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Laura Hartley (London)
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Bluetooth Sports Earphones Silicon Wireless Stereo Clip in Ear Headphones with Mic Sweatproof Cycling Running Earbuds for iPhone iPad iPod Touch Galaxy S6 and All Other Bluetooth Enabled Devices - Black
Bluetooth Sports Earphones Silicon Wireless Stereo Clip in Ear Headphones with Mic Sweatproof Cycling Running Earbuds for iPhone iPad iPod Touch Galaxy S6 and All Other Bluetooth Enabled Devices - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Really easy to use - now an essential part of my daily workout., 23 July 2016
These wireless bluetooth headphones arrived promptly in a small box. Inside the box you get the headphones, the charging cable and two different sized ear buds. The earbuds are really easy to change and I have had no problem with them getting stuck or coming lose yet. The charging cable is a USB port so you can charge these pretty much anywhere.

These headphones couldn’t be easier to use, you simply put them on and hold down the power button until you hear a voice say “power on”. Activate the bluetooth on your phone and look for your headphone device, once you are connected you will hear a voice say “connected". Then off you go! When you want to power off, you hold the same button down until you hear “power off”. It really is that simple. The cable connecting the two buds is handy for when you have finished using these and you can simply hang them around your neck.

What’s great about these headphones is that they manage to block out most of the surrounding sound. They are by no means noise cancelling but if you are playing music through them then you shouldn’t be able to hear anything else around you, nor should those around you hear your music.

The battery life of these headphones is really impressive. I have been on numerous long runs and have not had to charge them yet. The standby time of these is supposedly a whopping 240 hours, with the talk time at 6-8 hours. For people using these to exercise, this is great as you should never run out of power mid-workout. For business men, charging these up once a day will keep these going if you are using them constantly.

All in all, I am very happy with my wireless bluetooth headphones. I have always been skeptical about the quality of such a product but now they are essential part of daily workout. These headphones couldn’t be easier to use and I have not had any connection issues so far. I hope that these headphones prove to be durable as they really are handy!

*These earphones were sent to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The 5th Wave: The Last Star (Book 3)
The 5th Wave: The Last Star (Book 3)
by Rick Yancey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting premise but each story gets less and less exciting as the series progresses.., 15 July 2016
The Last Star is the third and final book in The 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey. This is a post-apocalyptic young adult series that follows the lives of various teenagers and their part in the events that follow the five waves of an extraterrestrial invasion.

The premise of the story is that the Earth is being invaded by aliens called The Others. One day a massive spaceship appears in the sky and at first it appears harmless and does nothing. But then the waves of destruction begin. With the first wave, the power goes out. The second is a literal wave, a tsunami. The third wave brought a deadly plague. And the fourth wave brought The Others down to earth – in human bodies. At the beginning of The Last Star, the fifth wave is about to begin.

Whilst Rick Yancey set up a very exciting and unique story back in The 5th Wave, I couldn’t help but feel that The Last Star was a little lacking. The final part of this story takes place over a mere four days and these four days are packed with action, but not much excitement. For me, it felt like there was just more of the same stuff that we’d seen in the previous two novels but with more experienced and hardened characters.

That said, there is one huge plot twist about two thirds of the way in that really made me sit up and pay attention. The problem was that this plot twist, which had the potential to make this story really interesting, wasn’t followed through. It didn’t impact the way this story ended nor did it really come to a close itself. This secret ends up buried with the death of a crucial character but to me that was a thoroughly dissatisfying way to round off that plot line. Yes, it’s interesting that we, the reader, know something that the surviving characters do not and that is always exciting. But without the characters knowing this piece of the puzzle, it sort of made this plot twist completely redundant and it may as well not have been revealed.

