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Rosie McCaffrey (Glasgow, Scotland)

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For Ellen [DVD] [2013]
For Ellen [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Paul Dano
Price: 6.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate but solidly real, 20 Jun 2013
This review is from: For Ellen [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
I'm going to try to expand on my gut reaction of `I love it I love it I love it' just a little. So, an aspiring rock musician is conflicted when he discovers that in order to get half the money of the house he owns with his (to be) ex-wife, he has to give up his legal rights as a father to the child he barely knows. The basic premise sounds like it could produce a very maudlin, sentimental film in the wrong hands. Luckily, the script didn't land in the wrong hands, and therefore what you get is this very honest portrayal of a very human character forced to confront himself.

I say `himself' rather than the situation because I feel like the situation is the culmination of all the lifestyle choices he's ever made. It comes from his lack of responsibility, insensitivity, egotism and selfishness, flaws we see played out in various scenes--I think my favourite being the angry one-sided phone call he has with a bandmate. Of course the decision he has to make, which is time restricted, forces other, perhaps forgotten, buried or dormant parts of his personality to emerge--his vulnerability, his insecurity, the bond he actually does begin to make with his kid. It works so well because the approach of the film is not to judge the character, not to fall down on either the side of sympathy or condemnation, but to present the audience with an unbiased, unfiltered, unedited, entirely realistic view of him. This is achieved by the camera basically following him everywhere; there is barely a frame that Paul Dano isn't in, and my God, his performance is wonderful. `Aspiring musician' might be a cliché, but Dano avoids it and fills his performance with honesty and subtlety. There are occasions when his character is extremely nasty, and there's no sense that Dano or the filmmakers hold back in showing us that side of him in order to gain sympathy. I don't even think feeling sympathy toward the character is particularly necessary, although I did. It's a compelling, quietly moving watch because I think most of us can relate to that feeling of seeing ourselves but not knowing how to change, or not wanting to. It's not a film about huge transformations--it's about all the fallible little emotions roiling away underneath.

Jon Heder is great (and unrecognizable!) as Joby's good-natured but quiet and socially awkward lawyer who still lives with his mother. I feel like it was implied that the lawyer was attracted to Joby, or at the very least a little dazzled by him, and that perhaps Joby was slyly aware, but I'm really not sure. It would be interesting to hear what other people think on this point!

But as much as Joby is enigmatic and seductive at night, in a bar, to a possibly-gay lawyer from a small town, he is wondrously awkward and inarticulate beside the quietly confident four-foot frame of the eponymous Ellen, his daughter. Played with naturalism and conviction by Shaylena Mandigo she is at once child and adult, dependent and mentor, innocent and perspicacious. I don't have kids, but I could totally relate to the scenes between these two, from Joby's total terrifying absence of knowledge about how to entertain a kid, to the halted conversations in the mall, to the euphoric moments of connection in the park. I giggled and cringed my way through this section, because--YES! There's something about children that is so wonderfully refreshing and terrifying because they are kind of merciless, they don't help you out when you're floundering there looking like an idiot. And I think this is where Joby is really forced to confront himself, because not only is he finally with his daughter, the child he's possibly going to give up the rights to, but also because he can't hide from her. He can't play identity games--he's just totally stripped of armour and forced to be real.

It is slow paced, quiet and ponderous so if you're looking for a tear-jerker or something that clearly tells you how to feel (and nothing wrong with that if you are!) then this film probably won't impress you much. But, it has so much to recommend it: the performances are wonderful and naturalistic, the characters subtle, flawed and real, the cinematography and snowy-motel-highway landscape stark and lovely. The unintrusive but atmospheric score reminded me a little of the eerie Martha Marcy May Marlene soundtrack, and the end credits song (Sorrow by The National, new to me!) was kind of heartbreakingly perfect. It's a truly moving and thoughtful piece of work.

