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The World According to Joan
Great book, one of the best I've read in ages. Joan's personality comes out in this book as she gives her opinion on all things in today's society and how things have changed over the years. There is a lot of humour in the book. One of her quips that springs to mind "My grandmother paid to take my mother to the circus to see the fat lady and the tattooed man, but now you can see them for free whether you want to or not - they're all over the place"). I especially enjoyed Joan talking about the glamorous golden age of film and she mentions those from that era whom she socialised with, or bumped into at the bar (ie Marilyn Monroe who gave Joan some worldly advice). All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read. I just wish it had been longer!
Life And Laughing
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One of the best (and funniest) autobiographies I've ever read, but this one I didn't have to read, because Michael McIntyre read it for me! (courtesy of the Audio CD!) And what a difference it made. (Well worth paying the extra). I would recommend the audiobook wholeheartedly over reading the book yourself, as Michael put's all his character and expression into reading his autobiography making it even more funny than reading it for yourself. I have listened to other comedian's and actors audiobooks and not naming any names, the way they read their own story is a tad disappointing. Definitely not this one! Not only would I give the autobiography 5*, but also 5* goes to Michael McIntyre for reading his own story so well so that we felt we were living his experiences with him.
The Lion's Roar
First Aid Kit - CD
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Have had this album on re-play throughout the summer! This sublime Folk Americana Album is actually written by 2 Swedish sisters. There voices work in perfect harmony together. Personal favourites are Emmylou, King Of The World, The Lion's Roar, Wolf, I Found A Way, Blue and To A Poet. One great track leads on to another and the whole album is a pure delight to listen to whatever mood you are in. Honestly, If you like folk music, then definitely add this one to your playlist!
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (With Bonus Digital Copy)
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All adults (regardless of age) will appreciate this film. If you've been on a different planet recently and haven't seen the numerous TV adverts - It is about a bunch of retirees looking for an alternative retirement by emigrating to India and residing in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the elderly and beautiful. The whole film is hilariously funny and really tells it like it is by highlighting the fact of how old people are treated in England in comparison with India. The cast is full of strong characters. Maggie Smith's character in need of a hip replacement delivers some corkers with her cockney accent, and another classic moment is when Judi Dench teaches the Indian call centre a thing or two! There is just one laugh after another with all the characters. What a great story! Well written and produced. Don't miss it!
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First I must say, I could spend hours on this. There's just sooooo much you can do! If you've enjoyed sport games on the Wii such as Wii Sports Resort, Family Ski & Snowboard, other Winter Sports games, Horseriding Games, Racing Car Games - you name it, they are all included on Go Vacation. But you have to find the person who is running the activities in order to take part! Depending what resort you are in, you could find these people on a jet ski, skates, a skateboard, ski's, a snowmobile - the list is endless! Also at the beginning of the game you will be asked what Wii equipment you have. The basics are a wii mote and a nunchuck. If you have a wii balance board and a wii zapper, that's even better.
'Go Vacation' consists of four resorts where you have to find the treasure chests and do the stamp dash and after you have earned so many stamps you will be awarded with your own resort villa.The stamp dash is a lady at the information centre who will advise you what activity to try and where it is located. When you complete the activity you get a stamp. Alternatively you could not take her advice and just explore the places for yourself like I did and just try out the activities as you come to them, and gain stamps that way! On your way round you may bump into a photographer who wants to take your picture, a person who wants to be your buddy who will follow you round the resorts, or someone who wants you to run an errand for them etc.
If you're not sure how to do things, pay a visit to the information centre where you will find the teachers at the school who will teach you what you need to know. If you have Family Ski and Snowboard you've already mastered the main moves, as the controls are exactly the same to get around the city resort and the snow resort, although each individual activity that you take part in will have different controls which it will direct you how to use before the activity starts.
The resorts are as follows:-Marine Resort - (Perfect place to sample a wide variety of summer sports that you may do on holiday),City Resort - (Fancy skateboarding, skating or just walking round the city? The choice is yours! And whilst you're at it, take part in the urban activities such as grinding master on the ramps in the city, to sports car racing, to playing the glass harp in the theatre, or taking part in the dance competition! Also use the tram to get around!)Snow Resort - Winter Sports galore. So far I have done the ice fishing, the dog sledding (with a dog I was given by a man in the city resort!), and the snow tubing. All were great fun, but there is so much more to explore such as skiing on the various slopes! You can use the chair lift or the helicopter to get to the top of various slopes.Mountain Resort - Not experienced this one yet, but apparently it's a pristine natural landscape for the outdoor enthusiast! Think horse-riding, cycling - that sort of thing.
Your Villa - Once you have been awarded with your very own villa (can't wait!), you can start collecting furniture throughout the game in the various resorts to design it. You can remodel and redecorate it whenever you want.