The Last Star may not have been as explosive as I wanted, but Yancey gives us a fascinating look into the minds of humans who have had everything taken from them, and what they will do to take their planet back. It really makes you think about how you would change if you lived in a world in which you couldn’t trust anyone. One in which everything you’ve known since birth has been destroyed and most of the people you love are dead. I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Rick Yancey, a few years back and he had some very interesting things to say about what inspired him. You can check out a short video interview with him here.

All three books in this series are told from alternative perspectives but it is in this book that Rick Yancey seems to finally strike a good balance between all the different characters. In the previous books, I often felt like the narratives switched too often between different characters which made it very difficult to get into the minds of each individual. However, by the time we get to The Last Star, enough characters are now dead that this really isn’t a problem anymore. We get a much clearer view of what each character is thinking and feeling and it’s really interesting to compare these characters to those that we met at the beginning of this story. Cassie, Ben, Sam and Ringer are extraordinarily different people now, which is rather disturbing and saddening.

I’ve never felt that this story is for kids and these insights into the minds of the surviving teenagers only reinforces that idea. Yancey’s series is, of course, fiction, but what if it wasn’t? This story fits into the young adult category because of the age of the protagonists but if they were a mere ten years older, I’m sure this story would be considered a hit for adults as well. The things that these ‘children’ do are, quite frankly, horrific, and they may not even be as far-fetched as they first seem. If humanity was turned on itself, I’m sure it would be a bloodbath akin to the one Rick Yancey has written about in his books.

All in all, The Last Star was a bit of a disappointment for me. The 5th Wave is one of my all-time favourite young adult reads and I had high hopes for this series. However, with each new novel, the story got less and less exciting and I didn’t get the explosive ending I wished for. That said, I would still highly recommend this series to people looking for a young adult read, particular the first in the series, as it does really make you think about some important issues related to morality and what it means to be human. The Last Star isn’t bad by any means but Yancey set the bar for himself very high with the first book in this series and unfortunately he didn’t quite manage to keep the momentum going through to the end.

The Good Wife - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
The Good Wife - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julianna Margulies
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Wife Season 1 is a Stunning TV Debut, 10 July 2016
The Good Wife follows the story of Alicia Florrick, wife of the Cook County Illinois State Attorney, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth). Following her husband’s notorious political corruption and sex scandal, which lands Peter in prison, Alicia must work hard to rebuild a life for her and her two teenage children. An old friend, Will Gardner, hires her as a junior associate at his firm, Lockhart and Gardner, where Alicia has 6 months to compete with the younger junior associate, Cary Agos (Matt Czhuchry), for a permanent position.

Each episode follows the same sort of framework: a new case with some sort of home drama on the side. There are some story arcs which run throughout the entire season but each new episode brings fresh drama with it and you’re never sure what you’re going to get next. The legal cases that Alicia works on are hugely varied, which is partly what makes the show so interesting. From divorce to life insurance to murder, all these cases test the moral compasses of the characters involved and there’s always a twist half-way through to throw everything you thought you knew out the window.

Screenshot from Netflix
The protagonist, Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, is the character who really makes the show great. For anyone thinks that Mrs Florrick is, as the title would suggest, merely a ‘good wife’, you could not be further from the truth. Instead of choosing to play the victim after her husband’s scandal, she throws herself in the deep end, reigniting her legal career. This is no mean feat for someone who’s been out of this cut-throat business for over ten years, but she manages to hold her ground.

What I love about this show is that you see so many different sides to Alicia Florrick: the junior associate, the wife, the mother, the lover, the friend. The meek woman you see at her corrupt husband’s side in the first few minutes is not the same woman you see twenty three episodes later. Alicia shows that you can be a lawyer with a heart, but she is by no means soft. Margulies plays this thoroughly intricate character to perfection and I’m intrigued to see how her character will continue to develop in the subsequent seasons.

Although Alicia Florrick is undoubtedly the star of the show, the supporting cast are also an integral part of the series’ success. There are partners Diane and Will; Cary the rival; Kalinda, the side-kick; Zach and Grace, the kids and Peter, the husband, just to name a few. This is by no means a one-woman show. Somehow the writers have managed to weave a story centring on Alicia’s professional and personal life whilst also ensuring that viewer’s understand what makes each and every supporting character tick as well.

