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M.D. Smart (London, UK)
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SmartBedZ Etitcat Natural Cat Litter 5.5 kg
SmartBedZ Etitcat Natural Cat Litter 5.5 kg
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My cats give Eticat their seal of approval, 26 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My two cats are eighteen now, and over the course of their lives I've only switched litter once: from the fairly cheap supermarket clumping sort to the more expensive but less smelly Catsan. I've seen rave reviews for natural litter online but never got around to trying it until now, and I'm pleased to say that so far, I'm impressed.

The first benefit of using this stuff is that you don't need to use as much as regular litter; with two elderly cats who no longer venture outdoors, I need a large litter tray, and trying to carry it to the dustbin to empty the thing has been positively backbreaking before - the Eticat is far lighter and easier to manage, and the bag lasts longer too (which is just as well considering it costs twice as much).

The other major benefit has been a definite improvement in air freshness in the vicinity of the tray. Catsan is billed as 'odour control' and it does work - for the first couple of pennies spent in it, anyway...after that, it soon begins to reek (although never quite as bad as the cheap clumping stuff, which I wouldn't recommend to anybody!). So far, the Eticat-filled tray seems to have diffused all unpleasant scents more successfully, which is a huge relief when I take the lid off to use the scoop; up until now I've been stuffing my nostrils with kitchen paper for the cleaning process.

Obviously, it does cost more than any litter you'll find in your local supermarket, but it goes further so I don't think it works out any more expensive in the end. I was a little concerned how the cats themselves might react to a sudden change in their toilet facilities, but after popping in and out of the tray and walking around it sniffing for a while, they finally signalled their approval by each leaving a deposit behind. You can't ask for more than that.


Philips SpeedCare Compact Steam Generator Iron GC6631/30 with 170 g Steam Boost and 1.2 Litre Water Tank, 2400 Watt, 4.5 Bar, Purple
Philips SpeedCare Compact Steam Generator Iron GC6631/30 with 170 g Steam Boost and 1.2 Litre Water Tank, 2400 Watt, 4.5 Bar, Purple
Price: £169.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Quick and impressive results - at a hefty price, 13 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using a steam iron was new to me, and this Philips model looked cumbersome at first, but what you actually have is a small, lightweight iron connected to a water `reservoir' by a thick, hardy cable. The set up instructions were clear and easy to follow and the iron itself straightforward to use - the higher settings enable the steam function; press the button and steam comes out - simple as that. However I was slightly surprised that no water jug was included.

The iron itself is small and light, making easy work of shirts and bedding, and proved to be a very effective. My ironing was completed much more quickly and this model ably handled creases my previous iron couldn't. I was very pleased with the results, and any reduction in ironing time is always extremely welcome. The iron comes with a self cleaning function, particularly useful as I live in a hard water area. It also has a lock, making it safe to carry around and store. There is a space for stowing the cable, though it's a bit of a squash.

The only sticking point for myself is the cost. For the relatively small amount of ironing I do on a weekly basis, I couldn't really justify paying so much, no matter how good the results or how much time it saved. For families with several children or even small businesses, generating a greater amount of laundry, I would certainly recommend this.


The Cazalets: The epic full-cast BBC Radio dramatisation
The Cazalets: The epic full-cast BBC Radio dramatisation
by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £20.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent radio drama from the BBC, 28 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although I have read a couple of Elizabeth Jane Howard's early novels (After Julius was particularly good, I remember), I never got around to starting her most famous work, the five-volume Cazalet Chronicles which she completed shortly before her death. I also missed both the television and radio adaptations, so I was delighted to have this chance to finally experience it.

The saga of the Cazalet family begins in the 1930s and follows their fortunes until the 1950s; as another reviewer put it, it's a kind of upper-middle-class Downton Abbey without the focus on the servants' lives. The cast list is impressive and the performances uniformly excellent. I'm sure much has been trimmed to fit the five books into the running time, and obviously not having read the originals I can't say if anything important was left out, but judged on its own merits this is a compelling story of the ups and downs and changes wrought on a particular stratum of British society at a time of great upheaval. If you're a fan of radio dramas, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend trying this.


Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Groomer Razor Blade
Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Groomer Razor Blade
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great razor but not-so-great clipper, 25 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although I usually use an electric razor and have done since I started shaving twenty odd years ago, there's no denying a wet shave gives you a cleaner, smoother finish, so I tend to keep one on hand for special occasions when I want a really close shave. I've always avoided Gillette as manufacturers Proctor & Gamble used to get some rather bad press back in the day, and the Wilkinson Hydro is my usual choice.

This is basically a regular Hydro razor with a battery powered clipper attached to the other end. The razor I can recommend wholeheartedly; the clipper, on the other hand, is adequate for an emergency beard or sideburn trim but seems rather underpowered, and as another customer wrote I had a bit of trouble getting it to stay on at first. It will do the trick, just about, but it's no substitute for a proper clippers.

All in all, I'd recommend getting the regular Hydro razors for shaving and separate clippers; this is more of a gimmick than anything else.


PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Sterilised with Chicken in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Sterilised with Chicken in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
Price: £29.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My fussy eaters approve, but my wallet isn't so keen, 23 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As any owner / servant will tell you, cats are pathologically fussy eaters which makes trying new brands of food a somewhat risky business. You can't even rely on the quality of what you're offering them; they may turn their nose up at an expensive all-natural organic delicacy and then wolf down a cheap supermarket own-label tin. So it was with some trepidation I served my two a dish each of Pro Plan NutiSavour.

My first impressions were good - I find better quality cat food tends to smell like real meat, as opposed to the low cost brands which often have a stomach-churning stench. The meat in these pouches comes in small flakes contained in a thick gravy. I'm pleased to say my cats also seemed impressed, almost clearing their dishes in one attempt.

One minor criticism is the pouches are all one flavour; a bit of variety would have been nice...and it's also slightly on the expensive side. Nevertheless, at least as far as my two test subjects go, this gets the thumbs up (if cats had thumbs, that is).


Brothers in Blood (Roman Legion 13)
Brothers in Blood (Roman Legion 13)
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but this series needs a shake-up, 18 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Simon Scarrow always produces a good, fast paced read and I've no doubt his historical research it impeccable. However, I can't help feeling the rot is faintly beginning to set in with this series. After thirteen books perhaps that's no surprise, but having followed the characters for so long it would be a shame to see them dropped. Nevertheless, I think something is needed to shake up the formula, which is becoming a little too familiar. I did enjoy the book, but there's no denying it can't match the brilliance of the early Macro and Cato novels. I hate to see a series I've enjoyed over the years starting to lose its magic and become stale; hopefully book 14 will be the one to turn things around.


Dettol Anti Bacterial Surface Cleansing Family Pack (Pack of 216)
Dettol Anti Bacterial Surface Cleansing Family Pack (Pack of 216)
Price: £9.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So useful around the kitchen, 17 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm addicted to these wipes, I admit it. They're just so useful, around the kitchen particularly - I use them on the work surfaces, the floor, wall tiles, on the hob, around the sink, in the fridge, cupboards....just about anywhere. They're pretty hardy, they don't crumble or shred even when you press hard, and you have the reassurance that everything is (pretty much) bacteria-free afterwards. I get through them at an alarming rate so this multipack is ideal.

One small caveat: be careful if you have pets, particularly cats. I find wipes very useful for cleaning the work surfaces if one of my cats has been jumping up, but these Dettol wipes are particularly moist, meaning they leave surfaces slightly wet. Do NOT let your pets jump on the surfaces before they have dried off, especially cats who lick their paws to clean themselves. I tend to shut my cats out of the kitchen for ten minutes or else dab the wiped surfaces with kitchen paper to remove any lingering wetness.

Apart from that, I recommend these wholeheartedly. These particular ones are odour-free too, which I prefer - the perfumed ones are sometimes a little too strong.


Puritane E-Cigarette Starter Kit (Nicotine Free)
Puritane E-Cigarette Starter Kit (Nicotine Free)
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use, well made...but not for me, 11 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As with one of the other reviewers, I confess I didn't notice this e-cigarette was nicotine free...I almost ruptured myself sucking on the thing, trying to get a 'hit' from it before I realised I wasn't going to.

I've never used an e-cig before so I can't compare it to any other brand, but certainly this one is simple to assemble and recharge. As a substitute it looks the part but it's on the large and heavy side...so although the tip lights up and you breathe out vapour, it didn't really feel much like smoking a cigarette to me. Obviously I made a mistake in choosing a nicotine free kit, but even discounting the taste (or lack thereof) I wasn't convinced it would do much to help combat my craving for a smoke if I tried to give up.

