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Being Productive

Posts that are productive, crafting, home decor, things like that.

Being Mum Reviews

Review – Stokke Xplory

The ultimate connection stroller. With pioneering seat height adjustability, the iconic Stokke® Xplory® brings your baby closer promoting interaction while you explore the world together. Thoughtful design makes Stokke® Xplory® effortless to manoeuvre, even around the tightest city corners. Front or rear facing, Stokke® Xplory® provides an almost infinite choice of seating positions. No other stroller brings child and parent together like the Stokke® Xplory®. – Stokke.com

Image from the Stokke website

I’ve been using the Stokke (pronounced Stowe-kah) Xplory for some time now and finally feel I can offer a good review. Deciding which stroller, pram, travel system (the list is endless) to go for reminded me much like buying a car. You’ll have it for a while and you want to make the right choice, comfort, versatility and cost all come in to play; even storage is important.

I hadn’t actually seen many of these out and about until I started looking, suddenly the world seemed quite full of them here in London. If you like the modern look then I think they are certainly catering for that market. When you compare what I would deem the main competitor Bugaboo appear a tad more traditional. So why buy one, or perhaps why not?

The Xplory really excels in the city and urban environments. It’s diversity is excellent being able to adjust the height, angle and direction (front or back facing) of the seat allows for lots of flexibility. If you like to eat out or have coffee it’s really great to be able to have the baby facing the table high up so they are still part of the fun. On a personal level I’ve found my daughter seems happy just watching us eat and doesn’t tend to fuss very much in this stroller, she can always see me.

On the storage front you get the shopping bag which is detachable and included a net inside. Which is a good thing since the bag itself is pretty small, certainly it’s no basket. But with the net and drawstring closure you can expand the size and store plenty when on the go. I’ve often used it for picking up essentials on food trips or if we take lunch out for our picnic.

Base model you get the rain cover and mosquito net. I haven’t used the mosquito net so can’t really say too much about that but the rain cover is excellent. It’s easy to assemble which is great when it rains as often you have little warning prior to a down pour here in the United Kingdom. It contains a small flap window which can be open or closed and fastened down with Velcro. This is great for just popping dummy in or reaching in without removing the cover. So far I’ve never seen any leaking or rain seeping through and it feels good quality when on.


Pros

Flexibility, possibly the highest stroller for tall people and easily changed to suit all heights

Can be front and back facing, has various tilts for rest and being active

Long term, can be used up to 15kg/33lbs
Seperate carry cot so can be used from birth, seat comes with newborn wedge which is acceptable in many countries from birth.

Comes with rain cover and mosquito net included

Glides easily, good turning circle and good brakes.
Cons

Price, at £849 for just the seat with shopping bag (rain cover and mosquito net) it’s on the higher end of the market. Once you add the carrycot £170, cup holder £18 (ok not essential!),sun umbrella £42 or summer kit £119 plus other accessories it starts adding up to quite an investment for many parents.

Storage, it’s not going to win an award here. It does have a detachable shopping bag with net and toggle to expand but it’s limited. However it depends if this is important to you.

Suspension, you are not going to be taking this stroller on many hikes or off road adventures. I have pushed it around a huge park, but it certainly wasn’t going to be nap time for my daughter whip doing so.

Size, yes you may have to change your car. Check out this website which has taken many car models and their boot space with the Xplory in it.

With everything you buy as a parent it’s about matching things that fit for you. I love the Xplory, but we did change our car but I love how comfortable my daughter is in it and sociable!

It’s important to go and check out the Xplory in person if you are considering it. We found a large Mamas and Papas had a good range and loved the easy of movement in person. We could also get an idea of size and knew we would need more room.

Some might cringe at the thought of spending so much money on a single item for a baby but they do resell well so you may be able to pickup a bargain from a considerate owner.

My top tip would be to buy the changing bag for it too as you can use that for extra storage as there are clips for it on the front of the seat. I clip my actual changing bag onto the handle.

