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I have always liked fantasy novels but one of the things that always puts me off is the absolutely massive size of some of them. It can be a bit daunting when faced with a book that looks as though it will weigh more than a small child. Luckily now with having a kindle this isn’t such a problem for me. The Shadow of the Wind is one of those books that looks huge as a hardback and put me off reading it as I had thought it would be too long and just too confusing trying to remember what characters were what but I decided to give it a try after hearing so many good things about it and I am glad that I did as it has now become one of my favourite books of all time.
The book follows an innkeeper named Kote who is in fact a famous hero named Kvothe Kingkiller who has been tracked down by a chronicler who wants Kote to recount his story. Kvothe agrees and we are then treated to the story of his life from his humble beginnings as a street child to his time at the great university.
With most of the story being told in flashback to Kvothe’s youth I expected the book to plod somewhat but I was mistaken as from the first few pages I was absolutely hooked on his story and fascinated with the level of detail that Patrick Rothfuss has managed to include. The book could so easily have become mundane but the way Rothfuss has written it makes it jump off the page. Kvothe is a fantastic character and although later in life he has an almost mythical reputation here he explains just how he managed to achieve the things that he has.
As this is the first book in a planned series it only follows his life for a certain amount of time but there is a lot packed into the book and even though the paperback comes in at 672 pages it felt like it wasn’t nearly long enough which is the sign of a great book. Patrick Rothfuss has managed to create a world and characters who inhabit it which are absolutely spellbinding. Although to be honest there isn’t a huge amount of epic adventures in this book the retelling of even the mundane parts of Kvothe’s life are fascinating in their own right and it was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down and found myself reading into the early hours.
This is the first book in a series though there have only been two books released so far (with the sequel being every bit as good as this one) so I need to hope that Mr Rothfuss is writing quickly as I can’t wait to read the next one and continue the adventures of Kvothe. Until then this book has become my favourite fantasy book of all time and has great re-readability.
I got suckered into the Timeriders books by a recommendation from a friend. They didn’t sound like my sort of books at all from the description but he insisted I try them and within a few chapters I was hooked and lucky for me I was late to the party so there were already several books in the series that had already been released so I could devour them all without having to wait too long for the next one.
The story follows the basic premise that three teenagers from different eras of time all being rescued just moments from their death by a mysterious man. There is Liam O’Connor who should have died aboard the Titanic in 1912, Maddy Carter who should have died on a plane in 2010 and Sal Vikram who should have died in a fire in 2029.
The three teenagers are recruited to a secret agency that is dedicated to saving and preserving history because time travel is real and there are people who would change the course of history wiping out everyone that ever lived if there is no one there to stop them.
It all sounds a bit corny and they are aimed at the young adult market but they are so well written that within a few chapters of reading this I was hooked and fascinated by the premise of a group protecting the rest of the world from the dangers of time travel.
Although they are young adult it doesn’t matter in the slightest as the characters are so well written that you soon forget that they are teenagers. There is also a lot of darkness to the books especially in the later ones in the series. The group are sent to New York as a base on the eve of the Worl Trade Centre disaster so every day they have to experience the disaster over again. There is a lot of thought about death in the book and it does actually get you thinking especially about the (ok not something I think we have to actually worry about) the dangers that time travel could pose.
The first book doesn’t take long with the set up and it isn’t long before the group have to stop the world changing as someone has went back to Nazi Germany and has changed the future to something that is unrecognisable and they need to go back and fix it before the change can become permanent.
One of the things that I liked best about the book and the others in the series is the fact that each one spends time in a different period of history so it is fascinating to read about them all. The main thing about it that I liked though was it was just a really well written and enjoyable book for both adults and children alike and can be enjoyed by both.
Shakespeare’s Champion is the second book in the Lily Bard series of mystery books from author Charlaine Harris. I starting reading these books as I was a massive fan of her Southern Vampire books which the TV show True Blood is based upon.
Unlike the Southern Vampire books this series has nothing supernatural about it as it is a good old fashioned murder mystery but what it does share is the small town setting and the same easy writing style.
Shakespeare’s Champion is the second book featuring Lily Bard the tough as nails cleaning lady who moved to the town of Shakespeare to escape some traumatic incident in her past. In this book Lily is visiting the gym early one morning and discovers the body of a local builder which looks like a tragic accident but when other incidents start happening around the town it soon becomes apparent that it is no accident.
