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thingywhatsit
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Member since: 20.08.2003

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    • Nivea Beauty Lift / Make Up / 93 Readings / 83 Ratings
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      21.01.2008 13:10
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      First class product at a middle of the road price

      When it comes to deciding what to do about an ageing face, many of us women will resort to drastic means to try and make ourselves look younger. The models on the advertisements always have perfect skin, though it is questionable what they looked like before applying the product. Put a housewife like me in the advertisement and the sales of the product would probably drop a mile, though here we are, the paying customer, taking a chance on a promise.

      Having tried many varieties of foundation in my lifetime, and with my skin getting sallow and colorless with age, I needed a foundation that covered the skin without looking blotchy, and that helped a little with hiding the lines that age has a habit of creating. Powders look too false and certainly don't give you a fresh look. Other creams looked too bronzed or too pale, and there was never the right combination for older skin.

      When Nivea brought out this product, it's presentation was quite original as instead of having the foundation in a tube, it sits within an easily hand held bottle and has a nozzle at the top which is pressed to produce the creamy liquid. It comes in a variety of colors to suit most skins, and I found that the variety included one that suited my skin.

      Using the nozzle is a bit of an art, since if you are not careful, too much of the liquid comes out. It's a pump action and one that is easy to get accustomed to after a few times of using it. The liquid itself has a very fresh odor and is not at all unpleasant, and the cream rubs in nicely giving even color.

      Many of these products are labeled with the word 'Lift', and are aimed at the older lady, although I have to be honest that the lift really didn't happen. What did happen instead was that I found a product that seems to moisturize as well as act as a foundation, and one that gives a superb finish and doesn't need alternative products to touch in areas around the eyes.

      It's a great product and my only gripe would be the promise of lifting, though I was never naive enough to expect that the lifting elements would do more than they did. Priced mid range in the beauty counter foundations, I think it deserves a bigger pricetag than the one imposed, since it certainly went on better than more expensive makes, and offered a lot more than the cheaper ones.

      Nivea have a reputation for skin products in the cheaper range, and seem to be building on this reputation by coming up with products that work, and this is no exception. The consistency of the cream is easy to use, adequately thick without clogging the pores of the face, and give a color finish that lasts all day without the need to touch up areas even in hot conditions.

      As price will vary from shop to shop and from country to country, I have said little about actual price other than to give an idea of the price range being middle of the road, though it is here that the product excels. Certainly much better than No. 7 items, better than Max Factor, and certainly every bit as good as the Chanel foundation at three times the price.

      This product certainly gets my vote as being a very good face product with a great range of colors, in a container that seems to last for ages. Three months of use, still going strong !

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        14.01.2008 14:29
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        A worthwhile investment for the serious computer user.

        The G11 Logitech keyboard was intended for gamers though one of the reasons that I bought it was because of the backlighting facility, which lights up the keys in the dark. With many black keyboards these days, what happens is that it is hard to distinguish the keys at night under dim light, although this isn't the only benefit of the keyboard, and was merely my reason to buy it, together with knowing that the Logitech make was a pretty reliable one.

        One of the interesting aspects of this keyboard is that in any publicity online that describes it, it is only the middle section of the keyboard that is lit up, when in fact the whole keyboard has settings whereby you can choose as a user whether to use dim lighting up, or a brighter setting for darkness. I tend to use the light up feature even in daytime as this really gives the black keyboard the edge over the competition and is very easy to use.

        KEYBOARD ITSELF

        Here, I was a little disappointed at first though need not have been. The keys are closer together than on a standard Microsoft keyboard, and the reason is that they have added so many feature buttons that the keyboard had to be compressed to house all the normal typing keys. I got used to it after a short space of time, though it was disconcerting to start off with. The touch is very definite and you certainly have reliability and I have not experienced any odd keys with different touch, the touch being a great uniform experience on whatever area of the keyboard I am working.

        FUNCTION KEYS

        As a person that does a lot of written work, I wasn't that impressed with having all the function keys, though the software that comes with the package is rather special for keyboard software and extremely easy to use, and the function keys neatly lined up to the left of the main keyboard. Here, not only do you have 18 different keys that you can program to your preference, but you have three different modes which are clearly defined at the top of the keyboard, so that the user has no confusion with which mode they are currently using.

        I found by using these function keys and programming them to my everyday needs for Internet and written work, they have become an integral part of my everyday use of the computer, and it was the easy layout of the programming that lead me to experiment, using the second mode for my game play, and the third for a particular game that needs a lot of keyboard work that had always proven difficult in the past, now all neatly placed together in the same place on the keyboard.

        SOUND FEATURES

        The sound station on the keyboard is brightly lit and serves it's purpose, letting the user have control over playing videos and sound media, letting the user have the ability to control their video and music from the keyboard. In my case the advantage here is that the speakers are placed at the back of the desk so this feature is handy in that I no longer have to stretch over to turn down the sound or to freeze a video that I am playing if disturbed by a telephone call.

        This is a step up from what I am accustomed to since this would have taken several clicks of the mouse and I find myself using it more and more each day. There is of course the normal mute button that all keyboards these days seem to have, though the feature of having more control from the keyboard is rather good.

        The volume button is weird to get used to as it is a round one that needs to be rotated although the response is very good indeed.

        GAMING PORTS

        The ports for gaming items are at the back of the keyboard and personally, I think the designers would have done better to have had these at the sides, although this causes me little hassle other than ease of access when I want to use them. These are USB and quite handy and although you can put the cords under the keyboard, it is ungainly and difficult.

        SIZE

        One of the biggest bugbears about this keyboard is its size. It took ages to get used to and I certainly felt that the addition of the hand rest made it pretty much too big to fit on my desk and I have a very large desk so would imagine most people would ignore this item totally. Without it, there is a neat trim that acts equally well as a handrest. The width of the keyboard of course is much larger than normal keyboards, and those with limited space should perhaps measure their desk space to see if the keyboard can be housed on it.

        KEYBOARD ANGLE

        This is a weak spot with the keyboard, since the two little feet at the back of the keyboard allow you to angle the keyboard to a more comfortable position, although I believe that they should have made the feet bigger giving more angle, as the angle presented is a little uncomfortable for the hands and not natural giving me more hand fatigue than other keyboards. What I found I had to do was to adjust this myself with the addition of little blocks, but with a little more thought, they could have gotten around this problem.

