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Now I'm on maternity leave I have more time to write and read so hope to be around a bit more than I have been recently! Thanks for the latest E's :) x

Reviews written

since 24/05/2006


Summer Holidays: Best Memories and Places 05/07/2014

A wonderful Whistle Stop Honeymoon Tour!

Summer Holidays: Best Memories and Places My husband and I married in August last year. A day as perfect as I could have wished for. I had no idea that our Honeymoon would be even more wonderful. My husband is not one for laying on a beach or lounging by a pool so I knew immediately that a fortnight on a Caribbean Island would be out. Also on a budget, we talked of using our Clubcard points to book the Eurostar to Paris and spend a few days there. However, after many hours spent researching train routes, timetables, fares, hotels and offers, our ‘few days in Paris’ ended up being 11 nights in Paris, Munich, Verona, Venice, Milan and Zurich, travelling by train. Each was memorable for different reasons. Paris was our first stop and was the first chance to relax after the wedding. We enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Seine, tucking into delicious food and white wine with the sun streaming through the windows. We spoke not of colour schemes and flower arrangements but reminisced of the wonderful day and the future still to come. As we arrived back at the dock the sun was setting and the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the background waiting for our sunset tour to the top. Next was the sleeper train to Munich, an adventure in itself. We had a private cabin with bunk beds (not very romantic but made for many a laugh!) and we even had an ‘en suite’ bathroom. This consisted of a toilet, sink and shower. However, you had to spin the sink to the left to use the toilet so that you could shut the door and then come back out again ...

Hotel Ca' Formenta, Venice 15/06/2014

Hotel Ca Formenta - perfetto!!

Hotel Ca' Formenta, Venice Venice was the 4th stop on mine and my husband’s Honeymoon trip around Europe. It was also the place we were spending the longest in – 3 nights – and I therefore wanted to ensure that I booked somewhere nice enough but not overly priced. I did spend a considerable amount of time searching on various travel websites trying to source such a hotel. I came to the conclusion that hotels in Venice are very expensive! Particularly if you want to stay very close to St Mark’s Square. I also found that a large majority of the hotels were small ‘boutique’ type hotels that didn’t have a restaurant or bar and would mean that we would have to buy all our food and drink out and about which I knew would have been very pricey. After hours of frustrated searching, I came across Hotel Ca Formenta in the Castello region. I was a little unsure at first as I thought it might be a little too far away from St Mark’s Square (to walk to) but it seemed very reasonable at £364 for both of us (in August 2013) for a Superior Room with a Lagoon View (only some rooms have a view of the lagoon) and including breakfast. It also had very good reviews on Expedia. The photos showed a small hotel with typically venetian décor in the rooms and situated on the lagoon. I therefore decided to book this hotel and hoped for the best and both my husband and I were very pleased. ***Getting there*** We arrived in Venice at Santa Lucia train station. We purchased a Vaporetti (Waterbus) ticket at the station and caught ...

Le Suite di Giulietta, Verona 29/04/2014

Not just a Hotel but the Relais de charme and B&B of your dreams!

Le Suite di Giulietta, Verona When my new husband and I decided to take a trip around Europe by train for our Honeymoon last Summer and we had already made plans to visit Venice, I knew that our Honeymoon wouldn’t be complete without visiting the romantic City of Verona with its history and architecture and, of course, the connection to Romeo and Juliet. I searched for Hotels in the area and looked at a few when I came across Le Suite di Giulietta. The thing that first captured my attention was that it stated it was overlooking Juliet’s balcony at Casa di Giulietta (and yes I’m well aware that Romeo and Juliet was just a story and Casa di Giulietta or ‘Juliet’s House’ was just a building chosen by the Council to fit the part to bring in the tourists, but still it’s romantic!) but I was rather hesitant as the price was coming up as approximately £350 for two nights for the two of us (in Summer Holidays) but as soon as I clicked the link to visit their website I was absolutely smitten and spent the next hour explaining to my future husband why it was so romantic and therefore perfect for our Honeymoon and anyway the price included breakfast so wasn’t that bad really and the other hotels weren’t that much cheaper and also this was our Honeymoon and did I mention it was our Honeymoon?! Finally he gave in and let me book it! When I had found it on Expedia there was only one room left (there are only two rooms but I’ll come to that) and so I was relieved when I clicked through again and found it was still ...

