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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you will have heard of JK Rowling's series of books about the boy wizard Harry Potter. This is the first book in the series and is an audio version read by the inimitable Stephen Fry. I am a massive fan of both Harry Potter and Stephen Fry, so this is very much a match made in heaven for me.
The story is exactly the same as you would find in the standard written version of the book; it is unabridged, so there is nothing missing. The story follows Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry including his forming of friendships and meeting the dark wizard who made him an orphan when he was a baby.
The audio production is great. It is very much made great by Stephen Fry who not so much reads the story as acts it using his voice. He is perfect for the role. He has a soothing and clear voice that is suited wonderfully to this book which can and should be enjoyed by children and adults alike. He reads slowly and clearly enough that anyone can enjoy it, without it being too slow and laborious for more advanced readers, as it were.
When I say he acts with his voice, I mean that he gives characters their own personalities through their voices and brings to life JK Rowling's intentions perfectly. I read the written books before listening to the audio ones and somehow Fry has made them sounds like they did in my own head, which is just fabulous.
The thing I love most about the production here is that it is purely storytelling and they don't try to dress it up with sound effects and background music like some productions do. The story and the teller are both excellent at what they do and there is no need for any extras. It is good to see that the producers of the audiobook have recognised this and left them to it.
The only thing that has stopped me from giving it the full five stars is the fact that Fry is still finding his feet a bit in this book and so some of the voices are a little irritating in that they are very childish. Having said that, the main characters are only eleven so it probably makes sense. I find Hermione's voice a little grating and Harry's a little too high pitched in this book and the voices are less irritating in the later books.
Don't let that put you off though, because the audio books are a great way of enjoying the Harry Potter books and are an excellent example of storytelling at its best. Definitely recommended for young and old alike.
I have to wear navy blue court shoes for work and it is the bane of my life having to find them because so few people stock navy blue shoes, let alone ones that fit the strict guidelines that my work impose upon us. Fortunately these ones by Clarks do fit all the criterea in that they are navy blue court shoes that are totally plain in every way!
I bought these the year before last. When I wear shoes to work, I have to admit that they get beaten up something chronic and generally only last a season. These ones lasted a little more than eight months, which is actually very good despite how little that might sound. I was really pleased with the durability of them and the fact that they still looked fairly new for quite a long while with only a little bit of polish here and there. The heals lasted well on them too. I often find that I have to get the heels on my shoes replaced at least once during a season, but these lasted the whole time which is nothing short of a miracle in my opinion.
The look of them is quite stylish. I can't get excited about them because they are what they are, which is very plain, navy blue courts shoes. Having said that they do have a nice kitten style heel and a trendy rounded toe. The shoes are comfortable to wear too, which is what you expect from the Clarks brand.
The only thing that I am not so keen on is the price. As you can imagine with having to buy the shoes so often, I don't like to spend a lot of money on them. At just over forty pounds a pair, these are more than I usually like to pay. I got them in the sale for thirty pounds and I think for that money I would recommend them.
I got these socks for a birthday present a couple of years ago. I have to admit that, despite being perhaps too old to, I still love Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh themed things. In fact I think more of my socks have Winnie the Pooh characters on that don't.
This set or some of my favourites for a few reasons. Firstly they are pink themed. I am not a particularly girly girl but the colour of these suits the theme of the socks and the pictures that they have on them. They have Eeyore and piglet on who are both pinky coloured characters, so match the colours perfectly.
Secondly, the socks are really cute and have good pictures on them. Sometimes you get cheap versions and the pictures aren't good but these are very good and quite bold so that they are immediately recognisable.
The socks fit well and are very comfortable. They aren't too tight around the ankle either as some socks can be, although I have had no problems with them satying up when I am wearing them. I have had them a couple of years and they are still as good as new despite two years of heavy duty wear and heavy duty washing!
I would definitely recommend them. They are available for around eight pounds for the set of three pairs of socks so they aren't too expensive and are good value for money, especially for Disney branded items. They would make an excellent gift idea - I certainly enjoyed receiving them as a gift!
I bought this parka from Next at the beginning of summer. It cost sixty pounds and was and is available in black and green. I have the green one and i absolutely love it. It is the perfect jacket for those spring summer and autumn days when the weather is too cool to go without a coat, but it is not cold enough for a big thick coat.
