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Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Night before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

I received a copy of this book after applying for one from the Ebury Women's Fiction Facebook page last month and very happily I was one of the lucky few to receive a copy.


All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas...

So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.

But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year...

Christmas is just about my favourite time of year and so when I saw this book and read the synopsis I just had to get a copy and read it. It has all the elements that you'd expect from a Christmas story, lots of family troubles, arguments and the odd stolen kiss. Alongside the main story there are some nods made to the more traditional Christmas stories, there's the boyfriends (past, present and possibly future too) there's the heavily pregnant woman due to give birth and the modern favourite of being snowed in at a remote location.

The description of the setting is wonderful, a remote house outside a village in the Lake District with a colourful history all of it's own! But, what made this book such a page turner for me was that all the characters are so well written, you get to feel as if you know them and can sympathise with them and what they are all going through. You want to keep reading just to make sure that everything turns out OK and that our Heroine gets together with the right man in the end and that all is well with all of her friends and their relationships too.


It all works together to make for a great read and I really do recommend this for anyone especially with Christmas fast approaching us now, it's a great Feel Good tale

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Legacy by Danielle Steel

I was sent this book as I'm part of the Transworld book group (see here for details)
I have to say right here that I chose this book purely because of who the author is, I have read many Danielle Steel novels and have loved each and every one of them and being given the opportunity to read this one as part of the book group was not something I could pass up.
A tale of love, courage and family, interweaving the lives of two extraordinary women - a writer working in the heart of modern academia, and a daring young Sioux on an unforgettable journey in the eighteenth century.

Someday is Brigitte Nicholson's watchword. Someday she and the man she loves, Ted, will clarify their relationship. Someday she'll have children. Someday she'll finish writing her book. Someday she'll stop playing it so safe... Then something happens that changes Brigitte's life completely.

Struggling to plot a new course, Brigitte agrees to help her mother on a genealogy project - and makes a discovery that reaches back to the French aristocracy. How did Brigitte's ancestor, Wachiwi, a Dakota Sioux, travel from the Great Plains to the French court of Marie Antoinette? How did she come to marry into Brigitte's family? Brigitte decides to travel to South Dakota and Paris to follow the path of this exceptional young woman who lived so long ago. And as she begins to solve the puzzle of Wachiwi's journey, her quiet life becomes an adventure of its own.

A chance meeting and a new opportunity put Brigitte back at the heart of her own story. And with family legacy coming to life around her, someday is no longer in the future. Instead, someday is now.
As with all her other books this is a novel about overcoming adverse situations, about being totally knocked out of the life you're living and overcoming the odds that have mounted against you, doing your best to rise to the challenge and seeing where life takes you next.

When everything in her life changes Brigitte is a lost soul, not knowing what she wants to do nor being as engaged in writing the book she was so passionate about before. With this lack of enthusiasm and motivation she goes home to her Mother who enlists her help with tracing back how their family arrived in the America's and who came. After visiting the Mormon Family History Library she discovers Wachiwi in her ancestors and so begins her fascination with this young Sioux woman and how she came to go to France and seem to live out her life there.


Part of this book shows Brigitte's travels and how she finds out about Wachiwi and changes the course of her own life in the process and alongside this we also get to read about Wachiwi and how she came to go to France and what her life had been like all those years ago. We follow these two strong women who forge their own destiny once their formerly safe lifestyle is stripped away from them, the similarities between these relations separated by many generations is striking but maybe this courage to keep going is a family trait that Brigitte inherits from Wachiwi.

Even though I am slightly biased due to loving all of Danielle Steel's books I really have to say this one is amazing, such a strong storyline and as well written as all of her novels are. You easily get swept away with the plot, eager to see where the next twist will take you and hoping always for the happy ending which doesn't always come for the characters in her books and I'm not going to spoil anything by saying if either of the women in this story get their happy ending!

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Watchtower by Lee Carroll

After having read Black Swan Rising I just had to get hold of a copy of this book and read it to find out what happened next with Garet and Will. You should note right here that you really do need to read these books in order, reading this one before the first will spoil elements in that one for you but they are so well written that I know you will love both and like me be eagerly anticipating the third one in the series (The Shapestealer due for release June 2012) to find out how this love affair that has endured through the generations will end and if they can ever get over their differences successfully.
The last in a long line of women sworn to guard our world against evil, jeweller Garet James is struggling to come to terms with who – or what – she really is.

Will Hughes, the alluring four-hundred-year-old vampire who tasted her blood and saved her life, could help, but he’s disappeared. Garet believes he’s in France, searching for the Summer Country, the legendary land of the Fey where he might be freed from his vampire curse.

