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H Pedder "bookworm" (UK)
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Unraveling Anne
Unraveling Anne
by Laurel Saville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't fulfil its blurb!, 14 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Unraveling Anne (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although I hadn't heard of Anne Ford (a model and Californian girl of the 60s) the blurb on this novel intrigued me. I expected an insightful, detailed and researched tale of her life, beginning with how she began with her glamorous lifestyle and career, and how her life spiralled into alcoholism and destitution.

Instead, the story is a patchwork of memories from the author, Anne's daughter, with no coherence or real insight. It is not really chronological, so one minute Anne is glamourously dressed and flirting with men, the next she's bloated and drunken, then she's back to hosting parties in the 60s. This feels more like a chance for the author to recount her observations as a child (never objective!) of her mother, but also like an autobiography of the author herself - there is a sense of bitterness and self-pity to the narration.

This would have been so much better as a fictional book based loosely on her mother's life - from Anne Ford's perspective, perhaps - as it seems the author could give little insight into what caused her mother's decline.

I found the prose cliched, bland, and disorganised; I finished the book feeling as though I'd read the autobiography of Anne Ford's daughter - and feeling distinctly underwhelmed.


Dirt Devil DCC043 Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection, 1800 Watt
Dirt Devil DCC043 Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection, 1800 Watt

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good for a little thing!, 14 Dec. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This small bagless vacuum cleaner is perfect for a quick clean up around the house. It comes with a long nozzle attachment that has an adjustable head (you can have the bristles up or flat, depending on the surface you're cleaning), the plug cord is stored inside the body of the machine, and due to its dinky size it is easily manoeuvred. It feels like a small child or pet, following you around the house!

It is very easy to empty and clean, a simple catch to undo and the bucket pulls away from the body. Its filters are impregnated with Microban Antibacterial Protection (which is meant to help keep carpets hygienically clean) but there's not really any way of knowing how effective this is!

For the price, and the style of vacuum, this does the job perfectly and I'm really happy with my new friend!


Dirt Devil 1000 Watt Mains Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection
Dirt Devil 1000 Watt Mains Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with Microban Antibacterial Protection
Offered by L.M Electrical
Price: £39.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy, powerful and dinky! An angel!, 25 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This little Dirt Devil is everything that it was designed to be. It is light enough to carry, but heavy enough to have substance and feels well-made. It does have a detachable shoulder strap which is great for when you're cleaning your car for example, making it truly portable. The power lead is very long; I can plug it in at the bottom of my stairs and easily reach the landing at the top. The hose is quite short (so it fits neatly around the machine) but still long enough to do the job. It comes with a detachable nozzle to vacuum in crevices (again, perfect for cleaning the car). The suction of this is good, it cleans carpets well - most likely thanks to the fact that it's mains powered. It's bagless, so very easy to empty/clean - just unclip the section at the back to empty. Apparently the vacuum (filters etc) have been treated with Microban which helps to keep germs and bacteria at bay - but there's no way of really knowing this I suppose!

Just a couple of minor quibbles with this product (hence the 4 stars). Firstly, the hose wraps around the machine and fits onto the vacuum by pushing it onto a 'prong' (for the want of a better word). Whilst this is an ingenious way of swapping between the hose and the main vacuum head, by way of a switch which slides as you fix the hose back in place and triggers the brushes on the main head, it is also a bit fiddly. What's more, it's not especially secure and so the hose seems to come loose sometimes. It's a bit annoying to have to keep pushing the hose back into place, but it depends how well you attached it in the first place - I can't seem to get it to stay put, but a small catch or something similar would have helped keep it secure.

Secondly, there's no way to keep the power lead neat when storing the vacuum cleaner. Rightly so it is a long lead, but it can't be retracted into the body of the cleaner nor is there anywhere to wrap it around. Bit of a storage niggle, but not detrimental to its performance.

Ultimately, I cannot fault this Dirt Devil's performance and its effectiveness at being fit for purpose. I think it's very reasonably priced for such a sturdy, nice-looking and overall excellent handheld vacuum.


