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Emile Zola reader "Gervaise" (Hants, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Breville Colour Notes 4 Slice Toaster - Red
Breville Colour Notes 4 Slice Toaster - Red
Price: £37.78

5.0 out of 5 stars It's an excellent toaster., 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This toaster performs as beautifully as it looks. I’ve had a couple of four-slice toasters in the past few years and for various reasons, they’ve been a disappointment. I am really, really happy with this one.
Firstly, the wide, deep toasting slots take even the thickest slices of bread from Warburton’s Toastie to my own ‘docker’s doorstep’ sliced efforts. Crumpets and pittas get the all-over treatment – with no cold and anaemic top bits left protruding above the slots.

What I especially like about this toaster – apart from its good looks - is the lift and look feature. You can check on the toast/crumpet, etc., before it finishes toasting by lifting the handle, without the toaster switching itself off. How good is this? Most toasters require you to press the cancel button and start again. This particular function is really good when using the defrost feature for frozen bread. If you wish to stop the toasting earlier than the programmed time, just press the cancel button. The toaster also has a re-heat button, which saves having to alter the programme dial to number 1.

The Breville instruction leaflet is very clear. Contact details for their care line via telephone, email and post are included. Final word on this toaster – if it were a bulky, unattractive piece of kit I would still love it for its performance. However, it’s such a swanky looking toaster, giving the impression that the kitchen is quite modern just by having it on the countertop! Recommended.


Igenix IG2070 Manual Microwave, 20 Litre, 700 W, White
Igenix IG2070 Manual Microwave, 20 Litre, 700 W, White
Price: £49.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Basic and simple is sometimes preferred., 2 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This microwave oven is a basic model – maximum power is 700W. It doesn’t have a clock, the door has to be opened manually and there are no fancy symbols displaying fish, meats or vegetables with auto/timing guides. However, if all you want is a simple, straightforward and functional microwave oven, then this is a good choice.

There are five power settings - including defrost - and the timer can be selected for up to 35 minutes. An audible ding sounds once the cooking time is completed. Although the oven looks quite small, there is plenty room for a regular sized dinner plate and a microwave plate cover. The oven will also take a 1.5 litre pudding basin and medium sized casserole dish.

This appliance is ideal where space is at a premium, such as a small kitchen or a caravan, boat etc. There are no digital press button controls on this microwave and some people would actually prefer this. My mother had a top of the range microwave, but it took just one wrong finger prod to knock the clock out and the oven wouldn’t start till it was re-set. With poor eyesight and a worse memory for re-setting the clock, it was a pain. She bought a basic model similar to this one and much prefers it. I have given this product five stars because it looks good and performs well.


AmiGami Butterfly and Heart Punch
AmiGami Butterfly and Heart Punch
Price: £15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly or Baby Dragon? No matter, it's still fun to make., 25 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the 3rd AmiGami art and crafts set that we have had - and we love them. The contents of this butterfly model are similar to the AmiGami peacock. Both packs come with a chunky punch, ideal for chubby little hands to churn out lots of star shapes with which to adorn the butterfly. The punched-out stars are rather small, so it was a little exercise in dexterity and patience for our young one.

Mattel recommends that the sets are suitable for children over the age of 6. However, with a little assistance from the grown up, our 4 and a half-year old made a beautiful, if wonky, creation. The butterfly pack comes with the butterfly (all the little AmiGami creatures are the same size), 1 heart punch tool, 30 paper parts, 65 reusable stickers (up to three times use), a curling tool, a sticker remover and 6 pins and caps.

I’m not sure how much of a butterfly this particular creature resembles - even with the correct shaped wings it looks like a baby dragon to me. Does this matter? Of course not! It is a beautiful creation of unique design produced with patience (well, mostly) by a child who just loved it. Having said that, I think some adults would enjoy constructing this art and crafts set


Medela Breast Feeding Starter Set
Medela Breast Feeding Starter Set
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value starter set, 24 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This breastfeeding starter kit is very good value for money. It includes:

- 1 Medela Calma – Medela claims that there is a ‘unique venting system’ incorporated to help reduce the amount of air your baby takes in during feeding.

- 2 x 150ml bottles – these can be attached to the Medela breast pump (not included in this pack) or you can express directly into them. The bottles are robust and can be placed in the freezer if you wish.

- 5 Pump & Save bags – these come already sterilised and have clear markings (in US oz and ml) so that you can see at a glance how much milk is in a particular bag. There is also a section on the bag for noting down the date and amount entered. The bags are a good thickness, so the chance of them being damaged and/or contaminated whilst in the ‘fridge or freezer is very small.

- 1 Quick Clean micro-steam bag – this will take either 2 x 150ml bottles and caps or 2 x 250ml bottles. There are also further instructions if you are using a breast pump, etc. The bag can be used up to 20 times – I liked the check box to tick, ensuring that you don’t lose count! Sterilising takes just 3 minutes after you add 60ml of water to the bag.

- 12 Disposable nursing pads.

- 1 x 7gm tube of 100% pure lanolin nipple cream. This is nice and thick, though not sticky. It’s also very soothing, especially in the early days of breastfeeding when nipples can often become cracked and sore.

