Friday, 30 December 2011

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong Review

Being the Christmas break means I have been able to get a lot of reading done of late, and I have devoured the Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong rather quickly. The Reckoning is the third and most recently released novel of the collection which follows the adventures of Chloe Saunders and her friends as they discover their supernatural powers.

Summary courtesy of Amazon:

The nail-biting climax to Kelley Armstrong’s bestselling YA series.Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. First of all, she happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are on the run from the evil corporation who created them. To top it all, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf. Definitely not normal...

This series gets better with every instalment. No need for me to rave about Kelley Armstrong, as we all know she is a goddess of supernatural fiction so we know it is superbly written. Yet, if you have read my reviews for the previous two books The Summoning and The Awakening you will know I have struggled with the similarities with her other more adult supernatural series, but I really feel like I really understood this series for the first time. I don't want to give too much away but it really works. 


For newcomers to the series, those who loved the previous two books or worshippers of Armstrong alike will adore this book. It has everything you need I a good narrative, well rounded characters, mystery, romance and action. Albeit for the teen audience, yet this is very well done. 

My only gripe is that I wanted to pick Chloe Saunders out my Kindle and shake her. The confused lust filled mind of a teenager has never promised to work logically, but this girl doesn't half erm and ah. But these things have a way of working out. 

I can finally give this series, and its latest instalment what it deserves... 5/5!

Great integration with other series, written for all audiences to enjoy and a fantastic read. 

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong Review

This is the second book in the Darkest Powers series that moves seamlessly from the last page of The Summoning to the first page of this engaging teen supernatural novel.

Summary courtesy of Amazon:
“Chloe Saunders used to be a normal teenage girl - or so she thought. Then she learned the shocking truth - she is a walking science experiment. Genetically altered at birth by a sinister group of scientists known as the Edison Group, Chloe is an aberration - a powerful necromancer who can see ghosts and even raise the dead, often with terrifying consequences. Even worse, her growing powers have made her a threat to the surviving members of the Edison Group, who have decided it’s time to end their experiment - permanently . . .Now Chloe is running for her life with three other supernatural teenagers - a charming sorcerer, a troubled werewolf and a temperamental young witch. Together they have a chance for freedom - but can Chloe trust her new friends?”

As I have said in all my other Kelley Armstrong book reviews, I am a huge fan of this Canadian author. An effortless read and real page turner, well rounded characters and an engaging narrative make this book a must read for all lovers of supernatural fiction. Having said this, as I am very familiar with her work, I saw the conventions of her invented supernatural races much before they may have been obvious to new comers to the author.

Despite this, a number of times whilst reading the book I found myself blaming their challenges on a dramatized metaphor for puberty, but after reading a number of other reviews I have to agree learning that you can bring dead people back to their bodies while you are sleeping are more than the average struggles of a hormone riddled teen.

Overall I do love this series, and this instalment in particular, but it is for a younger audience. I quote my good friend Sam Crossley when talking about the series as a whole: “they are good, a bit teen occasionally, but that is the audience after all”. Despite this, we both finished this book in record time, myself in just under two days and moved straight on to the next one.

I have really struggled not giving this 5/5 but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as other books I have read.

4/5 (lower that the first book for the pure reason I am trying to avoid half marks)

Thanks for reading,

Rie xx

Read my review of the first book 'The Summoning' here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Kindle All-Stars Presents: Resistance Front



I recently managed to get my hands on a really exciting Kindle book, Resistance Front a little early so I could pre-read and let you all know what I think. 

A creation by Bernard J. Schaffer, Resistance Front is a collection of sci-fi, fiction, fantasy, horror short stories (which he calls "speculative fiction" a term I was unfamiliar with before) all by independent authors. You can find out more on the collections website.

I came across this book relatively blind to its motives and tone but I am so glad I got the chance to tell you guys how great it is! 

Released today this book is a great price at just 86p, with all profits going to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. 

As you will know I love anything fantasy-fiction and this collection has really opened my eyes up to a host of other authors to look out for. So rather than giving you a very long a tedious intro to all the stories I will point out some of the ones to look out for.

The ones I enjoyed reading the most:
  • Color Forest by Robin Reed
    I think this has to be my favourite story in the collection. I have never read anything like this before, and it can be best described as a utopian/dystopian fictional tale of a color changing forest. It may not be the most dramatic or action packed short story, but after I finished the book and began to make notes about what I wanted to say in this post, this was the one story that stuck in my mind despite it being relatively early in the book. Its comments on the nature of relationships, commitment and marriage in particular had me thinking and was a pleasure to read. 
  • A Certain Doorway by Keri Knutson
    This book is very different in comparison to my other choice. Yet I enjoyed it equally, I just really want to read more. I saw the end as a real cliff hanger, defiantly one to look out for. 
  • A Gene Priest by B Throwsnaill
    The topic of this one is defiantly a thorny issue and I think you can tell that by the title. Genetic modification and religion are always a potent mix. Ethical issues up to the hilt and a thoroughly good read. Yet I couldn't help but think: 'I hope this is an accurate prediction of our future'.
The ones I found a bit weird:
  • Wheelchair Fight by Matt Posner
    I didn't really like the action of Fight Club either, so maybe not my cup of tea. This was defiantly a bit weird and I'm sure my face would have been a picture when I finished this short piece. 
  • The Shroudmaker by Angela McConnell
    Really did not see the end of this one coming! I enjoyed reading about the skills of Shroudmaker's but the ending really threw me.
  • Burden of an Innocent Lady by Dwaipayan Regmi
    This was one of the only ones where the writing style was my only hang-up. I felt that the style was just really impersonal and I didn't really connect with it despite its powerful narrative. 

