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frankie1984

frankie1984
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Member since: 29.03.2008

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      25.01.2014 19:44
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      A book by Cecelia Ahern

      I have read a few of Cecelia Ahern's books now and I always find they are a bit different to that of other chick lit genre books. They always seem to have some sort of mystical and magical element to them. Now I say that and you may instantly think that it means the books are not for you if you are not into all that, but I wouldn't let it put you off as they are not written in a way that they come across all fairies and magic!
      This particular book was actually released back in March of 2012 although it wasn't book until quite a while after the release that I bought it and then I had it on my shelves for ages too so it was with pleasure I decided to start it over the Christmas season and having some time off work meant I was able to get into it and finish it pretty quickly.

      The author:
      Cecelia Ahern is an Irish writer who has now released 10 fiction books and two short stories. She studied journalism and media before she wrote her first novel which was 'PS I love you'. It became one of the biggest selling books of 2004 and then was later made into a Hollywood film starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.


      The plot:
      Sandy Shorrt became obsessed with finding people and things ever since her classmate Jennie-May Butler went missing over 20 years ago. Ever since it became her goal to re-unite lost ones with their family members and working as a private investigator doing this is how she comes to be working to find Jack Ruttle's lost brother.
      Only Sandy doesn't plan on what happens when you yourself go missing and suddenly she finds herself in a very odd place indeed. Solving so many questions from over the years, she finally has answers to may things and now all she wants to do is to get home. However, it may not be as easy although Jack Ruttle still believes that Sandy can find his brother and so ends up now searching for her too. Will she ever make it home from here and be able to finally stop searching?


      Characters:
      Sandy is a very unique person and a great central character. She is so wrapped up in her work and her obsession to find things that she has created a barrier between herself and those that care about her. She really believes that answers are not all straight forward and because she feels that not many people believe this theory as well, it has made her quite a loner. Because of her situation, she starts to realise what is important in life and it is interesting how she changes over the course of the book and opens up more.
      Jack plays a very important part in the book and I felt the author did a great job in developing him as a character as you could really feel his emotions over his brother and how it was effecting his life. I like how connected he felt to Sandy even though they had never actually met and had only talked so far on the phone.
      There are a fair few interesting side characters in the book and I felt the author did and amazing job in creating these to make the book come alive. Overall, they were all very well written.


      Price:
      When I bought my book, I purchased it from Waterstone's as part of a buy one get half price offer so even though the RRP is £6.99, I paid £10.50 for two books making them £5.25 each. I know you can purchase them for a fair bit cheaper especially online, however, I do lie to browse and buy from a proper bookshop occasionally and don't mind paying slightly more to do so!
      You can still pick this book up in various shops and online stores fro anywhere between the £3-£5 mark.

      Opinion:
      I always know what to expect with a book from Cecelia Ahern and this one was no exception. I expected something that was a little unusual and also a book that would make me stop and think about things. This does both and so I was very pleased with the book indeed. I liked that even though there is an element of make believe, it still made me stop and wonder so I guess I possibly enjoyed the book even more so as it made me do that?
      Overall, it is a great book and no less than what I have come to expect from this author. I would highly recommend it and this isn't even what I would class as her best book. I think if you have already read anything by this author before, then you will love it anyway and if you haven't already read a book by Cecelia, then this is just as good as any to start with.

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      30.10.2013 11:56
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      A Jenny Colgan book

      I have recently finished reading this book and it was one I had ended up buying and just not getting around to reading until quite some time later. This author has always been one of my favourites and I have enjoyed every single one of her books so I was looking forward to sitting down and getting stuck into this one.


      The author:
      Jenny Colgan is an English author who lives in both London and France. She has now written 14 books including this one and her latest one is due to come out in November of 2013, which is a follow up book to one of her other books. All her books fall into the chick lit genre.



      The plot:
      Issy Randall is an amazing baker. She was brought up by her Grampa Joe and he taught her everything she knows. So, when Issy is made redundant from her well paid but, dull city job, she doesn't initially know what to do with herself until suddenly the idea for the cupcake café is born and she decides to take the plunge and use her redundancy money to open a café doing what she loves most. Will it really work though as Issy has no idea how difficult it will really be running her own business and is she actually making a big mistake turning a hobby into her job?



      Characters:
      I was instantly taken with the character of Issy because she was such a nice person who always tried to be nice to others and in particular she is so good towards her Grampa Joe. I felt a connection with her in the way she felt that she was in a job that she wasn't sure was right for her but, she wasn't quite sure what else to do with herself! Overall, it was easy to like Issy and want her to do well so this was obviously important for the story and it made sense that as the reader, you would take to the main character.
      What I found was there were then lots of other characters who played a major part in the book so were all important people to the story but, would take me forever to talk about them all properly. There were people like Issy's bank manager who is very involved in the cafe, her Ex-boyfriend who we meet quite often, her best friend and flat mate Helena who is very much part of Issy's life, her Grampa Joe who is her only main family who she sees and also her first member staff Pearl, who of course we read quite a lot about considering she is involved in the cafe in a big way. Overall, it was very easy to read about all these people and have an interest because they were all so different and brought something to the story. I liked that the author had a good mixture of people to make the story more than just about the café.



      Price:
      I bought my copy in Tesco back when they had increased their prices slightly on books and it was two books for £8. Of course this means that for £4 each, (I never buy one on its own!) it was still good value for a brand new book especially as this is quite a thick book compared to some of her earlier ones.




      Overall opinion:
      I really enjoyed this book because I felt the story was really interesting. It wasn't just about a girl meeting a guy and falling in love like the usual chick lit and instead was focused on the café and somebody who is starting over. Of course, there was a bit of romance and that was great but, overall the main story of the café was a great storyline in itself.
      Also, the author had included a lot of recipes in the book and these were written in as if her Grampa Joe had sent her the recipe along with instructions based on how he knows Issy. It made it seem more realistic somehow and to be honest, when you read the intro from Jenny Colgan, she does give an insight into how the book came about and how she does enjoy baking herself. Plus at the back of the book are a few recipes and another little story about the royal wedding of Diana and Charles as this book was brought out in the lead up to William and Kate's wedding of April 2011.
      Overall, the book was very enjoyable and even reading it, not only was the story well written and made me want to carry on going back to my book every time I had to put it down but, it had delicious sounding recipes listed throughout it that made me want to go and back straight after finishing it! I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Jenny Colgan even though it is slightly different to her other books and to those who haven't read one of her books before, I would definitely say to give this one a try.