        OVERALL CONCLUSION

        If you want a good quality illuminated keyboard, this is the best on the market. Having researched the market thoroughly and checked it against the cheap imports on ebay that I have bought in the past, this is a class act. The keys are responsive and the touch superb. The extra programmable keys are a bonus and certainly the software is the most user friendly I have ever known.

        Getting the keyboard up and running was simply a matter of installing the software and then plugging in the USB. I would have preferred a normal mouse connection since this uses up a valuable USB port, though my overall impression of the keyboard is that it is quality and certainly worthy of consideration.

        Made to appeal to gamers, to my mind it appeals also to those that type a lot at night, since the cheaper makes had sticky keys and garish lighting, whereas this is crisp and clear. Bought at £32.00 from eBay and even taking into account the cost of postage, I feel that the keyboard does what I wanted it to do, and does that well.

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          10.01.2008 11:58
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          A very worthwhile read.

          Based in Lower Wessex, England in the late 1800's, "A Pair of Blue Eyes", by Thomas Hardy, tells the tale of an English lady by the name of Elfride Swancourt, the daughter clergyman, Christopher Swancourt and the journey that takes her through the highs and lows of romance.

          Hardy is particularly good at portraying life in this epoch of history, and the deliciously descriptive nature of his work weaves a tapestry of fine detail that encompasses the intricacies of perceptions and beliefs surrounding the British class system of the time.

          In other historical novels, one is tempted to skip paragraphs, though one of the most important aspects of Hardy's work is that words are never used to pad the text, and each are designed to give focus and authority to the written word. The man is extremely clever at it and has an astute sense of clarity.

          In this particular book, the subject matter takes into account the strength of feeling imposed by the class system that still exists in today's society, although to a lesser extent. Elfride is a fanciful young lady with a naivety one can only imagine to have been rooted in the isolation of her upbringing in a rural area of Wessex.

          Compared with another Hardy heroine, Tess, she most certainly does not have the same strength of character, though his affection for his created character is apparent, as he delves into the thought processes with a very good understanding and sensitivity towards the fairer sex.

          Conversely, the male characters that dominate the book are extremely well formed and believable in the characterisations of Steven Smith, Elfride's first love, an Architect of lowly background, balanced out nicely by the character of Henry Knight, an educated essayist that is introduced to Elfride after having critiqued her romantic and idealized historical novel.

          The spark between characters works very convincingly and the changing tides of fortune and fame that embrace the storyline and make it work effectively have been cleverly executed, leaving the reader involved in the lives of the characters painted by Hardy. He is particularly good at getting the reader interested, and this book is no exception to the rule.

          Part of the Wordsworth Classics range of books, this book comes in soft-cover and the edition offers the reader the possibility of buying the whole range of Thomas Hardy books which have been cheaply reproduced to make collections of literature possible even to the student on a meager budget. The book also has an area at the back of the book for notes, and coming in at a very cheap price, these are ideal for students, though for those who wish to grace their bookshelves with a more lasting item, I prefer both the print and presentation of the Penguin classic version.

          One of the sad historical things that took away the popularity of this book is that it was quickly overshadowed by the much loved "Far From the Madding Crowd", though for those that have read and enjoyed the more popular works, the book does have its merits, and is certainly a very nicely penned story indeed.

          Paperback: 320 pages
          Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Dec 1995)
          Language English
          ISBN-10: 1853262773
          ISBN-13: 978-1853262777
          A worthy historical romance that takes the reader back in time, to Wessex, and it's English roots.

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            18.12.2007 14:53
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            Think carefully and make no decisions without advice

            Imagine my surprise at being offered a lump sum payment just before Christmas. It came as a huge surprise, though pension companies all over the UK are trying to find ways to make economies, and the reason for writing this review is to forewarn people of the hazards they may put in the path of their lives if they accept lump sum payments without due consideration.

            The leaflets that come with these are very cleverly worded, and in some cases leave out salient points that really do need to be considered. In my case, the offer was in the region of £40,000 which would have been a nice lump sum to put into the bank and invest for my future. For people on pensions being offered the possibility of cash up front in exchange for future increases in their pension sounds viable, especially if the pension is fairly high in the first place, but read on because it isn't always as good as it sounds.

            DOES YOUR PENSION GO DOWN?

            Not really. In effect your pension stays the same unless otherwise explained. What this does mean though is that without steady increases, it won't keep up with the rate of inflation and the value of the pension goes down because the money pays less of your needs in the future simply because inflation increases costs.

            DOES IT AFFECT YOUR STATE PENSION ?

            Here, it was explained that the state pension will still get the statutory increases and that a private pension does not affect the increases in normal old age pension.

            CAN YOU INVEST AND MAKE MORE MONEY ?

            Theoretically you can, though the theory doesn't hold out if, like me, the amount you are offered takes you into a higher tax bracket. It really is essential to telephone your tax office and to find out the truth behind the offer. What I found was alarming. Not only would I be taxed on a higher income for this year, but that for all the payments of pension that fall within this year's tax period, I would be charged 40 per cent and thus lose almost half of what I have now per month.

            IS A PENSION ADVANCE TAXABLE ?

            Here lies another catch. In my case I was told on the form that it would be taxed at 22 per cent. Quite another story emerged when talking to the tax office, since the payment is counted as income and would be taxed at 40 per cent. Now that's a whole lot of difference and means that with National Insurance payments at a percentage rate as well, what the company were offering me was in fact half of what they appeared to be offering.

            I am writing this in the hope that one person out there reads it at the right time, and that it helps them to make a wise decision. That piece of paper that offered me so much at a time when people are perhaps a little more vulnerable than at other times because of family pressure really isn't a good time to make decisions like this without looking into them thoroughly and if you get one, it would be wise to do the following:

            Check with your tax office about what the situation for tax would be if you accepted.

            Check to see what investment rate you can get from that money

            Check to see how long a life you think you will live, since this matters. Current health may be a factor, but if you expect a long life then taking the offer could mean living a very frugal life in your old age.

            Having checked everything, do get financial advice from a friendly accountant, as the help lines that work for the pension companies are often geared around pursuading you to agree to the payment, and there is no money that is given away through goodwill. The pension companies are trying to make savings. In some cases, it may be worth your while, though only decide that when you are armed with full information, or the mistake may be expensive.

