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M.D. Smart (London, UK)
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Lenor Unstoppables In-Wash Scent Booster Beads Fresh 275 g (Pack of 6)
Lenor Unstoppables In-Wash Scent Booster Beads Fresh 275 g (Pack of 6)
Price: £18.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strongly scented, a little goes a long way, 20 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Unstoppables are a brand of tiny scented beads which you add to your washing to give it a fresh fragrance. They are designed to be used in addition to, rather than instead of, your fabric softener. Of course, making the washing smell nice is part of the fabric softener's job, but the Unstoppables scent is stronger and lingers considerably longer - up to twelve weeks in storage, the advertisements claim; I can't swear to this but certainly I could still detect the scent on my clothes a couple of weeks later.

The instructions leave it up to you how much to use in each wash - anything from a few beads to three capfuls. Personally I have found that just covering the bottom of the cap with beads is enough for a full load - I can't imagine how strong using a whole capful would be, and I think more than a capful would render the household unconscious; they really are quite strong, which is good as it means they last a fair while. Don't worry about a clash of scents with your softener - in my experience, these beads overpower the softener's perfume completely.

Certainly they aren't a necessity but if you find your fabric softener isn't doing a good enough job making your clothes smell fresh, these are a great idea. They also make your drawers and wardrobes smell pleasant as a bonus.


LEGO Elves 41074: Azari and the Magical Bakery
LEGO Elves 41074: Azari and the Magical Bakery
Price: £24.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, colourful set from the new Lego Elves range, 29 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After the huge commercial success of their 'Friends' theme aimed at young girls, Lego have now introduced a second theme primarily designed to appeal to budding female builders (although there no reason boys can't enjoy the sets too, of course). Elves consists of six sets based around a woodland fantasy setting; each prominently features one of the four elements of earth, air, fire or water.

This bakery set is centred around the element of fire and consists of the bakery frontage, kitchen and preparation area inside, a small table and stools and a large lava fall which also houses the bakery oven. Two characters are included: the fire elf Azari and the Baker (complete with chef's hat), plus a cute fox cub. The set is strikingly colourful and attractive, whilst managing to avoid the overwhelming pinks of the Friends sets, which have resulted in some criticism for being too traditionally 'girly'.

As always with Lego, everything is cleverly designed and full of delightful details such as a rolling pin, mixing bowl and dough, storage jars and various cakes and treats. The characters are the same size as the Friends mini dolls and, as with all the Friends sets, everything can be combined with regular Lego bricks.

The build is fairly simple, in three stages, and should prove no trouble for children of about six or above, although younger ones may need a little assistance. Lego is a reliably high quality toy but it isn't cheap; as always, the finished model doesn't quite seem to warrant the price - but the value is in the many ways the set can be rebuilt. In my experience children need little prompting when it comes to redesigning and rebuilding, which is why I feel it still represents good value.

Overall, a charming set which I'm sure any young girl, or indeed boy, would have fun with. Highly recommended - but be warned: your children will want all the other models in the series once they've tried this!


No Other Darkness (DI Marnie Rome 2)
No Other Darkness (DI Marnie Rome 2)
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.19

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars, 12 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the second book in Sarah Hilary's Marnie Rome crime series, the first of which was featured in the Richard and Judy book club and duly became a bestseller. I usually like to read a series in order, but in this case if, like me, you missed the first book, worry not; this book contains all the background you need to know about DI Rome and her team.

No Other Darkness is a traditional police procedural, beginning with the macabre discovery of two small children's skeletons in an underground bunker. They have lain hidden for five years, sending Rome and her detectives on an investigation into both the past and the present, with many twists along the way - several of which caught me by surprise. It all leads to a quite tense climax in the disused tunnels under the Thames...probably not the ideal read for anyone claustrophobic.

The plot certainly goes at a rattling pace, with very short chapters. The prose is simple and serviceable, if slightly clichéd in places and a little clunky in some of its metaphors. The characters were rather nondescript, nothing particularly to distinguish them from many other similar police officers in similar novels, except for DI Rome's rather eventful past. The story certainly kept my interest up and managed to surprise me at times...yet I felt there was nothing in particular that set this novel apart from so many other titles in the already overcrowded crime genre. Having finished it, I didn't feel the need to rush out and buy the previous book, and I can't say I'd definitely rush to buy the next one either. I did enjoy it for what it was, but felt it was competent rather than outstanding in any way.

