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The Ice Twins
The Ice Twins
by S. K. Tremayne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting., 11 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Ice Twins (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When one of their twin daughters dies in a fall, Sarah and Angus decide to move to a tiny private island off the coast of Skye and immerse themselves in a renovation project to distract from their grief. But the fresh start does not go quite according to plan when surviving daughter Kirstie suddenly announces that she is actually twin sister Lydia!

Whilst perhaps not Booker prize material this is a very effective page turner full of sinister moments that gave me a genuine chill, especially when reading late at night. The feeling of isolation on the barely habitable island is very well conveyed and I wondered if the author did in fact have some personal connection to the Hebrides or had been inspired by a trip there. There is lovely description of both landscape and weather, and a believable sense of how difficult it is to fit into a new community when you are both an outsider by birth and still somewhat separated by geography (the mud flat path to the island is completely cut off at high tide and the family have only a basic inflatable dinghy, which means that whenever anyone goes to Skye or the mainland the other occupants are effectively trapped on the island till dawn).

The book is not without minor plot holes (not sure how a lick of paint to the light keepers cottage could transform it from worthless to millionaires pad, nor did it seem entirely reasonable that Sarah would have successfully blotted out so many past memories that were essential to the plot). However the twists are handled quite well, and just as I was congratulating myself on having guessed most of them in advance, came one final and totally unexpected tease!

A good read.


Braun Silk Epil 9 9-558 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 5 Extras
Braun Silk Epil 9 9-558 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 5 Extras
Price: £104.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great results and much less painful., 9 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On previous attempts at using epilators I'd found them a bit hit and miss. Often the small heads meant many painful passes to get good coverage and the results weren't always good. So previous devices rapidly became ornaments in the cupboard rather than a useful part of my pampering kit.

The Braun Silk Epil 9 is cordless, comes with a host of extras including shaver heads and a separate pen like facial epilator. Designed to be used wet or dry you can safely take it into the shower and watch the detritus flush away. The big question though is would it be any good at removing hair?

First thing out of the box I noticed was the build quality, a lot of attachments for beauty products feel like a bit of an afterthought, a little gimmicky, but, like the main unit, all the sundries had the same solid, well designed feel and when in use were well integrated and secured. As usual it's recommended to give it a full charge before first use but after that an hours charge should provide 40 minutes use which is probably enough to cover a fair sized chimp. In use it was so much less painful than previous experiences, and I think with repeated use even that should improve. The wide head really covered the ground well and a couple of passes where enough to leave me very smooth indeed. A feature I thought might be a but unnecessary was the built in light but surprisingly it really did help pick out where another pass might be needed. I didn't notice any great difference between using it in our out of the shower, other than the convenience of not having to deal with the resulting hairs, but the flexibility to use it wherever I choose is a bonus.

The pen style facial epilator is also well made, excellent for tackling unruly sideburn areas or the corners of the mouth and lips. There's no getting around it, doing the corners of the mouth and top lip hurts but persevere and the results are excellent. Again I'm assured that repeated use will diminish the amount and thickness of any returning hair and thus the attendant ouch factor.

It's not a cheap product, at over £100 pounds it's a lot to spend but the quality of the build and the results really do show you get what you pay for. It's less painful and cheaper in the long run than waxing and a bit less harsh on the skin than chemical hair removal creams. It's a great product and I'd happily recommend it.


Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner
Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner
Price: £99.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of puff!, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd wanted a steam cleaner for a while, having seen them demo'd on the shopping channels, and thinking one would be great for cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces like sinks, tiles and taps. I suppose I'd had a smaller hand held model in mind, so this Vaporetto didn't exactly fit the bill - however, I was prepared to give it a go in the interests of research! As a number of other reviewers have pointed out this model looks a lot like a vacuum cleaner and needs to be assembled in much the same way, with the hose having to be plumbed into the front of the unit before you can get going. The cap over the water tank is a bit fiddly to get on and off due to the fact it's partly concealed under the handle, and even though a little plastic jug is supplied to help you measure the correct amount of water, the hole into the tank is quite small and some spillage is almost inevitable. This might not sound like a big deal but the electric cord enters the cleaner just a few cm away so I don't think it's ideal design-wise.

