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jack_sparrow

jack_sparrow
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Member since: 15.05.2009

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    • Twinings Green Tea & Mint / Tea / 30 Readings / 30 Ratings
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      22.12.2010 15:18
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      A great way to unwind after a long day, or just to relax

      As someone who is an affectionate tea afficionado, the most usual phrase someone replies when I suggest green tea is that it has a bitterish, unpleasant taste or that it tastes like grass (don't know how you get to know this, but anyway). It's true that green tea is a bit bittery, however, you'll get used to it. Fast foward three months ago, during a visit to a tea shop, and I find this particular Twinings box inviting... green tea & mint!

      Mint tea is very sweet tasting and relaxing (and a particular favourite of mine), and it soothes your throat and stomach; this is due to a compound called menthol. So, does Twinings green tea & mint tea stand up to my expectations? Yes, I really enjoy having a cuppa before sleeping - whilst the majority of the leaves in the teabag are green tea, the mint leaves overpower the green tea's bitter taste, leaving a particularly unique taste of green tea with a sweet mint flavour, however it is not that sweet-tasting. One tip that I highly recommend is that you use lukewarm water to brew in order for the tea not to develop a bitter taste.

      I highly suggest that you try this particular Twinings tea for a couple of reasons. First, the teabags are sealed individually, ensuring that the taste and smell doesn't disintegrate - this is something which happened when I used to buy mint teabags that where not sealed - after a couple of days, the tea would be totally without taste! Secondly, you can smell the tea's flavour coming out from your mug whilst it is brewing - for me, it is a sign of quality and that the mint flavour in the tea is strong enough to my liking.

      I strongly suggest that you try it out, it's really great for when relaxing, or unwinding after a long, stressful day. And don't forget the health benefits of green tea - a cup every now and then will help you take in your body some good antioxidants.

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        28.09.2009 18:49
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        Whole-heartedly recommended!

        Caffeine-free, and marked as a relaxing herbal tea, I decided to buy a pack and try it out. I am an avid tea-lover, and I am always trying different teas. This was my first time buying a Twinings product, and I have not been dissappointed.

        Twinings have really made a great herbal tea here, perfect for relaxing before bedtime. For those of you who do not like camomile tea too much (like my mum), do not fear - the honey and vanilla flavours make this tea really great tasting.

        Taste

        The main flavour you'll be tasting is camomile, with a hint of honey and vanilla. The ingredients are, in my opinion, in the right quantities - the flavour is neither too sugary nor too bitter - perfect! Twinings have really hit the nail with this tea... it's very relaxing. The smell that emanates from your mug is very pleasuring, it's a mix of strong honey and vanilla smells.

        Brewing

        The instructions on the packaging tell you to leave the tea bag for three to five minutes in boiling water. Twinings also suggest that you add some honey (I have never tried this out). I like my tea lukewarm, so what I'll do is let the kettle boil etc. and leave the tea bag for around six to seven minutes, with occasional stirring. Depending on your liking, as a general rule leave the tea bag according to how you like your tea, the more you like it stronger, the more you'll have to leave it.

        Packaging

        The only thing I did not like is the useless, seperate packaging of each tea bag - in my opinion it would have been better if the tea bags were packed in a single, re-sealable packaging (my environmental side talking!). To be fair however, overall the packaging is well-designed with all the necessary information provided.

        Ingredients

        Camomile (89.2%), flavourings (9.8%), honey pieces (0.5%) and vanilla pieces (0.5%)

        Verdict

        A great way to unwind and relax before bedtime, especially after a stressful day. I find the smell quite intoxicating, and the taste is overall very mild and enjoyable. Whole-heartedly recommended!

        [POSTED ON CIAO.CO.UK USERNAME JSPARROW18]

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          24.05.2009 16:59
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          My approval of the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series.

          I can still remember looking at Goblet of Fire for the first time during a short family holiday in a bookshop located near Windsor castle, in 2001. I had never read or even heard of Harry Potter (I really don't know why; maybe I was too young, I was around eleven at that time), however the attractive cover immediately caught my eye and I managed to convince my brother to persuade our mum and dad to buy it for us. The novel immediately captured all my attention, and I had read more than half the novel on the journey back home. Goblet of Fire is the first book that I read in the Harry Potter series, and the one that made me quite a Harry Potter fan for a time (I still am!).

