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Grr "Gumbo" (England)

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The Raven's Head
The Raven's Head
by Karen Maitland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read, 19 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Raven's Head (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having adored Karen Maitland’s novel ‘The Company of Liars’ I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to this in advance of its publication and am delighted to report that this book is a startlingly good read.

The plot, involving alchemy, blackmail, mystery and the supernatural in the Dark Ages, is riveting and captivating. However, other reviewers have, at length, given intricate and detailed plot synopsises so I shall instead focus on how I found the writing style.

As with the Company of Liars, I find that Maitland’s writing is excellent at creating ambience and atmosphere, this book positively drips with mood and, at times, can be quite sinister and unsettling. It’s evocative and dramatic but also descriptive and, crucially, very engaging and easy to read.

Maitland also impresses with her characterisations, the character of Vincent, in particular, is textured and layered and his actions feel natural rather than simply designed to move the plot along.

I am really pleased to have read this book, I devoured in just a few days, which is quite quick for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. If you are already a fan of Maitland’s work then this should be considered an essential read. I would also encourage fans of CJ Sansom, Kate Mosse etc to check this book out, I suspect you will find much to enjoy within these pages.

Motorola Focus 66 Wi-Fi HD Audio and Video Home Monitoring Camera - White
Motorola Focus 66 Wi-Fi HD Audio and Video Home Monitoring Camera - White
Price: £64.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Well designed, good quality piece of equipment, 17 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We got this camera in order to keep an eye on our new baby when we put her upstairs to sleep. It is ideal as it operates with movement or you can log on and have a look at the live feed at any point.

The camera itself is small and unobtrusive with a simple design. It can be moved around easily to different positions but we have found that it works well at the end of our daughters co-sleeper.

In order to operate the system you need to download an App from the App Store. We found this quick and easy to do and it does not have any cost to it. As we have never operated a camera such as this before it was a bit of a relief that this was a simple process.

The quality of the images transmitted is actually really good, certainly clear enough for our requirements. We can see our daughter kicking about in the half light of our room and also when it is really dark. The microphone is also sensitive enough but does not seem overly so and it picks up any noises that we need.

We do not have any need to access any of the old footage and so do not need to use any of the options that require extra expenditure for subscriptions etc.

Compared to other cameras on the market that we have seen this seems reasonably priced and for our needs it is really pretty good. That said I can see it does have limitations and if you required something with a more complex set up then you might want to look into other options but for a basic viewing set up this is great.

Hispa Composed by Garnacha Blanca Macabeo 2012 Wine 75 cl (Case of 3)
Hispa Composed by Garnacha Blanca Macabeo 2012 Wine 75 cl (Case of 3)
Price: £32.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent tipple, 17 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a flavourful enough wine, a dry white with a stronger emphasis on earthy, herb tastes rather than the more citric flavours of, say, a Sauvignon Blanc. It went very well with a chicken noodle dish and all of us who tried it agreed that it was a perfectly pleasant wine and very quaffable, indeed the bottle was swiftly polished off.

That said, for a price equivalent to £10/£11 per bottle, pleasant and quaffable may be less than expected however. As drinkable as this is, it does not elevate itself above other perfectly serviceable dry white wines that you can pick up for £7/£8 per bottle.

Not a bad wine by any stretch of the imagination - hence the four stars - and not grape varieties I was especially familiar with which made this very nice to try out. I can't see myself returning to it however.

Colgate C350 ProClinical Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Colgate C350 ProClinical Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Price: £22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 24 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I seem to have liked this toothbrush more than some other reviewers here, though I do feel that some of the criticisms are fair, but overall I'm a fan of it. I've used it for the best part of two weeks and my teeth have never felt less than clean and I've only needed to charge it once - for a basic brush this ticks those main two boxes comfortably.

I've been a dedicated Braun Toothbrush user for the last decade and have always been very happy with them. Will this brush knock my current day to day model off its perch? No, it won't but I'm very happy to use it as my travel brush which, given I am often away with work, is an important bit of kit for me.

The reasons it makes such a good choice for a travel brush are threefold: Firstly, It's design means it is very slender and extremely light, this actually means it took some getting used to when brushing, I found that I pressed a bit harder than I would normally the first couple of times which gave me slightly sore gums but once I adjusted, no problems. Secondly; it holds it's battery for ages, seriously, it just keeps on going. Thirdly; it's timer means it'll shut off after two minutes if it gets turned on in a suitcase - no more drained toothbrushes at the hotel!