Overall I give the book 4/5 - it is a great collection of short stories for a very reasonable price by I have to admit I did skip some whilst reading.

Don't have a Kindle? Details of the paperback release will be given on Facebook and Twitter soon. 

Thanks for reading, 

Love Rie x

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - Review

Hi all.

As the title suggests, this is a review for The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. I have been wanting to read the Darkest Powers trilogy for a while now, and after downloading the first chapter onto my Kindle and giving it a quick read, I made the investment to my sanity by downloading all three at once. I know how difficult it can be to wait for new books to be released in a series so I thought I would just bite the bullet and buy them all, and I am so glad I did!

(I have done something a bit different here, by including a summary of the book so you can know what I am talking about. Let me know if you like this, or if I should stick to just my review.)

Summary courtesy of Amazon:

"The first book in the Darkest Powers trilogy - a brand new series by bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. All Chloe Saunders wants is a life like any normal teenager - the chance to get through school, make friends, and maybe meet a boy. But when she starts seeing ghosts, she knows that life will never be normal again. Soon ghosts are everywhere, demanding her attention. When Chloe finally breaks down, she's admitted to a group home for disturbed kids. At first Lyle House seems okay, but as she gets to know the other patients - charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek; obnoxious Tori; and Rae, who has a 'thing' for fire - Chloe begins to realise that something strange and sinister binds them all together, and it isn't your usual 'problem kid' behaviour. And they're about to discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home, either ..."


So what did I think of it?: It was good!

With a much younger protagonist than the books of the Women of the Otherworld series, I had my reservations if I would enjoy it as much. But they were defiantly not founded. Armstrong has a talent for creating well rounded characters, and this was no exception. It encapsulates a confused teenage mind in such a well articulated way it was a pleasure to read. 


At times I did find myself guessing what made each character unique within the book, and 99% of the time my guesses were correct. Without giving too much away, Armstrong is a fantasy writer and she doesn't fail to provide that familiar supernatural flair.

This book really does get better towards the middle, the first half can be a little tedious with Chloe, the protagonist, explaining her predicament and her surroundings. Yet as I always, after a few too many late nights thanks to not being able to prise my Kindle from my hands, the book came to a gob-smacking conclusion. 


I want to be able to say I saw it coming, and it was predictable, but to be honest it was a really nice surprise ending. 

I am gagging to get reading the next book, The Awakening but with other reading commitments and a mountain of university work I am saving it for a treat. But one I will be tempted to start everyday!

4.5/5

Thanks for reading,

Rie xx




Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Cornerstone by Nick Spalding Review

Hey all,

Just wanted to do a super short review on the first ever full length book I have read on my Kindle.

I downloaded the book out of a gift card I got for my birthday - as it was it was recommend for me by Amazon, and was a bargain at 99p.

I struggled to identify with the main character, being a young teenage boy, and found his humour, well, rather young teen! But I soon fell in love with Max's wit and charm as I kept reading and it turned into a real little page turner towards the end.

It also really made me think about the power of books and knowledge, and how lucky we are to have the skills to read and write. I loved the apt irony of the stories narrative whilst only being released as an eBook - and the accessibility of its writting style. I wonder what the Cornerstone would make of the book in terms of power?

Overall despite a shaky start with the book, I really immersed myself into the Chapter Lands and finished the book in a button clicking fury to reach the end. I think I will keep an eye out for any other books by Nick Spalding, as I learned to enjoy his humour.

4/5 (lost a mark because it was not for my age group)

Thanks for reading,

Rie xx



Thursday, 10 November 2011

Kindle Review


I know that Kindle’s have been out for a while now, but I received mine as a birthday present at the end of October and wanted to play around with it for a few weeks to let you know what I thought.

I initially asked for the original Kindle, now called Kindle Keyboard, for my birthday present before the new one came out. I have been umming and ahhing about e-readers for quite some time and finally decided to have a go. However when it came to my parents ordering it, they got me the new Kindle and I am so glad they did. 

I won’t bore you with the stats of the reader as they are easily available on the Amazon website. But I just wanted to let you know what I think of its features, and also what my friends and family have said about it when having a quick play.

The look and feel of the reader is lovely! It fits easily in one hand and is super light making it easy to read and hold. Whenever people have seen me using it they always go “is that a Kindle… its sooo small!” and it surprising how compact it really is.

