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The Leopard Tree - Tim Merriman, Lisa Brochu 03/12/2013

The Leopard Tree - gripping and heart-warming tale of courage

The Leopard Tree - Tim Merriman, Lisa Brochu The Leopard Tree – Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu Brief outline The Leopard Tree is a story about three young African children who stowaway on a plane to America and embark on a mission to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations in order to tell him about the problems faced by themselves and their friends. Plot and characters HIV-positive Daudi lived with his grandmother, Mamere, following the death of his mother due to AIDs. When Mamere dies, Daudi is taken to live in an orphanage. There is not money for him to receive his medication. Daudi meets Ramla, a young girl who has not spoken since she witnessed her family raped and killed in front of her. Ramla’s closest friend at the orphanage is a boy named Masozi who lost a leg, his sight and his family to a land mine. Ramla acts as Masozi’s eyes and he as her voice. Daudi’s Mamere left him with a book, The Wizard of Oz, which he reads to his new friends. They believe in the wizard and believe that if they can just talk to the right person they can get help for all their friends and all the other Africans. Mamere also left Daudi with a strong sense of right and wrong and faith in himself. When photojournalist Rosa Carson visits the orphanage to do a human interest story, she is struck by the quiet bravery of the children and a sense of inadequacy. Rosa wants to help, but isn’t able to address the issues which the children need help with. They ask her who could help, who the wizard is, and the best answer she ...

Small Kindnesses - Fiona Robyn 05/03/2013

Small Kindnesses gives a lovely warm feeling

Small Kindnesses - Fiona Robyn In my quest to forgive the Kindle not being a real book and use it more, I have been downloading free books. Lots and lots of them. One of the free books I downloaded was Small Kindnesses by Fiona Robyn. Amazon estimate this has the equivalent of 326 print pages. I got this book for free, but it was a special offer, usually it is for sale at £3.99. Plot and characters Leonard Mutch is in his 60s. His wife, Rose, died quite suddenly three years ago leaving him alone with Pickles, their dog. Leonard’s daughter, Raine, her husband and their twin boys live fairly near and he stays with them regularly. Rose’s death left a huge hole in Leonard’s life and although he carried on working and socialising, he is clearly quite lonely. When tidying one day he comes across an old handbag of Rose’s and checks the insides before binning it, hoping for a forgotten photo or something, instead he finds a ticket to Didcot. This confuses Leonard; Rose has always said she’s not been to Didcot and they had always intended to go at some point. A letter arrives addressed to Rose and Leonard opens it. It’s from an old school friend, called Lily, getting in touch for the first time since they left school. Leonard replies, explaining that he and Rose had been married for 30 years, but sadly she had died, but if Lily wants to talk then to contact him. Lily does contact Leonard and they talk about the Rose each of them knew. Something Lily said struck a chord with Leonard, it’s a small thing, but ...

Mercury Rising (DVD) 05/02/2013

Mercy me, Mercury Rising's a good film

Mercury Rising (DVD) His Lordship and I were at my mum’s and the three of us wanted a film to watch, one which was not too hard to follow, didn’t need too much concentration, but one which would grab our attention. Mum and I had already seen Mercury Rising a long while ago but His Lordship had not, so mum and I chose it as a non-girly everybody friendly option. Plot Mercury Rising is, in a nut-shell, a thriller which deals with a nine year old boy with autism who breaks the National Security Agency’s best, most reliable code (Mercury) which is protecting the identities of foreign informants to the US government. Simon, the young boy with autism, loves puzzles and when he is given a new puzzle book he works his way contentedly through, ringing the phone number he finds in a puzzle. This phone call sets things in motion to try to protect Mercury and Simon’s parents are shot by a man looking for Simon. Art Jeffries, a brilliant but unpredictable FBI agent, is called in to a missing child case – Simon is missing following the apparent murder/suicide of his parents. Art finds Simon and insists on a guard in the hospital. When Simon’s parents (yep, the dead ones) ask for the guard to be removed and ok Simon’s move to another ward, Art steps in and abducts the boy to protect him. Actors and acting Simon is the main character. He is played by Miko Huges who, according to IMDB, began his acting career aged 22 months, with his feature film debut aged 27 months. As someone who has worked with ...