Desperate to understand her legacy, Garet follows Will. In Paris, she encounters strange, mythic beings – an ancient botanist metamorphosed into the city’s oldest tree, a gnome who lives beneath the Labyrinth at the Jardin des Plantes, a dryad in the Luxembourg Gardens – meetings that convince her she is on the right path.

But Garet is not the only one trying to find the way in to the Summer Country – and the closer she gets, the more dangerous it becomes...
As with the first book this is exceptionally well written, it's very easy to read and find yourself lost in the plot as it twists and turns. I found the switching by chapter between Garet's and Will's stories a little distracting at first but after a couple of chapters I found myself in the rhythm of how it was going and never really noticed it again.

In this book we learn a lot more about who Will was before he became a Vampire and the reasons why he made that choice, we also as the description above indicates, follow along with Garet's attempts to gain entry to the Summer Country so that she can find Will. At this point I'm not quite sure if she wants to find will to get her box back, because she believes she loves him or a bit of both but whichever it makes for interesting reading and for a thrilling ride. Again in this book, like the first, we delve into mythology we meet characters of legend and fairytale and see how they aide or hinder Garet and Will in their searches for happiness.

I am really trying to be careful with this book to not give too much away of the storyline as I really don't like that myself when I read reviews and find that I've read half the book's secrets within the review but it's so difficult with this one to not say much as it is an amazing book and I really want to encourage everyone to go get yourself copies of both of them, they are fantastic and you'll enjoy every minute you spend engrossed in their pages!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Glossybox

I was recently one of the lucky winners of a previous Glossybox from a competition run on BooandMe which excited me as I've seen some of the rave reviews about these boxes and have been thinking that they look really fun to get. Well today the postman brought me this:
Ohhhh so I was pretty excited when I got my hands on this, it does look very pretty doesn't it :-) So I carefully opened the box using the ripper along the front and this was revealed:
It's very pretty and girlie isn't it but yes I know, it's just a box, well, removing the beautiful pink box from the one it was delivered in I teased off the lid to find:

Still very pretty and girlie isn't it :-) the card on one side explains the philosophy behind the box that you have received and on the other side is a list of the products which are included along with discount codes for you to use when purchasing the items, note though that the codes have a short use date on them, the box I received was the August 2011 box and the codes use by dates were mostly for the end of August/early September.

Anyway back to the unwrapping of my first glossybox:
Hmmm, was I disappointed? you bet I was, it's not the amazing gift box of products that reviewers I've seen gush about but still, I thought I should dig further and see what's in there:

1) Murad Time release Blemish Cleanser
2) Ahava Mineral Body Lotion
3) Daniel Sandler Jumbo Jet Mascara
4) KMS California Hairspray style boost
5) Rebel Nails Nail Wraps

Yes all present and correct but I still felt after all the wonder and excitement that had been built by the packaging that I'd been let down by what was inside, basically hairspray (who doesn't have this already?), Mascara (Oh come on, do you know how many thousands are given away as freebies each year? I think I've won most of them!), Body lotion (check, loads of this too, wouldn't be without it!) Cleanser (Ummmmm OK, seeing a theme here, it's all the essentials that you buy regularly but by brands you might not have heard of nor can afford normally!) and finally Nail wraps (possibly the most interesting product to me, well, they might have been if they weren't NEON PINK!)
So I guess my conclusion is that these boxes are probably good for someone, maybe younger women with more money than sense (but who has that these days??) the sample sizes are good I admit that but come on, for £10 plus P&P each month to feel let down? I think I'll stick to my regular brands ..... and enter a few more competitions to try and win some treats!

Should you be interested in purchasing your very own Glossybox, further information can be found on their website http://www.glossybox.co.uk/

Monday, 10 October 2011

Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson

I was sent this book as I'm part of the Transworld book group (see here for details)

This is the third of the books I have chosen to review and I was so happy to receive this one, I've not read any by this author before but I've really grown a passion for these frothy chicklit books over recent years which has made quite a difference to my previous favourite of gruesome horror novels!

Chelsea Ross knows she's a great actress. Which is lucky, as she's just got the toughest role of her life!

Washed up from Hollywood and in serious need of some cash, Chelsea jumps at the $10,000 opportunity to act as 'carer' to famous hockey player Mark Bressler, currently injured after a car crash. After all, how hard can it be to play nice and pick up after an incredibly hot invalid in need of her tender loving care?

Just three months of playing nurse and the cash is hers.But Mark Bressler doesn't need help. The moody hockey player's glory days may be over, but he has no intention of letting anyone aid his recovery, least of all the maddeningly cheerful Chelsea. He's determined to get her to quit – and Mark isn't the type to give in. But then again, neither is Chelsea...

I picked this one out mostly because it sounded like a fun read and it was, infact it was that good that once I started it I hardly put it down and had read it in a day, thankfully I didn't have much I had to do that day and my Fiance enjoyed the P&Q to watch his sports on TV!