*Just a note on the current price though--I think 10 is an expensive risk if you haven't seen the film, and I personally avoid paying over 6 quid for DVDs these days. I'd wait till the price comes down or just rent it!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 16, 2014 6:42 PM GMT

The Raven Boys (Raven Boys Quartet)
The Raven Boys (Raven Boys Quartet)
by Maggie Stiefvater
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars MORE PLEASE, 1 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)

Here's the thing: I really wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did. In fact, I wasn't expecting to love it at all.

See, the only other experience I'd had of Maggie Stiefvater's fiction was Shiver, and it left me pretty cold, pun not intended. Oh alright maybe it was. I even wrote a really snarky review of it which I later deleted because I was so ashamed. My 17 year old self was resentfully jealous of the two fictional 16 year olds declaring their undying love and jumping into bed together about a week after they met. It was the cherry on the top of what was a cake made out of characters I couldn't stand. To me, Grace was a brat and Sam was a wheebling emo and I basically spent 400 pages wanting Isabelle to slap them both stupid. But I digress.

Wanting to give Miss Stiefvater a second chance because of all the plaudits she was receiving, I started reading her blog, and promptly developed an author crush. So when The Raven Boys came out, I was all caught up in the excitement on her blog, and I thought, hey, it's a few years down the line, her skills as a writer will have developed, these are new characters, she says this is the book she's always wanted to write, and if her prose is half as funny as her blog posts I'll be laughing. I'd also purchased The Scorpio Races prior to this but still haven't gotten around to reading it. But she discusses her craft a lot and I thought even if I don't enjoy the story, I'll learn something from the writing.

Well, at first I knew I would be right on the second count, but I struggled to get into the story. Admittedly, I had to keep putting it down due to studying and exams, but even 3 chapters in I just had no idea where the story was going. It didn't feel chaotic, it just felt hazy and willowy. And I think part of that reaction to the book was because I fundamentally misunderstood its drive--character rather than plot. The tagline (can I call it that?) 'If you kiss your true love, he will die' carries unsubtle implications of pseudo-Gothic melodrama, a love triangle, a Mary Sue and a rather forgettable book. It also implies that the incident in the tagline will be the climax of the book, so when things didn't seem to be going in that direction and I was like, she's really going to have to rush through the plot to get a kid kissed and killed in less than 300 pages, it finally twigged.

And then I really started to love it, because I felt at ease with the languorous pacing. It's actually kind of what I love most about the book, that it is focused so much on the characters. I enjoyed just hanging out with Blue and the Raven Boys for all those hundreds of pages. I love that Maggie Stiefvater allowed herself an entire book to set the scene, the relationships, to hint at future plots and backstories and set things in motion. I guess you can do that when you're a successful author! (I am totally totally not jealous)(again)

I haven't really read any other reviews of the book but the one I did read surprised me by its lacklustre reaction to the characters and its view of them as one dimensional and unreal. Which is totally fine and I respect that, but for me these characters just leaaaaaaaaapt off the page. It was clear that Maggie Stiefvater knew them inside out, that in her mind they were fully rounded, actualized human beings. And I think that made the magical aspects of the novel so believable too. You don't even question it, because from the first page it's such an organic part of the novel's world.

I love that Blue isn't a raving beauty. I love that just because she knows she's supposed to fall in love with Gansey she doesn't automatically just disregard free will, fulfill the prophecy and skip that actual falling in love part. I even love that she consciously makes herself whimsical because though it irritates me a little, it irritates me because I know I do the same. So it also made me giggle. I love that Gansey wasn't some rippling-muscled macho dude who's both possessive and sickeningly sweet in a way that guys never are, and if they are, it makes you laugh in their face; rather he was articulate, intelligent, vulnerable, but flawed. I loved Adam because I could really relate to his priority for self-sufficiency and how that got in the way of his happiness a lot of the time. And Ronan? How could you not love Ronan? (Don't answer that.) The relationships between the boys were really moving and I thought realistic, although I have never been a teenage boy so I guess I wouldn't know. But then again, neither has Maggie Stiefvater. The one time I did cry was near the end when Ronan wrote 'REMEMBERED' in reply to Noah's 'MURDERED'. It was very sweet and revealing without being sentimental, very like the rest of the book, and very unlike Shiver, which I found unpalatably sickening at times (leaky womb, anyone?).