Of the friends I know who've managed to quit the habit, several used various aids including e-cigarettes, gum etc. but most say the only way they finally succeeded was going 'cold turkey' with no assistance. If you do find e-cigarettes helpful, this one is well made and easy to use, but personally I think I'd rather try to give up smoking without the aid of this gadget.


Bose ® Solo 15 TV Sound System - Black
Bose ® Solo 15 TV Sound System - Black
Price: £399.95

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality sound system that's simple to set up, 9 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've had a Bravia 3D set for just over a year and I've been very happy with it, except in one respect: the sound quality. While it's certainly better than my previous TV, I've fiddled with the settings almost non-stop since I got it but never achieved a satisfactory result - the sound has always been rather muffled and indistinct.

Enter this little box of tricks - well, I say little, actually I was surprised by the size of the thing. I expected something similar in dimensions to a BluRay player or Sky box but it's twice as large. However it's got a very sleek and minimalist design so it doesn't look unsightly, and it's bulk means you can place your TV set directly on top of it, unless you have an absolutely huge screen.

Setting up was remarkably painless and took less than five minutes. I just positioned the sound system, placed the TV on top, connected the two using the optical cable provided (cables for coaxial and analog connections are also included), plugged it in and switched on. I had to set my TV speakers to 'Off' and then everything was ready; no fiddling with settings or equalisers. The system is operated by a remote which can be programmed to also work your TV, set top box etc., handy if you're overflowing with remotes as our house is.

I'm not an expert in these matters but to me, the sound is fantastic - a huge step up from the TV speakers as you'd expect. The sound is crystal clear even at a low volume and really expansive (just to make it clear however, this is NOT a surround sound system). The unit has a bass control at the back (a bit inconvenient but I didn't need to adjust it) and also has a 'dialogue mode' at the press of a button for programmes which only feature speech; it seems to cut the bass and focus the sound directly in front of the screen, but again I haven't needed to use it. I've also tried BluRays and videogames and found the improvement in sound quality is even more noticeable.

Obviously this is not a cheap piece of kit, Bose tends to be a good quality but expensive brand; however, if you want a decent sound sound system for your TV that's a doddle to set up (and you can afford it!), the Solo 15 is a great choice.


Keep Quiet
Keep Quiet
by Lisa Scottoline
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive and unconvincing, 4 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Keep Quiet (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I made a bit of an error choosing this book. I had the impression Lisa Scottoline wrote crime fiction; in actual fact 'Keep Quiet' is more akin to Jodi Picoult's brand of issue-based melodrama, where a perfect American family undergo some kind of traumatic upheaval in their lives - although, oddly, it turns into a semi-whodunit towards the end.

I'm afraid to say I didn't get on with this book at all. I did read it right through, which I suppose proves I must have felt involved on some level, but it almost drove me mad in the process. The family at the centre of the plot are forever hugging and saying how much they love each other, yet they're an extremely unlovable bunch. Teenage son Ryan whines more like he's six years old rather than sixteen. Mother Pam is an absolute nightmare, forever checking up on the whereabouts of her husband and son and cross-examining them at the drop of a hat like she's leading the Spanish Inquisition. Father Jake spends the vast majority of the book agonising over and over again about what's he's done or what he should do next - literally every few pages we are treated to another long description of the exact same guilty thoughts running through his head. The amount of repetition is unbelievable, not to mention being entirely unnecessary and a chore to plough through.

In fact, much of the book seems unnecessary...for instance, it starts with a great wad of exposition; in the first few pages we are told everything about Jake's marriage, his problems with his son and his parents, and his career history. This is something I particularly dislike, preferring an author to SHOW me rather than TELL me. What's wrong with leaving us to come to our own conclusions about the characters and the state of their relationships based upon the way they interact? Do we need every little detail explained to us in case we're too dim to notice or work it out for ourselves?

As I said, I did keep reading to the end, but even that was a disappointment. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone so I'll just say there is a sudden change in the book's direction and events become increasingly far-fetched; the climax of the story and its aftermath are almost absurdly unbelievable, with everything tied up neatly in a totally unconvincing fashion.

I don't like writing such a negative review; clearly other reviewers enjoyed the book, but I'm afraid I just couldn't find anything positive to say about it.


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