Nevertheless, if you're looking for an easy holiday read that will keep you guessing, you could certainly do a lot worse than this. 3 1/2 stars from me (as a side issue, I do wish Amazon allowed us to mark in half-stars!).


Purina ONE Indoor Wet Tuna & Chicken Mini Fillets in Gravy, 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Purina ONE Indoor Wet Tuna & Chicken Mini Fillets in Gravy, 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Price: £19.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit expensive but it went down a treat, 11 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This particular variety of Purina One's wet food contains eight sachets per box, four each of chicken and tuna. The food itself resembles a stew, consisting of finely chopped meat and a few vegetable pieces in a generous portion of thick gravy. In my experience, gravy always goes down well (if noisily) but my taste tester did eat a fair bit of the meat too. She certainly seemed to enjoy these....how much of that is down to it being something new, I can't say.

My only real criticism is the price; compared to typical brands like Felix or Whiskas, you get less sachets per box for a higher cost. I'm sure it's better quality, it certainly smells better! However I don't think I could afford to feed my cat on this daily. If the price isn't a problem for you, I definitely recommend this food - as does my cat.


Purina ONE Adult Wet Ocean Fish & Lamb Mini Fillets in Gravy, 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Purina ONE Adult Wet Ocean Fish & Lamb Mini Fillets in Gravy, 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Price: £19.45

4.0 out of 5 stars A bit expensive but went down a treat, 11 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This particular variety of Purina One's wet food contains eight sachets per box, four each of either lamb and ocean fish or chicken and beef. The food itself resembles a stew, consisting of finely chopped meat and a few vegetable pieces in a generous portion of thick gravy. In my experience, gravy always goes down well (if noisily) but my taste tester did eat a fair bit of the meat too. She certainly seemed to enjoy these....how much of that is down to it being something new, I can't say.

My only real criticism is the price; compared to typical brands like Felix or Whiskas, you get less sachets per box for a higher cost. I'm sure it's better quality, it certainly smells better! However I don't think I could afford to feed my cat on this daily. If the price isn't a problem for you, I definitely recommend this food - as does my cat.


Rebel Heart
Rebel Heart
Price: £7.99

21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The good definitely outweighs the bad - but go for a deluxe version, 9 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Rebel Heart (Audio CD)
To answer the essential questions: Yes, this is easily Madonna's best album since 2005. No, it's not on a par with her career best (Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light) although some of the songs are right up there. Yes, there are too many tracks included. No, it's not consistent. Yes, it's still worth buying.

Madonna spent most of 2014 in the studio, working on this follow up to the disappointing MDNA (which was apparently dashed off in a few short weeks), and it shows - not just in the gargantuan number of songs on the complete, 'Super Deluxe' version, but in the strength of the best melodies and in her most coherent lyrics in about fifteen years. A lot of love and attention has gone into Rebel Heart, and the rewards are a number of songs which are fit to stand alongside her best. This album really shines on the heartfelt numbers - of which there are many. Madonna has often produced her best work when she allows her steely outer persona to open up and show us a glimpse of the vulnerability underneath, and that holds true here. There's the powerful next single, Ghosttown (an excellent choice), the hurt and angry HeartBreakCity, the haunting Wash All Over Me and Inside Out, torch song Messiah and the affecting Joan of Arc, on which she lets down her guard and admits that, yes, all the criticism and hate does get to her at times.

The thing the album lacks, which may surprise some, is much in the way of danceable material - the 90s deep house tribute Living for Love is about as close as the album gets to a 'floorfiller'. There are a number of decent mid tempo numbers, most notably the excellent title track, but the remainder of Rebel Heart is composed of contributions from the likes of Diplo and Kayne West - and it's here things run aground somewhat.