Once the tank is filled with the stipulated amount of water and the hose plumbed in you can switch your Vaporetto on to warm up. Approximately ten minutes later (and accompanied by the smell of warm rubber!) you are ready to clean. There is a catch on the handle that has to be 'unlocked' first, and then you just depress the trigger and steam starts coming out. I initially tested my unit without any attachments in place, to spot clean a grimy kitchen floor. The amount of steam generated was impressive and the dirt dislodged fairly convincingly, although obviously you need to wipe over the surface afterwards as there is nothing to mop up the water in spot cleaning mode. However, if you use the special floor cleaning head fitted with its supplied cloth (as I later did) for a less focused effort, then you don't need to mop up when you're done. I was quite impressed with the ease with which this gadget removed grubby patches, though using it in a small area as I was, it wasn't just the floor that got steamed, unfortunately, but my butchers block and all the stuff stored on it too!

The instructions say that you can also use your Vaporetto for window panes, mirrored surfaces, enamelled surfaces, upholstery and carpet, which impressed me quite a bit as I had thought its use might be restricted to hard surfaces only - it will even take the creases out of clothes. You also have the option to use a deodorising solution (supplied) which has its own reservoir, for extra freshness. The instructions also amusingly tell you that children over 8 and persons with reduced mental capabilities can use this if properly supervised (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is a bad translation from the Italian!).

Overall, I thought this appliance cleaned well but in a small room it is hard not to steam everything in the vicinity accidentally, particularly since the dial to control the output doesn't have a very clear indication of which way is up and which way is down. For that reason, I would think a smaller more basic model might be suitable for people like me with compact and bijoux accommodation. However, if you have a large house and/or a need to clean really thoroughly e.g. a home business such as beauty salon, this could work really well for you.


VAX Air Revolve, 800 W
VAX Air Revolve, 800 W
Offered by Lux Outlet
Price: £219.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great build quality and will give you a workout to rival the gym!, 1 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My first impression of this vacuum cleaner was somewhat mixed. It's extremely heavy when in it's packaging and I ended up having to use a knife to cut down the sides of the Amazon brown outer packaging so I could just slide the Vax box out, rather than have to lift it. Equally when I opened the Vax packaging it was still a bit of a trial unpacking the myriad bits and pieces, it being necessary to remove most of the accessories (even if you don't plan on using them immediately) just to get at the body, hose and powered head. I did try to remind myself that the average purchaser would probably be keeping this vaccum for years, not unpacking a different model a week as we sometimes do on the Vine testing scheme, but even so it was hard not be mildly frustrated by the effort involved getting the thing out in comparison with other models I have trialed. However, once I'd conquered the cardboard city it quickly became apparent that I was looking at a very well made vacuum cleaner with top quality materials used, the assembly of which was actually very straightforward, aided and abetted by well written instructions in a proper glossy brochure - not the terrible back and white unfolding table cloth-sized sheets that come with many appliances these days. The neon colour scheme (which I like a lot for its aesthetics) is also an aid to assembly as the various clips, pins and arrows are all clearly marked. Everything snaps into place with reassuringly loud clicks and shouts quality.

Once I'd got the Vax assembled I tested it in my lounge and was very impressed with the level of suction - literally pulling the carpet off the floor, and restoring old downtrodden pile. It coped extremely well with pet hair, human hair, biscuit crumbs, cobwebs and general dust. I found the suction all the more impressive knowing that this machine is 'only' 800 watts. Initially, I did find it a bit difficult to move the powered head around, especially when trying to pull it backwards after a cleaning stroke ready for the next pass, but if you turn the suction down slightly using the slider near the handle it becomes a lot easier to manoeuvre, with only a very nominal loss of suction. If I were rating this vacuum on cleaning ability alone I would probably be giving it 5 stars because it really is phenomenal for the power output.