If I had to niggle about anything, I guess it would maybe be that the whole Blue/Gansey/prophecy thing confused me throughout--I was never sure whether it was certain that Gansey would be Blue's true love or whether she was merely conjecturing, or... That could be down to me being totally dim and extremely tired when I read it though, so feel free to uncloud my understanding! Another thing was that I felt Miss Stiefvater's trademark whimsy tone was a little too arch in a scene near the end where Barrington Whelk has been kidnapped by Neeve to be sacrificed in Cabeswater. I mean, I know the whole thing is pretty quirky anyway, with the psychics and the pentagram and whatever, but I think a little more realism and human terror could have elevated it. That's just personal taste though, because for the most part the levity works really well at restraining the material and producing authentic character actions and emotions.

The irony is that I was first attracted to The Raven Boys by its cover, but I love my unproofed copy with its sailor stripe cover and its flimsy binding and its million typos, and if I could snuggle a book, I would definitely snuggle this one.

Lucky Bunny
Lucky Bunny
by Jill Dawson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucky Bunny, 1 Mar 2013
This review is from: Lucky Bunny (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My mum wanted to read this because she is enthralled by the time it is set, but her overall opinion of the book was pretty ambivalent. There were parts she liked and parts she didn't (I think she likes things to read like a Nora Ephron movie), but basically it just didn't grab her. So I'm going to give it a read and come back soon(ish) with a more in-depth review!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2013 4:21 PM BST

The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Supremacy
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Supreme, alright, 3 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Being a huge fan of the Bourne film trilogy and loving the Identity soundtrack so much, it seemed like a natural progression to embrace The Bourne Supremacy's contribution.

On my first listen all I kept hearing was the original score chopped up and played over, but after watching the film again and noticing the different cues and connections, I began to really appreciate the new tracks by Powell. As with the film, there is a greater depth and complexity of emotion in the music, a persistent edge of retribution fueling the tempo, and a great Eastern flare. While the strong allusions to the previous score serve as a wonderful thematic foundation and remind us of the story's roots, this soundtrack is considerably darker in its portrayal of Bourne's grief, determination to exact revenge despite his dwindling energy and strength, and also the conflict between that and his conscience which plays a large role in the movie. A wonderful correlation is struck between mourning and remorse, first heard in 'Funeral Pyre', once more in 'New Memories' and evolving on to become 'Atonement'.

For me, however, the standout pieces are 'Alexander Platz / Abbotts Confesses' and 'Bim Bam Smash', the former because of the way it winds down halfway through and then suddenly hits an adrenaline rush, and the latter for its grimly ironic title which all too vivddly recollects the destruction going on in the scene. The string segments of 'To the Roof' and 'Berlin Foot Chase' are also incredibly rousing! In fact, the pacing of the soundtrack is just sublime, picking up speed and increasing in urgency as it hurtles toward the climax. There genuinely isn't a sub-par track; they are all fantastic in their own way.

Definitely recommended to any Bourne fan, and even to non-fans, because surely this exhilarating score will entice you to watch the films!

Excited to go and listen to Ultimatum's soundtrack now!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
by Ransom Riggs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 3 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like a lot of people, I was drawn to this story by the creepy vintage photographs and the magical quality they evoke, despite the fact deep down you know the images are doctored. My intrigue was equalled by my doubt that a story which appeared to be constructed around such striking images could possibly feel organic. On this front it succeeds, as although whilst reading you are aware of the photo-ops coming up, I believe the story could still happily exist without the accompanying images. They aren't necessary, but since this device was what lured me to the book in the first place, I'm inclined to admire the artistic fusion of writing and photography to create an edgy hybrid. Bearing in mind the time period which much of the narrative refers back to, this wonderful twist on the picture book genre feels authentically of its time as a kind of rickety pre-film story.

