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Flying from her home in London to her new job in LA, Meg is thrown into a whirlwind new life. Living in a mansion and being able to take a swim in the huge pool every morning, meeting and hanging out with the rich and famous, and flying all over the world on tour are just some of the things that are included in Meg's new life. But the most important one is that she now has a job that any girl would die for - working as PA to Johnny Jefferson, one of the world's most famous and most gorgeous rock stars. But Meg soon finds out that her glamorous job isn't all it's cracked up to be. With fame comes drink, drugs, parties that go on long into the night, and many many women, and Johnny is never far from them all. Along the way, Johnny's friend Christian gives Meg a hand in finding her feet in this new high-demanding world. But, despite all Johnny's bad behaviour, Meg can't help but be attracted to him and she soon learns that you should never mix business with pleasure. ~ My Opinion ~ Having loved the other two books of Paige Toon's, when I saw this in the shop I knew I had to buy it straight away. I already knew that I would really enjoy this and I had pretty high expectations given how good the other two were and I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed. Meg is a great character as she's down to earth, honest and friendly and, even when she starts to become part of the fame and glamour life style, she still remains this way and doesn't start boasting about how she is working for one of the most famous singers. Christian is a lovely friendly character and it's obvious that he would be the best choice as a boyfriend for Meg. However, despite Johnny's drinking, drug taking and womanising, there is still something about Johnny that you can't resist as the reader, so it's easy to see why Meg also feels this way. Although Christian isn't in the entire story and just makes appearances from time to time when he visits LA from London, he is one of the main characters. It's pretty obvious that there's a connection between him and Meg and I just kind of expected them to end up together. Meg and Christian have a great friendship but Meg and Johnny also get on very well and have quite a bit of sexual tension when they're together. So when the three characters were all together it did get a little weird in places as it sort of seemed like some strange love triangle/threesome kind of thing, but without anything actually having happened. I didn't think that this book was quite as good as the other two, especially Chasing Daisy, which is one of my favourite chick-lit books ever. But it is still a brilliant read and Paige Toon has very quickly become one of my favourite authors even though she hasn't written that many books. Her stories are always very truthful and realistic yet she makes them funny, interesting and entertaining, and to be honest, perfect reading. If you're a fan of chick-lit, then you should definitely give Paige Toon a try and Johnny Be Good is a great place to start.
In my last job I always used to walk past a Tesco Express on my way into work and, on the occasions when I couldn't be bothered to make myself lunch or just fancied something different, I'd always go in and buy myself this chicken and bacon pasta salad. This is one of those types of pasta that are perfect for buying for a lunch at work or just when out and about as they're a great size to fill you up nicely. It comes in the usual see-through plastic pot with a little plastic fork inside which makes it great for eating on the go. This isn't really a salad at all as there are no salad ingredients in it, but is purely a pasta dish. The pasta is short spiral shapes and is mixed with chargrilled chicken, bacon and sweetcorn. The entire dish is then covered in mayonnaise. I always go for a chicken pasta and this one has all of my favourite ingredients included which is probably why I like it so much. The chicken pieces are fairly large so I like to cut them up into smaller bits with the fork but there is plenty enough to eat with every forkful. The chicken is perfectly cooked and tastes very soft and fresh. There are never any fatty bits of bacon but only the good bits and then the sweetcorn is nice and crispy. The mayonnaise makes everything very moist and there's just the right amount so that it isn't at all dry but not completely soggy either. This is so nice to eat on a hot day if you have it as soon as it comes out of the fridge as it's lovely and cool and seems like a proper summer lunch. The cold mayonnaise makes it very refreshing too. A big tub of this pasta, which is the perfect amount for a nice lunch, costs £2 and they also do slightly smaller pot which costs around £1.25, but I'm greedy so always buy the bigger one! I do think this price is pretty expensive for a pasta especially as it's not even in a meal deal where you can buy a couple of other bits to have for your lunch. However, as this is the best pasta that I've ever had from quite a few different supermarkets and shops, I don't often worry about the price as I think it's totally worth it. I don't work near a Tesco or Tesco Express anymore which means that I don't often get to have this pasta now. Whenever I do pass a Tesco though, I almost always end up either buying on or just wishing that it was lunch time so that I could buy one because it really is so tasty!