          The novel starts off by telling us the dark story of when the Riddle Family was murdered in their house, fifty years ago. We get to meet Frank Bryce, the prime suspect of the murders (he was the family's caretaker during that time). Police investigate in vain, and due to the fact that no evidence was ever found, Frank was never accused of the murders, and Frank became the subject of harsh discrimination from the other villagers. We then jump off fifty years later - Frank hears some noises in the mansion (he lives nearby), and angrily creeps inside the house to discover whom was inside - unfortunately, it is Lord Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew, whom we met at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban (the third, previous novel). Frank, totally shocked by what he has seen, is killed, and two hundred miles away, Harry wakes up, with his distinctive forehead scar in pain.

          After a disastrous meeting between the Dursleys and the Weasleys (at Privet Drive), Harry attends to the Quidditch World Cup Final between Bulgaria and Ireland. The plot quickly turns sinister when the night celebrations after the match are disturbed by the presence of the Dark Eaters, signalling the return of Lord Voldemort. The wizarding world is immediately thrown into turmoil over the debate whether Lord Voldemort is truly back or not. Also, Hogwarts this year is host to the Triwizard Tournament, a tournament which is being held again after decades of opposition to it due to its dangerous nature. Different wizarding schools compete for the title, and we get to see two other schools being hosted at Hogwarts; Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute. Despite being underage, Harry gets mixed up and chosen to participate in the tournament, and many students start to despise him, the reason being that many believe he wanted to participate in order to become even more famous. Why has Harry been chosen to participate in the Triwizard Tournament? You'll find out more as the novel progresses...

          We also get to meet new characters, like Mad Eye Moody (the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher), whom becomes a recurring character in the sequels. In my opinion, the novel's plotline is very strong and interesting - Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts is remarkably more different than the previous ones that we read about in the previous novels. Despite the dark plotline, the novel also has its lighter moments you'll certainly enjoy, like the Yule Ball and Hermoine setting up S.P.E.W, the Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare.

          I give the novel a five out of five ratings - the novel is very interesting, and for Harry Potter enthusiasts, it continues to build spectacularly on the previous novels. The novel is also longer than the previous novels, which is certainly a plus for me. I recommend that you buy the hardback novel(like the copy I own), as the paperback version hasn't, in my opinion, a strong spineback to hold that amount of pages.

          [POSTED ON CIAO.CO.UK USERNAME JSPARROW18]

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            21.05.2009 12:37
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            Recommended.

            Developed by Electronic Arts, Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup (PS2) is the ultimate video game on the fictional wizarding sports, Quidditch. Now, it is the non-wizarding world's chance to have a try at learning and playing Quidditch - for all those who aren't sure that they're capable of playing, don't worry, there are lessons you take to show you how to play and there is also the manual with detailed controls and help.

            You first start by learning the basics of Quidditch at Hogwarts after choosing your favourite house, after which you can participate in the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup. Unlike the Quidditch matches in the other related Harry Potter videogames, you now have a shot at playing in every position; chaser, keeper, beater and seeker, thus putting you more in control of the final outcome of the match. You'll also learn and be able to perform selected moves; you'll unlock more as you'll progress throughout the game. Another key feature is that you'll collect Quidditch Cards which then help you unlock special moves and extra features - you will win these cards at several points during the game, such as completing a Challenge. The game doesn't stop at the end of the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup; if you manage to win it you will automatically unlock the Quidditch World Cup. You can choose from nine national teams and you will be responsible for one of them during the tournament. Here, you will also be able to play in different stadiums, which have been wonderfully designed. Another feature that will be unlocked here is that of broomstick selection, however, the range of choice depends on your level of skill - you will be able to choose amongst others the Firebolt and the Comet 260, all having different attributes.

            The game has a wonderful case, with Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter competing to catch the Snitch (with Harry having the advantage), and I totally congratulate Electronic Arts for its graphical design. The game's main features are also on the back together with gameplay images. One must also mention the quality of the game's soundtracks (composed by Jeremy Soule, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra) and the manual, which is very helpful for new players and contains a lot of information.

