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minnums
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Member since: 23.06.2010

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      18.10.2010 22:23

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      an amusing picture book for ages 4-7 about Bob, who works on the Moon.

      This is an entertaining and amusing story (aimed at children aged 4-7) that, as a trainee primary teacher, was part of my recommended reading list as an example of a good quality picture book. When I saw it I was immediately struck by the bold and dynamic art work. Bob the astronaut is an ordinary man with an extraordinary job. He lives on Earth, but every day he flies to the Moon for a bit of housekeeping and tour guiding. He says there is no such thing as aliens, but some appear on every page, sometimes obviously and sometimes well hidden, which makes every turn of the page exciting. The illustrations are richly coloured and highly stylised, drawing you in to the book. Children enjoy getting the better of Bob by spotting the aliens. Much discussion can be had between child and adult in drawing speculations and observations about Bob and his job from the illustrations. It is a very imaginative book and an enjoyable read (and re-read!) and inspires games and storytelling. I especially like spotting all the things on the souvenir table.

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      18.10.2010 22:11
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      Tommo loves his mother, his brothers and his best friend Molly. But life is about to change ...

      This is an excellent read for children (probably 8/9 years plus) to learn about the people of the First World War, as it focuses so strongly on the personal and the emotional, not just the events.

      Heart rendingly sad from the first page onwards. An amazing narrative of a person's experiences of the Great War. I especially liked the way it started with recounts of his childhood so that we saw him as a person, not just a soldier. Also, that it is filled with personal tragedy, not just that of the War. It has a wonderful narrative tool whereby every chapter begins in the 'present,' reflecting back on events as they lead to the end of the book, gradually building up to show us that he is waiting for Charlie's execution as a slow reveal. I felt for Tommo strongly all the way through and was devastated when Charlie and Molly got together. The relationship between the three children was very sensitively developed from childhood to adulthood.

      I liked that the book ended during the War and that we don't find out if Tommo made it home. I think as a child I would find this massively frustrating, but it brings home the uncertainty of the War and that just because it is fiction it isn't 'safe.' It is a wonderful story of loyalty, family ties and the love of friends and siblings. It is also a good introduction to the historical background of the First World War, particularly the pointlessness, the bullying and the orders-over-sense of the fighting.

      Please read it: it's amazing and will stay with you for a very long time.

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      18.10.2010 22:01
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      A classic adventure tale of a girl following her dreams,

      This is a charming tale by Philip Pulman, who is an amazing children's writer. Do not expect anything like the Dark MaterialsTrilogy, as this is for the younger reader - probably 7-9. This is a classic adventure story about a girl, Lila, achieving her ambition of becoming a firework maker like her father. He has other ideas about her becoming something more ladylike and so she sets off alone to face the Fire-Fiend in pursuit of her dream. She is aided by her best friend and a talking elephant, but can she meet the challenge that waits at the end of her quest?

      I enjoyed this story, and I am a grown up. I would have enjoyed it even more as an eight year old. I am currently training to be a primary teacher and this book has been named by lecturers and on teachers tv as brilliant for getting children thinking about character and narrative. At 132 pages it is a nice length I especially liked the firework professionals battling it out in competition and got genuinely caught up in who would win.

      I liked that it had a strong female lead who goes against the stereotypical image, instead setting her own path through life.

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      09.07.2010 20:40
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      a gentle moisturiser that absorbs quickly, leaving your skin smooth and soft with no hassle

      This moisturiser is a light cream for use under make up or on its own to be worn during the day. It contains 'active plant extracts' and, according to the bottle will 'keep moisture levels topped up for up to 24 hours.'

      I am nearly 27 and I have always shied away from moisturisers because I have always had really bad skin and spots appear in a day that leave a mark for months. I have long struggled to find anything I can use on my face without it causing problems and can seldom wear make up because of this. However, throughout my teens and as I got older I heard more and more how important it is to moisturise, and that it makes a huge difference to your skin in the long run.
      I decided to try Botanics Day Shift because I have been using one of their face scrubs for a couple of years and find it works really well for me.

