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Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England)

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Me to You Tiny Tatty Teddy Gift Set for a New Baby
Me to You Tiny Tatty Teddy Gift Set for a New Baby
Price: £39.73

3.0 out of 5 stars A few really nice things but I don't think this is value for money as a set, 19 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this for review so I'm not sure if perhaps we didn't get sent the final product but I was disappointed this set came in a plain brown cardboard box, rather than a nice gift box with Tatty Teddy images that I think would make a nice gift set. In fact, if I had wanted to give this as a present I'd have to package it myself into a basket or something to make it look more attractive.

The packaging really lets the side down, you might just as well buy the contents individually and package it together yourself - that way you only need to buy the items that you like and you can always add other things to the set.

Lets have a look at the box contents:

Soft Toy / Blanket combo:
This is a lovely item, the blanket is lovely and soft, not very large but big enough to be comforting to small children, it rolls up and gives the bear a big fat belly making him nice to cuddle and I think it's a really nice gift.

Soft Toy:
There is an additional small teddy which again is very cute, it's not the same as the one pictured in the images on Amazon though - the teddy I received has a blue clip that can be used to attach it to a pram making it perfect for using out and about. The quality is good and it has lovely detailing as I would expect from this brand.

Photo Album:
This is only a small photo album and it's nice enough but nothing special, I'd say it looks fairly cheap - it's the kind of album you can buy in most cheap shops, the only difference is the Me to You branding. It would be a nice way of keeping a few favourite photos but I don't think I'd bother paying to buy this item individually.

Keepsake Book:
This is a lovely book, lots of space to write little bits about baby's first year along with spaces to add pictures and a couple of pockets to store things like baby's hospital bracelet.

Certificate Box:
I honestly don't see the point of this item, it's a small cardboard box that you can use to store the baby's birth certificate. You'd have to roll the certificate up like a scroll to fit it in there and I think you're better off storing it in a folder with the rest of your paperwork. The box isn't really large enough to store anything else and it's the kind of thing that's going to end up in the bin very quickly.

Overall I'd say that if this product came nicely packaged in a gift box and ready to give as a present I'd probably give it 4 stars, it would be a quick and easy gift to buy if you don't have much time to sort something better. Since it's so badly let down by the packaging and you're going to have to spend time making it look pretty you might as well just buy everything separately - I would definitely purchase the blanket / teddy combo, the small separate teddy and the keepsake book but I wouldn't bother with either the photo album or the keepsake box. Buying individually I could spend the money I saved buying other nice items to make a more thoughtful and personalised gift.

Wild Invitation: A Psy-Changeling Collection (PSY-CHANGELING SERIES)
Wild Invitation: A Psy-Changeling Collection (PSY-CHANGELING SERIES)
by Nalini Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Psy-Changeling Novellas, 19 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wild Invitation is a collection of four novellas set in the Psy-Changeling world featuring some characters we already know and love along with a few we've not come across before. Two of the stories (Declaration of Courtship and Texture of Intimacy) have never been published before while the others were included in multi-author anthologies (Beat of Temptation was in An Enchanted Season and Stroke of Enticement was in The Magical Christmas Cat). These stories are set at different points in the series (I'll mention where they fit into the time line as I talk about each individual story) and while I think you could probably read the first three stories without picking up on any major spoilers I would definitely suggest waiting until you've read at least as far as Kiss of Snow before starting Texture of Intimacy.

Nalini Singh is incredibly talented when it comes to writing short stories and novellas, probably in part because fans are so invested in the worlds she has created and we already know and love most of her characters, but also because she is able to create a real depth of emotion between a couple in a very short amount of time. I never feel short changed by her stories and this anthology is a perfect example of why.

A Beat of Temptation:
I have loved Tamsyn and Nate from the very beginning so it was about time I finally got around to reading their story. A Beat of Temptation is actually set quite a long time before the series begins in Slave to Temptation (it actually introduces us to Lucas when he was just fifteen years old!) but I think I appreciated it all the more because I'm already crazy about this couple. Tammy and Nate have always had such a solid relationship and they obviously mean the world to each other so I was surprised to see what a rocky start they had. They realised they were mates when Tammy was just 15 and Nate was 25. Obviously he didn't make a move on her then though and now, four years later, Tammy is desperate to start their lives together while Nate is determined to let Tammy have her freedom before tying her down to their mating bond.