These books were a nice discovery for me as although I loved Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire books I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of a straight mystery series. It does share a lot of similarities with those books however as you really get to discover the cast of characters that inhabit the town. There is also a really easy flow to the book and a lot of it just involves Lily going about her daily life which some people might not like but I enjoy as it means that you really feel as though you are getting to know her and some of the other characters better.
Although there is something distinctly twee feeling about the writing there is nothing twee about the plot as it is quite dark in places. This one concerns racism and it gets quite dark and nasty in places and it is fascinating to read about things like this that were still happening in America in the late 90’s. For me this was the most difficult to read in the series but also was my favourite so far out of the four that I have read.
Everything isn’t tied up nicely in the end and I was left feeling frustrated with parts of the outcome but I think that is the sign of a good writer that although parts frustrated me I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see the story continue.
Lily herself is a fascinating character and one that I felt that I got to know much better in this book than the first. She is still distant with people but you see her open up a little bit more and learn a little bit more about her and her previous life before coming to Shakespeare. She also gets a love interest in this one and although no fan of romances I was curious to see where it would go given all her problems.
This is a first rate murder mystery with a dark edge to it.
I loved Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires series of books featuring Sookie Stackhouse and all the other weird and wonderful inhabitants of Bon Temps. For those that haven’t read them give them a try as they are vastly superior to the True Blood TV show that is based on them.
After finishing the last book in the series I decided to try out some other Charlaine Harris novels and started with this one which is the first in her Lily Bard Mystery series. It was published in 1996 well before she enjoyed massive success with the Southern Vampire books and is a different kettle of fish entirely from those books.
There is nothing supernatural or urban fantasy about these books and instead are good old murder mysteries though with a darker edge than a lot of these small town set series.
The books follow Lily Bard who has moved to the small town of Shakespeare after a horrific and violent incident in her previous life and is trying to live a quiet and peaceful life as a cleaner. When she discovers the dead body of the landlord of the building she cleans she tries to stay out of it though of course she is soon dragged into the story and the mystery of who would kill him and for what reason.
The synopsis of this book makes it sound like every other murder mystery book around but what makes it different is Charlaine Harris’s ability to create a fascinating and flawed bunch of characters and you really feel as though you get to know them as the book progresses. Lily herself is hugely flawed but all the more relatable for it. She is tough and resourceful but because of what happened to her before she moved to Shakespeare she is vulnerable and keeps herself distant from all the other characters that also inhabit Shakespeare.
The mystery portion of the book works well and I found myself guessing right up until the end who the murderer could be and what were the motives for killing the landlord.
The reason that I think the book works so well is because of the writing of Charlaine Harris. Over the years she has become one of my favourite authors as she has a writing style which is completely her own. All her books have a lovely flow to them and you can just pick them up and read a chapter whenever you want. This one is no exception and although it is a murder mystery one of the joys of it is that it doesn’t spend the majority of the book discussing the murder and a lot of the time is spent just getting to know the characters and exploring the town of Shakespeare.
The mystery does have a satisfying conclusion to it and I was left at the end of the book looking forward to getting stuck into the next book in the series and finding out more about the enigmatic Lily Bard.
I got a few Trek bars in an outdoor clothing and accessory shop as they were selling them off cheaply so they had come down in price from 1.40 to 80p each so I bought a few different flavours to try them out.
The packaging and the description of the bars made them sound interesting and I was curious to see what they would taste like. I usually pack a few cereal bars with me when I go hiking even on short hikes just to keep my energy levels up but usually they aren’t even remotely healthy and are normally full of sugar.
These bars are different as they are made using 100% natural ingredients and full of protein to slowly release energy and keep you fuller for longer. They were advertised as being a good bar to take on hikes but they would also make a decent breakfast bar or just a healthy snack.
This was my least favourite of the flavours that I tried as it was just a bit bland. It tasted ok but it was lacking the flavour that the other bars had. The main taste is peanut but it is subtle and as I said just a bit bland. It is quite a dense and chewy bar and I quite liked the texture as it made it seem quite a substantial snack to have.