            The game however, unfortunately, has its downfalls as well. For experienced PlayStation2 players (and I guess players on other platforms too) the game is relatively short to complete, even though some Quidditch matches may be more noticeably difficult than others. Another thing that attracted criticism was the limited choice of the national teams one can choose in the game (United States, England, France, Germany, Norway, Japan, Spain, Australia and Bulgaria), particularly the exclusion of the Irish team, which was featured prominently in the beginning of the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series. I also didn't like the menu interface - I thought it was too much simple and bland, as if it was done in a hurry.

            To conclude, I give this game a star rating of 4 out of 5 - the gameplay is exciting and very entertaining, even in the view of the game's downfalls (hence the reduced star). I particularly recommend it to all younger Harry Potter games and to people who wish to play something related to Harry Potter.

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            • Green Teas - in general / Tea / 33 Readings / 33 Ratings
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              19.05.2009 23:20
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              I totally recommend green tea!

              Made from the leaves of Camellia Sinesis, a plant native in South Asia, tea is the most consumed drink on our planet, after water. There are several types of tea that one can find all over the world today; the most popular include oolong tea, black tea, herbal tea and green tea. Green tea has become very popular in the past years, mainly due to its long-purported health benefits. In this review I will briefly discuss the major health benefits of drinking green tea, how I personally make green tea and product suggestions.

              Green tea has been consumed in Asia for thousands of years. It has also been used in folk medicine to clean and help heal wounds and to ease the effects of a hangover (which many of us quite reluctantly know well!). Today, thanks to globalization, it seems that we're catching up on discovering the healthy benefits of green tea consumption! Green tea is very rich in antioxidants, especially in polyphenols and catechins. Scientific research has provided evidence that green tea drinking helps to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. It also helps to improve the ratio between good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). New research is also proving that green tea can help to burn fat (yeahh!) and prevent tooth decay due to its fluoride content. There are many more reported health benefits; however, it is impossible to include them all here. A word of advice that I give you is not to believe everything that you read on the Internet as it may be false information or even make-belief for marketing purposes.

              Unfortunately, a lot of people do not drink green tea because they either did not like its taste or else fear that they won't enjoy drinking it. Personally, I find that green tea tastes remotely of grass, however, I managed to get used to its bitter taste, and after some time, you'll get used to it. You can really make a difference in your health by adding green tea to your diet, provided that, as all other things in life, you don't over-consume (two to three cups a day is considered enough by many). Moderation is the key to everything!

              Personally, I prefer using green tea leaves, only using green teabags when I'm in a hurry. It doesn't take that long to brew a cup of green tea using leaves. All you need is a teapot and a tea strainer (they are very cheap nowadays). As soon as the kettle is boiling, take it off the burner and pour a little amount in the teapot and leave it one to two minutes so that the teapot gets warm. Empty the teapot, and then throw a teaspoon of green tea leaves - you have to experiment a bit, the stronger you like your tea, the more you have to throw as a general rule. Start with a small amount if you've never drank green tea before so that you would have the chance to get used to its taste. Pour the desired amount of boiled water in the teapot, and leave it brewing (with some regular teaspoon twirls) for around five to six minutes. Using the tea strainer, you can then proceed to pour into your mug. Excellent! I also find that re-brewing the same tea leaves does not alter the taste too much, provided that not a lot of time has passed since you've made tea! This also applies to teabags as well. As regards caffeine content, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee and other types of tea, and it is best to check with your GP if you can't take any caffeine or need to reduce caffeine intake.

              I personally prefer and recommend Ahmad Tea London (http://www.ahmadtea.com) green tea leaves. As for teabags, I've tried Heath and Heather's green teabags, and I greatly recommend them. Green tea isn't that much expensive today, however, I recommend that you try different brands before settling for one.

              To conclude, I'd recommend green tea to anyone interested in keeping themselves healthy and fit. If you manage to get used to its bitter taste (come on, its not that too difficult!) you'll be doing yourself a great favour and your body will thank you for this. A cup of green tea will certainly boost your body with the antioxidants found in it, and it may very well help to keep the doctor away!

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                19.05.2009 11:29
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                My review of the book

                Written by the famous magizoologist (a zoologist specializing in magical creatures) Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was published in 2001 (together with Quidditch Through the Ages) with the aim of raising funds for UK Charity Comic Relief. It has been calculated that approximately $30 million have been raised from the sales proceedings of these two companion books. The book itself is a reproduction copy of the one owned by Harry Potter, and to the reader's amusement, there are several scribblings and chitchat written all over the book involving Harry, and sometimes Ron and Hermoine, sometimes consisting of references to particular events in the book and general wizarding culture.