HoMedics NMS-2TAB Snuggly Bear Neck Massager
HoMedics NMS-2TAB Snuggly Bear Neck Massager
Offered by Super.Deals
Price: £8.72

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An oxymoron that'll gather dust under the bed very well!, 25 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What strikes me most about this product is that it has no idea who its target audience is! Called a 'snuggly bear' massaging neck pillow it sounds childish and/or feminine, an image enforced by the cartoon character bear on the product itself and the sugar pink writing on the packaging. But the packaging also features a bear wearing a tie - rather corporate and suggesting it might be used by your average blue collar male worker. Who exactly is this product intended for?!

Regardless of this, it's one of those things that your Aunt Mabel would buy for you from a car boot sale for Christmas. You'd use it once out of courtesy then stuff the box under your bed until such a time when it was possible to discreetly sell it a car boot sale for some other 'Aunt Mabel' to swoop upon.

On the positive side, it IS comfortable around the neck, and it's made from a lovely soft ('snuggly') fleecy material. It is supplied with 2 AA batteries which are easily fitted into the interior, accessed through zips in the seam. It has a popper fastening at the front to keep it around your neck, and the on/off button blends well into the pillow.

Yet I just can't think why or when one would use this. It isn't portable (i.e. can't be folded up into a travel-size parcel) so not good for taking on aeroplanes. Even the description on the box is ambiguous: 'invigorating relaxation massage'...surely it's either invigorating, or relaxing, but difficult to be both?! Either way, all this does is vibrate somewhat and makes your head buzz. It might help relax some people but I found it neither invigorating, nor relaxing.

Put the money towards a proper massage, and leave this for Aunt Mabel.


Death of an Unsigned Band
Death of an Unsigned Band
by Tim Thornton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars written for film?!, 19 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I imagined this to be similar in humour/character to Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, but was rather disappointed. The blurb declares it a 'hilarious fly-on-the-wall trip' but it didn't make me laugh, maybe because I cannot personally relate to the scenarious described. It feels like this book was written by, and for, somebody in an unsigned band, which is fine but does limit the audience! I enjoy music, have an interest in live bands and hence thought it would be an insight into that world. Yet the characters, although they have depth, seem one-dimensional in the sense that there's little else to them other than the unsigned band.

It's written in the third person, interspersed with script-like speech (e.g. Karen: Every unsigned band knows...), which was a gimmick that sadly didn't work for me. It seems as though this book was written with the sole hope of it being made into a film?

It isn't a particularly badly written book, it just lacks in broad appeal and didn't strike a chord with me or my sense of humour. I soon lost interest, didn't really care what happened to the characters nor the band, and didn't get any laughs out of it either. I imagine, however, if you're in an unsigned band, you'll think this is funny and a touchingly-accurate portrayal of life as you know it.


Pain Relief With Trigger Point Self-Help
Pain Relief With Trigger Point Self-Help
by Valerie DeLaune
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.58

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for average Joe, 19 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The title leads one to believe this is a manual which shows exercises for use in the home to relieve pain. It is, in fact, more of a reference for students or professionals with an in-depth knowledge of trigger points. The terminology in this book is technical and difficult to understand for the average reader, which makes it quite a worthless text for most people. I admit I had little notion of trigger points and the association with pain/pain relief, but I had hoped that this would be a user-friendly guide which I might be able to use as an alternative for headache and tension relief.

Unfortunately, the jargon put me off and I didn't have the patience to wade through it to unearth anything of use. My mother, who is mid-sixties and suffers with various pains, read it and with some effort gleaned a few useful tips. Those I could interpret were utterly impractical and seemed to preach a very boring life for the sake of possibly easing pain ever so slightly - one example is that one should never wear high heels, nor should one turn on their side during sleep. Neither of these are practical, for me at least!

Sorry to say this book is dull, jargon-heavy, and not the alternative therapy I'd hoped to be able to apply. It may be useful, as it states, for somebody who is seeing a professional for trigger point therapy, to enhance the treatment. Or suitable for students/professionals.


Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method)
Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method)
by Michel Thomas
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £84.98

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn a language on the move, 19 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I already speak French, so felt confident that I could pick up another language without too many stumbling blocks. This is brilliant for busy people who want to learn a language whilst on the move - ideal for listening to in the car or commuting. The idea is that you listen, then repeat, to engage with the language and learn by example. The CDs progress from basic conversational Spanish, increasing in vocabulary and structure over time.

Although it says it's for beginners to intermediate, I'm no certain it would be suitable for absolute beginners. Sometimes the pace progressed quickly, and assumed some prior knowledge. That said, I had not learned any Spanish before this and I found it OK (but had to pause/rewind a time or two).

There's a handbook which lists the CD contents and key vocabulary at each stage, which is useful. The interactive exercises, as you work through the CDs, are helpful in making sure you've understood/remembered.

It's probably at the top end of the price range for audio foreign language courses but it's still good value, if you stick with it. I certainly prefer this to other methods. Like everything, it just takes perseverance to get the full benefit.


Braun Series 3 380/3080 Wet and Dry Electric Foil Shaver (Product colour may differ)
Braun Series 3 380/3080 Wet and Dry Electric Foil Shaver (Product colour may differ)
Price: £69.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent shaver, does everything that it promises!, 28 Aug. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An electric shaver is never going to give the smooth, close shave of a razor but my husband was very impressed with this Braun foil shaver nonetheless. As somebody who has always wet shaved, he'd expressed an interest in trying an electric shaver because of the convenience they offer but had always been put off by two things: price and the inability to get a smooth shave. After using this, he is almost a convert! He uses this as a quick fix on a daily basis, then reverts to his wet shave for weekends, special occasions etc.

It is rechargeable, and from a full charge you can get maybe up to a week's worth of shaves. It also charges fast enough so that a 5-minute charge is sufficient for one shave - perfect if you're in a hurry and forgot to charge it. It can be used in the shower, it is a 'wet & dry' shaver in the true sense of the word which is quite a marvel. It has a section on the back of the shaver to trim sideburns, beards etc and also has a 'precision' setting which, with the flick of a button, shifts the foils slightly so that you can accurately shave the upper lip area, for example. It's really simple to use, fuss-free, ergonomic and feels sturdy. Overall appearance, build quality, and design are excellent.

It has a battery life indicator, which is very useful. It comes with a travel case, a small brush to clean the foils - everything you'd expect and more.

The reason I've given this 4 stars and not 5 are twofold (albeit perhaps unfairly) and takes me back to the points I raised at the beginning of the review. First, my husband has to go over the same areas when shaving to get rid of the hairs, and even then he's sometimes left with patches that don't seem to go no matter from what angle he approaches them with the shaver! This might be because he's used to a wet shave, and hasn't got the knack of using an electric shaver, but this leads me onto the second point. It's not cheap, you could buy a lot of disposable razor blades for £150 (and the type my husband uses are not cheap blades!) - so, despite the price tag, it still cannot do the job of a blade that is a fraction of the price. However, the convenience of these shavers is inarguable and, as electric shavers go, this seems to be pretty much faultless. If I could give it 4.5, I would have done!


Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Price: £47.96

14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous, messy, impractical! Why?!, 21 Aug. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If ever there was an example of something being over-engineered - something being invented for the sake of invention, surely this is it. This boldly claims to remove over 99% of plaque, much more effective than standard flossing, whilst being kinder to gums... maybe so, but it is a hundred times more bother than usual floss. The idea is that you fill up the water tank with lukewarm water, then use the small jet of pressurised water from the nozzle to work around the gumline, hence removing plaque. In theory, this sounds great - I use dental floss regularly and find it can make my gums bleed sometimes.