Although this might not have been the tastiest bar that I have ever had it was a lot better than a lot of these healthy cereal bars which sometimes have no taste at all. The flavour might be a bit bland but at least you can feel smug whilst eating it knowing that it has all natural ingredients and contains extras such as ginseng and ginko biloba in it. It even counts as one of your five a day apparently.
I do quite a bit of hiking and these were for sale in an outdoor clothing shop that I buy a lot of things from. As every hiker knows you need to be prepared and you should always make sure you have some water as well as some food with you out on a hike.
To be honest I only bought this as they had a special offer on and were selling the bars for 80p each so I got a few different favours as normally they were selling for 1.40 each.
Basically these are just cereal bars that are advertised for walkers and for the health conscious as they are made with lots of natural ingredients with wholefoods and no added sugar in them.
The mixed berry bars contain a mix of oats, raw dates, raspberries, strawberries and raw raisins. They also have added ingredients such as ginseng and ginko bilboa. From the ingredient list they sounded very healthy and also virtuous so to be honest I wasn’t expecting great things from the flavour as usually these mega healthy energy bars aren’t very nice tasting.
I was pleasantly surprised with how this tasted as I didn’t have high hopes but I actually enjoyed it. It was full of flavour and the berries came through. The main fruit in it seemed to be the dates which are a fruit that I liked. There seemed to be a lot more fruit than oats which gave the bar a strange but not unpleasant texture.
The bar was very dense which made it seem more substantial than I had thought it was going to be. I actually felt that I had eaten something satisfying after eating this. I mean if you are starving hungry then this isn’t going to fill you up but it is a pretty decent tasting snack which satisfies between meals.
I ate this whilst hiking as I knew it was going to be more nutritious than a chocolate bar as well as release energy better and slower than something that was full of sugar and it helped me keep my energy levels up whilst walking.
This is a better option than a normal cereal bar which is full of sugar. I wouldn’t recommend it to people just looking for a tasty snack as although it was nice it wasn’t as nice as a bar of chocolate but it is a much healthier alternative and it is ideal for hikers as it will release energy slowly and help you keep your blood sugar levels up whilst out.
A friend of mine decorated using a paint pad and she said it was so much easier and more convenient than using a brush or a roller so I decided to buy one and try it out for myself but I have to say that I wasn’t as impressed as she was.
I bought an Anza paint pad from B&Q for £5.98. This was for just the larger sized paint pad on its own but you can also buy a set which includes smaller ones and a tray as well as the larger paint pad. I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on buying the more expensive set as I didn’t really get on with the pad I got.
The paint pad is fairly easy and straight forward to use and as the actual pad itself is 9 inches it can do a fairly large area of painting quickly. Once the pad is attached to the base you just load it up with paint then scrape the excess off on the side of your paint tray and then use it on your walls.
The paint pad has a handle so it is easy to use and hold and maneuvers quite well around the wall. It really does do large areas a lot quicker than with a brush or a roller. Also as long as you use it correctly there are no splashes to worry about unlike with a roller.
The problem that I had with it was that I just thought this was a bit flimsy and the pad kept coming loose from the base and I spent ages attaching it back on. I also just didn’t think it gave as smooth and even finish as I get with brushes and rollers. Perhaps I was doing something wrong but when the walls were dry I kept noticing areas where the paint was very thin and I could see the colour underneath so I needed to redo these areas of the wall.
I also didn’t think it was anywhere near as good at keeping things neat as I was lead to believe. I thought I could go straight to the skirtings and the coving as it had a flat edge but this ended up getting paint on them so in the end I had to leave gaps and still had to use my brush to cut in and keep it neat round the edges.
I can understand why people like these as they do save a lot of time but for me I just didn’t think that it was as effective as using a traditional roller and brush. I looked at my painting after having used this and could see so many areas where I wasn’t happy with the finish and when I use a roller and a brush I find that it is neater and gives me personally a better finish.