In terms of usability it did take a little longer than I expected to really get to grips with all the controls. The 5 way controller works logically but it can be difficult to use the search features especially the keyboard. Having said this finding and downloading books was really fast, so it was not such a big issue. 

I have to mention here that I have never played with a Kindle before, I had simply read the specs, and heard a lot about them so as a big reader I decided I needed to have one! I found page turning buttons on the sides of the screen are really easy to use, and I picked up their function and how to use the without even thinking, yet when others pick it up and see then struggling to get to grips with the concept. 

Just a soft pull down on the keys turns the page, but nearly every person who has had a look at it attempts to push the button into the side of the kindle exclaiming “these buttons are a bit stiff” and “they don’t even work Marie – have you broken it already!”. A simple demo is all it takes to clear the confusion in 9/10 cases, yet my boyfriend still hasn’t got to grips with it! Whereas I think they are slightly too easy to use, with me accidently skipping pages whilst adjusting my position whilst reading!

The screen has to be my favourite part. It actually does read like paper. Super easy on the eyes I have found myself on more than one occasion reading for hours into the night seamlessly flicking pages. There is a small flash when the pages turn, but I didn’t notice after the first 2 pages. The background images are really cool too. If I didn’t know otherwise I would think they were pencil drawings – really showing of the screens quality. There is so many too! I have been using it every day for 2 weeks and I swear I have just seen one I haven’t seen before.

The paper like quality of the screen is not really
given justice in this photo! This extract is from
 Nick Spalding's 'The Conerstone'

The images appear to be randomly selected,
but this is my favourite one.
I haven’t been taking it out and about much of late; due to the case my brother kindly ordered me a case from Amazon, which was out of stock and has taken over a month to arrive. But I have to have everything in lime green and I hope it will be worth the wait! In the mean time I have been storing it in its box which is equally compact.

The sample feature is also been really good. I have been able to download the first chapter of every book I have wanted to read, but never sure if it was going to be for me. After all it was blurb on the back of a Kelley Armstrong book I read once in Waterstones that lead a whole lot of my friends to purchase (and fall in love with) the entire Women of the Otherworld series. And it was the first chapter I downloaded of Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark on Kindle for PC that made me go a buy the entire set. I think this might be a costly habit!!

Overall I think I am in love. Heavy books no more I am a reader of a super light, and super stylish Kindle. I don’t think I will ever run out of space, but with cloud storage you never need to worry about losing your books, or even your page.

4.5/5 (it lost a 0.5 because it is fuelling my book worm habit!)

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie xx

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fire Kills!

Whilst doing some work for university this evening I have come across a really powerful ad for Fire Safety.


Being petrified of fire myself, this is a message close to my heart.

It is such a shame this really important campaign is reaching so few people.

So please take the time to share this video with friends and family, and go and show them some support on Facebook & Twitter.

Love Rie xx

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Not Really Public Transport Reading Material...

I am a great lover of adult fantasy fiction, as regular readers will know. But I have come to the conclusion that some chapters I have been re-reading of late are not suitable for reading in public!

The character Eric Northman
as described by protagonist Sookie Stackhouse
Picture me on a train, reading this: 'Dead to the World' by Charlaine Harris.

     "If there was an international butt competition, Eric would win, hands down - or cheeks up" 

This left me laughing softly to my self but it got worse!

     "I was so on fire for him I was surprised that flames didn't flicker out of my fingertips"


     "'Look at me my lover.' The way he said 'lover' was like a caress, like he was calling me by a name no other man had ever used before or ever would after."


    "'I wish' I said, 'I could save orgasms in a jar for when I need them, because I think I had a few extra."


    "Eric wanted me to be looking into his eyes; that obviously flicked his Bic."


I am sure I was blushing by this point, and looking over my shoulders guilty at my fellow passengers to see if they could see what I was reading.

I love the way this scene never got to pornographic, and was really well written! I am going to start using the term 'That flicks your Bic' - love it!

Got any favourite quotes you felt guilty reading in public?? Put them in the comments below; I would love to hear them! [nothing too graphic please!]

Get reading!

Rie xx

Monday, 24 October 2011

Why I Will Always Love Books.

With all things literary moving digital it seems the future will move away from books. But I can't help but love the printed page and the little messages left behind by previous readers. It seems to tell a history that will never be gained by a eBook.

Library books in particular are some of my favourite reads with post-stick notes, pencil scribbles and full on highlighting of pages really enhancing my reading experience.

Here is a book I got out of my university library this week that I really loved.
Black book on bottom right - Mythologies by Roland Barthes (2000)

Little pencil notes of a library book reference, a meeting & a website URL.

Post stick notes found inside the front cover including a shopping list!

There are some book that I will always purchase where I can namely the Charlaine Harris 'True Blood' series and Kelley Armstrong's 'Women of the Otherworld' series - and undoubtedly new. I still hold dear to my heart the printed book.

And I will always be a library dweller reading the notes left by others before anything else.

Despite the above I will not miss carting heavy text books, or running out of reading material whilst on holiday. I may be slow in embracing the digital trend, and will never fully abandon my books I still look forward to the future of reading!