Being Mum Reviews

Review – Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine

If you ever intend to bottle feed, buy it. Buy it now. Sell whatever possessions you need to sell to buy it.

Perfect Prep Machine
I love this machine, love it. The only other thing that comes close to it is ready made formula. How ever my little beast has anti reflux stuff which for whatever reason the baby formula companies don’t make pre made. Listen up large corporations, the amount of babies who have reflux you need to get on with it!

Anyway the Tommee Tippee perfect prep machine comes with us wherever we go. I got caught out with a little hospital stay and had to actually boil water and wait for it to cool down. I think if I had to do that every feed I would have stuck with breast feeding!

Seriously it’s so easy to use, you pop the powder in the bottle press a button. The machine dispenses a hot shot which you shake (with lid) and it kills any bacteria in the formula. Pop the bottle back under, press the button, shake and it’s ready to drink.


There is a filter which filters out the bad bits in the water, it’s not very expensive to replace and the machine pops up to let you know when it’s near the end of life.

This machine is just amazing, the only downside I would say is that it only goes down to four ounch feeds. When you have a newborn there’s a bit of wastage as they can’t drink four. But Tommee Tippee say that’s the smallest they can manage and still get enough hot water for the powder but cool water to make it drinkable straight away.

It’s not long before they are drinking four ounces so no big deal (although you might hear differently from my husband who was bankrolling all that powder feed). If I could have been bothered I would have run the kettle but that in the middle of the night? No I don’t think so.

All in it takes about two minutes to make a feed which feels like a long time when baby is screaming hungry.

The machine itself looks nice on the countertop, we opted for the Amazon exclusive black version. It’s light and has a cable tidy on the back for transporting it. It’s adjustable depending on the size of your bottles, easily by adjusting the bottle stand level.

I would say it’s one of the most used, best purchases we made for our daughter. If you are interested then often deals are on and you can get the machine greatly reduced in price.

We always take it with us when we travel, if we could use ready made we probably wouldn’t but that’s just how it is for us.

100% worth it’s weight in gold and I couldn’t recommended it more.

Reviews

4moms MamaRoo 2015 Update – a first look

Firstly I should say I didn’t find this product myself, an old school friend recommended It when I was asking about which rocker/swing to buy. When it came to ordering it I noticed they were releasing a new version in the UK around the end of January 2015/The start of February 2015. Given that the new edition had quite a number of differences to the old model I thought it was worth holding off on the order and I’m glad I did.

It seems that the 4moms team listened to a lot of the feedback given by mums online reviews, as a craft consumer I always check reviews for products before ordering them. As such I’ve definitely noticed quite a few adjustments in line with the the comments I saw, so lets compare.

Firstly you should be able to notice there are some slight changes in the base shape when comparing the two editions, I prefer the new look as I think it’s more sleek and modern so a definite improvement in my view. In addition to this 4moms have removed the indent for the MP3 player (where most people pop their phone or iPod) and instead have just included a slight dip for holding it. I think this is also an improvement as I don’t think you really need a dedicated dip in the plastic moulding to cradle your MP3 player the new design does the job.

Everything seems reduced in size without minimising the overall feel of the rocker/bouncer, there is a lot less plastic and even the speakers on the side are more integrated rather than poking out like round ears on the side. Design is a person thing, I’m sure some people will prefer the old shape but I am definitely loving the new 2015 base upgrade. There are other more subtle changes like the seat insert no longer goes up over the mobile, ditched the “4moms” label on the harness and they have changed the design of the toy balls which I will talk about further down.

The control LCD screen has also had major work done, I think the new design is much more modern looking and easier to understand. There is a larger LCD screen with a sleeker design in which they have ditched the little dials for controlling volume and selecting the sounds and in its place are rubber based integrated buttons. However there is one major change which I think is worth buying the 2015 edition for in itself, you can control the new 2015 MamaRoo with an app from your phone! This is just an excellent improvement and it works really well over bluetooth, iOS and Android at the moment. You can control everything from turning it on and off, speed, sound and the type of movement that you want. This seems like a great improvement as you can easily turn off the MamaRoo when baby is sleeping without having to tiptoe around.

