Shop now Shop now Shop now Up to 50% off Fashion Prime Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Fireworks GNO Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Bundle for Kids Listen in Prime Shop Now Shop now
Profile for Laura Hartley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Laura Hartley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 676
Helpful Votes: 1074

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Laura Hartley (London)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
Luckiest Girl Alive
Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparing this to Gone Girl was a marketing error but this is very good nonetheless, 6 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Luckiest Girl Alive (Hardcover)
Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of quite the opposite – TifAni FaNelli had a rough start in life to say the least. When we are first introduced to her, she is planning her wedding to a rich blue-bood, working at a top women’s magazine in New York and she seems like she’s living the dream life. However, it soon becomes apparent that that is not the case at all. Ani doesn’t come from a wealthy or prestigious family but is born to an incredibly ambitious mother. Ani gains a scholarship to a top private school but things aren’t at all plain sailing. Ani is hiding demons from the past but they’re about to be brought to the surface again in a new documentary about her school. Ani finally has the chance to share her side of the story to a shocking incidence that took place when she was a teenager but it could cause everything that she has built for herself since to crumble down.

Ani (pronounced Ah-nee) is quite a character. On the surface it looks like she has it all but her bitchy internal monologue make it apparent that she’s something quite different on the inside. At first you think she’ll a superficial bitch, then you’ll read more about her and realise that she’s actually quite vulnerable, but then you keep reading and you start to get confused as to whether she’s actually still just a superficial bitch. She’s a tough character to figure out and I’m sure everyone who’s read the book will have slightly different opinions on her but I personally thought she was an awful character. She went through something traumatic as a child and I appreciate that her adult life was shaped by brutal things that happened to her when she was young but I just couldn’t get over how manipulative and self-absorbed she was. TifAni isn’t a likeable character in the slightest. She’s not the sort of character you’re supposed to like but neither are any of the other characters to be honest. This meant it was a little difficult to connect with the characters and I felt a little distanced from the story. That said, they were all still interesting to read about, but this book really needed a strong plot to carry it through to make up for the lack of character connection and it fell (slightly) short.

I read Luckiest Girl Alive pretty quickly because I was desperate to find out what the big twist in the story would be. However, as page after page went by, I started to think that maybe there wasn’t such a big twist and that I’d already gone past it. This is when the disappointment started to sink in. I was still interested to see where the story ended up but it was evident that I had been misled into thinking this was next Gone Girl. This, in my opinion, is the main problem with this story as the comparison to Gone Girl prepares the reader for the most disturbing of thriller’s and unfortunately that’s not what Luckiest Girl Alive is. There are undoubtedly similarities between Amy Dunne and TifAni Fanelli but TifAni has her own story to tell and thinking that this is going to be the next Gone Girl caused me to be a little disappointed in this book.

In conclusion, Luckiest Girl Alive is a great debut novel, but thinking that this is the next Gone Girl will only leave you disappointed. If you manage to stave away from all that marketing that I’m sure you’ll find the story gripping and exciting. I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘big secret’ was in all honesty. There were a few shocking revelations but once you’ve got into the story and the sort of vibe Jessica Knowles has created then you have an idea of what to expect. There was no one big secret for me and the anticipation for this is what kept me reading, but is also what meant I was disappointed when I finished. There are some disturbing scenes such as bullying, rape and violence these hit you hard so this book definitely isn’t for everyone but if you like a strong female lead (albeit a hated one), and an intriguing story then this is the book for you.

Thank you to Simon Books for sending me a complimentary review copy.

by Rainbow Rowell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as great as I was expecting, 19 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell. One of the most hyped books of 2013, and was it worth it? Worth the read? Definitely yes. Worth all the hype? Probably not. Fangirl is the story of Cath who’s moving away from home and going to college with her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren (Catherine, geddit?) have been inseparable since birth, sharing a room and doing absolutely everything together. Where Wren goes – Cath goes. They’ve always been a package deal, but that’s all about to change. Although they’re off to the same college, Wren decided it was time to spend some time apart and is sharing a room with a complete stranger, forcing Cath to do the same. Cath is a massive nerd. She loves Simon Snow (ahem, Harry Potter), and spent most of her high school years writing fan fiction under the name ‘Magicath’. Being at college doesn’t change that and Cath refuses to let go of her Simon Snow obsession. Wren has always been the sociable twin, with Cath preferring to curl up in her bedroom reading books and writing fanfic but whilst she desperately tries to resist growing up at college, of course, a boy comes along to change that. Fangirl is the story of Cath growing up and settling into her first year of college – navigating new friends, new relationships and a new environment.

