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Books, Coffee & Anything Crafty "Emma" (UK)

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Tala Icing Bag Set, 8 Nozzles, 4/48
Tala Icing Bag Set, 8 Nozzles, 4/48
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good for a beginner, 1 Aug. 2011
This is an excellent set if you're a novice like me. The bag is thick and strong, easy to clean out. The selection of nozzles are more than enough to practice basic icing patterns. There's also pictures on the back to give you an idea of what patterns the nozzles can produce, which was really helpful for certain things I wanted to practice like leaf patterns.

by Tara Hudson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Drawn out, 20 July 2011
This review is from: Hereafter (Paperback)
I wanted to love this book. I've loved ghost stories since I was ten years old. So here we are with a ghost story and we have romance to boot. But I didn't love it. There was something missing with the story because I had to force myself to continue to get to the end, and I'm glad I did because the last third is the best part of the book.

We meet Amelia, lost in a fog since she died, doesn't know who she is except for her first name and doesn't know how long she's been dead for. She knows she must have drowned because she keeps having nightmares about it, but that's all she remembers- the drowning bit, not the circumstances for it. Whilst moving through this existence, Amelia sees a boy, Joshua, drowning and in moment of connection, she helps him to save himself.

After saving him, Amelia realises that Joshua can see her, the first person to see since she had died. Slowly Amelia and Joshua start fall for each other as they get to know each other, and with it comes Amelia's memory in dribs and drabs. Then Eli, a fellow spirit with a hidden agenda, steps into Amelia's existence too with some frightful promises about what will happen to Amelia now that she is now long in a fog.

This story had so much potential, but the writing was bland and didn't grip me. I was bored by the characters and felt no love for any of them. Even when you read about Amelia remembering her death, I still felt nothing for Amelia. There's no connection between reader and story.

The last third of the story picked up pace and all the twists and turns were thrown in quickly, almost too quickly. If the subplots had been spaced out a bit more, it would have made for a better read. Only having them all flung at you at the end in the hopes of you reading the next book does not endear me to the story. But knowing me, I'll still read on anyway because I can't leave a series unfinished either.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Xbox 360)
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Monsterbuy
Price: £26.47

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very short game, 20 July 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I'm really rating this game at 2.5 stars. It's not so bad that it deserves just two but it doesn't really deserve 3 either.

I play about one game every 6 months, so I'm not always quick on the draw with the controller, but what I will start off with is that I completed the game in less than 4 hours...with a break to eat something.

The graphics were okay. I've seen better on other games. The storyline of the game was shorter than the film, and as this is the shortest film, that's quite ridiculous really. The enemies were easy to defeat, even on the harder levels. And as for Voldemort- sneeze and you've defeated him.

I also hated the way they had organised the spells on the buttons and the aim button to target your enemies. That might just be me and my lack of controller skills, so I just started pressing random buttons in big battles because the aim button didn't always work, and STILL killed everyone off with ease.

I also missed the collectibles the previous games had. You could collect some things to get extras, which are basically pictures of the characters, but it was nothing like PoA where you would collect game cards and something else, or in OotP where you collect items and try to find Luna's missing things whilst doing mini-challenges.

Considering the time that EA had to put this game together, it was quite poor really. It was almost like they realised as the series went along that putting Harry Potter on the front was a license to print money without actually putting the time, effort and work into making a decent game for the cost they're charging.

I highly advise avoiding this game until it's at bargain prices, then it might just be worth it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2011 11:02 PM BST

by Lauren Oliver
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't Love it., 17 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Delirium (Hardcover)
Let me just say this first; Lauren Oliver is a beautiful writer. Her descriptions are fantastic. Everything was so clear in my head that I could actually have been there, living Lena's life with her. The whole process of living in this future was believable. So believable, in fact, that it was almost like looking forward and seeing what would become of us.

I hated the story though.

Well, I say `hate', that's a bit harsh, but I was very repulsed by the story and found it hard-going to keep reading. It did nothing for me. Whilst I was terrified of the idea of living in a future like this, I really couldn't care for anyone in the story. I was little bit bored if I'm honest.