After graduating as a doctor in 1970, Nicholas Garrigan decides to get away from his straight-laced life in Scotland and put his new skills to use in Uganda. Working in a small village hospital, Nicholas soon meets the new president, Id Amin, who immediately takes a liking to Nicholas after finding out he is Scottish. Amin appoints Nicholas as his personal physician and closest advisor and the pair try to right Uganda and make the country a better one. But Nicholas soon realises that he has got himself caught up in a dangerous world that is way out of his control, as he realises that his new friend is not all he makes out to be. Disappearances, torture and murder are just some of the things that seem to happen around the very unpredictable Amin. Nicholas has to try to escape from Uganda and from his master's terrible reign, but that's only if Amin doesn't catch up with him first. ~ Cast ~ Idi Amin - Forest Whitaker Nicholas Garrigan - James McAvoy Kay Amin - Kerry Washington Dr. Junju - David Oyelowo Sarah Merrit - Gillian Anderson Stone - Simon McBurney As we're going to Uganda as part of our Africa trip in July, I've been doing a bit of research before we go just to find out a bit more about the places we're visiting. This is one of the more recent films about Africa and after reading up quite a bit about Idi Amin, I was quite interested in seeing this. Forest Whitaker is the most perfect person to play the role of Idi Amin - he looks uncannily like him with his big round bulk that actually makes him look a bit like a giant teddy bear who you just want to hug - that is until you find out what he's really like! The resemblance really is so similar but it wasn't just his looks that made him the perfect part. His acting was brilliant and he seemed like a bit of a psychopath. One minute he would be laughing and joking around with his cronies and the next minute he would turn on one of them and become all serious, intimidating and angry. Then a couple of minutes later he'd be laughing and smiling again as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. His teddy bear looks made his character seem charming and friendly but in the blink of an eye his personality completely changes and he becomes someone to fear. I thought the film portrayed Amin's character very well and he was very much what I thought he would be like from other reading up I've done on him. James McAvoy is great as Nicholas Garrigan, a friendly young man, but one who knows what he wants and what the distinction is between right and wrong. He does do some things that makes you question his sanity though, such as getting involved with one of Amin's wives, but despite his stupidity he is still just an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time and this makes him a very likeable character. Through most of the film you don't really see what Idi Amin is getting up to but as it gets closer to the end, you begin to see some of the things he has done, people he has killed and tortured, and you realise how utterly evil he really is. Some of the scenes at the end really were disgusting but you have to see them otherwise you don't truly know what an awful man he is. The film is set in the 1970s, so I understand that it is meant to look old-fashioned, but I thought that the actual picture quality of the film also looked quite old and not like it was only made a few years ago . Apart from that, the only other thing that I didn't particularly like was that we were left at the end of the film not knowing what happened to Nicholas and this was a little disappointing as he was the main good character. Overall though, I really enjoyed this film and it was very interesting to find out a bit more about Uganda and Idi Amin. Admittedly, this isn't the sort of film that inspires you to travel to Uganda but there were certain parts, mainly with the children at the beginning, which did make me think that, despite the ruling of one horrid man, the country is actually a lovely place. Certificate rating: 15 Running time: 121 minutes Director: Kevin Macdonald
In post-apocalyptic America, Eli makes his way slowly across the desolate land heading to the same place he's been trying to get to for the past few years. With him he carries a precious book, one of the only books left after everyone went to war, and with it the only possible chance to save the human race. But in a world where the only few remaining people have nothing and no one, everyone is out to get everything they possibly can, and Eli finds himself in many dangerous situations on his way. But the most dangerous situation is when he ends up caught up with a group of violent thugs whose leader will do anything to get his own hands on the book. ~ Cast ~ Eli - Denzel Washington Carnegie - Gary Oldman Solara - Mila Kunis Redridge - Ray Stevenson Claudia - Jennifer Beals I love action movies like this with a little bit of fantasy thrown in and the trailers made this film look brilliant and really action-packed so I couldn't wait to see it. When I did get around to seeing it though, I was quite disappointed as it wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. Because of the time it's set in - a desolate wasteland world where only a few people are still alive and most of the land is desert - the majority of the film was simply following Eli as he travelled over land to his destination. These bits were pretty boring as most of the time he had no company and there was nothing of much interest that he came across. This made these parts pretty boring, dull and uneventful. However, when he did come across some other people, they were usually violent scavengers, and this is where all the action came in. The action really was brilliant here and Denzel Washington was amazing in the way he fought and killed all the other people, even when it was only him against a bar full of others. These moments were really great and intense and, if only there had been more of these violent action scenes in the film, I probably would have enjoyed it quite a bit more. Denzel Washington