Rie xx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

RTS Southern's Social Media Talk - Summary


Last night I went along to a talk about social media and itsinfluence on TV and news broadcasts. Not really knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised by a well organised discussion by some interesting speakers.

I particularly enjoyed the participation with the audience and I got some great answers to my questions about how to convert social media sceptics. So I just thought I would do a quick summary post on what I learnt.


Social media is well social, and it is difficult to get technophobes and sceptics to listen to the advantages of this fast moving and valuable tool to businesses. Here are some of the best tips I was given and how they can help individuals and businesses get the most out of social media:
  1.   Know what is in it for youMake sure you understand what you niche is and research them online. Twitter has some great advanced search techniques, as well as Google so make use of them to really understand who your target market is, where they are talking and how to engage them. You don’t need to replace traditional marketing techniques, but simply enhance them. Followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook and views on YouTube all mean more traffic to the your website.

  2. Set out your objectives
    Setting up a twitter account is easy, but knowing why you are doing it and who you are going to target is more difficult. Do you want to sell more products? Do you want to build brand awareness? Or just see what other people are saying about your brand? Make sure you know what you are saying, in what tone and to who before you jump in and start randomly posting.

  3. Know your stuff
    Almost anyone can set up and account on these sites, but running them can sometimes be a little more complex. What might work best for Facebook, might not work on Twitter so make sure you are educated on how to make the most out of these sites. If you’re not sure, don’t post. There are a lot of people that are professionals so turn to them for help.

  4.  Don’t be anonymousHaving a good profile on all social networking sites is important. A good profile picture is essential so people can recognise you / your brand easily. A short and snappy bio is also vital to let followers and friends know who you are and what you are about quickly. It will help build your followers and make sure potential followers can find you easily online.

  5.  Be authentic, be the expert, be funnyIts okay getting the followers but keeping them is another matter. It only takes seconds to unlike something on Facebook, or unfollow on Twitter so make sure every message counts. Be true to yourself, personal accounts always get more followers than business style pages. Be the expert in your field, if you cannot write original content RT or post other peoples – just make sure you give the credit where it is due. Most importantly keep the tone light! No one wants serious tweets all the time, so if you find something funny or cute share it!
Want to know more?:
Sue Llewellyn - Social media trainer and Twitter wizz!
RTS Southern - Good Facebook page, better website.
Me - Follower my Twitter to get more related stories by me and other people.

Thanks for reading,

Rie Reviews

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Churned 'Forever' - Yeo Valley Organic Advert


It seems that follow up television adverts are a real trend right now. In my last post I spoke about the new Lynx Effect advert ‘My AngelGirlfriend’ and how much I loved their new humours advert.

Yeo Valley Organic has also got a really good follow up advertisement to their Yeo Valley Rap also played in the advertising break of the X Factor featuring their band The Churned singing ‘Forever’.


I really love the way they draw on the conventions of boy bands, and their pop music videos in such a way it’s almost a parody of the whole X Factor concept. The song is even downloadable with an online campaign to beat the X Factor winner-to-be Christmas No. 1!

The television ad prompts us to go and look at the YeoValley Facebook page and sing along to appear in the ad break of the final of the show. The Sing Star style app asks fans to 'Sing in Harmony' to the advert into their webcams to hit the right notes and achieve high scores. You can compare top scores with the rest of the UK and your friends on Facebook in a nice interactive package.

I also love the customization on their YouTube channel with even the the Yeo Valley logo being adapted to mirror/parody the YouTube logo.

Overall this is a really creative integrated marketing campaign that has got people talking!

I am really enjoying the creative approaches being used to grabbing consumer’s attention at the moment particularly with mass consumables. I just dread to think how much this cost for a 2 min advert at peek time!

Rie Reviews xx

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Lynx Excite – My Angel Girlfriend Advert (BBH)




When the original Lynx Excite TV advert came out in February this year I fell in love with the movie style drama of it. I found the whole concept of the campaign fun and well executed. I felt the PR stunts and social media presence worked well to create a campaign people wanted to be involved in.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the next chapter of this campaign during the commercial break of X Factor (ITV) this Saturday!

This new 61s and shortened 30s adverts tell the humorous tale of what it is really like to date an angel. From wing feathers in sandwiches, to hogging the bathroom blow drying them in the mirror, it uses markers of everyday life both men and women can appeal to.

Whereas Lynx’s previous campaigns are more overtly sexualised (think back to this summer’s campaign for Premature Perspiration with Lucy Pinder) the Excite campaign still appeals to a young male audience but in a classier way. 

The first adverts felt more like a utopian time gone by in a picturesque European town (actually filmed in Croatia) that had been ambushed by angels. This new instalment however propels the concept into the modern day fits in better with the rest of the Lynx campaigns commenting on the nature of modern heterosexual relationships - or how men want them to be!

This has to be my favourite campaign of 2011!

Original full length advert released in Feburary 2011

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Top Hat at The Mayflower Southampton - Review

image source

This Tuesday I was lucky enough to go to the opening night of the musical Top Hat at The Mayflower Southampton.

