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I've always struggled with foundation. My problems mainly boil down to me not being particularly good or patient at applying make-up. I want something quick and easy, being the type of person who would much rather have that extra 30 minutes in bed rather than faff up with potions and lotions on a morning. I also detest the feeling of thick make up on my skin, and while my skin is petty good for my age (Ahem..late 30's) I don't feel confident to go foundation free. What I want from a foundation is not a full coverage, but mainly something to even out tone and give me a bit of luminosity. Previous to trying No7 BB cream, I used another of their products; Lift and Luminate. It was when replacing this product that I was first recommended the BB cream, which was new in, by the No7 consultant. At first I was unsure. While I hate a thick, cakey foundation, I've not been very impressed with tinted moisturisers and was concerned that this was something similar. However, after having it applied in store I was pleasantly surprised with the result and decided to buy it. No7 BB cream claims to be an all in one moisturiser, primer and foundation. At first appearence it looks pretty much like a normal foundation, perhaps just a little bit thinner. It comes in 3 different skin types and in two simple shades of fair and medium. I went for this one for normal/oily skin as I do have a little bit of t-zone greasiness, and as I'm more olive skinned than pink I went for the medium. It may sound a little worrying that there's just two shades, however because of the consistency and the way the product works everyone should be able to use one or the other. I love this simplicity. I find using this product incredibly easy and exactly want I want from a foundation. It takes me less than a minute to slap dash the BB cream on and despite my lack of attention, it blends so beautifully well that I never again need worry about unsightly tide marks. I do think it's moisturising and my skin never feels dry from using it, however I still moisturise lightly before using and find this gives an even better, smooth result. Not being one to mess about, the fact the primer is built in is a huge plus to me, and I find the pores on my nose and cheeks obviously reduced and improved. What impressed me most though was the great even tone it gives my skin. I wasn't expecting it without layes of thick foundation and was very, very happy. Once I've applied, I touch up under my eyes with a bit of concealer and then have either a sweep of bronzer or cream blush. I find my make-up lasts really well throughout the day and yet feels really light and comfortable. The BB cream for greasy skin gives me a dewy and luminous look, rather than a flat matt one often associated with products for my skin type. Because it blends in so well, it doesn't sit in and accentuate the fine lines I have and I feel it definitely manages to give me a more youthful, radiant complexion. After removing the BB cream I find the problem areas of my skin to be under control. Having tried other products aimed at an oily skin type I appreciate the moisturised feeling it gives me, rather than a tight and dry one I've used N07 BB cream for over a year now and wouldn't go back to thicker foundation. I absolutely love it and am a bit surprised by the less favourable reviews here. I would definitely recommend this product, especially to other women around my age who find matt/thick foundations ageing as I did. I've had several comments while wearing this, wondering which foundation I use. At £12.95 it's great value and lasts a good few months (even better if you apply a money off voucher regularly given out for No7) As with all No7 products, it also has SPF 15 and Five star UVA protection which are essential in my mind...another reason to love it. In fact, I can't think of any reason NOT to like it.
Earlier this year, when deciding on a holiday destination for my daughter, mother, aunt and myself, we had three requirements when looking for an apartment. It had to be in a central location with easy access to attractions, restaurants and facilities-we wanted it to be quite busy and vibrant and suitable for families. It had to be a great price without compromising on comfort to suit our range of budgets. Finally, it had to be child friendly. This was perhaps the requirement I was most conscience of when looking for a holiday due to previously making the mistake of choosing accommodation geared towards 'quiet' adults. While that had been lovely, my daughter (six at the time) had found it a little boring and didn't find any friends to play with. This time, I wanted to be sure there would be other children there, to make life easier for all. We'd already decided on Tenerife, as we were going early May we knew we'd be guaranteed the best weather there. When we found a deal with Jet2 for just £1200 self catering at Parque Santiago it appeared to tick every box. ******************* About Parque Santiago ******************* Parque Santiago is a group of apartment complexes around Tenerife comprising of a mix of private and company owned self catering apartments. Our booking stated we could be in 3 or 4, which as it turns out (along with 5) are actually right next to each other and conveniently located right between Los Christianos and Playa De Las Americas. What we didn't realise is the separate apartment complexes made up a larger sort of village, with shops, restaurants and attractions all owned by the same company. As a guest in any of the complexes, you are welcome to use the facilities in any of the others. Situated right on the beach, and with just a ten minute walk in either direction to Los Christianos and Playa de Las Americas it is a fantastic location. *************** Arrival/Checking In *************** We arrived at around 10pm at night and were dropped right at reception by the coach. What first struck me was how clean the whole area was. The street and entrance are a white tile, which is kept immaculate, and the buildings themselves traditional Mediterranean white and terracotta. despite the dark I was already impressed. We went into the reception and were less greeted, more grunted at, by a quite surly man and with probably less than twenty words exchanged were given our apartment key and directions. We were staying in Parque Santiago 3, the same complex as reception. We set off to find our accommodation, which is in several blocks surrounding a very large pool area (more on this later!). While ours was the first block, we soon discovered that there was no lift to our second floor apartment. My Aunt has several health complaints and did manage the stairs but found them a struggle, and at that time of night none of us were overly enthralled at having to lug our suitcases up several flights of stairs. If this would be an issue for you then I highly recommend getting in touch with either the complex or your tour operator beforehand, as there are ground floor apartments available as well as lift facilities in another block. We were offered an exchange of apartments the next day, but deciding we couldn't face the move and liking the location of our apartment we decided to stay and manage. ************ Our Apartment ************ Despite the curt service and struggle up the stairs, when we arrived at our apartment we were delighted by it. We'd booked a one bedroom and discovered it was a quaint maisonette style, with the bedroom and bathroom upstairs and kitchen, living/second sleeping area and balcony down. It has some lovely little touches, like shuttered windows in the bedroom, and the kitchen and living area were surprisingly spacious. It was well equipped with pretty much everything we needed in the kitchen and while not very modern in appearance was immaculately clean and well presented. Myself and my daughter, being the younger two, were sleeping on the sofa bed, which was a bit heavy and a pain to pull down/put away. I have to be honest and say while my daughter loved it, I found it really uncomfortable and didn't sleep well the first couple of nights. My Mum and Aunt found the beds upstairs very comfy, however, so I'd say this apartment would work better for 2 adults and 2 kids. The rooms were cleaned daily, and the plentiful supply of towels and bedding were also changed daily, something we really hadn't expected. The best part about the apartment however was the large balcony which faced into the central garden and pool area. it was beautiful sitting here on an evening when it was all lit up. Most of the apartments seem to have this view too. The apartment itself was very peaceful, and because this is a very family orientated location noise from the surrounding bars and restaurants stops at 11pm. The room was also equipped with a TV and safe (at a cost) and the only thing missing was a hair dryer (luckily I'd brought my own although they can also be hired) The apartment didn't have air conditioning, which was fine when we visited but may be uncomfortable later in the year. Overall, I was pretty impressed with what we had for our money and felt incredibly safe in this apartment. ******* Facilities ******* Without doubt, it was