Carpe DiEmily - Riley J Ford 01/02/2013

Carpe DiEmily didn't seize me at all

Carpe DiEmily - Riley J Ford Although I didn’t intend to make any New Year’s resolutions for 2013, I did promise myself that I would try to forgive the Kindle for not being a real book (I didn’t want the thing, it was bought for his Lordship who reads nothing but BBC news on his phone and myself last Christmas but His Lordship’s parents and I still see it as a waste of £90, but still…). In view of this forgiving the Kindle, I decided to put a load of free books on it, and got rather carried away which I only realised when His Lordship got annoyed at receiving 136 separate emails, all at 1am for some reason, confirming my purchases. Seeing as the books were free and I generally read pretty much anything, I didn’t pay much attention to the blurbs and have discovered through using the Kindle that I can’t see any information about the book other than its name on the thing itself. This has made for some surprise reads, as you may imagine! One of the books which I got and read was called Carpe diEmily. Just from the title (as that was all I had to go on) it sounded like a chick lit type feel-good book. Not my favourite genre, but one which when I do find a well written, well-rounded book can be very enjoyable. I began reading and immediately my deduction it was chick-lit was confirmed. Emily is almost 27 and has her life mapped out – she’s about to get that promotion at work and her boyfriend of 7 years is about to propose. Things have taken slightly longer than she’s initially intended, but she was ...

Candlemoth - Roger Jon Ellory 17/01/2013

Candlemoth drew me to its flame

Candlemoth - Roger Jon Ellory Recently, I’ve been trying to re-read books in a money, and space, saving attempt. One which was on my shelf and I vaguely remembered reading was Candlemoth by RJ (Roger John) Ellory. RJ Ellory also wrote A Quiet Belief in Angles which is probable his most famous book – it was in the Richard and Judy bookclub selection. A Quiet Belief in Angels was the only other one I’d heard of and I recall being told it was a great read, trying it and being disappointed enough to give my copy to charity. The fact that I had not given my copy of Candlemoth away, then, meant that despite not really remembering anything about it, I must have enjoyed it. Candlemoth was Ellory’s first novel. The book was first published, by Orion, in 2003, and in paperback in 2004. My copy is a reissue from 2008 and bears the legend ‘from the author of A Quiet Belief in Angels’. Characters and plot Daniel Ford is 36. Ten years before his best friend was killed and Daniel has been sitting on death row waiting for his final punishment all this time. Daniel is a white American, South Carolina born and raised, his childhood was happy and spent in a happy haze of friendship and pranks, then JFK was killed, Martin Luther King was killed and America went to war with Vietnam and the child’s idyll was ended. Nathan Verney was Daniel’s best friend. They met when they were six when a gutsy small boy asked Daniel for a bite of his sandwich. Daniel and Nathan grew up almost as brothers, they shared everything and ... 21/09/2012

Dotcomgiftshop fills my stocking Although it is still almost a year until I get married (360 days, to be precise), my fiancé and I have started to think about gifts for our attendants as I would rather give them something thoughtful and personal than something which might cost more but be less personal. So, I'm looking for inspiration early on. His Lordship bought me a copy of Wedding magazine – he's realised that I'm planning it around him and so is giving me ideas (his words) rather than interfering... In the magazine was an advert for the website, and also the lovely temptation of a 20% discount code. I thought it was worth a look. Layout and ease of use First impressions were good. The website is neat, but very attractive. I've seen websites which were so cluttered that it's been hard to find my way around them, but also ones which were supposed to entice me to buy but had no images of their products on the home page. Dotcomgiftshop has the site name in the top left hand corner, each word in a different colour. The top right-hand corner contains the telephone number (great! This can sometimes be really difficult to find. I really like the fact that it is a London number, not a premium rate). Also in the top right hand corner is your shopping basket which tells you at a glance the number of items and the combined price. Under the name of the site are tabs to click on for further shopping. These are: Weddings; What's New; Gifts; Home&Garden; Shop by Range; and Special ...