Cath is probably a pretty accurate description of most people reading Fangirl (or at least what fangirls claim to be like). She’d rather be alone in her room, reading a good book, than making out with guys and getting drunk at frat parties. She likes having her own personal space and doesn’t like it when people she’s not familiar with encroach on it, so having a stranger as a roommate in college is an issue for her. Cath evidently suffers from social anxiety and the description of this seems pretty spot on and gives a great insight into the minds of those that we perceive to be ‘anti-social’. The problem with this is that it really slowed the plot down and not a lot happened for the first part of the book. I found it really hard to get into because there weren’t really any major developments and I was expecting this to be a ‘plot’ book. This book really is all about Cath and as a coming of age drama, I think this book has hit the nail on the head. I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to Cath which is why this book is so popular, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get over the slow pace and Cath’s character development wasn’t enough for me.
Of course, there is some romance in Fangirl, but this (surprisingly) isn’t the main event. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the young girl’s sole was not to find a boyfriend and have her first kiss. Of course, lots of these exist, but there are many more that don’t. Cath is trying to figure out everything in Fangirl, boys is just one of the things on a long list of developments and whilst the relationship between Levi and Cath is adorable, it’s more about how Cath develops as a result of this.

Friendship is an equally large theme in this story as Cath is almost as completely new to making friends as she is to talking to boys. Cath’s relationship with her roommate is a funny one, but it felt genuine. I find stories in which two girl roommates immediately become best friends incredibly annoying and unrealistic. I had a roommate last year, someone who I was already friends with, and I still found the first two weeks of living with him incredibly difficult and weird. The relationship between Cath and Reagan, her roommate, develops slowly and to be honest you’re never really sure whether they’re going to become best friends or enemies. Reagan really helps Cath come out of her shell and their relationship demonstrates the power of true friends.
All in all, Fangirl was a great read, but the internet prepared me for an incredible read and unfortunately, that’s not what I found. It is undoubtedly a great read for those who are currently going through change as themes such as moving away from home, trying to navigate college, making new friends etc. are discussed. I think it was the slow pace that really brought this book down in my opinion, but for others that might not be a problem. There were some bits that I really enjoyed and sped through, but there were also a lot of passages in which I felt myself becoming disinterested. This book is really about character development, rather than plot development and evidently at the time of reading this, I was looking for something a bit more exciting. This book fell short of my expectations, but I can certainly see why so many other people were such big fans of it. I’d highly recommend Fangirl to young girls who are still at an age where they’re trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and, of course, to fangirls.

Check out more reviews on:

Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry
Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry
by Amy Odell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh and funny insight into the fashion industry, 1 Sept. 2015
I couldn’t have been more excited when I received an email asking me if I’d like to review Tales From the Back Row, a book written by’s editor, Amy Odell. This book is a first hand account of how Amy rose from being the party reporter for New York Magazine to the editor of the largest community of women online.

The book is split into several snappy chapters detailing the different stages of her ascent and the people she met at each one. It starts with Bloggers, which as a blogger myself, I found incredibly interesting. After Bloggers, we move onto Trendsetters where we learn about Amy’s hilarious antics when it comes to figuring out high fashion; then Designers where she reveals what happens when you write snarky pieces about important people. Next up we’ve got Celebrities, including anecdotes from her interactions with people such as Sarah Jessica Parker; and Editors, where she talks about her interview with the one and only Anna Wintour. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to be interviewed by her. The next chapter is Models, where Amy talks about the infamous Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and her interaction with the ‘angels’. Then, it’s Everybody Else where she talks about some shoots she’s been featured in and then finally, You and Me, where she talks about what it’s like to find a wedding dress, probably the most important item in any woman’s wardrobe. As you can see, there’s a heck of a lot of content for one small book, and there’s even a quick recap at the end with 10 tips for people who want to work in fashion.