It is a pretty trendy coat and looks like a traditional parka jacket with a hood and tails at the back. I am generally a size 12 to 14 but the size 12 in this was a very comfortable fit so I would recommend going for the lower size if you are between sizes like me. It is adjustable at the waist too which makes the fit even better and gives it a really nice shape when you are wearing it.
The material is waterproof which is excellent for the UK weather and it has a light cotton lining which does an excellent job of keeping you warm or cool as necessary. It zips up all the way to the neck and has buttons as well so it can be very cosy if it is a little bit windy.
The only thing that I don't like about it is that hood is not adjustable so when it is windy it doesn't stay up which can be pretty annoying.
Apart from that, I would highly recommend this jacket for it versatility and decent value for money.
I have been through some watches at work. I have to wear a plain black one at all times and so I have tried a few different kinds. I always find that Sekonda ones are the best because I don''''t like to spend too much because they do get battered and bruised. This one was a little bit more than I usually pay and to be honest, it probably wasn''''t worth the extra.
The watch is extremely simple and classic in design in that it has a thin black, almost snakeskin effect strap, a small white face with gold surround and black numbers and a gold buckle. I hasten to add that neither of the gold bits are real gold, simply plated as you would expect for the price.
The watch is quite comfortable to wear. I have very thin wrists so I struggle with larger watch faces and find that they can dig into my wrist. Not a problem with this one at all. I also find sometimes with cheap watches that the skin underneath can get a bit sweaty, but this doesn''''t seem to be a problem with this one.
The watch is easy to use, just the one dial at the side for changing the time. It is easy to do this, although a little fiddly and the dial is pretty stiff for the first couple of times that you try to use it. It loosens up a bit over time and becomes much easier to manage.
The watch strap isn''''t particularly good quality and I found that it wasn''''t very long before the shiny effect on the strap began to show signs of wear and tear by cracking which is obviously not good. I also lost one of the little loops that holds the strap in place quite soon after buying it, which was quite annoying.
Overall I would probably give this watch a miss though because you can get very similar ones for a lot less money. This one cost me £25 but I have had a very similar one from Asda for £5 and the latter one lasted quite a bit longer actually. For the money, I don''''t think it is worth it really.
We bought this oven about six months ago when our previous once finally bit the dust after promising to for some time. We have a an inbuilt single oven and so were limited to what we could replace ours with and this one had surprisingly good reviews considering how cheap it is. We also struggled with choice because we needed a white one as we weren''''t planning to replace the hob top, which is white. We are generally pleased with our choice in this oven actually.
There are many good things about it. Firstly the price is unbelievable. At a penny under a hundred pounds, it is by far and away the cheapest on the market. It is available from Currys both in store and online, although if you do the latter, you can end up paying more for the delivery and installation that the item itself. Hubby installed ours by himself and found that it was simple and easy to do and you don''''t need any specific qualifications. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, although installing was a two person job and a little bit fiddly, simply because it is an inbuilt oven.
Other good things about the oven are the fact that it is plain and simple. So many of them these days look like works of art, this one looks like an oven. There are two dials on it and that is it, which makes it fantastically easy to use. There are quite a few functions on it that make it useful and the instruction manual that comes with it is very handy in this respect. For a budget option, there is plenty of space inside actually. Probably only really enough for a family of two or three, but the design of it means that the capacity is actually a lot bigger than others o the same size because it is quite deep. The oven comes with two trays - one a grill tray and the other a giant oven tray, that has a huge capacity.
So, so far it sounds perfect, but there are some things that aren''''t quite so perfect about it. Firstly it smells pretty strong when it is new and for the first few cooking sessions. It is that smell of newness and it is strong. It does wear off after about five or six uses though and it gets noticeably better even after the first use. Secondly there is no clock on the front of this for timing which we have got round, but is a little inconvenient. Thirdly there is only one shelf in the oven plus the oven tray. I guess this makes two, but when I put a tray on top of the tray, I find that the food doesn''''t cook as well because of the circulation. Two actual shelves would have been more useful I think.
Overall I would recommend this because it cooks well and is a bargain! Great budget cooker!