            A short term Christmas financial gain isn't worth writing off your future.

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            • Rabbits / Discussion / 69 Readings / 59 Ratings
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              28.11.2007 21:18
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              Be sure before you choose an angora as a gift for a child.

              When I suggested this category, I used a somewhat different title and the site decided to change the title, though the point of writing the review was to answer the question as to whether buying an angora rabbit for a child for Christmas was a good idea.

              Christmas nears and more and more people make the mistake of thinking a cute little rabbit is just right to give to their little ones for Christmas. Christmas lasts a week. A rabbit's lifetime can be anything up to 15 years, so it really is important to realise the importance of what may seem a flippant choice of a pet for a child.

              The Angora rabbit breed is a particular breed that requires hard work and energy and many children do not have the patience for the care that they need. Included below are many of the characteristics that may make them an unsuitable choice for children which include:

              *Habits
              *Care
              *Grooming
              *Characteristics
              *Patience

              HABITS

              The habits of Angoras are quite fixed. They are not keen on change, and introducing them to a noisy environment can unsettle them. They like meals at fixed times, and enjoy having their litter tray in the same place. Although these rabbits can be kept in cages, they thrive if being let to roam within a safe area in the home.

              One of the negative side of Angora rabbits for children is that their sleeping habits would mean that often the children sleep during the waking hours of the rabbit, who sleeps all day. If confronted by children upon their return from school, a rabbit will attack. Many do not attack seriously or hurt children intentionally, but in their fear, they tend to snap because their sleep pattern is interfered with.

              CARE

              Does your child have the patience to care for a rabbit. Angora rabbits need more care than normal rabbits and will leave hairs all over the place. They will need their nails clipped, and regular love and attention. They will also need their tray changed regularly and many kids are not keen in this chore at all. Angora rabbits are very clean animals and if their tray is not cleaned will do their business elsewhere.

              GROOMING

              Angora rabbits can die if they are not groomed on a regular basis. Sure, they look like a big ball of fluff, but believe me, they need brushing almost daily, not just for cosmetic reasons, but because the loose hair can actually threaten their wellbeing. Rabbits clean themselves with a licking motion and unlike in other animal species, their digestion system works differently and the creation of a hair ball can be lethal, since a rabbit cannot vomit.

              CHARACTERISTICS

              The characteristics of Angoras differ from one animal to the next, and here while they may be cuddly when they are little, they are fiercely independent animals that can be easily alienated against being picked up. It may prove to be a disappointment to a child that their rabbit doesn't want to be caressed and even care in the choosing stage can never determine what that rabbit is going to be like as an adult.

              They are extremely good fun. They hop and skip and actually have a memory, but it is this memory that will alienate them from the children, in that they will remember all the times they are picked up and brushed and avoid those that do this work, not seeing it as a positive measure.

              PATIENCE

              Patience is essential when you have a small creature like an Angora, since these little critters cannot complain when something is wrong, and an owner needs to be very sensitive to the needs of the rabbit at all times, and quick to deal with illnesses and to call the vet when necessary. They take a lot of patience to care for, and perhaps are not the wisest choice for a child that has very little patience, where a guinea pig or small rodent would be a better choice and easier to care for.

              Giving an Angora rabbit for Christmas, give the whole concept thought because it is more than just the smile on a child's face that matters. What matters is the fifteen years that follow and the part the animal is allowed to play in your life. They say that dogs are not just for Christmas, though this applies to all animals, especially those little white fluffy balls called Angoras who need love and care long after the Christmas wrappings have all been packed away, and Christmas forgotten about.

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              • Frustration with dooyoo / Discussion / 95 Readings / 82 Ratings
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                12.11.2007 14:07
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                Just my point of view, to which I am entitled.

                Frustrations with dooyoo.

                It is here that individuals get a chance to say what are the major frustrations that they find on a site like dooyoo. We have read many weird and wonderful reviews about people's frustrations, and each individual has a different viewpoint, though gathering those viewpoints together in one focal point is perhaps a good way for dooyoo to try and find ways to get around the things that frustrate the membership.

                My frustrations are perhaps a little different from other members, though many run on a similar vein and the main ones that I have experienced as a Guide in the Services and Speaker's corner area of the site are member orientated rather than dooyoo orientated and include:

                *Service reviews that are written in haste before a conclusion is reached.
                *Speaker's Corner reviews that say nothing and add no value to the discussion.
                *Reviews that are written in haste with no thought of lasting quality
                *Reviews that are scant at best, disappointing at worst and are written to earn pennies

                SERVICE REVIEWS

                I find this area increasingly difficult, since people tend to use it as an area for a gripe. That's fair enough if the gripe can be substantiated though many of the reviews in this section are written in a moment of anger without giving any thought to the effect that they may have on a public searching for complete information.

                "My windows we not fitted right", "my telephone line doesn't work", "I can't get my money back even though I wrote twice." These are all normal gripes and not substantiation of lack of care on the part of service providers. Many are ill written and their argument unsubstantiated and in many cases the services articles show that members of the public are often the authors of their own misfortune, don't check the small print before signing, and do little to make the situation right between the service provider and themselves, thinking that their complaint is valid, though unable to make their complaint adequately.

                Here, the most useful review a person can write is after the particular case, when a scenario has been reached between the service provider and the customer, and a full picture can be painted that gives not only the details of what happened, but what conclusion was reached.

                SPEAKER'S CORNER

                Speaker's corner tends to be a dumping ground for rubbish. Of course, there are valid reviews in speaker's corner that merit recognition and awards of crowns, though many are written without real thought. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation as dooyoo want reviews regardless of quality, though to me, the frustration lies in being faced day after day with reviews that say nothing, that add nothing to the substance of the site, and that regardless will pick up their 3p from my read. These frustrate me and are part of the Dooyoo scene, but imagine if speaker's corner were used to it's fullest capacity in allowing members to have their say, and members taking that opportunity to say it eloquently.

                It will always be a bugbear with me that regardless of ratings, everyone gets paid their 3p from my reads, and as I guide, I read everything within my category, and one day pray that I shall approach the site and find that people cared enough to write substance, to use the opportunity afforded them, and to deserve the 3p they get from me.