Screenshot from Netflix
My only (small) complaint about this show is that the last episode didn’t end on enough of a bang and I must admit, I was a little disappointed. After such a punchy first season, I thought that it could’ve ended with a bit more pazazz. Instead, it ended with some romantic drama but the show is so much more than this. As I said above, this drama tests each player’s strength of character and moral compass, so to end on romantic tension seemed to reduce the show to another namby-pamby US drama, something that it isn’t.

I’m not sure my review has really done this show justice, but to sum up, The Good Wife provides viewers with a multilayered legal drama dealing with exciting cases and family drama. As I said before, I am under no impression that The Good Wife is what the life of a lawyer is really like, but as television dramas go, this one has to be one of the most realistic out there. The Good Wife is far ahead of Suits and How To Get Away With Murder in that respect, the both of which get progressively more ridiculous with each passing season. Nominated for a whopping eight Primetime Emmy Awards, The Good Wife is off to an outstanding start and I cannot wait to get stuck into the next six seasons!

Currently available on Netflix.

Black Arts (The Books of Pandemonium)
Black Arts (The Books of Pandemonium)
by Andrew Prentice
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prentice and Weil set up a fantastically frightening and exciting world, 30 Jun. 2016
Black Arts is the first in the series by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil. Set in Elizabethan England, it follow the story of Jack, a young thief who picks the wrong pocket at the Globe Theatre in London. The city is full of traders, preachers, thieves, and as Jack discovers, demons. An anti-witch fervour has taken over London, led by Nicholas Webb, who wishes to purge the city entirely from devilry and witchcraft. People are falling over themselves to hear him speak and he has created a sort of cult – but Jack hates him. Nicholas Webb killed Jack’s mother so he has his own agenda when roaming the streets. Jack vows to bring Webb down but he’s developed a funny eye, which could either help or hinder him. It allows him to see the demons.

Prentice and Weil manage to create a truly thrilling world in Black Arts through their wonderfully descriptive writing. London really comes alive in their story and they manage to make a place that is already familiar to me, seem quite strange and magical again. A lot of suspense is built up as you try to figure out what is really going on in the city and the motivations of the main characters. There are quite a few different key players in this story and none of them seem to be on the same team really, which forces you to keep reading to find out exactly what’s what. The story isn’t at all predictable and some characters that at first seem insignificant, actually turn out to be pretty important later on, so there are many layers to this story that are unfolded little by little.

I’d say that the target age range of this novel is between around 12 and 17 years old, but having read some other reviews on the internet, it seems that this story is loved by people of all ages and all genders. I would definitely class this as a young adult book, however, there were some scenes which I found quite disturbing, making this suitable for older readers too. Black Arts can be quite spooky at times and is exactly the sort of read I’d like to pick up nearer Halloween. This is perfect for those who like dark and mysterious stories where nobody is really the good guy.

Black Arts is a rather long novel, spanning almost 500 pages, and personally I found this far too long. The story was by no means boring, but I couldn’t help but feel that certain passages could have been removed and it would not have affected the overall story. I struggled in some places and the book took me quite a long time to real as a result but in the end I really enjoyed Black Arts.

All in all, I think Black Arts would make a great novel for fans of fantasy and adventure. This is the sort of book that can give you nightmares so if you’re a fan of the criminal underworld and interested in a story with demons thrown into the mix, then Black Arts is the story for you. This is book #1 in The Books of Pandemonium series and I’ve already got my hands on the second novel, Devil’s Blood, which is released in May 2016 and I can’t wait to read it!

Thanks to David Fickling Books for providing me with a review copy!

Review first published on [...]