      So, the verdict:
      This moisturiser has been really good for me. I find I don't need to use much at all at a time, nor every day, unless I feel like it. It is very light and not at all greasy and absorbs into your skin easily and quickly. After the first time I used it I could feel a difference in the softness and smoothness in my skin after the first day or two, and I find that it has consistently maintained that. The information on the bottle puts its powers down to being a natural product, using rice bran (whose protein supposedly 'bind in moisture') and honey ('adds rich moisture.') These extracts are verified by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as being authentic.

      The ingredients list contains about 27 other things, which I largely don't understand, so check the list if you think you might be allergic to anything. Having said that, if you have sensitive skin (not an actual allergy) it is definitely worth trying because my skin can be and I have never had a problem with it.

      The bottle is 75ml (2.5 US fluid oz.) and there is a short description advising how best to rub it in.

      Botanics also sells a night shift version that I haven't felt the need to use as well as this one, that comes in a 50ml glass jar.

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    • Honeywell HT-900 / Fan / 3 Readings / 1 Rating
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      06.07.2010 22:37

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      a good fan to buy to cool a small room, quiet and compact with three strength settings

      Every summer I think about it and finally I did it: I bought a fan to deal with stuffy, suffocating, stifling evenings. My bedroom is the hottest in the house, catching the evening Sun and heating up loads in the hours before bed, just when I want to be lounging around watching tv. I looked at Argos for a fan, having one close to the house and usually finding good products there, and was originally going to go for one of the cheapest ones they had (a 7 inch one for £10). My boyfriend diverted me to this one, which was really a great idea, because it is significantly bigger (at 14 ½ inches diameter,) more sturdy and better looking than the white, flimsy looking alternatives. At £19.99, I consider it to be an investment for the summers to come, and will get quite a lot of use out of it, considering it will probably come out for about three months of the year.

      It is sturdy and compact, it fits nicely on a narrow shelf and I can rest easy knowing it won't fall off. It can be tilted up and down, but if I want it to face a different side of the room I have to turn it myself. This is hardly a big problem, except possibly when there are two people in the room and it would be nice to have one of those ones that turns by itself. I like that it is black and doesn't look cheap - in fact it's quite sleek and stylish. It has three power settings and the highest one is pretty powerful, getting a good breeze going straight away. It boasts being 25% quieter than its previous model. I don't know how loud that one was, but this one is pretty quiet, although we still tend to turn it off if we're watching something quiet on tv, after a short while of cooling us down first.

      no assembly required.

      Size (H)28, (W)14.5, (D)26cm.

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    • Weetabix Alpen Original / Breakfast / 8 Readings / 7 Ratings
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      06.07.2010 21:25
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      full of healthy oats, wholegrain wheat, nuts and raisins and so tastey you'll want a second bowl

      My mum bought this for me as part of a care-package type of food supply gift when she came to visit. She knows I have been on a bit of a health kick of late, so I guess this was the compensation for the more chocolatey part of the supplies. I have always been put off this kind of cereal, ie. bran or muesli type stuff - because people always say it is like eating cardboard and is boring if it is healthy. I can only imagine, now, that this is just a perpetrated lie or misconception because it is LOVELY and I got through the first half of the box at unprecedented speed. When I have ventured to try similar cereals before I have found them hard going, with hard, crunchy and chewy bits that left my jaw aching. Not so with Alpen, it is light and easy to eat, also filling so that on a reasonable sized bowl in the morning I'm ok until lunch.

      It contains wheat and oats - both whole grain - raisins, hazelnuts and almonds. (Also, sugar, skimmed milk, whey powder, malted barley extract and salt.) To be truthful, I'd be happier if it contained less sugar, but it is scrummy and contains lots of healthy food stuffs. There is a 'no added sugar' Alpen, which still contains 16.3g of sugar per 100g (6.8g less,) so from that I would guess that a lot of the sugar in the original is naturally from the ingredients.

      Unfortunately, I do consider this to be a bit pricey for a breakfast cereal, as I am on a tight food budget, so I will not be able to have it very often - although I fully intend to get it again, because it's so nice. Tesco have a 750g box for £2.39 and a 1.5kg bag for £3.56.

      There are several versions of Alpen, including the 'original Swiss recipe', 'sugar free' and 'high fruit,' and also cereal bars.


