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What's in it for you
If you want to forget your own problems and difficulties and you like a good crime thriller with an element of human interest then you can't go far wrong with JD Robb. Women in particular are likely to appreciate the strong human interest, romance and sexuality that forms a central thread through all the books in the series. Any computer hackers out there will be delighted with Rourke's approach to dealing with Compuguard the government system designed to prevent hacking and trace transactions.
What is the book about and how long is it?
At 314 pages it isn't a short book but well worth reading. If you are anything like me you will some become addicted to reading the series and you will want to join Eve on her series of adventures as she works as a police lieutenant at a time when crime is rife, coffee is worth gold and real trees and plants are in short supply following an urban war that appears to have wiped out much of the natural world. Set around 2050 it offers an exciting blend of the world as we know it with some elements of science fiction fantasy.
Rapture in Death covers Eve Dallas's investigation into three apparent suicides. Eve is the main investigator (police lieutenant) in a long series of stories - and builds a strong team around her to support her in investigating potential homicides with names like Peabody, Feeny and her husband Rourke. Both she and Rourke have overcome extremely tragic and sordid pasts to become successful in their own fields. This is a recurring theme throughout JD Robbs books and helps make the reader believe that both Eve and they can overcome their past and the problems that life throws their way.
Eve's crime clearance rate appears to be second to none and Rourke seems to have countless millions or more likely billions at his disposal. Naturally Eve using Rourke's resources on the QT in the course of her investigations although that too can contribute to a rocky ride through the system. The fact that Rourke can afford uptmost luxury means that the reader is not lost in the despair and sordidness of violent crime and even death but instead enjoys moments of light relief in highly charged sex scenes or luxury off planet rides!
Naturally Eve stops at nothing in her investigations, often putting her own life and those around her on the line in her pursuit of truth. Mavis - a character who appears in several of JD Robb's books - is used as a way to try to get to Eve and Rourke and influence the outcome of the investigation. Anyone enjoying technology or perhaps in fear of it will find the plot which centres around use of technology to control others enthralling.... The plot deals with the possibilty that virtual reality games have been used to influence the apparent victims to joyfully embrace a painful death and apparent suicide.
What will keep me interested?
With fights, sex, nudity and explosive action scenes there is something for everyone to enjoy.... I don't want to give away the storyline so I will just say this... This book will keep you on the edge of your seat at times, and let you experience a whole rollercoaster of emotion as you look at life through the eyes of Eve - while always balancing it with humour and moments of life affirming joy and love so it never takes over or becomes to grim or sad to keep reading....
More on JD Robb or Nora Roberts as she is better known
With over 200 million books in print - JD Robb or Nora Roberts as she is better known is one author who manages to top the best seller list - and my all time favourite author list on a regular basis! I have read I think about 50 of her 145 books and have only been disappointed once or twice when I have picked a genre where the focus was light romance rather than the intensity that most of her books are known for. So far I haven't been disappointed with any of the books she wrote as JD Robb. I strongly recommend that you read her books - I think she is a strong competitor with John Grisham and even Stephen King says Nora Roberts amazes him!
~~Why I joined~~
I joined Bingoport as a way of getting amazon vouchers to help pay for Christmas, Birthdays and life's little luxuries. I have not been disappointed.
~~Why I stayed~~
What I wasn't expecting though is how friendly and positive the players and chat masters are and how stress relieving playing could be. I now also understand how bingo patterns work as they auto dab and use different colours to show how your pattern fits in with the target pattern. They also hold tournaments which give you extra chances to win points. Winning enough points to redeem about £20 on cafe bingo and up to £100 on amazon since last December hasn't gone amiss either!
~~How you get points to play with and ultimately redeem for vouchers~~
I find this a very friendly and generous site. You can "earn" up to 1000 points a day by making 10 posts of at least 10 words each on a relevant topic on their forum. You can then use these to play with. If your point level falls below 200, you can "get more" points through their "wicked wheel" which you can spin 3 times per "go" you can then use these points to play with. You can use the wicket wheel up to 4 times per day. You can also get points for referring your friends, answering surveys, writing bingo articles, providing screen prints of your wins at cash sites and so on. Seriously you can get a lot of points to play with.