Me Before You [DVD]
Me Before You [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sam Claflin
Price: £12.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a dry eye in sight!, 13 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Me Before You [DVD] (DVD)
Fans of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel have been waiting years for the film release of Me Before You but it’s finally here. When people ask me what my favourite book is, Me Before You is always one of the titles mentioned (see review here). I have never read another book that wrenched my heart out the way this story did and I cried for hours after this story finished. It’s the sort of story that leaves you thinking about it for days afterwards and led me to do lots of research about the themes discussed such as paralysis and others I won’t give away. I’d describe it as The Fault in Our Stars for adults, but way, way better.

Me Before You begins when Louisa Clarke is made redundant. Money is tight for her family so she immediately takes herself off to the job centre to find something new to do and rather unexpectedly ends up hired by the wealthy Traynor family to care for their quadriplegic son, Will. At first, things are very difficult with him. Will used to be very successful, wealthy banker before he was involved in a motorbike accident two years prior that left him paralysed from the chest down. He is cynical and bitter but gradually Lou’s cheer and persistence wear him down and Will starts to enjoy parts of life again. Both lives are irrevocably changed by their meeting – but how?

Just one day after release we can see that the critics have given this film a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes but audiences have ranked it at 85%. This is the sort of film that critics were always going to hate on and to be honest, a lot of the points that prominent critics have made are very valid. However, at the end of the day, most people go to the cinema to be entertained and any film that can wrench audiences’ hearts out is well worth a watch in my opinion. There were a few laughs across the cinema throughout the film, but when we left, there wasn’t a dry eye in sight. Actors who can make you both laugh and cry in the same film, sometimes all at once, deserve some sort of recognition in my opinion as it’s no easy feat. Me Before You is both a comedy and a tragedy and somehow both elements fit together very well.

Emilia Clarke’s interpretation of Lou as a cheerful, rather silly, young girl comes across well on the big screen and you can’t help but smile at her constant high spirits. I wish more people like Lou existed in this world as I’m sure the world would be a much happier place. However, I could not write a review of Me Before You without discussing Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows. What’s going on there?! I have never seen more expressive eyebrows in my life. Eyebrows definitely not on fleek in this case. A lot of the emotional scenes were ruined for me because of Emilia Clarke’s excessive facial expressions, which on occasion made me want to laugh out loud. These lapses of over-the-top acting did bother me slightly but do not ruin the overall film, which I suppose is all rather dramatic anyway. It is hard to know whether this is a failing of Emilia Clarke or an attempt to really get into her role as Lou who is thoroughly silly.

In contrast to this, Sam Claflin’s performance as Will Traynor was really excellent. I imagine it is really rather difficult to play a quadriplegic man realistically when you yourself have full control over your own body. Will is a tortured character who struggles massively because his new life is so different to his former one and Claflin conveys this character’s pain to us well. He went from grouchy to cheery to loveable and proved himself to be a very worthy Will Traynor.

To those who have hit out against the film because of the way it portrays disabled people, all I have to say is this is a work of fiction. It is partly inspired by the true story of rugby player Daniel James and is just one scenario for disabled people. I do not believe that Jojo Moyes or the film writers are trying to make any sort of comment on what it’s like to have a disability, this is just one person’s story. If the story had had a happy ending, I’m sure other people would have hit out saying that they’ve made disabled life look far too cushy. There’s just no winning. I personally think it’s a step in the right direction that a major blockbuster featuring a disabled man as the protagonist has been released as it still helps to raise awareness.

All in all, Me Before You is not bad at all as book to film adaptations go, but I can see what the critics complained about. The emotional pull factor aids this film greatly despite its flaws, but the emotional drama still keeps viewers entertained and I didn’t see a single dry eye leaving the cinema. For those who are unsure if they’d like to see this film following critics’ reviews, I’d tell you to ignore the professional critics. No, Me Before You is not going to win an Oscar, but it will have you on the brink of both tears and laughter for almost two hours and it is a simply unforgettable story.