Primark Wild Berry Tealights 12/09/2012

Berry nice

Primark Wild Berry Tealights A couple of days ago I was in Primark and bored, so I went to look in their home ware department where I found 16 Wild Berry Scented Tealights reduced from £2 to £1.50. His Lordship and I love candles, so I invested. The candles came in a nice little cube, with 4 candles on each tier, 4 tiers high. I personally find this easier to store than the loose bags which plain white tealights so often come in which fall out of cupboards and take up a lot of space. Between each layer of candles is a thin clear plastic sheet which tops the candles from sitting in each other. For me, this is unnecessary packaging, but it is recyclable which is good. The name of the product is written on the top of the box, as well as informations stating that each candle is 3.8cm x 1.9cm (normal tealight size as opposed to the extra large ones which are sometimes available). It also says that each candle burns up to 4 hours. On the box is a sticker with lots of information symbols. Again, the 4 hours burn time is mentioned as well as some safety information such as not having the candle near anything flammable. Most of these symbols are really easy to figure out what they mean, but there is one which I cannot decipher. I like the fact that for the most part the safety information is easy to understand at a glance. I work with people with learning disabilities and one of the huge things we push for is 'accessible information' which means information you can understand without reading – something ...

1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other Tempting Treats - Parragon Book Service 14/07/2012

Sweet treats aplenty

1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other Tempting Treats - Parragon Book Service Now that I have made 50 of the recipes in 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & other tempting treats it seems the ideal time to review it. 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & other tempting treats is currently selling on Amazon for £17.00 (used copies from £1.65), but I paid a mere £5 from a work's book club two years ago. This was the first of only 2 books I've bought from such schemes, and I simply couldn't resist. First impressions When I picked up the sample copy of 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and other tempting treats I was first drawn by the spine of the book. The spine could not look more girlie if it was covered in sparkly pink diamanté and sequins! It's a dusky turquoise with dusky pink lettering which states the name of the book and the author (Susanne Tee). That fold between the spine and the front cover is in the same colours, though the pink is prevalent with turquoise dots evenly spaced along. I really like it, it's so pretty, and very 'country cottage kitchen'. I was not really struck by the simple cover which has pictures of very home-made looking cupcakes on, without the very tall overly decorated tops which are so common in shop-bought cupcakes. The cover colours are muted, very soft. The cupcakes look yummy enough, but nothing too tempting. Flicking through the book itself, however, I soon found myself salivating. Every recipe (except for variations) has its own picture, which are appetising, colourful and having made several of the recipes – many more than once – ...

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues - Trisha Ashley 05/07/2012

What every little girl dreams of

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues - Trisha Ashley My best friend, and chief bridesmaid to be, knows me oh so well, so when she saw a book which listed my favourite things linked with weddings, she says she simply had to buy it for me. So, this is how I came to hear of and read Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley. His Lordship thought the title was proof that accurate punctuation is dying, even amongst professional writers, however the main character sells shoes made of chocolate, so this is not the case. I wanted to clear that up quickly before anyone else became frustrated by the poor grammar. Main characters and plot The main character in Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is Tansy Poole. Tansy is 36, engaged to a man she's not sure if she still loves, worried that her body clock is ticking away any chance of her having the baby she so desperately wants. Tansy lives in London with Justin, her fiancé, but spends many of her weekends in Sticklepond, where she grew up, with her 92-year old great-aunt Nan, and it is here that she feels at home. Bella is Tansy's best friend. She runs Nan's shop, the part-time work is ideal as she is raiding her daughter in a tiny annexe to her parents home. Bella has sworn off men after her partner died and she found he had left her with huge debts. Nan, Tansy's great-aunt is an old lady. She owns a shoe shop – Bright's shoes – which has been in the family for generations. When Nan passes away, Tansy inherits it. Tansy has long had ideas of how the shop could be a ...