~~The bingo rooms~~
Bingo cards cost 2 points per ticket - up to a maximum of 48 points per game and winnings can be 1000s of points depending on the number of players. There are up to 6 rooms to choose from and there at least one room open 24 hours per day. They play chat games and hold tournaments too so there is a lot of opportunity to get extra points. Other members seem pleased when you win too which was a first for me! The colours used can be a little garish though - and writing is sometimes hard to read.
~~The fantastically addictive, playful slots~~
Personally I like the slots best - there are three to choose from Seventh Heaven, Cinders and Bingo Broadway. They each have unique features and different pay tables. From free spins, to magic mushrooms to a progressive jackport they each have different things that call you back! I tend to cash in my points from posting and the cash out ALL winnings. My points soon add up - and I probably get to redeem for an amazon voucher (8000 points for £5) every 1-2 weeks depending on luck and how disciplined I am about keeping my points. Sometimes I redeem for online bingo sites - 5000 points will buy me £5 at somewhere like Foxy or Cheeky or £10 at CafeBingo.
For me though, it is not just about the vouchers any more it is about the friendship and support on the site. Initially posting on the forum which is massive and difficult to navigate - was a chore. It does however build a sense of community that is unique to bingoport. When you win you can post how much you won and everyone is pleased for you.... when you are struggling you can post about that too which is nice.
You can redeem for amazon, various online bingo sites, T-shirt, goody bags - all sorts. As important - you can gain some friendship and friendly chat to brighten your day. I find doing the slots in particular very stress relieving. Prior to joining bingoport I had joined various online gaming sites and was worried I was starting to get hooked. It was therefore great to find a free site in bingoport where I could play safely and still redeem for amazon vouchers. Give it a go - you might find you really like it. As others have said - if you are interested please send me a private message as I can then get referral points too! Good luck and have fun!
Money Saving Expert (MSE) - I am getting there!
~~Do I like it and why?~~
I adore this website.... www.moneysavingexpert.com and am so grateful to Martin Lewis and forum members for helping us to transform our finances! We have been in debt to the tune of about £30K three times over (that is we cleared the debt - and then recreated it over a short period) prior to finding Martin's Money Diet book and throught that the website.
~~Ease of use ~~
I find the site really easy to navigate and it certainly loads up quickly for me. If you are not interested in forums then you can just read articles and blogs on everything from car insurance and travel through to the best credit card deals and reclaiming bank charges. If you want to you can sign up for the weekly e-mails which tells you all the latest hot deals like where you can get half price deals on eating out, cheap hotel rooms, cheap flights, shopping discount codes, deal loopholes where you can get back more than what you paid. Signing up is free and you can also then get access to the forums.
Prior to joining the site just based on the Money Diet book, I had switched ALL our credit cards to 0% deals whereas prior to that we were paying up to 24%! We had switched our gas and electricity based on the information in his book and I thought were were doing quite well! We had not however fundamentally changed our relationship with money, established a workable budget or created a plan to help us get debt free. That is where the forums came in.
They recommend you use a site www.makesenseofcards.co.uk to work out what your monthly outgoings are compared to your liabilities and assets - this is called a statement of affairs. You can then copy and paste this on a thread on the Debt Free Wannabee board. I got loads of advice through this about childcare, changing broadband and phone supplier, upping my income, and generally trimming down most areas of the budget. Prior to joining MSE we used to overspend by £1,000 a month - while we were both working we overpaid or saved £1,000 a month instead! What a transformation.
~~Unemployed - does it still work for me?~~
I am currently unemployed but thanks to advice and support from the forums I was encouraged to establish an emergency fund which is seeing us through and we are still meeting at least our minimal repayments. All our christmas and birthday presents were paid for through the £10 a day challenge which can also be found on the forums. I learned how to put together interesting looking hampers at minimal cost through their Special Occasions Board.