Now onto what I thought…

In general ‘tell all’ and non-fiction books about various industries, particularly the fashion industry, tend to be clichéd and rarely offer readers anything they haven’t heard or seen before – but not Tales From The Back Row. Amy Odell’s book is fresh and funny, very funny. I had seen a few reviews of this book around so I had high hopes for this book before I even sat down to read it, but this book was even better than I thought it would be. It’s rare that book that is ‘hyped’ actually ends up exceeding expectations but she’s only gone and done it…

Odell continuously reminds us throughout the book that she is not part of the world of high fashion and whilst I wouldn’t agree that she is completely an ‘outsider’, she does have a real human touch that (stereotypically) those in fashion don’t. She’s not afraid to admit that whilst she loves fashion, working at a place like Vogue and dressing in pricey designer clothes everyday isn’t for her and that’s a great thing. She’s not the sort of writer than reviews everything thrown at her favorably and I guess that’s what great about this book, because the same applies to her stories about the media and the fashion industry. Certain anecdotes she’s used don’t portray certain big names in the best light, but she was honest enough to include them and it’s great that she didn’t just fluff over these bits.

Of course, there are also stories about fantastic opportunities Amy has been fortunate enough to have thrown her way in this industry. She’s honest about the good things and the bad, talking about getting drunk with Chelsea Handler in between shopping for wedding dresses as well as getting beaten down by Harvey Weinstein. Whilst the fashion industry makes everything look effortless, everyone knows that it’s anything but, however it’s rare that someone really unpicks what goes on behind the scenes. If you want to know about the ups and all the downs you need to go through to get to the ups of the fashion industry, then this is the book for you.

What really comes across in the book is how hard Amy worked to get where she is today. This isn’t because Amy toots her own horn and goes on and on about how hard she’s working, it’s just something that becomes evident through her stories, her anecdotes, her thoughts and feelings. A career in fashion has never been a particular desire of mine and having read Amy’s account I’m even more sure that it’s not the right path for me. That’s not at all because the things she said were horrifying or anything like that, but simply because reading her personal account and her motivations made me realise that I, personally, don’t have the same aspirations, but others may feel differently. This is an absolute must-read for those interested in a career in fashion as it’s probably the most truthful account you’ll find out there.

Tales From The Back Row is the sort of story you can pick up and put down without losing track of what’s going on, but I’d be surprised if you found yourself wanting to put it down. It’s a fairly quick read, one that you could definitely make it through on a lazy Sunday, and yet there are so many stories packed into it. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more about how she landed her jobs at Buzzfeed and The focus of the book is how Amy garnered a sufficient amount of success to really get the ball rolling but it’s a little sketchy on the details of her career once she’d ‘made it’. I would’ve loved to have heard more stories about life at Cosmo etc. but perhaps that’s for another day and another book! (Tales From the Front Row anyone? *wink wink* Amy).

First seen on

Laundrapp - On Demand Dry Cleaning & Laundry (Greater London, Birmingham & Edinburgh)
Laundrapp - On Demand Dry Cleaning & Laundry (Greater London, Birmingham & Edinburgh)
Price: 0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “The Future of Laundry & Dry Cleaning Starts Here“, 10 Aug. 2015
I’m sure that many of you out there, just like me, hate doing your laundry. I bet you want someone else to do it for you (probably your mum), and now that Laundrapp exists, you don’t have to. Laundrapp is a laundry service that collects and delivers your laundry for you. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

So how does Laundrapp work?
First you’ve got to figure out whether you actually live in the right area. Laundrapp currently only operates in London, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Simply enter your postcode on their website to see if you are eligible. If you are lucky enough to live in an area in which they operate, then it’s really very simple. You download the app to your smartphone, pick which items you want to be washed, pick a time for your dirty to laundry to be picked up from your house, and then pick a time for your clean laundry to be delivery back to you. It really is as simple as that.

Who is it aimed at?
Laundrapp is aimed at those who either can’t be bothered to do their laundry, or those that simply don’t have the time i.e. students, businessmen/women, or people who are just plain lazy.

What do they offer?
Laundrapp offers numerous different services and packages to suit a range of laundry-needs. For general laundry, you can get a bag (up to 8kg!), washed at 30 degrees, tumble dried and delivered back to you, all for 15. Laundrapp are very specific about the sort of care that they give to different items of clothing and different material so you’ll find there’s even different categories for a dress, a dress with trim, a silk dress, a skirt, a skirt with trim and a silk skirt. Pretty much every other type of clothing is also categorised in this incredibly specific manner so you can rest assured that Laundrapp know what they’re doing with your more valuable pieces. They even offer to clean tea towels, table cloths, all sorts of bed linen, dressing gowns, towels, bath mats – they’ve really thought of everything!

