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Andrea Smith (London, UK)

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Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Darker
by E L James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars A good read..., 15 April 2015
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This review is from: Fifty Shades Darker (Paperback)
Having enjoyed the first book, I was eager to start the sequel and to start with, I found myself engrossed in it. However, as the book went on, my interest waned to the point where I didn't pick it up for a week or two towars the end. It started to get a bit too repetitive and I think I'm at the point where I'm all Greyed out! The sex scenes are even a bit old hat now and I skimmed over most of them.

It's not a bad read, but it's not the best. I bought all three books so I'm about to start the third but I think I'll be relieved to get to the end of the trio now and put these characters to bed, if you will excuse the pun!!!


Brabantia Pedal Bin 30-Litre with Plastic Inner Bucket, Almond
Brabantia Pedal Bin 30-Litre with Plastic Inner Bucket, Almond
Price: £52.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth paying extra for, 1 April 2015
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After a disasterous experience with a similar, cheaper bin from a well known upmarket department store (which had flimsy lid that opened with a clang loud enough to wake the dead), we gave in and bought a Brabantia. Very glad we did - this is a quality bin that will last years, it has a fantastic soft close lid and looks as elegant as a bin could look. We had a Brabantia before (only replaced as it acquired a large dent when moving home) and I'm pleased that we have another. I've learned that you get what you pay for with kitchen bins and I'll stick with Brabantia from now on. Not cheap, but well worth paying extra for.


Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey
by E L James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watched the film, read the book, 26 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Paperback)
I bought the book after seeing the film and read it in three days, so yes I did really enjoy it. The only downside is that there is a lot of repetition, as others have mentioned - both with words and actions. I think with some decent editing, a couple of hundred pages could easily have been taken out (including the pointless and cringeworthy "inner goddess" references) and a more concise and tantalising tale would have emerged.

The characters are good. Very good, and I think that is the key to the author's success with these books. It is all very open and very raw, you really feel as if you're getting to know them well as they are (literally and metaphorically) stripped bare. The romance is actually quite believable - it shows all the uncertainty, the rollercoaster of emotion when two people meet, and the baring of souls in its full glory.

Overall, it is readable and it is interesting. Had it been edited slightly better and some of the repetition removed, it would have been awarded 5 stars from me.

I'm about to start the second book now...


The Night Rainbow
The Night Rainbow
by Claire King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet..., 23 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Paperback)
An enjoyable book that shows the raw emotion of love and loss through an optimistic 5 year olds eyes. It is really sweet and you can almost put yourself in five year old Pea's shoes. It's quite different from many other books I've read.

That said, it does have some flaws: I think it could have been longer than 256 pages - although it is beautifully written, I think the author could have better developed the characters in a longer novel. Some of the words used seem a little unrealistic for a five year old vocabulary. Oh and the mother's behaviour was a little frustrating and I didn't like her as a character at all.

Worth a buy if you find it on here at a bargain price as I did - it's interesting and original - but I'm not sure I'd pay full price for it to be honest.


The Dressmaker
The Dressmaker
by Kate Alcott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting and uninspiring..., 19 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Dressmaker (Paperback)
It's rare for me not to finish a book, but I just could not get into this. The characters were all unlikeable and irritating, the plot was thin and the pace was slow, slow, slow. The author's writing style leaves a lot to be desired and it is indeed (as another reviewer has commented) very amateurish. Many of the events are improbable.

I can't quite get my head around how someone has taken a major historic event, which is undoubtedly fascinating to many, and turned it into such a boring story. It was becoming a chore to read, so I gave up around the half way mark.


Fifty Shades of Grey: The Unseen Edition [DVD] [2015]
Fifty Shades of Grey: The Unseen Edition [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Jamie Dornan
Price: £10.00

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I expected...!, 18 Feb. 2015
I've never read any of the Fifty Shades books, so everything I know about them is gleaned from the plethora of scathing one-star reviews on Amazon that deterred me from reading them in the first place. As a result I wasn't expecting much from this film. Actually, scratch that - I was expecting it to be mind-numbingly boring and that after watching it I would never want to touch a Fifty Shades book.

What really happened is that after the credits rolled I went and added all three books into my Amazon basket and merrily clicked on the checkout button.

The film is good.... very good. (I can't believe I'm writing this). The plot, for what it's worth, is original, it's a little risqué, and I found the psychology behind the characters incredibly interesting. The sexual content was not my cup of tea, but I didn't find it particularly shocking and I think it was done as tamely as possible (indeed the critics were clamouring for more sex, according to the papers). It is seductive in a way, particularly the chemistry between Jamie and Dakota. But for me this was essentially a film about a domineering, possessive control freak, who likes submissive women and wants complete control of Anastasia. Ok, so far, nothing to set this film aside from the many others about crazed men, you say... well actually, no, because here this control is taken to the bedroom, where Mr Grey subjects Anastasia to all sorts of pain, for reasons the reader is left to only guess at - or read the books to find out!

There is something very raw about the film - the way it captures Anastasia's swing of emotions, the way it takes us into the heart of the bedroom (or the Red room in this case!) to give us a glimpse of something that is very alien to most of us, which feels like being let into someone's most intimate secrets. It's an intriguing film, and I'm starting to see now why the books have been such hits. Because people will say 'there is no plot' etc, but I think there is, and it's very different from most romances. The author took a risk with this, and it paid off. I think sales, which were already booming, will go through the roof following this film!