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        22.10.2013 21:46
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        A kettle from Asda

        I had been meaning to buy a new kettle for simply ages but, just kept on forgetting to have a look at them whilst I was out so finally at the end of January I managed to actually go out and buy a new one and this one was the lucky one that ended up joining our other kitchen appliances.


        The brand:
        My new kettle is an Asda branded kettle. I didn't deliberately go out to buy just a store branded one, more simply, that looking around, it just happened to be the one that fitted in with the specifications I wanted and within my price range.


        The packaging:
        The kettle was packaged in a rather large box of which had a picture of the kettle on and had a grey background on with a blue 'ASDA' logo in the top left. Along one side are a few small symbols in orange that state the kettle has a boil dry cut off feature, a 1.7L capacity and also a 360o swivel base.
        Inside the box all elements are wrapped separately so the kettle comes wrapped in a plastic bag and the base unit has a bubble wrap around it which also contains the plug.


        Setting it up:
        Set up could not be easier. Once everything is unwrapped it's just a case of wrapping the lead to the plug around the underside of the base unit to a length that suits you and then popping the kettle on top and plugging in. Done! As an added measure I always rinse out new products like these a few times before actually using it for its intended purpose, so in this case I swilled some water around the inside of the kettle a couple of times and then filled it to the top and boiled one lot of water before them completely emptying again and filling once more with fresh water. Possibly not needed for some people but, I just like to make sure it's all clean!


        Using it:
        The kettle is so easy to use too as simply click the button up and off it goes! The lid is opened by pushing the two buttons in that sit on the lid itself and whenever you take the kettle off the base, the kettle automatically sets the button back to off position. Once the kettle has boiled it also clicks itself off (as you would expect it to really!) and I have found for it to boil a full load of water it takes around 3 minutes.


        Price:
        When I was looking for a new kettle I wanted something that was ideally metal because we have always had plastic ones in the past and although I have no problems with them I do feel they look cheaper. Also we now have a stainless steel fridge and once we upgrade our cooker we plan to get this in the same design so we now wanted it to match the rest of the kitchen. I didn't want it to be tiny as I drink a lot of tea myself and we have a lot of people who come to our home who require tea all at one time quite often, so it needed to be of a decent capacity and lastly I didn't want to pay the earth for it.
        So taking all this into account was how I came to buy this particular kettle as I looked in various shops and out of all the ones I saw this one I liked the most as it met all my requirements. Priced at £16.97, I felt this was a good price. I also get 3 months guarantee included with the kettle which is provided by Asda as it is one of their own branded electrical items.


        Overall opinion:
        I have been very pleased with my new kettle and am glad I chose this one. I feel it looks stylish in my kitchen and also because it holds a good amount of water, I can brew up for everybody in one go. I like that it looks good in my kitchen and on another note the actually weight of the kettle itself isn't very heavy considering it is mainly metal. The handle curves around the one side and there is enough space to get a large hand around it so it is comfortable to pick up and use even if you do have big hands.
        The only one downside I can find with the kettle is that because it is metal, then of course the outside gets extremely hot and you need to make sure you don't touch anywhere but the handle or lid once it has boiled or even just before. This isn't a problem for us but, I imagine it would be more of a worry if you had children although I would have thought the kettle would be placed out of their reach anyway!
        Overall I highly recommend this kettle and am just very happy I can carry on making my beloved cups of tea and coffee.

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          23.07.2013 17:44
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          A great book by Harlan Coben

          Recently, my hubby and I went on holiday and hubby didn't have any new books to read so whilst in the airport, he bought two new ones to take with him. Both were Harlan Coben books and when he had finished this one, I decided to make a start on it to break up reading all my chick lit books I had taken with me!

          The author:
          Harlan Coben has written an impressive 20 books so far in the crime/thriller genre and 10 of these are standalone novels whilst the other 10 are part of a chain of books featuring the character of Myron Bolitar. Harlan is based in the USA but, his books are widely available here in the UK.


          The plot:
          Sara and Michael are the ideal celebrity couple and loved by all the media and the public. So much in love and with so much going for them, it should be a great time for them but, it all comes crashing down when they are hit by a terrible illness. Sara's friend, Dr Harvey Riker may have the answer though as he has found a miracle cure that millions of people seek and slowly his patients are all getting better. The only problem is there seems to be a killer out there who wants to target his patients.
          This puts Michael in danger and Lieutenant Max Bernstein is intent on stopping the killer before it's too late and to make sure that all patients showing the miracle cure are kept safe but, will he really manage to stop a killer than seems more deadly than the disease itself?


          Characters:
          I really liked the main characters of Sara and Michael as even though they are both celebrities, they seemed very down to earth with good morals and you could tell they really loved each other. I also really liked the character of Max, the lieutenant investigating the crime. Again, he was a person you could easily relate to who, you wanted to do well and came across as a good guy who just wanted to rid the world of bad people! He is also a friend of Sara's and I liked that the author had brought these characters together and I felt the way they interacted together was really well done.
          Dr Harvey Riker I also liked although he was a bit work obsessed! He came across as somebody who wanted to have a life outside his work but, always ended up working too much anyway because he was so passionate about what he does. I felt he suited the story as he was so into his work and it means such a lot to him that you really feel for him that his patients are being targeted.
          Overall I felt the characters were interesting, worked well together and were very well created.


          Price:
          Hubby paid full price for his book as he bought it in the airport where there didn't seem to be any offers on. The book cost £7.99 and although the book was very good indeed, it was a shame he didn't buy some books before we went on holiday ready to take with him as he probably would have been able to get this cheaper online!



