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Reviews Written by
Lilly Penhaligon (United Kingdom)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Burt's Bees 2016 Lip Colour Collection
Burt's Bees 2016 Lip Colour Collection
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Moisturising, good quality products in a nice set., 18 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice gift collection of Burt's Bees lip colours in three different formats: a fat lip crayon, a tinted lip balm and another tinted lip shimmer/balm. All these products are very moisturising and for someone like me, who has chronically dry lips through medication use, having a good moisturising base is essential if you are planning to wear colour.

All the colours go on very smoothly as the products are very soft - here is a warning: do not wind up the lip shimmer (Rhubarb) too high as the mechanism (on mine at least) does not catch to wind the product back down into the tube (as it does with the lip balm [Hibiscus]. So if you try to push the product back down into the tube, it is so soft it will smash all over the place and, as it is very tinted, it is also very messy. I am not sure how this product would fair in hot weather albeit being in the UK we rarely have to worry about that.

The colours are decent if you like berry reds and like to see a good dose of colour. These are much more pigmented than I expected and the crayon and lip shimmer are a little too colourful for my liking. However, I love how they look and feel on the lips. Really smooth, really soothing and moisturising. The lip shimmer also has a bit of a minty tingling feel when first applied. I would definitely repurchase in a lighter colour and maybe keep this set for winter. One thing I would say is they need to take the label off the front of the box which advertises the free lip balm. If giving this as a gift, it is really cheap looking and trying to remove the label damages the front of the box. That would be my only complaint, otherwise a great set and another great set of products from Burts.


Real Focus: Take Control and Start Living the Life You Want
Real Focus: Take Control and Start Living the Life You Want
by Psychologies Magazine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Great if you are new to the workplace and/or need to refresh your approach, 14 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read this in a day given that it is only 172 pages and the writing is concise. This book is divided into 3 core categories: how focused are you; why do you lack focus and how can you become more focused? These three areas are then covered in the following 10 chapters:
1. Defining real focus
2. The busy trap
3. The impact of being overwhelmed
4. The attention deficit
5. Finding a balance: men, women and our changing roles
6. Focus robbers
7. Do what matters
8. Reclaim your time
9. Be present
10. Embrace systems

The first half of the book lays out the most common problems in time management and organisation, and uses research evidence to illustrate how principles and practices we think make us more productive, may in fact be detrimental to our cognitive performance and the results we achieve (e.g. task-switching and multi-tasking). The book also points out habits and patterns of thinking that can hinder productivity and discusses the effects of the Information Age in which we are bombarded with email, social media and information overload from the internet which, instead of making us smarter and more well-informed, can in fact restrict the way we think about things. Most of the points made will not be 'big reveals' for those of us who have been in the workforce grind for enough years to know how things should work versus how things actually work within the constraints of organisational politics, pressures, demanding line managers and/or line managers who take too much of a back seat; however, if you, like me, have reached a place where you need to revisit work practices and wish to reclaim some personal time, this is good reading to prompt a reset/reboot.

Having totally lost the line between work and personal time (the latter losing dramatically); I have found that I am working more hours than ever before yet I am less productive than I have ever been. Many days go by and I have worked a full day with no lunch break, no side-conversations with colleagues etc and yet at the end of the week, I have little to show for it in real terms. This book has been really really useful in encouraging me to look at the poor patterns I have adopted and to see why this approach is not only not working, but is actually reducing my productivity. Most of it seems to be due to the overwhelming need to man the email 24/7 instead of creating boundaries of time.

I would say that Real Focus is the starting point if you are looking to examine your working practices and if you want to work your way back to a healthy work-life balance. The book encourages you to think about your patterns of behaviour, your attitude and approach to work and it provides practical suggestions on how to achieve this step-by-step and slowly over time so you create a habit. Most of the points are illustrated with quotes from notable writers, speakers, psychologists and business people. Key points are also featured in enlarged text and/or appear in boxes so you can quickly scan the page and lift the main message/s. The book also has a number of tests that you can take to see where you could improve.