All in all a brilliant game to add to my Wii Collection. My only one complaint is the fact it makes you wait to do each activity whilst it's loading, and gives you a blank blue screen that just says 'Go Vacation' and you can use the stamp to stamp pictures of a Husky dog on the screen. It is annoying how you have to wait, but that is one minor issue in a game that is full of opportunities! Definitely one to put on your Christmas Wish List!
Exerbeat: Gym Class Workout
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Exerbeat for the Wii takes tips from Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort to bring you a fun game that will get your heart beat up to increase your fitness level and bring you any result you want - e.g. weight loss, body conditioning etc. If you've been doing Wii Fit/Plus for the last few years like myself and you need a change to keep your enthusiasm up, I would definitely recommend Exerbeat as it has the same 'fun' element as Wii Fit, unlike EA Sports Active 2 which is more for the hardcore fitness enthusiast.
In the main menu of Exerbeat you've got different activities to choose from:- Dance Exercise - Aerobics, Hip Hop, Latin Dance. Martial Arts - Boxercising, Karate, Karate Forms. Body Conditioning - Yoga Pilates, Stretching. Party Fitness - Swimming, Dance Fever, Wall Smasher, Pirate Attack, and My Exercises (pick and choose your own exercises to make your own workout). On the right side of the screen you also have a personal trainer workout programme, Heart Rate Advice (tips for exercising) and use your exercise points and rhythm points to walk around the world. My personal favourite is using the personal trainer programme because you can choose by Objective (Maintain Health, Relax, Burn Fat, Relieve Stress, Shape Up). Or By Category (Hip Hop, Latin Dance, Aerobics, Boxercise, Karate, Yoga Pilates, Stretching). Or by Problem Area (Arms and Shoulders, Chest, Waist, Back, Legs & Hips. Or Random Exercises. Then you choose how long you want to workout for such as 45 mins and Voila.
Like the Wii Fit and Wii Sports Active, Exerbeat progresses with you. It will start off really easy to assess your level and introduce new exercises as you progress. Initially you will use your Wii mote/s (with or without Wii Motion Plus - it doesn't matter, but for more accurate results Wii Motion Plus), and your balance board if you have one (but not necessary). For each exercise you do you achieve points for doing the movements correctly and workout time which translates into steps where you walk around the world. At the end of your exercise or personal training programme it will take you to a map of the world. The more steps and miles you cover the more places you get to visit such as Rome, Athens, Paris etc. Each time you reach a country it will give you facts about the country and may even get your picture taken (just a random picture with your Mii character and a tourist attraction behind).
Initially when you start Exerbeat you will use your Wii Mote/s (you can use 1, or if you have 2 great!), but as you progress it will eventually offer you the option of going wii mote free, if you want the freedom of not having to carry a Wii mote. You won't get the score for your movements (because it can't track them), however you will still get workout time achieved which will help you on your journey around the world. You only really need points if you are competing against another person, or to check you are doing the movement correctly, but the Wii mote doesn't always pick up that you are doing the movement correctly anyway (and that is with Wii Motion Plus). I can't understand why that is. It is a problem on other games too such as Just Dance. You could be doing the movement exactly right and it will give you a miss score.
On the main page you also have a calendar and a graph where you can track your progress. In the graph you can monitor your rhythm points, calories and workout time. Its a real shame though that it didn't have a weight checker like the Wii Fit/Plus. They could have easily done this as the game is compatable with the Wii Balance Board.
Zumba Fitness (With Fitness Belt)
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This fitness game covers all levels from beginner to Expert, and it does help if you have done dance classes before (not necessarily Zumba, but any style of dance). However if you are not used to exercising and perhaps have never danced before I would probably recommend Wii Fit Plus with the balance board, rather than Zumba Fitness because you may find the Zumba moves even at the beginners level too challenging. I know this because I have previous tap/modern/ballet dance experience and I picked it up incredibly easily. However my mum who has never danced before and doesn't do any exercise (besides housework and walking the dog!), found it too difficult and just gave up. She said she was really disappointed she couldn't do it, but she just didn't enjoy it because she found it too difficult. However she does enjoy listening to the music when I am exercising! The Zumba music is great!
This actually works better than the Wii game 'Just Dance'. It is more accurate. If you've got Just Dance you will know what I mean. You could be doing the move exactly right and it says you are only doing it 'ok' rather than 'great', and it is based on points so obviously the more 'great's' you get, the more points you get, and if it's not accurate you are not getting an accurate score. With Zumba Fitness, the instructor's comments are more appropriate and accurate. He or She says 'Keep going' if you're slacking, or 'great! You've got it!', which encourages you to work even harder and burn more calories! At the end of the Zumba Party or Zumba Class it will give you an overall score. I don't really find having a score relevant for just one player, but if you've got two or more players, you may want to compete against each other.
You are provided with a Zumba belt where you slot the Wii mote in the front. The belt often slips up whilst you are exercising which is a minor glitch but it doesn't really bother me that much. I just pull it back down and tighten it a bit more so it won't slip.