the facilities at Parque Santiago that made the holiday. Our complex had not only a huge pool which was styled to have a busier area for kids, snaking around into a quiter 'cul de sac' for grown ups, but it's very own water park for kids. This area, which is suitable for children aged 3-12 years old had numerous slides and a park area. It was big enough for parents of younger children to find a spot to sit, but for us, we managed easily everyday to get sun loungers just to the side giving us a perfect view. It's constantly supervised by at least two lifeguards and the slides are small enough to be safe for older children's parents to leave the kids to it without having to get on themselves. The pool is very shallow, so a splash area rather than swimming. My daughter made lots of friends, and we spent almost everyday there rather than the beach. At 6pm sharp, the water park closes, which also meant we avoided the 'five more minutes' whining!It was fantastic. The layout of the enormous pool area is extremely thoughtful, so that the water park and family area are completely separate from the more peaceful, quiet area. So well thought out infact, that a work colleague stayed in the same complex a couple of weeks later without children and didn't even see the water park. There are an abundance of sun lounges and parasols, again laid out in such a way that people without children could enjoy a quite area. The complexes catering facilities are limited to pool bar food and ice-creams and is quite pricey. however, from 5-7 every night there are buy one get one free offers on all drinks, so we enjoyed rounding the day off at the pool by sampling different cocktails. However, as all the apartments are well equipped for self catering, the supermarket directly opposite the hotel provided plenty of budget supplies. We loved the cheese, bread, fruit and beautiful cakes...I've never seen cakes like them. Alternatively, by walking a few minutes along the beach you find plenty of café's selling sandwiches and toasties for just a couple of Euro. The complex has excellent shopping facilities, however again a short walk towards Playa De Las Americas and you will find similar, if not the same, items for cheaper. The same applies to the restaurants, with the ones owned by the Parque being significantly more expensive than the ones in Los Christianos and Playa De Las Americas themselves, and for this reason we didn't use them. The Parque also has a mini golf park and gym, which we never used. As we were able to use the facilities in all complexes, we had a nosey in neighbouring 4, however this was very obviously more geared to adults and much quieter...although lovely. We did enjoy meeting up with my daughters friends at the small play park just outside 4 on an evening after eating out. This area has a very nice outside bar for the adults, and my daughter thought it was great to play out until midnight. The whole area is very well maintained, with security an unobtrusive presence, so we felt very safe. We never once witnessed any drunk, loutish or anti social behaviour in this area. *************** A note on the staff *************** I think perhaps this is a common theme in resorts of this sort, but I found the staff at this complex to be particularly miserable. Luckily I had very little reason to need their service, but on the few occasions I did, it was painful to say the least (and nothing to do with the language barrier). Apart from checking in, the only time I encountered them was when booking tickets for Siam Park, and after leaving my kindle at the pool. My fault I know, but I was literally met with a shrug when enquiring if by chance it had been handed in. I felt like such a bother just by being there! The one member of staff who stood out, however, was the lovely lady who ran the pool bar, who was always ready with a smile and a nice word. This attitude is certainly not continued outside of the complex however, as we found the people extremely friendly and welcoming in the restaurants and attractions we visited. ****** Verdict ****** Parque Santiago 3 wasn't without some flaws, namely accessibility to the apartment and the severe lack of customer service towards guests. However, as this was a self catering holiday, we could let this go and found the facilities, cleanliness, location and safety of the area for our party far outweighed the niggles. For families, this is a pretty close to perfect location with plenty for kids to do and an array of shopping, restaurants and attractions on the doorstep. I wouldn't stay here though without kids, despite the thoughtful layout providing quieter areas. Not for many other reasons other than it just wouldn't be what I'd choose if I didn't have a child to consider. I'd prefer something smaller, more remote and authentic. Price wise, I think we got a lot for our money. At just £300 a head including flights, the Parque certainly offered value for money. Being located right on the beach and easy access to both the neighbouring resorts, it's location couldn't be better. I'd happily recommend Parque Santiago to families of children under 12 looking for a reasonably cheap but quality holiday in a safe and secure area with guaranteed sun of course!
I'm a big coffee lover. I drink more than is probably healthy. While I enjoy the usual, run of the mill instant, I adore a nice hot latte, often with an extra shot of coffee and with different syrups. I'd been wanting a coffee machine for a while, but not being the type of person who can be bothered with too much faff was certain it had to be an easy to use pod machine. When I was offered this machine a year ago it appeared to tick all the right boxes. The Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto Melody 3 is a stylish and modern appliance that comes in different colours. Mine is cream, and I must say it looks very nice in the kitchen! It isn't particular heavy or large, and takes up a nice discreet corner on my work tops. The coffee machine comes pretty much already to use and it's simply a case of adding cold water to the tank, adding a pod and flicking a switch. So simple and quick that I was very impressed. The machine came with some coffee pod samples, but I quickly realised that those six pods would only make 3 drinks as one contains coffee, the other milk. I quickly skimmed, then discarded the instructions, popped a pod in the little drawer and set about making my drink. The machine, once filled with water, has an indicator button which flashes red for 30 seconds then turns green to indicate the machine is ready to pour. A small lever switch goes left to right...one side giving you nice, piping hot water and the other cold (I'm not really sure why the second is necessary). As the machine pours water, it is a bit noisy. Certainly noisier than I was expecting. Once the required amount of water had been run through the milk pod, you switch for a coffee pod to finish your drink. The packaging on the pod does tell you in ML how much water is required for each pod, however there's no way of managing this other than common sense judgement as the colour of the pouring drink weakens. Even with guesswork on quantities, I'm still happy with the delicious drink that takes around 1 minute start to finish to make. It is the nearest thing to coffee shop latte I've experienced at home. The krups is handily designed to accommodate differing sized mugs, and even some quite tall mugs I have fit underneath it. The drip tray base can be moved up and down quite easy to fit either tiny espresso cups or everyday mugs. Cleaning the machine is also incredibly easy, with the pod drawer and drip tray being easy to remove and rinse. The tank itself is also easily detachable and surprisingly holds more liquid than you may think at first glance. Certainly enough for 3-4 mugs. So far, the krups melody 3 seems perfect; it looks great, is easy to use and produces delicious drinks. However, there is a downside and this is the price and availability of the pods themselves. They are quite expensive, and when you consider that most drinks require two pods, the 16 pod packs work out at around £4 for eight drinks. For the reason I have found that over the last twelve months I don't use the machine as often as I'd though, as the pods are really a bit of a treat. I do believe that amazon may have some subscription club with the pods making them a bit cheaper, but this isn't something I've found time to investigate yet. On the plus side, beside being very, very nice, they come in quite a good range. Our favourites are the mocha, cappuccino lite and my 9 year old loves the hot chocolate. All things considered, I am very happy with my Krups melody 3 and am glad i own it. it hasn't been a let down in anyway and the only complaint I have is the price of the coffee pods. However, I shall definitely look forward to some special cups of coffee on these coming cold weekend mornings. Ranging in price from between £55-£100 depending on when, where and what colour you buy, I think it's a good price compared to similar makes and certainly appears to be very high quality. If you are looking fo a no fuss, stylish coffee machine that I'd more than happily recommend this one.