The story flows well and you get to see different parts through both Chelsea's and Mark's eyes with the narration switching between both characters so you get to understand both sets of issues and the characters motivations throughout the book. 


Hearing how Mark is coping with the enormous changes to his life, dealing with the shock of his accident and the ending of his career. Enjoying his tricks and schemes as he tries to get Chelsea to quit and also understanding her motivations in dealing with all that he throws at her and keeping on going back day after day. Her driving need to complete her contract and gain the bonus so she can get something she desperately needs to be able to feel better about herself and who she is. There are also some wonderful secondary characters around these two which give the story a lot of colour and keep the plot moving ever forward onto the climax.



Yes there are those who criticise this type of book, yes a lot of them are based on the Mills&Boon style (man & woman meet, fall in love, split up, work it out & live happily ever after) but there is so much more to them than there used to be. The characterisation and style of writing in this one is superb, the side stories which fill out the battles between Mark and Chelsea and make for a whole story rather than just a romance. That we have a strong female lead must be the biggest break from the traditional romance that we see in this genre these days. Gone are the swooning, simpering females and income the women who know how to enjoy their life and get the most out of it but are still prepared to compromise when they can see it will get them a boon.

I really loved this book and would encourage anyone and everyone to read it, even if you think you don't like Chicklit books, give this one a go, you might just surprise yourself!

Presumed Dead by Shirley Wells

I received this book from the Author as part of the First Reads promotion on the Goodreads website.

Having developed a taste for crime mysteries lately I was very happy to hear that I would be receiving a copy of this book to read and review. It's the second in the Dylan Scott Mysteries, the first being  'Dead Silent' which I have yet to read but this was not a problem in picking up the story and characters involved in it.

Dylan Scott has problems. Dismissed in disgrace from the police force for assaulting a suspect, he has no job, his wife has thrown him out and-worse luck-his mother has moved in. So when Holly Champion begs him to investigate the disappearance of her mother thirteen years ago, he can't say no, even though it means taking up residence in the dreary Lancashire town of Dawson's Clough for the duration.

Although the local police still believe Anita Champion took off for a better life, Dylan's inquiries turn up plenty of potential suspects: the drug-dealing, muscle-bound bouncer at the club where Anita was last seen; the missing woman's four girlfriends, out for revenge; the local landowner with rumored mob connections-the list goes on. But no one is telling Dylan all they know-and he soon finds that one sleepy Northern town can keep a lot of secrets.

So when I read that I thought it sounded interesting and I was curious about which track the author would take as there aren't really that many reasons for someone to go missing like this are there?

The storyline switches between Dylan's efforts to reunite with his estranged wife Beverley while spending time with his son and away from his mother and his time involved in trying to discover Anita Champion's last movements and what may have happened to her. We follow his movements up and down the country and even a visit abroad or two. Each location described well and full of characters that are easy to read about and a few that become favourites as you read more about them, both who they are and, for some, why they are the way they are now.

We learn more and more about Anita's lifestyle and although the ending was a cliche, it wasn't one I saw coming, I totally missed a very subtle hint about what had happened to Anita which made the reading of this book very enjoyable as it wasn't at all obvious what had happened.

There's a great flow to the writing and it's a great read which I thoroughly enjoyed, now I guess I should go find myself a copy of 'Dead Silent' to read as well!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Vax Air Pet cylinder vacuum cleaner

Last year I was made aware that Vax were recruiting for a panel of testers known as Vax Voice. Each month one of their products would be offered to the members and 15 people would be chosen from all those who applied to test it. I've been clicking my link each month and hoping to see my name on the 'lucky list' for as long as I've been a member and about 2 weeks ago when the latest list came out I could hardly believe my eyes when I noticed my name was on there and about a week ago this arrived on my doorstep
I have always preferred a cylinder vacuum cleaner to an upright so this one is perfect for me to test out. Add to that this is one designed for pet hair and it's just right for us, yes we don't have cats of our own but we get visited by a couple regularly who have claimed us as a second home and shed regularly all over the place!

Before this I have mostly used cheaper vacuum cleaners as I've never quite understood the need to spend so much on an item of cleaning equipment and after opening the box I was faced with many tools that you just don't get with those machines but all of which looked interesting, the first task being to try to figure out which head to use first.

The picture below shows what came out of the box, the machine itself, instruction booklet, warranty card and flexible hose & handle are easy to spot, the other items included are (from left to right):

Telescopic extension tube
Turbobrush
TurboTool
Combination floor head
Upholstery tool
TurboTool connector

We decided to try the Combination floor head first due to us having mostly hardwood floors downstairs with a rug and carpet on the stairs and throughout upstairs.