The stage version of the 1930’s moving picture is brought to life by a cast of 45 actors, dancers and musicians. A comedic and whimsical tale of love between Jerry Travers (Tom Chambers - 'Holby City' and winner of 'Strictly Come Dancing') and Dale Tremont (Summer Strallen - 'Hollyoaks') is performed in full Hollywood glamour.

Beautiful costumes and cleverly constructed sets ensured that this light-hearted play enthralled audiences as the couple dance from song to song. The quips and wit of the original is captured perfectly by the show and had me laughing un-ashamedly more than once. The dancing provided by the whole cast was stunning and provided the ballroom charm even if the pieces sometimes felt a little long.

I felt that the first dance by Tom Chambers (and a very strained fake American accent) was a little shaky but the performance soon mellowed into an easy to watch and entertaining musical.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the show and recommend to all lovers of ballroom dancing and musicals alike.

4/5

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie xx

[Top Hat is at The Mayflower until September 24th before touring around the UK.
For more information and to book tickets: http://bit.ly/nP19VZ
Thanks to Carswell Gould for the opportunity to watch the show]

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Reading makes you a better person...

Source
A story published in the Guardian.co.uk today says that those that read fiction have increased empathy.

Participants in a Boston university where given an extract from two of my favourite children's authors - JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. They were then tested on a number of scales and results showed that those that read JK Rowling's extract from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone identified themselves with wizards, magic and broomsticks, where those who read Stephanie Meyer's extract from Twilight identified with blood, the undead and fangs!

So for those of you that need more encouragement to read, reading fantasy fiction improves your empathy to what you are reading about - which is a little strange when your are reading about characters that are, well, fictional! However, being more empathetic towards over people can only make you a better person in everyday life, and who doesn't love getting lost in something fantastical!

One of my English Literature teachers in college said he loved reading because it let him understand more about the world he might never get a chance to see, and I couldn't agree more!

So what ever your genre of choice, pick up a book today and make yourself more empathetic.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie Reviews xx

Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/rpYeqA

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver - Book Review

Deaver launches the James Bond character into the 21st century with his own unique style. A must have read for any Bond lovers, and thriller readers alike, but don’t be put off if you don’t like cars and guns, there is a lot more besides.

Aesthetically this book is very pleasing to read, the flocked, rubberised cover grips your hands. The cover image resembles a wisp of smoke and the design is repeated at the beginning of every chapter. I have both a standard copy (white/red) and a limited edition signed copied (black/white) which are both equally eye catching on my shelf.

All hard backs are going to be a little weighty and as this was a holiday read this summer, I did feels a paperback would have perhaps been better for travelling with, but the story gripped me from beginning to end and was worth the extra weight!  

The title is also really clever. So much better than the titles such as Octopussy and The Man with the Golden Gun, it has wit and style that really fits in with the narrative.

The narrative is well, Bond like. The formulae of the books were followed well, Bond had a fast car (although not an Aston Martin) and he even got the girl. He’s cheeky, witty and is one step ahead of the enemy no matter how much in trouble he seems. Yet it was Deaver’s personal writing style that made this book, for me, so enjoyable to read.  Red herrings and the rollercoaster ride of revolutions make this a fast paced read, and it will keep you guessing until the end.

The villain is possibly one of the best yet. Routed in modern issues with a flaw that makes your skin crawl, he is the perfect persona of 21st issues of recycling and corporate responsibility and their darker side.

It was the technical information on the cars and guns that was lost on me. I was laying in bed reading out the names of cars to my boyfriend to describe, as I had no idea what they were, if they were good or not or what they looked like. I understand that they are necessary for the book, but just not for me.

Overall I loved Jeffery Deaver’s take on the James Bond novel, with a fancy cover, good name and great characters. Yet the very Bond-ness of it means I prefer his own creations.

4/5

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie Reviews xx

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Holiday Reading

Hi all,

I am off for a well deserved holiday tomorrow, and time-off for me equals reading! So I thought I would let you know what books I am taking away with me.

  1. Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
    I have been reading this one for a few weeks now, and thanks to a busy schedule I haven't managed to progress more than half way. But I am looking forward to getting stuck in and finishing this one.
  2. Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay
    I have no idea what this one is going to be like. It was recommended to me by my Mum, so it will keep me busy for a day :P
  3. The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver
    One of the last books we have in the house that I haven't read. Again came highly recommended by my Mum as a good read.
It is going to be a crime thriller holiday! It is only a week away so all I can hope is this will be enough. But I always seem to find a book store selling English books no matter where I am and will undoubtedly be picking up some more!

Hope you are all having a great summer.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie xx

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver - Book Review


I have mentioned in previous reviews, Jeffery Deaver’s novels have been my first choice when it comes to the crime/thriller genre for a while now. My mum and I have read most (if not the full 28) books he has written. And as hard as it is to say – I think this has been my favourite one yet!