Last Christmas my 8 year old daughter asked for a tablet, consistently from around September. Despite me trying to dissuade her, she was adamant there wasn't anything else in the world she would like, leaving me in a bit of a pickle as I wasn't keen on the idea at her age, while also feeling it was unnecessary as she could use my gadgets, kindle, ipod etc if she wanted. Then right at the very last minute she changed her mind and asked for a Fliker. I didn't even know what one was at the time, but after some research I was happy (ecstatic!) with this new request (not least financially too). It turns out the Fliker is a fancy scooter, with two platforms rather than one and is ridden in a kind of slalom ski style. It comes in several different models (F1, F3, F5 etc) for different height and age children. Browsing the various sites I found it confusing to decide on the appropriate model for my daughter, who is perhaps slightly on the small side. This in part was down to the conflicting advice offered by retailers, or in some cases none at all. In the end I went with advice from reviewers on Amazon, and opted for the F3 thinking that if it was slightly too big, by the time summer comes around she should be fine and it will last. The issue of which size is further confused by the none adjustable handle bar, so getting the right one is pretty important. Unfortunately we didn't have a retailer near to try them out, but if you do then I would strongly suggest doing so to avoid a costly mistake. I also found the price varied widely between retailers and in the end I purchased my daughters from Smyths online for £50, but they can cost up to £90! The Fliker was delivered quickly and well packaged, and when I came to assemble it on Christmas eve, I found it pretty much already to go...it just needed unfolding and the handles slotting in and tightened. However, I was very surprised at the size. It looked huge in my sitting room and weighed a ton. I was really concerned that it was going to be too big to ride! Luckily I have a garage, so storage wasn't a concern, but is something you may want to think about. It does fold but is still bulky. Christmas morning came and my child was over the moon to find this taking over half the living room and was out on it very soon after. She did look a little on the small side, but not drastically so and she could reach the handles no problem. Because there's a specific technique to riding the Fliker, she found it quite tricky to begin with and I thought maybe this was going to sit in the garage unloved and forgotten. However, practise definitely makes perfect and within a couple of days she'd mastered it and since then has sped about all over on it. It takes a slight push off with one foot to get going, then a hip twisting motion similar to what I imagine skiing to be like. It works well on most surfaces too once the technique is fully mastered, and although we had a bit of frustration in the early days with frantic hip swinging and not getting anywhere, once learned it is automatic (like riding a bike) and my daughter hops on and speeds off without even thinking about it now. On even slight downward declines, it picks up quite a bit of speed but has excellent brakes on it. The Fliker has had masses of use, and my daughter became quite a bit of a celebrity in the neighbourhood on it. Everyone wanted a go! And since then many have managed to get their own. It's provided lots of fun with races and at times up to four kids clinging onto various parts of it and hitching a ride. It's stood up extremely well to all this use and still looks immaculate and strong. £50 may seem a lot for a scooter, but you can certainly see the quality and its been worth every penny. The only complaint is the folding mechanism, which I do find difficult and stiff, and so tend not to fold it at all, which is a shame as it means it's left behind at home quite a bit when it could be slung in the car boot (which it would fit when folded, although wouldn't leave much room). I would certainly recommend the Fliker, and am surprised myself how what I thought may be a bit faddy and useless is actually a great, fun toy which also promotes exercise, co-ordination and strength. My advice to anyone thinking about buying one though would be to think very carefully about which size. I almost bought the smaller F1, but after having a huge growth spurt this year it would now be too small for us after just a few months. I think Fliker could offer a clearer sizing guide, but in my opinion if your child is of average 7 year old size (as my daughter is a bit small and slight) then go for this one. I can fit on and ride, so it will last for years!!
I'm one of those people with olivey skin that looks jaundiced through winter, but come summer I only need to step into sunlight and I tan. I don't usually burn, and that's probably due to the fact that I'm pretty strict on using sun protection of at least factor 15 at home and factor 30 when abroad. It always surprises me that people are willing to go without, or use a far too low factor for their skin type in the hopes of getting a tan when, using protection won't actually prevent this. It will stop you burning though if you use the right one! But even though I take protection seriously, I'm still tempted by products that will maximise my tan. So when shopping for sun care before a recent holiday to Tenerife and spotting Soltan's Protect & Tan range I was happy to give it a go. I know Soltan is a reliable and leading brand in sun protection and all their products contain the maximum 5 star UVA rating as standard. This fairly recent addition to the range claims to have an ingredient that "helps stimulate your body's natural tanning production" although, I'm not sure what the particular ingredient is. Protect & Tan is available as a lotion or spray and in factors 8, 15 and 30. It's priced at £13.99 but I bought it on a half price offer, which it seems to be on permanently. I decided to go with a factor 30 spray, as I prefer this to lotion. The bottle claims it's ultra-light and I'd pretty much say that was true. On my first morning of my holiday I applied this sun protection before going to the pool in our apartment. It was very easy to apply with a pump spray delivering a fine but surprisingly generous amount of product. It comes out white, but rubs in very easily, absorbing into your skin like a moisturiser. I was pleased to find it wasn't dreadfully oily and slippy as I hate that greasy chip feeling on my skin. It was very, very light feeling too and I didn't feel that heavy, claggy feeling you get from some sun creams at all. It took about 8 sprays to cover my entire body fully, and my first impressions where good. I applied again once at the pool and again after swimming, despite the spray being water resistant. I applied as diligently and often as I would usually in similar climates to avoid burning or redness, so felt confident this wouldn't happen again. I did notice a couple of patches such as my knees and chest seemed to be going a little red, but wasn't worried as in my experience my skin doesn't usually develope into sunburn. I took plenty of shade, as despite loving a bit of sun, I find more than half an hour in temperatures in the mid twenties just too much, and as the product claims to prevent burning for one to two hours I was pretty certain I was taking good care. So I was quite surprised that night to find I had burned a bit, on my shoulders, knees and chest. While it wasn't horrific, it was a little hot and tender and certainly redder than I'd experienced for a long time. My daughter had been using the kids factor 30 lotion and had no problems at all, and I certainly hadn't experienced this using other Soltan products in similar conditions. There may well be a reasonable explanation why, but I wasn't expecting it. For the next couple of days I used my Mum's factor 30 in another brand and had no further problems while using this again for the last two days. I didn't burn again, however, I still didn't feel as protected as I might have. Maybe the ultra light texture is so light I was under applying, I don't know. As for the claims that this will boost natural tanning in your skin? In all honesty, I didn't feel any more tanned than I would have with a regular sun care product. I did get a nice tan, but just the same as I would get anyway. All in all I was disappointed. Soltan Protect and Tan spray SPF 30 sadly didn't live up to my expectations. While I loved the fact it was easy to apply, even when it was almost finished in the bottle, and it did feel light and non greasy, I'm not convinced that it offered me the protection I wanted. It did smell ok, not awful and nothing special and I did get out of the 200ml bottle the 6 full applications it promises. However, I honestly don't think it did anything to make my tan any more than it would have been without. As this is what attracted me to it, rather than a rrun of the mill spray, then it's disappointing and probably just a marketing ploy. There are far better products in the Soltan range without any gimmicks, and my advice would be to stick to those. I have one bottle left, and will use it here this summer so it doesn't go to waste, even though SPF 30 is more than I'd usually wear at home. I won't be holding my breath in anticipation of a deeper tan though!