I work with perfumes, so I have a lot of them for different occasions. I am not a collector of bottles like some people, but I do get a lot of samples and so on. On of the ones I have is this Viva La Juicy by Juicy Couture. I''''ll be honest, Juicy Couture is not my thing at all, but this perfume is quite nice actually.
The scent is what they call floral (they being the experts) but I think there is more than a hint of fruitiness to it. It has topnotes of wild berries and mandarin, the latter of which you can definitely smell because it has a citrus twist to it. I think this is what makes it a nice scent for me personally because otherwise I think it would be too flowery. The floral scent comes from the heart notes of gardenia, jasmine and honeysuckle. I honestly think that either of these things (the fruit or the floral) by themselves would be too much, but there is an almost perfect balance of the two to make quite a refreshing and nice fragrance.
The fragrance is quite light and summery and very much a day one. I think it is a fragrance for a younger person as well if I am being honest. It would suit someone in their late teens or early twenties I would say, so it would make a perfect gift. I am ahem mid thirties ahem and I think it is possibly a bit too young for me, much as I am loathe to admit it!
The bottle is very reminiscent of a sweet wrapper I would say, although I think it is designed to look like a traditional perfume bottle with the traditional glass stopper style top (although it is actually a standard squirty bottle). It is quite a nice bottle I suppose but it has a little pink bow on it that makes it look a little bit tacky actually I think! There are also a couple of little charms thrown in for good measure if that is your thing.
The perfume hasn''''t got a lot of staying power I don''''t think. I can''''t really smell it any more after a couple of hours of using it and that makes it not particularly good value for money at around thirty five pounds a for a 30ml bottle. Not bad if you can get it discounted and would make a nice present for a younger person, but not the best in my opinion.
I have got to admit that this watch is not really my cup of tea because it is so blingy. I actually won it at work (pretty good prize actually), but I wouldn''t have chosen it for myself if I am being honest. Having said that, it is not the worst watch in the world, especially if you are into bling, without completely breaking the bank. The watch has a rhodium plated case and bracelet which is adorned with 579 Swarovski crystals and a mother of pearl face. It does look quite nice and it is much nicer on your wrist than it is in any picture. It is definitely a night time watch for when you are going out and I would certainly say it is not really suitable for every day wear. But it would look good with diamond or diamante jewellery on a night out. The thing I like about the watch is that it is small. I have very thin wrists and I often find that watches just look ridiculous on them because they are far too big. This is not the case with this one at all. I''d say that the face is about one and a half centimetres in diameter and the strap about a centimetre, maybe a little bit bigger but not much. It fits perfectly on small wrists but would stand out enough on bigger wrists that it would look odd. The watch costs about 120GBP although you can get it for less online and in duty free if you look hard enough. I would say that this is probably good value for money really because it is well made. I have had mine for over a year and it still looks exactly the same as when I got it and none of the crystals have fallen out. Overall I have given the watch three out of five because it is a nice watch, it is just not really the watch for me.
We recently got back from a week in Dalyan, Turkey and during our stay we visited Itzuzu beach, which is more affectionately known as Turtle Beach, thanks to the loggerhead and green turtles that nest there. The beach is well worth a visit if you are in the area because it really is beautiful and there is plenty to do when you get there.
Getting there from Dalyan is easy because you can either get the Dolmus bus or the public boat, both of which are easy to find in the town. Both cost about a pound each way and I would recommend getting one one way and the other back, especially if you fancy a walk along the beach at the other end. They both drop off at opposite ends of the beach from each other though, so if you don't want the walk, then make sure you get a return ticket. In both cases you have to wait for them to fill up before they set off, but they generally go once every hour for the boat and once every half hour for the bus. The bus is smaller so fills up quicker, but if you get the boat bat, it tends to fill up much quicker at the other end. There is also the option of renting a private boat for the day but that is more expensive if there aren't many of you. We recently got back from a week in Dalyan, Turkey and during our stay we visited Itzuzu beach, which is more affectionately known as Turtle Beach, thanks to the loggerhead and green turtles that nest there. The beach is well worth a visit if you are in the area because it really is beautiful and there is plenty to do when you get there.