Front and back cover
I have always liked the way Deaver has adopted different themes in his novels. I find a lot of crime thrillers rely on tired psycho killers that go bump in the night. Where I enjoy Deaver's varied imagination of speed change artists (Vanished Man) to computer hackers (Roadside Crosses) and now electrical engineer’s using electricity or ‘juice’ as a weapon.

Lincoln Rhyme is at his finest in this book, with the mix of weakness and strength that makes him such a well-rounded character. His personal struggles with his health and mental stability provide as much of the action in this book as the killer's electrifying stunts do.

The twisting roller coaster of the final chapters, provides enough red herrings to fill an aviary. The main reason I regard it so high is it just kept me guessing till the end! The duel narrative sometimes had me a little confused with who the characters were chasing at each moment, but the book answered all necessary questions to satisfy any curiosities by the end of the book. 

Overall it was action packed roller coaster of false leads and detailed crime scene analysis that receives a rare 5/5.

A must read!

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie xx 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong - Book Review


I was really looking forward to the release of this book, as regular readers will know. To say I was disappointed would be a lie, I love Kelley Armstrong’s writing style, but I wanted more.

This book follows seamlessly from Waking the Witch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two books were written very shortly after each other, or split in to two by an editor. Unlike the previous books which can jump between character sets (such as: Clay & Elena / Paige, Lucas & Savannah / Hope & Carl / Jamie Vegas) this one includes all of them in fantastic style. I have always liked how Armstrong crafts well rounded characters. With so many protagonists in one series of books it must be challenging to make each one individual, but they are all so well portrayed.



Savannah on cover of Waking the Witch
 The main protagonist of Spellbound, Savannah, is now pretty much the same age as me. I am sure this attributes to why I love reading about her so much. She is an awkward in between stage of her life, no longer a teenager but not quite an adult which I can emphasise with. Yet at times I just wanted to shake her and tell her to ‘woman up!’
The underlying sexual tension that is present in all the books was as frustrating as Waking the Witch and Personal Demon. There is a reason Women of the Otherworld is an adult fantasy fiction series and that is really getting down to the crux of the issue and running with it. The werewolf books are particularly satisfying on this level (with Frost Bitten being almost soft core erotic literature!) Yet I am confident that Savannah’s narrative will progress and we will soon see her healthy and happy.

I can’t help but think that the narrative is getting very same-y. The threat of exposure of a secret community of supernaturals has been tackled in Harry Potter! But I cannot deny it is conquered very differently in Spellbound, and avoids the trap of True Blood of creating a utopian world where everyone is learning to co-exist in harmony. I am really interested to see how this progresses and read how Armstrong can keep her series fresh.

It is quite clear (much to my pleasure) that the end is nowhere in sight for my favourite supernatural series. I like the way the series is going despite the lack of passion in the latter books.
My next hunt is for the limited edition copies of  the fan stories/novellas: Becoming, Counterfeit Magic and Angelic at my price range. If all else fails I will download them to get my fix! I have also just learnt that there is to be a new novella, Hidden, to be released 31/10/11 which gives insight into the lives of Clay and Elena’s twins age 4. I can’t wait to get hold of this!

In summary although this is not my favourite book in the series, I am loving how the narrative is progressing!

4/5

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie xx

Friday, 12 August 2011

My Time at Carswel Gould - Week Three

Now that I have just completed my third and final week at marketing communications agency Carswell Gould, I am here to report how it has all gone!

As I mentioned in my last post, my main task last week was to complete a digital marketing plan to launch the RIBs to the Limit challenge film. I put a lot of effort in creating an easy to read document and it appeared my efforts really paid off. Ed seemed genuinely impressed with how I kept the objectives in mind whilst creating a table of action points to carry the plan through.

This week I have been carrying out the action points I could, whilst talking to the rest of the team about the bits I couldn’t, such as improvements to the website. Firstly I updating the profiles of the RIBS to the Limit accounts on YouTube, Flickr and Facebook to ensure that Carswell Gould’s involvement in the challenge was more widely recognised. Next I added some copy and links on each of the videos currently hosted on YouTube so that people knew a feature length video is being released, Carswell Gould’s involvement and where to go for more information.  As Twitter can only have a 160 character profile, I have written and scheduled a list of tweets for inform current followers about the upcoming release of the challenge film, their presence at the PSP Southampton Boat Show and related topics. Lastly I have left the task of designing and coding an extra case study page to the CG site to Graham and Tom (design) and Rob (web development).

My first tweet apearing on the website's twitter widgit.


To break this task up I have also been given some smaller tasks including: proof reading, looking at a brief for a new client, writing and scheduling different online content for Twitter and Facebook, milk runs and made numerous rounds of tea and coffee!

The most memorable moment of this week has unfortunately been the London riots. The buzz in the office was replaced with people sharing news of the riots and their spread across England this Tuesday. When rumors started circulating online about problems in Southampton there were some meerkat moments of us all looking out the window as riot vans parked on the high street and sirens went past. Luckily nothing happened, but it was good to see how in touch the local police force was with social media. They channeled reliable news via Twitter that the office and the rest of Hampshire could follow and not the many rumors. And if all else failed we always had guard dog Scamp to look after us!