          Overall opinion:
          Interestingly, when I started this book, I was almost put off it altogether by the author himself! He has written an introduction about the book and telling readers that if this is the first book of his you're reading, to put it down and read a newer one first! I have read other books by him before so I knew I liked his style but, then I was worried this might be absolutely terrible - I needn't have worried as in all honesty, I really enjoyed it but, I guess if you're bringing a book out in another country nearly 20 years after it was first released, you might see the flaws in your own work!
          I can safely say though that I did truly enjoy the book and I don't know what he was worried about. I would say if you picked this book up and read that introduction, you may actually be put off reading it but, I would say not to be and go ahead as I think most readers would also really enjoy the book, just like I did!

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            19.07.2013 12:12
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            A wax tart by Yankee

            I am always using wax tarts around my home as they are such a good way to make my home smell nice and inviting. I like to use them after doing a big clean as then I feel they are put to better use of creating a lovely aroma in a then already clean home rather than just using them to cover up bad smells.
            This particular one I bought at the same time as a few other scents and so after I have made good use of another one, it was time to try and new one and this was the one I chose.


            What is it?
            This Yankee candle is actually a 'tart' which is in effect not really a candle as such but, a small flat round piece of wax that you heat up and allow to melt, usually in an oil burner of some kind. Once the wax starts to melt it gives off the gorgeous scent of the candle or as it is aptly named, the potpourri as it does the same job as what a tub of potpourri would do! The tart comes wrapped in a plastic shrink type wrap completely see through apart from the top that has a label stuck on to tell you what scent it is and on the bottom with ingredients printed on.


            This scent:
            When I first picked this up in the shop, it was mainly because the colour drew me to it as it looked bright and clean looking. The tart is a lovely yellow colour and then when I looked at the name, citrus water, it also sounded clean. I t made me think of lemons and how they are always very prominent in smell. Plus lemon is used a lot in cleaning products so I was already thinking along the lines of the fact that it was connected to being used in the act of cleaning up!
            I was quite keen to use this so when I had next done a big clean around the home, I put this on in the living room for just over 1 hour and I found that the scent really got going quite quickly around the different rooms. Even from the other rooms with the doors open, I could smell it wafting around. It was very tangy in aroma if that makes sense and as it was giving off its scent, it made me imagine a hot summers day with homemade lemonade and the outdoors. Overall, it was a very pleasant scent indeed and one that was hugely appropriate to have on after just cleaning everywhere.


            Price:
            This was priced at 99p which is the same as all the others that I have bought or had bought for me up to now. This is pretty much the average price you can expect to pay for Yankee Candle wax tarts although sometimes you can find them priced between 50p upwards depending on if the particular scent is on offer. A lot of online retailers price them lower but, of course most will then charge you for postage.


            Overall opinion:
            I was very impressed with this scent and will definitely be buying it again. I tend to try and not burn each tart in full by breaking them in half and then each one I put on for a short while so that I can burn the same half again as well as still having another half to use. This way I get a lot of use out of each half making them excellent value. They are strong anyway so I feel you do not need to use the full piece anyway in one go.
            This particular scent was an impressive one for me as it created a superb aroma around the home and even after I blew the tea light out in the burner, I could still smell it for ages afterwards. When I went out and came home again later on in the same day, the smell was still very distinctive when I walked in and so I feel I really did get my money's worth and it did an excellent job of doing what I needed it to do. I would highly recommend this one especially if you like ones that are strong in scent.

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              08.07.2013 20:01
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              A fab wax tart from Yankee

              I have always been a fan of Yankee candles and at first I always used to buy the normal votive/small candles. I then starting using the wax tarts a lot more as I felt I got better value for money as they smell stronger and freshen up a room quicker. I will still use standard candles occasionally as find them to be nice if you just want a pleasant aroma that isn't as powerful as the wax tarts but, if you really want to create a strong scent, it is best to use a wax tart.


              What is it?
              This Yankee candle is actually a 'tart' which is in effect not really a candle as such but, a small flat round piece of wax that you heat up and allow to melt, usually in an oil burner of some kind. Once the wax starts to melt it gives off the gorgeous scent of the candle or as it is aptly named, the potpourri as it does the same job as what a tub of potpourri would do! The tart comes wrapped in a plastic shrink type wrap completely see through apart from the top that has a label stuck on to tell you what scent it is and on the bottom with ingredients printed on.


              This scent:
              When I saw this scent in the shop, the name instantly made me think of beautiful beaches and summer days and I wanted it on the name alone! I gave it a quick sniff and it smelt of fresh clothes to me as well as also making me think of a clean air scent you get when you are outside. I felt this would be a good scent to have for the home as then it would make my home smell clean.
              I always use my tarts after I have done a big clean, especially if I have used bleach in the bathroom and kitchen as then I find they usually get rid of the more chemical smell and just the nice aromas waft around my home. So, after my next big clean, I got this one out to try. It doesn't take long for the wax to melt and once it does, the scent soon starts to flow around the home even though it is only on the burner in the living room. It does smell really fresh and is a perfect scent to use when you want everywhere to smell clean. I burnt the scent for around 1 hour and then I blew the candle out so that the wax in the burner could start to cool. I found that even after doing so, the scent was still really strong around the home and every time I came back into the living room, I could still smell it just as strongly as if it was still being heated by the tea light in the wax burner. Throughout the other rooms, it was still lingering for ages


              Price:
              This was priced at 99p which is the same as all the others that I have bought or had bought for me up to now. This is pretty much the average price you can expect to pay for Yankee Candle wax tarts although sometimes you can find them priced between 50p upwards depending on if the particular scent is on offer. A lot of online retailers price them lower but, of course most will then charge you for postage.


              Overall opinion:
              I really like this scent and think it works well as a tart option. Some scents are not that strong and once you blow out the tea light in the burner, the aroma soon wears off. This one is one of the stronger ones that still linger for a good while later, so you can burn it for a shorter time and get more for your money. I like that the scent is still very prominent when I go out of the home and then come back as this means that when people are visiting, you know that is the greeting they will receive.
              Overall, I am very pleased with this particular scent of wax tart and it will be one I will purchase again and again. I would say that if you wish to have a nice clean, fresh scent, this is one of the ones to go for.