was great, as he always is, and even though his character is fairly quiet and secretive, it's plain to see that he's a good guy from the very start. He basically carried the entire movie by himself and I thought he did really well. All of the supporting cast, especially Gary Oldman, who plays the leader of the villains trying to get the book from Eli, were all excellent as well. There are a couple of twists that you really don't see coming at all at the end of the film. One of them is a great twist and is the sort of thing that really keeps you thinking over it even well after the film has finished. I wasn't so keen on the other twist though, which is to do with the book, and, to me, it made it all seem a little bit pointless and had me rolling my eyes at the outcome. That's not to say that's it's not a good film though. The storyline was good it just didn't turn out the way I would have liked it to and there were a few too many dull parts for me to properly enjoy it. But the acting and action scenes were really excellently done. Certificate rating: 15 Running time: 118 minutes Directors: Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
Steven Russell is happy with his life. He loves his wife Debbie and their daughter, and enjoys his job on the local police force. But when he is involved in a car accident, Steven realises that he hasn't been living his life the way he should have been and decides to come clean about being gay. But being gay comes at a price, and Steven's expensive tastes means that he needs lots of money. Becoming a conman is easy for him and even though it means he's breaking the law, he isn't hurting anyone except himself. But the law eventually catches up with him and Steven finds himself locked up in the State Penitentiary, where he meets the very friendly and naïve Phillip Morris and the two instantly fall in love. Being in love means that Steven now has even more of a reason to live life to the fullest and his conman ways begin to spiral out of control. ~ Cast ~ Steven Russell - Jim Carrey Phillip Morris - Ewan McGregor Debbie - Leslie Mann Jimmy Kemple - Rodrigo Santoro Larry Bukheim - Brennan Brown Lindholm - Antoni Corone I love any sort of comedy film like this Jim Carrey is always good for a laugh so this was definitely something that I wanted to see. The film is actually based on a true story and even though that is very hard to believe what with the amount of times Steven manages to con someone, and the number of times he escapes from prison, this just makes the film all the more shockingly funny. I have to say that I think this was one of Jim Carrey's best performances. He's always the funny man, playing stupid characters and over-emphasising everything he does, and although there were ample moments where he still did this, he also played a very emotional and serious role. This wasn't just a silly film about a very camp gay couple with a very adventurous life, the film is actually a very emotional one and Carrey played both sides of his personality brilliantly. He is the perfect person to play a camp man as he is very expressive and over-the-top in his acting which made it look very easy for him to act the part of Steven. It was also very obvious that he loved Phillip Morris very much and this is when his sensitive and caring personality came out and it was plain to see that Phillip was the love of his life. Ewan McGregor was also brilliant and I really don't think that there are two better actors to play both of these roles. McGregor played the more feminine role in the couple and he was completely believable as a gay man. His soft looks, petite body and all his feminine mannerisms were excellent and, even though Carrey had the more expressive and sillier role, McGregor also had a very funny role with his hugely camp personality. The relationship between the two really was lovely and I felt that it was like any other relationship in a film whether straight or not. I found myself laughing when they laughed together, smiling when they were happy and in love and crying when they fought. They did have a few proper kissing scenes and nothing about it looked awkward or fake seeing as it was two straight men kissing on screen. I will warn you that there were a lot of gay moments in the film including quite a few sexual scenes. Even though I was completely fine with watching this I found that the majority of the other people in the cinema with me weren't particularly keen on seeing two men having mad and passionate sex. It seemed like most people were either cringing and turning away from the screen or laughing with embarrassment. If you have no qualms about homosexuality then this is a great film, but if you do, then I really wouldn't recommend it. Although there were a lot of hilarious moments, it wasn't just a silly film where two straight actors play gay men and the very emotional and heart-breaking ending came as a huge shock but it made the film so good. I didn't think this was going to be as good as it actually was and I really did think that it was an excellent film. Certificate rating: 15 Running time: 97 minutes Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
