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Back after a 6 month break - not quite sure how it was that long, but hoping to stay now I have more time again.

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since 12/12/2005


Criminal Minds - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) 15/01/2016

Really getting inside the minds of criminals

Criminal Minds - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) I am really late to the party with this TV show. I caught a few episodes of a new ABC tv network show, Quantico, in the autumn of 2015. When I tried to find out a bit more about this show, there was a little reference to the show, Criminal Minds, so I decided to see if I would like this show as well. It was available as part of my Amazon Prime subscription, so I was able to watch the whole series online to see what I thought. The show was originally aired in 2005-2006. It is based upon a unit of the FBI - The Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) who work on the psychology of a criminal to try and help catch them. They solve some of the most horrific chilling crimes. At times, I found myself asking do I really want to watch this? But, the strong characters and the way the plot works really appealed to me and I am glad I stuck to it. The show follows the format of other American crime shows in that the crime is solved within the 40 minute episode. However, there are also some plots that run for longer through the series. Its the sort of show you could miss an episode and still follow what was going on in that episode. There is also a flashback to previous episodes to cover anything important so you could still keep up with longer running plots. Having watched all 10 series, there are occasionally times where there are referrals back to events in earlier episodes, so I would say, it makes sense to start at the beginning if you think you will like it. Meet the Team: The team ...

The Lamb-a-aroo - Diana Kimpton 07/11/2015

A warm tale about family love and fitting in.

The Lamb-a-aroo - Diana Kimpton This is a book that has been loaned from both the school and local library on many occasions. For some reason, my youngest son is really drawn to this story. I can't put my finger on why, but I think he likes the warmth from it, and perhaps identifies a bit with the main character of the little lost lamb who doesn't really fit in as that is kind of what his own life has been like. Whatever the reason, he picks this gentle story regularly so that we can share it at home. Lamb has been lost in the middle of no-where. He is discovered by a herd of kangaroos, and one of them adopts him as her little baby. Lamb is happy but is concerned that he is not like the other little lambs as he doesn't look or act like them, and this makes him a bit sad. One day they come across an abandoned house, where the lamb discovers some springs from a mattress and starts to bounce around like the other kangaroos. However, at the same time, his Maaaa finds a wooly blanket and covers herself in it to look like her baby. Neither of them are left happy with this arrangement, so they go back to being themselves, which is ok as they love each other dearly. To me, this is a really gentle story. There is not that much going on within it and it is not overly exciting once you have read it once in my opinion, which seems to be shared with my older son, who will listen but is not that bothered. My younger son however does not seem to get bored with it, and likes the relationship between these two creatures ...

So... I Met a Vampire - Paul McAvoy 05/11/2015

Standing out a little from the Vampire crowd

So... I Met a Vampire - Paul McAvoy This is the 4th book in a series of supernatural young adult novels written by Paul McAvoy. I was sent a copy of this book via kindle by the author to read and write an honest review for him, and now I have had chance to read it, I am sharing my thoughts on the book. Having read others in the series, its a format I am now familiar with and have grown to like. The books are aimed at the younger end of the young adult market I would say from their content. There is nothing overly scary even thought the theme itself is, and there is no inappropriate language or sexual overtones making this very suitable for younger readers. I would be happy for my 9 year old to pick this up and know that he wasn't going to be left having nightmares or reading anything he shouldn't. Because of the market its aimed at, my experience as an adult reader is perhaps a little bit different to what a younger reader would think. It has a similar format to the others in the series. The central character is a young teenager. This time its a girl rather than a boy. I liked this change. Also, there was less time reading about the character in their home life, and this to me meant that we just got straight into the plot of the story, and I found I was engaged a lot quicker as a result. We meet Jess walking along a road very disorientated. She is supposed to be on a school trip in the Lake District, and she has a patchy memory of falling into the water and her recollection of how she got to where she is ...

The Extinction Club - Jeffrey Moore 29/10/2015

A genre bending novel that makes you question if it was worth it

The Extinction Club - Jeffrey Moore I am a regular user of our library, and I tend to try and challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone and choose novels that I would not normally pick for myself. This has been successful at times, but can also backfire when I don't get on with the novel. The Extinction Club appealed from the title and the front cover - a picture of a hunting trap which from the angle its shown at also looks like a red love heart hanging decoration. Described as 'genre bending' and 'as sophisticated as it is brutal' I was really not sure what to expect - but generally from the blurb - some sort of crime based book that should appeal on some level to me. The situation the novel is based around did initially grab my attention, and I did continue to read right till the end, but I am still unsure whether that is actually a good thing or not. Something just wasn't quite right overall for me, and although I was interested on some level, there was something about the characters and the way it was written that stopped me loving or hating the book. The central character is a man called Nile Nightingale. On the run from the police in America, he sneaks over the border to Canada illegally, and immediately finds himself involved in more trouble. Looking for refuge, he wants to buy an old run down church. Only when he goes to look at it he witnesses a body being dumped in a swamp and he gets involved by dragging it out the mud. The body of teenager Celeste is not quite as dead as intended, and ...

