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Denise4891 (Cheshire)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

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Different Class
Different Class
by Joanne Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and lonely water, 24 April 2016
This review is from: Different Class (Hardcover)
Joanne Harris’ new novel is the third of a trilogy of books set in the town of Malbry. My memories of the first two (Gentlemen & Players and Blue Eyed Boy) are hazy so I was pretty much reading it as a stand-alone, although I do remember the brilliant twist towards the end of G&P which turned my understanding of everything I’d read up to that point on its head.

Latin Master Roy Straitley has attended St Oswald’s school man and boy. During his tenure he’s seen numerous headmasters come and go and he has a wry and slightly cynical outlook on each ‘new broom’ as they try to shake up this dusty and antiquated institution and its even dustier teachers. However, when he arrives for the new school year in the autumn of 2005 he finds to his chagrin that the new head is John Harrington, a particularly unpleasant and Machiavellian former pupil who was involved in a scandal back in 1981 but somehow managed to emerge without a stain on his character. The new head has been appointed following a tragic incident at the school the previous year and has brought with him a team of modernisers and 'crisis managers' who are determined to drag the school and its staff kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

The story is told from two perspectives – Straitley’s in the 'present day' (2005) with flashbacks to 1981 when Harrington was a pupil at the school, and that of an unnamed narrator who is relating the events of the early 1980s in much more sinister and alarming detail. It’s a dark and intriguing tale, as Harris’s often are, but also poignant as Roy, an old-fashioned but very caring teacher, struggles to adjust to the new regime and finds himself alienated and marginalised as he digs deeper into the events of 20 years ago. I did find I had to suspend my disbelief at some of the plot twists and turns, but Joanne Harris is such a skilful writer and I do prefer the gritty reality of this trilogy of novels to her more ethereal and romantic European books.


3M(TM) Precise(TM)  Mousing Surface with Fabric  Gel Wrist Rest
3M(TM) Precise(TM) Mousing Surface with Fabric Gel Wrist Rest
Price: £28.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish looks, good performance, 24 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a stylish wrist rest which is comfortable to use and provides good traction. The non-slip backing works well and my mouse moved smoothly across the surface. I just wish the pad was covered in vinyl or plastic rather than fabric, as I have a paranoia about colleagues using my mouse and leaving 'wrist sweat' behind!

I don't have a wireless mouse so can't comment on the claim that this rest extends battery life.


Rimmel London Volume Colourist Mascara - Extreme Black
Rimmel London Volume Colourist Mascara - Extreme Black
Price: £5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Volume and colour, 24 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an impressive, reasonably priced mascara which succeeded in making my sparse and stumpy lashes look a bit thicker and longer. They are fairly dark anyway but I do think they look darker when I'm not wearing it, which backs up the 'semi-permanent' claim that the product makes (I've been using it daily for about 10 days).

The brush is tapered at the end which makes it easier to get at those awkward lashes in the corners of your eyes. One coat is enough for a daytime look but when I applied two it did start to look a bit clumpy, but that might just be my technique..


Jane Steele
Jane Steele
by Lyndsay Faye
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Reader, I Murdered Him (and several others besides), 19 April 2016
This review is from: Jane Steele (Paperback)
I’ve enjoyed quite a few ‘retellings’ of classical novels recently (Nelly Dean by Alison Case and Longbourn by Jo Baker being my favourites) and I’m now adding Lyndsay Faye’s wonderful and very different interpretation of Jane Eyre to that list.

Jane Steele is the daughter of a poor French widow who is begrudgingly taken in by her late husband’s family in their home, Highgate House. When her mother dies, Jane suffers further at the hands of her mean-spirited aunt and her odious cousin, and is sent away to a brutal school where she is treated even more harshly by the sadistic headmaster.

So far so Jane Eyre, but our Jane is a much tougher, independent and feisty girl who will seemingly stop at nothing (including murder) in order to fight for survival, protect those she loves and reclaim her inheritance. Jane’s adventures eventually see her back at Highgate House masquerading as a governess in order to look after the new master’s ward, a girl of mixed Indian race. The new master, Charles Thornfield, is an intriguing figure, raised in India and steeped in Sikh traditions and customs, and Jane’s initial hostility towards him inevitably gives way to deeper and more tender feelings.

Lyndsay Faye has successfully taken a classic and much-loved novel and wittily recreated it in a colourful parallel universe with a ballsy and endearing heroine (and a suitably wounded and brooding hero to keep fans of Mr Rochester happy). The inclusion of the Sikh wars and the involvement of the British East India Company provides a fascinating and sobering historical diversion and there are plenty of respectful nods to the ‘real’ story (our heroine is a devotee of the book and quotes from it at regular intervals) to remind us of the original author whose “smudged, inky fingerprints are all over this volume”. A very impressive addition to a genre I’m fast becoming addicted to.