When you get there, you'll find a cafe, toilets, showers and sunbeds at either end of the beach. The prices aren't the cheapest in the cafe because they have a captive audience, but you can get sandwiches, burgers, chips and so on. At the bus end of the beach is where you'll find the Turtle hospital, which is well worth a visit. It is free to enter although they do ask for a donation and one of the guides there (who are mainly university students volunteering) will talk to you about the turtles and answer any questions. Like I said, well worth going into.
The views from the beach are absolutely outstanding. I thought it looked like somewhere in the Caribbean actually and half expected one of the pirate ships from Pirates of the Caribbean to come around the corner at any moment. Because it is a cove, it can get windy, but walking down the beach from one end to the other takes about an hour and is well worth it because it is so peaceful and beautiful.
Overall definitely recommended.
I am new to the primer world. I was using Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, but found that it wasn't doing my skin any favours after a while, so I thought I would try this one by Smashbox that comes complete with rave reviews all over the internet. It seems that this is with good reason. The 30ml bottle costs twenty five pounds directly from the Smashbox website at the time of writing this review, although it is available in other places online for slightly less if you have the patience to look. I would definitely recommend the primer because I genuinely think it does an excellent job and that it is very good value for money. It may seem expensive on the face of it because it is a small bottle and it is pricey, but you only need to use a tiny amount each time because a little goes a long way. I have found that it really does make my make up stay on much longer too, which means I don't need to reapply it through the day (thus saving more money in the long term.) The cream is easy to get out of the squeezy bottle and you don't end up getting too much out at once because it is easily regulated thanks to the tiny hole in the top. The primer is not at all oily, although I would recommend giving it a quick shake before use, especially the first time when the primer seems to separate due to not being used. I think the cream works wonders as well even if you are not putting makeup over the top because it really does give you silky smooth skin, which you can feel as soon as you apply it. Also I do think it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines (only fine ones though to be fair) because it seems to fill them in straight away. Absolutely recommend as a good value beauty essential.
This is another of the products that I got in a Benefit gift set that I got for my birthday a couple of months ago. I am a big fan of Benefit make up and I love all the quirky products that they sell. I don't generally wear a lot of lip gloss because I tend to prefer wearing lip balm when I don't have to wear make up for work. However I do make an exception for this one because it is quite good.
This is a really nice lip gloss that is apparently a shimmering pinky nude colour. It is just the perfect gloss for having that nude look but still having a bit of glamour to it. The shimmer in it is visible but subtle and gives you lips a little bit of sparkle that is not too much for daytime use but that would look good over a bold coloured lipstick in the evening.
The tube that I got in my set is 6.5 ml, which is just over a third of the size of a full sized tube but it does last quite a while I find because you don't need that much of it. So if you get a full sized one I think it will last a good while, making it pretty decent value for money.
It is a nice thick gloss so you can tell straight away that it makes your lips feel smooth and moist. The hole in the top of the tube is tiny, which makes it really easy to regulate how much of it comes out at once. I find that it looks really good when you use it over the top of the Benetint lip stain and that using it like this also seems to make it stay on my lips better. The two products complement each other really well because the Benetint gives the gloss the staying power and the gloss moisturises your lips when the stain has dried them up a bit.
The gloss is available directly from the Benefit website for just under fifteen pounds, although you will need to pay postage on this if you don't order over a certain amount. You can get it in places like Debenhams for the same price. I would recommend it because it is a nice lip gloss and is fairly good value for money.
I got this Benefit blusher product in a gift set that I got for my birthday a couple of months ago and I really like it. Although it isn't the cheapest product on the market, it is a good one and I would recommend it.
I really like this one because it is such a natural coloured face powder mainly thanks to the fact that there are four different colours that you swirl together. The colours are soft plum, rose, peach and pink which means that it will suit practically all skin tones and won't be too dark or light for anyone. I generally have quite dark skin and I find that it is perfect for me to give that little bit of a bronzed look without being over the top and garish.
You get a mini brush with this too in the pack and it is not one of those horrible scratchy ones, rather it is lovely and soft and fits into the little powder compartments perfectly so you can easily get all of the colours onto the brush evenly.
On the pack it gives you the tip ?for an extra pop of colour that lasts all day, sweep sugarbomb powder over benetint and high beam'. I find that this really does work and that it makes the powder stay on your face for a lot longer than if you don't apply it this way.