We've all had that moment of walking into a shop and absolutely falling in love with something; usually something not very practical or strictly necessary. Well, for my then six year old daughter, it was this red and white polka dot child's suitcase from Marks and Spencer. We regularly stopped at M&S at the metro centre to pick up some shopping for my housebound Grandmother on our weekly visit and it was there, right in the doorway as you enter, that her eye was caught. I could see why it appealed to her so much. With it's striking red and white polka dot fabric pattern and classy white furnishings, it certainly is very, very pretty. But at £45 it seemed a lot of money, and for weeks all my daughter could do was stare at it longingly and have a little push around of it when we called into the shop. Then one week, while with her Grandfather, she finally became the proud owner of her very own suitcase. With a 20% discount, and knowing how much she loved the thing, my dad decided to treat her. She was over the moon. I was slightly less happy, thinking that although it was lovely, it was a bit frivolous. We've owned the case for a couple of years now, but it's still available at M&S at the same price. The suitcase is aimed at children and I'd say a very good size for ages 5-11 years old. It's made with an incredibly durable and good quality material, while at the same time being lightweight at just 2.1 KG...leaving more weight allowance for packing. Because the fabric is so flexible, you can pack a surprising amount of stuff in here. On the numerous occasions we've used it I've managed my daughters entire weeks wardrobe plus both of our beach towels and even squeezed in a couple of pairs of my shoes that I couldn't fit in my own. I've also used it for both of our luggage for shorter breaks and easily fit in 3 complete changes each. It's strong enough that I can pack it full and still not worry about it bursting open. Inside is also lined with good quality fabric and netting on the inside lid part gives good storage for socks, underwear. hair accessories etc. It has an elastic cross harness and buckle to keep your nicely pressed holiday clothing secure and flat. On the outer lid, there's a useful pocket to contain those things you forgot to pack, or items you'd like to get at quickly. The case closes with a double zip which can be padlocked, and feels very secure. In it's six trips through airport baggage to date, it's proved trusty and reliable. My daughters favourite part of the case is the handle. It's very quick and easy to release/collapse with my daughter managing it effortlessly herself. It's a perfect height for kids, and not too low to be uncomfortable for adult use either. While it doesn't have swivel wheels, it's still very easy to manoeuvre, and again my daughter manages this with no assistance, meaning I have one less thing to stress about and can concentrate on my own luggage and passports. I would also consider using this case myself if I were going away for a few days-It's a perfect size for adult short break luggage. It's possible it may go as hand luggage on a plane, but as we've only put it through hold, I can't say for certain and would advise you check with your airline. Personally, I think I'd find it a bit big for hand luggage, especially if all the overhead space has already been taken before you. For rail travel, it's perfect. It easily fits in both overhead and between seat storage. Another massive plus is the gorgeous pattern which makes it easy to spot as it comes through airport luggage. In case you want to be extra sure, it also has a lovely, big white leather label which my daughter proudly wrote her name in. The one downside though is the fabric does mark, and while most dust and dirt marks are easily sponged off, there are a couple of black scuff marks that won't budge which I think are oil from the conveyor belt/transporting trolleys. Obviously, this doesn't affect the usability of the case, but it is a little annoying. Overall, I find myself surprised at just how much use and how practical the case has been, as I worried it was a bit expensive and unnecessary to begin with. My daughter has had it 2 years now and it's been on numerous holidays and stayovers, and been used by both of us at times. I can trust that she can manage it on her own, giving me one major thing less to worry about at stressful journey moments and would recommend it for children aged 5-11 years old. It will easily hold a weeks worth of clothes for them, and then some. I'd also recommend it for adults who need something for short breaks. It's classy enough that despite being aimed at children, you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with it. Two years later, my daughter still loves her case, and I can see it getting used for a good few years to come...she clearly has very good taste!
When my daughter started regular tennis lessons last year, I found myself struggling with bags once a week. Her lesson was on a school and work day, which meant I finished work, bussed up to school and then bus to the training court. I ended up carrying my bag, her school bag, a carrier with tennis clothes in AND her racket! I needed a bag big enough to fit her school work and change of clothes in, but not so big she'd struggle with it throughout the day. I spotted this Slazenger 3 in 1 rucksack in Sports Direct (the photo above shows only 2 of the three parts...there is also a rucksack!) It was a good size, but the straps weren't too thick that my daughter struggled to fit it on her shoulders. It had a two compartments, which meant we could have school work in one and sports clothes in the other. And it also came with a very handy insulated lunch box-which had it's very own clip lock storage box, water bottle and cutelry inside, as well as a smaller fruit bag. For a very reasonable £12.99 it seemed ideal. Indeed it seemed to fit out purposes perfectly. My Daughter only used this bag on the one day she had tennis practice. She did find it a bit on the large size for her little seven year old body, but with the straps adjusted to the tightest setting it wasn't an issue. Unlike regular kids rucksacks, the shoulders on this are padded and she really liked this and the comfort it provided. Because it was very light, even with her reading book and change of clothes in it she didn't find it too heavy. Gone were the days of carting numerous bags around everyday! She decided to use the fruit bag as a pencil case, and it worked really well for that being exactly the right size. Alternatively you could pop an apple, orange or banana in it and be sure it wouldn't end up a bruised mushy mess at the bottom of your bag. The lunch box was perhaps the most impressive part of this 3 in 1 bag set, and she immediately started using this for her daily pack lunch. It was easy to clean and the food storage fit perfectly. Unfortunately though, after just six weeks (that's six days of use!) The zipper on the rucksack came apart at the seams. Not just a little bit, but a huge gaping amount that made the bag useless. I tried to return it but because I had no receipt, I couldn't (that's another review about Sports Direct though) and mending it by hand proved pretty impossible as the zip ribbon and bag fabric were both so frayed it was unfixable. Sadly it went in the bin. I was really disappointed, and to be honest hadn't expected such low quality. I could understand if the bag had been abused, but my daughters t-shirt, shorts and trainers are tiny while her school-work consists of a reading book and record only. It wasn't as if it had been stuffed full of heavy items! On the other hand, the lunch box and fruit bag/pencil case are still going strong with none of the zip issues the Rucksack had. Perhaps I was unlucky and got a faulty bag, I'll never know because I wouldn't buy another. I've gone for another well known sports brand this time, which after 6 months still looks brand new and shows no sign of wear. Considering this is really an adults rucksack which was lightly used as a child's school/kit bag I can not recommend this bag or it's quality. The only saving grace are the other accessories which stop it being a complete waste of money. I rate it two, solely because we still use and like the extras.