Etoile Park, Paris 24/04/2014

Etoile Park Hotel - the perfect place to start our Honeymoon

Etoile Park, Paris For our Honeymoon last summer, my new husband and I decided to travel around a small part of Europe by train, taking in Paris, Munich, Verona, Venice, Milan and Zurich. Thankfully we decided to only spend one night actually sleeping on a train, from Paris to Munich, spending the remainder of the honeymoon in hotels. We (I say ‘we’ but I actually mean ‘I’!) spent a considerable amount of time researching the different hotels as I wanted to make sure we got the best deal but as it was a Honeymoon I also wanted to make sure we stayed somewhere relatively nice! On our first stop – Paris – we stayed at ‘Etoile Park’ Hotel on Avenue Mac Mahon in the Charles de Gaulle district. I had been to Paris before, quite some years ago, but still vaguely recalled the areas and I knew I wanted to stay somewhere relatively close to the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees, rather than being up the other end towards the Louvre. I found Etoile Park Hotel on Expedia (though I actually booked it through another company) by simply seeing what was available in that area on the dates we wanted and narrowing it down that way. I wanted to book somewhere that came with breakfast so that we didn’t have to worry about finding somewhere in the mornings, we could simply get up, eat and get on with our sightseeing. Etoile Park could offer us such facilities and after looking at their website to have a closer look I decided this would, hopefully, be an ideal place to start our Honeymoon. Thankfully, I wasn’t ...

Gravity, 2013 (DVD) 23/04/2014

Lost in Space

Gravity, 2013 (DVD) Being on maternity leave and waiting for the little one to arrive, I am now making my way through and catching up on movies and TV programs that have been on my ‘must watch’ list. The most recent viewing was ‘Gravity’, a Sci-Fi/Thriller released in 2013 directed by Alfonso Cuarón. I wanted to see this film at the Cinema as soon as I had seen the first trailer and following that I heard lots of positive reviews about it (not to mention the fact that it has won 4 BAFTAs, 7 Oscars and a Golden Globe for the direction) so was very pleased when the Father in Law bought it and let us borrow it! I won’t go into the plot too much as the whole premise of the story is centred around one main plot point and I don’t want to give away any spoilers. However, in short, the movie opens in space to astronauts on a routine mission and the voices of the ground crew in Houston. We soon discover that Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first ever mission into space with Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) a veteran astronaut on his final ever mission, repairing a telescope on the Space Shuttle ‘Explorer’. We quickly learn that a Russian Military Satellite has hit another one and has sent debris flying through Space towards them and they are told to abort the mission. Unable to escape the debris quick enough however, a disaster is soon upon them and Dr Stone and Kowalski are forced to fend for themselves in the eerie vastness of space. As I expected, I enjoyed this film (I ...

The Visitor - Lee Child 04/04/2013

Jack Reacher - Revisited

The Visitor - Lee Child Edition being reviewed: Paperback 512 pages Publisher: Bantam First published (in UK) in 2000. The Visitor is the 4th novel in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. I first discovered the series when I was given a copy of Killing Floor (the first book in the series) as part of World Book Night a couple of years ago (for those of you who don't know what this is but are interested, see I finished Killing Floor in two days and was blown away by the brilliance of Child's writing, the character of Jack Reacher, the pace, the tension, the conspiracies etc. I decided that I had to read the entire series and have since acquired another 7 Child novels in the series and am working my way through them in order. *My Thoughts* The Visitor is therefore not only the 4th book in the series but also the 4th Child book I have read. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good thriller and has the typical Lee Child style of writing but having been blown away by the first book and then still thoroughly enjoying the second and third, I had high expectations for this novel and was left feeling a little underwhelmed. The premise of the story was very good and kept me interested, I just felt the pace a little slow compared to others. I had just finished a book (another thriller by a different author) which had short, punchy chapters, some only a couple of pages, which I was unable to put down because as soon as I finished ...