Fitbit Charge HR 19/10/2015

This fitbit has super-charged my weight loss

Fitbit Charge HR Back in 2013 I was swayed to the dark side. After much temptation I bought myself a Fitbit One. In 2014 I also invested in the Fitbit Aria scales. Towards the end of 2014, I started hearing about some new models of fitbit that were coming out. These were the Charge, the Charge HR, and the Surge. All sounded fantastic, and the higher up the range you went, the more whistles and bells were included as part of the price. Trying to be sensible, I fancied the HR because it did most without being £200 like the Surge. A price I could not justify however good. Unable to resist, I ordered myself one as soon as they were released in January 2015 from the fitbit website. At the time, your only option was what size band you could order, and all the bands were black as shown in the stock picture on ciao. Now other colours are available. You can get them in plum, blue and tangerine. I used fitbits sizing guide to tell me I needed a large band and I paid £119 to have it delivered to my door on release. Set up When my fitbit arrived, it was securely packaged within plastic on one of those watch display rings. It came with a USB charger, and minimal instructions for setting up my fitbit. Fitbits come with a little USB dongle to set up with a PC, or I've heard others say they have set up their fitbit via the mobile phone app. I already had an account, and when I put the new dongle into my USB port, I was asked to set up a new device. The set up process was a simple matter of following ...

Stolen Child - Laura Elliot 15/10/2015

This will terrify any mother who reads it

Stolen Child - Laura Elliot The plot of this novel is pretty much given away in the title, but it is written in such a skillful way that it is so much more than other books I have read with similar themes. Carla Kelly is a model who lives her life in the spotlight using the media to her advantage. She has a very public pregnancy much against the wishes of her husband, but as far as she is concerned, its harmless. However, her being in the public eye puts her in the sights of a woman from her past who has had a very traumatic time of it herself. Seeing Carla in the newspapers is just too much for her. The consequence is that Carla's two day old child is stolen from her cot at the side of her mother in the maternity ward. This is something that will chill any mother and pull on the heart strings if they think back to that time in their own life. Although the plot is quite simple - a snatched child and if the mother will ever be reunited with her child - I felt there were so many layers to it that were addicting to read. You have the reaction of the mother who has lost her child and the ripples in her life that stem from that. There is impact within her marriage, and with her family, and it really made me question how I would feel and react if this were me that had experienced it. How could I cope at family events and seeing my friends and family knowing this piece of myself were missing? It is also quite hard to feel anger towards a woman who has experienced a life that leads to her snatching a ...

Ikea Pax Wardrobe 18/09/2015

You can sure PAX a lot in these wardrobes

Ikea Pax Wardrobe When we first moved in together, we had an abundance of wardrobes which people gave us. We made do with what we had until they no longer served the purpose we needed them for. We've been wanting to upgrade the wardrobe in the bedroom that my children share for a long time as it was dominated by hanging space and what they really needed was drawers and shelves. I extensively searched online to see what was available that met our needs, and I found there was very little that worked for us. However, when I looked at IKEA's website, the PAX range stood out to me as you can buy whatever pieces you want and then customise it entirely to your own needs. There is a PAX for everyone As well as coming in single or double wardrobe carcasses, there are also two different heights of wardrobe available to be able to fit your room best. We have a lovely long wall space so width was not really much of an issue - but we had to go for the smaller height carcass as you need to have room to tilt your wardrobe into an upright position once built. The two heights are 201 and 236 cm tall. The widths are 100cm for a double carcass, and 50cm for a single carcass. You can buy multiples of the carcasses to make up many combinations. We opted for two double carcasses and a single one. I did want an extra single one, but it did not leave enough room for the door to open so we had to take some back. Once you have chosen the size of your wardrobe, you can then customise everything else about it. ...