Cruel and cold things happened to people in this book and I felt nothing when they happened. With such beautiful writing, it was throwing me for a loop as to why I didn't find the actual story as beautiful as I've heard many others describe it. Lena was boring. Alex was slightly interesting. Hanna I liked; she's strong-willed and I love those kinds of characters. The small child who didn't talk (I can't remember her name), she was interesting...and she didn't utter a word.

I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the books for this trilogy. I probably will at some point because I hate leaving things unfinished, but I just didn't care for the story or the characters. I desperately wished I had because I love Lauren's writing style.

I still recommend the book to anyone though. There are still plenty of reviews who love Delirium so much, that I think I'm the strange one for not even liking it, never mind loving it.

Starcrossed: 1 (Awakening)
Starcrossed: 1 (Awakening)
by Josephine Angelini
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love/Hate Relationship with this Story, 16 Jun. 2011
I made the mistake of reading a few reviews of this book before I read it for myself. `Too similar to Twilight' was a phrase I spotted a lot. As I read Starcrossed that was all I could see. With that in mind, I think Angelini may have been aware of some of the similarities too when Helen half-heartedly refused to be that girl that gave in to whatever the boy asked her to do. It was almost like that scene was in there just to distance her writing from the Twilight series (I refuse to call it a saga).

Anyway, in saying that, I still enjoyed the story. I read it in one sitting because I needed to know yesterday what happened to everyone. I liked- to a point- all the characters, maybe not so much Helen, she was too weak for me as a leading character, but everyone else I could warm to- even if they were all slightly too perfect. I didn't get the subplot of Helen's dad and Kate; I thought that was all a bit pointless. And whilst the writing was good enough to make me picture everything clearly, some of Helen's thoughts were all over the place and I had to re-read some parts so I could get the gist of what she was thinking. And sometimes skip her thoughts because she was repeating herself again.

Like with Twilight I wanted less on Helen/Bella and more on the Cullen/Delos family. I wanted more on their history other than them descending from Greek Gods. The parents of the Delos family sounded like they had some interesting stories to tell, and I was desperate to hear them. Instead there are snippets of stories between Helen and Lucas' love story.

There were moments between Helen and Lucas that were drawn out and not enough of getting the story moving. I also got wound up with Helen when she couldn't get to grips with Lucas not kissing her, or doing anything more than holding her hand. She'd already been told what would happen, then when it's finally spelled out for her, she's shocked. What was that about?

The last quarter of the book was where the story really picked up and moved along at the speed the rest of the book should have done. I feel 400+ pages was a bit excessive for a story that could probably have been told in less than 300 pages.

I'll stick with what I said before, that I did enjoy the story, regardless of the things that got on my nerves, and I will more than likely read any more books that come out for this series. I just hope that Helen toughens up. I also believed the Greek mythology that was being spun within the book. I love Greek mythology and learning about it, but I can't say I know enough that it would distract me from the story because some of it was inaccurate, which I had seen mentioned in reviews.

I recommend this to anyone who loved Twilight, loves a love story between teens, and loves Greek mythology. Don't let the size of the book put you off, it's still enjoyable enough if you don't take it too seriously.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2011 8:52 PM BST

by Megan McCafferty
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It was okay., 15 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Bumped (Hardcover)
I've never been a huge fan of Dystopian novels, but recently I've been giving them a fair chance and enjoying most of them. However, I think I've gone one Dystopian novel too far and not given myself a bit of break from them before I started reading Bumped because although this is a good book, I didn't enjoy it. I couldn't wrap my head around babies being products that you buy, as well as the teenage bodies that carry the babies.

The story in general I liked and it was readable, but I couldn't relate to the characters. None of them. I think it had something to do with the future McCafferty had set up. I could get to grips with Harmony and her way of life because it all seemed to be very similar to the Amish way of living. But Melody and her life I couldn't understand. I may as well have been reading the slang from another region in my country because I didn't `get' the futuristic slang. I also couldn't see in my head all the futuristic gadgets. It was all too much.

On the other hand, all that I've had an issue with is what makes this a well-written book with many layers. A whole new world has been set up and the whole concept being alien to me would be like trying to get someone from the 18th or 19th century reading a contemporary novel of our time. They wouldn't be able to even fathom some of our technology or see it in their imagination. So if you go into the novel imagining that this is the future in a century or two, then you can't go far wrong in trying to understand Melody and Harmony's ways of life.