Madonna has worked with producers from a range of backgrounds and genres over the years; cynics like to suggest she has merely ridden on their coat tails, her only talent being an eye for what's in vogue (pardon the pun). This is clearly nonsense, because no matter who she has worked with and how her sound has changed and evolved, at the core of all her best material lies Madonna's own impeccable pop sensibility - she takes experimental influences and forges them into something consistent with her own legacy. However, problems have arisen in the past when she's tried to stray too far from her roots, i.e. pop and dance music, most obviously on Hard Candy. Perhaps she doesn't feel quite as sure of herself outside her natural sphere, because at these times the core Madonna sound seems overwhelmed and the end result is dominated by her collaborators with her demoted to the role of guest vocalist.

That's pretty much what seems to have happened here on most of the Diplo / Kanye etc tracks. Not all of them; There's Living for Love of course (surprisingly a Diplo effort), and personally I like the blustery Iconic and the career retrospective Veni, Vidi, Vici - but much of the rest just doesn't sound like Madonna, and you can understand where some of the 'trying too hard' accusations come from. I fully support her in celebrating her sexuality at 56 or any other age, but 'Holy Water', 'Best Night' and 'SEX' are three of the worst songs she's ever released - they're tuneless, crass and beneath her.

In spite of these criticisms, I do actually recommend the album, there's plenty on it to enjoy - and in these days of iPods and playlists, it's easy to edit out the weak material - if only Madonna herself had done so! You'll still end up with a standard length album containing some of her best work since Ray of Light. As to which version to get? My advice is discount the standard 14-track version immediately, bizarrely you don't even get the title song on that. The deluxe is probably the most casual listeners will be prepared to go for, but fans will want the super deluxe of course, which contains the sunny 70's groove Beautiful Scars and a couple of other uptempo numbers (something the main album lacks).
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2015 4:33 PM BST


Rebel Heart (Super Deluxe)
Rebel Heart (Super Deluxe)
Offered by MediaMine
Price: £17.29

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The good definitely outweighs the bad, 9 Mar. 2015
To answer the essential questions: Yes, this is easily Madonna's best album since 2005. No, it's not on a par with her career best (Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light) although some of the songs are right up there. Yes, there are too many tracks included. No, it's not consistent. Yes, it's still worth buying.

Madonna spent most of 2014 in the studio, working on this follow up to the disappointing MDNA (which was apparently dashed off in a few short weeks), and it shows - not just in the gargantuan number of songs on the complete, 'Super Deluxe' version, but in the strength of the best melodies and in her most coherent lyrics in about fifteen years. A lot of love and attention has gone into Rebel Heart, and the rewards are a number of songs which are fit to stand alongside her best. This album really shines on the heartfelt numbers - of which there are many. Madonna has often produced her best work when she allows her steely outer persona to open up and show us a glimpse of the vulnerability underneath, and that holds true here. There's the powerful next single, Ghosttown (an excellent choice), the hurt and angry HeartBreakCity, the haunting Wash All Over Me and Inside Out, torch song Messiah and the affecting Joan of Arc, on which she lets down her guard and admits that, yes, all the criticism and hate does get to her at times.

The thing the album lacks, which may surprise some, is much in the way of danceable material - the 90s deep house tribute Living for Love is about as close as the album gets to a 'floorfiller'. There are a number of decent mid tempo numbers, most notably the excellent title track, but the remainder of Rebel Heart is composed of contributions from the likes of Diplo and Kayne West - and it's here things run aground somewhat.

Madonna has worked with producers from a range of backgrounds and genres over the years; cynics like to suggest she has merely ridden on their coat tails, her only talent being an eye for what's in vogue (pardon the pun). This is clearly nonsense, because no matter who she has worked with and how her sound has changed and evolved, at the core of all her best material lies Madonna's own impeccable pop sensibility - she takes experimental influences and forges them into something consistent with her own legacy. However, problems have arisen in the past when she's tried to stray too far from her roots, i.e. pop and dance music, most obviously on Hard Candy. Perhaps she doesn't feel quite as sure of herself outside her natural sphere, because at these times the core Madonna sound seems overwhelmed and the end result is dominated by her collaborators with her demoted to the role of guest vocalist.

That's pretty much what seems to have happened here on most of the Diplo / Kanye etc tracks. Not all of them; There's Living for Love of course (surprisingly a Diplo effort), and personally I like the blustery Iconic and the career retrospective Veni, Vidi, Vici - but much of the rest just doesn't sound like Madonna, and you can understand where some of the 'trying too hard' accusations come from. I fully support her in celebrating her sexuality at 56 or any other age, but 'Holy Water', 'Best Night' and 'SEX' are three of the worst songs she's ever released - they're tuneless, crass and beneath her.