The first thing that struck me was how easily everything clicks together, there's no need to push and pull and force things to fit to ensure you get an airtight connection between hose, head and machine. The next thing was just how long that flexible hose actually is, it states that it's 2.5m in the specs and that is actually quite long when you're faced with it. This means that the machine itself doesn't need to move that much to enable you to reach a wide area and this could be particularly useful to anyone with limited mobility or who finds an upright difficult/heavy to use, particularly when you take into account it's 5.6kg weight (empty)

The power lead is also a good length at 6 meters and combine this with the 2.5 litre capacity it'll do a lot of vacuuming before you need to empty it. Fitted is a H12 HEPA anti-bacterial filter which means a lot less particles get released back into the air from the exhaust than with machines lacking this.

In use I found it works amazingly well, it really has put my current vacuum to shame with how much dust and hair it's picked up from the rug and wooden floor even after a recent clean. We all know that vacuum cleaners are noisy but this one isn't that bad, you can talk while using it without having to shout (although if you were trying to annoy someone you could still claim you couldn't hear them telling you to turn it off while they watch/listen to something!)

The instruction booklet is lovely, it explains everything really well with diagrams to help you understand how to empty the dirt container and to clean the filters and to care for your tools. It all just goes to make this a complete package, it's not just an ordinary vacuum cleaner that you get, it's a complete cleaning system designed to make it as easy for you to use and maintain as possible.

Like all Vax machines this one comes with a full 6 year guarantee and retails for  £229.99 further details can be gained from the website here.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Colour of Death by Michael Cordy

I was sent this book as I'm part of the Transworld book group (see here for details)
When I was selecting the books I would read as part of this group I decided to pick a favourite author, 1 from each of my favourite genres and the last would be something new to me but which appealed in some way and this is that book.
In a residential neighbourhood of Portland, Oregon, an unknown young woman uncovers a shocking crime scene by inexplicably sensing the evil within its walls. To the police, she is a mystery. She can’t even tell them her own name. They christen her Jane Doe.

Suffering terrifying hallucinations, Jane is assigned to Nathan Fox, a forensic psychiatrist struggling with his own demons. Together they must piece together the jigsaw that is Jane’s identity.

Then a sequence of brutal killings terrorizes the city and Fox learns Jane is the only cryptic link between the unrelated victims. To solve the murders, Fox must discard his black and white preconceptions, look beyond the spectrum of normal human experience and confront the dark truth of her past…and his own.

Having read this book I found a lot of similarities in the plotlines between this and another book I have reviewed this year, Ultraviolet. They both deal with a young woman suffering from memory loss and synaesthesia who has been admitted to a mental health facility (People who have synaesthesia sense things in a different way to the rest of us, words can have a taste or smell, letters and numbers can have different colours even when all written with the same pen) but from this similar starting point the two books vary greatly.

The heroine, Jane Doe presents with not just one form but ALL forms of synaesthesia and even one that has not previously been documented. As we travel with Jane in her journey of discovery it's easy to understand just how terrifying the world around us could be should we suddenly loose our self in the way she has. We see Fox struggle to deal with his own personal demons which re-surface from this case as well as his inability to let anyone close to him again while also trying to keep what little family he has left safe. And then on top of all this is the horrific fact that there is a killer in the city who seems to be fixated on Jane.

I really don't want to give anything away from this book at all, I found it to be an amazing story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story moved along at a good pace, there were lots of details to make it easy to follow along from scene to scene and to understand the characters and their motivations. The writing flows so well that I am going to look at getting some more books by this author very soon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Angel Delight Vanilla Flavoured Ice Cream Mix

Yesterday I had some good post, I received a free sample of Angel Delight Vanilla Flavoured Ice Cream Mix and just had to make it up!

It's simple to make, as all Angel Delight products are, just 150ml of milk and a lot of whisking! It's very easy to tell when it's been mixed just right as it not only doubles in volume but it goes really thick and the whisk leaves tracers behind as you move it around the bowl!

I decided to add a little flavour to ours and drizzled on a small amount of Chocolate syrup and gently folded it through the mix. I then left it in a tub in the freezer for 4 hours.

After dinner tonight we tried some and it's very nice, thick and creamy and just what you'd expect ice cream to taste like, the only flaw to it was I felt it was a bit too sweet for my tastes but Dave enjoyed it, it is one thing we do have different tastes on, he loves really sweet things but I'm not too keen :-)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Blistex - Raspberry Lemonade Blast

A little over a week ago I was made aware that the Blistex UK Facebook page were offering samples out to their followers. I quickly made my way over to their page and applied for one as I know just how good their products are being a user of their daily lip conditioner already.

