overly fond of this particular Tintin book.


                        Overall, I will recommend it to you if you like rather lengthy, and very action-packed adventures filled with the world's toughest gangsters. Not for me, but an okay read all the same.



                        ~Thanks for reading~

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                        15.06.2010 12:13
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                        I paid quite a fortune for this perfume when I was in Italy earlier this year- but so far, I've had no regrets with it. One thing which I truly despise is splurging out on a rather expensive perfume only to find that it barely lasts, therefore encouraging constant re-touches. That's not to mention the fact that this is an Eau de Cologne- and it's therefore very hard to retouch on cologne when you're on a date! This might not be as handy as a perfume spray but this cologne can be used both under and over clothes, without staining or running the fabric. I've had some cologne that caused havoc when I tried to dab a little bit on my clothes in the past- and this is thankfully not one of them. Moreover, I have a tendency to dab a little bit of cologne on my wrists and neck and like I mentioned in a previous perfume review, my skin usually burn like hell. I was therefore extremely pleased to note that there was absolutely no burning/tingling sensation with this one- it seems quite okay to be used on sensitive skin like mine.


                        As usual, it was the packaging which caught my eye first: Believe me when I say that the dooyoo picture above certainly does no justice to the marvellous and extremely elegant packaging of this cologne. It comes in a beautifully rounded gold box that instantly inspires elegance and class. The bottle itself is quite simple, but just as elegant- large, round and transparent in order to show the gold cologne inside, and is topped by a simple large silver cap. I think that it was the simplicity of the bottle that first caught my eye: I've rarely seen such elegance despite the simplicity of it all. Moreover, I also tend to see how easy it is to hold the bottle because I tend to be quite clumsy, and this one is really very firm to the grip- I don't think there's much chance of me dropping this bottle! The large neck also allows quite a liberal flow of the cologne, a bit too liberal if you ask me since it also encourages you to use more cologne than you really need.


                        This cologne is supposedly aimed at both men and women- but I personally wouldn't find it suitable for men, at least not according to the way I like men to smell! There's a very, very strong whiff of citrus which emerges as soon as I open the bottle and I have to admit that the very powerful scent initially put me off. It was too heavy and intense for me but I noticed that after I dab it on my skin, the heaviness tends to lighten up and gives way to other fragrances. The citrus smell is still there, and followed by rose and other fruity and flowery smell. While citrus remains the dominant fragrance, the cologne blends fruity with flowery and I would say that there's just a teeny tiny bit of musk. This is also supposed to contain sandalwood but frankly speaking, I failed to recognize it under the fruity-floral smell- it just wasn't powerful enough. Like the packaging, even the smell is simple yet elegant and I truly feel like a million pounds when I wear this. There's also something a bit satiny about the smell which only enhances the elegance of it all. I have to say, however, that when I first dab it on my skin, it feels a little bit powdery, but this also wears off after a few minutes. In the whole blend of fruity-flowery smell, the ones that remain most prominent after a couple of hours are definitely iris and citrus. There are also faint hints of ylang-ylang and vanilla.


                        Like I said, I found that one generous application of this cologne is enough to last for quite some time. After a few hours, the cologne does not fade away but rather lightens to give way so some secondary fragrances that are included. I tend to favor this perfume for evening wear since it's a little too heavy for me to wear during the day. It's not as heavy as the initial scent but just a tad too intense for daylight, according to me. Actually, it's not the kind of perfume which I would feel comfortable with for something formal or job interviews or the likes- as elegant as it might be, there is a hint of sexiness, fun and just a tad intimidating about the scent. There's nothing subtle about this cologne, which is why it's rather something I would prefer when going out with my friends, parties or on dates.


                        Overall, this is certainly one Eau de Cologne which I would recommend if you want to indulge yourself. There are cheaper colognes out there but this one is really long-lasting and provides an extremely elegant smell. It's not overpowering, but not that light either so be careful where you wear it to. I checked Amazon but the cologne is currently unavailable on there. You can, however, purchase this on this American site for $148.00 and free shipping to the UK:
                        http://www.strawberrynet.com


                        Very highly recommended!



                        ~Thanks for reading~

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