First published on [...]

The Book of Aron
The Book of Aron
by Jim Shepard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunningly accurate and disturbing depiction of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII, 11 Mar. 2016
This review is from: The Book of Aron (Paperback)
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepherd follows the story of a young Jewish boy living in Poland during World War II. As Germany invade Poland, Aron and his family are driven from the countryside to Warsaw, the ghetto, where he is subject to deprivation and disease. He bands together with some other unfortunate children and they work together to smuggle and steal goods to feed their families, trying to stay out of the hands of the Jewish police, or even worse, the Gestapo. When Aron finally loses everything, he is taken in by Janusz Korczak, a renowned advocate of children’s rights, who is in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. But will Aron and the other children manage to escape the atrocities that await the jews during the Nazi regime?

I found it quite hard to get into The Book of Aron at first and this is precisely because it is the book of Aron. Aron is a young, uneducated boy who has little real understanding of what is going on in the world and he lives life day by day. Shepherd delves deep into the mind of Aron and the story is written entirely from his perspective. At first, I found him to be quite an irritating character, as do most of the other characters in the story, but as time goes on you start to see that perhaps he is just misunderstood. His mother struggles a lot during this hard time but she still has some faith in Aron and it is his relationship with his mother that made me reconsider his character. Aron himself could be seen as a symbol of the Jews during this time as he becomes a scapegoat of sorts – used, punished and mistreated, somewhat unfairly.

Reading about all these children who suffered so greatly is not pleasant and this certainly isn’t a happy read. All the characters in this story are well fleshed out and seem like people that could actually exist. As the story is written from Aron’s perspective we only see these characters through these eyes but somehow Shepherd manages to describe all these characters in such a way that you can imagine their entire life story as well. There isn’t a single ‘happy’ character in this book, there are just people learning to carry on whatever life throws at them and I read this story with a heavy heart.

The Book of Aron really was excellent, however, I almost felt like I was reading a work of non-fiction, rather than a children’s story. This is testament to just how incredible Shepherd’s writing is but it isn’t quite what I look for in a book I read for pleasure. This is the sort of book I can imagine being studied in schools; it is an important novel and should be widely read, but only if you are in the right frame of mind for such a book. If you have an interest in the subject and would like to learn something new then I would 100% recommend this for you or your child, but if you are looking for something to entertain you for a few hours then I would look elsewhere.

I would highly recommend buying the latest edition published by Quercus because it contains supplementary information at the back that really enhanced my understanding of the book. When I finished reading the book, I thought Shepherd had written a great depiction of the Warsaw ghetto, but it was not until I’d read the truth behind the story, detailed in these supplementary passages, that I really felt touched. Some characters in the book are based on real characters and Shepherd did a great deal of research before writing this story. Knowing that some elements of this book are true made this book hard to read at times as the depiction of the lives of the Jews is so horribly accurate and the endnotes only heighten this feeling of sheer horror.

*I was sent a complimentary copy for review. All opinions are my own.

He Named Me Malala [DVD] [2015]
He Named Me Malala [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Davis Guggenheim
Price: £10.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning documentary about a very brave girl, 6 Mar. 2016
He Named Me Malala is the moving true story of a teenage girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for advocating women’s education. Malala Yousafzai is an exceptional young girl and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, becoming the youngest Nobel Peace laureate ever. She is a human rights activist, fighting for women everywhere to be given access to a good education and continues to speak at major international events relating to these issues. She has met with world leaders from all over the globe and released a book about her story in 2013.