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                24.06.2013 20:20
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                Another instalment of the 'I heart' series

                I have read every one of the 'I heart' series of books written by Lindsey Kelk and this one got put on my Christmas list because I knew it was getting released in early December 2011. In fact, it was difficult for me as I wanted to just go out and buy it but, I knew it would be nicer to receive it as a gift so I held back and when I opened what was obviously a book shaped package on Christmas day, I was very excited that this had been bought from my list! I pretty much then started it straight away and finished it in no time at all.


                The author:
                Lindsey is an English author who now lives in New York. She has now written five books, four of which are in the 'I heart' series and she has also written a short story based on another character from these books which is only available to download (boo!).


                The plot:
                Angela Clark is still happily living in New York; the only problem currently is that she is jobless after her arch enemy Cici managed to assist in her losing her job. Without a job she is struggling and so even though she is now happily loved up with her boyfriend Alex, without a job she is now just a standard tourist and her visa is running out! With just weeks to go before the deadline for her new visa, she must manage to find a job or it will be back to the UK for her so it seems the sensible thing to do not worry Alex with her visa worries whilst she gets it sorted.
                As always, her friend Jenny is on hand to help and with a trip to Vegas seeming like the best way to have a last trip before sorting out the Visa, what could possibly go wrong? Before long, they are jetting off from the East coast to the glittering desert region and enjoying some Vegas time but, this is Angela and no trip would be the same if it didn't have a few hiccups along the way!



                Characters:
                Angela Clark is the same as ever in that she thinks a miraculous plan will come up for her to solve all her problems and as usual she never knows how to bring a difficult subject up so she always seems to end up in more of a pickle because of it! I do sometimes find myself getting frustrated with her in some of the things she does as I always think 'just tell him' or 'you know it would be easier if you just did that instead......' but, that is part of the fun of the character of Angela is that she always manages to find herself in a pickle of some kind!
                Another character that plays a big part in the book as she does in all the 'I heart' books, is Jenny Lopez, who is one of Angela's best friends. She always comes across in some ways a bit of a horrible person in certain ways but, generally is always there for Angela and most of the time has quite a big factor in helping Jenny out of the messes she gets herself into. I do like Jenny because she is outspoken and says what she thinks and in fact, this is the character that the author has a written a short story about, so I can only presume quite a lot of other people also like the character of Jenny!



                Price:
                I didn't buy this book myself so I am not sure how much my friend paid for it but, since both myself and my friend buy books from the supermarkets, I would hazard a guess that she probably bought it as one of the offers. However, I know you can still buy this book for around the £4 mark which is really good for a brand new book.



                Overall opinion:
                I once again enjoyed the latest in the 'I heart' book series and in fact, I think enjoyed this one even more than the last one! I am not sure what really makes me enjoy these books so much as it is a whole combination of things really from the characters who are so interesting, the locations used that are different every time making the books more enjoyable because the sights play a part too or just the fact now that with each one I read, I already know the characters and can just jump straight into the next instalment of what is going to happen.
                Of course I will be recommending this book and whilst there is no reason for you to not enjoy it as a standalone book, it would be so much more enjoyable if you read the other books in order first as then you really will get the know the characters and enjoy the book more so.

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                  22.06.2013 20:48
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                  Another great book frm Adele Parks

                  I bought this book a short while ago now and decided to make a start on it last week. It is classed as chick lit but, the plot isn't all about romance so after reading another book before it that was romance based, I decided to change themes and move onto something that had a bit more of an intense storyline to it.


                  The author:
                  Adele Parks is an English author who has now written 13 books with another due out soon. She has also written various short stories. She published her first book in 2000 and every book she has written has been in the Times top ten best sellers. Her books have also been translated into 25 languages which is very impressive indeed!




                  The plot:
                  Steph and Pip have been friends for thirty years ever since school and it has always been Steph who has been the calm, solid, dependable one whilst Pip is hot hot-headed and outgoing. Selfless and trusting, they have been through everything together and have been there for each other through thick and thin.
                  So when Steph asks Pip to lie to police about her whereabouts to conceal two scandalous secrets to protect her family, Pip is overwhelmed. It is normally her who is asking for help in a crisis and she isn't used to being the one getting asked for help, especially not from the one person she relies on to always be the straight one in their friendship.
                  Steph's perfect life will be torn apart unless Pip agrees to this lie, but lying will also jeopardise everything Pip has recently achieved after years of struggle and it is a huge ask from Steph. What will Pip do and what would you do in her situation?




                  Characters:
                  Steph and Pip are the main characters of this book and they couldn't be more different really! Steph is the one who is organised, dependable and always there to offer assistance to those that need it whether it be her own family, Pip or even the neighbours. She is on hand for everybody and is always caring and a good wife. She tries to juggle so much and be there for everybody but, at the same time, she also comes across as a tiny bit boring. I can't really say what makes me think this, but I suppose it might be because she doesn't really do anything spontaneously.
                  Pip on the other hand is a dis-organised mess most of the time and relies on Steph for a lot. However, she is also kind and caring towards her friend and is also always there for her. She is the one that is more outgoing and is the chalk to Steph's cheese. I guess I would say I liked her character more simply because she seemed more like the woman next door that is down to earth.
                  The author has created side characters too although the main story is about Steph and Pip and all these other people are substantial to make the story what it is. They have all been well written and add something to the book without taking too much away from the main plot. In fact, there are a few chapters designated to one of these side characters however, I will not talk about that person as they are not mentioned on the blurb!




                  Price:
                  As per usual, I bought my book in Tesco on the multi-buy offer so I paid £7 for two books making this brand new book just £3.50. I think this is a huge bargain for a book that has a RRP of £6.99 on its own.




                  Overall opinion:
                  I have always enjoyed books by this author and this one is no exception. I find that she does romance well but, also with a bit more nitty gritty and this book is a good example of that. There is certainly romance and love is mentioned but, the main story is not really just about hearts and flowers at all. She has a great way of making the book come alive and making the characters interesting to read about and this book is certainly no exception.
                  When I picked this one out from my shelves to read next, I knew it would not be just about love and I wanted that to be the case. I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed and in fact it is a very good read indeed. From the moment I started reading, I found I was able to quickly get into the storyline and enjoy it. I didn't want to put it down and kept grabbing opportunities to pick it up even if it was literally just to read a page!
                  I will be recommending this book and I cannot wait to get stuck into her next one whenever that may end up being. I do have one to read, I just like to read different authors or genres as I go through my collection of un-read books!