London Fruit & Herb Company Blueberry Bliss Tea Bags 28/06/2012


London Fruit & Herb Company Blueberry Bliss Tea Bags I love tea, but try not to drink too much caffeine in a day, so have been on the look out for a range of different flavoured and herbal teas to tempt the palate. The latest one I've bought is Blueberry Bliss from the London Fruit and Herb Company. I got a box of 20 teabags, each individually wrapped inside the larger box. I still can't decide what I think of individual wrappings; I don't like the extra waste, but I do like the fact that the bags stay a bit fresher and, more importantly to me, can be stuffed in my handbag for work. The first thing which hit me when I picked up the box, and the main reason I opted for Blueberry Bliss over all the other varieties, was the smell. There is a very fruity smell, despite the cellophane which the box was wrapped in. I'm not exactly used to the smell of blueberries, some scents, such as strawberry, are unmistakable for me, but until I happened to buy a punnet of blueberries I couldn't have sworn that the teabags smelt of blueberries. Now, I know that they do. Sometimes I find that fruit teas can smell artificial, but not so with Blueberry Bliss. I think the teabags smell a very little bit musky, but this is because of the bag itself, when the tea is made the tea smells very fresh. The tea can be made and enjoyed as a hot drink or as a cool, refreshing one. I have tried it as both, and although I do prefer it hot, His Lordship and I are drinking an iced Blueberry Bliss as I type. If making a hot cup of Blueberry Bliss, one teabag ...

Oven Brite 01/06/2012

Brite and (br)easy

Oven Brite Bunny was at his grandma's, His Lordship at work, so I was free to do a day's deep cleaning of the flat without a) harming little respiratory systems and b) being moaned that that the cleaning smells worse than if it's left. I like to keep quite a clean house, and I am so looking forward to being able to buy and have a house which is easier to clean to my standards and then maintain, but for the time being I'm stuck with scrubbing rentals up to the best I can manage and doing my best to ignore the bits I can't change (like the revolting and slightly mouldy carpet in my bathroom). When we moved into our flat, there were a few cleanliness issues I was very aware of. I've dealt with all but the oven, which is one of my least favourite tasks around the house. I'd seen the cleaners advertised where you put the shelves in a bag and bingo they come out clean (well, almost that easily) but I'd never seen one which could compete price-wise with the more typical spray cleaners and elbow grease. When His Lordship and I were in Aldi we spotted a box labelled 'Oven Brite oven cleaning kit' for just £2.49. On closer inspection, the box states it contains: 500ml bottle cleaning solution, disposable gloves, rack cleaning bag and oven sponge. We decided to give it a go as the price was so good and we generally get on well with Aldi products. Ease of use The instructions on Oven Brite are short but sufficient. I found them very easy to follow; having not used a bag oven cleaner before I ...

Soap & Glory The Scrub Of Your Life 25/05/2012

Scrub your worries away

Soap & Glory The Scrub Of Your Life In my Christmas pack of Soap and Glory goodies there was a tube of The Scrub of Your Life, and it is this which I will be reviewing here. I am not particularly prone to dry skin on my body. I do get dry patches on my knees if I've been silly on placement and knelt next to people for too long. I also sometimes get yukky flaky legs if I've been lax with moisturising them. But basically, I'm reviewing a scrub as someone who wants one to keep on top of minor issues, not as someone who is trying to deal with a lot of problem areas. As with any product, the first thing I notice about my tube of The Scrub of Your Life is its packaging. Soap and Glory always impress me packaging wise. This one is pink, with a lot of writing on, something atypical for beauty products which I tend to find go for the more minimal look. The writing on the front of the tube offers promises about the product’s efficacy – I can't fully comment on these as I do not have all the skin issues they promise to deal with. It promises to deal with rough elbows, dry shins and those funny bumps on the backs of your arms. I did not buy The Scrub of Your Life myself, however the packaging would have enticed me to look. The price tag, on the other hand, might well have put me off at £7.00 for 200ml from Boots – I do like to exfoliate but I never spend more than £3 on a product and have never had any complaints. I appreciate that for a lot of people £7.00 isn't too much, but I'm a student, The lid of The Scrub of Your ...

