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Nfinity Vengeance 06/11/2013

To Nfinity And Beyond

Nfinity Vengeance In the Cheer world, in terms of brand recognition Nfinity is like Nike. You know them. You've seen them. You may or may not own them. You probably want them. You even speak of them in the same way, as in "Let me grab my Nfinitys and then we can go". It is a very well-known name and in the UK where supplies of Cheer products are limited, they have a firm foot in the door of the shoe market. There are various sub brands within the Nfinity range, but the shoes I have are Nfinity Vengeance. This is my second pair of Cheer shoes, and they could not be more different from my previous Zephz - reviewed here if you're interested However, I bought my Vengeance for the same reason as my Zephz: because they are an animal cruelty free product, containing no leather. This is what marks them apart from other Nfinity shoes such as the Evolution (or "Evo"). I previously wanted the Phoenix shoe, but they were discontinued, so I ended up with the latest offering on the market last autumn, these Vengeance. The problem with new products is that there are often no reviews available if they're only just hitting the market. The problem with cheer products is that there are often no reviews available because it's quite an obscure area (to you...I live and breathe the thing). So I had to buy these shoes based on their marketing blurb rather than personal recommendation or the say so of strangers online. So, what do they say? ...

Burton Bootique 28/10/2013

Like Walking On A Carpet Made Of Puppies

Burton Bootique Once I'd made up my mind I wanted some snowboard boots, there was no stopping me. In fact I bought mine during a break while I was on an all-day lesson at Chill Factor, just so I could go back out wearing them for the last bit. It was the end of the winter season when the sales were on, so mine were knocked down to about half the original rrp. At £90 they still weren't cheap, but they were definitely significantly cheaper than if I'd bought them a couple of months earlier. I didn't go into the shop with any preconceived ideas about make or model of boot, so I just asked them to bring out all the ones in my size for me to look at and try on. I liked these ones best, and that was that. I owned my very first pair of snowboard boots. I bought boots before I bought (or rather was bought) a board and bindings, because that's the order I was told to do it in. So I've used these boots on rental boards and more recently on my own board. I've also worn hire boots from Chill Factor and from Ski Dubai, so I've got various things to compare them to. But, really, there is no comparison. I didn't realize quite how hideously uncomfortable to wear and how hideously hard to fasten rental boots were until I tried on these which were neither of those things. I thought it was par for the course, but when my feet slid into these, well let's just say the Burton claim that they are like "walking on a carpet made of puppies" isn't much of an exaggeration . This Bootique boot comes in two colour ...

Nikita Chickita 14/10/2013

Baby's First Snowboard

Nikita Chickita I had already bought clothes and boots when we went to nosy round Subvert "just for a look" at what boards they had in the end of season sale. Somehow I walked out of there and onto the Chill Factor slope with a board. This board. Baby's first snowboard. When people ask me what kind of car I have I tend to say a silver one, and by that logic if they asked me what kind of board I had, I could say a pretty one, because this is very pretty. With a bold pink, orange and black pattern (a lot better than it sounds) my board is hard to miss and definitely stands out next to the faded rental boards Chill Factor supply if you don't have your own. I also like the way it has the brand (Nikita) written on it, and lots of instances of the letter N. Why? Because some of the Ns are on their side, as you can see in the Ciao product pic. And an N on its side is a Z. Score! The Nikita Chickita range has various boards in various colours, but the design is the same, it's only the colour scheme that changes. Unfortunately you cannot choose which colours you have, as they correspond to the different lengths of board and you have to go with the one that's right for you. The design of snowboards is a bit business, but some of them are quite frankly ugly. I didn't want one with a cartoon character on (I've seen Miss Piggy ones) or one with a naked woman on (never yet seen a naked man one, hmmm...) so I was very glad to go for one with a bold, almost geometric print rather than an illustration. It ...

Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J Bick 08/10/2013

Notes on a Scandal

Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J Bick Jenna is 16 years old, and fresh out of a psychiatric hospital when her parents enrol her at a new high school in the wilds of Wisconsin. Being the new kid at school adds to an already iffy situation (parents who ignore her angst in favour of their own; a brother who enlisted to get away from them) and she's not really looking forward to term starting. But then she meets someone, someone special who is kind to her, pays attention to her, looks out for her. Someone she can trust. Mr Anderson is a Chemistry teacher and athletics coach, but he's more than that to Jenna. Against the rules, and against the odds, he becomes her ally, and so much more. This is a brilliant, inventive, gripping young adult book that will delight teens while perhaps terrifying their parents. Every page simmers with suspense, and the knowledge that something big is coming, something bad bubbling under the surface, but we're at Jenna's mercy as she is the one telling the story, her train of thought maddeningly wandering away from the topic again and again. This is the story of the relationship between Jenna and Mr Anderson, told exclusively from her point of view. She's not telling it to a friend though, or even writing it in her diary: she's in hospital, speaking into a detective's tape recorder. And boy, does she have a lot to say. There are lots of books about teacher-student relationships, but this one is different. Because it's all from Jenna's point of view, the perspective is completely ...

What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang 06/01/2013

Dangerous and Disturbing Dystopian Fiction

What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang Addie and Eva are 15 year olds living somewhere in America. They have a mother, a father and a younger brother. But Addie and Eva are not sisters, or twins, in the usual sense. They are two minds who share one body, and they are in trouble. Author Kat Zhang has dreamed up a fabulously dystopian world in which for every body born, two souls arrive with it. During their early years, one soul will prove to be more dominant, and the other will gradually fade away. Or that's what is supposed to happen. Though they took longer than normal to 'settle', Addie is the one who won the battle, as far as their parents and teachers, and more importantly the authorities, are concerned. Eva no longer exists to them, but she's still there, hiding inside a body that Addie controls, silent next to a mouth through which Addie speaks. This book is scary, not in a Halloween ghosts and goblins kind of way, but because of the way the authorities react, and the power they have to act on people who don't fit in with what it best for society. In a modern day witch hunt, they seek out and destroy Hybrids, at whatever cost, for where Hybrids are concerned, this is no longer a staunchly Pro-Life nation. One of the most interesting things about this book is the relationship between Addie and Eva. Because of her limited strength and her removal from the public eye Eva could be seen as little more than a voice in Addie's head, a conscience of sorts, but she is much more than that and as the story ...

Boobadoodle - Rosy Sherry 18/12/2012

Just Hangin' Out

Boobadoodle - Rosy Sherry Boobadoodle is a book of doodles. On boobs. Fifty doodles on a variety of boobs, some belonging to the author, some to her friends. Quite good friends, I imagine. The idea, the preface tells us, came when the author/artist forgot to get her boyfriend an Easter card. So she drew him one. On a breasticle. He liked it, sure, but she really liked it, so she kept going, and eventually has enough designs to fill a book. So she did. Most entries feature over 2 pages, with one side the design, and one a little introduction to it, or some history of how/where it was first done. Sometimes they're just random ramblings, like the flying saucer entry in which she tells us she imagines aliens speak (dubious) Spanish (hers greet you by saying 'Ola' which without its initial 'h' means 'wave' rather than 'Hola' i.e. 'Hello'). Sometimes the entries are themed, for example her run on horoscope signs, while other times they're seasonal, with entries for Christmas, Valentine's and the aforementioned Easter. The designs, though wide ranging, have some commonalities. The nipple is always incorporated, and often the centre point of the design, be it an eye of a crab, the end of a flake in an ice cream cone, the cherry on a cupcake or the nose of the clown on the cover. In one, it is the actual bulls-eye of a dartboard. Before the photos start, there is some general guidance on how to create the looks using stuff you might have in your makeup bag, but there are no templates or colour by ...