      Typical values per 100g of Alpen Original:
      Energy1509kJ/-357kcal
      Protein11.0g
      Carbohydrate66.9g-(of which sugars23.1g)
      Fat5.0g-(of which saturates0.6g)
      Fibre7.0g
      Sodium*0.15g-*Equivalent as Salt0.38g

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      06.07.2010 18:01
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      a twelve year old boy discovers he is a demigod and that great quests and dangers await him

      Percy Jackson is a twelve year old American boy who is dyslexic and has trouble at school. He lives with his mum, who has never let on that much about who his father was. One day he learns why, when his teacher turns into a mythical monster and tries to kill him. Percy's father was Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea, and the time has come for Percy to learn about his heritage and meet other 'half bloods,' or demigods, at Camp Half Blood, a place of refuge and training for those who have one mortal and one immortal parent. He soon finds he has some interesting inherited abilities and makes new friends - and enemies - amongst the other campers. But trouble is brewing and it is not long before he is called upon to fulfil a Quest to find out who stole Zeus's lightning bolt and return it and help stop a battle of the Gods.

      This is an exciting book that I read when I was in my twenties - and I have subsequently read the rest of the series as it has come along - that will appeal to all ages, from nine or ten up. The half blood characters are relatable, especially Percy, and the Gods and mythical creatures are fascinating and entertaining. Much is taken from Greek myth, which makes for an interesting and even educational read with a twist. The school and camp scenarios grounds the story in reality, whilst the mythical side is a fantastic adventure, making it a very appealing 'it could be true' book.

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        06.07.2010 17:41
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        ten small fruit bars in five flavours, healthy and good for lunch boxes

        Some fruit bars turn out to contain lots of other undesirable ingredients, such as milk products, wheat or oats that make them unsuitable for some people's diets, so it would be well worth trying these out. They are designed to go in kid's lunchboxes, too, so they come in an attractive, bright box with a cartoon character on it and the bars are in brightly coloured foil, and also are a good size for children.

        I discovered these recently whilst hunting around on my quest for healthy snacks, amongst all the other fruity bars that come in packs for lunch boxes. The box contains ten 13g bars, each made almost entirely of fruit, with just a smidgen of preservative (14mg sulphur dioxide.) I'm guessing the preservative doesn't count for much because the wrappers all boast 100% fruit. Each stick is made with the equivalent of between 65 and 105g of fresh fruit and there are two bars in each flavour: apricot, apple, plum, pear and banana. All of the bars contain apple, apricot and pear in varying quantities, and then the plum and banana have their additional fruit.

        I enjoy the bars, and I was particulary drawn to them for being a box of ten that is only £1.99 (Tesco), although I would say they are not as nice as some other, more expensive all-fruit bars. In this case, though, I think the price combined with health factor outweighs the fact that they are slightly less great quality (they are still nice and tasty.)


        Typical values per 13g stix-
        Energy160kJ/38kcal
        Protein0.3g
        Carbohydrate8.5g-of which sugars7.0g
        Fat<0.1g-of which saturates<0.1g
        Fibre1.3g
        Sodium<0.1g

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      • Mort - Terry Pratchett / Fiction Book / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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        05.07.2010 18:26
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        Mort is apprenticed to the grim reaper with amusing and interesting results

        Mort is a red headed country boy with few skills, who is taken to town one day to be apprenticed off with lots of other boys to learn a trade. Come evening he is the last one there and the strange figure who comes to pick him seems to have some kind of power over his father. And so Mort is whisked away by the grim reaper - better known as Death - who wishes to train him up to follow in his other-worldly footsteps to take care of things after he has gone (gone where, though?)

        Although Death makes regular appearances in many Discworld novels, this is the first in a trilogy wherein he is the main character. We visit his home, we meet his adopted daughter and we get to follow in his daily business.

        Don't worry if you have never read Terry Pratchett before. I read these books out of order and still enjoyed them, but even so would recommend starting with this one, as you will benefit from the continuity of character development that explores the depth of Death as he begins to question what he has been doing since the beginning of time, and also the continued relationship between Death and Mort.

        It is an interesting and often hilarious ride through the complicated and immense responsibility of the grim reaper, the theological wonderings of Terry Pratchett's mind and you also get to spend time in Ankh Morpork, which is always fun.