Although it's obvious to us that he is keeping her at a distance because he cares there were times when I really wanted to shake some sense into Nate for hurting Tammy so much. She becomes convinced that he wishes they weren't mates and it breaks her heart to have him push her away. I loved Tammy for standing up for what she wanted, she fights for her man but she has enough self respect to walk away rather than beg him for attention. Nate is a stubborn idiot but his intentions are good so I found it fairly easy to forgive him. It takes some pointed advice from several other pack members (a very wise for his age Lucas included) to put him on the right path but once he figures things out he works hard to prove to Tammy how much she means to him. Seeing them deal with their issues put a huge smile on my face and I'm glad we get to see how happy they are all throughout the series.

Stroke of Enticement:
A Stroke of Enticement officially fits into the series between Caressed by Ice and Mine to Possess but I don't think it contained any spoilers so you could probably read it at any point in the series. Annie is a human who happens to teach several members of the DarkRiver pack in her class. She meets Zach when his nephew plays up in class and he is sent to the school to put Bryan back on the straight and narrow. Zach immediately recognises Annie as his mate but she is very sceptical when it comes to love and he's going to have to work hard to convince her they're meant to be together.

I have to confess I can't remember if this couple have been mentioned in the series before, they may have made a brief appearance but I definitely didn't remember them. That wasn't an issue though, this story was incredibly sweet and I fell in love with Zach right alongside Annie. They are both great characters and I enjoyed spending time with them.

Declaration of Courtship:
Declaration of Courtship officially slots in after Play of Passion but again it doesn't have any major spoilers so could probably be read at any point. Cooper is one of the SnowDancer lieutenants who we've met throughout the series as one of Hawke's right hand wolves, he is a dominant wolf who would do anything to protect the people in his care, especially his mate Grace. Grace couldn't be more different to Coop, her wolf is completely submissive and pretty much terrified of Coop's dominance and I have to admit I was a little nervous at the beginning of the story because I couldn't see how they'd ever be able to have a workable relationship. Thankfully Nalini proved me wrong and although Grace's wolf is submissive Grace the woman is more than strong enough to fight for what she wants. Luckily for Coop he's the one she has set her sights on and she's going to do whatever it takes to get him.

I really loved seeing how Grace and Coop worked through their issues, Coop had to work hard to get Grace's wolf to trust him but he was incredibly patient and knew exactly how to sooth her. I think one of the things I loved most about these two was how different they are to any of the other couples we've already been introduced to it made them stand out to me. I also really enjoyed Nalini's depiction of dominant and submissive, it's nice that she doesn't make Grace a complete push over just because her wolf is at the lower end of the pack hierarchy. I also loved that Grace is happy with her position and we get to see the role the submissives have in making the pack as a whole more stable.

Texture of Intimacy:
I wouldn't recommend reading Texture of Intimacy until after you've read Kiss of Snow because it will contain major spoilers otherwise. Having said that this was probably my favourite story in the anthology so if you've not got that far yet you need to catch up soon so you can read this ASAP!

I absolutely loved the scenes with Lara and Walker during Kiss of Snow, they are so cute together but they definitely have their own set of problems to work through and it was great to have a whole story focused completely on them. The couple may already be mated but that doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing from now onwards and they both need to work hard to make sure they stay on the right path. Walker is so used to looking after everyone, he has been the backbone of his little family for such a long time but he never learned to rely on anyone else for help so he finds it hard to ask Lara for advice or even to open up to her. As the pack healer Lara is there for everyone and she is hurt when Walker keeps his distance emotionally. I love the fact that they're so caring but they both have a tendency to put everyone else's needs over their own and they both need to learn to accept help when it's offered. This story allows us to see them grow closer than ever, Walker is finally starting to trust the bond between them is forever and Lara is coming to understand the way Walker thinks. They are definitely a well matched couple and enjoyed this extra time we get to spend with them.

Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles)
Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles)
by Melina Marchetta
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lumatere Chronicles book 1, 18 Dec 2014
I have heard so many people rave about Melina Marchetta's writing and so many of my friends love the Lumatere Chronicles that I jumped at the chance of joining a mass group read of the series on Goodreads. I'm so glad I did because I absolutely loved Finnikin of the Rock and I was completely hooked on this story right from the first couple of pages.

When the Lumatere Royal family was brutally murdered and the imposter king stole the throne a curse was placed upon the kingdom that sealed the boarders and separated a whole nation. Those who escaped have been forced to spend the last 10 years living as exiles desperately searching for a way to return home, while nobody knows what happened to the people who were left behind. Finnikin is one of those exiles and he has pretty much given up hope of returning to Lumatere, instead choosing to focus on finding a place where his people can be together and start afresh. Until he meets Evanjalin, a young woman who claims to have visions and who tells Finnikin that the prince Balthazar survived the slaughter and is ready to bring his people home. Finnikin is sceptical but Balthazar was like a brother to him and if there is any chance that he is still alive then he has no choice but to go with Evanjalin to find him. But can Finnikin and Evanjalin break the curse and get their people safely home so that Lumatere can be reunited once more?

I think the thing I loved most about Finnikin of the Rock are the characters, Evanjalin and Finnikin are both very complex and multifaceted, they have strengths and weaknesses and they both make mistakes which make them much more human. Finnikin has spent years travelling the lands trying to make a list of all the surviving refugees, he has seen so much suffering and is desperate to find a way to bring his people back together even if it means giving up on his dream of taking them home. Evanjalin has more complicated motives, she does a lot of things that I don't necessarily agree with but everything she does she does for a reason. She's almost like a puppet master, the only one who sees the bigger picture and the one who is pulling on everyone's strings to control the outcome of the play. At times I was shocked by the things she did but I was always fascinated to see what she would do next and how things would tie together. I think she's one of the most fascinating YA heroines I've come across in a long time and I had so much fun speculating about the secrets she was keeping and what her long term goals were. I loved the way the relationship between Evanjalin and Finnikin builds, they start as reluctant allies but slowly grow to respect and trust each other and gradually become so much more. Their relationship was completely believable and I loved every minute of it.

It isn't just Evanjalin and Finnikin who are brilliant though, and so many of the side characters are incredibly well drawn out too. I loved seeing Finnikin and his father reunited after such a long time apart, the father/son bond was so well written and it was fantastic to see them find hope in each other. I'm also completely invested in the story of Trevanion and Lady Beatrice, I loved the wisdom of Sir Topher, I enjoyed the banter of the King's guard and I can't wait to see more of Lucian and Tessadora. Not all of the characters are easy to like though and Froi in particular did something that I find completely unforgivable towards the beginning of the story. It's a testament to Melina Marchetta's ability to create such fantastic characters that I found myself warming to Froi just a fraction towards the end of the book though. I still hate what he did and don't think I'll ever be able to completely look past that but I like the changes we've seen in him so far and he's definitely come a long way from the boy he once was. I'm intrigued to see how my opinion of him will change when I read the next book.

Finnikin of the Rock is a fantastic story, it's complex, action packed, heart breaking and beautiful all at the same time. It's the kind of story that makes you think and one that stays with you for a long time after you finish reading it. I'm dying to carry on and read the rest of the series but I'm already thinking about how much fun it will be to reread this story, especially now that I know what is coming and will be able to spot more of the clues that Melina Marchetta scattered throughout the novel. This is a must read book for YA fantasy fans and one I know I'll be recommending for a long time to come!