                HASTY REVIEWS

                A member with a few minutes on their hands sees an obscure subject in Speaker's Corner and joins in thinking that for a few words, they can get some extra pennies. You may think this is adequately covered by the last heading, though these members that habitually write crap get their three pence out of me day after day, and even encouraged to have opinion, don't seem to have the ability or even the incentive to write better reviews that they can be proud of. A few lines, 12 somewhat helpful ratings later, they get their money, though the site gets loaded up with unsubstantial crap and those members that write them profit from the situation.

                There's not much I can do about my frustrations, nor would I expect Dooyoo to do anything. Policing ratings at best produces bad feeling and personal vendettas as demonstrated on sites like Ciao, and I can see the sense in paying everyone for their somewhat helpful crap, because it means less work for the admin of the site, though is that extra bit of work worth neglecting in favor of letting the floodgates open to crap reviews ? I often think that if a member produces consistently bad reviews over a period of time, then wouldn't it be worth some penalty ?

                How about replacing the "Somewhat helpful" rating which implies positivity with a more suited name such as "Somewhat crappy and inadequate" or "Desperate for 3p and inadequate"

                Enough of my ranting. It's a pretty mild rant at that. I don't care about the new incentives to write 30 reviews in 30 days. Any person with the time on their hands can manage that easily, and churning was never a problem to me. Rating ? Well each must rate as each must find, and that never irks me that much.

                Layout – I am not sure what I think of dooyoo going blogwise, though at least the layout makes those reviews that are insubstantial crap look half decent. Rant over. Onwards and upwards.

                Now go and write me some really good stuff in Speaker's Corner and Services, and make my rating a pleasure.

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                  20.10.2007 15:39
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                  A beautifully woven tale that stands the test of time.

                  Upon taking this book from the bookshelf the other day, I wasn't quite sure why I was drawn into reading a book read many times in the past, and one which I kept for a rainy day. The rainy day had arrived, and little by little, I delved into the life of Tess, our heroine, and began to recall why this book stands out as such a worthy contender for books that portray life in old England.

                  Thomas Hardy's use of description is amazing. Not only is the reader almost on intimate terms with characters, but the scenery that he describes passes the test of time, in language that really does it justice and does not seem to have dated, considering that it was written as long ago as 1891. What stood out on the page and that surprized me even after reading it several times in the past is the clarity of description that shows up the author's skill. There is only one other writer that I know that uses this amount of depth to portray their characters and their surroundings, and that is Laurie Lee.

                  The story tells the life of a simple peasant girl called Tess, born to a lowly family and plunged into a new world by the discovery her father makes that perhaps their descendents were of wealthy stock, who send Tess to make acquaintance with people of a similar name in order to gain recognition and to lay claim to what Tess's father believes will be the making of the family.

                  As far as the story goes, it really would spoil it to tell Tess's tale, since the writing of the book sets out and succeeds to explore the life of Tess, putting those characters that affect her life into clever vignettes almost as if their passing through her life strengthens the character that readers become familiar with throughout the tale, rather than making them the stronger elements of the story. It's a very clever method and the author goes through such vivid description that the reader feels the emotions, pictures the scenery, and even feels familiar with the landscape to such an extent that even now, over a hundred years after publication, the author's work stands out as vivid and extremely enlightening.

                  The clever turn of phrase reminded me of the use of language as it should be, as opposed to more modern books where the structure is less rigid, though his crafting of words is superb and at times leaves the reader marvelling at the skill of language itself.

                  Whereas there has always been criticism of the genre of books that is labelled as "bodice ripping" tales, I really do believe that this book stands out because of its sensitivity, and even when dealing with coarse truth and morbidity, somehow the language used really does conjure up the sense of loss, hope, despair and makes each of the sentiments throughout the tale very real and readable.

                  There are those that criticise the strength of the characterizations within the works of Hardy, although to me, it is almost as if the very weakness of the characters makes them into credible people that were part of a woman's emotions and feelings, and the manner in which the author dealt with delicate storyline with much misery was more sensitive than any I have ever read before.

                  Tess is the heroine of the tale that takes twists and turns through such sadness and longing, and by playing down the other characters, what Hardy seems to have achieved is a perfect picture of the girl that takes the route to womanhood, using the complementing characters as parts of her thinking processes in an extremely clever manner.

                  The scenery which creates the backdrop to the story is cleverly detailed so that the reader can actually picture the corn in the fields, and the work ethic of the time rather than being given a blank landscape that the imagination has to work on. No stone is left unturned as the story weaves through the life of Tess, and the contrasts of her life between the time she spent in Flintcomb Ash and Talbothay's Dairy farm. All of the twists and turns within her life are explored in such a detailed way as to feel that the author was indeed intimate with the character that his book develops.

                  It's a beautifully told story, and the sadness still very real and undated, the kind that touches every human being, making it a book that never really dates. My enthusiasm drove me into going back to seek more, to care about Tess, and to recognize what work the author did in presenting his public with a whole and very complex character.

                  For those who enjoy romance, the book has a lot to offer, though I don't think that the offering stops there. For those who would not choose romance as their main source of reading, what the book holds is use of language in a very rich manner that takes the reader back to a time before the media of television or film, to a time when the written word had to capture every essence of a situation rather than depending upon the media to back it up.

                  It's a wonderful book, and one that I know I shall read again at some stage in the future, when I need reminding of the craft of writing, and the richness of words.


                  Paperback: 592 pages
                  Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 27, 2003)
                  Language: English
                  ISBN-10: 0141439599
                  ISBN-13: 978-0141439594


                  Certainly worthy of buying at the new price (today's price) of £5.00 with second hand editions at a much more humble price.

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                    11.09.2007 12:01
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                    A fantastic product that changed my view about vegetarian food.

                    I want to rave about something. Little did I know that Quorn could taste this good. I have been against these types of food, and my bias was based on past experience of chewing those products which purport to be good for you, whilst tasting like rubber. Quorn has advanced and in an effort to help supply the protein that my vegetarian husband lacked within his diet, we have been tasting all the different kinds of Quorn available on the market.

                    With this product, what you see is what you get, and it really did shock me. The product comes either in boxes or sachets costing around the £2.00 mark for 350 grams. It doesn't sound like good value when you look at the size of the packet, but don't be fooled by it. Inside each of the packets whether sachet or box, what you get is small pieces of Quorn that look like chicken pieces, diced into squares.