I can’t find a picture of this (only videos) but I’m sure they have reduced the size of the labels on the toy balls, this is something I saw many mums mention they wished were smaller in their video reviews online. They are now tiny black labels and you really don’t notice them much when they are in place. In fact in a lot of the photos it looks like mums have cut the labels off the toy balls which is probably why I can’t find a decent picture! Now comparing the two design types I prefer the smaller black labels but I don’t like the design of the patterns as much in the new 2015 edition. I think the previous toy balls were more imaginative and had more going on to look at. Where as all three toy balls are just stripes, stars and diamonds which repeat and on the reverse just colour changes.

Everything else seems the same as the previous model, they’ve kept the reversible machine wash seat fabric, you still get five motions (tree swing, car ride, kangaroo, wave and rock-a-bye) and you still have a vast options of seat recline, unlike many rockers/bouncers which have preset seating positions. It’s great that they have listened to feedback and improved on an already great product.

Price wise 4moms have increased the price with the new 2015 edition from £199.99 for the previous model to £239.95 for the 2015, however I think the extra is justified just for the remote app control feature. I expect as more resellers get access to stock that there will be some deals to be had, but I hope you’ll agree that this update seems worth while waiting for.

Reviews

Review – Yoomi Feeding System

Back long before I was pregnant I remember stumbling across this product line, coming from a technology background I am certainly all for gadgets that help you out. As far as I’m concerned this product certainly does that, I actually can’t believe someone didn’t come up with it sooner. We already have the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine which I will be reviewing later but that doesn’t help when out of the house, I wanted something that meant I could easily go for a picnic and warm up formula without needing hot water. There are lots of ways to achieve this but I loved the whole idea of the Yoomi range and let me explain why.

The warmer works in the same way as the gel hand-warming packs that warm up when you click a metal disc inside – when you press the orange button on the yoomi warmer, you’re effectively clicking the metal disc and it’s the phase change from liquid to solid inside the warmer that creates the instant warmth. The cold feed is gently warmed as it flows around the specially designed channels on the outside of the warmer. By the time the feed reaches the teat, it is at natural breast milk temperature (32-34 deg C). The warmer has been carefully designed to stay warm for up to one hour. You then need to recharge the warmer between each use. You need to take the warmer back to its liquid state inside, ready to use again. – Yoomi Website

Yoomi 8oz Feeding System

Yoomi do a full range, you could actually just use their bottles, as I mentioned before though we do have the prep machine so I purchased their 8 oz feeding system if you wanted to start with a smaller bottle they do a 5oz feeding system also. This set includes one 8oz (240ml) bottle, soft teat, warmer and the recharge pod which is perfect for occasional trips out exactly what I wanted it for. Before the we bought the prep machine I was going to buy a whole starter range from Yoomi however it makes much more sense for me to have the prep machine warming feeds at home and we have the space for it. The bottle has been designed with six anti colic vents within the teat which apparently has been designed to stop air bubbling through the teat and into the feed. You do have to buy their teats when you want to replace them, but they have a bunch of options for flow on their website and I don’t think they are that expensive given the convenience (2 pack for £4.50).

How does it work?

First time setup is a tad more complicated as Yoomi give you what’s called a stage 1 time, but once you’ve done that there are only really a few steps to this bottle system.

  1. Charging the warmer
  2. Sterilise everything
  3. Fill bottle with formula, breast milk whatever you want to feed
  4. Push the button
  5. Wait 60 seconds and its ready to use

Charging the warmer

Now to charge the warmer you have two options, either you boil the warmer in a saucepan full of water or you can microwave the warmer in the charging pod. Microwaves vary to Yoomi get you to do a stage 1 setup, which stops you overcooking your warmer.