The documentary starts off with a bit of backstory to Malala’s name. Weirdly, Malala was actually named after a woman named Malalai of Maiwand who was a warrior from from Afghanistan that died for her cause so it’s almost as if she were destined to do great things from birth. He Named me Malala is very well made mixing interviews with Malala’s family with anecdotes from her life as well as factual information about the attack made on her and all the good things she has done in this world. There are moments of happiness mixed with scenes that depict that harsh reality of her terrible plight. Sometimes Malala is in front of the camera, sometimes she has voiced over scenes and there are these beautiful animated sequences throughout that help to illustrate what they could not get footage of. The accompanying music is also lovely and adds an extra layer of poignancy to this extraordinary tale. It is not until the very end of the documentary that Malala really addresses how much she has suffered in her life. She does not speak openly about the hardships she has had to overcome and is a very positive young lady, which is astounding, given how much she has been through.

Malala is a very funny, very genuine young girl. It is so easy to forget that she is only 18 years old today and she has already been through, and achieved, so much. This documentary lets you see a side of Malala that you cannot get from her political speeches or her book. I’m sure people who already know her story have been wondering what this girl’s character is really like and what sort of person she is, and I think they’d be surprised at the answer. It’s heartwarming to see that the girl that stood up to the Taliban is still an ordinary teenager at heart, a girl who goes to school, loves to read and sees her friends. It was really sad, however, to hear Malala say that she does not yet believe that she fits in in Britain. She finds it difficult at school and is uncertain as to whether her classmates are interested in her story or passionate about the same things as her. We must not forget that Malala grew up in a culture very different to the one that we are accustomed to and how difficult it must have been for her and her family to be uprooted and start a new life in the UK. There is nothing about her story that isn’t inspirational and the more I found out about this teenage girl, the more impressed I became.

He Named Me Malala gives us an inside look into Malala’s life and home, from Pakistan all the way to Birmingham. The camera captures Malala interacting with her family as she would normally and you see the squabbles, the inside jokes and her relationship with her father. The latter is the most moving part of this documentary. Malala’s relationship with her father is proof that good parenting is of vital importance to a young person’s development and Malala certainly wouldn’t be the amazing young girl she is today without the love, support and guidance of her father. He too is a political activist, speaking freely about what he blieves in despite the risks. However, Malala emphasises that she chose her own life, her father did not choose it for her, but it is evident that she has been greatly influenced and inspired by him.

All in all this a fantastic documentary that exceeded my expectations by far. I thought this would be a very factual documentary that was more informative than moving, but it is impossible not to be touched by Malala’s story. She is a truly inspirational young girl and a true role model for girls today. She stood up for what she believed in and when punished for it, she stood back on and kept on fighting. When I first started university, I paid big money to be a part of The Oxford Union which welcomes influential speakers from all over the world to speak and I sincerely regret to going to see Malala’s talk when she visited Oxford. This girl is two year’s younger than me and has suffered and overcome more than I probably ever will in my entire lifetime. Malala continues to be an activist for women’s education and will no doubt go on to do many other great things over the years to come.

These Days Are Ours
These Days Are Ours
by Michelle Haimoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries to fuse Gossip Girl and Girls but ultimately falls short, 28 Feb. 2016
This review is from: These Days Are Ours (Paperback)
These Days Are Ours is a coming of age drama about Hailey, a recent graduate who is living at home with her parents (in their Fifth Avenue penthouse), trying to find a job and figure her life out. It is set in New York, six months after the 9/11 attacks . Of course her friends all seem to have their lives sorted out with Katie working at Morgan Stanley, Randy and Jess partying all night long – but Hailey is looking for more than that. She’s sure that Michael Brenner is the one for her but it doesn’t seem to be working out, so when Adrian, a recent Brown graduate, comes along, she begins to realise that there is a life outside of the privileged circle she has been sheltered in her entire life.

Although These Days Are Ours has a very fun and colourful cover, the story inside is anything but. I thought this would be a fun summer read, but in actual fact I don’t think I smiled at all whilst reading this story. It’s actually more about the disenchantment felt by privileged youngsters in New York, and the lack of motivation after a major terrorist attack. I suppose Haimoff succeeded in capturing those things because I felt ‘disenchanted’ pretty much the whole way through. There isn’t much of a story to this novel; it’s a snapshot of Hailey’s life as she tries to figure out who she really is without her parent’s names and what she wants in life. Whilst her opinions on life and the world develop for the better over the course of the novel, I wouldn’t say that there’s a whole lot more to this story.