Earlier this year my then seven year old daughter began taking showers. Not that she was a filthy little monkey who never washed, but until then she had been very nervous about water splashing her face and would only bathe. Hair washing had been a bit of a nightmare and props such as dry flannels and towels were always on hand at bath time, along with some Olympic back-bending and cautious jug pouring to shield her eyes when rinsing shampoo. Usually ending up with me getting a good soaking too. But then suddenly she overcame this fear and finally took to the shower, particularly enjoying standing under the head and letting the water flow over face. Finally, washing her hair wasn't the palaver it had been. But at the very same time, she got a nasty case of eczema on her face. She had suffered the odd patch on her body when she was younger, but nothing like this before. It could've been coincidental, but I put it down to the adult shampoo of mine rinsing over her face in the shower. Deciding to look for something more natural and kinder I discovered Naked. With a range of products for bath, body and hair for adult's and children alike and claiming to be 97% natural. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about chemicals and their effects on the body, but the fact it doesn't contain sulphates, parabens, petrochemicals or silicone sounded good to me. The packaging certainly made the products look honest and caring and I decided to give their kids 2 in 1 Jam Sandwich shampoo a go. At the time of purchase in my local Boots, it cost around £3 but was also on a buy one get one half price deal, and so i also purchased a body wash as well. Even so, this was a little on the pricey side and not what I'd usually fork out for shampoo, but I was willing to give it a go. We put the Jam Sandwich shampoo to the test that night. My daughter was pretty impressed by the child friendly packaging and the thought of having her own shampoo. The bottle has a flip lid and she did find it difficult to both open and dispense the shampoo, so I had to help her out. As soon as you begin squeezing you can smell the beautiful aroma this shampoo has! It reminded me of strawberry laces; a sweet, fruity, candy smell which certainly appealed to little miss too. Squeezing the product out is a little difficult due to the very small opening in the flip lid and the thickness of the product. This perhaps could be seen as a good thing where kids are concerned, it would be impossible to pour out half a bottle in one go. The product itself is a glossy transparent red, almost jelly like both in looks and consistency. If I'm honest, I found the consistency a little strange. It felt gloopy and heavy...not something I can say I've experienced with shampoo before. As I began massaging it into Daughter's hair I also found it difficult to work up a lather. Again, I thought the consistency of the product felt strange and didn't lend itself to easy washing. For best results I had to use more product than I usually would, not easy to stomach given the price! The gorgeous smell however had by this time filled the entire bathroom and hall! Rinsing this shampoo seemed to take a little more effort than usual as it seemed to stick to the hair, but it lived up to it's claims of no tears and was very gentle on madams face. Once out of the shower and with hair drying naturally I found Daughter's hair to be a little tangled and dry, which was a bit of a disappointment considering this is advertised as a shampoo/conditioner in one. I did think it looked very squeaky clean however, after a brush through with a bit of conditioning spray, and looked really shiny. The best part however was that lovely smell, which I could smell on my daughter's head as she cuddled in for her bedtime story. Her eczema died down and faded completely within 10 days, whether this naked shampoo had anything to do with it or the prescribed medication from her doctor would have seen to it anyway I don't know. It certainly didn't do any harm. Thankfully we've had no flare ups since and have gone on to use other shampoos. I did really like Naked's Jam Sandwich shampoo, it smells great and makes my daughters hair look clean and healthy. However I do find the price and amount of product needed to lather well off putting. I would buy it again, and would recommend it to others (especially with sensitive skins), but I'd probably wait until it was on offer to stock up.
I've been on a constant quest to find the perfect hair curler, to give me the bouncy, full curls I so long for. I'm also lucky enough to have had the opportunity to have road tested a number of different hair styler's in the last few months, this Remington Easy Curl being one of them, and so have a fair bit of experience and comparison between different brands and contraptions. The Remington Easy Curl (Model CI6219) is unique in that rather than a wand or a shaped waver it works by clamping the ends of your hair into it and winding it in the spiral guide, holding for 10 seconds then releasing. The 19" ceramic barrel heats up to 170 degrees in 30 seconds, has a swivel cord, cool tip and comes in a nice hot pink colour if that kind of thing is important to you. Remington claim this will revolutionise the ease with which you curl your hair and give you shiny, frizz free curls. I'm going to dispute this however, because in reality I found this styler awkward to use and it left me with a birds nest effect hair style. When I first unpacked this styler I wasn't impressed by it's aesthetics. While this model is a low budget one retailing between £20-£30 (depending on where and when you buy) I've come to expect good quality from Remington. This product looked cheap and flimsy. I also didn't like the indicator switch, which goes red as soon as you plug it in but doesn't let you know when the styler is at the desired heat. There's no heat control either, there's just the one setting of 170 degrees. But if the curler lived up to it's promise of easy to create, beautiful curls I'd be willing to forgive these minor issues. I separated a piece of hair and tried to secure the ends into the clip. And tried. And tried. It must have taken me five minutes to eventually get the required (thin) amount of hair, positioned correctly and secured enough to hold it in place. Frustrating doesn't even cover it! Once I'd (sort of) achieved this step, I did find winding my hair through the spiral guide easy to master on the right side of my head, however when it came to doing the back and sides it was difficult to even achieve this correctly. My arms got in a tangle trying to get the styler positioned to wind my hair with the spiral rather than against. After 30 minutes I was sweating, stressed and ready to throw the evil contraption out of the window. And was all that stress worth it? No. I had a head full of messy, tatty curls with straight bits sticking out all over. It appears this styler doesn't work well with layered hair and fails to catch shorter bits resulting in a god-awful mess. I tried using the easy (ahem) Curl on my daughter with much better results, probably due to a) being able to see what I was doing and b) she has shoulder length hair with no layers, compared to my very layered long hair. Her curls were passable, not great and certainly not long lasting but not a fright (like mine) There were a couple of pro's. If you have shortish, fine hair that is all one length like my daughters, and someone on hand to actually do the styling for you, then while not the best out there, it does work pretty easily. It's design means that you avoid burning yourself unlike more traditional wands which will burn your scalp, ears and hands. It heats up very quickly and comes with a handy heat protector bag. In principle, the Remington Easy Curl is a great idea. For me, however, it just didn't work and proves far too complicated and stressful. Being the owner of several Remington hair-care products, this is the only one I wouldn't recommend, which is a shame. I'll be sticking to my wand from now on. And make a not to myself to remember in future-if it claims to be easy, it probably isn't.