The last hundred pages were the best bit of the story for me. This is where the twins really showed who they are, what they want in life and how they really think. Before that, they're flat. Some of the small twists were predictable, but still makes me want to know what will happen to everyone and how everything will work out for them.

Overall, the book was enjoyable enough if you can get into the swing of the futuristic world. Now that the twins story and characteristics have been set up, I look forward to the next novel more. I'd recommend this to anyone who loves Dystopian novels and are addicted to 16 & Pregnant.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2011 2:07 AM BST

Mercy (Mercy, Book 1)
Mercy (Mercy, Book 1)
by Rebecca Lim
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough., 14 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Mercy (Mercy, Book 1) (Paperback)
I didn't know what to make of this one. I started it, but found the voice of Mercy a bit...cold and dull. I couldn't connect to what was going on. So I left it and read something else. I came back to it a couple of weeks later and made myself finish it in one sitting, and I'm not sure if I'm glad I did or not.

I've seen the phrase `Quantum Leap with angels' bandied round for this book by a few people, and I suppose that is the best way to think of it. Mercy is an angel that goes from body to body, with no memories of her past, no retained memories from the previous girls except the immediate previous one, and tries to maintain the life of the person she's now living in. The book starts with her waking up in Carmen's body as she is on her way to a small town to take part in a yearly choir show they hold, and Carmen is one of the best singers within the choir.

In this small town, Mercy stays at the home of a missing girl, and everyone, bar the girl's twin brother, believe she's dead. But something tells Mercy that she isn't and she helps Ryan, the brother, to find her.

Once I got into the story, it was a good read, but fairly predictable. I could see everything coming from a mile off. And I still couldn't relate to Mercy's voice or her story, but I think I'll put that down to the fact the Mercy has been around practically since the dawn of time and isn't human. The writing was beautiful though; I could really picture the school, the town and the people. There was also enough intrigue throughout that kept me reading to see if I'd get an answer. Some I did, some I'll probably get in the next couple of books.

As much as I did enjoy the story in the end, it's not a story where I'll be rushing to read the rest of the series. I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves the Angel Bandwagon running through Booktown.

The Making of Us
The Making of Us
by Lisa Jewell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devoured it!, 7 Jun. 2011
This review is from: The Making of Us (Paperback)
Lisa Jewell is back on form!

I've loved Lisa's books from the start. Had them pre-ordered every time it was available to do so. But I was disappointed with After the Party and I wasn't sure how I was going to find reading The Making of Us because I'm of the firm belief that sperm donors should be able to keep their anonymity. Then I started seeing amazing reviews for it, so my expectations were high, which isn't always a good thing for me. However, I wasn't disappointed with this one! It was written in the very same style that made Lisa my favourite author ever. Addictive, intriguing and everything set at a steady pace with no lull.

So, where to start without giving too much away? You have three main characters, Lydia, Robyn and Dean, all the result of the same sperm donor years ago. All have had very different upbringings and are in very different places in their lives. Lydia is wealthy and successful, but is missing something in her life that she can't quite understand. Robyn, having always known about her being a sperm donor baby due to health issues in the family, is intelligent and training to be a doctor, but is losing her drive and reasoning for it all. Then there's Dean who has had a poor upbringing and has gotten his girlfriend pregnant.

I don't know exactly how it works for sperm donors and the children getting in touch with each other, but Lisa made this story believable and warm. Nothing felt forced or cheesy. I was there with all three characters as they discovered who they really were and what they needed to do with their lives. They could almost be someone you know they were so fleshed out with their quirks, habits and thoughts.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a feel-good story. This has definitely moved into the slot of being my favourite Lisa Jewell book. I really haven't done enough justice for this book here. So trust me, go read this book. You need to experience it all for yourself to understand my love of Lisa's fantastic storytelling skills.

