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H. Pierce (UK)
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The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Return of the Geek
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Return of the Geek
by Ben Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously Funny, 20 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Return of the Geek is the second installment of the Joe Cowley blog books. It is written in the same way that Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Tracey Beaker are written; full of funny pictures, font changes, and half-formed thoughts. It is aimed at a slightly older market, as it references slightly more adult themes than the aforementioned books.

Did I mention that it is also a hilariously funny and engaging read? Joe Cowley thinks his Mum is ridiculously emotional, although the poor woman is heavily pregnant with twins. He doesn't like his stepbrother, or that he has to share bunk beds with him. His Nan is going loopy, and his Dad is so uncool that it hurts! Poor Joe Cowley has a lot to deal with, and on top of that, he has a girlfriend! And an enemy who is trying to steal his girlfriend from him!

Young teenagers will definitely find this book enjoyable, but I would be hesitant giving it to anyone who wasn't out of primary school yet, due to the adult themes that crop up throughout. The twisted emotions of first relationships will likely feel very familiar to any young teenager reading this book, and add to the realism of it.

Overall, a very funny read, that the reader just flies through. Highly recommended.


LEGO 41104 Friends Pop Star Dressing Room
LEGO 41104 Friends Pop Star Dressing Room
Price: £20.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Lego Friends Set, 19 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Lego Friends Pop Star Dressing Room is a medium size set. As with all the Lego Friends range, it includes some lovely little extras, that really make it stand out, and adds to the play value. It includes extras such as a sofa, a swivel chair, lipstick, mirror, lots of hair accessories, and fruit. The set also contains two minifigures, Livi and Emma, and Cookie their puppy.

The dressing room, once constructed, has a hinged effect, which allows the child to open and close it. You can also change the layout slightly, by moving the panels around. It comprises of the bedroom, the dressing area, and the walk-in wardrobe - complete with clothes changes! The stickers are always a winner with my daughter, as they really add the finishing touches.

As we have come to expect, the instructions are clear and very easy to follow. My six year old had no issues building this by herself, with no input from me aside from the odd word of encouragement at her progress.

The set can work as a standalone, or as a lovely addition to the Friends family. It fits particularly well alongside the Pop Star Recording Studio, and Tour Bus sets.

Overall, another lovely set from Lego Friends, and a huge thumbs up from my daughter!


LEGO 41103 Friends Pop Star Recording Studio
LEGO 41103 Friends Pop Star Recording Studio
Price: £10.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Lego Friends Set, 19 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Lego Friends Pop Star Recording Studio is a small lego set, of the size that is suitable for a gift for a school friend, if the price is within your range. As with all Lego Friends sets, it contains some lovely little extra pieces, a guitar, headphones, cd, and music sheet. It also includes the minifigure of Olivia, from the friends range.

My six year old found this set as entertaining as usual, although as it is a small set, it did not consume much time to build it. The instructions were as good as we have come to expect from Lego - clear, easy to follow, and colourful.

The Recording Studio fits particularly well with the other Pop Star range, but would equally work as a standalone set.

Overall, another lovely addition to the Lego Friends family.


LEGO Friends 41086: Vet Ambulance
LEGO Friends 41086: Vet Ambulance
Offered by WEG STORE JAPAN. Shipping from Japan
Price: £9.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Lovely Addition To The Lego Friends Family, 16 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Lego Friends Vet Ambulance (41086) is a small lego set of the size suitable for a party gift, or a stocking filler. Ideally, it can be used alongside the Lego Friends Vet Clinic, but is still perfectly usable on its own.

Construction is easy, and the instructions are clear and well presented. The kit includes 'Emma' to add to your Lego Friends group. It also contains a hedgehog figure. which can be 'saved' by Emma, and various little extras, as seen in all Lego Friends sets.

My six year old daughter found that the kit was very easy to assemble, and that it fitted perfectly alongside her other Lego Friends sets. She particularly enjoys these Lego kits, as they add a whole new level to the play value. She loves the attention to detail, like the tiny little bottle that you can use to 'feed' the hedgehog, and the stretcher to carry it back to the vet hospital.

Overall, you can't really go wrong with a set like this. It is simple, sweet, but so much fun.


LEGO Friends 41093: Heartlake Hair Salon
LEGO Friends 41093: Heartlake Hair Salon
Price: £18.24

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Addition To The Lego Friends Collection, 12 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Heartlake Hair Salon is a delightful addition to the Lego Friends collection. It is a medium size set, requiring around an hours build time for an average child, approximately.

This kit comes with two Lego Friends characters - Emma and Natasha. As usual, the girls can change their hair clip accessories, and hair styles, to create a different look. Natasha is dressed for her role as a hairdresser, and has a tiny pair of scissors to use. Emma is evidently her customer

The hair salon itself is a nice design, with a good open back, to allow room for playing with it. Inside the salon, there is lots to do, and plenty of pieces to add detail to the scene, from the brushes to the mirrors. There is a till, hair equipment trolley, etc, and this all brings the salon to life. These little extras are what make Lego Friends such a wonderful creation - children adore the added play value.

As always, the building instructions are easy to follow. Each diagram is colourful and follows a simple building progression. My six year old motored through the instructions with ease.

Overall, I highly recommend the hair salon as a fantastic addition to the Lego Friends collection.


Rock War
Rock War
by Robert Muchamore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start To A New Series, 12 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Rock War (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rock War is the first book in a new series that tells the story of three teenage bands, who are set to do battle on a TV talent show.

The three main characters in the book are Jay, Summer, and Dylan. They are all wildly different, and they are dealing with varying different teenage dramas.