                    These really are fantastic value for money and where they excel is that they actually do taste like chicken pieces would taste. Cooking these with a little oil to a crisp, they are delicious as a hot snack in a roll, or added after cooking to stir fries, making chicken and mushroom pies, and indeed any dish that requires the use of chicken.

                    The tenderness is like the breast of chicken and the texture is very much the same, but one of the reasons I am so enthused is that I can now eat the same meal as my husband and not have to cook two separate meals for each of us any more. One bag or box goes a long, long way, and they produce a very high level of protein which vegetarians may be lacking from their diet. In fact since eating the Quorn product range, we found that blood tests show that the levels of protein are indeed much more substantial and that our change in diet has improved my husband's health.

                    Many vegetarians forget that whilst it may be acceptable to eat vegetables, they also need the balance in their diet that vegetables and pulses alone cannot provide, and although the detrimental effects may not be apparent straight away, can result in deficiencies that promote illness in later life. With the use of these little cubes, we are managing to get the balance back.

                    One way in which I have been using these is to make a stir fry for my husband, and then after serving his, adding Korma sauce to my own to make it spicier. It really is delicious and very enjoyable. The great thing about this product is that it can be kept in the freezer, and the amount needed taken out and quick thawed in the microwave ready to use at a moment's notice. We even tried it in kebabs with success though care is needed when putting it onto the sticks.

                    As a snack at parties, this can be used like cocktail sausages on sticks, and looks very attractive and helps those catering for vegetarians to have more choice of what to give their vegetarian guests. I cannot enthuse enough, and coming from a believer that quorn tastes like rubber, this really is a confession that I actually love the stuff, and can happily watch the chickens run around feeling rather smug that I don't need their meat to enhance my diet.

                    Interestingly enough, Quorn have also brought out Chicken on a roll which is suitable for Christmas dinners or roasts for vegetarians, and although the taste is not quite as good as this, it really does offer vegetarians a little more choice than before. Made out of fungi, it really is nice and a great addition to the diet.

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                    • Quorn Mince / Ready Meals / 70 Readings / 64 Ratings
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                      09.09.2007 11:46
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                      A product to fall back on for spontaneous vegetarian cooking.

                      In an effort to find products which contain more protein for a member of the family who is vegetarian, I have been trying different Quorn products, and giving the concept of quorn a second look since the modernisation of ideas and presentation to the public in supermarkets, rather than being a specialised kind of food that can only be bought in health food shops. The quorn range is quite amazing, though for this review, the product in question is Quorn mince.

                      It comes in a frozen pack, and here it's quite useful that you can re-cover the pack and put back in the freezer, since the quantity of 350 grams is rather a lot of product for one solitary dish. I have to admit to having been skeptical about using this on past experience of quorn, though times change and things get better, and the presentation was promising, as I opened the pack and found something that actually resembled mince in texture and color, instead of the old fashioned quorn which lacked color.

                      The advantages of using quorn of this nature are not only from the protein point of view, as these products can be used by people who wish to cut down on fats. Mince is usually quite heavy in fat content, so it seemed logical that it would not only do my husband good, but would benefit me as well.

                      When thawed, the quorn can be used in many ways. Here, I found that binding it together to make burgers was a little tedious and unecessary, since Quorn also have burgers in their food range which actually taste better than home made ones (or at least the ones I make). For those dishes where spices are used, this quorn mince excels though I have my doubts as to whether it is the quorn product that gives the dishes made the taste factor, since without adding spices and flavors, the mince is very bland.

                      For shepherds pies, I found that by mixing with a tomato puree with a little chilli added, the effect was quite good, and taste factor improved, though on it's own, the taste is disappointing. The texture of the quorn is that of dry mince, and a little gritty if anything, although if it helps up the protein for a vegetarian, can be made into worthwhile dishes.

                      Being fair and honest, I am more keen on other products produced by the same company, because what they seem to have recognised is that just because a person is vegetarian, it doesn't mean that they don't want taste and the chicken style products are much more delicious than this mince, although it's handy for spontaneous cooking.

                      The carbohydrate levels of the product are low, though there is a good quantity of fiber which may be lacking from the vegetarian diet. It is important to balance out vegetarian diet, and the price of not doing so is that the body lacks all those vital proteins that help to make the bones stronger. Here, speaking from experience, we found that by upping the levels of protein, many of the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis that are common in vegetarians after a certain age were aided, when coupled with good walking exercise, and what vegetarians often forget is that even if they do not need meat, their bodies do need regular protein.

                      The quorn does make a decent pasty. Here, using vegetables and a little sauce to add taste, I was able to produce some fairly respectable pasties.

                      I wasn't that impressed with the mince. I have to be honest that unless you spice it up, it's chewy and tasteless, though spiced up, it makes a good substitute for meals where protein would normally be provided and the pack that costs around £2.50 (here in France, though I suspect much less in the UK), makes about 3 individual meals, which isn't bad value when you consider the price of meat.

                      Taste : 2/10
                      Ease of use : 8/10
                      Cost per meal : 8/10

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                        02.09.2007 15:04
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                        A product I shall continue using as it doesn't dry out the skin

                        I would like to share a very strange experience with those who seek information on this new product from Nivea. Not being one to shy away from trying something new, I paid out something in the region of £2.50 for the pleasure of tearing my hair out by the roots. Women want to look nice, and we pay a higher price than monetary considerations in an effort to reveal ourselves as beautiful.

                        THE PRODUCT

                        This is the strangest product I have ever used. I was amazed first at the color of the product, since Microwave wax is usually a golden color, and this resembled some of the more edible looking products available from Lush. Pink, creamy looking gunk in a large pot, though I should have heeded some of the warnings on the pot before getting too up close and personal, since adhering to the instructions really does matter. The product is supplied with a stirring stick/spatula, and also with sachets of cream to take away any after stinging, which sent shockwaves through my mind about what I was about to try out.

                        PREPARATION

                        Be prepared to hurt. This is an inevitable side effect of the product. Be prepared to yell a little, to make splodges of pink stuff that drip, and in places resemble those strips of cheese that have endless dribbles. Be prepared to protect your bathroom floor, your sink (by putting the plug in), and be prepared to watch the timer on the microwave, since the timing of heating is critical to the procedure. The pot should be placed in the microwave and it really depends upon the wattage of the microwave how long you heat it, although it says NEVER to heat for more than two minutes.