Definitely recommended, and I await the release on DVD so that I can watch it with my other half!


The Sunrise
The Sunrise
by Victoria Hislop
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Well after a VERY slow start..., 25 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Sunrise (Hardcover)
I bought this book as I have an interest in the subject matter: being of Greek Cypriot descent I am familiar with the war in Cyprus of 1974 (which broke out when my dad was a young man).

The Sunrise starts off painfully slowly and very, what's the word I'm looking for here... wooden? It's almost as if the author is a little unsure of her characters, which does not make for very easy reading. This carries on for around the first 100 pages, and I was tempted to give up by that point - however, I plodded on, as I'd paid a considerable price for the hardback version (such was my eagerness to read this book asap!). I'm glad I did persevere as it did pick up after that. Things actually started happening, however I think I am not alone amongst the reviewers in thinking the story had the potential to be so much better than it actually was. I found that it jumped around a little bit, some of the events didn't seem at all plausible and some characters remained undeveloped, which was ultimately a little frustrating.

On the plus side, I don't think the author was particularly biased towards Greek or Turkish Cypriots. This is quite refreshing, as she acknowledges the atrocities carried out by both sides during this terrible war.

Overall, this is a decent read - for me it evoked memories of beautiful Cyprus, where I spent many a happy childhood summer post-war. It allowed me to reminisce about how things might have been in that summer of 1974, before I was born. That said, I am but not sure I would read it again as the storyline itself isn't the best, and I can well imagine that readers who don't have a Cypriot background may find this book lacking.


Green People Natural Aloe Vera Deodorant 75ml
Green People Natural Aloe Vera Deodorant 75ml
Price: £7.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased, 18 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am moving towards more organic skin care in general and have been looking for a natural deodorant for a while. I tried Lavera (orange scented one) first but while I love their range, the deodorant left me a bit whiffy by midday. The Green People one is really good for a natural product - there is no smell, so it won't clash with your perfume, and underarms stayed fresh pretty much all day (12 hours). By the time I put my PJs on and did the sniff test, you could tell it had started to wear off but I didn't smell unpleasant. I would recommend this excellent product.


How Clean is Your House?
How Clean is Your House?
by Kim Woodburn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more, dear, 16 Jan. 2015
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I came across this book in the middle of the night after reading an article in a national newspaper by one of these two about lemons and microwaves whilst feeding my daughter and thinking 'what a great idea'... I was basically hoping for some tips on how to clean my house a little more efficiently - it's January and I wanted some spring cleaning tips. I was also interested in how these two use products like vinegar, bicarbonate of soda as I want to move away from harsh chemical cleaners.

The book is nicely laid out and well written, in an easy-to-read format, however, I would have preferred less close up double page spreads of toilets, shoes, dirty baths and Aggie and Kim grinning at each other in bed (?!), less endless graphic descriptions of the filthy homes they'd visited - and more cleaning hints and tips for the reader!

For every great cleaning tip there is in the book, there are also about ten very basic tips that your average eight year old would know. Some are also repeated at other stages in the book, which is slightly annoying. The other thing is that they imply that "a few minutes cleaning a day" is all it takes to keep your house gleaming in the way that they describe... er, really? They then proceed to advise on how often to do certain things: change dishcloths daily, hoover the kitchen daily, change the sheets once or twice a week... As a full time mum who does about two hours of housework daily, and whose house is very tidy, I can quite honestly say there is NO way I'd have time to do a lot of the stuff they recommend and still look after my little one, cook, shop and all the rest. I had to laugh at the section where Kim said: sometimes at the end of a long day, if there is nothing on TV I think "I know what, I'll clean a room that I haven't cleaned for a while instead". Mmmm, nope, I'm not with you on that one!

In short, I think this book is geared towards people who genuinely do not know where to start when it comes to cleaning, or perhaps students in shared accommodation who need a bit of a prod to clean up their mess... for the rest of us who don't live in squalor - and let's face it, 90% of the population don't have mouldy plates stacked high in their sinks - this book doesn't really teach us that much.

Extra brownie points to Kim and Aggie however for managing to sound genuine and not at all patronising throughout the book, despite the fact some of the content is very basic.


The Husband's Secret
The Husband's Secret
by Liane Moriarty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.80

5.0 out of 5 stars The first book I've loved and hated and still given 5 stars to..., 16 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Husband's Secret (Paperback)
There is something really irritating about this book - the characters annoyed me, I didn't really like any of them, to be perfectly honest...and yet... it's also a very good book in the way that the author cleverly entwines three different stories in a way that exposes every single character's faults (and there are many faults).

I particularly like the ending - I've not seen an epilogue quite like it, in the way the author tells us what happens in the future and also says what 'might' have happened, had things taken a different path. One particular "ending" didn't seem plausible to me, and it relates to a genetic illness, however the author pretty much deserves 5 stars for the epilogue alone. So many books end lazily, or unsatisfactorily - but not this one.

So, despite the fact I disliked the characters, and spent most of the book wanting to get away from them, I have to begrudgingly admit this was very good, the author is very talented. I will read more by Liane Moriarty.


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