Cut and Run (Phoenix Code 1 & 2)
Cut and Run (Phoenix Code 1 & 2)
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Phoenix Code books 1 & 2, 18 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a huge fan of Lara Adrian I was really excited when I found out that she was starting a new series and I couldn't wait to read Cut and Run. I've never read anything by Tina Folsom before but thought this would also be a great way to try out a new author and hopefully add a whole new bunch of books to my to read mountain. Unfortunately although I think the Phoenix Code series has a lot of potential it didn't quite live up to my (admittedly high) expectations, I didn't hate the book but there were things about both stories that had me ready to throw my kindle across the room. I think both stories would have probably worked better for me if they were full length novels rather than novellas, that way we could have had a little more depth and build up to each of the relationships and I think that could have completely erased most of my issues.

The first story is Cut by Lara Adrian, it introduces us to College Professor, and undercover member of Phoenix a top secret paranormal group working for the CIA, Ethan and his long term girlfriend Tori. The couple have been dating for a year and are practically living together when Ethan receives an emergency alert telling him that Phoenix has been compromised and he must run for his life. Ethan walks out on Tori without a word leaving her completely devastated, she spends months searching for him, even checking with hospitals because she's worried something dreadful happened to him. Skip forward three years and their paths cross by accident when Ethan is in the middle of trying to escape from an assassin. The assassin sees him with Tori and now her life is in danger unless Ethan can protect her. I think I could have really liked Ethan if he'd shown more remorse for breaking Tori's heart. I understood why he'd had to leave and to a point I even understood why he didn't want to tell her what was going on because he didn't want to put her in danger, however I needed to see more grovelling for forgiveness on his part. I lost all respect for Tori when she forgave him pretty much within 10 minutes of him walking back into her life. She's spent three years miserable because of him and she forgives him so quickly? It just wasn't believable to me. Especially when she finds out that he had been lying to her and keeping secrets throughout the whole of their relationship. I think if they'd taken more time to get to know each other again and Ethan had made more of a show of apologising I would probably have been able to get on board with their relationship but the novella happened too quickly and it dulled my enjoyment of the story.

Run by Tina Folsom started off better, the hero Scott has precognitive abilities and he has a vision showing him the murders of a school bus full of innocent children. He knows that by helping them he risks exposing himself to the enemies who are trying to kill him but he couldn't live with himself if he didn't at least try to save them. Phoebe is a reporter who happens to be on the bus and she is rescued by Scott and even though Scott left the scene without giving anyone his contact details when her boss wants a story on the reluctant hero of the hour Phoebe becomes determined to track him down. Scott and Phoebe have great chemistry and I could get on board with the two of them falling in lust very quickly but it didn't make much sense that Phoebe would be so willing to drop everything in her life to go on the run with him. Their relationship moves from lust to love far too quickly and again I struggled to believe the connection between them. My other main issue with this couple (although this could be said for Ethan and Tori too!) was the fact that they are running for their lives from an unknown but powerful enemy who is trying to kill them yet they're willing to skip the condom when they jump in bed together. Not because Phoebe was on any other birth control but because Scott has a vision of them with children in their future. I'm sorry but it's not a good idea to risk making a baby with a guy you've known for 2 whole days and it's even more ridiculous that both couples seem willing to bring children into a mess where they have assassins chasing them. Who is going to babysit when they're off fighting for their lives?

I think that because Lara Adrian is one of my favourite authors I go into her books with incredibly high expectations and that's probably part of the reason for my disappointment with Cut and Run. I probably over thought some of the issues with these stories but when one thing about a book really annoys me I do tend to find that other smaller things bug me more than usual. I didn't hate this book and I do think the series has a lot of potential. I love the idea of the Phoenix group, I'm intrigued by the vision that Scott and Ethan seem to share and I'm very curious to see how they manage to track down the rest of the team. I think the overreaching plot is going to be a really interesting one and I'm hoping that the issues I had with these two stories won't carry over into the next book. I am definitely planning on buying Hide and Seek when it releases next year and I'm hopeful that the series will just get stronger with every book.

Beaphar Spray Away Plus, 400ml
Beaphar Spray Away Plus, 400ml
Price: £5.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Does exactly what you want it to, 17 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This product does exactly what it promises to do - it removes stains & nasty odours from upholstery.