Sekonda Men's Quartz Watch with Rose Gold Dial Chronograph Display and Brown Leather Strap 1105.27
Sekonda Men's Quartz Watch with Rose Gold Dial Chronograph Display and Brown Leather Strap 1105.27
Price: £56.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and unusual watch, 19 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My dad is really pleased with this watch which looks and feels a lot more expensive than it actually is. The rose gold face is not as 'pink' as it looks in the pictures the hands are easy to see against the background colour. He found the dials on the side for the date, stopwatch etc easy to use and it comes with instructions to tell you which dial operates which function. The brown leather mock-crock strap is supple and comfortable with enough holes in it to ensure you get the right fit.


Rapesco Luna Half Strip Executive Heavy Duty Stapler - Silver, 50 Sheet Capacity
Rapesco Luna Half Strip Executive Heavy Duty Stapler - Silver, 50 Sheet Capacity
Price: £10.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Strong heavy duty stapler, 19 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a sleek looking heavy duty stapler which really does staple up to 50 sheets. It takes 'normal' size staples and also deeper ones for stapling large documents (I found that 50 pages stapled easily enough with the 'normal' sized staples).

You load the stapler by pressing the button at the back so that the cartridge shoots out of the front of the stapler.

Rapesco products are reasonably priced and this one comes with a 15 year guarantee so presumably they're confident that it will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.


House of Marley "Jammin-Ie-Chant-1Bm" Earphone - Rasta
House of Marley "Jammin-Ie-Chant-1Bm" Earphone - Rasta
Price: £22.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Funky, well-made earphones, 17 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love the look of these earbuds and they perform better than some more expensive pairs I've tried in the past.

The wood and fabric finishing give them a very funky, eco feel but without compromising on quality. The fabric cord really does appear to be tangle-free as claimed (so far anyway). They come with a spare set of smaller earbuds. As with most earbuds now, there's a small switch on the cord for fast-forwarding or skipping tracks or for stopping the music to take a call. In terms of quality of sound, as mentioned the performance is better than some more expensive earbuds I've tried. The vocals are clearer and bass notes are good and heavy. Overall though I prefer the sound I get through the original Apple earphones that came with my phone but at this price these are a great alternative.


The Crow Girl
The Crow Girl
by Erik Axl Sund
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and disturbing Scandi-noir, 15 April 2016
This review is from: The Crow Girl (Hardcover)
I’m a big Scandi-Crime/Nordic Noir fan (on both page and screen) and The Crow Girl is a very impressive addition to the genre.

Stockholm police detective Jeanette Kihlberg is involved in the investigation of a series of bodies of young boys which are found in various states of mutilation and mummification . With the help of psychologist Sofia Zetterlund she uncovers a web of sexual abuse and exploitation of children which strikes at the very heart of the Swedish establishment.

The subject matter is very dark and disturbing, but the book is well-written/translated and not gratuitous or sensational in any way. It’s a big book – nearly 800 pages in paperback – and I understand it was originally published as three separate novels. I read the e-version and found that the short chapters (most are 2-3 minutes on a Kindle) make it seem a much quicker read and the story flowed very satisfactorily.

There are a few clichés – the troubled home life of the lead detective, the oafish and incompetent boss - but overall this is a very impressive novel with a fascinating mix of complex personality disorders, weird doomsday cults and very strong female lead characters.


3M(TM) Leatherette Gel  Keyboard Wrist-Rest - Black - 48.2cm x 7.1cm x 2cm
3M(TM) Leatherette Gel Keyboard Wrist-Rest - Black - 48.2cm x 7.1cm x 2cm
Price: £21.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice but not leatherette, 15 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I suffer from aching wrists if I don;t use a wrist rest in front of my keyboard. This one is firm but comfortable to use and the weight of it and the non-slip base mean that it doesn't move about.

However it is not 'leatherette' (hence the 3* review) but has a silky fabric covering which claims to be stain resistant, but I think a leatherette or vinyl covering would be more hygienic.

It's not cheap, but I tend to replace my wrist rest when it sags and/or get too grubby, so this one should last a lot longer.


Who's That Girl?
Who's That Girl?
by Mhairi McFarlane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and witty, great for easy reading, 10 April 2016
This review is from: Who's That Girl? (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’ve read all of Mhairi McFarlane’s books now and really enjoyed them. Her latest one is the story of Edie Thompson, who rather ill-advisedly snogs her friend’s new husband at their wedding and finds herself the subject of a spiteful online hate campaign. She returns home to Nottingham to lick her wounds, only for her boss to ask her to ghost-write the autobiography of a hot new actor who stars in a smash-hit fantasy series (a very thinly disguised Game of Thrones rip-off), who also happens to live in her home town.

On the surface all the chick-lit/rom-com clichés are there – the protagonist has a career in advertising, she has a gay best friend (two actually, but one turns out to be not so friendly), she returns home to nurse a broken heart and embarks on a will-they-won’t-they romantic entanglement with a gorgeous but surly guy, with lots of mutual misunderstandings along the way. I like to think I grew out of this sort of reading a long time ago, but somehow I’m putty in the hands of this author as she makes the characters feels so real, the situations believable and, above all, she’s just so funny - the wedding scene which opens the book is hilarious with witty one-liners flying all over the place and this continues throughout the book. I hesitate to say ‘Move over Marian Keyes’ but she should certainly budge up a bit and make room on the sofa for the new rising star of rom-com fiction.


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