However, there are a few caveats to its practical day to day use. Although I love the design of the main unit which includes both the bin and a completely sealed storage compartment for the cord, the unit is wide enough that I did have problems with access, for example trying to squeeze it between my sofa and the coffee table (which is marble topped, heavy and not the easiest thing to move). I also found it a bit of a pain to get the bin out for emptying - you are basically bending right down to floor level to do it, so it's not the best for your back. When the bin is out there is no easy way of holding it whilst you empty it (no handle) and I ended up putting one finger through the hole into the bin (yuck!) to give me some purchase as I pulled the yellow tab to open the bottom and allow waste disposal. At the same time I was using the other arm to try and lift the lid of our communal skip bin, so not the easiest procedure (it's not that straightforward with a Dyson or Black and Decker cyclone type bin either, but this Vax bin was by far the worst of the three). As much as I liked the 'stand upright' feature of the main unit to allow stair cleaning, the size of the powered head and the overall weight of the vacuum means I'll probably revert to using one of my hand-held or cordless vacs for this part of the house.

In summary, a very well made vacuum cleaner with unbeatable suction power, especially at this wattage, but heavy, quite large and not as easy to store as an upright. 3.5 stars.


Gillette Fusion Manual Razor with Flexball Technology
Gillette Fusion Manual Razor with Flexball Technology
Offered by Activecare Online
Price: £10.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative design that delivers on performance, 1 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've used Gillette blades nearly everyday since i started shaving many years ago. Progressing though the various iterations of double, treble and quad blades offerings. With each new system there is a bit of a law of diminishing returns. Does a four blade system really do a much better job than a three blade. In my experience it does a little but often not enough to justify the extra price. This new blade utilizes the existing fusion blades so any improvement will really be down to the ergonomics of the new flexball system. Essentially the flexball allows the blade to follow the contours of the face by allowing it to pivot and turn, a little like the dyson ball hoover system. Nice Idea but would it have any practical impact on improving the shave quality of the already good fusion blade?

I tried it out on a two day growth. So a decent challenge . The unit feels nice in the hand, perhaps a little heavier than a standard fusion handle and with little raised dimples on the handle to increase grip in the wet. I found it really secure and stable in my hand. Using some Gillete gel I began the shave. The blade glided over the skin whisking off the stubble in smooth and easy fashion. So well in fact that it really only needed one pass to get a good result. Area around the chin and above the top lip present no obstacle and similarly only required one pass. I was both surprised and impressed at the difference made. It was as good and as quick as the powered versions but without the need for a battery, A bigger jump in performance than moving from the Mach 3 blades to the original Fusion system and with the big bonus that there's no need to change cartridges. Well done Gillette, innovative design that delivers on performance.


VAX C86-AW-Phe Air Silence Vacuum Cleaner, 800 W
VAX C86-AW-Phe Air Silence Vacuum Cleaner, 800 W
Price: £229.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the lack of watts, 9 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vax C86 AW is the first new vacuum cleaner I've experienced since the change to European regulations on maximum power rating. I was curious to see what impact it would have on performance and I'm really glad to say my fears went unrealised.

On removing the cleaner from the packaging the first thing to notice is the usual Vax build quality. It feels sturdy and the attachments go together securely. Once the main hose is attached to the body you're ready to go. The unit it comes with both powered and unpowered heads and tube for curtains and upholstery. The non powered head is for hard surfaces, although I used it on carpet and it still performed satisfactorily, and did a good job of clearing crumbs from the kitchen floor. I did notice the it does need some effort to pull it around, more than i'm used to with my upright, nut not enough to put me off using it.

The powered head is pretty heavy, at least a kilo, and take a bit of getting used to. It need to be secured properly or pushing the button for it will have no effect, but once in place it performs really well. Even on what looks like clean carpet the amount of dust transferred to the clear plastic bin is impressive. I have a very deep pile carpet in my living room and it came up beautifully after a going over with this cleaner. Another nice feature is the extremely low noise level. My current upright is noticeably quieter than cleaners of a decade a go but this Vax is on another level. The radio playing at a pretty low level was still audible without adjustment, conversation could be heard easily and my cat didn't bolt for another room as he usually does when vacuuming starts. The "Air Silence" part of the name is not overstated.