                With a quick Foreword by Albus Dumbledore, who cheekily tells us at the end that these creatures are merely fictional, the book starts off by introducing the definition of a beast, and what determines being one or not (apparently there has been a lot of disagreement about this in the past). J K Rowling inserts quite a lot of wizarding world historical information; however, given her writing style, you'll certainly keep on reading. Totally amusing, the next chapter is on Muggle awareness of magical creatures, and how certain measurements are taken by the Ministry of Magic to prevent sightings and action taken to alter memories of Muggle people concerned.

                The remaining part, which is considerably the bulk of the book, is dedicated to describing most, if not all, of the magical creatures which one can come across in the Harry Potter universe. There is also a Ministry of Magic classification on each creature which tells you whether it is just harmless or else a known wizard killer. Every creature ranging from centaurs to dragons are described in detail. Certain scribblings written near certain creatures's descriptions will crack up most Harry Potter fans, like references to Hagrid's inherent ability of raising creatures that according to this book are classified as deadly or really dangerous.

                In my opinion, I enjoyed this book much more than Quidditch Through the Ages, mainly due to the way it was designed, especially Harry's scribblings. It is very useful for younger readers who need to find a description of the creature they read about in the novels; it helps them to understand better. I recommend it to all Harry Potter readers; besides helping Comic Relief and vulnerable, poor people around the world, you will also get a great companion book! The only shortcoming is that the book is rather short, however, really interesting.

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                  17.05.2009 20:39
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                  Review of Quidditch Through The Ages

                  With a short Foward by Professor Albus Dumbledore, telling us muggle readers how hard it was to get Madam Pince (the strict Hogwarts librarian) to lend him this book to be reproduced to make it available to non-witches and non-wizards, Quidditch Through The Ages is an exciting, short-book that will help quench the questions of Harry Potter fans on the wizarding sport Quidditch; its origins, the different teams found around the world, rules and regulations, different broom makers and so on.

                  The book first starts with the evolvement of the flying broomstick, and then proceeds to tell us on the history of the earliest versions of Quidditch. You will also learn of the development of the game throughout the centuries, and how the Golden Snitch came to be. Several teams (like the Chudley Cannons) and different broom models and makers are described in detail (like the latest Nimbus model) - you will find it great that you can now search anything related with Quidditch you read about in the Harry Potter novels in this book - it's a sort of short encyclopedia. You'll learn about several popular Quidditch moves, and there is also a newspaper cutting from the wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet. Finally, there are other interesting chapters in the book; amongst others the spread of Quidditch around the world and the state of Quidditch today.

                  Besides the reading content, I really like how the book is presented. The cover is depicted to be worn, reason being that it is one of the most popular books rented from the Hogwarts Library, as stated by Dumbledore in the Foreword. When you open the book, you'll also find the familiar lending slip where there is a list of popular characters from the Harry Potter universe and the date the book is due to be given back, together with a cautionary warning by Madam Pince. We even get to see how much the book is worth in wizard money - 14 sickles, 3 knuts (around ₤2.50p) on the book's back, together with a short message from Dumbledore, encouraging us muggles to buy this book.

                  J K Rowling (Kennilworthy Wisp in fictionary terms) has given us a great companion book, however short it may be, to the Harry Potter series. Together with Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, all proceeds from the sale of these two companion books will go to Comic Relief, which will finance projects around the world to help vulnerable and poor people. Published in 2001, they have been estimated to have earned Comic Relief $30 million. So, besides a great read, if you purchase these books you are also helping humanity.

                  I wholeheartedly recommend it to people who have at read the Harry Potter Series. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

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                  17.05.2009 16:45
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                  An amazing piece of production, I totally recommend you to see it if you haven't

                  I daresay to doubt that J K Rowling would have never had imagined that her Harry Potter creation would make Warner Brothers purchase film rights to the novel, and create a major theatrical release out of it. When this happened, J K Rowling totally insisted that the entire cast be totally British, with the reason given to keep with where the storyline was located. Chris Columbo was chosen as film director, and a search for British actors and actresses to play several characters in the film followed afterwards...