                        FACE AREA

                        If you try this product, don't try it on the face area first. It takes a lot of getting used to, and the inexperienced user will find that the strands of wax will really startle them. It's a very odd concept, though what Nivea have produced is a wax that is heated, but that turns into a strip all by itself. Having used strips of a material in the past, the concept was weird to say the least, and having tried the facial area before I was experienced with using the product was a mistake.

                        When experienced with the product, this really does work well for unwanted facial hair. It's a matter of creating your own shaped spatula, or buying them from craft stores with a smaller head than the one provided, giving you more control. The wax works really well in the eyebrow region and is very effective indeed. For chin or the potential moustache area, this is more effective than any other wax I have ever used, and left the skin perfectly soft. The gentle aroma was nicer than those of creams, making it a great product for the face.

                        LEGS

                        For the legs, the benefit of the product is that you can make the strips whatever length you want them, cutting down the amount of time used in waxing. It's clever and it's quite good fun, applying the creamy substance, waiting a few moments while the producy dries into a strip, and then pulling in the opposite direction to hair growth.

                        UNDERARMS

                        Used in the underarm area, I didn't like this product at all. It hurts like hell, and creams do it better. What I found was that because the hair growth takes different directions in this particular area of the anatomy, the removal was not only painful but patchy.

                        BIKINI LINE

                        Here, goodness me, it makes the eyes water, and although the product is super efficient, I would advise less painful alternatives for those ladies with dark hair. The product is easy to put on, and the waiting period about 2 minutes, though when you go to pull of the strips, what has happened is so different from waxing with individual strips and separate wax. The product grips the hair as it dries, ensuring that you miss nothing, though in doing so, hurts more than I care to mention in the removal of bikini line hair.

                        What you get when you eventually extract the newly formed strip is super efficient, though so painful I would never consider the treatment again.

                        OVERALL

                        Overall this is a new and innovative product and I like it for legs and facial hair. It's more efficient at removing that horrible area of growth between eye brows across the bridge of the nose than traditional wax and the added benefit is that you don't have to keep buying the fabric strips all the time. For legs, it's so easy and less painful than traditional wax. For the bikini line, unless you have fair hair which always hurts less on removal, I think I might compare this with the worst kind of torture a woman can put herself through.

                        The stringy cheese like consistancy is a little odd at first, though you do get accustomed to avoiding it, and certainly the one spatula provided with the kit will not be enough for future use since it clogs up easily. Stirring of the product is necessary, although it is this very procedure that clogs up the spatula, making this particular very difficult to use on any area other than legs.

                        WHAT THE SKIN FEELS LIKE AFTERWARDS

                        Babylike is the word I would describe. The sachets of cream were unecessary and I think added as a kind of treat to those ladies taking the plunge and trying the product, rather than a necessity. My skin felt softer than it ever does with the traditional wax, and I believe this to be because of the content of the cream which seems to nourish and moisten the skin as it is used.

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                          12.07.2007 13:00
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                          A worthwhile book to complement a collection of well written fiction.

                          Blackberry Wine is one of a series of food related books written by Joanne Harris, more recognised for her bestselling books, Chocolat and Five Quarters of an Orange. The theme of all three books is gastronomy and each has its' merits as modern literature, whilst being different in their own ways. The style of Joanne Harris's work is distinctively different from many that write on the subject of rural life in France, and very authentic in the way it deals with interaction between french villagers, and this book is no exception though takes a very different stance from her other stories.

                          It would be difficult to explain how the author wrote the book from the point of view of a bottle of wine, although she achieved her aims and the story came over as very plausible. The wine in question is one that gains significance as the story develops, stemming back to childhood experiences of the main character, Jay Mackintosh, who gives up his life in the UK to chase a dream and to create a new life for himself in the small village of Lansquenet near Bordeaux.

                          Characters are portrayed very well indeed and leaping backwards and forwards from present day to those episodes within the childhood of Jay that are significant to the story construction, Harris makes a good clear distinction between the different eras by using whole chapters instead of trying to intermingle each era within one chapter. It's a very clear cut way of dealing with past and present, and the links between the life that Jay Mackintosh is living now, balanced against his life and connection with a character by the name of Joe Cox, who not only played a significant part in his childhood days back in Pog Lane, but who will continue to have an influence on Jay for his future.

                          Comparing this book with Five Quarters of an Orange, I feel that the latter was a better read, although this book does have it's merits in the logical linking of characters that pass each other on the road of life and leave an impact. The supporting characters are reasonably true to life, and what always stands out within the writings of Harris is her understanding of French mentality, rather than just surface observation.

                          Without giving too much of the story away, it is a worthy read, and the introduction of characters is sweet without reverting to the ridiculous. There is a good logical pattern to the story, and the characters of Marise and her mother in law, people that become part of Jay's story, are realistic and very readable and takes the reader through the decision making process that takes Jay away from the commercial and seemingly shallow lifestyle he is living to what offers him potential for self development.

                          The theme of the story being told by a bottle of wine is cleverly executed, and the significance of Joe as an important character in Jay's life is exceedingly well described, though here, it would be hard to say more without spoiling the story, and it's little bit of supernatural surprise.

                          The ending of the book was a little predictable, and not as well rounded as other Harris books. There were times during the reading of the book when the end could have wandered off into many directions, though took the easiest route, which was disappointing.

                          Was it worth buying ? Yes. For me, it completed the trilogy. Would I read it again ? Possibly, because the style of writing is pleasing and should certainly not be dismissed in the same manner as many popular fiction stories that I have read and that disappoint.

                          This was actually the second book of the trilogy and one can only assume acted as a learning process that lead to the successful writing of Five Quarters of an Orange, which was certainly the best of the bunch, though I feel that followers of Harris would deny themselves a full experience of the development of the writer and the complexity of her work if they didn't give this book a try.

                          I shall certainly look forward with anticipation to her most recent works, Jigs and Reels and The French Market and the weaknesses within the book were insufficient to quality as real disappointment.


                          Paperback: 336 pages
                          Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (2 April 2001)
                          Language English
                          ISBN-10: 0552998001
                          ISBN-13: 978-0552998000

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                            21.06.2007 16:04
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                            A book that will head for the nearest car boot sale

                            It has been a while since I read any of Danielle Steel. In her earlier books, although she had a good knack of holding a story together, where I felt she failed to gain my attention was that all of her heroines were beautiful people in designer clothing and living amidst the rich. I was neither entertained by it, nor did it appeal to my imagination very much. Having read work, it would never give me food for thought, which is what I expect from any novel that I take the time to read.