This morning my postman brought my freebie and I just had to try it out right away.
It's not until you remove the cap that you notice the aroma and it lives up to it's name, it smells just like raspberries and lemonade (not the mass produced stuff that probably hasn't ever seen a lemon but the real lemonade that has that tongue tingling sensation to it, like cloudy lemonade!)

It glides on well and doesn't feel at all thick/heavy/greasy like some lip balm sticks can, in fact, I can hardly feel it on but I can taste it and yet again it lives up to it's name in full, a berry flavour with a citrussy edge to it, it's very pleasant almost like raspberry sherbet and I'm enjoying licking my lips very much today.

Actually that could be a down side, my lip problems stem from me licking/sucking on my lips and making them dry, adding this could make me worse as it tastes so good. Never mind, I'll just add more each time I've licked it off!lol

EDIT:
So I wrote this review out this afternoon and I just wanted to add that this lip balm is actually very long wearing. I last applied it about 4 hours ago, in that time I've been kissed (Dave came home!lol) had a few cups of coffee and eaten dinner and yet I can still taste it on my lips and they feel soft and smooth. This will be getting re-purchased especially with winter round the corner ..... well, with the summer we've had it cant be far off!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

I was sent this book as I'm part of the Transworld book group (see here for details)
So lets start up by showing you the blurb that made me pick this book out as my first choice to read and therefore the one I was most interested in
New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does...and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey…

Garet learns that one of her ancestors was 'the Watchtower': an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee...and close the box.
It sounded fascinating to me having read that and I'm so pleased to say that it hasn't disappointed me at all. In fact it has been a far better read than I could have hoped for. The description that I've copied in above does give a little of the basis to the storyline but there is so much more to it. I've found it to be a wonderful fantasy adventure set in the real world but also in a world where there are many more possibilities than most people suspect.

How would you cope if you suddenly found out that the world around you wasn't  what you always believed it to be? What about if you discovered that your Mother had kept the biggest of secrets from you? And that in that revelation the past, and even the very distant past, show just how much of an influence they have had over your life, to the extent that events that had happened were not only what they seemed to be at the time but also a portent of what was to come.


All these secrets Garet seems to take in her stride, she accepts so many new ideas in such a short time that it's so easy to get caught up with all her new experiences as well as discoveries about the past and the people around her, both new and old. The writing is very expressive and descriptive, allowing you to follow the story easily, eagerly awaiting the next development in the tale and enjoying the depth of storytelling that kept me riveted until the last page was turned. I have to say I did enjoy that the climax happened and then we got to see what happened to most of the characters for a while afterwards as well, so many books end with a climax and leave you wondering what happened next, was everyone really OK. Black Swan Rising is not one of those books, you're left at the end knowing a little of what happened after all the drama while the storyline is set up magnificently for book 2 (which I really cant wait for I just need to order my copy now!)


It is worth noting finally that "Lee Carroll" is actually a pseudonym. This wonderful book was actually written by award-winning novelist Carol Goodman and her poet husband Lee Slonimsky. After reading this, I'm eagerly anticipating getting my hands on the second book and I've also added a few Carol Goodman books to my wish-list in the hope that I find them as absorbing as I have this one.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Chewits Xtreme!


I was sent these sweets this week from the Chewits Xtreme Facebook page as I won a competition with them. I actually won a copy of Dirt3 for the PS3 and they very nicely sent a pack of each sweet along with it. I know many of my friends have an interest in sweets and so I thought I would review these and let you know what Dave and I thought of them.


Each stick has 6 sweets in it and for those of us on diets and those watching what you eat, here is the information on the pack, where numbers are missing, they were not available

Nutritional Information
Per 100g
Per Pack (%GDA)
Energy KJ
1620
Energy Kcal
380125 - (6.3%)
Protein
0.2g
Carbohydrates
85.5g
Sugar
48g  16g - (18%)
Fat
3.0g 1.0g - (1.4%)
Saturates
1.9g0.6g - (3.0%)
Sodium
0.1g  NIL - (0%)



So I'm guessing now you'd like to know more about the sweets themselves? (I took the photo's with a 2p in them to show the size of the sweets as they are different to normal Chewits, at least they were last time I had them!)

Sour Apple

When you take a sweet from the wrapper there is very little scent, after pulling on it I found there was a very delicate appley smell that developed which was good. I found them to be very soft and squidgey and this did translate over to when chewing them, they have a lovely chewy texture, very smooth.

But the flavour? Oh WOW they live up to their name, when it first hit my tongue I was assaulted by waves of citric acid which made my eye's water with how sour the sweet tasted. There is very little apple flavour but what there is is reminiscent of a granny smith. 