This kit is ideal for new nursing mums, who may have difficulty breastfeeding in the early weeks and where combi feeding is a good halfway house. I only have one little negative thing to say about this starter kit – and it is a small point – why did they not include a second teat? Yes, I know, it only takes 3 minutes to sterilise the teat in the micro-steam bag, but this seems a lot longer when you have a bawling baby in your arms!
Recommended.


Penhaligon's Iris Prima Eau de Parfum 50 ml
Penhaligon's Iris Prima Eau de Parfum 50 ml
Price: £81.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A seductive and erotic scent., 22 Feb. 2015
This is a very feminine eau de parfum. If you like floral scents, this is possibly one of the most gorgeous and sensual you will ever smell. At first, you could be forgiven for thinking that this fragrance was a little over-powering because initially, the top notes seem a little strong. However, within minutes, when the base notes settle, you realise what a very special eau de parfum this is.
The scent of Iris Prima is a beautiful blend of vanilla, bergamot and jasmine. It’s a very seductive and elegant fragrance that can – and should – be worn both day and night.


Floris London JF Eau de Toilette 100 ml
Floris London JF Eau de Toilette 100 ml
Price: £75.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A sensual and sophisticated fragrance., 21 Feb. 2015
This is an absolutely gorgeous eau de toilette. The heady mix of lime, mandarin, lemon, cedarwood and musks is fantastic. Believe me, this is a special scent.

I’m not normally a big fan of male colognes – often they are over-used, nasty-smelling chemical mixes that just linger for hours. This, however, is classy and sophisticated. The scent is subtle yet retains its fragrance for hours. I guarantee that anyone wearing this eau de toilette will, at some time, have someone ask for its name. It’s that nice!


Floris London Fleur Eau de Toilette 50 ml
Floris London Fleur Eau de Toilette 50 ml
Price: £55.00

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a youthful floral fragrance., 21 Feb. 2015
This is a lovely fresh scent of water lily, jasmine and rose. For those who prefer a floral scent, this is a subtle, intoxicating eau de toilette. Some people associate floral scents as the choice of elderly ladies. Well, this is a vibrant, youthful fragrance. Base notes include ylang ylang and sandalwood and mixed with the floral bouquet, it makes for a very classy and individual scent.


AmiGami Giraffe Figure
AmiGami Giraffe Figure
Price: £6.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing little arts and craft giraffe!, 21 Feb. 2015
This review is from: AmiGami Giraffe Figure (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had no doubts at all that the AmiGami Giraffe would be a hit in our family because we already have his cousin, the peacock. This pack is slightly smaller than the peacock set, the animals are the same size, but there are only 55 reusable stickers (compared to 70) and there is no star punch. This, of course, is reflected in the price but it doesn’t detract from the finished result, or from the fun involved in constructing it.
Mattel recommends that the AmiGami range is suitable for children of 6 years and above. However, with supervision and a little assistance in removing the papers from the pack, our four and a half year old completed his ‘masterpiece’ with few hitches.

I’m impressed with these AmiGami sets. I was quite surprised that our youngster actually took time to think about where he was going to place the pins once he’d made his ‘fur strips’ (beautiful vibrant papers). There are a variety of stickers to adorn the giraffe and these are reusable up to three times. Our giraffe has already had a change of stickers as he was going to a party! The curling tool is very easy to use and makes lovely curly tendrils of the patterned strips.
Although aimed primarily at children, I can see how these kits would also appeal to adults with a flair for arts and craft.


The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920
The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920
by Eugene Rogan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.60

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is so good it should be the subject of a TV documentary., 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I selected this book I was a little concerned that the scope of the subject might be beyond me. I knew hardly anything about the fall of the Ottomans or of this period in the Middle East. Well, I can honestly say that Mr. Rogan's style and presentation makes this one of the best history books I've ever read.

The book begins with the years 1908-1913 when the Ottoman Empire was already under strain through various crises both at home and within its domains. Other chapters include A Global Call To Arms, The Ottoman Triumph at Gallipoli and The Siege of Kut. Personal testimonies, extracts from dispatches and diaries make for both interesting and poignant reading. There are 36 wonderful photographs in the book; some depict politicians, others are military personnel and one, very sad shot, is a group of Armenian widows and their children.

Research for this book must have been a herculean task and I can only wonder how Mr. Rogan compiled it in such a way to produce a very enjoyable, first rate book.
Highly recommended.


AmiGami Peacock and Heart Punch
AmiGami Peacock and Heart Punch
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Even the adults 'wanted a go'!, 19 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The AmiGami peacock comes with a host of stickers, long paper strips, a curling tool, caps and a chunky star punch to adorn this glamour chick of the bird world. The stickers can be used for up to three times and the colours and patterns of the strips are vibrant and actually, quite lovely. Although aimed primarily for children, I can see how some adults may like these kits too.

Mattel suggests that this arts and craft set is suitable for children aged 6 and older. However, with supervision, our 4 year old was more than capable of punching out stars, plugging the pins to the bird’s head, wings and bottom and adding ‘jewels’. I thought he would struggle with the dexterity required for the curling tool but after a few tries, he got the hang of it and made lots of ‘feathers’. The result was a wonky-eyed, half-bald punk peacock but he loved it and I’ve seen weirder looking stuff by Picasso. I’m not sure how long this would keep an older child amused but I was pleased that the AmiGami brought out a little creativity (and quiet time) in our budding designer.


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