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Roman Clodia (London)
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Micellar by Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water 400ml
Micellar by Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water 400ml
Offered by Kiara World
Price: £6.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Super quick and efficient, 21 Dec 2014
Out of the various brands of micellar cleansing water now available this is my favourite. It whisks off all traces of dirt and make-up, including eye make-up and lip gloss, and leaves my skin feeling cool and clean. Super quick to use, comes in a huge bottle, and very effective.


A Breach of Security (Unabridged)
A Breach of Security (Unabridged)
Offered by Audible Ltd

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short story that asks 'why' rather than 'who', 21 Dec 2014
This is a short story that is part of Hill's bigger Serrailler series. I wouldn't recommend it as a standalone as the characterisation assumes we already know who these people are. It's more an opportunity for Hill to intervene with a question in the light of hate crimes and terrorism: 'why', she asks, rather than 'who'?

That the answer isn't completely credible has been read by some reviewers here as a failure on the part of Hill - but is that part of her point, that there is no rational explanation that truly justifies criminal actions based on hate? That hate is itself a moral distortion?

I listened to the audiobook version which is generally well read, though did give make me laugh at the brief attempt of the male reader to mimic Cat's female voice.

Overall, this is short and not the best place to start if you're new to Hill or the Serrailler series - but good for existing fans.


Maggie Does Meribel (Girls On Tour BOOK 3)
Maggie Does Meribel (Girls On Tour BOOK 3)
Price: £1.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cosy and comforting, 16 Dec 2014
This is a long short story, easily read in about an hour. Maggie goes on holiday with her boyfriend Leo, and amidst the skiing mishaps, the queen bitch 'friend' and the gorgeous French ski instructor has a New Year's Eve to remember.

This is a frothy, fun read, cosy and comfortably conventional: perfect for a long bubble bath or for curling up under the duvet.


The Well
The Well
by Catherine Chanter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian fable of a tainted Eden, 15 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Well (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a promising debut which is part mystery, part dystopia, part religious (or anti-religious?) fable of a corrupted Eden. Its literary influences are various: the female focus of The Handmaid’s Tale, Genesis, and the who-murdered-my-grandson of a thousand thrillers.

At its heart is Ruth, newly-released from custody and under house-arrest at her former farm: The Well. While England is suffering from debilitating drought, only The Well is still green, lush and verdant. Victimised by her neighbours for being either a water thief or, possibly, a witch, Ruth falls in with a prophetic women-only religious cult, the Sisters of the Rose of Jericho, and wonders if she is Chosen...

I expected to love this book but am merely neutral: there’s an intriguing idea at its heart but the writing feels fuzzy, stretched and bloated (‘our Well gleamed green like a tiny emerald, pinned to the breast of a tired old lady towards the end of a dance’) and I’m not sure the form fits the story. Because the book opens at the end, too much of it is told to us by Ruth as she remembers the past, rather than it being dramatised for us. Her withholding of information also just irritated me for its artificiality rather than propelling me through the book.

If you enjoy an end-of-days fable with religious overtones then this would be a good choice.


The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath And Ted Hughes
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath And Ted Hughes
Price: £5.15

5.0 out of 5 stars A meta-biography of the Plath-Hughes mythology, 15 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This isn’t a biography of Sylvia Plath but an intelligent probing into the biographical industry that has sprung up around Plath, and the struggles for ownership of the various legends which surround the Plath-Hughes marriage.

From the publishing of Plath’s ‘Letters Home’ by her mother, to Hughes’ controversial editing and destruction of her last journals, and the various memoirs, essays and biographies that have been written from both sides of what has sometimes been constructed as a Plath-Hughes divide, Frame meditates not just on the art of biography but on the impossibility of ever reaching a stable and fixed ‘truth’.

Confessing herself sympathetic to the Hughes, Frame is equally fascinated by Anne Stevenson whose Bitter Fame was broadly castigated when it appeared. She travels to meet many of the writers on Plath to understand their role in the continuous re-forging of the Plath legacy, and throws light on the art of biography itself.

For anyone fascinated by Plath’s life and poetry, or the concept of biography more generally, this is an elegant and absorbing read.


Disclaimer
Disclaimer
by Renée Knight
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly intriguing with a twisting plot, 13 Dec 2014
This review is from: Disclaimer (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There’s an intriguing premise at the heart of this book: Catherine starts reading a paperback and gets the creepy feeling not just that she’s the central character of the book but that the story is going to reveal a dark secret from her past...

This is a gripping read, though the pacing could be improved: there’s a lot of padding and drawn out extraneous material that artificially delays the story. A stricter editorial pen would have tautened the writing making the narrative starker and more powerful.

And the plot itself is not completely without problems: the central one is that the story Catherine reads isn’t necessarily the truth and there’s a question about quite how easily she would ever have recognised herself in the spaces between the book’s narrative and her own. The fact that all the important events happened 20 years ago also poses a problem: while they’re certainly not the kind of things that would be brushed away and forgotten about, their resurgence out of the past after this length of time feels a little clumsy.