In reality, I can only describe this piece of kit as ridiculous! Functionality: it does what it says it will do, but I really didn't like the experience - the sensation of the water jet varied from a tickle in my mouth (!), to an unpleasant pressure, to a downright discomfort bordering on painful feeling, like a needling sensation. Following the instuctions to the letter (put nozzle in mouth, turn on, allow water to flow from mouth, clean around gumline whilst closing lips slightly to avoid splashing) still resulted in one heck of a mess - water splashed everywhere and I was unconvinced that I had managed to remove any plaque whatsoever. Because of the water splashing everywhere, I ended up leaning over the bathtub - no use as I couldn't see into a mirror. That said, you couldn't look in a mirror whilst doing this anyway, it would cause a rainshower!

The design of this is also flawed, for me. It is operated by a shaver-plug...I don't have a shaver socket in my bathroom and I genuinely don't know anybody who has one...in hotels, yes, but not common in homes any more? The reservoir basin which sits atop the unit doesn't have a lid, so although it's quite sturdy on the whole it would only take a clumsy user (such as myself!) to knock it and hey-splash-presto. The cord connects to the base in a fixed position at the side, so in my bathroom it didn't sit well anyway as I needed the cord to go in the other direction (...to the extension lead I'd trailed into the room...the length I went to, to try this!).

If I could give this zero stars, I would! Flossing is perfectly adequate for the job, and at less than £1 for a 50m roll, why spend fifty times that for something which is so messy, impractical, bothersome, and 'faffy'??!! The only upside is that it certainly gave the entertainment factor, my husband and I were in hysterics. Just ridiculous!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2013 12:01 PM GMT


I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
by Douglas Edwards
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting for a short time, 21 Aug. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is Douglas Edwards' recount of his 6 years spent in marketing at Google when the company was beginning to establish itself. He labels himself as 'Employee Number 59'; the title of the book itself seems a nod to a computerised institute, suggestive of a line of 'bots with no names, just numbers - surely ironic given the spontaneous and sociable reputation of Google as an employer. I won't go into detail about the background to the story, most people have heard about Sergey and Larry, the two Stanford graduates who broke every expectation to create a multi-billion dollar company - if you haven't, then I suggest this book is certainly not for you!

Edwards tells his tale with humour, avoiding too much industry-talk but dropping enough technological references into the text to reassure the reader that, yes, he really did work there for over half a decade. Despite Google's already much-talked about unorthodox approach to making a living, there are some eye-opening anecdotes here. The offices with their massage therapists and buckets of M&MS, weekly deliveries of free Krispy Kreme donuts, a computer console which provided the means to making decisions when nothing else could tip the vote...these are the obvious perks, but Edwards also shows how much work was done for the majority of the time. There is no doubt that he has illustrated here the radically different corporation that is Google.

As fascinating as it is, to peek into the secret world of Google HQ, the novelty of this information wears off after a while. 130 pages in, Edwards' reverence for the inarguable genius of Sergey, and Larry, and his sensationalising descriptions of the working day start to get a little tired. It is, for the most part, a chronological account of Edwards' employment with Google but, at times, it's as though he's forgotten an important (read: unusual, because that's how Google did it!) detail and flits back to the year previous and somebody else's contribution or involvement.

To put it bluntly, Douglas Edwards does not seem to have played a pivotal part in Google's rise to world-domination. He was employee number 59...not even in the first 10 - the first 20 - of those involved in Google's development. His contributions whilst at the company come across as somewhat paltry - most of the time, Sergey and Larry rebuked his ideas as conformist and lacking in ambition!

This book seems to be employee number 59 making a swift buck out of a few years spent with the phenomenon that is Google. It could have been written by any of the 58 people before him and probably only two or three of these would be REALLY interesting (i.e. Sergey, Larry or employee number 3, Eric). Any one of these 58 people (or the hundreds who followed shortly after) could have retold of amusing incidents, bizarre work ethics or enviable perks. It is not badly written, but it is nothing special and it was certainly about 50% longer than it needed to be!

I wouldn't recommend this book unless you're very interested in computer technology, Google, or perhaps seeking inspiration from those who have made their fortune. If Sergey Brin or Larry Page publish a memoir, however, that's a book I would look forward to reading.


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