With that said, the things I really enjoyed about this book were its attention to detail in description and setting, and its characterization. I'm someone who thrives on carefully placed details, such as specific types of plant or architecture or simply well-realized images, to anchor me in a scene. I think this is because in our own memories we associate very specific and often insignificant objects, smells, emotions to particular past situations, and these small details have the power to evoke the entire scene. As someone who's never been either to the steamy climate of Florida, where the tale begins, or to the storm-riddled island it journeys to, these details were invaluable in involving me in the story.

The characterization was pretty much as good as it could be in a single 350 page book--each character was engaging and unique, and as well as the oftentimes amusing clash between modernity and antiquity, I liked that the 'gifted' kids were given personalities above and beyond their powers. It instilled them with a sense of realism and quickened the time between discovery and acceptance on the protagonist's behalf. The romance between Jacob and Emma, and also between Emma and Jacob's grandfather, is handled with compassion and maturity and happily without a hint of condescension, self-pity or sentimentality. I also greatly enjoyed the portrayal of the islanders, how they dealt with boredom, their distrust of foreigners, etc. I loved the plot point of the gas generators being shut off at a certain time of night. There were a few red flags throughout as to who the villain may be, one of which culminating in a very grisly and disturbing (but in a good way) murder involving a local prehistoric man which I found extremely chilling and ghoulish (again, in a good way). It added to that supernatural/ghost story element and cemented the freaky isolation of the island.

Things that disappointed me a little about the book were the inconsistency of its pacing as there seemed to be a lull in the middle and the way it was written made the end fairly easy to figure out well before it arrived; for this reason, I think the final act felt disjointed in places and lacked the suspence it might have had if the villain hadn't been so easy to spot.

I'm ambivalent about the ending, as it is itself ambiguous. I'm not sure if there's a sequel coming or if this is intended as a standalone novel. If the former, I'm not sure I will be too bothered to pick the sequel up, and if the latter, well, the story is now all the more haunting.

Overall, an odd and strangely memorable little novel, moving and thought-provoking in its themes and context. I wouldn't recommend you to dive into your nearest bookstore and buy a copy immediately, but if one sidled your way, sure, why not?

Snowtown [DVD]
Snowtown [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Henshall

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snowtown, 31 Aug 2012
This review is from: Snowtown [DVD] (DVD)
At 119 minutes and with an emphasis on the nuances of the characters' relationships and psychology, Snowtown is what I'd call a simmering pot. Calling it a slow burner would imply there's some kind of climactic explosion at the conclusion, which there isn't. It's more a very chilling period, or a punch in the solar plexus that makes you bend double to muffle the pain of the impact. When the film closes and the credits roll, with a disconcertingly jaunty piece of music, you are left feeling cold and kind of derelict--something like the abandoned bank vault where all the bodies were stored alone and forgotten for so many years.

You know, thinking about it now I don't even know if I would call Snowtown a `horror' movie, because it certainly isn't a conventional one. There is very little gore aside from some severed kangaroo limbs (the noise that accompanies the image is even more disturbing) and a particularly gruelling torture scene which plays a pivotal part in the narrative--and it's because the film is not exploring body horror (despite the grisly subject matter), but psychological horror. Or, if this doesn't sound too pretentious, the many shifting faces of horror.