Sour Tutti Fruiti

When I unwrapped this one I could not find any smell on it, no matter how much I warmed it and it was also a bit harder texturally than the apple one. That being said, the hit from it when it hit your tongue was exactly the same cheek pulling sourness. After the initial hit I detected quite an unpleasant (to me) flavour in the sweet, I asked Dave what he tasted and he said "Rhubarb" which explained everything as I cannot stand the stuff but this sweet has a good amount of flavouring in it so it's easy to taste around the vast quantities of citric acid.


This warning comes alongside the sweets and I would have to agree, they really do live up to the advertising as being incredibly sour and if that's not for you then I would advise not to try these at all (but do make sure to dare others to have them who haven't read up about them!lol)

In conclusion, I have to say both Dave and I enjoyed the Sour Apple ones very much, they were by far our favourite version and we would continue to purchase these. The Tutti Fruiti ones are very good as well and I would say to those who love sour sweets to try both and see which you like :-)

Thursday, 4 August 2011

I’m part of the Transworld Book Group!

I've just heard that I'm being included in the Transworld Book Group and I'm so excited! I know some of you wont understand what that is but it's like any book group, you read books and talk about them. The difference with this one is that it's all online and those lovely people over at Transworld actually send you the books! To identify ourselves as being part of this reading challenge/book group there is this logo which you may have noticed on the right of my blog as well. Anywhere you see this image means someone is a part of this group as well.

So basically over the next 3 months I will get sent a series of 4 books which I have chosen from the 15 they have on offer, I read them and then will review them on here and Amazon. Once I've reviewed one, they'll send me the next. It really does sound too good to be true doesn't it? Free books but it's real and if you want to get involved too, here's where I found out about it and applied myself. It took a few days for me to hear back, I'm guessing they have quite a few applications to go through and reply to so good luck if you decide to do it as well. 

I cant wait to get my first book!

EDIT:
Here are the reviews I've completed through taking part in this (links will appear once written)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Games, games, games, games!

I often describe myself as a girlie gamer but I don't think I've ever posted on any of my blogs about the kind of games I like playing, OK you all know I'm a Poke-maniac but there are just so many different game styles I love playing, I thought I'd do a post about those I love most right now over the different consoles & PC that we have :-)
 
PC

Right now I'm going through a building phase with my PC gaming, I'm enjoying the whole Build-a-lot series as well as the My Kingdom for the Princess and I've just discovered Pioneer Lands which feels very similar right now. Each has a level where you have to build of collect certain items before the timer runs out, they give you a really decent amount of time to complete them too but I'm obsessed with getting through the levels on Gold which means as quickly as possible and I'm not doing too badly so far!lol Another one I'm playing a lot is Magic Farm, you're on a mission to find and rescue your parents and to get through each stage to get closer to finding them you have to grow and sell plants from a variety of farms as you progress through the land. Yes all these games can tend to be a bit repetitive but the fun in them is in raising your game play and setting your own challenges alongside those you are set in the games.
plant 
Facebook

I mostly seem to be playing casino type games on here at the moment, slots and bingo win out most days. I did enjoy the quest based ones like Frontierville for a while but then I completed all the quests and left it for a bit, by the time I went back I had loads and others were so far ahead it was difficult to gain the supplies I needed to get anything done so I gave up on it totally, it's a shame as it is a fun game, I just wish there was a PC/console version *hint hint*

http://th27.photobucket.com/albums/c186/pkmn_gamers/th_pokeball.gif
DS (Lite/XL)

As well as Pokemon Black and White I find myself playing a lot of puzzle games right now. I love the Professor Layton ones and I keep going back to the Bomberman ones as well as I just love the mini games and enjoy the challenges they set. I also enjoy the Zelda games but tend to get bored with them after a week or so, leave them alone for a while then by the time I go back to them I cant remember what I was doing so have to start again (I think I should really keep a diary for this sort of game shouldn't I?lol) And I'm loving the MySims series of games as well, it's the building up theme I've got going again!
driving 
WII

Well, right now I seem to be playing Animal Crossing loads as well as the My Sims games on here as well as some of the games are very different to the DS versions, better in some ways, worse in others but it keeps me playing them!I love Mario Karts, I've always loved this fun type of racing ever since I first played CTR (Crash Team Racing) I love the fun elements of throwing things at the other drivers especially when you play against someone who normally only plays serious driving games (I think Dave now knows why I say Brakes are for wimps on his Driving games!lol)

rock 
XBox 360

On this, it's all about the music for me, I love all the music games I have, I'm getting better at the drums as I go, I'm even quite good on the guitar now, I'm not getting the mic out of it's bag tho, no-one should have my singing voice inflicted on them, even if it is only a game ;-) My favourite right now of the ones I have is Lego Rock band, it's just so much fun with the graphics and I know most of the songs as well, and those I didn't before I started ..... I do now!