My daughter mentioned wanting this toy last year after seeing it advertised on the TV. However it was quite close to Christmas and all my shopping had been done. I did have a quick look at it on Amazon, but decided to give it a miss. In all honesty I thought it sounded like one of those faddy toys that never really do what they are supposed to and end up being shelved after one disappointing outing. It wasn't that cheap either at around £25. Luckily she didn't seem to notice it wasn't under the tree and it was never mentioned again. Until this year, when again she said she'd quite like it and I found myself in a similar position. This time though I was just wondering what to buy her with the £30 my aunt had once again sent to me with instructions to buy something and wrap it up from her (does anyone else have relations who do this and find it annoying? As if I don't have enough to do!) After a quick trawl through the internet I worked out it was best being bought at Boots for £26.99 as part of a 3 for 2 deal and £12 points event, although I did see it for a few pounds less elsewhere. So Christmas morning came and my daughter was over the moon to discover Super Grapfix in the huge parcel from Auntie (screaming something like Auntie xxx buys the BEST presents!! *Hmmph") As we were busy visiting family that day and I was unfortunately back to work for three days on Boxing Day, it wasn't until a few days later that she finally got to play with it. So What exactly is Super Grafix? I hear you ask. Well in short it's an easel with an arch and mirror contraption that goes over it and allows you to trace pictures. I wasn't convinced that this was going to work very well at all, but found myself very surprised at what turns out to be a very good quality and accurate artist tool for children. The set up of the toy is extremely simple. It's simply a case of clicking a few plastic legs and arms together and you're ready to go. There's no fiddly stickers to place, no batteries required (or the subsequent search for a small enough cross head screwdriver to put them in) and no annoying plastic wires to de-tangle. Super Grafix was up and running within five minutes. The easel part has clips to hold a piece of A4 paper steady to avoid slips, as precision is pretty key to success here, and a stand clips onto the back to hold a copy of the paper image you'd like to copy. By looking through the eyepiece and tracing what you see with your pencil, you end up with a pretty accurate tracing. It's quite clever, and a little disconcerting, as you feel you are drawing mid-air rather on paper, and my daughter was amazed and delighted with the the results after taking a few minutes to get the hang of it. Super Grafix comes with 2 printed images to copy, but any image from a photograph, magazine etc can be used. We successfully traced Harry from 1D from her calender. You're also not limited to printed images, She managed to trace a lovely drawing of her hedgehog hottie and owls from a photo album cover. You can even remove the stand and lay the toy flat allowing you to trace 3 dimensional object such as a vase of flowers, a tree, building...the possibilities are endless. It does come with a few sheets of A4 paper, but we flew through these very quickly so you'll probably want to have a good supply to hand, because once my daughter started she found it pretty addictive. Super Grafix is also very well made and robust. In the last few days it's been carted between home and grandma's, out in the garden and all around the house and I'm confident that it can withstand much more. The plastic is extremely tough and child friendly, it's much lighter than it looks and very portable. It even folds up to become kind of like a briefcase for carrying. I'm very impressed with both the quality and usefulness of this toy, and so is my little artist. Despite having reservations about this toy, it's probably one of the best things she owns and is certainly a success. She's already had hours of fun with it and I can see it being used for years to come, especially for a little girl who loves drawing so much. It's incredibly simple, which surprised me as for some reason I was expecting lights and batteries and a whole host of things that can go wrong. I think almost every child is going to enjoy using super grafix (who doesn't want to end up with a perfect picture of almost anything to colour?) and despite previously feeling it was expensive, I now think it's a fair price for a great toy. It's recommended for ages 8+...I can't see it being a problem for younger children as there's no small pieces or anything they can damage, however it does need a level of hand to eye co-ordination that much younger children may not have and find a bit difficult. I can't remember being so impressed with a toy, and I'm glad I eventually gave in and bought it. Oh and thanks Aunty!
As a massive book geek with a love of both stationary and bags, Bagabook was a must have the minute I laid eyes on it. Combining three of my favourite things, I practically drooled as I came across the website (www.bagabook.com) selling this gorgeous invention earlier this year. Bagabook is exactly as it says, a bag for your book but with a usefulness you probably didn't even realise you needed until presented with it. Rather than just being a vehicle to carry, it becomes incorporated into your book with pockets to slide your book cover into and a wrap around design, as well as extra features. The bagabook comes in a range of styles from classic, to patent faux croc and more quirkier patterns and can also come as a 'handbag' style with an over shoulder strap, or a briefcase style with short carry handle. After a good hour of debate, I decided originally on a faux croc bag in red patent priced at £19.99, although I had been sorely tempted by the very pretty shabby chic floral design at £24.99. I placed my order very easily at the bagabook website after being convinced by glowing testimonials, paid by paypal and awaited my free 3-5 day shipping. But the next day on returning home from work at 6.30pm I found two messages on my answering machine from Bagabook asking me to get in touch as there was a problem with my order. I'd just decided to leave it until the next day given that it was now out of usual office hours when my phone rang again. I spoke to a very pleasant and helpful man who informed me apologetically that the Bagabook I'd ordered was unfortunatly out of stock, but as a courtesy i could choice any other design, including the slightly more expensive ones for the same price I'd already paid. I immediately jumped at the kind offer and chose that gorgeous flowery design. I was very impressed with this extremely good service, it would have been far easier for them to email me but clearly found it important to speak to me personally. My Bagabook arrived just two days later and was no less prettier in real life as it was on screen. It's made from a very high quaility and durable material with a water proof coating, offering protection for those, like me, who like their books kept pristine! At the back there's a handy zip pocket that will fit a thin mobile phone and some spare change, while inside there's a card holder for storing either a travel or library card as well as a pen holder for making notes (either in your book or alternatively using Bagabook as a notebook holder) Of course, a ribbon bookmark comes as standard and being permanently attached, it's always on hand. So, my Bagabook looked great and I was very pleased with it's design, style and quality. But how would it stand up functionally? I grabbed the nearest paperback, which was a standard size and around 400 pages and slipped its covers into the Bagabooks pockets. It fit perfectly and while it does make holding the book ever so slightly more cumbersome, page turning works every bit as well as without. This is perfect for just popping out instead of taking a bag. Or even as a purse inside a large bag because we've all had that thing happen...where your book is in your bag and gets scuffed, creased, bits of old sweets stuck to it etc...right? Now, I'm pretty pedantic over the care of my books and hate that happening, so for me Bagabook is a godsend. I do personally tend to use it inside a bag rather than as a bag itself . It's proved it's worth by keeping my books squeeky clean and new. It can also be a discreet way for those who may be reading something on the train or bus they don't want the rest of the passengers to see. Yes, you can read Fifty Shades and no-one else will know. (Though why you'd want to is a completely different review...) Bagabook isn't completely without it's problems however. While the magnetic clip fastner allows you to adjust Bagabook to fit the width of your book, it doesn't hold more than standard size paperback and is no good for larger trade paperbacks or hardbacks. You can fit your Kindle into one of the pockets (and I presume other e-readers) but without any way of securing it, I'm not comfortable doing this. I have noticed Bagabook are now making a design specifically for Kindle which looks great. If you mainly use an e-reader I'd recommend looking at this rather than the book design. Apart from that, the Bagabook is pretty perfect and even those little complaints aren't great big deals...who wants to lug hardbacks around anyway? It would make the most ideal gift for a book lover. It's quirky, functional and fun. I know I would've been over the moon to receive one. While it could be seen as a bit frivolous and a novelty, I've found it does have practical uses and over the last six months have used it in my huge bag as a purse-come-book protector. It's stood up to its quality claims and still looks as good as the day I bought it, making it's price tag very reasonable. I'm confident in recommending both the product and the service from Bagabook. Now to decide which I'd like next!