Microwave charging

Stage 1 Setup –  You basically put the warmer in the charging pod upside down, click the arms in place and pop the whole thing in the microwave for 60 seconds. Next remove from the microwave hold the pod securely and shake five times, if you can hear the warmer rattle then your Stage 1 is 60 seconds, if not then you put the pod back in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Again remove the pod securely and shake five times, if you can now hear the warmer rattle your stage 1 is 70 seconds, if not you pop the pod back into the microwave for another 10 seconds then remove it and your stage 1 is 80 seconds. This initial setup means you don’t have to repeat this process again, once you know how long your stage 1 is. The warmer will now be charged, next time you use the “heat, shake, heat, shake method”. After the first time setup, you charge your warmer using the heat shake method like so:

  • Pop the warmer upside down in the charging pod, secure the arms down and place in the microwave. Heat for your stage 1 time (worked out above).
  • Remove from the microwave and shake the pod for 30 seconds, pop the pod back in the microwave after.
  • Heat for a final 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the microwave and shake the pod for 10 seconds, then let the warmer cool down for 75 minutes or pop in cold water for 20 minutes to cool before pressing the button.

Boiling water charging

Sterilising the warmer, bottle and teat

The important thing to remember is all these parts need sterilising as with all bottles, this includes the warmer. What you don’t want to do is use a microwave steriliser with the warmer because working out your charging time for your microwave is part of the initial setup and you do not want to overcook your warmer. So you can only sterilise the warmer in either an electric steriliser, cold water (with tablets) or in a saucepan of boiling water for four minutes. I have a microwave steriliser so I’ll be sterilising my warmer in a saucepan, every other part of the feeding system can be sterilisers in the microwave steriliser as normal.wd_7930

The good points

Once charged the warmer can be kept until you need to use it, so it makes for a quick and fast option for flinging into the changing bag (once sterilised).

Speed – I like that the warmer is designed so that the milk flows down through to warm the feed, 60 seconds is pretty speedy!

Connivence – If I can get a baby product which is going to make things easily for me then I am all for that product.

Safe – The Yoomi bottle should never over heat the feed by design (although always test it before giving)

Hygienic – Unlike other warmers, the Yoomi bottle keeps the feed cool until you want to warm it up. Where as other warmers keep the feed warm for several hours allowing bacteria to breed.

The bad points

Quite a few parts to sterilise, not really a massive issue though

Remembering to charge the warmer before you need it

You have to buy Yoomi teats, your baby may not get on with the Yoomi teat.

Limited life of warmer, Yoomi quote around 150 charges before you need to replace your warmer.

Reviews

Review – Storksak Elizabeth Changing Bag

Picking a changing bag was quite important to me, I only realised this quite late on; after all it’s not just a changing bag is it? It becomes your carry around bag, where you keep not only your babies things but your things. So many of the changing bags on the market are really gimmick inducing, bold colours, crazy patterns or design to go with the travel system. There’s nothing wrong with this but I wanted a grown up bag still.

So a little research online and one brand caught my eye “Storksak”, they make a variety of designer changing bags which have been carefully designed to store everything you might need. One of the key things I liked about their bags was that they come with a matching foldable changing mat and also an insulated bottle holder, what more do you need?

Onto the bag, this is the Elizabeth bag in the colour Dove Grey, Elizabeth is one of their timeless editions and has been in their collection since they launched.