When will they collect/deliver?
Laundrapp collects and delivers at a time to suit you! They are available at anytime between 12pm and 11pm at night and you pick a 1 hour slot in which you want them to deliver. If the slots already been taken, it will be greyed out, but usually there’s still a few good spots left each day.

How much does it cost?
At first I thought Laundrapp was incredibly expensive, particularly if you’re a student. However, once you take into account the service that you are paying for, it seems much more reasonable. What’s more, I compared the price of Laundrapp to the laundry service offered by my boyfriend’s company, and Laundrapp actually came out cheaper by a few pounds! For example, you can get 5 shirts iron and hung for 10 or two dresses for 18. Please note, there is a minimum order of 15.

My experience with Laundrapp
1. I put an order through to Laundrapp through my phone (normal shirt, dress shirt, dinner jacket). I arrange for the laundry to be picked up from me at 11pm on Monday night and delivered back at 10pm Wednesday night.
2. At man arrives at 11pm on the dot on Monday with a bag for me to put my laundry in and then off he goes with my dirty clothes.
3. At 9:55pm on Wednesday evening, I receive a text saying that the delivery man is running 5 minutes late. At 10:01pm he arrives at my door, clean laundry all on hangers and wrapped in Laundrapp bags. Hardly late and very apologetic. In fact, I am actually the one that is late, but the Laundrapp man is patiently waiting at my door when I arrive a few minutes after him. There’s a summary of my order attached to one of the hangers and the items that have been cleaned have been ticked off.
4. The Laundrapp man goes on his way and I am left with clean, folded and ironed laundry. The port stain on my white shirt is gone and I have clean work clothes without having done… anything!

Final thoughts?
I’m going to give this company an extra special shoutout for cleaning a bow-tie free of charge because it had hidden itself away in the suit jacket’s pocket. Thanks for saving me a fiver! It also got its own hanger and bag!! My only concern with Laundrapp is that it may be out of the price range of the average student and would probably suit young workers more. However, I don’t think this will deter the laziest of students from giving it a try. The service was pretty much perfect with nice people, punctual deliveries and nicely folded clothing – I’m not sure what more you could want more a laundry service such as this.

How can I get the app?
Download the app to your Apple iPhone here. Alternatively it can be found on Google Play and Amazon Apps.

*A voucher was provided by Laundrapp so that I could write this review. All opinions are my own.

How to be both
How to be both
by Ali Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Requires a lot of effort on the part of the reader, 27 July 2015
This review is from: How to be both (Paperback)
There are two editions of How To Be Both: one with George's part first, and the other with Francesco del Cosso's part first. I was fortunate enough to have George's part first, and thank god I did. I'm not 100% sure I would have even continued reading this book from start to finish if I had started with del Cosso's narrative. In George's narrative we learn about her life in Cambridge with her father and younger brother after the devastating death of her mother. George's father chooses to deal with the pain by drinking away his sorrows and so George is left to deal with her sense of loss and grief, and that of her brother's, by herself and predictably she finds herself lonely and confused. The other half of the book follows del Cosso, a painter in the 1460s who is desperately trying to get his work recognized - but del Cosso has a secret, and not all is as it seems.

The two stories might seem completely unrelated, but Ali Smith knits the two together with some very clever crafting. We move backwards and forwards through time in this novel as a whole and in the individual's narrative so we see del Cosso's paintings in a museum in George's world, but George is also becomes a part of del Cosso's world in the 15th century. This book is all about how everything is both one thing and another and this movement through time demonstrates how time means both nothing and everything. For example, George's mother is both constantly present, and yet never present and this is something that poor George has to learn to cope with.

I really enjoyed George's part of the story - she's a character that you grow to love and you feel a deep sense of sympathy for her. She's feisty and strong-willed, even in her grief, and she's a great female lead. del Cosso's part was far less interesting in my opinion and I often found myself incredibly bored. The writing doesn't have much structure and I found myself swimming in a load of words that had no meaning to me. This was incredibly disappointing and really ruined the story for me. His narrative wasn't all bad, of course there were also some very intriguing passages and many interesting questions were raised but the frequent lapses into (what I thought were) incomprehensible passages makes it quite hard work getting through his half of the story.

Whilst the point of releasing these two editions was to reinforce the fact that this book can be read it either order and that both ways are fine, I would have to disagree with this strongly. George's part of the story really sets the story up and explains how the two different stories fit together. Yes, the two stories are linked in such a way that both of them regularly make references to the other half of the story; however, to begin reading del Cosso's part would put the reader at a huge disadvantage and leave a lot more questions unanswered. Any mention of George and her life would have very little meaning in del Cosso's part if you did not already know a bit about her situation. No matter which way round your edition of this book is, I think it would be a good idea to read the first half, then the second half, then the first half again, to truly understand all the links between the two novels and pick up anything that you may have missed the first time.