I've not needed to use it on old, dried on stains, but it was excellent at cleaning away new messes when I was dog sitting for a friend recently.

One Sexy Ride (Thompson & Sons Book 2)
One Sexy Ride (Thompson & Sons Book 2)
Price: £2.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Thompson & Sons book 2, 16 Dec 2014
Janey has been in love with her best friend's older brother for years but Len has never seemed to look twice at her. Len may not have shown his interest but he's always been aware of Janey and it's only now that she is planning on moving away and he's about to lose her forever that he understands quite what he's missed out on. Len has always tried to keep people at arm's length but he doesn't have much time left with Janey and he's going to make the most of it. Janey is more than willing to fall into Len's arms but if he lets her walk away then she may never recover from her broken heart.

I have been a fan of this series from the beginning and I was looking forward to getting to know Len a bit better, from what we've seen of him in the past he has always come across as quite closed off and he doesn't even seem to let his family in completely so I was excited to see Janey get under his skin. I'm a sucker for a friends to lovers type romance and while Janey was always closest with Len's younger sister Katy she has known the whole family since childhood and her feelings towards Len have always been anything but platonic. Len doesn't believe he deserves to be happy, it was quite heartbreaking to see why he is so determined to keep people at a distance so I really enjoyed seeing Janey push past his defences. The couple have great chemistry but there is a lot more to their relationship than that & they get on well inside and out of the bedroom.

Alongside the romance I really enjoyed a chance to catch up with previous characters and see more of the brother's whose stories are still to come. I love the way the Thompson family all tease each other, the banter between them is witty and amusing and very realistic. Vivian Arend always creates a strong sense of family in her stories and that's one of the reasons I keep returning to her series time and time again. One Sexy Ride was a great instalment to the series and I can't wait to read Clay and Troy's books when they're published.

Whisper of Sin: A Psy Changeling Novella (PSY-CHANGELING SERIES)
Whisper of Sin: A Psy Changeling Novella (PSY-CHANGELING SERIES)
Price: £1.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Psy-Changeling book 0.6, 16 Dec 2014
Whisper of Sin was previously published in the Burning Up anthology and is also available as a separate ebook. The story is set before events in Slave to Sensation but to be honest I think you'll probably have more appreciation for the characters if you've already familiar with the world building so I would recommend reading at least one book first. Although I've read the whole series now I don't actually remember much about either Emmett or Ria, their names were vaguely familiar but they definitely haven't been major players in the series so it's a testament to Nalini Singh's writing that she was able to make me care so much about both of them in less than 90 pages!

Events take place at a time when the DarkRiver leopards are only just solidifying their claim over San Francisco, the Psy still think they are in charge but the leopards are definitely claiming territory and part of that claim comes a duty to protect the citizens who live within their boarders. Unfortunately a gang of human thugs seem determined to muscle in, something that DarkRiver will not stand for, not if they don't want to lose face and risk a territory dispute with other packs of predatory changelings. When human Ria is attacked on her way home she is rescued by Dorian and Emmett and the pack take her whole family under their protection. Emmett has more than Ria's safety on his mind though, he immediately recognises Ria as his mate and he will do whatever it takes to convince her to take a chance on him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, Ria and Emmett's courtship is so sweet but I also love the fact that Ria is strong enough to stand up to Emmett and won't let him push her around even though he's obviously so much stronger than her. The banter between them was great but Ria's grandmother was absolutely hilarious and she made me giggle out loud more than once. The rest of Ria's family aren't so keen on Emmett to start with but he isn't the kind of guy to give up without a fight and it doesn't take him too long to win them around. This is a lovely little edition to the Psy-Changeling series and I'm sure fans will devour it.

Snowbound with the CEO
Snowbound with the CEO
Price: £1.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Snowbound with the CEO, 16 Dec 2014
When Rachel finds herself snowed in at a luxury hotel with the boss she's had a crush on ever since she started working for him she finds it very hard to resist temptation. Adrian would be lost without his right hand woman at work and that's the only reason he's never made a move on Rachel before now but seeing her let her hair down outside of the office makes her impossible to resist. Will a hot weekend fling turn into something more or will Rachel be left looking for a new job on Monday morning?

