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Jo Bennie (UK)
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Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Offered by Golden Wheel
Price: £13.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use and fairly effective, 26 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an easy to use powder and comes with a measuring scoop, you just put one scoop in the detergent tray along with what you would normally use for a wash and that's it. Results were quite good, the newer white stuff such as school and work shirts came out very bright, and the older greyer whites did improve too. Had a nice smell, not too strong, just clean.


Finish All in One Max Lemon Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Finish All in One Max Lemon Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some positives some negatives, 25 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The packet is easy to open and the tablets are wrapped in membrane so as long as you have dry hands there is no problem with handling them. They are the standard size for the dishwasher so no problems there.

I used the tablets on a medium size wash with mixed results. On the one hand I was impressed because bowls which had had weetabix in came out clean without presoaking, but despite the product's claims to care for glassware my latte glasses had grainy deposits left on them. The load smelled nice when it came out and everything else, cutlery, plates etc, was properly cleaned.

Rinse aid and salt are incorporated into the tablets but this is not of use to me as my machine will not operate if there is no salt or rinse aid


Surrounded by Water
Surrounded by Water
by Stephanie Butland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, painful and incisive, 23 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Surrounded by Water (Hardcover)
Elizabeth Gray is drowning in grief. She mourns for her policeman husband Mike, drowned saving a teenage girl at the local pond. She grieves for their lost future and their past devastatingly childless marriage. Elizabeth sets her feelings down in letters that ache with sadness but are not mawkish, elegaic rather than simply depressing, full of love and disbelief all wound up together. The days pass, Elizabeth stays at home, barely sleeping and barely eating. Those who love and cherish her come: Mike's best friends Andy, the local doctor; Blake, a police officer like Mike; Mike's mother Patricia, dealing with the loss of her son and remembering the too early death of her husband; and Elizabeth's sister Mel who flew in from their home country Australia as soon as she heard the news. They offer unstinting support and Elizabeth seems to be slowly recovering, until the revelation hits that the teenage girl Mike hauled from the pond was his lover and is carrying the child the couple so desperately tried for for so many years.

This was an uncomfortable book to read, I think in part because grief is undervalued today. We are expected to recover quickly and just get on with our lives. With searing honesty Butland traces the contours of an emotion so intense that it shatters the body as well as the mind. That time does not, as the saying goes, heal, but only introduces distance from the moment the pain started. Surrounded by Water is claustrophobic and tightly packed. Butland only takes us to two places, most of the book is set in the couple's home in the small English village of Throckton. But also, in flashback, there are brief passages about Elizabths childhood home with Mel and the loss of their mother when they were only children. In these flashbacks we see Elizabeth and Mike meeting when she was working as a hotel receptionist in a Sydney hotel and he was a tourist. Bright colours and heat are a vivid contrast to cold, pale skies and rain.

Intense writing well crafted.


Sanctus (Sancti Trilogy 1)
Sanctus (Sancti Trilogy 1)
by Simon Toyne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable gripping read, 20 Jan. 2015
A green robed monk named Samuel escapes from a mighty fortress of a monastery called the Citadel. He climbs high onto the pinnacle of the mountain above the monastery, shredding his hands and feet on the sharp rocks as he climbs through the night. The dawn breaks to reveal Samuel standing with arms outstretched on the summit high over the Turkish pilgrimage city of Ruin which lies below the Citadel. People below quickly notice the monk and his image is carried around the world by television. Then he falls, and Inspector Davud Arkadian is left with the bewildering puzzle of why the monk fell.

A good story in the religious conspiracy theory vein of Dan Brown and Kate Mosse. It was a good read but characterisation was weak and I often had to check back who each character was.


Philips Sonicare HX9361/67 DiamondClean Rechargeable Toothbrush Pink
Philips Sonicare HX9361/67 DiamondClean Rechargeable Toothbrush Pink
Price: £124.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely effective but expensive, 19 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have always brushed my teeth manually and this sonic toothbrush was a revelation, but does seem quite expensive. The SoniCare comes with a single brush head, handset, a charging glass which you just place the handset into and a neat portable case. There is a choice of colours: soft pink with a pink case or white with a lime green case.