Trust Your Eyes - Linwood Barclay 02/04/2013

Trust Barclay to deliver a belter of a story!

Trust Your Eyes - Linwood Barclay Edition being reviewed:- Hardcover 512 pages Publisher: Orion (27th September 2012) Trust Your Eyes is the 5th Linwood Barclay book I have read and it is definitely my most favourite so far. I came across it by somewhat of an accident as I bought it for a relative who asked for it for Christmas but it turned out someone else had also bought it for her so I decided to keep and read it myself. I’m not going to go into the premise of the book too much as I don’t want to give away any spoilers. However, I will say that when I started reading and the premise became clear I thought it was a very clever idea and I was surprised that it had not been thought of before. The blurb from the inside sleeve of the book draws you in by simply telling you:- ‘A man is moving down a street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, scanning the storefronts, taking in his surroundings, when he sees something in a third-floor tenement window. A woman’s face, distorted with terror. Thomas is convinced he’s witnessing a murder. Except that things aren’t quite as simple as that. To some people, Thomas Kilbride wouldn’t exactly be the most reliable of witnesses, and it’s going to be very difficult to persuade the police to investigate. Because Thomas was never actually there. And the murder was months ago. But Thomas trusts his eyes. And that could be his biggest mistake’. As it would suggest, the story is largely centred around a man called Thomas Kilbride. However, it is Thomas’ brother, Ray, who tells ...

What To Expect When You're Expecting (DVD) 06/02/2013

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this film as much as I did!

What To Expect When You're Expecting (DVD) Please note this is a film only review What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a romantic comedy inspired by the New York Times’ bestseller book of the same name, released in May 2012, directed by Kirk Jones (the man behind Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned). I have been broody for about 15 years now (and that’s only a very slight exaggeration!) so love everything and anything babies so I probably would have seen this film anyway. However, the fact that there were enough people in it that I have at least heard of made it more appealing. Cast Cameron Diaz: Jules Baxter Jennifer Lopez: Holly Elizabeth Banks: Wendy Cooper Chace Crawford: Marco Brooklyn Decker: Skyler Cooper Anna Kendrick: Rosie Matthew Morrison: Evan Baxter Dennis Quaid: Ramsey Cooper Chris Rock: Vic Mac Rodrigo Santoro: Alex Ben Falcone: Gary Cooper Joe Manganiello: Davis Rob Huebel: Gale Thomas Lennon: Craig Amir Talai: Patel Rebel Wilson: Janice Wendi McLendon-Covey: Kara Plot I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to give any spoilers in case you want to see it, but in short, this film follows the lives of 5 couples and their own experiences with impending parenthood. We see TV Fitness Guru Jules (Diaz) and Dance Show star Evan (Morrison) come to terms with the demands of pregnancy imposing on their celebrity lifestyle, baby crazy author Wendy (Banks) gets a taste of her own militant advice when she discovers that being pregnant isn’t all glowing faces and warm ...

I Love Capri - Belinda Jones 03/02/2013

If I inherited £5,000, I'd head straight to the Isle of Capri!

I Love Capri - Belinda Jones ‘I Love Capri’ is the second novel by chic lit author, Belinda Jones. My usual genre preference is a thriller with lots of action and suspense and I find that a large majority of chic lit novels are a little shallow and bore me after the first few chapters. Having read two of Belinda Jones’ other novels ‘Café Tropicana’ and ‘The Paradise Room’ and thoroughly enjoyed them both however, when a work colleague offered to lend me ‘I Love Capri’ I was eager to give it a read. As with Jones’ other novels, the front cover is bright and beautiful, this time showing a woman looking out over a clear blue water in the sun, with a glass of wine next to her – bliss! Belinda Jones is clearly well travelled and her knowledge of the world comes through in her novels, her descriptive style of writing engages the reader and helps them to feel as if they are there in the story, witnessing it from the sidelines. ‘I Love Capri’ is no different. *So what’s it about?* From the back of the book – ‘Kim Rees became a translator for the glamorous jet-set lifestyle. So, five years later, how come she's ended up in a basement flat in Cardiff translating German computer games in her dressing gown? Fortunately her mother has a plan to extract her from her marshmallowy rut: a trip to the magical isle of Capri. At first Kim refuses to wake up and smell the bougainvillea, but as she starts to succumb to the irresistible delights of cocktails on the terrace and millionaire suitors, she's surprised to ...