With the heads detached the 3 in 1 tube made short work of the crumbs that accumulate between the cushions of the settee and was long and light enough to give my cornices a good going over. So all in all the cleaner proved to be flexible and competent enough to do all the tasks I'd expect from a whole house vacuum and with a six year warranty included I have confidence it'll be trouble free for an extended period. My only reasons for not giving five stars is the weight of the powered head and the slight lack of mobility of the main unit. Other than that a really good product


VAX 2-in-1 Air Cordless Switch
VAX 2-in-1 Air Cordless Switch
Price: £94.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive in short bursts!, 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vax Air Cordless Switch packaging highlights a number of features, including quick switch between stick and hand vac, lithiumLife battery for cordless convenience, steerable technology (whatever that is!), On/Off brushbar, suitability for carpets and hard floors, low weight and a 2 year guarantee.

By and large the product lives up to its claims. It is indeed an incredibly easy to use and versatile vacuum cleaner. The streamlined and compact design looks good and, more importantly, makes it easy to carry, as well as facilitating storage in a small space. The steering is fantastic and, combined with the small size of the stick cleaner, this works incredibly well for cleaning nooks and crannies and means you don't have to move every plant and chair first to clean a room. The stick vac has extra brushes extended sideways from the bottom in order to remove dust etc from corners and this does work to some effect. The detachable hand vac is an excellent bonus for stairs, cars and other relatively inaccessible areas. So, in accordance with the manufacturer's specific claims, this cleaner does pretty much what it says on the box. The cleaner's versatility however does mean that you should be wary before making a purchase in order to satisfy yourself that this is indeed a cleaner which suits your needs. I'll try to outline these 'issues' below.

The size and battery-powered nature of the cleaner means that it does lack a little power and the accurately-advertised 15 minute battery runtime is a bit limiting, particularly when you consider the 10 hour long charge time of the battery. Given the small size of the cleaner and the limitation of battery usage, it is only sensible that the dirt container is small. The small dirt container can however fill very quickly and this potentially blocks the air flow during cleaning. So you may be faced with having to empty the dirt container before the end of the 15 minute battery runtime. The small size of the cleaner also means that you can't cover large areas particularly quickly. The side brushes which work quite well for corners are prone to getting a little clogged with dust and the ball which can result is something that the cleaner finds hard to deal with. So it's horses for courses here.

If you are someone who cleans large areas in one go on a slightly less frequent basis then this probably isn't for you and you should look to a vacuum with a larger capacity and longer runtime. However, if you have reasons to clean small, tricky areas frequently and want an incredibly easy to use and versatile cleaner to use then this is potentially a very good product for you.


Philips Double Contour 4-in-1 Ladyshave Sensitive HP6368/02
Philips Double Contour 4-in-1 Ladyshave Sensitive HP6368/02
Price: £46.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab for your fuzz!, 1 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As mentioned in one of my other reviews I have used Philips Ladyshave products for many years, however this is the first time I've tested one of the models with a pivoting head. Having now tried this Contour 4 in 1, I'm wishing I'd taken the plunge earlier, because this is a really great shaver. Here's why:-

I was sent the rechargeable version of this shaver which gave me a bit of trepidation as I usually shy away from these because they either have some sort of docking station which I lose or cannot find room for, or they need a two pin bathroom socket, or an adaptor, neither of which I have. The charger for this shaver however is a standard 3 pin plug and lead so is no more onerous to keep topped up than your phone or tablet. Why doesn't everyone make their shavers and toothbrushes charge like this?? The charger and the shaver itself both have lights to indicate charging status/low power - mine came partially charged which was enough for me to do both legs and underarms - however you'll need to charge for 10 hours (ie overnight) to get the maximum capacity of 40 minutes.

Onto the shaver itself. It's light and comfortable to hold with a slim handle and a rocking type on off switch. The head containing the double foils and cutting edge pivots beautifully - I couldn't believe how well it contoured my legs and underarms, getting probably the closest shave I've ever had from an electric shaver. I actually had that very slight tingly feeling you get after using a real razor blade, (without running the risk of nicks and cuts) which I think is testament to just how good the shave really is. There is an aloe strip on the head which I imagine helps minimise any irritation. By the way, this a wet-dry model, though as I suffer from quite sensitive skin I will probably only ever use it dry with talc as a lubricant to minimise any discomfort.