I would say that the first half of the book was more useful as it covers the essential ground, the final section was more revision of what had been covered in previous sections and although chapter 10 is about creating systems, it doesn't actually provide any real suggestions on how to do this. So at this point, you would need something like Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Successful People or David Allen's Getting Things Done, if you want a prescribed system or you may want to do more research and come up with a system that suits you better.

The book is well-written and, I suspect, because it is created by the team behind the Psychologies magazine, this is why it is so reader-friendly and not as dry/dense as Covey/Allen and other similar texts can be. The text is engaging, well-written and I felt that I was reminded of some key principles that I shall be putting into practice asap. The only chapter that I didn't really connect with was Chapter 5 and the stuff about gender and changing roles; could not really see the relevance of this but others may find it helpful. Although this book calls on general approaches, I read this book as being particularly appropriate for people in office-based jobs. Many of the principles of goal-setting and goal attainment apply to any job but I do wonder in terms of practical solutions, what people in physical jobs who aren't bogged down by emails etc would get out of this so that is worth bearing in mind.

The book isn't fancy, just cardstock cover and black and white text with purple headings but it is small and you can keep it in your work drawer or home office or, as I do, tucked in the back of a filofax for easy reference. If you are new to the workplace and/or if you are looking to refresh your approach or starting a new job and want to give yourself the best chance at being really productive and achieving goals, then I would say give this a read.


Rapesco Stapler - X5-Mini Less Effort, Candy Pink
Rapesco Stapler - X5-Mini Less Effort, Candy Pink
Price: £4.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for handbag/briefcase; another quality item from this excellent range, 14 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have the larger size stapler and the four hole punch in this series and I have not been disappointed by the quality or the performance of any of these items in this range. This small convenient size stapler is no exception to that rule. Good quality, well-moulded pink plastic meets solid metal mechanisms in this X5-mini stapler which, in spite of its small size, still takes standard 26/6mm staples. This is part of the less effort range and I have to say that for me, it really has made a difference; it requires much less of a hard press down unlike previous staplers I have owned and, I get a nice clean staple each time. The colour is darker than indicated in the photos but still a pleasant pink and still looks elegant in either a home or work office. The finish on these items is excellent and I think I will get many years of good use out of these. Although this is called the X5-mini, it is not one of those super tiny staplers, it is still a decent size (as indicated by the fact it takes standard size staples) but it is compact enough for me to fit it in my pen case and carry it about in my purse. This has received pretty heavy use since it arrived as I am now obsessed with stapling everything and quite often have had shop staff ask to borrow it!
Brilliant product. Having received these items as part of the review programme, I very much appreciate the opportunity to try these out but have been converted and will be buying from Rapesco in the future (I love the blue version of this and my husband has been dropping hints).

Edited to add: just looked at the RRP for this; unbelievable value - cannot go wrong!


The Grownup
The Grownup
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, poorly executed, 8 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Grownup (Paperback)
This was extremely disappointing. The idea was good and could potentially have been developed into a very good short story or even a novel; however, it just came across like it was written the night before the deadline or that the author wasn't bothered or committed to the story. I am not often moved to leave such a poor review but this was a complete waste of time and money. There are other short stories in the same/similar genre that are significantly better.


Rapesco X5-25ps Less Effort Stapler - Pink
Rapesco X5-25ps Less Effort Stapler - Pink
Price: £9.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality, lovely design, less effort stapler., 7 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have reviewed the matching document holder and four-hole punch in this series of stationery and I have loved those products. It should not be a surprise that I love this matching stapler. This half plastic, half metal stapler boasts less effort when stapling and actually, my husband and I would have to agree. At first, we couldn't work out what we were doing wrong and then realised that we were really firmly pushing down (our last stapler that just broke needed a VERY firm pressure to staple anything); this needs a really light touch. I don't generally need to staple large amounts of paper together so the most that I have done in one go is three sheets and that was no big deal for this stapler. I love it and if you have purchased the other items in this range would say that you need to complete the set and get this stapler!