The thing with Snowtown is that it all takes place in this densely populated and moribund suburb of a major Australian city where crime is rife and the authorities don't care. In steps John Bunting, who in its despair and abandonment, the community scraping by on government benefits looks to as a leader, a dispenser of justice, and to the main character, a father figure. Charming and charismatic, John soon ingratiates himself into the heart of the community scarred by paedophilia and drug abuse. He champions ideologies which border on hypothetical lynch mob operations against those deemed morally corrupt. It becomes increasingly apparent, however, that John does not discriminate between paedophiles and homosexuals, obese people, drug addicts and the mentally handicapped. His highly amiable facade begins to crack and splinter, or maybe he's choosing to slip the mask off himself, giving glimpses of something truly monstrous lurking just below the surface. It is the insidiousness, the perniciousness, the snake-like perversion of domesticity which is horrifying.

John is like a black hole; as soon as he walks into the room you are sucked into him. He reflects no light, he is merciless, and yet he seems to seek approval from the 16 year old protagonist--the transformation of whom from timid victim to casual murderer is very unnerving. I'm always fascinated in situations like this when there is a pack of killers--because it definitely feels predatory and calculated in the extreme--by the bonds formed between them. Aren't they afraid of one another? Are they so removed from humanity they believe they are outside it, that they don't suspect they could fall victim to the same atrocities they are committing? How can they trust each other so? How does one get to that point where killing one's friend or brother or neighbour is second nature, is so callous it's almost banal?

The horror of it is the banality of the horror itself. Does that make sense? The fact that an entire community was aware to varying degrees of the atrocities unfolding, that so many people were complicit and did nothing, didn't question the abrupt messages left on answering machines by loved ones? There's a scene which sums up this centrifugal theme of evil finding its place in the home when the complicit characters walk twenty yards from a living room where a child sits watching TV to the backyard to a shed which contains corpses stuffed into bin bags.

There were a couple of points in the film when I thought `I can't watch this, I have to get out' because the level of reality was so claustrophobic and intense. But I persevered, stamping my feet and whimpering to compensate for the brutality of what I was witnessing, and the end left me utterly drained.

This is a very impressive piece of film-making on all fronts. Highly recommended, though not for the squeamish.

The Fall
The Fall
by Ryan Quinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.64

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Fall, 14 July 2012
This review is from: The Fall (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Maybe it's because I'm currently attending university so I can identify, or maybe it's because I want to have as broad a student experience as possible, but I have a fascination for these 'coming of age' stories with sundry characters, a dark subplot and a collegiate setting. I was really looking forward to The Fall, and although I enjoyed it, I think in the end certain aspects of it left me feeling underwhelmed. Subconsciously I was hoping for something along the lines of Donna Tartt's The Secret History or Zoe Strachan's Ever Fallen in Love with the edges taken off. Well, you know the saying 'be careful what you wish for'?

The thing is, while I was reading it I thought that the sum of its parts added up to more than the whole, yet after I'd finished I felt that the whole added up to more than the sum of the parts and that there was something missing in the text itself. There's a part of me that wants to give this book 5 stars because I really enjoyed certain parts of it and having read the short bio at the back and noticing significant similarities between author and story, I believe it is a very personal narrative. There is real feeling inspired by real emotion and real experiences woven into the fabric of this novel. It's not something I could prove with examples, but it's a feeling I got from reading it.

On the other hand, there were things about this book I found distracting, jarring, confusing and sometimes even dull. For instance, Casey's segments were often chock-full of football jargon and an appreciation of the greater context depended on the reader's knowledge of sports. Of which I have none. So I felt not only like I was missing out but also that I wanted to skip forward a few pages (I didn't though). I might have encountered the same problem with Haile since I have no technical knowledge of music either, but her story tended to be more emotion-based than action-based and if I had been near a computer whilst reading I would gladly have Googled the Italian music terms at the beginning of each Haile segment, as I'm sure they relate in some way to what is about to proceed.