In spite of these criticisms, I do actually recommend the album, there's plenty on it to enjoy - and in these days of iPods and playlists, it's easy to edit out the weak material - if only Madonna herself had done so! You'll still end up with a standard length album containing some of her best work since Ray of Light. As to which version to get? My advice is discount the standard 14-track version immediately, bizarrely you don't even get the title song on that. The deluxe is probably the most casual listeners will be prepared to go for, but fans will want the super deluxe of course, which contains the sunny 70's groove Beautiful Scars and a couple of other uptempo numbers (something the main album lacks).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2015 1:14 PM GMT


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality but a little expensive, 6 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, Sennheiser certainly made their packaging secure...attempting to get these out of the packet to actually try them was an ordeal, I warn you now. However, when (if?) you manage that, you'll find a light, rather snazzy pair of in-ear headphones, in a slightly sickly colour. I had never used 'ear hook' phones before and the over-the-ear clips took a little getting used to, but they do hold the actual buds in the right place fairly effectively. Ideal if you listen to a lot of music while exercising or doing physical work; there's nothing more annoying than having to stop and fumble for an ear bud that has suddenly fallen out.

The sound is crisp and clear, however the bass is pretty low - which could be a positive or negative, depending on how you like your music. There's a small volume unit on the cord and a removable clip to keep your wires tamed, plus a case and the usual size variety of ear bud covers.

I do think the price is a bit steep. It's a good brand, but I can't say I noticed a huge difference in sound quality from my usual Sennheiser pair which cost less than half as much. Nevertheless it's hard to fault them otherwise, so if you do a lot of physical activity while listening and feel like splashing out, I would recommend these.


My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises
by Fredrik Backman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Odd, irritating and unconvincing...yet somehow I liked it, 3 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to admit, it took me a fair bit of willpower to keep ploughing through the first half of this book but if you're feeling the same weariness and disinclination to continue, take heart: upon finishing I was surprised to discover I had enjoyed it more than I thought, although I'm not entirely sure why - certainly my irritations with the characters in particular didn't really go away, but somehow I found I cared more than I expected about what happened to them.

While the whimsical synopsis of a barmy, irascible grandmother telling stories to her granddaughter sounded quite appealing, unfortunately I found them both difficult to either believe in or warm to. Seven-year-old Elsa is far too precocious, while Granny is not so much adorably batty as obnoxious and certifiably insane. Granny's fantasy stories come to act as a kind of guide for Elsa in her task of fulfilling her grandmother's final wishes of contacting the people she has offended and hurt, both to apologise and to help them resolve their individual issues at the same time as encouraging Elsa to open up and move on. However I found the endless references to Granny's fantasy kingdoms eventually became rather tiresome.

And yet....I finished the book feeling that somehow it had just about worked. I did feel moved, despite almost giving up on the book a number of times. I'm not sure I can even explain why...the story does have a certain kind of magic after all, it is ultimately a celebration of love and compassion which can't help but warm your heart, no matter how mad Granny and Elsa drove you on the journey.

An odd book, it certainly won't be to everyone's taste, and I can imagine many giving up before the end, but I recommend persevering; the rewards are there if you stay the course.


Igenix IG5300 Convector Heater with Thermostat 3000 W
Igenix IG5300 Convector Heater with Thermostat 3000 W
Price: £39.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple but does the job, 25 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a simple heater with nothing more than the most basic functions, but really what more do you need? It's simple to assemble (just the feet need screwing on) and simple to operate with a thermostat dial and three power settings from 1200 to 3000W. I can't actually imagine using the 3000W unless you live in a draughty castle or similar; the 1200 is enough to heat an average sized room pretty quickly, with the 1800 for a boost on cold nights.

The main negative point about these heaters is they gobble electricity at an alarming rate on the higher settings, so don't forget you've left it on! Minor niggles: the power cord is a bit short and the carry handles are awkward, otherwise I can't really fault it. The unit does become very hot while on but as with the power consumption, that's a common trait of heaters. If you need an occasional extra burst of warmth in your house, this fits the bill nicely and at a fairly reasonable price.


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