The LG G2 is an amazing mobile phone but unfortunately LG decided to skimp in using more premium materials and plumped for plastic and not only plastic but shiny plastic which makes the phone slippy in the hands and I had only owned it for a few hours when I realised that buying a case for it wasn''t only a good idea but pretty much a necessity. This flip case is a little bit different from the old style ones as it has a cut out window placed near the top of the phone and the phone has special software specially designed to allow the phone to interact with the window. When the case is on the phone and you have the front lid closed the phone shows the time, weather and music controls which are the things that most people turn their phone on for all the time. It means that you don''t need to keep opening the case just to do something quick like change a music track. You can also do things like pick up phone calls and snooze your alarm if it goes off quickly from the window without having to open it. I definitely prefer this to having to open a case every time I take it out of my pocket to check the time or see who is calling me. The case is made up of two components with the back being made of a hard plastic shell and the front part being made of polyurethane. The two parts are bonded together and feel secure and the front slip part will fit behind the back shell when you want unobstructed access to the screen. When you look at the case both the front and the back are made to be thin but you do have to be aware that you are adding protection to both the front and the back of your phone so it does add some bulk. As the G2 is quite a thin phone though it doesn''t make it huge but you notice the extra weight and thickness especially if putting it in your jeans pocket. The trade off from this extra weight and thickness is that you get extra protection and it does protect my screen and usually this is where I get damage from scratches and cracks. The only problem that I have with the flip part is that it isn''t magnetically attached to the screen to there is always the danger of dropping the phone from a height and then the flip opening before it hits the ground and your phone screen being unprotected from the fall. The case allows for complete access to all the ports on the phone so you don''t need to take it on and off for things like charging or putting in headphones etc. It also comes in a variety of different colours so you can have it stand out as much or as little as you would like it to.
Davidoff Cool Water is one of those fragrances that everyone seemed to wear when I was a teenager back in the 90''s and then it fell out of fashion though for the life of me I can''t understand why as Cool Water is an amazing men''s fragrance and well deserving of its classic status. The scent is difficult to describe but it is very masculine and yet very fresh at the same time. The beginning of the fragrance is quite harsh and chemical smelling but after 5 minutes or so it tones down and is less shouty and loud. There is definitely mint in there along with some woodsy notes and something sweeter which I assume to be orange blossom or the neroli. Whatever it is the notes all work in perfect harmony and don''t overpower each other. This is one of those aftershaves that doesn''t really evolve much which I know real connoisseurs of perfume and aftershave hate but I like the fact that this smells exactly the same for the entire time I am wearing it and doesn''t change to a completely different fragrance after an hour or so. I find that the longevity on this is amazing and is one of the longest lasting aftershaves that I have ever used. It is one of my biggest bug bears when buying an amazing smelling fragrance that I pay a small fortune for it and then wear it and within a couple of hours it has completely disappeared from my skin. Not so with this one. You can give yourself three or four sprays of this and be guaranteed that it is going to last for hours and hours. The projection from this is also really good. It projects enough that people around you can smell it but I don''t think it overwhelms them. As for suitability I think this is one of those male fragrances that is suitable for all occasions. You can easily wear this either during the day or at night and it is equally at home in the office as it is in a nightclub. You certainly won''t struggle to find this no matter where you live as is seems to be stocked absolutely everywhere. You can of course buy it online or else on the high street in department stores such as Debenhams or The House of Fraser. It is also frequently stocked at discount retailers such as Semi-Chem and Wilkos where you can pick it up much cheaper. For example expect to pay 40 for the 75ml bottle of Eau de Toilette in somewhere like Debenhams but if you look around you can get it for 20 like I did in my local chemist. This was a rediscovered classic for me and I feel like it has earned the classic title for standing the test of time against the literally hundreds of men''s fragrances which have come and gone since this was released.