The Vikings on the island of Berk must continuously fight to prevent their village from being destroyed by the fire-breathing dragons that plague the island. Hiccup, a young Viking, dreams of becoming as famous as his father who is the leader of the island and has killed many dragons, but Hiccup is far too small and clumsy to fight and is left indoors while the rest of his friends get to slay dragons. To prove himself to his father and the town, Hiccup takes down the most feared dragon of them all, the Night Fury, but when he finds where it landed, he can't bring himself to kill it. Instead, Hiccup ends up befriending the dragon, who he names Toothless, and he realises that the dragons aren't anything like what the Vikings think they are. ~ Cast ~ Hiccup - Jay Baruchel Stoick - Gerard Butler Gobber - Craig Ferguson Astrid - America Ferrera Snotlout - Jonah Hill Fishlegs - Christopher Mintz-Plasse Tuffnut - T.J. Miller Ruffnut - Kristen Wiig I wasn't originally too bothered about seeing this as the trailers didn't make it look like one of the best animated films ever made but my mum said she thought it was brilliant so I changed my mind and decided to see it. And I was so glad that I did as it was an absolutely brilliant film. The animation was all so good. The Vikings looked exactly as you would imagine them to be - big burly men with long brown beards, gruff Irish voices and all sporting the trade mark helmet with horns on top of their heads. Gerard Butler was a very good choice for the main adult character with his very deep and rough Irish accent, although I did find it quite difficult to relate his ruggedly good looks with the big bearded man I was seeing on screen! The dragons were also great looking with each one being completely different in appearance. There were dragons with two heads, long necks, short and stumpy bodies, spiky backs, sharp and gleaming teeth, all ranging in size from as small as a kitten to as big as a dinosaur and each one being a different colour and shape. When they were trying to fight the humans they looked vicious and mean, breathing fire and baring their teeth, but when they realised that the humans weren't going to hurt them, they seemed to turn into giant friendly cats, rolling around on the floor and enjoying having their backs scratched. Toothless, the main dragon who Hiccup befriends, is supposed to be the scariest dragon of them all, yet he looks so lovely and friendly and will do anything to protect his new human companion. There was a lot of action and adventure in the film and this was made so exciting by the great animation. The fighting scenes between humans and dragons and even just between the dragons was brilliant and so easy to get into. But the best animation by far was when the dragons took off into the air, especially when Hiccup was flying on Toothless. It all looked so real and it actually felt like you were up there with them and seeing everything from their perspective - and I didn't even see it in 3D! I thought the flying scenes were so much better and more exciting even than the flying scenes in Avatar. I thought this was such a great film and enjoyable for both children and adults who will both love the storyline, comedy, animation and adventure in it. I'm so glad that I didn't miss out on seeing this as it really was an excellent film. Certificate rating: PG Running time: 98 minutes Director: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
'You're the bride, babe. You just go right ahead and arrange anything you bloody well want. And I mean anything. I don't care how we get married. All I want is you.' When Rick hints at having sex in the aeroplane toilets, Helen starts to think that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to start sleeping with her boss. And back on solid ground, things only get worse when Rick's demanding and self-obsessed daughter turns up out of the blue and hates Helen on first sight. But when Rick asks her to marry him, Helen can't help but say yes and is glad that she has another chance to be happy again with someone she loves. Amongst planning her wedding, Helen also has the excitement of her sister being pregnant for the first time at the age of 43, even though their friends are determined on warning her against motherhood. And to create a bit of excitement of her own, Helen takes Rick at his word when he tells her she can arrange anything she wants for the wedding. ~ My opinion ~ Having read the first three books in this series, I was quite excited to start this one as I'd got quite into them. And having read the first couple of pages of this book before realising it was actually part of a series, I already knew that just the first couple of pages were great. This time around, Helen eventually finds love in the form of her very demanding and very successful boss, Rick. At first she seems to struggle with the idea of being in a relationship with him even though I couldn't see why as he is a very likeable character who has always been nothing but friendly and a great boss to Helen. It soon begins to become clear though that Helen is probably just scared of getting into another relationship at her age, after her previous 15 year marriage didn't turn out so well. Despite being the same bubbly and friendly character she is in all the other books, Helen seems to be a bit more secretive and less confident now which makes you feel for her as she obviously has trust and self-esteem issues. But Rick is the perfect boyfriend and it's lovely to see them being happy together after following Helen's life since her husband died in the first book. There are a couple of new characters who bring a bit of laughter to the book including Helga, Rick's Russian cleaner who loves her vodka and causes lots of chaos, as well as Lola, Rick's South American daughter who Helen instantly clashes with. All of the other main characters are still around - Leoni, who is still as nasty as ever to her husband; Sara, who hates her new marriage; and Julia, Helen's sister, who is basking in the glow of her new pregnancy, despite Leoni's constant warnings that a life with children is utter hell. Leoni and Sara are by far the funniest characters in the book with their constant moaning and abuse that they throw at their husbands, while Sally and Paul, Helen's gay neighbours, are still as eccentric as ever. This is easily the best book out of the four in the series and I found it so much easier to read and get into than the others, especially the first two. From the very first page, it had me laughing out loud and it really did make me laugh a lot the whole way through. I think this would still be a good read even if you haven't read the previous books, but it will definitely make it more enjoyable if you have as you obviously know the characters a lot better. I loved everything about this book - the characters are brilliant, it's easy to read and get into, and it's so so funny.