There really is something for everyone on the site from crafts to relationship queries to changing your council tax banding - if it is money related chances are someone can help. For those not in debt there is even a forum dedicated to Mortgage Free Wannabees and a section on pensions etc. Seriously if you haven't visited the site yet I cannot recommend it enough. We are literally thousands of pounds better off because of it!
The good, the bad and the ugly!
Well my first experience of play groups was very negative. I was already suffering from post natal depression and it took a lot of personal energy and will power to even go. I went to one where there appeared to be between 30 and 50 parents with 1 or more children each! It was hectic. I felt really alone and left out even when they had toast and coffee. I knew some of the helpers there but they were too busy to talk. My son was happily to play and settled in quickly but would come back if he was bitten or hit by other kids - which one kid did do regularly to him!
I tried taking a friend with me to make it easier but it still felt like us two against the world. She was also post natally depressed. We tried running a craft table to break into the circle and make friends with the kids and parents but after a while we just gave up. Our kids had a mixed time - the bully was spoiling it for everyone and the helpers and her mother seemed unable to control it. We left.
~~National Childbirth Trust~~
I even tried one National Childbirth Trust session but again just felt unable to handle it. I never did try another playgroup sadly with my son but once I started working again he went into nursery and was very happy and settled.
~~Home based coffee morning linked to local church~~
With my daughter I had moved to a new area. I already knew that there was an active mums and tots type coffee morning in someone's home. I joined even prior to giving birth while on maternity leave and this time was welcomed with open arms. The parents chatted in one room with the young babies and older toddlers played with other children round the house. There were home schooling mums there so there were kids up to the age of about 10 which actually made supervision a little easier and cut down on bullying and temper tantrums. We even shared clothes and equipment between the group as our children were all at different stages - this obviously cut the cost of clothing considerably.
This group helped me get settled into breastfeeding, were able to answer my queries on what to do at different stages of my daughter's development including weaning and later potty training. We occasionally had lunch as a group, went to outings in the park and started to meet socially 1:1. This time I went back to work part time and arranged my holidays so I could carry on going to the group! Even once I returned to work full time those friendships remained. When I started to suffer with post natal depression again and had some time off sick - again the group were there to support.
My message - there will be a group out there that is right for you. For some it will be the big group session - for others it will be little groups meeting in people's homes. Although I had a negative experience of large groups and even a National Childbirth Trust meeting - I know lots of people who have had really positive experiences from these groups. Don't give up - ask your health visitor for details of groups, check out your local church or community hall - somewhere there will be a place that is right for you.
Losing weight the easy way
Having a family wedding and 40th birthday coming up in the next year, as a family unit we were keen to look our best - after all those photos will be on display for years!!!
What made me most keen to do something about a healthier diet was seeing that my husband and I and worst our son were all classed as obese! That was scary - especially as my son is only 11 and when he was younger he had a 6 pack all of his own he was so slim. I needed something that would work for us as a family and that would ideally not be too expensive!
I looked at local community groups but I have never been the kind of person that wants to go in front of people and be humiliated about my weight. Too many rings of sports days and other such humiliations for me. I know for other people it works well - but I am too embarrassed to even go in the door even though by some people's standards at size 18 I don't look too bad! Similarly my husband wasn't willing to try any of the local groups either! We have both done Atkins very successfully in the past but after a family tragedy we ate and ate our way back to being obese! Neither of us have the willpower to do Atkins a day. We have had a play with low GI diets but again some of the foods like bulger wheat, barley, quinoa just didn't appeal. We looked at other diets too buying various books without any success. Even Paul McKenna's book "I can make you thin" and his audio CD and "success journal" failed to make any impact on our collective weight!