There are certain types of pain that I cope with better than other and although I am not a masochist I think I have a pretty high threshold for certain pain and if I have a twinge of pain I try to ignore it unless it gets bad in which case I will seek out some sort of treatment. The exception to this rule for me is toothache and even the slightest hint of sensitivity from a tooth is enough to send me rushing to the bathroom cabinet to see what I have in as it is the worst kind of pain imaginable and I find that when I have toothache I literally cannot function with anything else as it is all consuming for me. As well as taking painkillers to help with toothache I also rely upon some sort of liquid numbing agent such as clove oil. People have been using clove oil as a treatment from toothache for hundreds of years and it is still just as effective as any modern medicine that you can buy. I like the fact that there are no medical contradictions so I can still use painkillers and the clove oil to top up the pain relief whenever I need it. Clove oil is extremely potent smelling but it isn''t an altogether unpleasant smell though it does always remind me of the dentist understandably since I only have ever used it for toothache. The oil works as a local anaesthetic to temporary numb and relive the pain of toothache. You use the oil by dipping it in a cotton bud and then applying it directly into the tooth cavity where the pain is. It gives an immediate soothing sensation which is a relief when toothache strikes and you are waiting for the painkillers to kick in. The numbing sensation will last anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 and a half hours. Sometimes after using the clove oil it has soothed the nerve pain enough that the toothache has been lessened enough until I can get to the dentist but at other times I have had to keep using it several times throughout the day. It all depends on what kind of toothache and if the nerve is infected. No matter though how severe the pain the clove oil will help to relieve it even if it doesn''t take it away entirely. There are all sorts of different kinds of clove oil preparations to can buy from the pure essential oil to a gel but no matter what kind you buy make sure and get something with the highest concentration of oil in that you can. I try to not be without clove oil now because I know for a fact that I just can''t cope with toothache of any kind and I know this will help me get through it until I can get myself to a dentist.
When I used to wear contact lenses I suffered regularly from eye infections which I blamed on the contacts but since I have had my eyes lasered and no longer wear contact lenses I still get the odd eye infection which causes my eye to become tender and sore and swell almost shut. I have been to the doctor and he says there is no reason why I should be getting them and that I am just unlucky. It isn''t as though I get them all the time but even once a year is more than enough as it is both uncomfortable and horrible to look at too. I used to wait to see the doctor and then get a prescription but now I just pop into the pharmacy and buy some Goldeneye ointment as this works the best for me and I don''t need a prescription to buy it. You can only buy it from pharmacies at the discretion of the pharmacist but I have never had any trouble being given it as they take one look at my swollen eye and just hand it over. The ointment comes in a tiny little tube and costs 5.95. The active ingredient is Chloramphenicol which is an antibiotic used to treat conjunctivitis. The ointment is a very greasy one thanks to the fact that it is also made up of paraffin and wool fat. You use it by squeezing a couple of drops into the infected eye on the tear duct and then rolling your eyeball around so that the ointment can cover the entire eyeball. You have to be careful when putting the ointment in so as to not spread the infection to the tube. Once you put the ointment in your eye it feels a little bit uncomfortable as it is thick compared to drops so you can feel it on your eyeball and it does blur your vision for a few minutes. You continue to use the ointment 3 or 4 times a day for a maximum of 5 days. It doesn''t get to work straight away but after a day or so of using it my eye is always much better. The pain subsides quickly and the swelling comes down significantly after about day two of using it. I have used all sorts of things to help when I get conjunctivitis and this is by far the most effective and I find that it is much better and quicker acting than eye drops are and I wouldn''t go back to using them again now that I use this instead.
I have short hair which tends to be dry and frizzy so I need to add product to it to get it under control and to style it. I really like mud waxes which matt hair and give me good control over it but I will just grab the first thing that I come to when I am in the shop especially when it is on offer as although I have ones which I prefer I assume most waxes will work fine on my short hair as long as they have at least a medium control. That''s how I ended up with this wax because it was on offer and said that it gave control as well as shape. The wax resembles Vaseline both in colour and also texture which is never a positive start as I don''t imagine that Vaseline would give me the look that I am looking for with my hair. Unfortunately it doesn''t just look and feel like Vaseline but it also has the same greasiness as Vaseline and this left my hair looking like I had just dunked it in a chip pan. Honestly the greasiness was unbelievable. I also found it to be completely rubbish when it came to giving hold and definition. Because it is so greasy it just caused my hair to go completely flat and limp and I couldn''t spike it up while wearing this. The only good thing that I can really say about this wax is that it washes out really easily with just a little bit of shampoo and after one wash there was none left in my hair. Apparently you can restyle your hair throughout the day while wearing this but that is only because until you wash it the wax stays greasily sitting in your hair. I can''t imagine who this wax would be suitable for because I found it to just be greasy and offer no hold or control to my hair.