These last three weeks have gone so quickly, and I am sad to leave the office. However the time has not been wasted, and I have learnt so much about how social media can be used by individuals and businesses. I am taking away a bank of knowledge to help me improve my appearance online, and looking forward to using the skills I have learnt. Areas that I need to improve has also been highlighted, namely by spelling and grammar. When getting my work proof read it was evident that although no one is perfect, my work was needing a lot more corrections than others, and I will be concentrating on improving this in the future.

Thank you so much to the team at Carswell Gould for having me, and thanks to all the people that have come along and read how I have been doing. And most of all, thanks for the chocolates!

Love Rie / Marie Malyon xx

Monday, 8 August 2011

SPELLBOUND!!

You know a book is good when you wake up early in the morning to read more before you go to work.

I am loving Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong. It was on the mat when I got home from Carswell Gould on Friday and I have read it at every opportunity since.

Looking forward to any chance to read the next chapter (fashioning my new skills of reading whilst walking!)

Watch this space for review very shortly.

Thanks for reading,
Rie xx

Friday, 5 August 2011

My time at Carswell Gould – Week Two

I am currently completing a three week placement at Carswell Gould, a marketing communications agency in Southampton. Now I have finished my second week in the office I have come back to tell you how it has all gone!

My first task this week was to present my comparative analysis of the use of social media by other agencies. I was quite nervous about doing my presentation, I have done a lot of similar tasks at university nut nothing really stops you getting nervous about how your research and hard work is going to be received

But...it went really well!

It was kept quite informal and I felt confident in knowing what I was talking about, thanks to the work I had put into each graph and point on the slides. I was expecting a ‘thank you’ and for them all to move on but each member of the team got involved in what I was presenting. A series of action points were made and tasks were shared out to help put these into action. I even got a few well done posts on Twitter which was really self-rewarding.

 To find out about what the GORE-TEX Arctic Challenge is visit: www.ribstothelimit.com

Early in the week my main tasks were to finish off the jobs left over from the week before, especially with RIBs to the Limit: GORE-TEX Arctic Challenge. It was one of the first tasks mentioned to me when I started this placement 2 weeks ago, but I was kept busy with other jobs with shorter deadlines. Focussed mainly on social media, I have uploaded some images on to Facebook as well as organising folders of images to be sent to the sponsors of the challenge.
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Part of the original task was to create a digital only marketing plan for the launch of a 20 minute film on the challenge, as well as the behind the scenes version to highlight the expanse and success of the integrated marketing campaign run by Ed (who was taking part in the challenge) and the team back in Southampton. I struggled early on with what this really meant and when I finally worked on it independently I found that I didn’t really understand the content of the video or the objectives of my marketing plan. A quick chat with Lisa and a briefing from Ed really helped me to understand the objectives and put the plan right back on track. More than being a piece of written work to sit on a pile they would also like me to follow out the plan in the final week of my placement, which will create a really great complete piece of work I can take back to university and include in my portfolio. The deadline for the plan is the end of today, so watch this space to see how it comes into action online!

My highlight of this week was observing the process of how the team works with a new client. A simple 30 minute meeting of all the staff sat on office chairs in a circle showed the way the CG office worked. Rather than clients being given the knowledge and skills from one person, the whole team is involved in providing creative ideas that fit the brief of the client. Time is taken to really explain to everyone what the target market, objectives and key messages of the campaign are, so to provide the best environment for everyone to get involved. The result was not what I expected – a group all pitching in ideas immediately of crazy PR stunts for the client to put their name to, but a more focused and objective response that I am sure will bring out some fantastic and practical creative solutions to help the client.

I would love that I am getting used to the 7 day week and early starts, but if anything they are getting harder. However, I am really enjoying my time so far at Carswell Gould and I am eager to start my third and final week as I feel I am leaning so much every day. I even have the company work experience placement, Emma Frost who started this week and is helping me make connections elsewhere.

Thank you all for reading,

Love Rie / Marie Malyon xx

Friday, 29 July 2011

My time at Carswell Gould – Week One

When people ask me what degree I am doing I always reply “Media Communications - it’s like a cross between advertising and journalism” and they often reply “oh right” with no idea what I am talking about. So when presented with the task of finding work experience I sat down and researched, asked friends, family but I was stumped. I was really interested in media communications but no one outside the industry seem to know what this really was. But with the recommendation from my tutor, the perfect place was right under my nose the whole time – Carswell Gould. 
Located in the centre of Southampton it is just minutes away from my university (Southampton Solent). It was the placement I was looking for! As a marketing communications agency, Carswell Gould encapsulates what I am trying to describe what my course is about, and so much more.
So now I have completed my first week in the office, I am excited to report back my first impressions!
Week One:
The beautifully decorated office houses a very friendly team. Warm smiles and handshakes greeted me on my first day and I was thrilled to hear everyone already knew my name (even if it has taken me a lot longer to remember all of theirs!) I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.

Top row : Graham, Laura, Gill, Ed and Scamp.
Bottom row: Tom, Lisa and Rob.