All in all, it covers a variety of dance styles, however my favourite part has to be the 'Cool Down' Belly Dance for obvious reasons! By the end of the workout I am completely out of breath, and am really sweating so I welcome the 'cool down' at the end, plus the music is great!
The King's Speech
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Superb acting throughout by all the cast. Although Colin is tipped for an Oscar, I do hope one or two of the other actors get oscars also...
Great soundtrack - goes well with each scene.
Captures the emotions perfectly. You feel the frustration/anxiety that Albert (later to become King George VI) goes through in his day to day life with his stammer - one second you have tears in your eyes, next second you're laughing out loud.
When the film finishes, you will most likely be asking questions about some part or aspect of the film. My question is 'if the Royal Family are supposed to be role models to the nation (and demand respect), and they have fixed rules and regulations in place, should Prince Charles ever get to be King - after all he has married a divorcee and he is one himself? My answer to that is No'. I'd like to know who else agrees...
EA Sports Active 2
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I got this for Christmas so I have had a while to test it out and do a review. I will start with the good points. I have used the Wii Fit for over a year, and got great results from it (weight loss), however EA Sports Active 2 is completely different and I can imagine it being either equally or more beneficial than the Wii Fit over a period of time. I find it a lot more challenging and it is more of a cardio workout than the Wii Fit. I certainly wouldn't describe it as fun like the Wii Fit, it is a lot more serious, and are the sort of exercises you would do if you had a personal trainer. Your EA Sports Active 2 personal trainer will certainly try and push you to your limits, and it really gets your heart pumping. I started off with the medium level, however I was a bit shocked to find it was too much for me so have had to reduce the level to Easy (I didn't realise I was that unfit!) For some the breaks in between the exercises whilst it loads are a pain, but for me they are a pleasure! It allows me time for my heart rate to go down if I am out of breath and have a drink of water.
The bad points:-1. It says it is Wii Balance Board compatable. I'll be honest by saying you are best not using the Balance Board at all. Why? You have to have the Wii Balance Board switched on all the time (even if the exercise doesn't require the balance board). This proves very annoying as it will interrupt your workout if the Wii Balance Board switches off to tell you to switch it back on again, even if you are not using it! It was also really annoying because my batteries in the Wii Balance Board kept going as I had to have it switched on the whole time of the workout.
2. I love having a heart rate monitor, however I don't find it 100% accurate all the time. For instance I might be really out of breath and feel my heart pumping and it still says my heart rate is low, when it quite obviously isn't. It takes a few minutes after that before it shows a more accurate heart rate figure.
3. Not all the exercises work properly and I have had to skip a couple of them so far. So far I have had to skip the Squats with the rubber resistant band. I have hardly moved and it says I am squatting too low. It drove me up the wall, so I ended up having to skip the exercise. Also the Alternating Reverse Lunges are dodgy also. It doesn't sense you are putting your leg back, and eventually when it did sense it and then I stood straight, it didn't sense that (I was still in the reverse lunge position). So once again, I ended up having to skip it.
4. The music I find annoying. It should have given you a choice of music (or no music at all) to do your workout to, but instead its got this awful music that you have to listen to.
So all in all, it does the job of providing a great overall workout, but there are many annoying things about it that have not been ironed out, unlike the Wii Fit which has no problems with it at all.
Glee The Music: The Christmas Album
Various - CD
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I've been waiting years for a Christmas album like this, and it has FINALLY dropped! A 'Musical' style Christmas is how I would describe it, rather than your traditional 'Pop' or 'Easy Listening' genre Christmas albums. You can imagine most of these songs being sung at the theatre. Personal favourites on the album in no particular order are:-
'Up On The Rooftop' - An up-tempo R&B Style song that you'll want to put on full blast, sung to the backing-track of Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). The song has a great beat and I love the way they sing it. Deserves to be Christmas No 1, instead of some non-Christmas song put out by an X Factor contestant.'We Need A Little Christmas' - One to listen to if you're feeling a little down. Will give you an instant lift - Broadway style!!'The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year' - Another Broadway style classic - Jazz shoes at the ready!'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' - A traditional Christmas song sung by characters Mercedes, Rachel, Santana and Tina.'Jingle Bells' - Lovin the boys big band style vocals on this upbeat number (Sung by characters Finn, Puck and Artie).'O Christmas Tree' - Sung by Mr Schu with the chorus in the background.'Last Christmas' - Well we all know this one girls don't we...!'You're A Mean One Mr Grinch' - At first I thought this was Mr Schu and Sue Sylvester, but it turns out it is actually sung by K.D Lang who is rumoured to be in an upcoming episode.'Oh Holy Night' - Sung by Lea Michelle's Character Rachel. A pretty standard version (I've heard better), but still nice to listen to.
The songs that don't cut it for me are 'Merry Christmas Darling', 'Baby It's Cold Outside' and 'Angels We Have Heard On High', hence the 4*'s. I've heard much better versions of these.
All in all, a different kind of Christmas album that is definitely worth listening to if you enjoy your musical theatre!