In the third book in the Housewife series, Helen is finally finding her feet and getting used to life by herself. With her beautiful home, a job she enjoys, lots of money in the bank, and her friends and family around her, Helen can finally relax and just enjoy her freedom. But all of a sudden, everyone around her seems to be having a crisis of their own and Helen's life is once again thrown into chaos. Organising her best friend Leoni's Christmas and preparing her children for their school play is the first of many difficult tasks on Helen's list. Then her usually sensible and trouble-free sister, Julia, seems to be having a midlife crisis which no one seems to be able to get to the bottom of. And then to top it all off, her boss asks her to arrange his Christmas too. ~ My opinion ~ From the very beginning of this book I already found it a lot more interesting and enjoyable than the first two books in the Housewife series. Alison Penton Harper seems to have upped her game a bit and her writing style seems to get better here making it a very easy book to get into and read and one that you find hard to put down. Even just the cover of the book makes it look a lot better and more modern than the previous two. All of the previous characters are still very much the same but their personalities seem to spring to life a bit more this time round along with the actual story. Leoni, Helen's best friend, seems to get funnier and funnier, with her constant moaning about her husband and the very public death threats she makes towards him. She's the sort of character that says what everyone is thinking but she is the only one who is brash enough to actually say it out loud, and this makes her a very likeable and by far the funniest character. Julia, the one who everyone can usually rely on, seems to go into a spin and she acts quite strangely though the whole book. You don't find out what's really going on with her until the very end and the reasons for her crisis came as quite a shock to me and was definitely not something I was expecting. Rick, Helen's boss, is in this book a lot more than he was in the previous one, and he's a great character to read about. Having worked quite closely together for a while, Helen and Rick get closer and they find themselves getting on quite well and having a nice friendship rather than just a boss/employee relationship. Rosa is the only new character in this book, and she moves in to the flat below Helen and brings a bit of fun and mystery to the story. Helen seems to be getting on quite well now with her life, after her husband died in the first book, with a steady job that she enjoys and her friends and family always around her. This book brings some problems for Helen's friends and family rather than for Helen herself and it's a nice change to see Helen being the one helping others out rather than needing to be helped herself. The first two books weren't brilliant as they didn't have much of a storyline to either of them but this one has a definite direction to go in and was a lot more enjoyable to read. APH has definitely written a much better and much funnier book here and it begins to make the whole Housewife series seem worth it.
"Heaven save us from ourselves. And if you can't manage that, I'd settle for saving me from me." Having recently lost her husband, Helen begins to make a new life for herself with help from her much-loved family and friends. Despite the rapid approach of her fortieth birthday, her gorgeous new flat, new friends, neighbours and boyfriend, and a new feeling of freedom that she hasn't felt in many years, is everything that Helen needs. But when she suddenly begins to have money troubles, the only thing Helen can do to save her herself is to jump back into the employment pool once again. But with no experience, and not having had a job in fifteen years, Helen knows she's going to find it difficult. But the one job she is qualified for is a housewife and when the perfect job comes along, the only thing she needs to get to grips with is the boss from hell. ~ My opinion ~ This is the second book in the House Wife series by Alison Penton Harper and, even though the first wasn't the best chick-lit book I've ever read, I had the whole series at home so ploughed on with this one. This is very similar to the first book where there isn't really that much of a storyline. Helen just seems to plod along with her life not really seeming to go in any particular direction and without any real emphasis on the point to the story. As I said with House Wife Down (the first in the series), as a stand alone book, this isn't such a good read, but when read in the series, especially with the third and fourth books, it becomes a lot better. The plot seems to be focused on Helen finding her own feet after her husband died in the first book. She moves into a new flat, starts to make new friends, gets her first job in years, a new boyfriend, and generally starts to enjoy her freedom and independence, which she never had when Robert was alive. She is as much a likeable character as she was in the first and I felt quite sorry for her because it seemed like she didn't really know what she was doing in life by herself and she seemed to come unstuck quite a bit. There are a few new characters in this book who do add a lot of humour to the already great characters. Rick, Helen's new boss, is a very funny, successful, overweight, cigar-smoking character who has a lot of very strange duties for Helen. Calling her up at ridiculous hours in the morning and asking her to do things that employees really shouldn't have to do is never off the agenda with Rick, but Helen gladly obliges having nothing better to do with her life, apart from sit at home alone watching the soaps with a microwave meal for one. Her duties working for Rick seem very much like a housewife and after being an actual housewife for fifteen years beforehand, Helen knows how to do this perfectly. Salvador (a.k.a Sally) and Paul, a very friendly gay couple, are Helen's new neighbours and they bring a lot of laughter into the book. This book is slightly better than the first but still not as good as the others, although I did enjoy reading the entire series all together. To be honest, this is the book that I remember the least out of the four and, as a book by itself, I don't think I'd recommend it. I would recommend the series though as I did enjoy them and they get better and better and lot funnier with each new book.