The only problem with this is that you can't really get a bit of just one colour if that is what you fancy. The powder comes in one square cut into four triangles, on of each colour, but there are a bit too small to be able to get just one colour, especially with the brush that is provided. Apparently this isn't a big issue because this is (according to the Benefit website) the number one selling face powder in the UK which is praise indeed. Recommended.
I am a big fan of Benefit makeup because I think it is good stuff and often quite quirky. I got this Benetint, which is one of Benefit's most popular products as part of the Sugarlicious gift set that I got for my birthday.
To be honest I am still a bit unsure about it. I can tell that it is a good quality product, but I am just not sure if it is the product for me. I prefer a bronze look rather than rosy cheeks, which is exactly what this stain gives you. Don't worry though it is not a bright colour that makes you look like a clown, more of a pinched look I would say. When you apply it I would recommend applying it little by little so you don't go too far and run it in straight away or you'll get red stripes on your cheeks.
I tend to use it more often on my lips because it seems to accentuate the colour of them rather than staining them so much that you look like you have got a vampire pout! I find though that it really dries my lips out (something that I am prone to anyway) so I have to add lots of lip balm over the top. This is not necessary a problem though because I find that the two combined give my lips and nice shiny, pink and, most important, natural look.
It costs twenty four pounds and fifty pence on the Benefit website at the moment and I personally think that is a bit steep, even though it does last for ages. I won't be buying it again, but that is mainly because I like bronze products rather than rosy ones. If you prefer the latter, then Benetint would probably be perfect for you.
Calvin Klein bring out one of these fragrances every summer and the only thing that changes about them, as far as I can tell, is the bottles. This year the bottle is green; still the same size, still the same bottle, but the colour is different. I am pretty sure that the scent inside is the same as well.
The bottle is 100ml as it always is so you are getting a lot for your money because this is one of the cheaper fragrances available (usually retailing at around the 30 pound mark). It is only an eau de toilette, rather than an eau de parfum though, so it doesn't last very long in terms of strength once you have applied it. I find that it lasts a couple of hours at most on me before I need to reapply it because I can't really smell it anymore. To be fair though, you do get a 100ml bottle for 30 pounds max, so you can't complain too much!
As for the smell, it is a very summery smell in that it is light and refreshing. Top notes of frozen lime, grapefruit and melon mean that it is lovely and light on a summer's day. Base notes of coconut water and cedar wood give it a bit more substance and stop you from smelling like a fruit salad whilst flowery heart notes bring it all together nicely. Personally for me it is still a bit too citrussy and after a while gets too much - so it is probably a good thing that it fades so quickly.
It is definitely a day time fragrance and is suitable for younger people I would imagine. It is a very girly scent even though I believe that these CK Summer fragrances are supposed to be unisex. (Believe me, no self respecting man would want to wear this!).
I am a big fan of light and fresh perfumes so I thought that one that actually had fresh in the name would be perfect for me and it turns out that I was right because I really like this latest perfume from Marc Jacobs. This perfume from Marc Jacobs is a really nice one, especially for summer, because it is light and fruity without being too overpowering. I am a big fan of fresh and light fragrances, which is exactly what this is. If you like things like Cool Water by Davidoff and L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake, I imagine that you will also like this one. It has top notes of citrus fruits although it has flowery bottom notes, which stop you from smelling like a fruit cocktail when you have it on. I have found that it lasts well in that I can still smell it on myself at the end of the day if I have sprayed it in the morning. Having said that, it is not one of those fragrances that just hangs around because it is far too strong. It is a perfect fragrance for summer, especially during the day, although it is strong enough that it is suitable for evening wear too. The bottle, as with all Marc Jacobs fragrances, has a collectible lid. This ions has pink and white daisies on and is really pretty. the only bad thing I have to say about this fragrance is that it is not cheap. Costing upwards of fifty pounds for the seventy five ml bottle that I have, it would probably be worth seeking it out in the duty free shop at the airport if you are going on holiday soon! I do think it is pretty good value for money though, nonetheless, because it has got staying power, you don't need much of it, it comes in a funky bottle and the smell is really nice. Recommended.