Fort Paull, Paull, Hull 11/04/2012

Fighting for Fort Paull

Fort Paull, Paull, Hull Yesterday, his Lordship and I were both off, the weather was lovely and we were up in plenty of time for a spontaneous visit to Fort Paull. == What is it? == The Ciao picture of Fort Paull is not the actual Fort Paull. Please see my pictures below for the actual looks. Fort Paull was originally built in 1542, commissioned by King Henry VIII. Since that time, it has been adapted, razed and rebuilt many times; the current fort is the 4th built on the site. The current fort, which forms the museum, was built in 1864 and garrisoned until 1950, amongst other things, it was active in both world wars. Fort Paull is now a museum which advertises itself as providing Hands on History. Almost 500 years of history are presented in a range of ways. There are more traditional museum displays, showcasing some very rare items (such as a salt cellar supposedly made of one of the vertebrae from King Charles I!!!), some collections lent or donated by private collectors, and a very interesting history of the fire service. There are also waxwork displays which lend life to the history being described. One major attraction of Fort Paull is that it houses the only Blackburn Beverley Transport Aircraft remaining in the world. This aeroplane houses a museum display of its own, including waxwork figures demonstrating how supply drops would have been made, and how the plane would have been flown. Fort Paull hosts a range of events throughout the season, including classic car rallies, a civil war ...

666 Charing Cross Road - Paul Magrs 23/03/2012

Charing Cross - frustrating's slow

666 Charing Cross Road - Paul Magrs I've got an essay to do – 2500 words on the pros and cons of collaborative working. So, like the good responsible adult I am, I am procrastinating. The house is spotless, rabbit is clean (cage, toilet and he himself has been through the bath) and the next week's dinners are ready. So, I used my time to finish my book. My book was 666 Charing Cross Road by Paul Magrs. == Characters == Although the book has a lot of main characters, more than most I've read recently, only four of them are absolute key characters and so these are the ones I'll introduce here. Elizabeth (Liza) Bathory is a publisher's reader. This elderly lady is an eccentric, loveable but opinionated and not shy to let her opinions show. Shelley is Liza's niece. She has a fairly new job at the Museum of Outsider Arts and an even newer boyfriend in her boss, Daniel. Shelley is a bit lonely, desperate for family life and settling down happily ever after. Daniel is Shelley's boss and boyfriend. He's intelligent, handsome and a git. Daniel is not happy with his lot, but not really willing to do anything about it. Jack, thirty-something, gay and content in his job as a sales assistant in the Gothic book store Fangtasm. Jack met Liza through the shop and became enthralled by her huge personality, and she by their common interests and his links to the shop. == Plot == (there is a little bit of a spoiler here which I apologise for, but it's quite central to the story line) Liza is bored of modern fiction, she misses the ...

Soap & Glory Hand food Hand cream 19/03/2012

My hands are still hungry

Soap & Glory Hand food Hand cream This review is of Hand Food. I am reviewing the 50 ml version (£2.50 at Boots), but it also comes in a 125ml tube (£5.00 in Boots). The packaging bears the question 'the most astonishing hand cream ever? You decide'. I have dry skin on my hands and have tried a huge number of hand creams in my attempt to combat the dryness. I had heard lots of good things about Soap and Glory's hand Food, so I had high hopes. == Use, thoughts and opinions == Firstly, the pink of the packaging makes Hand Food very feminine – my lad is a nurse and has a really bad habit of nabbing my hand creams for himself, the best ones seem to end up on the ward far too often. No stealing of this one. There is a flip lid, something which I find really helpful. The lid is quite stiff to open, but shuts really easily with one hand, it doesn't come open on its own which is great as this hand cream lives in my handbag. The cream is a brilliant white, and thick enough that I find it very easy to squeeze out the right amount. Soap and Glory claim that the hand cream is non-greasy; I don't fully agree, it does feel a little greasy as I put it on, but it rubs into my skin easily and my fingertips feel a little oily for a couple of minutes after application. According to the packaging, Hand Food contains shea butter, macadamia oil and marshmallow – I wondered, knowing that macadamia is a nut, if it could cause an allergic reaction, but apparently it's actually a seed and there are no know cases of anyone having a ...
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