For as long as he can remember, John has been angry. Angry at his mother who left when he was a baby; angry at his father who seems to have nothing to say to his only son; and angry at the world in general. Enlisting in the army seemed like the best thing to do, if not as something to focus his anger on, then just as something to do with his life. But, on leave from the army, John meets Savannah, and his dull life immediately changes. After only a couple of weeks together, they both feel a love so strong for each other that they no they will survive a long separation while John finishes his duty in the army and that one day they will end up being married. But when 9/11 comes and John feels the need to re-enlist, everything changes, and they both have to ask themselves whether their love is strong enough to make it through to the end. ~ My opinion ~ Although haven't read the book, The Notebook, I've seen the film and loved it, so when I saw that another of Nicholas Sparks' books was coming out as a film, I knew that I had to read the book first. I was quite excited to start this and had quite high expectations considering how brilliant and popular The Notebook was. Sparks' writing style is absolutely brilliant and from the very first page I was thinking how great his writing is. He writes in this beautiful way that just captures you and makes you unable to look up from what you're reading, and this is the reason that the story is so good. I think if anyone else had tried to write it, it would be nowhere near as good, as he somehow makes everything seem so romantic and graceful. Even the things that aren't at all romantic, he still manages to make them feel it somehow and this made the entire story very moving. The book is written from John's point of view so it's nice and different to get a guy's perspective on things for a change. John is a very easy character to like as, despite his temper and previous mistakes that he's made in his life, he is just too nice a person not to like. You immediately feel sorry for him due to his background with his parents and seeing his not very good relationship develop with his dad through the book, is quite touching to read about. It's easy to see why John immediately falls in love with Savannah as Sparks describes her in a way that makes the readers want more of her too. She doesn't have a huge personality but there's something about her that is quiet, calm, vulnerable and maybe a little mysterious, and this makes her quite an intriguing and very likeable character. To be quite honest, nothing properly major actually happened in the book and John just seemed to be plodding on with his life throughout it. When he meets Savannah, the story does get a lot more interesting as you can feel the connection between them straight away. Every time they met up I was edging for them to take their relationship further which is what made me unable to put the book down. Even waiting for their first kiss was agonising as it didn't happen until quite a way into the book. I was expecting a lot from this book and, although those expectations were met, I didn't think it would go in the direction that it went in and this surprised me quite a bit. Saying that though, the ending was just so lovely and I couldn't help but smile at the strength of their love for each other. This was a very good read and I can't wait to see the film now.
Our house isn't a particularly smelly one (!) but I do like it when I come home to a lovely smelling home and when people come over and I know that they're greeted with a nice smell. So last year I thought I'd try out a couple of these Crystal Air discs from Air Wick as I didn't want anything that cost too much, and I've been using them ever since. These are just small round glass discs which have a coloured scented gel inside. The gel continuously lets off a pleasant scent and the pack says that the smell lasts for 4 weeks. The disc is only very small so it looks perfectly nice wherever you put it. This is one of the reasons I decided to go for this air freshener as it's not big and bulky like some others and it looks very nice. You can either lay it down or stand it up on the flat base at the bottom of the disc and it looks lovely wherever you put it with the wavy coloured gel inside it. These come in quite a few different colours and scents so it's nice that you can buy one that blends in with the colour of the room you're putting it in. The different scents include Berries & Spice, Freesia & Jasmine, Lavender & Camomile, Magnolia & Cherry Blossom, Morning Mist, Mulled Wine, and Vanilla & Festive Spice. I always use the Morning Mist scent for our living room as it's a pale blue colour which matches very well with our colour scheme. I always forget that it's there as it's very small and sits nicely on the shelf next to the sofa. I often find myself thinking what's that nice smell? and then realise that it's coming from the Air Wick disc! The smell of the Morning Mist one is very fresh and welcoming and I love the smell that it gives off as it makes my living room seem much cleaner, fresher and generally nicer. Like most air fresheners these aren't particularly cheap but they are cheaper than most. Each disc costs around £2.30 from most supermarkets but when they last for a month, that's not too bad value. Actually I'm sure I bought my one more than 4 weeks ago and the smell coming out of it is still very strong now so they do last for as longer, if not longer, than they're meant to. The only couple of small disadvantages with it is that it's a continious smell so you can't turn it off and you also can't tell when it's run out apart from when the smell stops working so I guess you'd have to notice that it was no longer giving off any scent before changing it for a new one. I will continue to use these as they create a very pleasant smell in my house and I feel quite proud that my house smells so nice when I have people over. The smell doesn't drift over the entire room but more in the immediate area around it, but it does its job perfectly well in my opinion and I think it's a fab little air freshener.