Strangely, it was Haile I felt least connected to even though I suppose she is the intended hook for female readers. I can't put my finger on it, and maybe it is just because I knew her parts were written by a man (though I haven't come across this problem before), but there was something distinctly masculine about Haile. Or at least not authentically feminine. It felt very much like a man observing a woman closely as he interprets, analyses and justifies her thoughts in a straight-forward check-list rather than a woman being a woman and simply thinking her thoughts. She was almost too self-consciously female, knowing exactly what she was thinking and why she was thinking it, or rationalizing it straight away. I don't know about anyone else, but that's not how it tends to happen in my head. Add to that the fact I didn't know how to pronounce her name until one of the characters read my mind and brought it up about a quarter of the way in. I did like Haile, and I enjoyed her story, but I felt like she was the least developed of the three characters, possibly because her lack of rumination led to a robotic void where self-doubt should be.

Despite my misgivings about the football jargon, I grew to really love Casey's story. It was realistic, quietly realised and dealt with issues such as what it means to be a leader and masculinity amidst homosexuality.

My favourite character, however, was Ian. I think Casey was the most intriguing, but Ian was the most mysterious and frustrating and dark and flawed and real. I loved his journey, I loved the glimpses into his family life and friendships and past, I loved the authenticity of it. Whether or not Ian was a depressive, his mindset was consistent throughout and painted a picture of a brooding young man wrapped up in his own insecurities, and the wrapper wasn't empty.

I found the three-way interpretation of key scenes and character introductions very interesting, such as Haile's confidence in Ian's attraction to her when he is blatantly checking out the guy over her shoulder. I also thought that the openers to Ian's and Casey's segments were a clever addition that did a lot more than chapter titles in an unconventional way. Hey, I like playing with the format!

One thing that bothered me throughout and has stayed with me afterward is the often oblique storytelling. Some of the fallouts that followed the major points of the story were confusing to read because they never really address the pink elephant in the room. I am of the opinion that understatement can be much more powerful than overstatement, but in this case it often felt like there was no statement at all and the main story was being glimpsed from the corner of the narrators' eye. In some ways I think the story would have been much more powerful if Haile had either been demoted to secondary character rather than one of the primary narrators, or withdrawn completely. The chemistry between Casey and Ian was tangible and moving, but I felt Ian viewd Haile as a burden he owed a debt to rather than a friend and the few scenes Casey shared with her weren't enough to cement their relationship (in my mind).

In saying all of this, The Fall is still an enjoyable and well-written book from a promising debut author. I think there is a really great book in there somewhere, but for me it needs more cohesion and a bit of pruning to find it.

E-Volve MP3 Vibe-Dock Home portable speaker system for Sony Walkman NW-S700 S700 NWZ-A826 NWZ-A828 NWZ-A829 NWZ-S736 S736 NWZ-S738 S738 NWZ-S739 S739 NWZ-S615 S615 NWZ-S616 S616 NWZ-S618 S618 NWZ-S516 S516 NWZ-S518 S518 NWZ-S636 S636 NWZ-S638 S638 NWZ-S63
E-Volve MP3 Vibe-Dock Home portable speaker system for Sony Walkman NW-S700 S700 NWZ-A826 NWZ-A828 NWZ-A829 NWZ-S736 S736 NWZ-S738 S738 NWZ-S739 S739 NWZ-S615 S615 NWZ-S616 S616 NWZ-S618 S618 NWZ-S516 S516 NWZ-S518 S518 NWZ-S636 S636 NWZ-S638 S638 NWZ-S63
Offered by Tuff-Luv
Price: 24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 27 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was a bit skeptical about buying this device over a more expensive Sony system, but in the end opted for this on the strength of the reviews and the fact that it was, after all, only 25 - comparatively not a big deal if it turned out to be a dud. I'm so glad I did!