I have no particular brand loyalty when it comes to buying shaving products and usually just go with whatever is on offer. I do try and make sure I buy a decent brand though as cheap shaving products usually aren't all that good and I would rather pay a couple of pounds more to ensure that my skin isn't left red raw. I do prefer shaving gels and oils to foams though as I find that foams are too thick for the razor to get a good close shave. King of shaves is a brand that I really like especially as they always seem to be on offer somewhere so I can usually get a shave gel from them for less than the rrp. The alpha shave gel contains menthol which I think is a great ingredient to add to shaving products as one of the things that I always suffer from is shaving burn and menthol helps to cool it right down. The gel allows a for a close shave as it doesn't clog up the razor that you are using which in turn helps with razor burn as it means that you don't have to keep going over the same area several times to get a close shave. It doesn't offer as close a shave as the oil but for an everyday shave this helps you get a smooth enough shave. It feels nice on the skin and it isn't extremely drying unlike some shaving gels and the menthol is an excellent addition as it immediately cools the skin as soon as it touches it and it seems to help with the worst of the burning sensation afterwards too. Overall this is a good shaving gel and I haven't got much to complain about it as it does the job well and the added addition of the menthol really works well in this particular product. It also isn't very expensive and the full price of the gel is 3.69 but as I mentioned it seems to be on offer somewhere all the time so you can pick it up even cheaper and for the money it performs really well.
I bought some Boot's No 7 men's products when they were on a 3for2 offer and I had a 5.00 off voucher too so they worked out pretty good value. One of the products that I bought was this Post Shave Recovery Balm. I find that sometimes shaving can be an uncomfortable experience especially on my neck area and it can feel tender and raw after shaving so I bought this hoping that it would soothe my skin after shaving. The one that I got is different to the picture Dooyoo has as that is the old formulation and it has been changed now. It now comes in a black tub which looks better for a man's product but they must have also changed the actual balm too as it no longer contains any SPF protection. Overall I liked the No 7 products that I bought but this one was a big disappointment as it didn't really do anything to relieve the pain associated with shaving. It smells nice but that's about it. This balm is really more a lotion and that's all it really does is give light moisturisation to skin. It doesn't really do anything special to skin to help soothe it nor does it cool skin down like it claims on the tube. I also didn't like how this felt on my skin as it left a greasy looking layer just sitting on the top of my skin which didn't seem to absorb. To be honest this had no calming properties whatsoever as far as I could tell and I would recommend that you save your money and just buy a decent moisturiser instead as it will give you better soothing qualities than this so called calming balm will. It isn't even as though this is cheap as it costs 8.00 when bought on its own with no special offers which I think it over priced for what is effectively a light lotion that won't really moisturise enough or give you any protection or relief from razor burn.
I use my phone a lot and one of the things that has always really bugged me about modern smartphones is that they may be all singing and dancing but what good is that if they can't even get a full day from a single charge before dying. The biggest thing that attracted me to buying the LG G2 was because of the fact that the battery life was being touted as the best on any modern smartphone. I remember the good old days with my old Nokia phone that would last a week on a single charge and while I didn't expect any modern phone to match that I did want something that could make it from morning until bedtime without dying on me. The phone has all the usual top of the range specs that you would expect from any flag ship phone. It has a 5.2 inch screen which has a ppi of 423 which means that even the most eagle eyes of people shouldn't be able to notice any discernable pixels on the screen when looking at it. I use the phone a lot for surfing the internet and watching movies and both are great with the large bright screen. The phone is quite large but because it is very thin it fits in my pocket with ease and because the bezels on the phone as so small they have really made the most of the available real estate to cram in the 5.2 inch screen without making the phone too large to hold comfortably. The battery life is fantastic with the phone and it easily gets through a whole day with no problems. I watch movies, listen to music, surf the internet and send loads of whatsapps throughout a day and even with the wifi function turned on it hasn't let me down yet. I also really like the fact that they phone charges really quickly. If I have forgot to charge it I can just plug it in and within 20 minutes or so it will have charged 50 per cent which is actually enough juice to last a good few hours. The design of the phone is a little bit uninspired and I wish that LG had plumped for more premium materials in its construction such as glass or metal like some of the other phone manufacturers instead of going for plastic. It isn't a horrible design but it is very plain and not as attractive as some. They have tried to be different by placing the volume and power buttons on the back of the phone instead of the side as they say this is more natural for people to use but I have to disagree with them slightly as I would still prefer them in the traditional place. Calls sound good on the phone and it doesn't drop them very often and I think that reception seems to be better with this than with most phones that I have had.