                            Daddy is a strange sort of tale and takes Daniel Steele out of the realms of the rich and famous, though into male perspective to a certain degree, since the main character within the story is Oliver Watson, a man who believes that the life he has built for himself and his family is perfect, until one decision on the part of his wife changes both his perception of the world, and throws his life into a turmoil of questions, to which the answers are not obvious.

                            Having been married to Oliver for 18 years, his wife, Sarah decides that the time has come when she needs to put her family to one side and to follow her dream to study leaving the children in the care of their father to study for a Master's Degree at Harvard.

                            Although there is a central theme of fatherhood throughout the story in the lives of Oliver, his son and his father, what makes the story so irritating is that the most interesting characters within the framework of the story are those that appear from nowhere outside of the main framework of the story. The other characters within the family are frankly boring and add little to what could have become an epic. The son, Benjamin showed a little bit of independent character within the book, and the grandfather, George Watson seemed a very sad characterization and probably bore more resemblance to how a reader would see an old man of seventy, though neither really stood off the page more than as characters half painted, or in black and white drawing with no coloring in.

                            Taking the reader through the adventures and growing up of children without their mother's influence in the home is pretty unrealistically dealt with, and the old habit of introducing rich people into her stories seems to be a trademark of Steele, touching only briefly on those characters with very little intelligence and even less money, almost as if the author had no understanding at all about the moral fibre of those people less fortunate than those portrayed in the book that can afford the life of luxury. Even in dealing with the modest surroundings of Sarah after she leaves her husband, Steele's lack of substance and detail in even understanding any poverty aspects of life is disappointing at best and makes me wonder if the writer needs a touch of humility to even come to grasps with the reality that there are indeed different classes of people within the world and that life doesn't begin and end in the rich America that makes up the American dream.

                            It's a great shame because Danielle Steele does have a good style and is very readable, though this book didn't give me any real enjoyment and going through the chapters towards the end was a vain attempt to find substance that really wasn't there. Made into a film starring Patrick Duffy in 1991, I suspect that the film version was probably better than the written word.

                            My advice to Danielle Steele fans and readers wanting to experience her work ? Buy her earlier work where her passion showed, and forget about trying to find harsh reality within the covers of her books. At least the earlier ones had some element of structure and story telling that merited the price of a paperback.

                            This one doesn't.


                            Paperback: 400 pages
                            Publisher: Dell; Reissue edition (October 1, 1990)
                            Language: English
                            ISBN-10: 0440207622
                            ISBN-13: 978-0440207627



                            On sale from £5.00 from Amazon, go for Full Circle as a preference, since it will offer a better story and finer example of Danielle Steele's work.

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                              06.06.2007 14:54
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                              It was worth a try though not worth keeping

                              I Doser is free to download from Download.com and the package really does download very simply but needs a re-boot to get it into working mode. I was dubious when I downloaded it, though curious as well since it claims to alter the pattern of brainwaves and enable to user to experience those feelings that would be induced by use of either alcohol or drugs, though this wasn't the reason it peeked my curiosity.

                              It's a known scientific fact that sound has been used for recreational purposes for years, shops showing huge displays of relaxation music and sounds, and birth rooms playing sounds to make the transition of birth easier. In fact sound is used in my own relaxation classes to an effective end. What I wanted to know is whether the program could help relax me naturally and whether it would assist sleep.

                              Being a very active person, my mind rarely relaxes and I suppose that my anticipation was a little enthusiastic when I downloaded this program. The first thing that you notice is that you are able to buy doses and it struck me that this was perhaps commercialism at it's worst, selling moods to vulnerable people.

                              The facts on the site f I Doser are quite specific in that they tell you that treatment must not replace medicinal treatment but should be used as an enhancement to mood only. However, people in depressed or vulnerable states may be brainwashed into thinking they have found a cure, and I was concerned since the site offers doses that purport to cover the following requirements:

                              *Sleep
                              *Orgasm
                              *Drug induced states
                              *Alcohol induced states
                              *Serenity
                              *Victory
                              *Nicotine

                              There are many other areas that the program covers, though the two free doses that you get with the program are for relaxation and alcohol, and I dread to think how much people will spend in order to experience those brainwave activities that they should experience naturally, and certainly worried about the effects of the treatment on children.

                              The thought of buying orgasm made me laugh really and I thought that those desperate enough to pay 4 dollars for an orgasmic experience seemed rather sad when I can get them for free without the use of brain distortion, though I guess there will always be those that experiment with these programs to see what they do. Even if I did use it, I certainly wouldn't admit it !

                              The nicotine one is probably a good seller with the world turning away from smoking and isn't too bad at a price of just under 3 dollars, though what worried me was the vulnerability of those people grasping at straws for an instant cure to their problems.

                              The free doses were strange, and the one that is supposed to induce alcohol related feelings was positively irritating and I really could not take the full dose, although here it made me wonder a little as to it's efficiency, since it would be realistic in that in real life I can only tolerate small amounts of alcohol. The sound was almost like you imagine on brainwashing programs, and certainly made me worried and agitated .

                              The relaxation one was easier to take and lasts 20 minutes, and although it did calm me, it didn't really fare much better than relaxing music would have done, so scores no points on the strength of what it offers.
                              The worrying aspect of the product is that doses of LSD and hallucinatory drugs are available and it really does worry me that the long term effects of treatment may not have been researched sufficiently to know whether the doses cause any long term damage. Yes, they have been tested and the makers say that they work, although who will be there to help the individual who is asked to take responsibility for their own actions ?

                              My advice to anyone thinking of using the program would be to stick to the free doses, and try the relaxation one because at least it does calm the mind, although distorting the mind with those drug related doses worries me. I can see people using the nicotine one and wish them well in their search for a cure to their smoking habit. We do need all the help we can get, and the risk factor financially is so small as to be insignificant, although taking the program to it's more serious level, would advise against trying any of the psychedelic experiences simply because no one knows what these do long term.