Burt's Bees Nuts About Nature Gift Set
Burt's Bees Nuts About Nature Gift Set
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic gift set, 7 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I use all the items included in this gift set anyway so I was happy to see them all corralled in a lovely presentation box. The perfect gift to give to someone and get them started on their Burt's journey! The gift set includes the coconut foot cream (120g), Almond & Milk hand cream (57g) and a coconut and pear lip balm (4.25g). All the scents are complimentary with the foot cream and lip balm having a coconut scent. Now, on the point of coconut smells - if you do not like this scent then the foot cream is not for you. It scents the whole box and you can smell it through the tube even thought the tube comes foil-sealed. Once opened and the cream applied, the coconut is a heady, strong smell and it doesn't (in my experience) dissipate quickly. I find that it also scents my cotton socks which I use once the cream has been applied. The lip is a much subtler scent - it's actually coconut and pear although I think my balm just smells like straight up beeswax.

Coconut Foot Cream
The foot cream is extremely thick, heavily scented and very moisturising. If you have broken skin; however, or you have cracks etc, you may need to treat your feet with appropriate non-scented creams first. This is very emollient so I personally would never put this on in the morning; rather, it is a night-time treat. A little goes a long way and it takes me a long time to get to the end of a tube. This keeps my feet looking great all year round and I would not be without it.

Almond and Milk Hand Cream
The hand cream is very emollient and is scented like almond. I find the smell more natural and gentler than the Almond of the Body Shop and L'Occitane but even so, if you don't like the marzipan/almond smell, this hand cream will not be for you. The cream is very moisturising and once applied, it does leave your hands quite slick. Additionally, the cream comes in a vintage looking jar which I absolutely love; however, it does mean you need to scoop out the cream to use it. To keep the jar hygienic, I use a plastic spatula I once got in a Dior product which I wash after every use. I only use this at night because it does not sink in enough for me to use throughout the day. I love the richness of the cream, the smell and the lovely way it makes my hands feel in the morning. I feel that I use less of my daytime hand cream because my hands are always so fresh and moisturised in the mornings.

Lip Balm
It's not my favourite scent - very light coconut, very heavy on the beeswax and I can't detect any pear at all. But the balm itself is really good, I love the BB's lip balms and use this all day, everyday. I would love if this came with the tinted balm in pink blossom which is my favourite Burt's lip balm but the balm included in this pack is not tinted and a very neutral scent so unlikely to offend anyone.

All in all, this is a great set at a great price considering the price of individual items. As I said, it is a nice way to introduce someone to Burt's Bees products. The items come really well packaged in a lovely firm, cardboard box with plastic window so you can see the products. The box is a nice sunny yellow and, if you are concerned about the packaging and potential waste, the box can be easily repurposed for something else.


Rapesco 720 4-Hole Metal Punch - Pink
Rapesco 720 4-Hole Metal Punch - Pink
Price: £11.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Style, function and quality!, 6 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This has got to be the most solid and sturdy hole punch I've ever owned! This lovely soft pastel pink four hole punch is heavy duty in every way; well-constructed, nicely designed and finished (no sharp edges, faded paint etc) and genuinely meant to last a lifetime. The core components are metal which is coated in a pastel pink paint whilst the plastic parts (the measurement slide and confetti trays are in a lovely complimentary grey colour. The overall effect is very pleasing and would easily suit a home office and also be professional enough to use at work. The confetti trays open halfway meaning you can empty the trays of the punched paper without having to fully remove the plastic. The grey measurement slide allows you to punch holes for paper sizes: A4, B5, A5, B6, A6 and the 888 measurement. There is also a line indented in the top of the hole punch so you can find the halfway mark on an A4 sheet easily. If you are crafty, you can pretty much get most paper sizes you want punched using this. You can punch up to 16 sheets without much ado although I generally don't need to do such heavy punching whilst at home.

This hole punch really compliments my desk; it is large yes, but it is so pretty I want to see it and it does have a locking mechanism so you can reduce the outline of the punch making it appear sleeker (you need to unlock to be able to punch).