My primary reason for purchasing speakers in the first place was that next week I am going on holiday with two friends who both have iPods and therefore their docking stations cannot accommodate my Sony Walkman NWZ-S638F. Our music tastes intertwine and overlap harmoniously, but sometimes I'd rather listen to Massive Attack over Bruce Springsteen for the thousandth time. Since I would only be using it for this and other similar occasions, I really wasn't looking for anything expensive, but since the speakers have arrived (very quickly, by the way) I can foresee myself using these a lot. The speakers run on 4 triple A batteries (not included, luckily I had a packet in the house!) which means they can be taken outside into the garden for some ambiance on sultry summer nights. Handily, since I loathe battery-only operated devices, the speakers can also be hooked up to the mains supply via a 3-pin UK plug.

Since the price is fairly low and the size of the device much more compact than I anticipated, I wasn't expecting great sound quality. Granted, I've heard better, but for me the sound quality on these speakers surpasses its small price and size. I've had a play around with a few different types of music and it all sounds absolutely fine to me! Admittedly, though, I'm not a music genius. It's a bonus too that the volume can be controlled directly from your mp3 player as well as the speakers, so you can push it above the maximum volume available on the dock itself.

It also weighs practically nothing, folds up very neatly and comes with a nice little bag ensuring it will fit snugly and almost unnoticeably into your luggage/backpack.

The only reason I gave the item 4 stars instead of 5 is because for the first half hour after I'd opened it I couldn't get it to work. I initially plugged it straight into the mains supply (did I mention I hate batteries?) and found it didn't switch on. After a bit of futtering around I decided I'd try putting batteries in and lo and behold, it sparked to life. I've since used it with batteries only (outside, but not in direct sunlight!) and plugged into the mains without batteries. I guess it just needed batteries the first time!

All in all, a great little product that I would recommend to anyone in need of portable speakers to listen to music whilst doing the dishes, having a picnic, or going on holiday with friends!

Cosmopolitan Maximum Effect Lash Curler
Cosmopolitan Maximum Effect Lash Curler
Price: 3.95

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleased, 20 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've never had much luck with eyelash curlers as my eyelashes are almost stubbornly straight and my last set completely dismantled itself after about six months (although, admittedly they were made of plastic). However, after purchasing some new mascara recently I thought I may as well invest in a half-decent pair of curlers as well to complete the look. I must say that for the price these really are a great little bargain! I think there's a certain element of practice makes perfect in the art of eyelash curling, and in the past I've found it difficult to maintain the curl whilst applying mascara which is principally why I stopped using them in the first place. However, these curlers deliver a lasting curl even without mascara to hold it in place! I have medium-length lashes, so I'm not sure how they would work on shorter or longer lashes. They are ergonomically designed to be comfortable to use and come with two extra pads. Speaking as someone who has only a perfunctory interest in make-up, I would recommend these as for the price they are a great product. No doubt you can buy better ones in Boots for a higher price, but as I said, I think a lot of the end result has to do with your individual technique, along with lash type and a bit of luck :)! Recommended for anyone who is a little dubious about the whole thing - I was, and they work for me :).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2012 5:05 PM BST

Foundation Brush by Royal Cosmetics
Foundation Brush by Royal Cosmetics
Offered by Beauty Store Uk
Price: 3.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 20 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I reckon there's a similar rule to foundation brushes as there is with toothbrushes: change every six months, or as soon as bristles start to stick out. Well, I'd been using my old one for more than six months so it was definitely past its best, but to be honest I don't think it was ever a very good brush (came as part of a gift set one Christmas, can't even remember the brand). As soon as I used this, though, I knew it was a great foundation brush. The bristles are soft and (as far as I can tell) don't come out of their hold, even if you wash them in a bit of a rush! Before I bought this brush my skin looked a little dry up close and my old brush was leaving visible stroke marks that I had to even out with a powder brush or my fingers -- never a good finish! But now my skin looks even and smooth.

Probably if you have the money or are willing to spend it on a superior brush then an even better result could be achieved, but for the money I think this is a great bargain. Of course it remains to be seen if the effect will last, but at the moment I would definitely buy again and recommend to friends. Great little brush!

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