                  After months of hard work, the film was released in November 2001 in several countries around the world. As one can guess, the film is based on the novel, with the storyline being adapted to fit certain film restrictions (such as film duration) and guidelines made by Warner Brothers.

                  Basically, for people who haven't read the novel, it's about Harry's first year at Hogwarts after living a dreadful life with his uncle, aunt and cousin, better known to Pottermania aficionados as the Dursleys. After discovering that he is a wizard, and what had truly happened to his parents (after all those years of being kept in the dark by the Dursleys), Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper takes him to Diagon Alley to purchase his school requirements as indicated on his Hogwarts invitation. In my opinion, this is where the film's magic really starts. The film then continues to show Harry catching the Hogwarts Express, making friends with the Weasleys and Hermoine, his adventures and lessons at school, Quidditch and the discovery of the location of the Philosopher's Stone, and what ensued afterwards...

                  I totally applaud the director Chris Columbus and the rest of the production team for the great work that they have done. The filming locations used, such as Alnwick Castle (used to depict Hogwarts) have all been very well chosen and shot well. A round of applause also must go to the young, inexperienced actors & actresses, especially the famous trio, Daniel Radicliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who each play Harry, Ron and Hermoine respectively. I also totally enjoyed the veterans's acting in the film, like Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) amongst others. This film is also one of the two Harry Potter films (the other being the second film) where Dumbledore is depicted by the legendary Richard Harris, who sadly died on the 25th October, year 2002. In my opinion, shared by many Harry Potter fans, I think that Harris was the best at depicting Professor Dumbledore.

                  The film's music was composed by John Williams, and I have to applaud him here for the wonderful job he has done with his haunting, exciting pieces of musical, orchestral compositions, especially Hedwig's Theme, which has become the standard piece of music to be associated with the Harry Potter world. One must also keep in mind the dress and the special effects departments (the film features nearly 600 special effects shots!), who played a major role in making the film as realistic as the novel. I think that when you consider that the whole team had the nearly impossible task of trying to re-create the novel into a film for the first time, they managed to surpass their initial goals.

                  So why should you watch this film? To be honest, I think that from all the Harry Potter films, this film is the one that follows the novel's plot the majority of the time - Steve Kloves, the screenwriter, did an amazing job in his work. In my opinion, I urge you to watch this film, as it magically captures you just like the novel did to millions of people around the world.

                  I give it a five out of five rating.

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                    16.05.2009 23:05
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                    My review of the game

                    There was nothing about the starry sky that night to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening...

                    This is the opening line when one starts a new game on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PC, Electronic Arts). I can still remember myself, feeling awestruck and overwhelmed with excitment during the early hours of Christmas nearly eight years ago. I was still eleven at that time, so you couldn't blame me so. It was my first computer game that I ever owned; I remember watching the game's advert on LivingTV in late Summer, and telling my parents that it was what I wanted for Christmas.

                    And I wasn't dissappointed. Here I had my opportunity, as a recently-converted Harry Potter fan, to be immersed in the real thing... errr... virtually :). As you might have noticed by now, I'm totally biased in favour of this product, and in this review I'll tell you why, together with details on the game itself.

                    The cutscenes in the game are made up of cartoon-like images with specific text underneath being read by the game's narrator. The first cutscene briefly describes the night Harry Potter ends up at the Dursleys, and how for 11 years he lived with his dreadful uncle, aunt and cousin, until the day he received an invitation telling him to attend Hogwarts, the wizarding school (the game doesn't follow the novel accurately). This cutscene also tells you that Harry went to Hagrid to purchase school items from Diagon Alley, his journey on the Hogwarts Express, the Sorting Hat process and the start-of-year banquet together with Dumbledore's speech (the headmaster of Hogwarts).

                    It doesn't take long for gameplay to begin, and after a brief chat with Dumbledore, you take control of Harry for the first time. Before starting, you are told what you are supposed to achieve in the following period, and you'll also know how many wizard cards you can find (if there are any to find). You will be told what you need to achieve in the following period every time in the game, so you're sort of guided.

                    There are a total of 24 wizard cards that you can find throughout several places in the surroundings of Hogwarts (all gameplay in the game is located in Hogwarts and its surroundings). If you manage to find and collect all 24 wizard cards, you'll unlock a special card as a bonus (I won't tell you of who it is about). With the spells you learn at classes (more on them in a minute), you can unlock secret locations and hidden places full of items, which totally add to the excitement in the game. Other things you collect are Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, which you can exchange with Ron's cheeky brothers Fred and George for wizard cards when you meet them in the game. Lastly, chocolate frogs are a way of boosting your health, and they are quite useful especially if you have been nearly killed in a fight with gnomes or any other creatures.