                              There was a book written by Aldous Huxley called Brave New World where a magic potion called soma took away not only those thoughts that were contrary to society, but also which spelled individualism. People were happy and content, illness free and forgot that the major element of their experience was that their lives were controlled. Stepping into an area like I Doser puts me in mind of the diminishing values of mankind and the quick thrill of controlled experience shown in the book, and I , for one, value my independence of mind and spirit more than that, and have deleted the program from my computer because it worries me every bit as much as real alcohol, real drugs, and the need for any kind of stimulation that I cannot achieve simply by living.

                              The sun is shining and makes me happy, the book beside my bed will lull me to sleep, and I really don't need to be controlled.

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                                22.05.2007 12:31
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                                A great story pulled together with panache and imagination.

                                I bought this book with no idea of what the works of Sophie Hannah had to offer, though what intrigued me was the mystery that lay behind the cover picture, which was incidentally very well chosen indeed. Often stories don't live up to the covers, though we as buyers are still pulled into buying books based on what they seem to be offering. The words upon the cover were tempting too that quoted "It's every mother's nightmare". I wanted something gripping, something that would hold my interest, and it showed promise.

                                The Story

                                This is a very well constructed piece of literature. The story revolves around the lives of Alice and David Fancourt, who live with a rather intimidating Vivienne, the matriarch of the family who is David's mother. The adventure begins when Alice decides to leave her child to go on an outing, returning to find that the child in the crib is not the child that she left.

                                The premise of the story is quite well presented, though to give too much away would indeed spoil the read, though some of the written style can be explained without spoilers. For example, the relationship between wife and husband is almost cruel, making Alice look quite timid and almost obsessive in places, and the reader is left wondering how real the world that Alice sees really is, balanced against circumstance. Vivienne is one of the strongest characters in the book, though here, you are never quite convinced of where the story is going, or what part she plays in it.

                                The mystery element of the book is kept together pretty well, enticing you chapter by chapter into the web of intrigue, making the book a temptation that's hard to put down in places. I also liked the way in which each chapter alternates between being narrated by Alice herself and Simon, the detective put on the case of the missing child.

                                Set in modern day times, there are little vignettes of people introduced into the story to give it substance rather than padding, and each is believeable. As a reader, you feel yourself taking sides, and then with the flip of a page, changing your mind about the whole scenario's possibilities. It's a clever work and what the author has done is balance David's past marriage nicely with what is happening in the present, tying the bundle up with murder, mystery and a good element of suspense.

                                Such was the clarity of the picture painted in words that a reader could imagine what the characters looked like and felt familiar with the types of character, as little characteristic traits were subtly portrayed in such a manner as to widen the readership possibilities. I believe it to be a good book for wide range of readers that enjoy romance, mystery, suspense and crime thrillers, as well as having an element of temptation to those who enjoy books about pregnancy, psychological illness and that the package includes little snippets of each element that hold the story together nicely.


                                Paperback: 368 pages
                                Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; New Ed edition (24 Aug 2006)
                                Language English
                                ISBN-10: 0340840323
                                ISBN-13: 978-0340840320

                                At the paperback price of 3 GBP from Amazon, it's a bargain and certainly a book that I shall keep and read again at a future date, which is rare these days. It has also tempted me to look further into other works by the same author.

                                Would you know if that baby you left behind in the morning was the one that greeted you in the evening ?

                                Perhaps the answer is not as obvious as you think.

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                                • games.yahoo.com / Internet Site / 72 Readings / 68 Ratings
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                                  06.05.2007 18:59
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                                  A great games site, with loads of variety.

                                  Yahoo games and what it offers.

                                  I have played online games for seemingly ages, and tried Pogo Games, Yahoo and MSN games, but always came back to Yahoo. I'm not sure what it is, but it seems to me that what Yahoo offer the customer is so much choice. Either to feel sociable and can join in with games with others online, or perhaps want to hide behind a quiet game on your own, and Yahoo manage to offer a great selection and one that is tempting enough to keep going back there.

                                  Signing up.

                                  In order to play games on Yahoo you need a yahoo identification, though filling out the form is pretty straightforward and you chose a user name that you can log into at any time you like. It costs nothing and I have found is certainly worthwhile.

                                  Looking through what they have.

                                  Here, there is a wide variety of downloadable games, but I don't want downloads often. What I do want is games to pass time and usually chose Literati, which is a kind of scrabble, though very American in nature, Chess, which is traditional, or Snooker. The snooker is quite a laugh and a bit hit and miss if you will excuse the pun. I usually miss the balls, or hit the white one down the hole, but I am getting better.

                                  Downloadable games.

                                  There is a huge selection here, and you get to see screenshots and a small write up to explain what the game is all about. The downloads are pretty swift, and they offer you a limited playing period where you can try the game out and decide if it's right for you, before spending the money. The prices of games are pretty reasonable and I have bought several, though many have just not been my cup of tea. What's neat about the games is that if you don't like them, you can quickly uninstall them without hassle, since they all include an uninstall.

                                  Top arcade games, staff picks and Video games all give you the option of browsing through what's new, and here I do spend rather a lot of time seeing what is available, and am pleasantly surprised at the low prices.

                                  Choice

                                  Looking around the site comes up with interesting games and it doesn't matter what time of day you log in. There will always be rooms full of people that want a game if you fancy interaction with people from all over the world. Backgammon is great as a two player online game, and most players are pretty serious. Chess players seem to be hyper serious, although there are non competition games where you can go and play. It always amuses me that I appear on the picture of the chess room like a small boy, but I don't have identity problems !

                                  Whatever kind of games you fancy, Yahoo has it. Puzzles, wordgames, video games, multi player games, are all part of the Yahoo experience, and if you fancy a laugh you can get a group of you together and play team games in Literati, which I do frequently.

                                  Overall I would say the site offers more than Pogo games, is always busy, and always has a good changeover of games to suit all the family. I have never had problems downloading games, and have always run a security program after downloads and have found it a very safe place to download games.

                                  On the darker side

                                  If you have children that want to play online games, it's probably best not to encourage them to play the games with strangers, since many can be rude and as there is a chatbox at the bottom of games, children can be approached in an unsavory manner, although the single player games, and downloads get around this very well indeed in offering choice.

                                  As a site, it offers a lot to all age ranges and even has the traditional old games like card games, dominoes and poker. A whole world of games waits out there, and once you get there, you won't want to come out.

                                  See you there.

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