Bloodstream - Tess Gerritsen 15/09/2015

A very different type of book for Gerritsen

Bloodstream - Tess Gerritsen Tess Gerritsen is an author who writes in my favourite genre of crime thriller with an emphasis on the medical side to cases. I have read a few of her Rizzoli and Isles series, and so when I came across this book in the library I had no hesitation picking it up as I knew it would be well written and have a subject matter that would appeal to me. After finishing this novel, my thoughts are that it is quite different to her novels that follow police work. This heavily reminded me of another author who I read a lot when I was younger - Stephen King. Part of that is down to the setting of the book in Maine, America. The other aspect to it is that the book is based upon events that are very mysterious and unexplainable - it sort of felt like there was some unnatural cause to the events in the novel which gave it a very different vibe to when your reading a crime novel where the cause is most definitely a human one. This book was released in 1998, preceeding any other work I have read from this author. It is a stand alone novel classified as a medical thriller. Set in a quiet town in Maine, called Tranquility, the central character is a doctor called Claire Elliot. Claire is trying to escape her past by moving to this area with her son Noah to give him a fresh start away from all the troubles of living in a big city with all its temptations and influences. However, as autumn draws in, Claire is horrified by an outbreak of violence that could rival anything she saw in the city. ...

The Hangman's Daughter - Oliver Pötzsch 08/09/2015

A time of suspicion

The Hangman's Daughter - Oliver Pötzsch Set in the 1600s in Schonghau, Bavaria - a time when the law was carried out by the Hangman, it is not a good time to be a woman. Less so if you are the daughter of the town Hangman. We follow the story of Jakob Kuisl the town Hangman as a series of mysterious incidences happen in the town. When a young boy is found murdered with a strange symbol on his body, the midwife is accused of witchcraft and she is arrested by Kuisl for her own protection. Kuisl doesn't believe it though - he suspects that something else is causing all the strange events. He is determined to get to the bottom of it before he has to torture and punish his friend Martha Stechlin and the witch hunt becomes more widespread. He has an unusual ally in the form of the town Drs son - Simon Fronweiser. His interest is professional as well as personal as he wants to get on the good side of the Hangman so he can court his daughter. Is the devil really at work here? Or is there a more human cause to it all? You really do have to read along to the end to find that one out. Originally written in German, the story has an interesting twist as the author Oliver Potzsch has a keen interest in genealogy and he is descended from the characters in the Hangman's family. Although this account is fictional, it could have happened. Its got that element of being based on truth about it due to records kept in this family. I thought it was written and translated beautifully. Vivid descriptions of the characters had me ...

Three Sisters - Howard Goldblatt 31/08/2015

Three sisters with very different destinies

Three Sisters - Howard Goldblatt I don't know what made me pick this up - the cover looks a bit old fashioned and not my usual style at all. I can only assume that it was the title - being one of three sisters myself, it intrigued me a little. Set in China, and written by a male Chinese author, Bi Feiyu, it is indeed very different indeed from anything I usually read. The story is told in 3 parts, each by one of three sisters. The sisters are part of a larger family with 7 sisters in total and one boy. It intrigued me why the story was only told about 3 of the children, but I guess to go into the level of detail for all of the family would have made for one long unreadable book. I don't have much personal knowledge of life in China or its history, so personally I found it a bit hard to get when this novel was set. In some ways it felt as though it was very long ago, but it seemed perhaps that it might be not so long ago. Apparently it is meant to represent what life was like in the 1980s. The family live in the Wang family village. Their father starts off as an important man who works for the Party. He is looked up to in their community and his family are respectable. However, he manages to disgrace himself and his families fortune and reputation are destroyed. It has huge impacts on the life of his daughters as reputation means everything in this small minded community. First we are told Yumi's story. Eldest daughter, she has helped raise her siblings and run the home for many years prior to her ...

Immortals Blue Moon - Alyson Noel 15/03/2015

True blue sequel in the immortals series

Immortals Blue Moon - Alyson Noel I started reading this series when my sister passed on the books to me after she had read them twice. I found the first book in the series, Evermore, a readable novel, if a bit on the safe and predictable side of fiction. I enjoyed it enough to carry on with the series, so I moved onto the second book. In the first novel, we were introduced to main character Ever, a girl rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her entire family in a car accident. Ever has psychic ability as a result of the same accident, and also has become Immortal just like her boyfriend, the perfect Damen who Ever now knows has been her soul mate for the past 400 years. Book two started pretty much where book one left off, though there is a new guy in town, Roman, who Ever takes an instant dislike to. Since he appeared, her boyfriend Damen starts acting in a really strange manner, as do her classmates at school. No-one else seems to have a problem with him, but Ever begins to realise that her boyfriend is no longer acting like an immortal. He is in a very vulnerable situation. Ever must act to try and save him before its too late. However, she also has a dilemna that she finds a way to reverse time and go back to when her family were all alive. Which path will she choose? And what consequences could there be from trying to alter the path of time? For me, this was a weaker novel than the first book in the series. I wasn't very keen at all on the new character Roman, and I also didn't feel the ...