Then a month of so ago after researching the internet for on-line diets I decided to give Tesco Diets a go! My reasoning was that at around £29.90 for 10 weeks - this would give me a kick start and lots of new recipe and meal ideas to try! I asked the online help person for some information before I signed up and got all my initial questions answered that way. You can choose to start your diet a few days later than your joining date - this allows your meal plan and shopping list to be generated. Think about when you usually go shopping and pick your weigh in day to be then and your diet start date a day or two after that. It just makes it a bit easier. I didn't do this straightaway but was able to make this important change even after I had paid which I was pleased about.
Tesco Diets offer a choice of about 14 different types of diet from low GI to low sugar to heart healthy to Totals (similar to Weight Watchers) or lighter options. I have been put on a diet with about 1400 calories a day. That gives me 3 evenly sized meals and a snack. I initially tried low GI but didn't like the menu plans so swapped to light choices instead. You can change your diet plan as often as you like and just generate new meal plans from what I can see. Initially I found a spent far more on food - the first two weeks I doubled my normal spend but I think that was because I was buying more oils, sauces, herbs, spices than normal and a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables. I have now worked out how to keep this more under control now and so my food cost has gone down to a more normal level again. You can even get them to generate a shopping list for you - but remember to times the quantities by the number of people you are feeding.
Another positive is that you can substitute ingredients or swap individual meals if you don't fancy them. Sometimes I have found that the system freezes when I try that though - so I tend to save often.
I tend to use about 240 calories on my breakfast and then eat another 200 calories of fruit at various points during the day. I then use 440ish calories on lunch and tea and then have another snack or two at other points in the day... Does it work? Well in the first 3 weeks I lost 5lb, my husband lost about 7lb and my son lost about 5lb too! I am thrilled to bits with this. They allow you to weigh in weekly and give you an on-going progress chart showing how well you are doing. The first week is the hardest so relax a bit the first week and then try to get stricter with yourself from week 2 onwards by which time it should start to get easier. We are now on week 5 and the whole family is happy and relaxed with the diet... although we are still weighing out some of the ingredients and calorie counting.
You can also include all your measurements wrist, thigh, hips, waist, fat percentage etc so you can track things other than weight so that if you are putting on muscle you can still seeing that you are losing inches or lowering your fat percentage. I find this motivating. I found out for example that my lean body mass is 9 stone 6 and since I should have about 24% fat my target weight was much higher than I thought. This meant that the ideal weight suggestions of 9st 3lb - 11st 6lb were actually not right for me and should be more like 13 stone because I have a large frame and if I keep the same lean body mass...
You also get a mentor and each week you can send them comments and they will reply with advice and support! They send you a weigh in reminder e-mail. There are also forums you can go on, diet news you can read and basic nutritional information. You can even email the Tesco nutritionist if you want to. I should point out that all the usual advice about seeking medical advice before diet and exercise still applies although I must admit I didn't do this. Ideally if you want to put the whole family on the diet you should get them to each join individually but personally I don't think that is necessary. Just remember that generally speaking the gents in the family can get away with a little bit more food than any females...
There is also the option to join the Recipe club for an extra £1 a week but since you get recipes anyway with the diet I haven't yet understood what that is about. Similar you can join an exercise on-line programme for another £1 a week. I haven't opted for either of those. However I have stepped up the exercise eg walking, swimming, gardening and housework and have had a lot more energy. My husband also repeats feeling healthier in himself - he has now lost half a stone! My 11 year old son is delighted with his progress too and happy to have more control over his eating. Even my 6 year daughter is finding the diet recipes okay. Luckily her target calorie intake is about 1550 anyway so it just means she can get away with more healthy snacks. So as I say - this diet is the easiest I have done - it feels like we are genuinely just eating healthily rather than dieting!
Loreal's colour Appeal Trio Pro for Hazel eyes is my favourite eye shadow set of all time, even topping previous good experience with Body Shop! The fact that it is a 3 in 1 eye shadow case makes it much easier to use than separate eye shadows. There are two blendable shades of honey brown, as well as a highlighting shade to enhance the colour of your eyes. I think the black and gold packaging also looks classy and professional.