Bankruptcy Diaries - Paul Broderick 03/12/2012

In The Red With The Green Stuff

Bankruptcy Diaries - Paul Broderick In 2000, Paul Livingson graduated from university and got his first proper grown up job. By 2007 he had filed for bankruptcy. With no failed businesses, unfortunate property depreciation or poor stock market investments in between you might be at a loss to see how he ended up there, until you read his diary of those years and it all becomes crystal clear. Originally based in Bristol, Paul soon follows a girl, and the lure of a better job with a bigger paycheque, to London. But the capital is expensive, and girls are expensive, and public sector workers don't earn all that much, even with London-weighting. Debts that started off small but still significant soon spiral into larger, uncontrollable borrowing. Paul is a spender of the Save Karyn 'Swipe, sign, it was mine' school of thought. While he does buy a few gadgets (and, oh the memories of the early noughties when you could shell out two grand on a computer compared to the 1/10th of that I spent on this new one a few weeks back) his major weakness is holidays: romantic breaks, stag dos, foreign weddings he's not fussy as long as it's abroad. He's also someone who can't say no, so even when he knows he's in the red, has maxed out every card and will need to apply for another just for this trip....he still does it. With friends on bigger incomes encouraging him to spend what he doesn't have, but his family judging him harshly when he does, he's can't win. But it seems that when the going gets tough, another holiday makes ...

Nokia Lumia 820 28/11/2012


Nokia Lumia 820 When the nice Royal Mail man brought my new Nokia Lumia 820 to work, I squealed. Everyone else sighed with relief. I had been going on about it for rather a while. They were all keen to see it in action, but none were as eager as me. However, two things stood between me and being able to play with my new toy. One was that it needed a micro Sim and I currently had a normal one. But this we did not realise for a while because, crikey, was it hard to get the back cover off this bad boy. I tried. My admin tried. In the end I had to bring in the big guns and in doing so managed to answer the question “How many doctors does it take to prise off a Lumia’s back cover?” Answer: two, with the aid of Google and, later, a Youtube video. We got there in the end, I left work early to pop to the O2 store at the Trafford Centre to swap my Sim, and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s only been a couple of weeks but I am seriously in love with this phone. If I thought my last one (and LG Optimus chat) was a smart phone then this must be a (non-Apple) Genius. It seems to know what I want to do before I do and then does it bigger, does it faster, and does it better. The Lumia is a big phone. It’s bigger than my old one, even with its slide out keyboard. It’s bigger than an iPhone (I kidnapped one off one of my reception team to check. As a side note: the Lumia’s screen is also much more, well, luminous). For a while my phones were getting smaller, almost to the stage you could conceal one ...

On The Island - Tracey Garvis Graves 24/10/2012

Paradise Lost

On The Island - Tracey Garvis Graves High school teacher Anna has been hired as a tutor for the summer, helping 16 year old T.J. who has missed a fair amount of school due to illness. Leaving the USA behind, the two of them head over to the Maldives where his parents have hired a holiday home, but instead of gracefully descending into paradise, they crash land, quite literally, into a nightmare. Their pilot has a heart attack, their sea plane plummets into the ocean, and they wash up on a deserted desert island. The unlikely twosome has to band together to survive and wait out their rescue, but as weeks and then months pass, hope fades and they have to wonder what will happen if no one ever finds them. The book is told from Anna and T.J.'s points of view, alternating chapter to chapter, but no other characters get to input into the story, so we know only what they know. There may be frantic rescue attempts being coordinated from within the Maldives and beyond but we never find out about them. And, as the years pass, both speculate about what their friends and family back home must be thinking, what they must be doing, but as readers we are left just as much in the dark as they are. This is a breath taking story that I could not get enough off. Though the author has surely never been marooned on an island with no hope of being saved, she has imagined it wonderfully and in great detail. I adored the way their complaints evolve as the story progresses, from the basic needs of food and shelter to the more ...