The Monday meeting left me with pages of notes about my tasks for the week and a real enthusiasm to get started. I have been given some really exciting tasks both to support the team’s work for clients, and generally help out around the office. Making tea and coffee is a very important job but much to my surprise is the smallest part of my temporary role in the office.  
One of my first tasks was to draft a comparative analysis of the social media used by competitors, and suggest ways Carswell Gould can enhance its social media presence. I jumped into the research and the task was soon upgraded from a report to a presentation for the following week’s Monday meeting. After a quick chat with Ed about my progress, he really helped me focus my research and gave me some good tips for increasing the value of the research I was doing.
But listening in on Gill, Lisa and Laura’s PR meeting on Wednesday morning has been my favorite time so far in the office. I learnt a lot about press releases, selling in stories (which means persuading a publication to run a story and nothing about money exchanged), press parties, mailing lists (and cleansing them) and loads more. I wish now I had made more notes, but really looking forward to the opportunity of learning more about PR.
I am really looking forward to next week now, and am so pleased that I have got this opportunity to pick the brains of experts in the marketing comms industry.
Look out for next week’s update to see how I am getting on!
Thanks for reading,
Love Rie / Marie Malyon xx

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Oh Genre!

Hey all :)

I hope you have enjoyed the last few reviews. I have really enjoyed working with Sam and Flo and hope I can get a few more people involved in reviews when I am busy. Sam already has a book waiting for him when he gets home that he has promised me he will review!

So much for my summer off! I have managed to get my self into 3 jobs and reading has been segregated to only train journeys and at bedtime.Thus the slow progress on my very exciting 'to read' pile.

I am currently reading a very different genre than I normally go for... Historical Drama. Science fiction, fantasy, crime drama, a lot of teen vampire flicks are normally what I spend the most of my time reading, but I have really fallen in love with "Queen of Silks" by Vanora Bennett.

I inherited this book from my Dad's late godmother (RIP London Mary) with a selection of other books that she had in her home. She was a passionate reader and we had shared books with her for a number of years. This one however doesn't look like it has ever been read before, but I hope in her final weeks she had lots of other great books to read.

The book was originally published as "Figures of Silk" back in 2008 but I am reading the paper back version printed in 2009. As I have already mentioned I haven't read any historical style novels before so I wasn't expecting the rich content (I wouldn't know if it was accurate!) mixed in with more recognisable themes of ambition, feminism, romance and adultery.

If it doesn't really sound your thing, I wouldn't blame you! I only picked this book up to read first as it was the smallest (mainly because it is a paperback) and would be lightest to read on the train. However I have been drawn into it, and found myself sat at Portsmouth Harbour station, sat on the train, reading speedily to reach the end of the chapter before I have to get off so the train can go back in the other direction!

Look out for the review when I have finished it! I would love for you guys to give a new genre a try as you never know - you might find a real gem!

What genre is your favourite normally? Have you been surprised by a new genre?

Please comment and let me know, I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Rie xx

Monday, 13 June 2011

Marina and the Diamonds - 'The Family Jewels' Album Review by Florence Parrack

I present to you a bit of a different blog review today from school friend Florence Parrack (who normally prefers Flo).

I invited her to write a review for the blog after she said she liked reading mine, and would love to be able to write more reviews herself.

The album has been out since 2010 but is still a cracker and well worth a listen. I have included the links for you to go and have a listen on YouTube as well.

So please make Flo feel welcome and don't forget to comment and recommend any more artists / albums you think we both might like.


Marina and the Diamonds - 'The Family Jewels' Album Review

Lately I have been a musical bored slob, for want of a better phrase – all the stuff I already have is overplayed, and I’m too lazy to branch out and find new music to add to my collection.

Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered Marina and the Diamonds, and didn’t have to listen for long before I fell in love!

Marina Diamandis, her real name, comes from Wales and found her unique musical style after dropping out of four different universities. She claims such influences as Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears, but has been compared to a much more diverse selection of artists including Regina Spektor and Elvis Costello.

I stumbled across the music video for ‘Hollywood, and watched it twice straight away. Marina, dressed as a variety of American stereotypes, sings a biting commentary on Hollywood culture and the way it dictates how we should live our lives. Her voice is beautiful and unusual, and her songs actually have depth and meaning so often neglected in pop music.

Obsessions’ deals with conditions such as OCD and eating disorders, ‘Girls’ is a feminist anthem that criticises the stereotypes we are constrained by, ‘Hermit the Frog’ tells the story of a damaging relationship. Her songs are catchy and often upbeat, but they also contain a social commentary.

I like to think that it’s singers like Marina who will go on to influence future generations, rather than the many female singers in the charts who promote dangerous messages about the importance of receiving male attention and looking beautiful at any cost.

So, she’s got a gorgeous voice, she’s witty and clever, and she’s insanely cute *swoon* - her 2010 album ‘The Family Jewels’ is available on iTunes and several of her videos can be found on Youtube. Go and listen to her – you won’t be disappointed (well let’s hope not!)