PS3

Most of the time now I'm playing Sports Champions. This game involves the Play controllers and is loads of fun, I can nearly serve at table tennis but I'm getting really good at Archery and I love the gladiator battles although they can be very tiring and normally one is enough - good exercise though!

tigger  
PSP

Yes, we do have one of these somewhere but I HATE the bloody thing, it takes ages to load up a bit of a game, you play that little bit then it starts chuntering again for ages as it loads up a bit more, I played with it once ..... never again!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Where's the year gone?

 
I just realised it's August tomorrow, where has this year gone? I know we've done a lot this year, from the compers meet up in January and starting our diets to going up to Sheffield to watch the snooker and going to York this month to get my bag but still, it's gone very quickly!
I realised as I am writing this that I haven't started to make my Christmas cards yet this year, I'd better get them started soon, I need to make 30-40 this year ..... I still have time, I just need inspiration although I have had one in mind since I got some bits from the after Christmas sale at the craft shop. I'll make that one first as I know exactly how I want it to look and I have everything I need ...... somewhere!lol
santabear 
And for those of you looking for a diet update, I haven't actually lost any Lb's for about a month now but I have noticed my shape changing quite a lot, and I've dropped another jeans size which I'm really pleased about so I'm not too fussed right now. I have changed my diet a little this last week as I've been having some mild stomach problems, I'm now having a bowl of porridge for breakfast instead of a slimfast shake as it's about the same calories but a load more fibre. It seems to have helped with my stomach, I'll see what affect it has on my weight in time but hopefully it wont do me any harm!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

NZXT H2 Vs Phantom

I recently became the lucky owner of both of these beautiful PC cases through some competitions I entered and won. The silvery fronted case on the left is the NZXT H2 in white (also available in Black) and the larger white case with red stripes on the right is the Limited Edition version of the NZXT Phantom (also available in Red, White and Black)
After receiving them both I thought I'd write about them on here incase you need a new case at some point as I really would recommend investing in one of these NZXT ones as they really are great for the prices (the H2 retails around £83 and the phantom around £105) and for more information on NZXT please visit their website here.

Here's the essential bits that you'd need to know about each case:.

Case Specs
H2
Phantom
Case Type
Mid Tower Steel Full Tower Steel
Dimensions (WxHxD)
215 x 466 X 520 mm 222 x 540 X 623 mm
Weight
8.9 kg 11 kg
Motherboard Support
ATX
Baby AT
Micro ATX
ATX
Baby AT
E-ATX
Micro ATX
Internal Bays
8 INTERNAL 3.5"/2.5"  7 INTERNAL 3.5"/2.5"
External Bays
3 EXTERNAL 5.25" 5 EXTERNAL 5.25"
Fan Bays
4 x 120mm
1 x 140mm
3 x 120mm
1 x 140mm
2 x 200mm
Ports
1 x eSATA
1 x Headphone
1 x Mic In
3 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0 
1 x eSATA
1 x Headphone
1 x Mic In
2 x USB 2.0



Just looking at the image of the two cases I have to say the Phantom would have been my first choice of case and it is my favourite from the look of them BUT the H2 has a USB 3.0 port and the hot-swap HDD drive bay both of which are really attractive features.

We finally settled how to use these cases by deciding that the current PC will take up residence in the H2 in a few weeks time and the Phantom will be kept by for Dave's 40th. He didn't know what he wanted until I received these cases but now he's decided that he'd like to build another PC, a really high spec one with 3D and that he would be able to use to work on (believe me, it'll need to be really good for his work!lol) So this case will be the start of it, I'm going to be getting him a few bits for his Birthday towards it as well and hopefully others will too. It's good to see him excited over something and he really is over building this PC :-)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hit or Missus by Gayle Carline

I received this book from the Author as part of the First Reads promotion on the Goodreads website.

When I applied to read this book, I didn't realise that it was the second in the series of Peri Minneopa Mysteries but I have to say that my not having read the first volume didn't affect anything on reading this one. The writing style is very descriptive and although there may be more behind the scenes that I wasn't aware of having not read the first book, I didn't feel that I had missed much, if anything.

The information that lead me to choose to request this book was:

Private Investigator Peri Minneopa is hired to investigate a wealthy, possibly cheating wife, but the wife's girlfriends have other ideas. After all, a friend will help you move - a good friend will help you move a body.

That's quite a worm to bait a hook with really isn't it and I'm happy to say that the book didn't disappoint in any way. The story is well thought out and the characters are well written and mostly very likable.

The plot twists and turns around the day-to-day living of Peri and her long term boyfriend Skip. Skip is a Detective with the local police department, and the relationship is very serious for them both although they don't live together, they just stay over with each other whilst still maintaining their own space.