This is an unconventional story that requires a lot of effort on the part of the reader in order for them to really enjoy it. Through the movement in time, many interesting questions are raised about identity, gender, sexuality, friendship, morality - lots of hard hitting topics that can really be quite mind boggling if you're not paying attention. I can imagine this being studied in schools or literary book groups, but I think for the average reader, this might be a bit too stylistic. If you're not willing to commit to this book, you're not going to get the full experience and you probably won't enjoy it. There are many, many complex layers to this story and it's quite easy to just skip over all of these which will result in the reader being incredibly confused. When I finished this book, I don't think I really understood it at all, but then I went to a book group meeting about it and my eyes were opened. Without the interpretations of these other bookish people, I no doubt would've put this down as a dead-loss, one that just wasn't for me. However, now that I have a greater understanding of it, I can appreciate Ali Smith's style and content so much more.

Everyone who I've spoken to who has read How To Be Both said that they have a love/hate relationship with it. I guess that's funny since the title, and the contents, is all about to be two contrasting things at once. I was actually doing work experience at Penguin Random House at the time that this book was being prepared for release and it was being set up as the big release of the year. Since it went on to win a heck of a lot of awards, I guess their predictions were correct. However, prizes do not always equal reader enjoyment and I have to admit that at some points during the novel I was incredibly bored, and at others I was really engrossed. This book is what you make of it - if you're willing to put in the time and effort to properly explore all the different themes and layers that Ali Smith has created, then you will no doubt enjoy it. If not, well, good luck my friend.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2015 7:02 AM BST

How To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are
How To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are
by Anne Berest
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're buying this for the glossy pages, then you won't be disappointed, 16 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I picked up this title because it kept cropping up on bloggers' pages and since I've just moved to Paris for my year abroad, it seemed like an appropriate title to get me into Parisian life. The book itself is very glossy - hardback, thick glossy paper, lots of large high quality pictures and illustrations and funky formatting. This book is evidently meant to please the eye and that it most certainly does. Some passages of this book are quite long and others are very bitty and short. Some parts are written in prose, others are simply bullet pointed ideas. This means that's book is easy to pick up and put down, you don't need to dedicate a chunk of your time to reading it. You don't even need to read it in order as there isn't much of a structure to it. For the most part, each two page spread has a discusses a certain part of Parisian life, so each part is short and snappy, and you can dive in and out of different sections whenever you please.

All the random aspects of life that you probably didn't think you needed advice on are covered in this book so you get a very rounded view of how the Parisian women lives her life. There are tips on how to dress, how to shop, how to eat, how to act on a date, how to woo a man, which perfumes to wear, which colors to wear in winter etc. etc. etc. At the end of the book there are also lists of recommended places to visit, eat and shop at, which will no doubt be handy for those that are actually visiting Paris.

How To Be Parisian doesn't seem to be aimed at any particular age group of women so is sure to be enjoyed by teenagers and retirees alike. There are some passages detailing how to behave in your youth, and others about how to behave so that you age gracefully. There are a lot of timeless tips in here, which I genuinely found to be rather inspiring. They're the sort of tips that are handed down from mother to daughter for generations and you can get quite a good picture of the respect that these women have for their mothers.

There were some parts that I didn't particularly agree with, especially those concerning love as the advice given almost seems to condone, and indeed encourage cheating. All the romantic advice is along the lines of 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen' and seems to involve a lot of hiding who you really are for the sake of Parisian 'etiquette'. These parts are a little frustrating to read and I can only assume the authors haven't heard of a little thing called feminism. Their portrayal of Parisian women as incredibly independent women is something that I really liked, but in some passages they took it a bit too far and made it sound like all Parisian women were downright arrogant. Confusingly it seems to advocate both being yourself and keeping yourself in check on a date. This book is full of contradictions, but apparently that's the way that Parisian women are.

Really this is just an insight into the lives of four particular 'Parisian' women and their thoughts on how to go about life's daily business and no more than that. The content is lighthearted and funny, this book doesn't take itself seriously and it is by no means a true guide to the Parisian woman. A lot of the 'advice' is incredibly clichéd and plays off a stereotype that probably doesn't fit most Parisian women and I think a lot of this book is just four women having fun with writing. This book would make a good gift for those who love Paris and makes for a nice, quick Saturday afternoon read.