Summer is trying her best to keep her head above water; helping her Nan as best she can. She is very shy, and this could stand in the way of her dreams, until she starts hanging around with Michelle. Jay is very talented at playing guitar, he is also very determined, but he is held back by his own family circumstances. Dylan needs to escape the rugby team, at all costs.

The book tells less of the 'Rock War', which is presumably appearing in a future book of the series, and more of the trials and tribulations faced by the three teenagers. It is a fast-paced read, and one that I think most teenagers would enjoy. It ends mid-story, and cannot really be read as a standalone novel, but I presume that is all part of the marketing plan, to entice the reader to buy future installments. Nonetheless, a good starting point to a new series.


Secrets of the Singer Girls
Secrets of the Singer Girls
by Kate Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Enjoyable Wartime Novel, 12 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Secrets of the Singer Girls tells the tale of a group of women who are working at a factory stitching clothing and bandages for the troops at war. Set in the East End, Kate Thompson manages to create a story full of grit and determination, as this diverse group of ladies are brought together in the most difficult of circumstances.

As the story unfolds you learn more about the main characters, and you grow to appreciate what it must have been like at that time, and in those conditions. There is a fair share of drama throughout, and it reads with an air of true realism. It reminds me of some of the tales my grandmother told me of living through wartime London, so I feel that the author either has called upon her own family history, or she has researched the time and setting well.

Overall, the book is highly enjoyable and makes for a fast-paced read. I would recommend it to all.


Find Me
Find Me
by Laura van den Berg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea - Mildly Disorientating Execution Of It, 11 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Find Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Joy can remember things, minutiae detail that others would forget. This is not your average run-of-the-mill forgetting, but an actual epidemic that has swept through the United States, a terrifying sickness that destroys people's memories, and eventually takes their lives. Joy is immune to the sickness, which makes her a valuable commodity to those battling to find a cure. It also makes her somewhat of a novelty, a specimen to be scrutinised...

Find Me is a two-part novel. In the initial part, Joy is in a hospital, of sorts. It is all rather eerie there, and very troubled. Some patients get ill, and 'disappear'. Others rebel at being kept there. It is strange, and disjointed, and very disorienting.

Meanwhile, in the 'real world', chaos has descended. And this is how Joy finally finds a way of escaping the facility in which she was being kept.

Part two follows Joy on her journey through the wreckage of this disease-ridden ghost of America. She searches for her mother, and she searches for love and acceptance. Joy is anything but joyful; she is lonely and hurting, and doesn't even know who she really wants to be any more.

Part one of the novel was strangely compelling, and part two was quite vague and disorientating. I believe that this is to illustrate the madness that takes hold within Joy, when the mixture of past misfortune, and present day post-apocalyptic America collide. Who can Joy be now anyway? Does any of it even matter now?

The story is a very interesting idea. I found that the second half did not keep me gripped as much as the first, and I didn't feel like my questions were answered by the end of the book. I would still recommend giving it a try, as I am sure that some people will really appreciate the fact that Laura van den Berg has not tied all of the loose ends up. Each to their own, I guess.


Microsoft Lumia 640 5-Inch SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
Microsoft Lumia 640 5-Inch SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
Offered by Timepiece Fashion Inc
Price: £119.33

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes Getting Used To After Android...But A Good Phone Nonetheless., 5 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing I noticed, when I took the phone out of the box, is that it is very lightweight. I also noticed that the backing feels like cheap plastic. It looks like something that will scratch and scuff easily.

The next thing that I noticed was that the phone has a Micro SIM card holder. This is really unnecessary, as screen sizes have got larger, so they could have easily put a normal SIM card holder in place. I had to manually cut my SIM card to fit the device, which poses a risk if you cut if incorrectly.

However, all is not doom and gloom! The Lumia 640 has a nice responsive screen. The resolution is more than adequate for the screen size, and I feel very happy with the quality of this in comparison to my current Samsung S3. The camera is also of good quality, with a fast image taking rate, which is just perfect for images on-the-go; particularly useful with an energetic baby in the house.

Setting up was rather a nuisance. I wanted to download certain apps, but needed to set up a Microsoft account in order to do this. I kept getting error codes, and it took an hour, and several reboots, to finally get the account in order. The app store itself is of no comparison with Google Play, and I am already missing certain apps.I want my Google Plus app, my Yatse media centre app, and my AllPlay speaker app...so it certainly is different to the app selection I have become accustomed to. I can still use my gmail, but when it comes through the Microsoft account, it doesn't mark it as read in my actual google account.

Windows has provided some good features, such as being able to define your sleeping hours whilst allowing punch through. This basically enables your phone to not ring after your chosen bedtime, unless it is a number you have white listed to be able to always call you. So it may be 2am, but you'd always accept a call from your child/parent/etc.

Overall, the phone is a good phone, but if I could have it with Android apps on it I would be much happier. In fact, I would probably give the Lumia 640 a full five stars if I could access greater numbers of apps.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2015 10:32 PM BST


Happy Times in Noisy Village
Happy Times in Noisy Village
by Astrid Lindgren
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Story Collection, 5 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Happy Times in Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren, is a delightful collection of stories about a group of children who live in neighbouring farms. They get up to all sorts of fun, whilst roaming around the countryside together. In this way it is reminiscent of Enid Blyton's works, as there are no worries about letting the children go out and adventure freely. It is evident from early on, that this is set in a much simpler carefree time, as modern parents are much less likely to afford their children such freedom.

Each chapter of the book is a story in it's own right. This makes it ideal for bedtime. My six year old definitely enjoyed reading the book, but was not gripped by it in the same way she is with Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl, for example. I, however, will find it useful for reading to my children, as it is just right for reading aloud.

Overall, a lovely little collection of tales.


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