One other thing that struck me - I have noticed that over the years some of the Philips shavers have started to look and feel a little cheap with (to my eyes) lower quality plastics being used and noisier motors, presumably in an effort to keep the costs down. This model does not suffer from any cost cutting that I can see, with decent quality materials being utilised and a relatively quiet and discrete motor powering it. The shaver comes with easy to read instructions in a decent size font, a soft pouch for travel and a cleaning brush.

I cannot think of any caveats or drawbacks with this product. It's really well designed and I love it.


Philips BRT381/15 BikiniGenie Trimmer
Philips BRT381/15 BikiniGenie Trimmer
Price: £20.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love your Lady Garden!, 31 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
To provide some brief context for this review, I have been using Philips Ladyshave products since my teens (now in my 40s) and am a big fan of the brand, as they make, for the most part, effective and affordeable gadgets. I have previously used both Philips and Boots own brand bikini area trimmers, the earlier models tended to look like mens clippers and did a fairly decent job, with the caveat that they were perhaps a little too big to get into tricky contoured areas.

The Bikini Genie looked a little cheap when I first opened the packaging, probably due to the lurid fushia pink colour of the plastic used - however in the hand it was nicely weighty and had a really pleasant tactile rubberised feel. Easy peasy lemon squeezy to get going - it takes one AA battery (supplied) which goes inside the lower part of the handle - you twist rather than pull off the bottom half of the trimmer to get access to the battery compartment, and twist back on once the battery is in place. There's a plastic guard which you can put on the trimmer head and this stops it taking all the hair off - though it does goes very close indeed even with this in place and it's not adjustable - giving you a very thorough centre court style trim just short of the full Brazillian. If you remove the guard the trimmer will completely remove all hair - you need to be careful though in this mode to avoid catching any skin. Because of the small size of the head it's also great in this configuration for just defining an edge if you don't want to be short/bare all over. I recommend using talc to sooth and lubricate the area before getting to work. I was a tiny bit tender myself afterwards, but no nicks.

In addition to the trimmer itself, there's a brush for cleaning the head, and a lovely silky silver coloured pouch. As well as home use, I could definitely see myself taking this on holiday to keep fuzz at bay since it's not a huge thing to carry. The instructions provided are in the form of teeny little pictures that were almost indecipherable and made pretty much no sense to me, but as noted above it couldn't be easier to set up and get going so no problem really. A two year warranty completes the package.

I like the Bikini Genie a lot, and have awarded 4 stars. The reason it doesn't get 5 is because I have also used a Seiko trimmer called the Cleancut which is the Rolls Royce of intimate shavers, giving an incredibly close shave, but using a foil head so there is zero irritation, and with a very quiet motor. Admittedly that item is several times the price of this Bikini Genie, so I definitely recommend the Philips product as a budget buy.


Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Price: £12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Do what they do very well., 31 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What's to be said about dishwasher tablets? Well in the case of the Finish Quantum's quite a lot. The first thing is convenience. There's no need to take the tablet out of the wrapper, just pop the whole package into your dry slot and start. The wrapper dissolves, which seems like a small thing but pleases me a lot. The lack of need for additional salt is also a bonus, knowing the wee tablet will help protect my appliance gives me a little confidence for those times when i'm not as careful with maintenance as I should be.

The results were also great. I usually give my things a rinse before popping them in the dishwasher and noticed my glasses really sparkled when i took them out. Plates and crockery came out clean and residue free and pots, even when pretty grimy, showed no evidence of anything left behind. They also left the crockery smelling fresh and without the sulphurous odour that some tablets leave.

In the 15 to 20 wash cycles that I've used these powerballs, they do indeed seem to have delivered that which they claim to deliver. The vast majority of these wash cycles have been at 50 degrees, sometimes on half-load, and the cleaning action has been as good as one can ever expect - pretty near perfect. I have used these for hotter washes also and the result is again as would be hoped. All in all, if they are competitive on price with other leading and comparable products these are a good purchase.


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