Based on a true story, Michael Oher is a kind-hearted African-American teenager with not much to his name. He has no home, no idea where his mother is living, no education and only the t-shirt and shorts he wears to call his own. When the Tuohy's, a well-off white family, stumble across him walking alone in the cold streets at night, Leigh Anne, the strict yet generous mother, takes Michael under her wing and into their home. The family help Michael to reach his full potential both at school and in sports, and he soon starts to come out of his shell and begins on the path to making a proper life for himself with his new family. ~ Cast ~ Leigh Anne Tuohy - Sandra Bullock Sean Tuohy - Tim McGraw Michael Oher - Quinton Aaron S.J. Tuohy - Jae Head Collins Tuohy - Lily Collins Coach Burt Cotton - Ray McKinnon Miss Sue - Kathy Bates I was a little hesitant of Sandra Bullock's role in this as it's very different to the usual quirky characters that she plays, but she actually plays her role in this extremely well. Her character is serious, down-to-earth and very sophisticated yet there's also something charming about her because she is so kind and open-hearted, and she did still give her character quite a bit of quirkiness. Bullock won an Oscar for her performance in this and, although I'm not sure it was THAT amazing, she did do a very good job and made the film a lot more enjoyable and interesting. Tim McGraw plays Michael very well too and, although he does look pretty scary and intimidating, he also has a look about him that makes him seem gentle and kind. He reminded me a bit of Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile - this huge bulk of a guy who is actually a lovely person once you get past your initial impressions of them. McGraw does really well with his role and manages to look like a little lost child with no home at the beginning and then a happy but hesitant child when he begins to get things he's never had before, despite not psychically looking at all like that. The other characters are also brilliant and there is something very likeable about all of them. The whole of the Tuohy family are so kind and generous - I mean not many people would let a scarily huge stranger into their house - but the whole family seemed to just accept Oher for who he was and treated him no differently from the very first time they met him. Make sure you don't go rushing out of the cinema as soon as the film's finished as there's a bit at the end which tells you what happened in the character's lives. There's also a short video clip as well as some pictures of the real characters in the film which are lovely to see as they let you know how real the story is and let you know a little bit more about the true people and it brings home the fact that the story is actually a true one. This is a very feel-good film and I remember was that continually smiling almost the entire way through. I came out of the cinema with a smile on my face too as it's just one of those films that manages to do that to you. This is a wonderful true story and a brilliant film. Certificate rating: 12A Running time: 128 minutes Director: John Lee Hancock
"The days I had previously filled with the duties of chief cook and bottle-washer now lay strangely empty and stretched out before me like a blank canvas. I kept looking at it, but couldn't think of anything to paint..." After thirteen years of being Robert's wife, Helen Robbins can't take it anymore. Preparing and sitting through dinners with his boring colleagues, wearing dismal clothes and doing dismal chores, not seeing her own sister because Robert didn't get on with her, and having a women's radio talk station as her only company, Helen drinks all the wine, ruins the dinner and insults Robert about his bad driving in front of his work friends. To prove to her that he is a good driver, Robert agrees to take a driving test only to end up in a fatal accident which leaves Helen without a husband. Not knowing where to begin in the world all by herself, Helen's sister and old friends return into her life and show her how she is much better off in a world without Robert. ~ My opinion ~ I accidentally bought the fourth book in this series without realising that it was actually part of a series. This meant that I had to go out and buy the first three books as I couldn't read the fourth one without reading the others first. Robert, Helen's husband, is only in the book very briefly at the beginning before he has his accident so you don't really see enough of him to actually feel anything for him. From what you do see of him though, he isn't exactly being the nicest man in the world so his death doesn't really effect you at all and you can understand Helen's relief rather than grief when he dies. Although she is upset, Helen obviously feels as if she is finally free and can begin to live life how she wants to. All of the characters in the book are very easy to warm to. Helen, the main character, is a very likeable person and you immediately feel for her because of her husband's death and the fact that she now has to make it by herself when she's never previously been alone before. Her sister, Julia, is a very caring character who is immediately there for her despite them having shared differences in the past and not having seen each other for thirteen years. Leoni, Helen's best friend, is a very quirky and funny character who always seems to have a problem in her life whether it's her irritating husband or her demanding children. Sara, Julia's young assistant, also becomes a good friend and shows Helen how to have some fun again. Although the book was a very enjoyable read, I did find that it was lacking in a few places. I was expecting Helen to go out and start living the single life again but that didn't really happen. There wasn't much fun and excitement in the story and Helen just seemed to plod along with her life not really doing very much. This meant that there wasn't much depth to the actual storyline and the entire book didn't seem to do very much at all. Saying that though, the book had a lovely ending and I couldn't wait to start on the second book in the series. After now having read more of the books (I'm currently on the third), I realise that you really need to read all of the House Wife books to actually enjoy and appreciate them to the full extent. The story simply continues from where it left on in the first book and I found it much better when I continued reading the other books as it created more of a story and better understanding of Helen's life. As a stand-alone book, I don't think this would be such a good read, but if you read the whole series, then it turns into a very enjoyable group of books.