                    Spells are the essential way to progress further into the game. You'll learn spells in classes (and you'll also learn one with Hermoine) by using your mouse and accurately drawing over the spell symbol on the screen (don't worry, instructions will be read out before you start). Afterwards you'll have a challenge where you can apply the newly-learned spell in different situations and earn points for your house, Gryfinndor. Unfortunately, this also is one of the drawbacks of the game, where, no matter how you fare in earned points, Gryfinndor will always be second, and will only surpass Slytherin at the final cutscene. You will also use your spells to repel and kill the different creatures and enemies you'll encounter throughout the game, ranging from gnomes to venomous tentaculas.

                    Gameplay is based on finding your way around, and solve any puzzles or tricks that are blocking your way to continue. Don't worry about this though, as the first thing you'll do after starting the game is have a sort of minigame-lesson with Fred and George where you'll be shown amongst other things how to jump, explore and collect Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans (you'll also be awarded your first wizard card). Gameplay is also based in different environments, which is certainly pleasant in my eyes; you'll have a run through the forest doing an errand for Hagrid, have a flying lesson, run around the school in Harry's invisibility cloak to deliver Norbert the baby dragon to Hogwart's top tower whilst avoiding the nasty caretaker Filch, and play Quidditch through the game... yes, that's right! You'll play as Gryfinndor's seeker, meaning that you must catch the Golden Snitch in order for the game to end. After completing the game, the Quidditch Tournament in the menu section will be unlocked, and you can play Quidditch with any Hogwarts House that you want to in a Hogwarts House Tournament.

                    You will also run into many of the memorable characters in the book series, like Ron, Hermoine, Hagrid, Dumbledore and Neville Longbottom and the unpleasant Draco Malfoy, and finally Lord Voldemort. I must not forget to mention the simply amazing and wonderful background music, which is totally relaxing and beautifully composed (I think it was taken from the film). It helps to get you more immersed in the game itself, however, to be honest, the game does have its flaws too. Sometimes, you'll find repetitive areas (meaning similar secret places and so on) and jumping might be tedious if you don't switch on Autojump in the Options Menu.

                    All in all, I recommend this game to all Harry Potter fans, especially the younger ones. Even though the graphics may be old by today's standards, and that gameplay gets a bit boring sometimes, for me, this game will always be special as it increased my interest in continuing to read Harry Potter and have a go at being him... virtually.

                    PC Minimum Requirements (as found on the back of the case)
                    OS - Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP
                    Processor - 266MHZ Intel Pentium II
                    Memory - 32 MB RAM
                    Hard Drive - 500MB
                    CD-DVD - 4 Speed
                    Graphics - 4MB PCI/AGP
                    3D Accelerator - Direct 3D
                    Direct X - Version 8.0
                    Input - Keyboard, Mouse

                    Thanks a lot for reading this review, please leave any comments, criticism and suggestions, and if you find any spelling errors do tell me please.

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                      16.05.2009 18:38
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                      Excellent book!

                      Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book by J K Rowling in the Harry Potter series. Published nearly ten years ago, on 8th July 1999, the book starts where we where left off in Chamber of Secrets (the second, previous book) and we'll start reading about Harry's third year at Hogwarts, the wizarding school. Please note that I will not contain spoilers in this review and I will do my best to describe the book without giving the plot away.

                      Considered by many Harry Potter fans and enthusiasts as their favourite book in the series, the storyline becomes darker and more sinister. Harry loses his temper whilst at the Dursleys' in his summer holidays, thanks to Uncle Vernon's sister, Marge, whom Harry inflates, causing her to float away. Running away, with the Knight Bus taking him to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry is surprised to find out that he isn't expelled from Hogwarts. He soon finds out why when he overhears Mr and Mrs Weasley (Ron's parents, Harry's best friend together with Hermoine) arguing on whether he should be told of Sirius Black or not, a prisoner who had recently escaped from Azkaban (the wizarding prison) and with whom Harry has a lot of connections which he, at that time, did not know about... the plot is certainly interesting, and not everything is what it seems to be... and after a pretty hectic journey on the Hogwarts Express (as you'll find out in the book), Harry manages to arrive at Hogwarts safe and sound.