Snowbound with the CEO is a short and sweet holiday novella from Shannon Stacey and I enjoyed reading it. Considering it's only about 60 pages long the author did a good job of introducing both main characters and making me root for them to get a happily ever after. I liked the chemistry between them but because they have known each other for such a long time it felt like there was more to their relationship than lust which made it easier to believe they could make a relationship successful.

The one complaint I had was the ongoing misunderstanding once they'd returned from the hotel and were back in the real world. Considering how short the story was I think I would have enjoyed the story more if they'd been adult enough to have a proper conversation and then the focus could have moved to them working out how to start a successful relationship with the added pressure of being work colleagues. There was a nice little epilogue but after the mix up I felt their issues were resolved just a little too quickly and easily for it to be completely believable.

In spite of my complaints I do think this is a nice romance and it's perfect for this time of year so if you're looking for a quick read with a bit of spice then this should be just what you need.

The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella (The Drake Chronicles)
The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella (The Drake Chronicles)
Price: £3.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Drake Chronicles book 6.5, 14 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Longest Night is a short novella that is set about 6 years on from events in Blood Prophecy and it was absolutely fantastic to catch up with a 23 year old Lucy now she's out of school and doing her own thing.

Never one to settle for an easy life Lucy and Nicholas have opened up their home to take in troubled teenagers, both Helios-Ra and vampires alike. They have spent the last few years building cooperation between the vampires and the Helios-Ra but there will always be some who don't want to abide by the truce and those are the teenagers that Lucy is determined to help no matter how difficult they make her job. One particular teenager is really giving her grief - Aggie is a young girl who lost the sister who raised her in the Blood Moon massacre. She finds it impossible to trust any vampire and is convinced that they are all evil monsters who are just waiting for any chance to attack and she's more than willing to hurt them before they get a chance. Can Lucy persuade her that some vampires are good and sometimes it's the humans who are the monsters?

I loved getting the chance to catch up with older versions of Lucy and Nicholas along with some of the other characters like Solange, Kieran, Hunter and Quinn. I have to admit I wasn't so sure about the newer characters to start with though, Aggie in particular irritated me to start with but she really grows up throughout the story and I liked her by the end. I do think that the events in Blood Prophecy would have a long term effect on all the people who were caught on the sidelines so I enjoyed seeing that side of things explored. It made me sad that there was still so much bad blood between the Helios-Ra and the Drakes though, I had hoped the hunters would have learned their lesson and moved forward a little more.

The Longest Night was a nice addition to the series though, it's not a good place to start if you haven't read the books but if, like me, you're missing the Drakes and looking for another fix then I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (The Drake Chronicles Book 7)
A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (The Drake Chronicles Book 7)
Price: £0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Drake Chronicles book 6.4, 14 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I love these little novellas that Alyxandra Harvey has written allowing us to revisit the characters from her Drake Chronicles series. Lucy has always been a particular favourite character of mine so I will devour any book or story written from her point of view. A Tithe of Blood and Ashes is set about 2 months on from events in Blood Prophecy so this story will contain spoilers if you're not completely up to date with all the full length novels in the series but it's well worth picking up if you're a fan of this world.

Lucy is in the middle of her exams and more than a little stressed out but things are about to get worse when she discovers she has suddenly become a homing beacon for every Hel-Blar vampire in the area. What she can't work out is why they are being drawn to her and nobody else. Something strange is going on and Lucy won't stop until she's figured out exactly what is going on - and why her parents are keeping secrets from her.

This may only be a short story (around 50 pages) but it has everything I've come to expect from this series, Lucy's trademark snark and sarcasm, plenty of action, the hot Drake brothers (Nicholas in particular!) and of course the Helios-Ra members who are all too ready to fight any vampire, not just the bad ones. I don't want to say too much about the story because it's far to easy to give spoilers for such a short novella but this is a fun read and one I'd definitely recommend to fans of the series.

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