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                  11.06.2013 12:57
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                  A great book by Ali McNamara

                  I read Ali's first book 'From Notting hill with love....actually' a while back now so when I saw that she had released a second book which was also a follow up to that, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I eventually did and then I ended up not reading it until now.


                  The author:
                  Ali McNamara is an English author living in Cambridgeshire. She has now written three books and she has a fourth due out in November of 2013, named step back in time and I believe, based on her blog, that she intends to bring a third book out in the series of 'From Notting hill' books around late 2014.



                  The plot:
                  Scarlett O'Brien is now happily loved up with her boyfriend Sean. Her love of romantic films is still strong but, the reality of living with her leading man is not quite the same as the films make it out to be! With Sean away on business a lot, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to take a trip of a lifetime to New York.
                  From the famous sights of the big apple to meeting new people, Scarlett and Oscar are having a fab time and it is reporter Jamie that Scarlett meets and feels strangely drawn to that makes her wonder why she feels this way if she is so in love with Sean?



                  Characters:
                  Scarlett is a great character as she is so nice to everyone and helpful and she also has a bit of a quirky side with her extreme love of romance films and her knowledge about them. I like how easy it is to read about her and you want to know more about her and her life. The first book was really good at setting the scene for her character and this second one is no different at being able to carry it on and make the book interesting and enjoyable.
                  Oscar is over the top, friendly, lovable character that perfectly complements Scarlett's personality and together they really make the book come alive. I like how the story doesn't completely focus on just Scarlett and his has his own things going on too that just add something extra to the book.
                  Scarlett's boyfriend Sean features in this book too and he has such a different personality to her yet they work so well together and because of this the story surrounding them is really well done and gives the book the extra bit.


                  Price:
                  I bought my book in Tesco as part of their two books for £7 offer, making this book just £3.50. I think for a brand new book, especially one with a RRP of £6.99, this is great value and you can still get it in there currently I believe however, if you cannot find it in there you can pick up a copy in many other online and high street stores as well as the e-books for kindles and the like.


                  Overall opinion:
                  I couldn't wait to read this book as I had enjoyed the first one so much and I wasn't disappointed at all. I liked how easy it was to get into the book and I think if you were reading this one first, you would still get into just as easily. I do think however, the experience of this one would be made all the better for reading the first book before it though so I would definitely recommend doing that.
                  I have found with the character of Scarlett, it reminds me a little of the Shopaholic books in that the main central character has a quirky element to her or should I say a certain personality trait that always comes to light in each book and so you really get to know the person for being that way and you start to expect certain things from her! With Scarlett, it is that she always seems to end up in the most unusual situations and I like that the books are like this. For example in this book, without giving everything away, she ends up in a situation that most normal people wouldn't end up in and yet even though it should seem a little far-fetched, it is still enjoyable and fun to read about.
                  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think many others of chick lit will too. I would say you can read it before the first book but, to enhance your experience, you're better reading after that one as then you will know the characters and past storyline even better and it will make the book even more enjoyable.

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                    27.05.2013 19:02
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                    Not a hotel I would choose again, basi compared to others!

                    On my recent trip to Antigua myself and my husband stayed at two hotels - this was the first one we stayed at and it was only the result of the first night at our chosen hotel being overbooked and so this was where we were sent for our first night in Antigua. The hotel is classed as a 4 star hotel and is based on all inclusive. We had been put in a Superior sea view room type to make up for being put in a different hotel so this review will be based on this room type.


                    Location:
                    The hotel is only a short ride away from the airport at about 15-20 minutes and is located in a place called five islands where ''funnily enough'' there is five small islands out in the bay near it. It is approximately 4 miles away from the capital St. Johns.


                    Check in:
                    Check in was very easy with the girl on reception giving us a small form to fill in and then giving us some leaflets about the resort which included details of meal times and water sports available. We were also offered a juice or champagne and a cold towel. Once we had our key the porter escorted us to our room by putting our luggage on the golf cart and taking us down the hill to where we would be staying.



                    Room:
                    As I mentioned above we were staying in a superior sea view room which we were told was an upgrade from the room type we should have been staying in in the other hotel. So with this in mind we thought at least we should have a nice room for the night but how wrong we were!! Upon arriving at the room we noticed straight away that the room had a very small sea view as it was quite far back behind the sea front rooms and the trees and everything else pretty much blocked the view - in fact facing our room was actually a tennis court so if I had actually booked to stay here for our whole trip we would have been pretty cheesed off by this!! Secondly we were hoping the room would be quite nice inside but when the porter opened the door I can only say it was shock horror at how horrible the room was! It was very old fashioned with a cracked wall and lights that were a squint! The towel that the maids normally arrange in a nice design was even just thrown on the bed with a few flowers petal thrown in for good measure! The bathroom wasn't actually separate to the room and the shower was located just around from the bed with the sink next to it which meant that if one of the rooms occupants for example was to step out of the shower and the front door was opened the people playing tennis could have seen you!! Hardly private!!!
                    Also in the room was a coffee machine and a separate toilet but even this had a very light door on so it again wasn't very private!



                    Facilities:
                    The hotel has some water sports included in the all-inclusive which include kayaks and snorkelling and these can be arranged with the guy on the beach. They also have other activities such as tennis. The hotel has evening entertainment and on site shop which is in an old sugar mill so that is quite a nice touch. The beach isn't private (as none are in Antigua) but due to location they won't get many people coming in unless you are at the hotel. The beach is pretty quiet but the main thing we noticed is that this particular beach isn't as white sand as some other beaches in Antigua and the sea is not that clear either. This was a big let-down as with it being our first day there it would have been nice to have been wowed but unfortunately it was just kind of disappointing really.
                    The hotel has a small pool which in my opinion is too small for the size of the hotel. The idea is the beach is right on the doorstep of the rooms so a large pool shouldn't really be needed but it could still do with being slightly larger!!
                    The hotel has a small area just next to this with a TV in and a small selection of books. The tour desk is here as well where trips can be booked such as the Waddali cats which are popular.
                    One thing that all guests should note is that the hotel has 4 beaches within close vicinity to it and one of them is 'clothing optional' beach as they call it which is the only one at current in Antigua so if this is not your kind of thing then be warned!! We didn't see any nudists whilst there but we were only there for 1 night and day!!