The Secrets Between Us - Louise Douglas 24/09/2012

A Modern Classic

The Secrets Between Us - Louise Douglas Sarah and Alexander meet at a time when both are looking for a fresh start following the demise of their previous relationships. She is vulnerable, he is needy, and together they can support each other. Sarah is quickly employed as a live in housekeeper in his sprawling home, and moves south from Manchester to join Alex and his young son Jamie. Life in a small village takes some getting used to, especially given what has happened. Genevieve, Alex's popular, pretty and wealthy wife, has disappeared. Some say of her own accord, others are sure something sinister has happened to her, but in any event she has not been heard from since she left town and the locals are suspicious of Sarah's motives. In their eyes she is moving in on the man who rightly belongs to the town sweetheart, taking over the role of mothering Jamie, and generally weaselling her way in to become the lady of the house before Genevieve's bed is even cold. Protestations that she is simply an employee, not a lover, fall on deaf ears, and with Genevieve's family being the most prominent in town, it's hard to get anyone to be on Sarah and Alexander's side when accusations start flying. For GCSE English I had to compare 'Rebecca' and 'Jane Eyre', a combination where you really have to look quite closely to see the similarities. With clear parallels to Du Maurier's work, this would have made for a much easier assignment. The clear theme both books is being the new woman: in that one the second Mrs de Winter, in ...

Between the Lines - Jodi Picoult 22/09/2012

A Fairy Tale With A Twist

Between the Lines - Jodi Picoult Delilah is a teenager who probably should have moved beyond fairy stories, but there's one in particular that has her hooked. 'Between the Lines' - a book within a book - is a classic story of a prince searching for true love and battling all sorts of dragons and demons on the way, and for Delilah it's the perfect escape. Plus, the handsome hero, Prince Oliver, doesn't hurt. Like Delilah he's growing up without a father (though this matters far less to him than it does to her) and like Delilah he can feel something of an outsider, a little bit different from everyone else around. One day, as Delilah is reading the story for the umpteenth time, she gets the odd feeling that Oliver is talking back to her from the pages. But could there really be a whole other world that goes on between the pages when the book is closed, are they all just characters acting out the script of the story but different people when the spotlight is off, and is there a chance that, between the lines, there's a lot going on that is not for readers to know about? Told with chapters alternating between three points of view, through Delilah's and Oliver's eyes interspersed with the 'real' story, this is a highly readable modern day fairytale about a classic fairytale. As Delilah reads about Oliver's battles her own life mirrors that of the story, though in her case she's fighting with her mother over the right to read and re-read the book while he's fighting with his mother over whether or not he should ...

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement with out Giving In: The Secret to Successful Negotiation - Roger Fisher 19/09/2012

Oui! Si! Ja!

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement with out Giving In: The Secret to Successful Negotiation - Roger Fisher Negotiation is a tough thing, but given how often we do it (for many people, there are things to negotiate on a daily basis) you'd think we'd be better at it. This book starts with the line "Like it or not, you are a negotiator" and that's the bare truth of it. First published before I was even born, you might wonder whether this book (mildly revised and updated for this latest edition) is still applicable to modern day life, but the general consensus is that not only is it still useful, it's more relevant than ever before. As the authors say in the preface, thirty years ago people were a lot less willing to class themselves as negotiators, a term which had negative connotations. Combine this with subtle shifts in relationships, both at work and at home, and we are now negotiating in many more scenarios than before, as hierarchy becomes less important, and balances of power shift. "Getting to Yes" is an immensely accessible book that gives you usable tips that are both practical and useful. Without being patronising, it points out common errors made by those trying to negotiate, using both generic everyday situations and ones from history (even world leaders suck at negotiating sometimes). Examples and anecdotes are interspersed with tools, tables and summaries, to provide immediately adaptable approaches to negotiation that you can try out immediately. There seems to be a fair amount of emphasis on how you, the common man, can outsmart corporate ogres, be they your ...