Made from luxurious lake washed leather, which ages beautifully, it is finished with brushed silver hardware. Big enough to fit most laptops, this is the perfect baby bag to double-up as your every day or work bag. With two outer pockets, including a mobile pocket, ten internal pockets as well as a insulated bottle holder, this is your ultimate baby bag. – Storksak Website

Look and feel

I love that due to the leather used, each bag is unique and will be slightly different to another. In addition to this it should be quite hard wearing, the leather feels very strong and has a lovely scent (if you like the smell of leather that is). On first look everything seems to be made to a high standard, good quality stitching used and the hardware looks sturdy. I’m hopeful that this bag will last, which will offset the higher pricetag. It comes in a few other colour options in the lake washed leather (black, chalk, tan and walnut) and also a black quilted soft cow hide leather if you prefer that look. The leather does feel very soft to touch and there is also a long strap for over the shoulder use if you so desire.

wd_29d9

Storage

On the outside of the bag there are two pockets, one of the front and one on the back kept closed with magnets. Probably ideal for storing your phone so that you can get to it quickly when the bag is either on the travel system or being held. Inside there are nine compartments. There is a flushed zipper compartment on one side and on the other a velcro secured compartment, the rest are mostly pouches which seem quite useful for nappies and other items. I’ve managed to fit three nappies easily into just one of these compartments so there really is plenty of space. I love how Storksak seem to have measured out the compartments so they suit baby related items well. There is also a detachable bottle compartment which you can use to keep your bottle upright. In addition to this is a small vanity pouch which can be easily found as it’s attached by a clip, the pouch has the same leather colour used on the bag which I like.wd_b5e5

Extra features

There is also a matching changing mat and bottle holder, all matching the internal material of the bag which you can wipe clean. I don’t think this picture really does the material justice but the previous internal picture should give you an idea. I should also mention that the bag is a zip to close style, which I wanted as I didn’t want things falling out. It looks really robust and chunky so I have high hopes of it not breaking on me! The changing mat looks really luxurious compared to some of the others I’ve seen and is extra padded so should be quite comfortable. The insulated bottle holder should keep things cool/warm for up to four hours, so that’s useful.wd_84ad

Overall thoughts

I really like this changing bag, I’m hoping it will serve me well and for now I think it’s definitely worth the extra money. It is a tad on the girly side but we’ve bought the Stokke changing bag which matches the Stokke Xplory for my husband to use (reviews on these to follow). If you want a changing bag that can easily pass for a normal day to day back I would highly recommend Storksak, you are bound to be able to find a style and colour to suit you. The changing bag will fit most strollers as you can use the over the shoulder strap however I’ll be purchasing their Storksak Stroller Clips as the Stokke Xplory doesn’t have the traditional stroller handle but instead has a loop. So I should be able to use the clips around the handle, but if I don’t like the look of it then It will just have to be carried. Can’t complain!

The bag has plenty of storage and room to fit everything you need in, although If I had more than one child in nappies I might opt for one of their slightly bigger bags. I can definitely seem my collection growing as I want to update things and what’s great is Storksak are always bringing out seasonal changes to their collections.

I’m looking forward to using the bag, once I do I will add an update below who knows my thoughts might change!

Being Productive

Nursery Project – DIY Safari Animal Jars

I loved these jars and had seen them posted on pinterest, I knew they would look great on top of the nursery dresser. I just needed to collect up and find all the different items to do it! So what do you need?

wd_4fecYou will need:

  • Screw top jars, you can use any old jars but I purchased these new because I didn’t have any to hand
  • Plastic animals, you can use anything you like they don’t even have to be animals of course
  • Glue, I used epoxy glue but you could use super glue
  • Spray paint and primer, if you aren’t using a spray paint that combines primer you’ll need to prime them first.
  • Workspace and dust sheets, I used cardboard with an old sheet beneath

Most of these items you may already have at home, you can also pick more than one spray paint and have a variety of colours to suit your theme.

Safety first – make sure you cover your face and nose and spray paint in a ventilated room or outside.

Once you have all your items, it’s pretty simple really and all it takes is a little bit of time while you wait for each layer to dry. I can’t believe how simple this is to do given the effect it gives at the end, well I like them anyway!