I think this story tried to emulate that “Gossip Girl” and “Girls” vibe, but unfortunately fell short of it by quite a way. The protagonist is not the most likeable of characters, which makes the book very difficult to get into. She’s not exactly dislikable and I mostly agree with her outlook on things, she also wasn’t the most interesting of people. I’m unsure as to whether we were supposed to sympathise with Hailey but personally the story of a rich girl complaining about how she’s going to carve her own story if she carries Daddy’s surname, is not one that is going to get any from me. This, I think, is the biggest problem with the book. The way it talks about the elite is in a way that makes it seem completely inaccessible to your average reader. Of course, something like Gossip Girl is also about insanely rich youngsters in New York, but most people found their story incredibly interesting and started rooting for different characters. There’s none of that in These Days Are Ours.

What’s more, the synopsis indicated to me that there would be a fair amount of romance in this story, but if you think that’s what you’re going to get – you would be wrong. I got the impression that this book would be centered around Hailey and her choosing between two very different guys and learning a lot through these experiences but I found myself disappointed. Adrian and Hailey only really have any interesting conversations in the last fifty pages of the story.

I can’t help but feel that this story was a little out of place in being published in 2012. The events of 9/11 were long in the past by this stage and as someone who was quite young at the time of these events and not a New Yorker, it was a little hard to picture what it was like for these people. The sentiments of these individuals were not explained properly thus to an ‘outsider’ like me there was probably a lot of meaning lost. I think it would be very interesting to come back to These Days Are Ours after the Paris attacks in October 2015 as I think I would be able to relate to the story a lot more, however, as most people have never truly been involved in a terrorist attack, I think this story will alienate a lot of readers.

Whilst there are some interesting parts but this book isn’t anything spectacular. In this case, really don’t judge the book by this cover because this book is neither bright and happy, nor any good. The characters are dull, there’s not much of a plot and this book only makes you dislike the elite even more.

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Yamuna' Exercise Mat Extra Thick and Soft - Perfect for Pilates Exercise, Yoga - Size: 72 x 24 x 1.5 cm/Available in Various Colours. Green green Size:186 x 61 x 1,5cm
Yamuna' Exercise Mat Extra Thick and Soft - Perfect for Pilates Exercise, Yoga - Size: 72 x 24 x 1.5 cm/Available in Various Colours. Green green Size:186 x 61 x 1,5cm

5.0 out of 5 stars A thicker mat that relieves pressure when practicing yoga, 4 Feb. 2016
I must admit that when I initially received this product, I was surprised at the thickness of it. At 1.5cm thick, this mat is significantly thicker than most other yoga mats on the market and my first thought was that the extra thickness was completely unnecessary. However, having used this mat a few times now, I now think that the thicker the mat the better. The extra-thick foam relieves a lot of the pressure that often builds up in your hands and feet whilst practicing yoga and generally makes the whole experience a lot more pleasant. When lying on your back, you feel very comfortable as you sink back into the mat, as opposed to the hard floor underneath. I imagine this mat will suit the elderly or those who are a little more fragile as it takes the pressure out of yoga.

As the mat is much thicker this does make transportation a little more inconvenient but this mat comes with straps so you can wrap your mat up as tight as possible. The mat is not hugely wide so you won’t find yourself carrying a huge roll.

The thickness of the mat also means it is very durable. If you’re looking for a yoga mat that will last for a long time and remain free from any accidental rips then this is the mat for you. Unfortunately the #DoYourFitness logo has started to rub off my mat now, though I think that was to be expected after much use and this doesn’t really bother me.