American WeatherCharles Mcleod - Charles McLeod 09/09/2012

Satire on the State of the States

American WeatherCharles Mcleod - Charles McLeod Jim Haskin is a very odd man, doing a very odd job, in a very odd country if this book is to be believed. An advertising guru in San Francisco, he owns a touchy feely company which boasts such wonders as a 'Dream Pod', a room for his team to relax in with sleeping bags, TVs and a cooler brimming with organic fruit tea. That's for their down time in between saving the world, promoting one eco-friendly item after another and doing other worthy things. Except behind the scenes, Jim Haskin is not that man. While his team are organising poetry slams to help homeless prostitutes, he's coming up with fight-back campaigns, showing that bleach makes a beach better, chemical spills aren't as bad as you first might think, and other quite inexplicable things. Jim's background is important, too. Orphaned as a teenager, he has come a long way and is now living the American Dream on the outside, while inside his wife wastes away in a coma and his only son is off at boarding school causing trouble. He's a mixed up man, a myriad of contradictions, and yet he knows exactly who he is underneath it all. When asked to concoct his most extreme scheme yet he doesn't hesitate. Nothing he's done before will even come close to this. The world ain't seen nothing yet. It's time to go where no advertising has gone before... This is a wonderfully wicked book that has the potential to impress or offend, depending on your sensibilities. It certainly won't appeal to everyone, but for the right audience I ...

Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learnt at School... and Promptly Forgot - E. Foley & B. Coates 01/09/2012

ABCs and 123s

Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learnt at School... and Promptly Forgot - E. Foley & B. Coates School days can sometimes seem like a very long time ago. You most likely spent 12 to 14 years of early life learning in a classroom, but how much can you remember? Sure, you can count, and you know your alphabet, but all those other lessons you had, how much can you really remember of those? If you want or need to remember back to your school lessons (to help your own children with their homework, to win pub quizzes, whatever the reason) then this book can help. Covering ten subjects from English and Maths to Science, Home Ec and History, it's a crash course to refresh your knowledge - all those things you kinda know deep down, but at the same time have forgotten at least a little bit. My first observation is that if pretty much everything you need to know can be condensed into 400 pages and read over a couple of days, maybe the real purpose of school is less about education and more about simply keeping kids occupied and out of the way for a few years. At the same time, I'm wondering how there are things in this book that I was NEVER taught at school - what were we doing for all those years? But overall this is a book full of 'oh yeah' moments and I'm sure most readers will identify with the 'lessons' being re-taught. Take English, for example. From apostrophes to alliteration, commas to consonance, semi colons to similes, this chapter touches on the fundamentals of language and literature. I especially liked the examples where there were in jokes that some might not get, ...

Ask Italian, Leicester 11/07/2012

Would You Like Arse With That?

Ask Italian, Leicester I adore eating out but since the UK doesn't quite match Colombia in terms of restaurant affordability, I have to be smart about it. That means it's not so much me making the decision of where to's something that is instead dictated my offers and coupons and vouchers. Ask Italian were on Tesco Deals for a limited time, but there's not one in Manchester so when I was in Leicester, I decided that's where we should eat as unlike Bella Italia or Pizza Express or Cafe Rouge or wherever, I wouldn't easily be able to try it from my own home. We went on a Wednesday evening and arrived some time after 6.30pm. I thought as we approached that I might have misjudged things, and maybe it wouldn't already have a few post-work diners in, but it turned out it was simply a double fronted restaurant and at that early hour there was no one seated to the left of the entrance, but the area to the right had a few occupants. I was glad because though it was early and midweek, I didn't really want the two of us to be the only ones in there. The restaurant is modern and VERY well-lit - I was really struck by the brightness of it, and it didn't seem the place for a romantic, intimate date. Luckily I was with Big Sis, so the illumination was helpful for showing her photos on my camera of how the tenants trashed my house (a story for another day). We were shown to a table for two which is what we asked for, though a few nights later when I was eating at another place up in Manchester with a ...
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