Other things I liked included the thirty second pulse that tells you to move to another part of your mouth. I'm currently teaching my son to brush his teeth but brushing with him and this has been surprisingly useful for that. I also like sonic pulsation action, its a little different to the methods used by my other brushes, I'm not convinced it does any better but I don't feel it is any worse either.

The not so good things are the fact it only comes with a single brush which seems a bit mean and no travel case. A single speed setting is disappointing and whilst the materials make for a lightweight brush, it doesn't feel as sturdily made as you may expect.

In conclusion, its a basic brush that does its job perfectly well - don't spend too much on it as a result - but if it's on offer and you need a decent brush, there are worse options out there.

Philips GU10 5 Watt 230 V 2 LED Spotlight Bulb, White
Philips GU10 5 Watt 230 V 2 LED Spotlight Bulb, White
Offered by DDL-Direct UK
Price: £11.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Bright, warm light at a fraction of the energy!, 23 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We are in the process of upgrading all our older bulbs to LED ones and these are the latest addition to our living room.

The bulbs themselves are the same size as our previous standard spotlights and have the same fittings so changing them over is a quick and simple process. The light that the bulbs provide is nice and bright but not too harsh so they are great in our living room in our spotlight lamps to provide a more gentle light during the evenings - though we do have the lamps a little distance from where we sit, if they were right next to use I think the light may be too bright for some.

These bulbs are marketed as lasting for up to 15 years which would be pretty amazing but at the moment I am obviously unable to confirm this. Hopefully they will last much longer than our previous spotlight bulbs and if they get anything close to the 15 years (or 15,000 hours) I will be a very happy bunny. As it is the fact that they use so little energy to provide the same or better light levels than my current bulbs is a great bonus and as my previous spotlight bulbs go I shall be replacing with more of these.

Scrabble Speed
Scrabble Speed

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun twist on an old favourite, 18 Nov 2014
This review is from: Scrabble Speed (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Scrabble is a firm favourite within the family and we have played it together for years as Christmas and other family gatherings so I was very curious about trying out a new twist on the classic.

Firstly this game requires batteries to operate the tile dispenser - 2AA batteries so make sure you have some of these ready to go as they are not included (I often wonder why companies don't include them, would seem a cheap enough thing to do?)

To play each player needs to have 12 tiles. They are dispensed from the tower in lots of 4 each time you press the button so three presses for each person and you are ready to go. Once you all have your tiles you are given 60 seconds on the timer to arrange your tiles into as high a scoring word as possible. The timer alerts you every 10 seconds which adds to the pressure of the game. The idea is to play several rounds and add up the scores each time so that whoever has the highest score is the winner. It is suggested that you play 7 rounds but really you can play as many as you want until you are bored.

We have had great fun with this game, it is a simple concept but like most simple games it is very addictive and it is also great fun once you get going. Whilst it will never replace the original Scrabble it may appeal to families with a wide age range as it requires less time overall and so suits both shorter and longer concentration spans and also allows players to come and go more easily. All that said I have only given 4 stars as you can't really have more than 4 players at a time unless you use teams, which does limit the game somewhat - especially as we generally have more people at gatherings when you would like to play this game. It seems a shame that a good concept has been created with this restricitve limit on players as it would have been so simple to make it a little larger and as such open the market to a wider audience of players.

Non-the-less, a fun and enjoyable game.

Me to You Tiny Tatty Teddy Gift Set for a Baby Girl
Me to You Tiny Tatty Teddy Gift Set for a Baby Girl
Price: £40.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice enough set, 12 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With my seven week old daughter being the latest addition to our household, this item has been offered to us with most fortuitous timing as we are very much the target group for this item and are also in the position to compare this to other gift sets that we have been fortunate to receive from family and friends.

Firstly, the set we received was not presented in a gift box or anything – just a plain cardboard box with the items inside along with packing. I mention this so as to warn people who may want to send this a gift directly as the (somewhat eye watering) cost of this item would make me assume that it would all come in a nice box or similar.

The next thing to note is how nice the blanket/soft toy item is. This is a seriously comfortable feeling item which my little one seems to enjoy touching and having against her skin. The ability to put it away as a teddy bear makes it a travel friendly accessory as well – one that my toddler son seems quite keen on grabbing! It’s a lovely, high quality item.