The mains charging plug is a European two pin rather than a British 3 pin, so you need to use a shaving socket. Then I could put my toothbrush in the charging glass, a fascinating thing. No socket on the toothbrush itself, you just put the handset in a glass that sits on a plate that isnitself attached to the mains and it charges the battery. It's an ordinary glass that can go through the dishwasher if necessary. The toothbrush does also come with a little travel system, the hard case has neat slots for the handset and head and is just a bit larger than a glasses case. This uses a USB cable to connect to a computer for charging on the go so I'm successfully charging it using my desktop.

The sensation takes some getting used to, there are five settings. 'Clean' is the standard setting, 'White' removes stains, 'Polish' is a quick 1 minute clean, 'Gum care' adds a gentle minute on to 'Clean', and 'Sensitive' is a more gentle setting. I used the gum health one. It really tickles to begin with, probably especially because I'm not used to any kind of electric toothbrush, but it comes with clear instructions on technique. Selection is an easy cycle through using the power button. During cleaning there is a slight change of tone and a beep that reminds you to move the brush to another part of the mouth.

My teeth are literally squeaky clean and the brush coped well with a complicated set of teeth which include implants and a major gap.


McAfee Total Protection 2015 - 1 PC (PC) [Frustration-Free Packaging]
McAfee Total Protection 2015 - 1 PC (PC) [Frustration-Free Packaging]
Price: £32.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to install, nice packaging, 19 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I installed this product with Norton Antivirus in place on my system and was impressed with the installment of McAfee Total Protection. The installation is done from a product card rather than CD, you go online and enter the Product Key Code on the back of the card. I was impressed both because this is more environmentally friendly and because this meant that the most up to date software awas being installed rather than installing and then having to go online to update.

The speed of installation was reasonable given the size of the programme.

I did like the way McAfee uninstalled Norton Antivirus for me so that it was done cleanly and my firewall was down for a minimum time.

The programme itself runs easily and is easy to use. The on demand virus scan makes choosing easy whether you want a quick, more in depth or customised scan

The price is reasonable for a 1 year subscription, still lower than Norton, and so far functioning is good.


Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry
Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry
by Marcus Du Sautoy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Communication of high complexity without dumbing down, 17 Jan. 2015
The gift of being able to explain the byzantine twists of complex theory to the more mundane mind is rare, Cox, Fortey, Darwin, Dawkins, Hawking. du Sautoy achieves the incredible task in a book I could not bear to come to an end.

Finding Moonshine is ultimately about the search by mathematicians to prove the existence of a geometric shape known as the Monster. This shape only exists in 196,883-dimensional space, a concept way beyond the usual three we exist in, but we are not thrown in at the deep end. du Sautoy ushers us towards an understanding of this beast by a series of steps that reassured me and made me able to follow him, even if there was some rereading and consultation with my more mathematically minded husband.

We begin chronologically and geometrically with the basics, back to the ancient Greeks and the platonic solids. These are the five 3d shapes where each face is the same regular polygon and the same number of polygons meet at each corner / vertex: the tetrahedron (triangle based pyramid), cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron). I remember these fondly from primary school. With skill de Sautoy weaves together the history of mathematicians and theories with increasingly complex theories about the concept of symmetry.

Finding Moonshine is packed full of practical applications of symmetry, these give the brain a break from theory and enlightened me that symmetry is not just cerebral gymnastics. In fact it can be seen as an expression of the laws that underpin our universe and are so pleasing to the human sensibility. de Sautoy covers myriad applications including symmetry in bell ringing, nature, human psychology, music, navigation, sexual attraction, chemistry, virology, cyphers, codes, space communication and architecture, from the tiles on the walls of the Alhambra to the pyramid at the Louvre.

Unusually for me this is a book I want and intend to reread over and over, I learned so much especially about the beauty of mathematics that is the substructure of our world.


The Well
The Well
by Catherine Chanter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story but far too long, 8 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Well (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is the near future, Ruth Ardingly is under house arrest in a cottage on her farm The Well. As Ruth reflects on what has brought her to this point in a series of flashbacks we learn that it is the near future. Ruth and her husband Mark moved to small farm The Well to start a new self sufficient life far from the strains of city life. But as they sow crops, raise lambs and pick apples the extraordinary character of their new home comes to light.

Nightly a soft rain falls on The Well followed by warm days, but the rest of the country is gripped by a desperate drought. From above the farm looks like an emerald set in a sea of brown dust.

The continuing fertility of the farm in such a landscape of blight engenders both resentment and wonder, drawing hundreds of curious people including a group of four itinerant nuns, the Sisters of the Rose, who want to worship Ruth. Soon the Ruth and Mark are unable to leave the farm because of the hostility they face.