When Peri is approached to tail the trophy wife of a local business magnate it would appear like a normal routine case, but that's where the trouble begins. At first it could appear like some bad luck but when looked at deeper a conspiracy appears which steamrollers through Peri's life and that's not her only problem. She's not only trying to figure out who's trying to kill her but also if she's imagining one of Skip's colleagues has begun to take more than a little interest in him, some women just wont accept a man is taken unless he has a ring through his nose .... and even that doesn't stop all of them!

As we follow this roller coaster to it's conclusion we're introduced to many other people around the two main characters, all of which are well rounded characters who add their own bit to the story to make it a very enjoyable read. The story itself has a natural flow to it, it doesn't rush to the end like some books do, it takes it's time and builds up in layers until you can almost see the answer and when it's revealed it's as if you almost expected it but not quite so it was still a little surprising which is a great way to end a book.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Darkhouse by Karina Halle

I received this book from the Author as part of the First Reads promotion on the Goodreads website.

When I read the description of this book, I just had to apply to read it and luckily I got picked, here's what was dangling on the hook that snared my interest so much:
There’s always been some­thing a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been deal­ing with a quarter-life cri­sis and post-college syn­drome like any other twen­tysome­thing, she’s still not what you would call “ordi­nary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pre­tend never hap­pened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luck­ily for her, that all comes in handy when she stum­bles across Dex Foray, an eccen­tric pro­ducer for an upcom­ing web­cast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s bud­get is non-existent and Dex him­self is a mad­den­ing enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threat­ens her life and seduces her with a sense of impor­tance. Her uncle’s haunted light­house pro­vides the per­fect cat­a­lyst and back­drop for a hor­rific mys­tery that unrav­els the threads of Perry’s frag­ile san­ity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dan­ger­ous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.
I have to say right off that as keen as I was to read this book, once I started I found it a bit hard going, it was almost like trying to wade through treacle to get into it BUT after the first couple of chapters I found it got easier as I got used to the style of writing and was caught up by the plot. 

I didn't find Darkhouse particularly frightening but there were moments when I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next and to make sure that everyone was OK! The interaction between Perry and her family gave more understanding to the choices that we're told she's made in the past and why she's doing what she does through the book. She's easily likable as are her Sister and Cousins, even Uncle Al has his moment to star when he tells her the history of his lighthouse.
As a first book I'd say this sets up the interaction between the major characters very well, at the end you are left wanting more, to know what happens not just in the work between them but also in their personal life. That Perry is attracted to Dex is painfully obvious to all but his feelings towards her seem confused to me and I cant wait to discover what they really are and how that relationship will develop. Also I really hope to find out more about 'Creepy Clown Lady'. Who she is, what she is even and what she knows about our two protagonists. 

I cant wait to get my hands on Red Fox and see what happens next!




Thursday, 23 June 2011

Another week closer to Christmas :-D

And it's another 2lbs lost on the diet

Something I noticed over the weekend is how I see myself, I still struggle to see the weight I've lost even though I know I've lost a lot (jeans that I couldn't get on at Christmas are now too big for me) but I've figured out why, or at least I think I have. Because I'm mostly still wearing the same clothes, they're quite baggy on me now and I see the outline of me where the clothes hang which is making me look quite a bit bigger than I am. Luckily I have a good stock of clothes that I've kept from when I was gaining the weight to use as I slim down but right now the next size down (which is quite a few sizes down from my biggest) are still a bit tight. So I'm stuck, do I wear uncomfortable clothes slightly too small  which make me look fatter than I am or do I wear baggy clothes which hang loosely and make me look bigger than I am .... it's a tough choice but hopefully I wont be stuck in this area for much longer. With the way the weights coming off and my shape's changing I cant see it being much longer till the smaller clothes all fit me comfortably and I will be happy again ...... for a while at least
 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

It's back & a well overdue update

popworm
YAY at last! for the last 2 weeks every time I've tried to log in here and update on my diet I haven't been able to sign in but that bug seems to be fixed now *touch wood* so I can write my update on how the diets going and my other fab news!
I'll start with the diet as that's the best news really, I've lost another 4lbs since I last updated this so I've now lost 34 lbs (nearly 2 and a half stone) since January 10th when I started the Slimfast plan. To say I'm happy with this would be a huge understatement, I'm thrilled. Everything is getting so much easier for me and I'm finding so many things so much easier to do, I'm so excited about what the future can bring now but I know I have to do this sensibly this time so that i can keep the weight off. Hopefully by next Christmas I'll be maintaining at a level I'm happy with :-)
santabear
In other news I've finally won a designer handbag! Anyone who knows me even a little bit will know how excited I am about this, I cant wait to go collect it! Yes, I didn't read all the T&C's properly when I entered but Dave is being lovely and driving me up to York to collect it, really good job he doesn't mind driving as we have a lot coming up over the next month!
 driving