Pictures Of Lily - Paige Toon 31/01/2013

Picture Perfect? - Pictures of Lily

Pictures Of Lily - Paige Toon Those of you who have read my book reviews before know that I love nothing better than settling down with a good book. About 90% of my vast bookcase at home is occupied by thrillers but occasionally the murders and violence and tension become a little too much and I have to take a break for a while for fear of attacking the Fiancé in my sleep! It’s times like these that I turn to the good old chick lit book. With the thrillers I can get fully caught up in the storyline and thrive on the suspense but I find it much harder to really get into a chick lit book. Don’t get me wrong, I still, for the most part, enjoy reading them (and not having to think too much) but to really keep me interested it has to be better than ‘average’. Unless I am picking up the next instalment by a favourite author, in which case I don’t even bother to read the blurb on the back, I am generally drawn to books purely because of their cover. If the cover or title doesn’t intrigue me then I don’t pick it up to have a look, unless I have heard rave reviews about it. I bought this book (among others, I can never just buy one book!) with a voucher I had been given for Christmas a few years ago. I had selected my ‘next instalment from my favourite author book’ and still had some money to spend so spent half an hour wandering around the shop. ‘Pictures of Lily’ caught my eye, again, purely because of the cover. It was clear it was going to be a book about a relationship because the picture on the front ...

Oral B All Around Protection Clean Mint 22/06/2012

Going Against The Grain!

Oral B All Around Protection Clean Mint *Please note, this review is based on a 15ml tube of Toothpaste* Until fairly recently I’ve been a believer of Colgate toothpaste and have used their brand for many years and wasn’t looking to change. However, A few weeks ago I was sent a 15ml sample of Oral B Pro-Expert All Around Protection to try. When I took the tube out of the box it didn’t look any different to any other toothpaste claiming to provide all around protection. It stated it ‘protects the areas dentists check most’ such as cavities, gum, plaque, sensitivity, enamel, tartar, whitening and breath. The tube was a standard looking white and blue colour for a toothpaste so, again, did not look any different to any other brand. The tube came with a leaflet which assured me I would discover a long lasting slick feeling on my teeth. It also said that the toothpaste is slightly grainy but the grains dissolve in the saliva and release the toothpaste’s active ingredient. Reading that the toothpaste was grainy did not fill me with confidence, I have to admit, but I was willing to give it a go. The first thing I noticed when I unscrewed the lid from the tube was a strong smell that reminded me of the dentist. Not a great start! I thought. The tube had advised me it would be cool mint but I didn’t notice much of a mint smell coming through. So, now knowing that the toothpaste would not only be grainy but smell like the dentist, I reluctantly applied it to my toothbrush. The toothpaste is a little thicker than others I ...

Nivea Sensitive Balance Shower Gel 20/06/2012

For sensitive skin, not sensitive noses!

Nivea Sensitive Balance Shower Gel Being one of the unlucky ones who suffers from sensitive skin, I have to find cleansing and beauty products that are gentle enough not to bring me out in dry, red, itchy skin. I have a few ‘staple’ products that I know I can rely on but sometimes, particularly if I see an offer on, I like to try something new. It was on one of these offers that I picked up a bottle of Sensitive Balance by Nivea. On a boring food shop round the local supermarket I saw it on offer for £1.00 and my eye was drawn to it as it said ‘Sensitive Balance – for sensitive skin’, so picked it up to have a look. The wording on the front told me that it was a gentle care shower gel for sensitive skin with natural chamomile extract. I thought I’d give it a try and put it in my basket. ~My Opinion~ The next morning in the shower I put it to the test. The gel is clear in colour and quite thick (gel like!) in texture. When I first put it on my shower puff I thought it smelt quite pleasant – not of anything in particular but not a bad smell. However, once I started to apply it I found the smell a little strange and wasn’t overly keen on it. Again, it didn’t smell of anything in particular and wasn’t overly offensive but it wasn’t very nice. The likeability of a perfume of a product is, of course, different for every user and so I can completely understand others reviews of this product that have said they love the smell, I however prefer something a bit more fruity or sweet smelling. As a sensitive shower ...