The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1
The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1
by Graeme Simsion
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's rare to find a love story as gently and finely developed as this, 12 July 2015
Don is a little different. He has Asperger's syndrome (though he himself fails to recognise this) and so can be rather blunt and socially awkward. Often missing basic human signals Don frequently misinterprets situations and thus finds himself with very few friends and no wife. Here comes in: The Wife Project. Don creates a questionnaire that he believes is a foolproof way of finding a wife. Although there are four answers to every question, only one of them is correct in Don's eyes and a woman must score 100% on the test before he'll consider taking her out on a date. But then there's Rosie, the complete opposite of what Don is looking for, but something keeps bringing him back to her.

I've heard so many good things about The Rosie Project ever since it was published so I couldn't wait to get my claws into this on my holiday away. This is the perfect holiday read for those who are looking for something that is light-hearted and funny but not wishy-washy. Whilst this book is about finding love, its not sappy in the slightest because it is written from the perspective of Don and he is the sort of man who listens to reason, and not his emotions (the few that he has). It's incredibly funny because you get to see right into the mind of Don, a bizarre man, who doesn't think like the rest of us. His reactions to social situations and general human interaction are incredibly amusing, as is his lack of comprehension. To the reader, it is obvious what is going on, but to Don it is not, so you yourself feel like you're a part of the novel, keeping something from Don. You know something that that doesn't and there's always something exciting about knowing something your favourite character does not. I grew very fond of him as the novel progressed and his character development over the course of the story is truly heart warming.

Rosie, too, is a character that you start to root for, and I really admired her for treating Don like an adult, like any other man, and didn’t change, adapt or explain anything to him, preferring to leave him to develop himself. There are a lot of unspoken thoughts and feelings in The Rosie Project, which are all glaringly obvious to the reader, so the more you read, the more desperate you are for all to be revealed and a real sense of momentum builds up. Despite this, I wouldn't say that the story is all that predictable in that Graeme Simsion still leaves the possibility for sudden plot twists and as Don is not your typical man, you can never be quite sure what he's going to do.

This isn’t the sort of romance that gives you butterflies, it’s not a whirlwind romance and it’s not love at first sight. This story develops a beautiful relationship between two people who are both a bit quirky and it is because of that you keep reading. It’s not full of grand gestures; this is about true love based on personalities, which I thought was very refreshing.

What’s more, the plot isn’t all about Don and Rosie, it’s much bigger than that. This pair work incredibly hard trying to solve the mystery of who Rosie’s father is – an experiment that leads them on many adventures, all of which are hilarious. The ‘romance’ is at once one of the main features and one of the side notes. It’s always there but rarely explicitly discussed.

In addition to Rosie and Don there are Don’s best friends, Gene and his wife Claudia. These supporting characters are essential to the plot line, slowly helping Don along without explicitly giving him a shove in the right direction. Claudia acts as a sort of mother figure to Don, offering him kind advice whenever he is in need. Gene is the opposite – he is a researcher in human attraction who’s trying to sleep with women from every single country. For research purposes of course. There are lots of characters in this book that have ‘clashing’ personalities, and yet somehow Graeme Simsion manages to mash them all together giving each individual character a different role in the novel.

All in all, this is a fantastic and hugely funny read. At the start of the novel, Don is the sort of man who has his weekly schedule planned out to the hour and throughout the novel we see huge changes taking place in life, all because of Rosie. This novel is quite as predictable as it may first seem Rosie’s spontaneity mixed with Don’s unpredictability make it difficult to really know what’s coming next. It’s rare to find a love story as gently and finely developed as this so I’d highly recommend this to anyone who’s bored of your stereotypical fictional romances.

Minions [DVD]
Minions [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: 9.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real feel-good film!, 9 July 2015
This review is from: Minions [DVD] (DVD)
The minions have taken the world by storm since they first appeared on cinema screens in 2010, garnering huge marketing opportunities and now, finally, they have their own film. Minions serves as a kind of prequel to the two Despicable Me films and tells the story of how the minions came to be. Starting off as small microorganisms, the Minions have ben around for even longer than humans have. This troupe of little yellow creatures live to serve and they've gone through evil mastermind after evil mastermind though the ages. From T-Rex to Napoleon, the minions have worked for the biggest baddest villains around - the trouble is, these villains are not particularly successful and never seem to stick around for very long. However, the minions now find themselves without a master and fall into a deep depression. Then, Kevin decides that he's had enough of this and gathers together Bob and Stuart to accompany him to try and find a new boss. There is hope amongst the minions once more. The three brave minions find themselves recruited by Scarlett Overkill, the first female super-villain, and their adventures continue from there.