Dark Mirror
Dark Mirror
by Mary Jo Putney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but still enjoyable., 28 May 2011
This review is from: Dark Mirror (Paperback)
It's taken me a few days to write this review because whilst I did like the story, it also wound me up too. I don't profess to know a lot about the time period Tory is from, but I know enough about English history to know when not enough research has been done to write this story. It started well, and it was believable, but then mannerisms and speech from that era started to slip the further we went into the book. Then add in a couple of unbelievable moments and I felt slightly flummoxed as to what was going on in this story.

So, magic exists. People use it openly and other people who have no magic hire people with magic, mages, to do things for them. Well, the rich/nobility do the hiring because magic doesn't exist in their lineage. Then the rich/nobility start to think that they're using magic for gain, and bring about some form of ban on magic...largely in the nobility circles. Anyone born with magical abilities in noble families is shipped off to Lackland Abbey to suppress these shameful talents.

When we meet Lady Victoria, she's just discovering that she has magic in her blood and is horrified- and her father. So off she's sent to Lackland Abbey to rid her of her magic. All this was where the book was written well. The time period seemed believable and the story flowed lovely. But then Tory gets to Lackland and too many characters are flung at you at once (and things start to slip in the quality of the story). Even though I did like the mixture of characters, they were too...'textbook' and most of the time all of them were in the same scene. It doesn't take much to confuse me in a scene with lots of characters.

Once the story has settled with these characters, there's a new turn of events that takes Tory to the Second World War. Everything that happens here becomes a little much. Characters who've never known they were magical learn magical talents in just a couple of days. The 19th Century etiquette and speech drops. And an editor didn't do their job- there was the odd `Mom' in there and some speech patterns that were quite American. (I hope that isn't taken the wrong way, it's just this book was set in early 19th Century England and it didn't feel like it. I love you, America, you have my heart and excellent YA books!)

There were certain parts involving the Second World War that just broke my heart. Anything to do with the two wars breaks my heart. That part was written very well and I loved every page of it. Even with the dodgy character moments.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, despite what I've written. There was something, even with these questionable moments, that kept me hooked, kept me reading. The writing just worked. I think it also helped that the synopsis didn't really give away much of the plot, so you don't expect some of the things that happen in the book. Please take what I say lightly, I'm a nitpicker, and go into the book lightly. You'll enjoy it.

Kate's Wedding
Kate's Wedding
by Chrissie Manby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raced through it!, 24 May 2011
This review is from: Kate's Wedding (Paperback)
It's been a while since I've read a Chrissie Manby book. In fact, the last time I picked up a Chrissie Manby book was when she was known as Chris Manby. I don't understand why I haven't because she was the first adult book I read; Lizzie Jordan's Secret Life. I still remember the story vividly and racing through it when I should have been doing my Macbeth G.C.S.E. essay. Then I got swept up in the royal wedding fever and snapped up Kate's Wedding when it came out, and I'm glad I did.

The book is largely told from Kate's point-of-view, with some from Diana, and the odd chapter told from Melanie's, the wedding dress shop owner, view. The story starts from when Kate and Diana get engaged, with them crossing paths from time to time. Kate wants a small, simple affair and Diana wants her version of the royal wedding, and by God will she get it!

Kate was lovely. She just wants to be married without all the trappings of a wedding. I completely related to her in that sense. Even when she was ready for bouncing Ian, her fiancé, down the aisle for some of his questionable behaviour, I related to that too. But what got on my nerves in those situations, and it has done in other novels too, is when couples don't talk. They just assume the other should know what they want. It really rubs me up the wrong way and I will never relate or understand it. That was a pet hate for me in this story.

Then you had Diana, a complete and utter Bridezilla. I've never really met someone who was a Bridezilla, but I could completely imagine them to be like Diana. With no original thought of her own and constantly looking to Kate Middleton and the royal wedding, she wanted everything her way. I loved to hate Diana and the wrath she inflicted on her fiancé, Ben. I didn't have any sympathy for him though. He had no backbone and brought it on himself. They were both written so well, that I wished there had been more of Diana and her spoilt tantrums, with Ben wondering how much more he could take.

There were some very funny moments and sweet moments, and this has made me want to pick up some more Chrissie Manby novels as I've quite clearly been missing out since my last venture into her books. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves chicklit!

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