                    Restaurant:
                    The hotel has one main restaurant where all breakfast and dinner is served and then the other smaller area where lunch is served. There is waiter service in the restaurant in both the morning and evenings for drinks and most nights in waiter service for food apparently but, on the night we were there it was actually buffet night as it was a Friday. The smaller lunch area has a set menu and also the barbecue section and there is a small bar here too. The food selection is good in both places and the staff are really good in all areas.



                    Overall opinion:
                    The hotel is rated as a 4 star standard but I wouldn't say that the actual rooms or certain areas in terms of design are worthy of this rating as it feels like it needs a good refurbishment especially when I think that the room we had was supposed to be an upgrade from our other hotel (which is only classed as 3 superior standard) and yet our room there turned out to be better! I thought the staff and food were this best part but was disappointed by the beach, and the decor and rooms overall. I would say if this was your first time travelling to Antigua and you stayed here you would not feel as if you have come to the Caribbean and would probably be disappointed by the hotel in general, especially if you had paid for a room upgrade.

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                      12.05.2013 23:32
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                      Not as good as expected!

                      I have always enjoyed Joanna Trollope's books and so I made a start on this one not that long ago expecting to really enjoy it. I did, but I felt that it wasn't at as up to scratch as some of her other books so I thought giving my opinion would be good!


                      The author:
                      Joanna Trollope has written an impressive amount of books - she has 20 books out under her own name and 67 books written under the name of Caroline Harvey. She is an English author who has been writing for over 30 years. She is also one of the judges for the Melissa Nathan award and is also going to be judging for the Sunday Times short story award in 2012. She is also currently writing for a new series of 'Sense and sensibility' so overall she is a very active writer and involved with a lot of book related schemes and awards.


                      The plot:
                      Nathalie and David are both adopted by the same adoptive parents making them brother and sister. However, they both have different birth parents and when one day Nathalie suddenly realises that she has a deep need to trace her birth mother; she insists that David make the same journey and try to find his birth mother too. At first David resists, stating is he happier not knowing and that this journey will hurt their adoptive parents too much. However, with also some persuasion from his wife, David soon finds himself embarking on the same journey as Nathalie.


                      Characters:
                      The main characters are Nathalie and David and the book is written from both of their perspectives as well as both their partners, Steve and Marnie. I did like that you got to read about the feelings and thoughts from everyone individually however, I think I found it quite difficult to enjoy the book simply because I didn't like many of the characters!
                      Nathalie seemed quite pushy of David and not very loving towards her husband Steve and generally didn't seem a very compassionate person at all. David was very boring in my eyes and didn't really focus on his family enough so generally speaking I think I wasn't really very caring towards what actually happened to them.
                      Then there was Steve, the husband of Nathalie and also Marnie, the wife of David. I also didn't really care for these much simply because Steve was seemingly only caring about himself and Marnie because she came across as a bit odd and controlling towards David.
                      I can't deny that the characters were well developed because in all honesty, to provoke those feelings about fictional people means they were well written: it was more about not liking them that stopped me enjoying the book as much!


                      Price:
                      I bought this book in Tesco in the section where they reduce the cost of the older books and so managed to buy it for just £3. There was an offer of three books for £5 but, I couldn't find another two at the time and I really wanted this so I paid the £3 for the one. I think this is very good value for any brand new book and it is worth keeping your eye out in this section for any others.


                      Overall opinion:
                      It is hard to say whether I did enjoy it or not; on one hand I wanted to find out what happened, but on the other, I wasn't really that bothered. I am glad I managed to buy it for only £3 and didn't end up paying the full RRP of £7.99 as then I think I would have been disappointed.
                      It wasn't that the story wasn't interesting as nearly every book I have read of Joanna Trollope's has had an interesting and poignant storyline, but, I just didn't feel like I enjoyed it as much simply because I wasn't very much caring about what happened to these people and so for me it lost its touch somewhat.
                      Overall I will only be giving the book a three star rating which is a shame as the majority of other books by this author have received a much higher rating from me. As I say, it is not that the story wasn't interesting and I think it could have been miles better had I actually liked the main characters as then I would have been more interested in finding out what happened to them; as it was, I really just wanted to finish it as I don't like dropping books once I have started them.

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                    • RSVP - Helen Warner / Fiction Book / 54 Readings / 53 Ratings
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                      11.05.2013 11:30
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                      An excellent read

                      As most readers of my reviews will know, I read a lot of books and not that long ago, I had a dry spell where I was working a lot of overtime and just didn't even have time to pick up a book at all! So when I finally got back to more normal working hours I started to fly through a lot of my books that I had been buying and storing up and this was one in particular that I had just seen in Tesco and bought because it sounded quite good. I had never read anything by this author before so it was a bit of a gamble but, one I am glad I took!

                      The author:
                      Helen Warner is an English author and this is the first book she has written. She is also the head of daytime TV at Channel 4 where she is responsible for shows such as 'Deal or no Deal' and 'come dine with me'. Before that she worked at ITV where she launched the popular daytime show 'Loose Women' and was editor for 'This Morning'.


                      The plot:
                      Four women all with different views of the wedding they have been invited to attend......there is Anna who is our main character and the heartbroken Ex of Toby, the man about to say 'I do' to somebody else. How will she cope watching the man who she still believes is the one marry another woman? Then there is Clare, best friend to Anna and the one who watched Anna and Toby go from being in love to never speaking again. She just wants to be there for her and help her through what she hopes will be a final way for Anna to let go of her feelings for Toby.
                      Ella is the woman that wanted everything that Anna and Toby had back in college and made sure she got it no matter what. Now married to somebody who she doesn't really love and not sure what to do with herself, she is there to make herself feel better and seems to think she will see Anna arrive with a gorgeous husband not realising that Anna never moved on from Toby. Lastly we have Rachel, the Bride to be. Having only met Anna once, she is worried about her big day and whether it will all go to plan but, she is also worried that her doubts are more deep routed and she cannot shake that feeling away.
                      How will all four women cope with the big day and will everything go to plan?