Prep and spray stage

wd_6a27

 

Lay the screw top lids and the plastic animals on your workspace ready to spray. Spray an even light coat of spray paint over all the items, be sure to hold the can the recommended distance from the items as this should help keep your coat of paint even. Once completed let everything dry for the recommended time (you can find this on your bottle).

Wait some time, spray again stage

Once the first coat has dried, lightly spray all the items again making sure to cover any missed areas. Let everything dry again.

The having fun with glue, just don’t glue your fingers together stage

Once completely dry you can glue the animals to the lid, If using epoxy glue mix up a small amount and coat the bottom facing parts of the animal (which will touch the lid) and place the animal on the lid making sure to get a good connection. Leave to dry for recommended time, in this case it was around 10 minutes.

The “oh no did I miss a bit?” stage

Have a look at your completed lid with animal attached, if there are any uneven areas spray the lid (with the animals attached) with one more coat of spray paint and then let it dry.

wd_6ed6

 

That’s it! The lighting changed by the final picture so the pink looks a different colour but you get the idea.

I’m really pleased with these as I am going to totally store them on my changing dresser, I think I’ll use them to store those little items and sample products.

Books Reviews

Review – Insurgent, yipee!

Insurgent book front
Wow I’ve just realised this post was still in draft format, I finished this book last summer and wrote the review on the 22nd of August! So publishing now, I can only assume I started to feel sick and gave up.

It took me a little longer than I thought it would to finish this book, which is not a reflection on the book at all but merely my own ability to focus! Insurgent is the second instalment of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. It’s another young adult science fiction meets dystopia and personally I love that the book follows on from the first book Divergent pretty much seamlessly.

As always I won’t spoil the book by revealing the plot line for you, however I’ll give you a general overview and my thoughts on the book. Insurgent is easy reading, it’s written in a format which I think makes it viable for all kinds of adults (not just the young ones!). The book has plenty of good structure, keeping the main story line running along nicely. The main characters Beatrice (Tris) and Tobias (Four) along with the dystopia society of factions. Veronica has done a good job in terms of character development ready for the third instalment, as the story progresses you get a much better understanding of who they are. In fact I think even the characters learn who they are and who are are not for the first time. After all they have just been through a major societal shake up, lots of new relationships are formed and a deeper understanding of all the factions is seen.

Fighting for survival in a shattered world… the truth is her only hope.

The thrillingly dark sequel to No. 1 New York Times bestseller, DIVERGENT.

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Insurgent keeps you on edge, it’s cleverly written and leaves you with a longing to start reading the next and final book (which I may or may not have just ordered). Divergent was a great book, not all sequels live up to their second book but I can firmly say that Insurgent does indeed match Divergent. I’m actually quite surprised that this series has not had quite the same publicity as  The Hunger Games or Twilight because it’s on par.

As I mentioned above the second book follows pretty much immediately after the first, I am so glad the Veronica did not included the recapping most authors do. It was refreshing not to have to be bored by repeated content for readers who had not read the first book. The story line is actually quite complex, personally I did not find anything too weird or strange but then I enjoy sci-fi in general so perhaps that’s why.

I would highly recommend the book, go and read it now!

Books Reviews

Review – The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike Novel)

The SilkwormI had completely forgot the release date for The Silkworm when I was passing Waterstones back in June, however by chance I happened to be passing on the release day itself! So the latest book by J.K Rowling (Robert Galbraith) was just sitting there looking pretty in the window display and caught my eye.

 

After reading “The Cuckoo’s Calling” which I reviewed here I was eagerly anticipating the next crime novel featuring the great detective “Strike” and his personal assistant sidekick “Robin”.  I even thought the cover picture and name of the novel looked great, I was really excited to read it and started immediately while in Costa!

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

J.K Rowling is a great writer, the book just like the last one is written well with a good format and easy reading style which is always a bonus. The two main characters (Strike and Robin) are great as always and throughout the book you start to see those characters develop, this is the best part of the book. The rest of the characters however I felt fell short of the last book, it did not seem to focus too much on them but more on their motive for novelist Owen Quine’s murder leaving the story lacking in depth. There are a few really interesting ones but you don’t get in deep enough to really enjoy it, they don’t even play a part in the final story which is such a shame. I don’t know why J.K Rowling picked the most boring character of all of them which he only actually interviews once properly.