The first question that I asked myself when I heard about the Minions film, and I'm sure I wasn't alone in this, was how on earth can you make a film about a bunch of characters that don't speak? I was convinced that the movie would be a waste of time as we'd just have to listen to nonsensical sounds with the occasionally 'banana' thrown in - but I was wrong. The producers cleverly steered around this problem by creating the minions a language of their own. This language ressembles the same minion-noises from the previous two films, but is actually a mixture of lots of different European languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, English - maybe even more that I didn't recognise! Anyone who has a basic understanding of any of this will be able to make out the meanings behind the minions gestures, which is a great help for understanding the basics of what's going on and creates much hilarity as well. Of course, a lot of the time, it is still just nonsense.

As for other voices in this film, there are a lot of famous voices behind the characters, but none stood out more than Geoffrey Rush, the narrator. This film almost starts out like a bedtime story with Rush taking you through the minions history and he’s so passionate and enthusiastic with his narration that you can’t help but be engrossed by the story. Sandra Bullock is the voice behind Scarlett Overkill, blending good with evil, demonstrating that she can play a range of characters and I cannot think of anyone better suited for this character.

There's no doubt about it - this movie is silly. Very silly. But it's also hilarious. I was sat in a cinema screen with people of all ages, from 4 years old to 40 years old, and everyone was having a good time, laughing at the jokes and cooing at the minions. Some of the things that happen are absolutely ridiculous but its impossible not to find the minions hilarious. Part of what makes them so funny is that they try so hard to do good, but fail to do so miserably, and that’s certainly a good description of their antics in Minions. This film pokes fun at quite literally everything so it’s literally a laugh a minute. A good part of the film is set in England so for British people this is sure to be a laugh because it plays up English stereotypes to the max. There are very few films I’ve been to in which everybody in the cinema was constantly laughing loudly out loud (LLOL?) with such a happy vibe.

Minions is a real feel-good film with bright characters, constant comedy, cute characters and a great soundtrack to boot. You get to see how the minions function as a group and its really heart warming to see their interactions with each other. Even the evil villain, Scarlett Overkill, can’t help but love them. There are underlying themes of friendship and family, which gives it a slightly deeper dimension that older viewers will appreciate. Perhaps it will even teach children the values of friendship and teamwork – who knows.

The soundtrack perhaps wasn’t quite as good as the previous films as I can’t really remember what specific songs were played anymore, nor one song that really stood out. However, compared to most films, the soundtrack was on-point. There are lots of big hits on it and they’ve somehow managed to find the perfect song for each scene. Of course the animation is as good as it always has been, perhaps slightly more impressive than usual given that there are more explosions than usual.

I can imagine that Minions will be a very hit or miss film, with lots of people finding it just a little bit too silly. For me, however, it was the perfect blend of storytelling, comedy and cuteness. I would even go so far as to say that Minions is better than the Despicable Me films. This film shows that the Minions are characters in their own right and the producers behind this film have done something truly incredibly by managing to turn these yellow creatures into protagonists. What’s great is that it works as a standalone film but also as a part of the Despicable Me series as there are some (seamless) ties to the first two films. Not one to miss.

Paris For One (Quick Reads)
Paris For One (Quick Reads)
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected from Jojo Moyes, 6 July 2015
Paris for One is part of the Quick Reads collection by Penguin to try and encourage those who don't have time to read. This title certainly serves its purpose well as it is only 95 pages long, but Moyes has packed in a full-blown adventure into this short story. It's the sort of story that you can pick up and put down again as you go about your business, no harm done. The story is lighthearted without any complications and it's not the sort of read that you need to dedicate a chunk of your time to. It's the story of Nell, who isn't particularly adventurous and has never been to Paris. She makes a spur of the moment decision to book two Eurostar tickets for herself and her boyfriend but things start to fall apart when he doesn't meet her at the train station in London. Ploughing ahead, Nell goes to Paris by herself, assuming that her boyfriend will meet her in Paris, but everything changes when she gets there.