Derek and Sharon Charles are very happy with their new life - newly married, a young son, a successful job for Derek and a new house - nothing could be more perfect. But when the overly friendly and very beautiful Lisa joins Derek's firm as a temp, the Charles' perfect life begins to fall apart. After a misunderstanding at the firm's Christmas party, Lisa seems to get the wrong idea. She believes that she and Derek are meant to be together and she will go to any lengths to have him for herself. ~ Cast ~ Derek Charles - Idris Elba Sharon Charles - Beyoncé Knowles Lisa Sheridan - Ali Larter Ben - Jerry O'Connell I wanted to see this when it first came out at the cinema but the cinema people obviously thought that it wasn't going to be that much of a success as it didn't even come out at my local cinema, so I was really disappointed. So Alex bought me the DVD for Christmas and we've only just got around to watching it over the weekend. I thought that Ali Larter was the best actor in this. From the very beginning, even when she seemed like she was being a perfectly nice and friendly person, there was still something about her that just seemed creepy. There's not really another way to explain it other than that she just made her character seem weird from the very start. Lisa seemed slightly psycho-ish and like a crazy stalker and the way she looked at Derek, even when she first met him, it seemed that something wasn't right with her. I just had a bad feeling about her character the entire way through and I didn't like her character one bit. This is obviously the way you're meant to feel about her as Lisa really is a complete psycho. Beyonce didn't have a huge part in this but her best part by far was when she also turned into a crazy woman and the two women had a huge fight towards the end of the film. It was so funny and entertaining watching this as both of them could obviously fight pretty well but Beyonce seemed to turn into a kind of insane Amazonian woman with her huge curly hair and she looked like a lion about to pounce on her prey! Idris Elba, who played the role of Derek, a man torn between the two women, did pretty well even though maybe he was a little plain in his character. Derek is a lovely character and you immediately like him from the beginning. He's friendly, helpful and funny but the main reason you like him is that, despite being pounced on in a toilet cubicle by a very attractive woman, she doesn't want anything to do with her because he loves his wife. This was the main thing that made me like him and so you can't help but feel sorry for him the whole time with a crazy stalker after him. I found the whole film really entertaining and it had a great storyline that I thought played out really well on screen. I know that this generally got quite bad reviews, as it has on here too, but I actually really enjoyed it. I can't really see much that I can fault in the film to be honest - the plot was interesting, the music and actors kept the pace quite thrilling throughout and I really thought it was a very enjoyable film. Certificate rating: 12A Running time: 108 minutes Director: Steve Shill
Emily Jenkins is dedicated to her job as a social worker and spends her time doing nothing but making sure the children in her cases are safe and happy. When she receives her 39th case she finds out that the parents are trying to kill their 10 year old daughter, Lilith. After a troubling call from Lilith, Emily arrives at her house just in time to stop her crazy parents from killing their daughter and Emily decides to take Lilith in and look after her herself. But soon bad things begin to happen to people around Emily and people she cares about are found dead in the most terrifying ways. Speaking to Lilith's parents who are locked up in a mental hospital, Emily realises that Lilith isn't as sweet and innocent as she makes out to be and case 39 is about to become a whole lot worse. ~ Cast ~ Emily Jenkins - Renée Zellweger Lilith Sullivan - Jodelle Ferland Douglas Ames - Bradley Cooper Detective Mike Barron - Ian McShane Wayne - Adrian Lester Jodelle Ferland, who plays Lilly, the young and very troubled girl, I thought was an excellent actress. She was the perfect person to play the part of Lilith as she looks completely sweet, innocent and angelic but she managed to make herself look evil and malicious just by a simple change in her facial expressions. Her very sweet and high-pitched voice and big sad eyes draw you in and make you think that she's such a lovely little girl. But when she turns into the demon child her sweet voice starts to sound like it's mocking you and the whole innocent persona seems completely fake. She also managed to act and sound like a child one minute and then like an adult the next. I thought that both Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper were slightly strange casts for a thriller movie as they're usually only in rom-coms but they both surprised me and were actually pretty good in this genre of film. You can't help but like Renée Zellweger's character, Emily, as she's caring and kind by taking in a little girl she barely knows. But we don't actually find out that much about Emily so I felt like I couldn't totally warm to her as I didn't know much about her character outside from work. Being a scary film, it did make me jump in quite a few places but this was often when you thought something was about to happen because the music and suspense builds up, but then it turns out to be nothing at all. I didn't feel the usual terror and panic that I often do when watching scary movies and it didn't have me cowering in my seat or grabbing the arm of the person sitting next to me. I kind of knew when the actual scary parts were about to happen as the demon child is constantly around, so it didn't really give the film much suspense. This is an average thriller movie for me - I like something a bit more scary that gets the adrenaline pumping and the heart racing and this wasn't really quite scary enough. For Alex though, who's a complete wimp and hates watching scary films, this was OK for him as it wasn't too scary! I think the storyline is a good one and the acting is all good enough so I would recommend it if you enjoy these types of films, but just don't expect too much from it. Certificate rating: 15 Running time: 110 minutes Director: Christian Alvart