In the previous (The Cuckoo’s Calling) I thought many times that I had guessed the murderer but I was surprised by the ending, which as far as I’m concerned is exactly what you want from a murder mystery story. In this book however I realised who was behind the murder quickly, it was pretty obvious because the murderer wasn’t spoken to after the one time but appeared throughout the story mentioned by others. The motive I had no idea though and found it to be quite pale in comparison to the bizarre twisted character of Owen Quine, who pretty much just came across as a total weirdo. I mean if you are going to make a character so strange, then it needs a really strange plot to go with it.

I also really did not enjoy the whole plot focusing on books, what a boring topic to pick! Yes I like reading books, but I don’t do that because I want to read a story about the publishing industry unless you are going to make it VERY interesting. There are so many other mysterious detective story lines you could pick! As a reader I want to be second guessing myself, I want to be hooked and want to read on to see if I was right or wrong.

I was really disappointed with this book, but I will read the next one which based on the ending I assume there will be another. The only redeeming factors are that you see a lot of main character development and the quality of the writing is good. If Rowling had picked a better story line and better characters the book would have been another hit. I did not get that same gripping feeling which I felt with the previous book, I could relate to the characters in The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Good Points:

  • Great writing style and easy to read, interesting use of language
  • Nice front cover
  • Really liked the main characters and the parts of the story about their development, which should mean a decent next book
  • Focused in London again (yay), but in winter (boo)

Bad Points:

  • All the other characters
  • The murderer and their motive

I would still recommend reading it, if just to keep yourself in line ready for the next one but what a shame it wasn’t as good as the last.

Books Reviews

Review – Divergent, oh man oh man

Divergent book image

I managed to read this book in two days, maybe not even that. I know this is going to be one of those books that some people love and others hate. I loved it, but then I enjoyed Twilight and The Hunger Games so go figure right?

The book is part one of three books written by Veronica Roth, the book was written during Veronica’s creative writing degree at Northwestern University but was quickly published by HarperCollins.

 

 

 

For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs.

Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead….

I honestly can not wait for the next book (Insurgent) to arrive! If you enjoyed reading Twilight and The Hunger Games books then go buy this now! I’ve always liked reading young adult books, even though I’m really not a young adult anymore but I think that any adult could enjoy this if you still like that style of writting.

It’s written in the typical young adult fiction style, typical storyline (string female and strong male characters, usual love attraction) but it’s really good. I love the environment and setting as it’s really quite unique like The Hunger Games was. I much prefer this trilogy so far compared to The Hunger Games and that’s quite a big statement, although I have seen others who prefer the latter. In this book the population are split by factions Amity (The Peaceful), Dauntless (The Brave), Abnegation (The Selfless), Erudite (The Intelligent) and Candour (The Honest), it makes for a really interesting read as you question which faction you might yourself be in.

The book is easy to read, possibly more aimed at girls unless you enjoy that type of book and it’s just great. I’m really looking forward to watching the film as I missed it when it was in the cinema.

The only thing I wish is that the book was a little longer, there is also a part which I think progresses too quickly. I won’t give away the storyline but things go from relativity calm to straight panic. I feel there could and should have been a little more build up. One thing that is really great is that the author really doesn’t mind killing of characters, you have no idea who is next because everyone’s a possibility.

All in, I think if you enjoy young adult books and you like things like Harry Potter, THG, Twilight then you will enjoy this book so let’s hope the other two are just as good!

Reviews

Review – Roomba 880, I said I would!

I’ve got my hands on the latest household robot the Roomba 880 robot vacuum and I said once I did that I would review it. It’s been here for just under a week and firstly it’s great, it is so nice not to have to vacuum. In fact I haven’t got the big Dyson out since plugging the Roomba in last week.