Life Skills - Katie Fforde 10/03/2015

Your never too old to learn new skills

Life Skills - Katie Fforde I've been working my way through a bag of novels that my sister passed on to me, so rather than my recent diet of crime fiction, I have been reading some lighter novels for a change. This novel is one I would firmly describe as chick lit. Its not your typical romance novel, but at its essence it is girl meets boy and will it work or not type fiction. Katie Fforde is an author I was already familiar with, so I was keen to experience her work again. The cover of my copy features a woman dressed for cooking, sat down with her head raised, eyes closed and looking rather blissful. It was this that really drew me into the book. The illustration manages to look so carefree it really did appeal to me. Plot: Julia Fairfax is a woman who drastically needs a life change. She misses out on a promotion that should be hers at work. This prompts her to leave her job and evaluate other decisions in her life such as her engagement to the nice enough but very dull Oscar. She couldn't change her life any more drastically when she takes on a job as cook on a canal hotel boat, hoping to leave all her troubles behind. The only thing is the past has a horrible habit of creeping up on you when you least expect it to, and sometimes that opens up more problems than you solved. Julia's carefree summer ends up being anything but when an old childhood 'friend' Fergus arrives. We end up with a most bizarre love triangle between Julia, Oscar, and Fergus, which provides a lot of humour, but also ...

The Immortals: Evermore: He said he`d never let her go ... - Alyson Noel 04/03/2015

Another teen romance

The Immortals: Evermore: He said he`d never let her go ... - Alyson Noel I was given this book by my sister - part of a set, she told me how she had read the set twice and enjoyed it, so I was willing to give it a go. Evermore is aimed perhaps more at the teenage market, but there have been many books aimed at this age group that I have enjoyed so that didn't put me off at all. Like many of these books, the setting is the school environment, and there is the usual set of teenage worries and romantic problems running through the plot. Its impossible to read more than one of these novels and not start to draw some comparisons in your mind between the different series, but I found that once I got past the similarities, there is a book with a strong plot and likeable characters. There is also sufficient difference in the situation to keep me interested in the story. Ever is a 16 year old girl living with her Aunt in California. She is the sole survivor of a tragic accident which took the lives of her sister and parents, and she has been left with a very unusual 'gift'. She has some psychic abilities and is able to read people's thoughts and feelings. Its hard enough for anyone to fit in at a new school, but when she can hear exactly what people think of her, its easier to try and slip into the background. Life gets interesting for Ever when the mysterious Damen starts at the school. She feels a strong connection to him, but she struggles to get to the bottom of all of his secrets. While there are some predictable scenarios within the plot, ...

Awful Auntie - David Walliams 03/03/2015

So Awful, Kids will love it

Awful Auntie - David Walliams We became familiar with the works of David Walliams from seeing the televised versions of some of the books over the past few years shown on the BBC over Christmas time. When I first heard Walliams had written some childrens books, I was a bit reluctant to have my children reading them. I had heard reports that kids loved them, but they were a bit borderline crude. However, as my kids have got older, and I have become familiar with the stories, then I relented and let my boys have them. Awful Auntie is the latest book from Walliams and was released last September. We came across it as my sons teacher loaned him her copy as she knew he would love to read it. It was a hard backed copy of the book, which was around £5 when newly released, and you can get on amazon now for about £4. I had not heard anything at all about the plot of this particular book, but having read some of the others I was looking forward to reading it. Walliams has a style that reminds me a bit of reading Roald Dahl but perhaps with slightly more up to date plots. In all of his books, he has children as the main character - and these children have someone in their life who is unkind to them. Illustrations are black and white drawings which are often labelled with extra text. I think this is also where I get the comparison to Roald Dahl from. This story features a little girl called Stella Saxby who wakes to find herself a prisoner in her own home. She finds out her parents were killed in a freak ...

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion 16/02/2015

Original, entertaining, and heart warming

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion I first came across this novel last year when I read a review on another platform outlining what the book was about. It is a book I might have walked past if I had just seen it on the shelf as it is so unassuming with its mainly white cover, but from a simple plot summary and a well regarded opinion of it, I knew it was something I would enjoy. When I came across it while grocery shopping, I made an impulse purchase of it for around £4. It took me a little while then to get round to reading, but once I started it, I could not put it down. I got through the 368 page novel in less than a day. The Rosie Project has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This is a comparison I can understand, but for me it is a bit different. Both feature a main character on the Autistic Spectrum, but here we see this from an adult perspective rather than from a younger perspective. For me, it is fascinating that Don Tillman is a 39 year old who is undiagnosed as having Aspergers. It is abundantly clear to everyone around him that he is different, but his reality is his normal. Every aspect of his life is structured from the food he eats, to the activities he does, and his clothes that he wears. While not lacking in some compassion, he just does not see the world as others around him see it. Although he has a decent quality of life holding down a job as a genetics researcher at a University, he does feel the need to find himself a wife. He sets about finding ...
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