All in all, I’d highly recommend this mat for those that find pressure building up in the joints whilst practicing yoga. This mat is soft and foamy and lets you sink into the mat instead of pressing into the hard floor. It gives a slightly different yoga experience, so it will come down to personal preference but personally I found this mat perfect for practicing yoga.

*I received this product to review. All opinions are my own.

Red Queen
Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Red Queen is the latest young adult craze not to be missed!, 16 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Red Queen (Paperback)
Red Queen, one of the most hyped books of 2015, still indeed in 2016, is undoubtedly the newest craze in the world of young adult literature. First published on the 10th February 2015, this book is still making waves on bookstagram and still drawing in new readers and rereaders. I absolutely hate hyped books, afraid to read them in case they fail to live up to expectations, but also afraid to miss out on something great. In the case of Red Queen, I regret to say that I missed out on something great.

Victoria Aveyard has created a world in which people are divided by their blood. Reds are seen as commoners and the Silvers rule. The latter are also born with superpowers, thus equality is nonexistent and most believe that it will remain that way forever. The story centres around Mare, a Red girl who is given the chance to work as a servant in the Silver Palace, but what at first seems like a great opportunity, turns into something of a nightMare (sorry, couldn't resist). It turns out that Mare is no ordinary Red. She has powers too, powers that the Silvers are very afraid of and confused about. Mare's powers threaten to upset the balance of power in the Kingdom as a mutation in her blood has given her the same, if not more powerful, superpowers than the Silvers. Panicked, the Silvers turn her into a long-lost Silver princess, hiding her true heritage, but keeping her where they can see her. Mare soon discovers the Scarlet Guard, a militant resistance group, and secretly joins them in their fight against the Silvers. Without knowing who she can really trust, Mare navigates the dangerous world of the Silvers, desperate to stay alive, but also desperate to bring down the Silver regime.

Red Queen has all the elements of a fantastic story, but what is most impressive about Aveyard's storytelling is her ability to sustain the reader's interest and the action throughout the entirety of her novel. You are drawn into the story of Reds and Silvers from the very beginning and plot twists and surprises await you in every chapter.

There are no flat characters in this story and I found myself with strong feelings (whether love or hate) about each and every character, big or small. Although Mare is undoubtedly the protagonist there are countless other very important characters who are all very distinct in my mind and are all very well fleshed out. Every character in this story has a role to play and there are no moments when I thought that the author had included superfluous information for the sake of it.

There are elements of romance in this book but it is nowhere near as prominent as I thought it would be. I really liked this as it meant that characters were motivated by their own beliefs and passions, rather than just love. That is not to say that Aveyard doesn't clearly set up a romance that will no doubt be of greater significance in the future. There are many threads in Red Queen that remain unresolved at the end of this book but not in a way that you feel that you have been cheated out of a proper ending. Instead, it leaves you hungry for more of this story.

From the get go this book had me gripped and I was convinced that it was soon to become one of my favourite YA series; however, one hundred pages from the end, disaster struck. Aveyard seemed to be taking the story in a direction that many other YA series have done before and I was disappointed that she had decided to use a worn out story line that I'd read countless times before. I was immediately saddened that so close to the end of this wonderful book, it had let me down, but fast forward another thirty pages and I was even more surprised. Aveyard ends this book with plot twist after plot twist and despite the fact that not all of these were entirely unforeseeable, they were excellently timed and excellently executed. My faith in both Victoria Aveyard and Red Queen was restored, and I teared my way to the end of this book.

Red Queen presents a completely new world to readers and combines interesting characters, a fast-paced plot and great storytelling. Whilst there are some elements of Red Queen that reminded me of bits from various other young adult series, I would still say that this story is unique and has never been told before. Red Queen does not just set scene for the rest of this series but it also jam packed with its own action. For people that are afraid to pick this book up because of all the hype surrounding it, do not fear, because Red Queen will most certainly not disappoint.

The sequel, Glass Sword, is released in February 2016. A novella, Cruel Crown, is already available.

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