The new 880 is great for pet hair and all types of dirt on any floor surface which is why I wanted the 880 model. From what I’ve read the previous models had brushes on the bottom which swept up dirt but had problems with hair. The hair would get tangled on these brushes and you would need to detangle them often which increased maintenance overall. The Roomba 880 does not have brushes, it’s using iRobots latest invention which is called AeroForce technology which you can see below. This makes it much more viable for pet owners and works a treat indeed, I think iRobot quote about 50% more suction power for the latest model in comparison?

The Roomba 880 can be scheduled to automatically turn on and clean, it has dirt detection for dirty areas, spot cleaning, can be remotely controlled. It also comes with two lighthouse/virtual walls which are great, you can set a vital wall to stop the Roomba from passing. Or a lighthouse which tells the Roomba this is a new room and helps it guide its way back to the dock.

We’ve left the Roomba to clean while we were away one night and came back to two happy cats and clean floors, what more can you ask for?

So how well does it really work?

For me it works well, the apartment here is mostly open plan so the Roomba goes about it’s business. The only issue I do have is the dip down to the master bedroom door frame is too high for it to get back up again. So I currently block off that room and use a virtual wall to stop the Roomba going into it. This way when I want the bedroom cleaned I can turn the virtual wall into a lighthouse and the Roomba will go into the room, when it’s done I can pick it up and take it to the dock.

It picks up a lot of dust, dirt and hair; much more than I thought it would. I’m actually quite surprised how much it picks up each day. It isn’t noisy, I don’t know why people claim that it is? Compared to a upright vacuum it’s very quiet, I can easily watch TV while it’s on. It’s really great waking up in the morning and going to go make a cup of coffee, watching the Roomba turn on and clean for you.

I used to get that annoying sigh feeling when you wake up and there is dirt everywhere, I’m sure most people would consider my level of dirt as clean but I just like things to be tidy where possible at all times.

The only other slight issue I have had is the pet food bowls, at the moment I’ve virtual walled off the whole kitchen as I need a halo accessory that emits a twenty inch radius to protect the food bowls. Something to work on, but it isn’t too bad as I can just sweep the kitchen myself when it needs it.

When I first turned on the Roomba it went in really weird directions and I wondered what it was doing. Now it seems to have learnt a certain route while still being a little bit crazy so it covers lots of surface area, but it seems to know how to get back to the dock easily now.

Who shouldn’t buy this?

I wouldn’t buy one of these if I had lots of levels to my floors, so between rooms you have lots of raised door frames. I think if you’ve got stairs then you’d need to consider buying more than one which makes it quite an expense or moving the Roomba between floors.

If you happen to be one of those people that leaves things lying around on the floor then this possibly is not for you. I don’t do clutter and thus the floors are pretty free of obstacles, as well as this I also keep my cables out of view and this works in the Roombas favour. If you don’t want to live like that then like I said it’s not for you.

If you want a robot that’s going to map out your home the Roomba isn’t for you, but I don’t find this hinders its ability to clean at all. You would be better off getting a Neato which take a more linear approach. Or alternatively the LG Hom-Bot which uses your ceilings to map out the size of the rooms, this doesn’t work too well with furniture though!

Does this replace an upright?

No it doesn’t, I still have to vacuum the rug because it’s really deep pile (although Roomba is fine on more shallow rugs). I still will need to use an upright but I just don’t need to use it every day, if you are sick of doing it every day and you have the money spare to buy a Roomba then it makes sense. I suppose it depends on your priorities, hopefully the robots will get cheaper and more intelligent over time as it would be excellent to see develops for smart households.

So overall I’m really happy with the Roomba 880, it might look like a drunk fool at times but by doing this it covers the room better and cleans better. It’s got great power behind it and it’s saving me loads of time in the day while keeping my two cats entertained.