                      Characters:
                      I really liked how different the author had made each person - I found the main character of Anna to be easy to like due to her nice personality and her good nature. I think this had to be this way as in contrast, Ella was quite a horrible person so I felt that it made the storyline more interesting. Clare is somebody who doesn't want a man in her life and so far has never had a relationship with somebody who she has felt that strongly for so sometimes it is hard for her to fully understand the way Anna feels about Toby after all these years but, as her friend, she is always there for her and I like that about her. She also shows her compassionate side to others too and I think is a good match to have as Anna's best friend.
                      Rachel, as the bride to be and the girl that the other three don't know is also an interesting person. She is nice enough and although we don't actually get to see an awful lot of her compared to the others, she comes across as a decent person who just wants to be happy. I like that the author gave her bits that were relevant even though the story isn't really about her rather than just have her as a side character altogether.

                      Price:
                      My book was bought in Tesco as part of the on-going offer they have of two books for £7 making this brand new book just £3.50. I felt this was well worth the money especially as the RRP is £6.99. You can still get this in various shops and online and at the moment, it is priced anywhere between £4 - £5 mark so I do feel I got a good deal especially as I enjoyed the book so much.


                      Overall opinion:
                      I really did enjoy this book and was glad I took the gamble on it and bought it. It took me a while before I managed to get around to reading it and even before I made a start on it, the author had brought out a new book! I think what made me enjoy the book so much was the different stories going on across the four women and how some events you saw from all angles and how each person can view these differently and take different opinions from it. I liked that each woman had such varying personalities that made them interesting and overall for me it was an enjoyable read right from the beginning. It didn't take long to get into and I soon found I didn't want to put it down.
                      I would definitely recommend it and after enjoying this one so much I know I will be getting her other book as the only reason I didn't when it came out was that I hadn't read this yet and wanted to see what the author was like first before I took the plunge - so now I know, I will be buying next time I spot it whilst out!

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                        10.05.2013 10:59
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                        A fabulous book!

                        I have owned this book for quite some time. In fact, I bought it when it first got released into paperback and then I put it on my shelf of 'unread' books and then just never got around to picking it up. Before buying this I had read one of the authors other books and had really enjoyed it. I just simply always got distracted by other books first and it was only because, a TV series of this book recently came out and I wanted to read the book first. I picked it up straight away and devoured it during some time off work.


                        The author:
                        Dorothy Koomson is an English author who has now written eight books. She has previously written for women's magazines and newspapers and published her first book in 2001 with the Cupid Effect. Her third novel, my best friend's girl, was selected to be a Richard and Judy summer reads book club and did amazingly well.
                        All of Koomson's books are well researched and have thought provoking and usually intense subject matter that make them a strong read.


                        The plot:
                        Serena Gorringe and Poppy Carlisle are two young, naïve girls when they both fall under the charms of Marcus Halnsley. When a crime is committed and they are the only two who are witness to it, their lives are turned upside down. Dubbed the 'Ice cream girls' by the press due to how glamorous the two teens seem they were soon dealt with by the courts.
                        Years later, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened whilst Serena what's nothing about her past to come to light to those who don't know the details. However, some things will not stay buried and when their secret comes out again, everything will become a living hell again for them both and those around them. Can the past really stay in the past or does it need to be dealt with so that everyone can move on from it?



                        Characters:
                        I found I really took to both of our main characters because they were normal teenage girls who simply fell for somebody that they probably shouldn't have but, also couldn't help having feelings for. However, I felt that they were then both manipulated and used by Marcus and he was the one who should have not done what he did.
                        I liked how the book flipped between past and present and we were able to get a feel for them as people from years ago and also now, so that we could understand their personalities and what they had become like. I think both girls were vulnerable and scared during their time spent with Marcus and this shone through in how the author portrayed their thoughts and feelings.
                        Marcus came across as the horrible, vile person he was and I liked how the author managed to get this across fully in the book with the words she used and small scenes she used in the flashbacks.
                        Overall, the characters were extremely well thought out and written and I think had these characters not have been as strong; the book would just not have worked as well at all.


                        Price:
                        When I bought this book in Tesco, it was when they did a brief spell of doing 'buy one get one free' on the books and you simply paid for the higher priced book. At the time, I bought two that were both priced at £6.99 so I paid pretty much £3.50 for each which is a really good deal for a brand new book. You can still get this book in major book shops but, will pay the full RRP. If you look around online you should be able to find it cheaper than that though although I do think it is well worth its full asking price!



                        Overall opinion:
                        A fabulous book that dealt with a strong, emotional and turbulent storyline, it was well written and researched. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from the first page and once I started reading, I simply did not want to put it down.
                        I was also gripped by the fact that I wasn't really sure what had actually happened until the very end and this really added an edge to the overall storyline. I can say that the book made me cry at times simply due to how strong some of the emotions came across and I think the author had an excellent way of getting these across which considering this is a book, is sometimes hard to do for some other writers.
                        I am of course going to be recommending this book and really think that if you enjoy an emotional and moving read, this will appeal to you. On another note, I did go on to watch the TV series of it straight after finishing the book however; I didn't really feel it did do it justice, not because of the acting, but more that I felt it strayed too far away from the original storyline. I know it was only based on the book, but I feel they should have really instead made it more exact as I think this would have blown the viewer away more than by changing parts of the story. So maybe if you did see the series, but, haven't read the book, go away and read it now and see how much better the book is!

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                          06.06.2012 22:00
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                          A great beach read book!

                          I have read both Melanie Roses other books and have enjoyed them both so this book was on my list of ones to buy for quite some time. However, my friend was nice enough to buy it for my birthday for me so I was very pleased indeed to receive it as a gift and couldn't wait to get stuck into reading it!



                          The author:
                          Melanie Rose is an English author who lives in Surrey with her husband and four sons. She is also a trained nursery nurse and has worked as a play therapist on the children's ward at Royal Marsden hospital before she started writing full time.
                          Melanie Rose has two other books out and these are both also in the chick lit genre.