                      A lot has changed in Hogwarts as we progress deeper into the book. As stated on the book cover, the atmosphere is tense at Hogwarts. There is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin, with whom Harry bonds quickly. Dementors (soulless creators that suck souls out of people whom come into contact with; currently guardians at Azkaban) now guard and patrol the borders of the school, due to fears of Sirius Black entering the school. Harry also will find out a lot about his background, and his parents' past, and who betrayed them and who had not...

                      I give this book a five out of five rating because, besides being my favourite in the whole Harry Potter series, it has very well-written and interesting storylines (such as Hagrid's Buckbeak saga and the Quidditch title... I won't say anymore) which evoke emotion and feelings in the reader. The book also has its happy parts, especially when it comes to Quidditch and the saving of an innocent life(I won't say more!). I totally recommend Prisoner of Azkaban to anyone; however, new readers to Harry Potter should read the previous books first in order so that they will understand more the book. Another thing is that I urge you to buy the hardback version, you'll find that if like me, it becomes your favourite in the series, it will last longer and the cover won't be ruined more easily (like what happened to my first two books in the series, which are paperback version).

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                        15.05.2009 18:35
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                        What I think about Weetabix

                        Weetabix is simply one of the most popular breakfast cereals with all health and diet-conscious people on the planet. Whilst many people deem weetabix as bland and tasteless, for weetabix lovers there is an endless variety to the toppings that one can apply.

                        Weetabix is 95% wholegrain, meaning that you'll get more fibre per serving than other cereals that are refined (fibre per two weetabix is 3.8grams). Basically, for every two weetabix portions that you eat, you'll be taking a total calorie intake of 127! Two weetabix also give you 32% of the RDA for vitamins Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folic Acid and Iron. You'll also get around 25g of carbohydrates (most of which are complex, meaning that they take longer to be used and won't spike your insulin and increase your chance of getting fat) and around 4g of protein, with only 0.8g fat! This is why they are so popular with people on a diet and the like. Obviously, you need to add the caloric intake of the milk you add with your Weetabix and those of your toppings if any to calculate your total calorie intake.

                        In my opinion, Weetabix tastes like shredded white white bread. Obviously nobody is going to agree 100% with me as all our tastes and likes differ. However, the greatest advantage of Weetabix is that you can add different toppings so that you're taste buds will never be bored eating the same breakfast cereal. I usually sprinkle some sugar over weetabix and then add milk, and sometimes I use a little bit of honey (beware for those on a restrictive diet!), however I know a lot of people who add raisins, or even sliced bananas and apples, and some who take weetabix with hot water!

                        To conclude, I'd recommend Weetabix to anyone who's looking for a low-calorie breakfast. Despite its seemingly bland taste, you can vary toppings every day. It's not that too filling for me, and I usually take a boiled egg afterwards to feel satieted (full), so I don't recommend it for people who get hungry often or have a huge appetite.

                        Calorie Content per two weetabix:
                        Energy 127kcal
                        Protein 4.3g
                        Carbohydrate 25.7g (of which sugars 1.7g)
                        Fat 0.8g (0.2g saturated)
                        Fibre 3.8g (Soluble 0.9, Insoluble 2.9g)
                        Sodium 0.10g

                        Please note that I have quoted the calorie content from the nutritional part of a normal, 24 servings Weetabix Original package. Thanks!

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                        • V for Vendetta (DVD) / DVD / 11 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                          15.05.2009 15:30
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                          V For Vendetta major storyline, major plot themes and my opinion

                          V For Vendetta is one of the best films I have ever seen. An adaption of a ten-issue comic-book series, V For Vendetta is about a mysterious rebel "V" situated in a near-future dystopian Britain, ruled by the totalitarian regime Norsefire. Besides "V", the other major character is that of Evey Hammond, a young woman who was rescued by "V" from state police who were going to rape her.

                          The main plot involves "V" creating havoc in Britain, trying to increase awareness of the British public on the truth behind several recent accidents and events of the totalitarian government. "V" also manages to get revenge on several people who were responsible for the deadly experiments on inmates at Larkhill detention center. As the film progresses, we get to meet Inspector Finch, whom through his investigation of "V", unplots how the Norsefire came to government, the truth behind several recent accidents and happenings and so on.