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        05.07.2010 18:02
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        a slightly spicy corn snack with low salt and fat

        Another great snack from Goodies Organix. I bought a packet of these after trying (and loving) their cheese and herb puffs, and I will certainly be having both flavours again. I can see why these would be appealing to toddlers; they are a nice size, and shaped like noughts and crosses, they are light enough to dissolve in your mouth if you want to and they are coated in a tasty tomato powder. I was not sure about tomato flavoured crisps at first, but actually they are very nice, with a fairly subtle flavour, but just spicy enough to be interesting. I don't actually have children: I bought them for myself as part of my pursuit of healthy eating. I am glad I have found an alternative to salty, fatty crisps. A bag of these (15g) contains only 65 calories, 0.8g sugar, 0.2g saturated fat (1.9g of fat in total) and a trace of sodium, as part of the Goodies 'no junk promise.' You might be interested to know that this is just under one weight watchers point. It says on the back of the packet that they contain at least a third of the salt and fat in 'most children's snacks.' All the ingredients are organic and they were only 47p, so it's all good.

        Ingredients:
        Organic Corn74%
        Organic Sunflower Oil14%
        Organic Tomato Powder4%
        Organic Carrot Powder4%
        Organic Onion Powder2% S
        ea Salt less than 1%
        Organic Garlic Powderless than 1%
        Organic Paprika Powderless than 1%
        Organic Chilli Powderless than 1%

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          05.07.2010 17:50
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          'no junk promise' cheese corn puffs: good for toddlers, good for you

          This is an excellent product. It sets out a 'no junk' promise and sticks to it, with very clear information. They are baked corn puffs, a bit like less dense Wotsits, coated in organic cheese and parsley powder. They contain no added salt, listed as 'trace' on the nutritional information, 0.4g saturated fat and 69 calories per bag (this equals one weight watchers point, by the way.) I do not have any children; I bought them for myself. I am ever on the lookout for tasty snacks that are low in salt, fat and sugar and so I thought I'd try these - especially as I was not feeling too well today and wanted something that was light and not too strongly flavoured. The flavour is a bit subtle, but not so much as I thought it would be. Granted, they aren't salty, and they don't pack the cheesy punch of similar crisps, but the cheese is strong enough to be tasty and I will definitely be having them again. In fact I bought them in town and when I had finished them I immediately went into another shop to try a different flavour. All in all, I'd say they are a great idea and worth having, or buying for your kids. They are tasty enough to be enjoyed without feeling like you're missing out, but a much healthier option than other crisps. And they were only 47p.


          ingredients:
          Organic Corn 71%
          Organic Sunflower Oil 15%
          Organic Cheese Powder (50% organic mature cheddar cheese, 50% organic skimmed milk powder) 12%
          Organic Dried Parsley less than 1%
          Sea Salt less than 1%

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          • Nestle Kit Kat Chunky / Chocolate / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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            01.07.2010 20:41
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            tasty, light wafers with magical sweet stuff in between, covered in thick Nestle chocolate

            I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so I was a little scornful when these first came out, preferring to stick loyally with the original four fingered version. However, now I always choose the chunky one, hands down.

            It consists of several layers of wafer sandwiching a thin layer delicious, delicate, soft stuff and covered in a satisfyingly thick layer of Nestle chocolate. I would say that the plain ones are superior to the peanut and caramel ones that are available, although these are very nice, too. KitKat Chunky is a favourite of mine for train journeys, being of a nice size, great for nibbling slowly and is a good price at 49p (at Tesco).

            There is something of a bar of gold about this bar: a perfect, smooth bar with chunky edging and an embossed logo across the top that speaks of good quality. As you peel off the protective foil wrapper, the smell of sweet Nestle chocolate hits you and the taste does not disappoint.

            However, the KitKat Chunky contains 236 calories per bar, not a lot less than a similar sized Mars bar of 259, so don't fool yourself into thinking that it's a lighter option, although it might feel less ugsome to eat. They are amazing and worth a try - sweet and crisp, satisfying but not too heavy. And you have to try eating one a layer at a time!

            (from tesco.com)
            Typical values per bar-Energy1100kJ-263kcal-Protein2.6g-Carbohydrate31.0g-Fat14.3g

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            01.07.2010 19:52
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            the stirring letters of a mother of a teenage school-shooter

            Wow. This book is not for the faint hearted. I have just finished it and I found it a fascinating read that I could hardly wait to get back to. Shriver says in the epilogue that she wanted to explore her feelings of fear over having children, and in this novel it culminates in a worse case scenario, whereby the boy in question - Kevin - grows up to be a teenage mass murderer.

