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Reviews Written by
Zola fan "Nana" (Hants, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Waring WT400BKU 4 Slice Toaster Polished Stainless Steel
Waring WT400BKU 4 Slice Toaster Polished Stainless Steel
Price: 49.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost 5 stars......, 8 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very stylish, expensive looking toaster. I particularly liked the two sets of toasting slots with independent controls - ideal if, like my family, one person likes their toast dark and the other likes it done lightly. The slots are extra wide and deep to take even the thickest of hand-cut doorstop slices of bread and there is a bagel setting that toasts the cut side and warms the other. I made a couple of well-stuffed sandwiches and popped them into two of those mesh-type toaster bags and the slots accommodated them with room to spare.

However, I have two issues with this toaster. Firstly, it doesn’t toast evenly on both sides of a piece of bread; one side pops up significantly lighter than the other. This is more of a problem for someone who likes their toast light because the other side comes out very anaemic looking. The second problem concerned a loaf of sliced Warburton’s Toastie. The toasting slots are deep and wide, but they are not long enough to take the Toastie slice of bread.
Conclusion: if you don’t mind one side of your toast lighter/darker than the other and you don’t use a Warburton’s Toastie loaf, then this is a very good toaster. I have given this a four star rating because the good points outweigh the personal tastes of my family.


Philips Sonicare HX6511/43 EasyClean White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX6511/43 EasyClean White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: 44.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Whiter and smoother teeth., 8 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a fan of the Philips brand but had never considered them when selecting an electric toothbrush. In the past I have had two others, both big names in dental care, but this Sonicare toothbrush leaves them standing.

Philips promise a 28 day guaranteed refund if you are not 100% satisfied, for whatever reason, with this toothbrush. They must know they are on to a winner because having used this for over four weeks, I can’t imagine a better one. It feels just right in your hand and is very comfortable to use. I was a little sceptical about the claims made by Philips that this system gives you whiter teeth in only a week, but it was true. Not only were my teeth whiter but they also felt smoother.

I can’t recommend this product enough. When using my previous electric toothbrush it felt that the brush was almost bouncing off my teeth without getting into the crevices. With this Philips system, I can feel the brush getting right into the tiny spaces and giving a thoroughly good clean. The two-minute timer removes the guesswork and for the first 14 uses, the system builds up to what Philips call the Sonicare experience. Maybe, all I know is that my teeth are definitely whiter and every day feels like they used to after a good clean and polish from the hygienist.


Braun Series 3 340s-4 Rechargeable Wet and Dry Foil Electric Shaver
Braun Series 3 340s-4 Rechargeable Wet and Dry Foil Electric Shaver
Price: 49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to beat Braun with this shaver., 8 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’ve always rated Braun up with the best when it comes to shavers and this Series 3 340s-4 didn’t disappoint. After a one-hour charge it is ready to shave cordlessly for 45 minutes and Braun promise that a quick 5-minute charge from flat is enough to give you a 5-minute cordless shave. I haven’t actually tested this out but I’ve had times when this would come in very useful.

The design of the shaver is good, fits comfortably in the hand and the head tackles the face contours well, giving a close shave without the need to go over and over particular areas leading to shaver burn/rash. There is, incidentally, a built-in skin conditioner for sensitive skin - and you can use this shaver in the shower together with foam or gel if you so wish. I liked the long hair trimmer on the shaver; it cuts well and does a good job keeping sideburns and moustache neat. Another bonus point is the smartplug that adapts to worldwide voltage.
In the past I have paid almost double for a good cordless shaver and have been pleased with the results, but this is every bit as good.

The only criticism I have with the shaver – and Braun are not alone in this – is that it does not come with a travel case/pouch. How much extra would it cost, and how convenient would it be to have one for travelling. However, the shaver performs so well that it would be churlish to deduct a star for such a good performer.


Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The sound quality was awful, 8 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was really looking forward to watching this action thriller starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker. The plot sounded good - younger brother returns from Iraq and gets involved with the local villain, then disappears.

It would take real skill NOT to make a good film with such a stellar cast, you may have thought. Unfortunately, I gave up trying to watch the film after forty minutes because I could hardly understand what the characters were saying – not just one, all of them. I’ve recently seen Bale, Affleck and Harrelson in films and I know that they can enunciate perfectly, so what was the problem? The DVD I had didn’t come with subtitles and I kept having to rewind it every couple of minutes trying to guess what was said. In the end, I gave up because the sound quality was so bad.

I have given this a 3 star rating based on the plot and the cast and what was probably a very good film had I been able to follow it.


Pampers Fresh Clean Wipes - (Pack of 12) (768 Wipes)
Pampers Fresh Clean Wipes - (Pack of 12) (768 Wipes)
Price: 10.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality baby wipes., 22 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are a good quality baby wipe and performed very well at nappy changes on a seven-month old baby. The fabric is soft and sturdy and contains just the right amount of moisture to do a good clean-up job. With some brands I’ve had to use quite a few wipes to get a good result and I’m sure fewer sheets are needed with this brand. They also have a lovely clean and fresh smell.

The wipes are also very handy for non-nappy uses – they mop up ice-cream- covered three-year olds with sparkling results with no adverse reactions and I have used them to remove eye make-up. The plastic closure on the packet is also of good quality and doesn’t lose its seal so the last wipe is as moist as the first.
There is little to dislike with these baby wipes.


Omron HN289 Personal Scales - Midnight Black
Omron HN289 Personal Scales - Midnight Black
Price: 25.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scales, 9 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These scales prove that a quality healthcare item doesn’t have to look bulky and ugly. These scales combine accuracy with style; the base is slim, a glossy finish and look good in the bathroom.
A simple adjustment on the switch underneath the scales changes the display into a preferred reading - kilograms, stones or pounds. The display itself is a LCD and is clear to read. These are the first bathroom scales that I haven’t had to either tap to get them ready or wait for the ‘welcome’ sign to appear in the window. All you have to do with this scale is to simply step onto it and look at the display (and groan in despair, if you are like me!).