                          The major theme in V For Vendetta is that of the struggle between the freedom and the state. There are various things in this film that were inspired rom other dystopian novels, such as George's Orwell's 1984's slogan (War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. In V For Vendetta, Strength through Unity. Unity Through Faith).

                          To conclude, my main reason that I like this film so much (besides the fact that I like the plotline and characters very much) is that it shows us the horror of having society ruled by government, instead of the government being run by the people for people, as said by James McTeigue (film director) on the film's official website on the Warner Brothers' website.

                          [POSTED ON CIAO.CO.UK USERNAME JSPARROW18]

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                            15.05.2009 14:34
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                            My review of Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone :)

                            30th June year 1997 will be remembered as the day when Harry Potter was introduced in the real world. From an initial print-run of 500 copies, with 300 being distributed in libraries, Harry Potter has become a mass phenomenon, and has introduced many to the wonderful world of fiction & fantasy reading. J K Rowling has totally managed to captivate millions with her brilliant Harry Potter series.

                            The Philosopher's Stone book is the first in the Harry Potter series. It is my favourite book from the whole series, and the top book that I have read which I have lost count of my re-readings. The story starts with the aftermath of the downfall of Lord Voldemort, and Harry's abnormal upbringing with the Dursleys... and how he came to discover he was a wizard, who he was and what had happened to him and his parents when he was a year old. We then follow Harry in his first year at Hogwarts, the wizarding school, and the Philosopher's stone plot... I won't continue as I don't like to include spoilers in my reviews, however be rest assured, that the plot is very interesting and changing at times!

                            I doubt that there is anyone out there who hasn't read this first book... otherwise, I recommend you read it! You won't stop reading until the last page due to J K Rowling's seemingly magical ability to write in a way that keeps you hooked.

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                            • Nokia 1208 / Mobile Phone / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                              15.05.2009 13:50
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                              What I like about Nokia 1208

                              Looking for a low-cost, easy to use and no-frills mobile phone? This is what I currently own - Nokia 1208. It doesn't have an mp3 player, bluetooth, camera and the likes of all the modern mobile phones. However, it is totally easy to use, and I recommend it to the older and middle aged people and to all those who find today's technology a bit too difficult to handle.

                              I find it really easy to use and the screen is very clear (it has colour display 65k!). It has a long battery life, and I often find that it only needs once a week recharging. Ringtones can be really heard when you're a long distance from this mobile phone. The keypad is totally dust resistant as it is in one piece, not like the older Nokia models. Another feature that I really like is the backlight feature which you can turn on and off whenever you require it. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone wanting a reliable & cheap mobile phone.

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                              15.05.2009 13:24
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                              The novel's storyline review (without spoilers) and my opinion

                              Published on 2nd July 1998, nearly 11 years ago, Chamber of Secrets (CoS abbreviated) is the second novel in the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling. In this review I will not contain any book spoilers, but an overview of the storyline and what I like and dislike.

                              CoS starts by continuing the story from the first book. Harry isn't having the time of his life during the summer holidays with the Dursleys, mainly due to the fact that he hasn't received any correspondence back from Ron and Hermione, his best friends. However, the story quickly turns to a dark start when Dobby, a house-elf, appears to warn Harry that he will be "in mortal danger" should he return to Hogwarts. Finding that Harry still wants to go to Hogwarts, Dobby creates havoc when he destroys Aunt's Petunia's pudding intended for the dinner party attended by Uncle's Vernon's client. Harry ends up being locked in his bedroom, only to be rescued by Ron's brothers Fred and George Weasley in the famous flying Ford Anglia car.

                              The main plot in the book is the mythical Chamber of Secrets. During the year, countless students are, in different ways, petrified and have ended up under Madam Pomfrey's care. Harry, Ron and Hermione try everything they can in order to find out who is responsible and where is the Chamber of Secrets located, and it is only until Hermione is petrified and Ron's little sister Ginny taken hostage to the Chamber of Secrets to be killed, that the story climaxes.

                              In my opinion, I really have enjoyed reading CoS and I re-read it from time to time; I think that J K Rowling has done a wonderful job of keeping the magic in the plot after the success of the first novel.

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