            You are told from the get-go that he went into his school one day and killed several students and a teacher and the rest of the book gradually unravels the preceding years, from before Kevin's birth, through his baby and toddler year, to two years after the event. The narrative is told by his mother, Eva, in the form of a series of letters to his father, Franklin. She wants to talk about the events that, through the years, have told her that Kevin was not an ordinary boy and that he may always have had the potential to commit this atrocity.

            At first I found this letter format difficult to read, because I felt it did not flow like a novel normally does, but after the first two or three I found it to actually be a touching, personal way to hear her thoughts, as she reminisces, pleads with and defends herself from her husband, all the while reinforcing how much she loves him. The novel is a work of fiction, but is based on real high school shootings, with many references made to these events. The novel has a lot of interesting things to say. is it possible that Kevin was born with a predisposition to be 'wrong,' or was it a figment of his mother's imagination that poisoned his development, thus leading to his downward spiral? I'm still not sure. More than that, it poignantly portrays a family with difficult relationships and parents who, each in their own way, tried their best.

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            01.07.2010 17:03
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            Nevare, who has dark and mysterious 'dreams', goes to the cavalry academy, with many challenges

            Robin Hobb is an author of fantasy with a twist and has a captivating style that can encompasses believable and detailed worlds, characters and narratives that will have you riding through anxiety, indignation and elation.

            In Gernia the tradition is that the first son of a Noble will inherit his father's estate, the second will be a soldier, the third go to the priesthood and the fourth to the arts. Nevare is the second son of his father, who was promoted to nobility during the war, along with many others to form the so called New Nobility. He has been born to it and has no other wish than to grow into the soldier he is destined to be, becoming an officer and thus earning the respect of his father and the hand of the girl he has been promised. At the age of 18 he is finally ready to be sent to the academy, where it fast becomes apparent that many an Old Noble family begrudges the equal status given to this new generation of soldier sons and that his place amongst graduating officers will be a hard won battle against a politically volatile environment. Meanwhile, the relative peace of recent years is becoming increasingly disturbed by the mysterious Specks, a race living in the wild mountains through which the King wishes to build a great road. And there's the ethereal Tree Woman who haunts his dreams...

            The world that Hobb had created for the Soldier Son Trilogy is intriguing and beguiling, with its own history and rules of society. I'd say it is completely different from those of her previous trilogies, and I have read some reviews that say it is not as good, but really it is just a new and exciting approach. I found myself confused by some of the customs and not sure of what to make of the attitude toward girls and women to begin with, but as I read on I became completely swept away with it and these areas were explored and opened up by Hobb through the main character, Nevare, and those around him. I felt for Nevare as he tries to keep the gentilities of his upbringing in a city that is rougher and more promiscuous than he expected.

            I can't wait to read the next one, as the ending of the this book had left a tatilising peek into the Specks and I'm desperate to know what will happen as Nevare progresses into the military... if he even does, because there are some truly awful (but brilliant) adversaries for him to face. The little world of the Accademy is great, and I got carried away with the triumphs and exam fears of the young students.

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          • dominos.co.uk / Online Shop / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
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            28.06.2010 17:08

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            very useful, easy to use - don't forget to look for discount codes

            This is a great site, if only because it ends with you getting pizza! It is actually, a well laid out, straight forward site and it is quick and easy to set a user account and use it. I use mine fairly regularly. You can choose anything you can from their regular menu and you can even customise it. Actually, I think it is easier to customise online because you click click away to your perfect creation instead of painstakingly describing it down the phone to some poor soul on the other end. You can choose half and half, which kind of base you want, what size, remove or add any topping to the standard menu combinations and even change the sauce if you want.

            Then of course there are the usual starters, desserts and drinks. You have the option of paying by card online or to pay at the door on delivery. There is often (if not always) an online discount and sometimes you can Google discount codes to type in, that makes it worthwhile ordering on the site. They usually process the order quickly as well; I've never had to wait longer than about 40 mins, so no longer than it would take if I had phoned.

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