As I have seen other reviewer’s note, the small teddy supplied in our set is not the buggy toy listed and pictured but just a small cuddly bear. It’s a decent enough bear but not what was expected. A shame as we have numerous small cuddly toys for my daughter but few nice buggy ones so we’d have liked to have received the advertised item.

The memento and keepsake book and photo album are decent enough. The Memento book is less exhaustive than many out there but, for me, that’s actually a nice thing as it makes it more fun to fill in and there’s actually a decent chance you may complete it! The photo album is fine, perhaps a smaller one that you may expect, but nicely presented and certainly adequate.

The birth certificate holder is just a small, decorated, reinforced cardboard box thing which left us cold I’m afraid. We will find something nicer for the birth certificate I think.

Overall this is an okay item. There are issues with the overall presentation and the contents differing from the description but it is all good stuff. The price tag, however, is frankly astonishing.

Ultrasport Women's Nelli Running Shirt - Black, X-Large
Ultrasport Women's Nelli Running Shirt - Black, X-Large

5.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable and snug, 7 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We have the XL size of this top which is as large as it goes and I have to say that I am glad I am not really much bigger than I am. At present I am a size 14/16 having just had a baby and aiming to get smaller, if I was too much bigger this top would be extremely tight. Though the fabric is stretchy I can't see it accommodating anyone of extreme girth.

The top has a really lovely soft fleece interior which feels great on your skin and the exterior looks smart and is of good quality fabric. It looks good on and stretches to fit in the right places. The single small pocket has a lining of the stretchy exterior material meaning it can stretch to accommodate something slightly larger than it initially seems. I have managed to get my phone and a small set of keys in it.

The thumb holes at the cuffs are a great addition and keep the sleeves pulled right down over your wrists which is perfect for the colder weather when you need a bit more protection.

The reflective panels should be a good addition, but they are so small I am not sure how much use they would/will actually be. That said anything that will aid visibility on a dark road is always going to be a bonus.

At £30 this is a reasonably priced running top with a good design and made of high quality materials. Definitely worthwhile of you are looking for something to keep you snug when outside exercising.

Driving Test Success Theory Test for Car Drivers, Motorcyclists and Trainee Driving Instructors 2014/15 Edition (PC)
Driving Test Success Theory Test for Car Drivers, Motorcyclists and Trainee Driving Instructors 2014/15 Edition (PC)
Price: £6.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value, 6 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For less than £7 this is a serious bargain. The DVD software is easy to navigate, the website is also highly impressive and accessible.

There are many questions on the mock theory tests so you don't get endless duplicates - often a bugbear with this sort of thing - and I was highly impressed with the interactive Hazard perception videos. I also found the progress chart especially useful.

The membership for 6 months to the website is probably worth more than the asking price by itself, let alone having the disc to run on your PC. Top that off with the bold offer to reimburse you should you not pass and you have a very worthwhile product for any learner drivers out there.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 10, 2014 9:53 AM GMT

AnySharp 1-Piece ABS Plastic Suction Cup Hanging Hook, Black
AnySharp 1-Piece ABS Plastic Suction Cup Hanging Hook, Black
Price: £3.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well priced and delivers precisely what you'd hope for, 5 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I picked this up to see if it would aid my Halloween decorating. We have a UPVC/Double Glazed front door and, as such, hanging anything from it is awkward and difficult. We’ve made do with strong gaffer tape in the past but decorations have always ended up on the floor sooner rather than later.

With this suction hook however, no such problems. Not only was I able to hang some fairly heavy decorations (Plastic severed head on a chain sort of things) but I had no problems opening the door every five minutes to the masses of trick or treaters. There were no wobbles and, despite giving it several hard tugs, it remained stuck fast until the release switch was thrown.

We next intend to use it for a Christmas wreath, something we’ve not bothered with since we’ve moved into our current home because of the awkwardness in hanging one from our door.this demonstrates the confidence in the product.

Given the fair price of £3 (at time of writing) we may well grab a couple more as spare hooks for Bathroom towels and kitchen towels as our experiments with this product show it performs on ceramic tiles very well. It didn’t do quite so well on wooden surfaces though, coming free relatively easily, and I must confess that I did not attempt to use it on our painted walls in case it left a mark as some other reviewers have found, though would be surprised if it didn’t work there as well.

It is a bit bigger than you might expect and it’s not the most attractive and subtle piece of kit but it is very strong, very good value and performs very well indeed. Happy to recommend it.

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