Ruth is already riven with resentment about coming to The Well for Marks dream, and as the narrative unfolds she is driven further apart from sound mind by the sisters, estrangement with Mark, isolation, and worry for her drug addicted daughter Angie.

When Angie leaves her son Lucien with his grandparents the worst happens. Lucien is dead, but his killer cannot be found.

In the present day, alone at The Well, under the guard of 3 soldiers and banned from contact with the world outside, Ruth teeters between madness and sanity as she tries to make sense of the past, understand who killed Lucien and reconcile with her own culpability.

For me, this book was far too long and I was frankly depressed and bored by the end. I felt that all the same claustrophobic atmosphere and sense of a threatened and disturbed mind could have been expressed in a book a third of the length of this, and would have been better for the brutal editing. The characters are well drawn, interesting and moving, the plot is good, but I did not take to the execution.


Jekyll's Mirror
Jekyll's Mirror
by William Hussey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling but with great subtely, 5 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Jekyll's Mirror (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An incredibly powerful young adult novel that brings together the modern age of social media and the great era of Victorian Gothic fiction.

Sam is in pieces. After witnessing his violent dad finally go too far, to strike down and kill his mum, he is living on a sink estate with his aunt and uncle. His dad is securely in prison, but fear of being like him and a secret truth about how he feels about his dad tear at him. Roaming the streets he meets elusive Fire Girl Cassandra who inexplicably seems to know a great deal about him.

At Sam's new school Pendleton Grammar his English teacher Miss Crail invites him to take part in an experimental academic computer game based on RL Stevenson's book Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Sam finds himself part of an eccentric group: himself, the captain of the hockey team, a introvert with personal hygiene issues, and a high achieving future politician. They are presented with a mock discussion board on which people are writing shocking prejudiced things. All four are invited by an on screen avatar to attack the fictional fascists, in return they earn virtual golden keys that amass towards a testimonial certificate. All four become quickly addicted to the game but it's not what it seems. Cassandra reaapears and opens Sam's eyes to the truth. Trolling, cyber bullying and horrific violence collide with evil magic. The pace of the narrative jacks up to breathtaking, the book is a great ride but also intelligently written.

I was particularly impressed with the author's understanding of the subtleties of Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde that are absent from the popular understanding that it is about good versus evil. There are elements of the best of Gothic fiction, of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey, Stoker's Dracula and Shelley's Frankenstein. Hussy comes right up to date with the intolerable pressures placed on young adults to behave in a certain way from mass media, social media, peers, school and parents and shows clearly how it is not necessarily the Hydes of our world that are the monsters.


BLACK+DECKER 21.6V Hand Vac + Floor Extension with ORA Technology, White
BLACK+DECKER 21.6V Hand Vac + Floor Extension with ORA Technology, White
Price: £149.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for everyday cleaning, 4 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This machine has been an invaluable addition to our household and the only reasons I did not give it 5 stars were weight, price and suction power.

The machine is essentially a dustbuster with an extension foot that makes it into a lightweight vacuum cleaner. It is cordless and comes with a charging cradle that you screw to a wall close to a power socket, mine sits just inside my garage door and is easy to lift in and out. The main unit makes a clear click when it engages with the cradle. A donut-shaped light divided into 4 clearly displays charging level and goes out when the machine is fully charged.

The lithium battery charges quickly and has plenty enough power for me to do the floors and crevices of our 4 bedroom home. The main unit is quite heavy but is an efficient little dustbuster great for using to pick up bits of dirt from places like the stairs or down the side of the sofa.

The extension foot swivels so there is no problem with the loss of suction associated with the sides of fixed base vacuum cleaners. It does not have the most powerful suction but is fine for picking up everyday debris such as crumbs and dust.

The dirt chamber is easy to open, it hasn't got a particularly large capacity and the dust can get stuck, but there is a flap that opens on the opposite side that I've used to blow lodged dust through. This second flap also gives easy access to the microfilter for cleaning it.

The best thing about this Hand Vac is that it is cordless, so cleaning up everyday dirt has become easy in contrast to the chore of taking our relatively heavy Dyson out and plugging it in. It doesn't have the same power so I would use it in tandem with an occasional more thorough vacuuming, but it is great for everyday use, for keeping on top of the debris generated by two adults, an 11-year-old and a cat.


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