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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


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
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.