Aria has lived her whole life under the dome in a virtual reality. But when her Mother goes missing, her quest to find the truth see's her cast out of the domes protection and safety and into the wilderness beyond. In a cruel and harsh environment, with the threat of the electrical aether sky storming above her constantly, survival is slim. But then she meets wild, savage Perry who has also lost a beloved family member and found himself expelled from his tribe. Forming a loose but fraught allegiance they both set out to find answers. But danger lurks around every corner...only their fragile friendship can lead them to survival. For the first 50 pages of this book I was fully prepared to give up on it. I was beyond confused at the new world we are dropped into with very little explanation and didn't have a clue what was going on. But then it all clicked into place and from then on I was hooked. The book begins with Aria. Her world in the pod is alien and complex and at first I really struggled to get to grips with it. Veronica Rossi doesn't ease the reader in slowly, more plonks them right in and I truley felt I was in another world. Once I got my head round the ideas though I absolutely loved it. It doesn't take too much to imagine a world where people live in a virtual reality. Where Aria's world is futuristic, on the outside Perry's is primeval. The people on the outside live in clans and at the mercy of the elements. I loved the contrast between the two, though immediatly preffered Perry's. Despite the dangers the outsiders faced I'd take that over a life stuck in a pod where you have everything you wanted or could imagine, though none of it is real. The aether itself is a constant, threatening presence and is described so vividly I could see it in my mind, despite the fact I had no idea what it was to begin with. Told in a switching third person narrative by both Aria and Perry, Veronica Rossie ensures we really get to know both of these characters very well. I didn't like Aria to begin with, but throughout the book she developes into a strong heroine. There isn't a pivitol moment where this happens, she doesn't suddenly turn from protected weakling to kick-ass. It's a quiet and believable progression. Perry on the otherhand was fascinating from the start (and also particularly swoon worthy!). If I'm ever stuck in a post apocalyptic world, he's the guy I want with me. As with Aria's developement, Rossi takes a slow approach to the romance in this book. And wow, did I get fully caught up with it. There's no instant attraction here, the pair connect through need rather than want and the chemistry between the pair is as electrifying as the aether that constantly threatens them. Despite the slow start, Under The Never Sky turned into a fast paced, thrilling ride which had me hooked. It's tough, bloody and action packed at times with some heart stopping moments that kept me turning pages as fast as I could. Although I was baffled with the world to begin with, Rossi captures it so well that once you get it, it becomes believable, detailed and developed, so much so that while reading it I felt I was actually there. I would like to know what happened to make the world how it is in Under the Never Sky, as this isn't covered. Maybe that will come in following books in this series, which judging by the ending of this one promise to be every bit as good. If you like your dystopia worlds bleak and ruthless with an action packed and fast paced plot, then I recommend Under The Never Sky. Published by Atom February 2012 Copy received from Publishers for review purposes.
I've coveted the lovely curly/wavy styles that have become so popular over the last year, but no matter how I try I can't achieve the look myself. Experimenting with methods from waving wands to straightners to old fashioned rags have resulted in limp lifeless rats tails which drop out after an hour. It's probably down to my fine hair, which to be fair struggles to hold any style. When I saw Babyliss Wave Envy on Amazon and the positive reviews that accompanied it, I was excited. It seemed to be the solution to my problems, with claim after claim of wavy hair in 10 minutes which lasts days. I eventually bought it in Boots with my advantage card points over Christmas at £44.99, however the price has come down online considerably since then. ********** The Details ********** The Babyliss Wave Envy is a heated ceramic hair styler and claims to create "Gorgeous Beach-Like Waves" In design it's similar to a crimper but having one covered plate and two barrels (which look rather like a fork) on the other side. It's also used like a crimper, with the hair goes between the two and being pressed together all down the section of hair you are preparing. It reaches heat of 200 degrees, has three setting for different hair types and styles and a rotating cord to make styling easier. It also comes with a heat protective mat and a three year guarantee. It's available from most electrical beauty retailers and online for prices varying beteewn £30 and £50...shopping around is advised! ***************** Using The Wave Envy ***************** This product is extremely simply to use, even someone as unskilled at hair styling as me can manage it seamlessly. I washed and dried my hair as usual (without straightening) and plug it in. It heats up ready to use almost immediately, which really impressed me! I started with the high heat setting, but soon found that for my hair, it wasn't really necessary and the middle setting achieves the best results. I parted my hair into sections, as per the instructions and got to work. Starting from the top I pressed the styler onto my hair for no more than a few seconds each time, which was enough. Remember standing for hours with those old crimpers in the eighties to make the slightest bit of difference? Forget all that...within ten minutes I'd completed my whole head. Because the barrels are so large, you do need to be careful. I quickly realised that going to near my scalp resulted in two problems. Firstly, it made the waves far to volumised and secondly it burnt me! i caught my ears a few times, and I think perhaps covering both sides would be safer and less painful. The rotating cord really is a great addition, and I'm pleased to see it on more hairstylers nowadays. It works particularly well with this product and made the back of my head far less fiddly to do. ********** The Results ********** After being impressed with the ease of use the Babyliss Wave Envy provides I was looking forward to a full head of sexy, loose waves. Unfortunately this is where the Wave Envy lets itself down. As I said before, this looks very similar and works just like a crimper. But alas, it also styles like a crimper...albeit very big ones. This wasn't the look I was hoping to achieve at all. While it wasn't completely disaster, and looks great for an evening out now and then, I wouldn't use this at all for an everyday style. If you're looking for a waver/curler then this is not for you! I slept over night on my waves *cough-crimps* and can confirm that they do last very well and my hair had held the style all night. I've used it a couple of times since, but it's my seven year old daughter who uses it the most, and it does really suit her. i think having done little crimps the first time round, I'm just too old for this one. ****** Verdict ****** The Babyliss Wave Envy is a high quality product and is incredibly simple to use, with long lasting results (even if you don't want them!) I think though that describing it as a waver is slightly misleading, and the results are certainly not what I was hoping for. I didn't hate the look...I just wouldn't use it often. Indeed this styler has proved a little bit of a novelty and hasn't touched my head since Christmas. It was expensive for something you'll only use now and then. Would I recommend it? Well as long as you're aware that it's not going to produce nice loose waves you can wear everyday, then it does work very well and can't be criticized on that front. Personally I wouldn't buy it again and feel I've wasted my money.