Nevertheless, despite some minor niggles, this is darkly intriguing with a twisting plot - recommended.


A War of Flowers
A War of Flowers
Price: £7.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable evocation of 1938 Berlin from a female perspective, 13 Dec 2014
This review is from: A War of Flowers (Kindle Edition)
Thynne succeeds well at evoking the febrile atmosphere of Berlin in 1938: the Nazis are firmly in power, and Britain is torn between a policy of appeasement and a more wary move towards a war footing. What is crucial for Guy Hamilton, an Intelligence agent, is to get a firmer sense of Hitler’s intentions: enter Clara Vine.

If you’ve read the previous two novels, you’ll know that Clara is a half-English, half-German actress with Jewish blood, who has been drawn lightly into spying for the British. She moves easily between Munich and Berlin for her film career, and knows many of the Nazi wives socially. She also has links to the German anti-Nazi ‘resistance’ as well as the British Intelligence community – and this is where these books stray into slightly unconvincing territory for me.

The plot is centred on one of those massive coincidences that ties Clara, via her godson, to a mysterious death on a Nazi cruise ship, which eventually links to Clara’s own mission to befriend Eva Braun and find out Hitler’s plans. Clara herself has little personality: she is always in the right place at the right time, and the necessary people including Nazi leaders as well as Eva Braun simply talk at her, telling her everything she needs to know.

Despite the lack of a gripping plot, these books work because Thynne has done her research and paints a vivid picture of the time. What makes her books different from other Nazi Germany series out there is her interest in the domestic lives of German women and Nazi wives.

So the plot is, again, disappointing and the tensions created simply fizzle out: but this remains a remarkable evocation of Berlin in the run-up to WW2 from a female perspective.

(I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley)


Vitamin C Serum For Face 20% - With Hyaluronic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Rosehip Oil, Seabuckthorn Oil, Plant Stem Cells, Vitamin E & More - Great For Anti-Aging & Anti-Wrinkle Facial Regimen - Helps Diminish Appearance of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Sun Spots, Age Spots, & Skin Discoloration
Vitamin C Serum For Face 20% - With Hyaluronic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Rosehip Oil, Seabuckthorn Oil, Plant Stem Cells, Vitamin E & More - Great For Anti-Aging & Anti-Wrinkle Facial Regimen - Helps Diminish Appearance of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Sun Spots, Age Spots, & Skin Discoloration
Offered by InstaNatural UK
Price: £49.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Smells gorgeous, works very well, 13 Dec 2014
This serum is packed with active ingredients and has a gorgeous citrus smell from the grapefruit oil which it contains. It’s quite viscous rather than watery but spreads well and sinks into my skin, disappearing quickly.

I look after my skin and have been using a serum for some years now: this is at least as effective as more expensive products
and leaves my skin feeling smooth, silky and comfortable - highly recommended.

(I received a free sample for review)


Organic Argan Oil For Hair, Face, Skin & Nails - Pure and Certified Organic
Organic Argan Oil For Hair, Face, Skin & Nails - Pure and Certified Organic
Offered by InstaNatural UK
Price: £49.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliantly versatile oil for skin, hair and nails, 13 Dec 2014
This is a versatile product that works effectively to moisturise the skin on your face and body, hair, and cuticles. It’s light yet concentrated, so just a couple of drops are enough and, as a ‘dry’ oil, it sinks in quickly to leave your skin smooth and moisturised but not oily.

I use this as both a pre- and post-shampoo conditioner: a drop on damp hair eliminates any flyaways and leaves my hair with a lovely shine.

It also works perfectly as a facial night treatment either alone or under a cream, and a drop on my hands leaves my cuticles moisturised and nails shiny. I’ve even been using it at night on the skin around my eyes and there’s no stinging or irritation.

An excellent, versatile and effective product.

(I received a free sample for review)


Charles I (Penguin Monarchs): An Abbreviated Life
Charles I (Penguin Monarchs): An Abbreviated Life
by Mark Kishlansky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.83

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fair and balanced re-evaluation of Charles I in 100 pages, 11 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an 'abbreviated' but not reductive or simplistic life of Charles I. Kishlansky is an even-handed narrator who reappraises the king without being either an apologist or prosecutor. Instead, we get a fair and deeply informed retelling that offers evidence for the points made, drawing on both primary and secondary sources.

This is the second book in this new Penguin series that I have read and both have been very good. Kishlansky is an active scholar in the field and so the book is both eminently readable but also robust in historical terms. There are no footnotes in the text but everything is fully referenced at the back so that students and academics can follow up as necessary.

The book itself is a nice little hardback with three-quarters dust jacket - very classy.

If you're looking for a balanced review of Charles I which is concise and succinct without being shallow, this is very good.


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