                          Plot:
                          Jessica Taylor quite likes her life with just her and her little dog Frankie but, one day she is struck by lightning whilst out walking Frankie and suddenly her life changes in a way she never even dreamt could be possible! Waking up in hospital, she realises quite quickly that her body is in somebody else's - a woman named Lauren Richardson and with her body comes her family of husband and four children! But, when she goes back to sleep and wakes again, she is back to being Jessica. She soon works out that every time she sleeps she will wake up as the other and before long she is leading a life between the two women's bodies and lives. How will she go back to just being herself and what will happen to Lauren if she does - Jessica is soon starting to worry if she will ever get back to her own life as just Jessica?



                          Characters:
                          Jessica Taylor is a great person to have as a main character as she is such a nice person and somebody that the readers will be able to relate to and also more importantly, like. She is a person who the reader will root for and I certainly did whilst I was reading the book as I liked how she tried to do what was best for the family of Laurens and how she started to make the family come together more because of the way she acted whilst she was in the body of Lauren.
                          I think that the author choosing to have Lauren as the other character was also a clever move as she is a polar opposite of Jessica and this made it more interesting as Jessica's personality came through and her family got more and more confused by the way she acts and is around them! Generally speaking, the way the reader hears about how Lauren is as herself, I was thinking that I definitely wouldn't like the person she is normally!
                          There are many other people involved in the storyline and I felt the author did a really good job at developing them each enough that they had a good input without them overpowering the main characters.


                          Price:
                          I was given my book from a friend for my birthday and I was really pleased as I had wanted to read it for ages. I know this book has a RRP of £6.99 but, you can purchase this book from many places for much less than that! However, I do believe the full price tag is worth it anyway.




                          Overall opinion:
                          I really enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons. I felt that first of all, the characters were interesting and enjoyable to read about and when you like the characters, it is really easy to get into the book quickly and just enjoy it. Secondly, the storyline was interesting. Yes, it is not necessarily a new concept and has been done many times before across films and books however, it was still a good read and one that had an interesting enough plot to keep me entertained and I was constantly wanting to find out what was going to happen and therefore I couldn't put it down.
                          Overall, this was definitely a book I would recommend and I am glad I have in my collection of ever growing books. If you have never read one of Melanie Rose's books then I would certainly say to give this a try and I am sure you will love it.

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                            10.04.2012 21:18
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                            A culture guide for Italy

                            This guide was a book purchased by me when my Wanderlust magazine ran an offer for its subscribers to purchase books free and just pay for postage. Being a lover of the Italian places I have been to visit so far and completely loving the way of life, I felt this guide might be of some use to myself and hubby to read through and pick up any other bits of useful information as well as being useful to have for work purposes working within the travel industry.


                            The publishers:
                            The Culture smart books are published by Kuperard. They also publish a lot of other travel guides of which I have used or come across in my job.

                            The range:
                            The culture smart books are designed to help visitors understand cultures and customs as well as giving advice on how to get the most out of your time there including the best way to see sights, get around or connect with the locals. They are not to be bought as a guide book with a list of sights to see and opening times etc and if you bought one for this reason you would be sorely disappointed!

                            Culture Smart Italy:
                            The Italy guide is really quite eye catching with a bright green cover and a picture of the Grand Canal in Venice. I am a great lover of the small amount of Italy that I have managed to visit so far and I love the way the Italians are so for me, I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible of the place. Italy is a country I have sold for years but, it wasn't really until I visited myself that I realised how diverse a country it is and also how beautiful. I was hoping when I purchased this guide that it would enlighten me in areas I may know have much knowledge of.
                            The book, as with all culture smart guides, is broken down into chapters and this particular one has nine, each with their own sub areas. There are the expected chapters such as 'Getting around' and 'communicating' as well as such ones as 'Values and attitudes' and 'daily life'. In particular for me, I am desperate to try and eventually speak the language fully and although admittedly, it isn't go rather well just yet, I found the chapters on communicating very interesting especially in regards to body language. A part of what I love about Italy is the expressive way the Italians talk with their hands as I do the same so I feel very at home when there! I liked how they gave some small examples of hand language you might see and the differences between the North and South.
                            The guide covers basics too such as nice little map before the introduction and a key fact page after it with capital city, currency, populations etc. There is even also a regional guide on what place is the capital of each region too which is quite interesting. There is also recommended further reading material listed at the very back just before the index.


                            Other things:
                            Many important top tips or need to know type information is presented in a green bubble box. In keeping with the rest of the colour scheme of the book, the text is then a darker shade of green. I like this as it gives the book a bit more oomph than just being very plain and boring.
                            It is worth noting that these guides do not contain opening times to attractions and a literally more of a culture guide than one you would use to plan your attraction seeing.

                            The author:
                            This particular guide was written by Charles Abbot who has travelled extensively around Italy and has worked over the past 10 years as a consultant with many Italian firms in places such as Rome, Milan, Genoa and Naples. He is also a director for the international communications training institute at international house in London, a language school with affiliates in four Italian cities so it seems he is more than qualified to give information on this wonderful country.

                            Prices:
                            As I mentioned I received an offer through my Wanderlust subscription to receive these guides free although of course I did have to pay for postage. However the offer I had meant I still only paid around £5 for 7 books at the time which of course works out to a measly 71p per book - Not bad at all in my opinion! I then bought some more the next time the offer ran so I do own a large range of these books. Usually they are priced at £6.95 each and this is pretty much average for a travel guide. I would say keep your eyes peeled for offers though as they frequently run these on the Kuperard website which is where I purchased all of my culture smart guides from.


                            Overall opinion:
                            I personally think this is another great guide from the Culture Smart range. I do feel there are some things I already know but, this is probably due to my job and having travelled to Italy on numerous occasions. However, if you had never been or only visited once, you may find this book a useful tool in helping you enjoy your future visits. I certainly recommend it and have found lots of useful bits from it to which I am grateful for. It is only a small book and at just 168 pages long it will never give you everything you need to know but, it can certainly cover a lot. A definite recommendation from me.

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