I like the Omron brand. My GP uses an Omron automatic blood pressure monitoring unit. I have tested this scale against a more expensive, top brand name and found it to be accurate. In the past I have had scales that have cost twice the price, I wish these had been available at the time.


Ten Weeks in Africa
Ten Weeks in Africa
by Jm Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Destitution and despots., 9 April 2014
This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can’t praise this book enough, it kept me up through the wee hours wanting to know what happens next and I was sorry when it ended. From start to finish, there isn’t a dull page in the book.
Ed and Sarah Caine and their baby son are about to land in Kisuru, East Africa, where Ed is the newly appointed Director of the Global Justice Alliance. Ed has been given control of a big aid budget in order to oversee the building of a clinic and a school. Within days of starting his new job, Ed discovers that a huge part of the money has vanished. The building work hasn’t begun and a significant portion of the money seems to have disappeared into thin air.

This is a tale of high-level, widespread corruption and greed in an African state at the expense of people, the majority of whom live in abject poverty. Fear and intimidation prevent most of the honest politicians from speaking out. However, one brave minister and his courageous daughter join forces with the Caines and, together with a very unlikely hero, they try to unravel the complex trail that leads to the money.

This book is not just about the misappropriation of millions of pounds of aid money. It is a revelation into the futility and frustration faced by those trying to improve the lives of the poor. There are explicit scenes of violence and warfare where the majority of the people, innocent and living hand to mouth, are powerless and unprotected victims. Towards the end of the book, even the privileged lives of the Caine family is at risk.

Although set in Africa, the scenario described in this book could be about any corrupt country led by despots and their acolytes. It highlights the need for charitable donations, but also serves as a warning to choose your charity carefully. This is a first rate read and would make an excellent film.


The Night Guest
The Night Guest
by Fiona McFarlane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the beginning., 9 April 2014
This review is from: The Night Guest (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I almost abandoned this book not long after starting it. I was bored with what I thought was a long-drawn-out episode of an elderly widow thinking that a tiger was prowling around her house at night. To be honest, I still don’t understand why the tiger bit was relevant; the symbolism was lost on me.
However, I was glad I stuck with it because it became a decent read.

Ruth is a frail, independent widow living alone in an isolated house on a beach in Australia. Her two sons live far away and although they ring her fairly regularly, Ruth lives a lonely existence with just her cats for company. One day a charismatic woman walks up from the beach and informs Ruth that the government has sent her – free of charge – to be her daily help. From this point on the book becomes part thriller and part memoire as Ruth reflects upon her childhood, a youthful love affair, marriage and motherhood.
Although the book is sad in parts, it also describes a life well lived and is a reminder that love, kindness and contentment can sometimes be neglected in the search for personal happiness.


Peacock [DVD] [2010]
Peacock [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Cillian Murphy
Price: 4.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Hitchcock's Psycho, 9 April 2014
This review is from: Peacock [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tom is a timid bank clerk living in his old family home in a small community in Nebraska. The film is set in more innocent times and everyone knows everyone else’s business. What no one knows, however, is that Tom has an alter ego called Emma who leaves him little notes for when he comes home from work. Emma has never been seen by the neighbours until one day, a train caboose flies off the track and lands in Tom’s garden. Tom isn’t around and the helpful folk of the town meet ‘Emma’ who they take to be Tom’s secret wife. From this point on, Tom’s intensely private, orderly life starts to unravel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, Cillian Murphy, as Tom/Emma and Susan Sarandon as Fanny Crill, first lady of the town, are very convincing. There are shades of Hitchcock’s Psycho but this film is more than just a good thriller. Parts of the film are heartbreakingly sad and bleak. Although I found some scenes a little far-fetched, this is an excellent film and has a first-rate cast of actors.


Philips PerfectCare Pure GC7635/30 Steam Generator Iron - One Perfect Temperature - 240g Pressurised Steam Boost
Philips PerfectCare Pure GC7635/30 Steam Generator Iron - One Perfect Temperature - 240g Pressurised Steam Boost
Price: 149.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy ironing, 8 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I class myself as a bit of an expert when it comes to irons. I’ve been buying and using them for over forty years and I love tackling a stack of ironing – weird, I know. In my opinion, Philips irons are exceptional.

I already have the Philips PerfectCare Aqua steam generator so I was eager to see how this Philips PerfectCare Pure compared. Well, it’s a close-run thing. This system is also excellent; the steam is powerful and the iron just glides through tough, dried-out creases. The shape of the soleplate is really good and makes easy work of those fiddly bits between shirt buttons, pleats and cuffs. The best part, however, is you don’t need to select a temperature dial for different types of fabrics. Once the iron is producing steam, a delicate garment can be ironed immediately after a pair of a pure cotton sheet without fear of burning. The steam produced is very powerful and labour saving – you only need to iron a section once for a perfectly smooth finish.

I would have given this system five stars had it not been for a couple of little things:
- This steam generator operates using Anti-Calc cartridges and Philips provides two of these with the new iron. The cartridges prevent scale and the ‘brown-drips’ that leak onto laundry when scale builds up, so this is a a good point. However, once the cartridge light goes on, you have to buy new ones. You can use de-mineralised water in place of new cartridges but I prefer the ‘key’ descaler on my Philips PerfectCare Aqua, which costs me no extra and functions well.
- The little grip handle that opens the cartridge compartment is a little shallow and is difficult if your nails are not short.

This is a very good steam system and I would recommend Philips for all types of irons but I do prefer my Philips PerfectCare Aqua.


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