The colours work well on me even though I have blue eyes, and offer a subtle, natural effect that looks sleek and professional both at work and into the evening. I found the light colours make a great base layer if I want to add other brighter colours like a blue or green. Even better, if you add water the colours shines brightly and transforms it into suitable eye makeup for the evening too.
I have very sensitive eyes and therefore have been thrilled to find an eye shadow that both looks good and is kind to my eyes! I have often been complimented while wearing it. I always feel more confident when I have applied it, and the Loreal name helps me feel even more special. I think it offers great value for money at £6.99 and is definitely a product I would invest in again - as I really am worth it!
I bought Maybelline's expert wear eye shadow about a month ago. I find it works okay when I wear it on top of another eyeshadow like loreal colour appeal but have been disappointed when I've worn it on its own. This could be because I misjudged how dark the ones I bought were - artic blue - and I normally wear much brighter and lighter colours. I have quite light skin with blue eyes and brown hair. I think the colours would suit a blonde with blue eyes more or even possibly someone with darker skin. I think my skin is probably too pale to carry off the colours I bought!
I think for someone who is used to wearing darker make-up colours this product definitely provides great value for money. It looks hardly touched and I've worn it most days. It does have a nice shimmery effect which does make it look a little more glamourous. It feels nice on my skin and doesn't give me an allergic reaction, despite my eyes sometimes becoming sensitive to make up!
The dark blue packaging looks quite sleek. Superdrug does offer the best price I've seen - especially if you buy it using a card registered with a high street reward giving cash back site!
If you are looking for an affordable phone, that also replaces your camera, walkman and usb stick this is the phone for you. I bought mine from Orange for less than £90 on pay as you go about 6 months ago.
I use it for all my photo and video needs as with its 3.2 megapixel camera it offers great quality pictures while still remaining small and light enough to carry around. Mine even came with a useful carrying strap which has reduced the risk of damage from falling significantly!
I can also download files and pictures from my computer and then upload them again from it when I need to. It is also a great music player and has built in speakers. I personally haven't used it for video calling yet but it does have the capability for it. If I put the phone on speaker, I can hear it handsfree in the car even without a seperate headset which can be very useful. It even has internet access so if you want a phone that allows you to stay in contact and surf while on the move this is a very affordable option.
As a phone, it keeps a good signal, the number pad is easy to use and the battery lasts a long time between charging. Callers can hear me clearly and I can hear them easily too. It has a good choice of ringtones and a selection of games to play on the move! It might not have the best looks but it is a good all-round phone with a wide range of features.
I love Femme as a perfume. Speaking as someone who hadn't been able to find perfume that didn't give me an allergic reaction for over a decade. You can imagine my delight when I found this perfume. Its light and easy to wear, I feel very feminine while wearing it but at the same time know that others can breathe in its delicate fragrance while not being overwhelmed by it. The light fragrance lasts a number of hours...
I managed to buy it at half its recommended retail price so for me it offers great value for money. I have used it mainly for special occasions or when I needed to give my confidence a boost.
The bottle is beautifully designed. I really liked the heavy glass, the pink colour perfume and asymmetric detailing. It is a classy addition to anyone's dressing table! The light scent lasts a number of hours so needs less refreshing, meaning that the volume of perfume supplied is long lasting.
I bought Virgin Vie Pure Shine Lip Gloss at a Virgin Vie party and it has lived up to my high expectations. I tend to use it when I am going to a special event on top of my normal liptstick. I find it always makes me feel special and I love the shine. It is true that it can be sticky - and if you kiss someone while wearing it - there will be some transfer.
It can be pricey, I have found though that it last ages. Since we all know that we end up eating/tasting our liptstick - its good to know it tastes okay too! I personally would recommend this as the finishing touch to your make up for a glam night out. If you need a boost and want to get back in touch with you fun loving, feminine side then this lip glass is the one for you!