I always make a point of checking out books from Richard and Judy's book club, so when I saw the newest selection in Smiths recently I had a quick browse. Yesterday's Sun by Amanda Brookes caught my eye because of the pretty cover and the recommendation on the front from author Katie FForde claiming it 'Magical and Unputdownable'. When I read the synopsis describing the story of a woman offered a glimpse into her future by a mysterious Moondial I was sold. Holly and Tom have just moved into their dream home and are about to embark on a new five year plan. For Tom this involves a family, but after a childhood of neglect and bitterness Holly isn't so sure. When she comes across a box containing a glass orb and strange mechanical objects during the renovations, Holly doesn't know what to make of them. Until it becomes clear that they belong to the stone sculpture Tom unearthed and plans on using as the centerpiece of their large gardens in the belief it's a sundial. But when elderly neighbour Jocelyn tells Holly it's actually a moondial, Holly is intrigued. One night when the moon is at it's fullest Holly feels an irrisistable draw to the moondial and places the glass orb into the mechanical contraption she painstakingly put together. She isn't prepared for what happens next. For Holly is offered a glimpse into her future. One which includes a beautiful baby daughter and for the first time Holly feels the stirrings of maternal instinct. But something is wrong with the picture of the future. It doesn't include her at all. Holly must work out if she can change her destiny, or will it become a choice of Holly's life for her daughter's? I love time travel stories. I love real life settings with a magical twist. I thought I was onto a winner with this one, it contained both elements and sounded incredibly emotional too. Unfortunatly this one fell short and left me disappointed. I encounted problems very early on in the book. Amanda Brookes writing is very readable, but personally I didn't find it at all convincing. Holly and Tom are in their early thirties, yet I've never met anyone of this age who talks the way they do. They just weren't believable at all. Secondly, it's a bit of cliche overload to the point of being cringeworthy at times. Finally it's so sickly sweet, the scenes between Tom and Holly left me wanting to gag. If the writing wasn't so easy going I would have given up very early on. Besides, I really wanted to know what the deal with the moondial was. I actually thought the premise was a really good one. Imagine being offered a glimpse into a future which didn't include you and the only way to save yourself was to sacrifice someone else? The workings and history of the moondial are what kept me going and were at times fascinating. But as Holly wasn't interested in having children in the first place I wondered what message Amanda Brookes was sending out here. Tom is very persuasive and pressurising towards Holly in the early pages regarding her having children and Holly's emotional attachment to the child she glimpses in the future is immediate. Is she saying that a womans role is purely motherhood? I'm not sure. I didn't get it. Maybe the book lacked a little emotional involvement for me. It's written in a third person narraitive from Holly and tells rather than shows Holly's turmoil. Again I thought the over sentimentalaity and outdated character speach distanced me. It felt like I was supposed to find this story heartrendingly sad but the truth is I didn't. And I'm the biggest wuss going and cry at anything usually. I also saw the plot twist coming about 100 pages before it happened, convinced myself it couldn't be that obvious and read on to find it actually was. I did like the wise old neighbour Jocelyn however. She's a figure of strength and the little glimpses into her story were fascinating. In fact, this is whose story I wanted to hear full stop. Everyone else were charicatures, and old fashioned ones at that and I didn't like any of them. The other plus is that this is a pretty short book. It's only just over 300 pages and an easy quick read to pass a couple of hours. Overall though this book wasn't for me. Too syruppy, no emotional connection and the story was the wrong one, from the wrong person. Published by Harper (Uk) January 2012
I'm a massive fan of Celia Rees's historical novels and Witch Child sits firmly on my 'favourites of all time' shelf. When I first read the synopsis for her latest novel, This is Not Forgiveness, I felt a little pang of disappointment as I'd been so looking forward to another fantastic historical read. However this was quickly followed by excitement and I was eager to give something different a go. This Is Not Forgiveness is a tense psychological thriller told from alternating viewpoints of the three main characters, Jamie, Caro and Rob. When gorgeous and unobtainable Caro starts showing an interest in Jamie, he can't believe his luck. He's heard the rumours about her, particularly from his sister Martha who hates the girl with a passion, but he doesn't care. He can't help but be attracted to her impulsive and dangerous attitude. But over the summer Jamie comes to realise there's more to Caro than anyone even realised. Caro's deeply political beliefs are becoming increasingly extremist, which Jamie feels less and less comfortable with. And that's not his only worry. His older brother, Rob, who was injured out of the army in an explosion in Afghanistan, is falling apart; drinking heavily and becoming angry and violent. Separately, Caro and Rob are enough to keep Jamie awake at night, but when the two come together no one could have predicted the outcome. Saying this book is different to anything I've read by this author before is an understatement. Firstly it's set very much in modern times and Celia Rees proves she has as much a handle on the youth of today as she does on those in her historical novels. Her tiny observations and detailing are rich and evoke clear images making her characters both main and minor very real. The book starts with the ending, which I wasn't immediately aware of and prompted a little bit of confusion, as did the switching narrative. It took me a few chapters to fully get into the stride of this book and understand which viewpoint I was actually hearing from. Once I did though I couldn't stop reading. It isn't an easy book at all. The characters in this book are flawed and damaged, the themes are political and the ending is as desperate a climax as the lead up to it. It's thought provoking and very much a story of our times. This Is Not Forgiveness is at times shocking and uncomfortable reading and isn't going to be to everyone's taste. Personally I thought it was a compelling, edgy thriller that left me thinking about its themes once I finished the last page. While it doesn't quite match up to Rees's historical novels for me, it does nothing to waiver my admiration for this author. I do hope for more historical from Celia Rees, but I also look forward to seeing what else she may come up with eagerly. Published by Bloomsbury February 2012 (PB) Kindle version available for download now. thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.