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shoppaholic - Sophie Kinsella 10/06/2012

When it's all hanging in the (bank) balance!

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shoppaholic - Sophie Kinsella I was given this book as part of this year’s World Book Night (for those of you who don’t know what this is but are interested, see My preference of genre to read will always be thriller but I do like a good chic lit book occasionally if I need a break from guns and blood and suspense! This book was given to me after a stint of reading 5 thrillers in a row and I was starting to dream about terrorists and murderers so thought I should read something a little less violent! So it came along at just the right time. The cover of the book appealed to me with its colourful typefont and a picture of a woman surrounded by shopping bags, looking at a long sheet of paper headed ‘Bills’ I had heard of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series but hadn’t actually got around to reading any of them yet so I was not sure what to expect with Kinsella’s writing style but picked up the book with an open mind. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. *************** ****** So what’s it about? *************** ****** From the Back: ‘Meet Rebecca Bloomwood. She has a great flat, a fabulous wardrobe full of the season’s must-haves, and a job telling other people how to manage their money. She spends her leisure time…shopping. Retail therapy is the answer to all her questions. She knows she should stop, but she can’t. She tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money. But neither seems to work. The letters from the bank are getting harder to ignore. Can Becky ever escape ...

The Night Before Christmas - Scarlett Bailey 08/01/2012

Snowed in with a mutilated turkey, a broken Aga & broken hearts..

The Night Before Christmas - Scarlett Bailey For those of you who know me from my reviews you will know that I love to read. I generally opt for a good thriller with loads of suspense but occasionally I like to settle down with a good chic lit to take me away from the murders for a while! Therefore, for a chic lit to keep me interested and give it a good review it needs to be much better than just average. I am always drawn to books purely because of their cover. If the cover or title doesn’t intrigue me then I don’t even bother reading the back. This book caught my eye whilst on a girly day out with my mum (and she picked up a book which was on offer for buy one get one free and she didn’t want a second one so I chose one instead!) and this was no different – I was drawn to it from the cover. Not only because I found the black with pinky/purple illustrations striking but because the title suggested it was about Christmas. Alongside reading, Christmas is my absolute favourite thing and I relish every moment of it, from shopping for presents, decorating the tree, cooking the turkey…and so when I found a book that appeared to encompass my most favourite time of the year I just had to find out more! From the back:- “All Lydia’s ever wanted is a perfect Christmas…So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She’s been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies – all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas ...

Tell Me Something - Adele Parks 27/07/2011

Tell Me Something (as long as it's not about babies again....)

Tell Me Something - Adele Parks The majority of my book case at home is taken up by thrillers and crime novels. However, occasionally I do like a good ‘Chick Lit’ book to break up all the suspense and tension :) I picked up a copy of Tell Me Something by Adele Parks from a second hand book shop. I have read a couple of Park’s other novels and so was drawn to her name initially and then after reading the blurb on the back decided I would give it a go. The story, without giving too much away, is based around Elizabeth – a die hard romantic who wants for nothing but a handsome Italian husband and lots of babies with said husband. It seems her wish is soon granted as she meets and falls in love with Roberto and they rather quickly get married. Unfortunately, even though they seem to try A LOT they do not have any joy in conceiving. When discussing their lives/parents/jobs etc, Roberto informs Elizabeth that his parents ‘have a business in the wine trade’ in Italy. Elizabeth thinks this fits is perfectly with her dreams of marrying into an Italian family and imagines Roberto’s parents on a Vineyard, crushing grapes with their feet. She is therefore delighted when they decide to move to Italy to help with the family business, which unfortunately since the passing of Roberto’s father, has not been doing so well. However, upon arriving in Italy and moving in with her mother-in-law, Elizabeth soon discovers that she will not be getting the perfect Italian life she was hoping for and doesn’t have time for ...
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