This story is a piece of classic chick-lit, i.e. a highly predictable, romantic, but somewhat unrealistic, tale. I am a big fan of Jojo Moyes but I have to say I was actually a little disappointed in this short story. Whilst I appreciate that it is difficult to fit a decent story into such a small number of pages, I couldn't help but feel that some pages were a little floosy and meaningless. There are others, however, which are examples of really good story-telling - much more Jojo Moyes style - and I really enjoyed these. I read this book over several days, only reading a few pages at a time, and I found my interest waning during some passages but peaking during others. This story was quite hit and miss with me with some parts just being a little too silly for my liking.

That said, the character development is quite good and somehow you really get to know Nell and exactly what sort of girl she is from 95 short pages. You get a feel for who her friends her and what sort of life she's lived, which is amazing given how short this story is. As a reader, you start to root for Nell to go forth and be adventurous for once in her life (though it is glaringly obvious what the outcome of this story will be).

All in all, this a nice, short read, great for taking on holiday with you or reading on the train. It's not too deep but you still get to know the characters quite well and can see Nell's character development throughout which is heartwarming. There was some bits that were too 'chick-lit' for me, if that makes sense, but on the whole it was a decent story. It's got nothing on any full novels that Moyes has written though, so if this is your first taste of Jojo Moyes I highly recommend that you pick up some of her other titles!

Kiss Me Organics - Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder Culinary Grade - Japanese (113g)
Kiss Me Organics - Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder Culinary Grade - Japanese (113g)
Offered by KissMeOrganics
Price: 22.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great energy booster, 30 Jun. 2015
The Tea
This tea comes in the form of a bright green powder that looks incredibly unnatural despite the fact that it is quite the opposite. The powder is made from ground up tea leaves and that is why matcha tea powder is so much better for you than normal green tea. Instead of drinking the essence of the leaf, you’re consuming the entire leaf, ergo you reap even more benefits. Matcha is basically green tea on steroids.

The Taste
I’m not the biggest tea fan and matcha is probably one of the strongest out there. Suffice to say I find the tea far too strong when simply mixed with water, however, there are numerous other ways to use and consume this powder that I discovered from Kiss Me Organics recipe guide. You can easily dilute the taste with some simple concoctions so you can still benefit from all those anti-oxidants. As with normal green tea, you can add half a teaspoon of matcha to hot water and drink it like that, however, this is when the matcha flavour is most potent. There are so many different matcha tea recipes out there but my favourite has to be matcha tea with milk (cold or hot) to make either a latte or smoothie style drink. This significantly reduces the bitter taste that matcha is associated with and it's actually a rather nice drink. Mixed into your daily smoothie, orange juice, cereal milk, latte, whatever it is you drink - the taste becomes a lot less bitter.

Matcha doesn’t just have to be a drink, it can also be used in your cooking or baking. For example, adding matcha powder to your cupcakes makes a more savoury delicacy that’s still full of anti-oxidants. You can add it to pretty much any baking recipe for example matcha pancakes or muffins, all of which carry the matcha taste but with a much less strong flavour.

How to make the tea
Whatever you're mixing your matcha powder into, be it water, milk, yoghurt or whatever, you've got to make sure that you've really stirred it well. Ideally, you'd get a special tea whisk which you are supposed to use when preparing matcha, but the majority of people don't have access to this so some serious stirring is required. If you fail to mix the matcha powder in properly you end up with a thick, green sludge at the bottom of your glass, which is, putting it mildly, vile. This does mean that preparing the tea can take a little bit longer than, say, your standard English tea, but it's definitely worth it in the end.

The benefits
Supposedly, matcha tea, 'green tea on steroids', can boost your metabolism, reduce the redness of skin, improve energy, nutrient balance, weight control and sensitive skin from within. I have to admit I haven't seen any effect on my metabolism or weight, but as for energy, I feel brighter, more alert and full of energy pretty much immediately after drinking this tea. This tea does contain caffeine, but it's not the sort that gives you anxiety or other negative effects if you drink too much of it.


So all in all, Kiss Me Organics matcha tea works wonders. The matcha powder comes in a resealable bag that keeps the tea fresh and stops you spilling powder all over the place and since you only using a small amount of matcha powder at a time, each bag lasts pretty long. I would highly recommend matcha green tea to those who are looking for a natural substance to help give them an energy boost or lose weight. The effects of this tea are pretty quick and with just one cup a day, it couldn't be easier to turn yourself into a better you.

*I received this product free of charge from the supplier. All opinions are my own.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20