I also have the matching stapler and document holder in the same pink colour and thoroughly love the quality of all these items. Rapesco definitely got it right with this stationery set!


Transformers Robots in Disguise Warrior Class Optimus Prime Figure
Transformers Robots in Disguise Warrior Class Optimus Prime Figure
Price: £9.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Great toy, easy to convert from robot to truck, 3 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This went down a storm with the little boy we gave it to. I wasn't sure how much leverage a child would get out of it but it hasn't left his hand since he received it, so there's the measure of that. This (to my mind) fairly simple figurine is of Optimus Prime, the leader of the transformers. He can change from his robot figure to his iconic truck in about 9 steps (that the little boy figured out by himself almost straight away) and this gives the toy a bit more dimension and opens up new possibilities for play as I have noticed that our friend's son will sometimes play trucks or sometimes play with this figure as a robot. He has some of the other figures/characters in the collection and loves to make them chase each other in their automobile style and interact as robots. All in all, an unexpected winner and my friend and her little boy are delighted!


Post-it Index Small in Clear Dispenser, 140 Flags - 4 Colours x 35 per Pack
Post-it Index Small in Clear Dispenser, 140 Flags - 4 Colours x 35 per Pack
Offered by online-mail-sales
Price: £6.90

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite page flags, 3 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are my favourite brand of page flags and post-it notes because frankly, having tried a million other types of post-its from the plain and functional to the fancy, expensive kinds and all the novelty and kawaii ones in between, nothing comes to the quality of post-it. These flags are plastic strips with an opaque clear end and a coloured tab at the other. The sticky part is at the opaque end. These are repositionable and the adhesive is great, unlike the aforementioned other varieties which have extremely poor sticking power. I can get an impressive amount of uses from each flag, and as there are 100+ in every pack, that does justify the price. I use these for work (I'm an academic so read a significant amount), in my agenda for planning and around the home to locate specific pages of catalogues etc. You can write on these with permanent marker - I use an extra fine sharpie but other similar pens will do the trick. The opaque strip is clear enough that you can see the text through it. Lovely colours make for cheerful organisation.


Rapesco Business Card Album, 80 Cards Capacity - Black
Rapesco Business Card Album, 80 Cards Capacity - Black
Offered by Blitz Online
Price: £3.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super useful organising tool - never lose a card and find the right person for a particular job quickly and easily, 27 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If I could I would give this 4.5 stars as there are a couple of things I would change to make it perfect. Firstly, I would love it if there was a clear sleeve on the front or somewhere that I could use to label the album; secondly, I would love it if it were slightly shorter so that it would fit more compactly on my desk, in drawers and on shelving.

In my line of work, we still deal with business cards despite the advance of the information age; 99% of time this exchange happens in busy, chaotic moments meaning that these invaluable pieces of information end up in the bottom of my handbag, workbag, coat pockets etc never to be found (intact) again. Having had this for only a few days, I already wonder why on earth I didn't purchase this before as now I make sure to put these straight in here meaning that everything I need is in one place and given that the album is pretty huge (tall and narrow) I can't easily lose it. This does take up some pretty large real estate on my desk, definitely in my bag and in my drawers but the benefits largely outweigh this issue and I am sure if I looked, I could find a smaller size.

This fits 80 cards - you can squeeze two per slot, I've tried it but you are putting a lot of pressure on the sleeve which will either stretch or start to split. For me, 80 is more than plenty, I just wanted to know if you could get more in. As I have significantly less than 80 cards relevant at any given time, I find that I can collate business cards under categories and using some post-it flags can quickly identify these sections making it easier to locate people's cards under certain skills or fields for example. Previously, I had to actually find the cards and then shift through looking for the right person for the right job.

The build is basic but solid enough and I think this will hold up well. Price point is reasonable in my view, particularly given it's utility. It's one of those things that you would look at and wonder who would use this outside of the 1980s but when you start to use it wonder why you didn't already own one and start regretting how much easier things could have been if you'd just had this for that huge project last year...


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