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Chinatown Blue "cthulhoid" (S-O-T, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Monster High Freaky Fusion Bonita Femur Hybrid Doll
Monster High Freaky Fusion Bonita Femur Hybrid Doll
Price: 19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty and Imaginative, 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Freaky Fusion range have all been pretty good additions to the Monster High range so far and this is no exception. The doll is nicely detailed, no more fragile than any of the others, and her hair is very nice and a pleasure to brush and comb. Her costume and makeup are interesting and attractive, and her back story is appealing (my own daughter can really empathise with a girl who chews her own clothes). Like all the Freaky Fusion dolls Bonita can stand by herself without a support, mostly because her wings give her that extra bit of balance. On the down side, undressing her is harder than with others in the Monster High stable, but none of them are exactly easy and I've never bothered with the extra outfits because you simply can't get them on and off without frustration and damage. Her wings also look rather less good from the back, and they make her a bit less poseable, but I doubt that's a major issue for most collectors - though it might be a problem for kids who want to play with her. On the whole, though, another good addition to the collection.


Lenovo G50-70 15.6-inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i5-4210U 1.7 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 2 GB Dedicated Graphics, 1 TB HDD, DVDRW, HDMI, Webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Windows 8.1)
Lenovo G50-70 15.6-inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i5-4210U 1.7 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 2 GB Dedicated Graphics, 1 TB HDD, DVDRW, HDMI, Webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Windows 8.1)
Price: 499.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nifty, quiet and competent, 11 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice-looking machine, slimline and with an attractive matte finish to the casing. Setting it up was pretty easy, though I found the manuals (both printed and digital versions) very little help; as always with any computer the worst part was waiting for updating and restarting to be done with. At least it did not attempt to update while we were actually active on it..

It boots in pretty quickly, runs very quietly indeed, and generates a lot less heat than any laptop we have had before. The battery charged fully in about two hours, but power did run down to about 20% in about two and half hours. That might be because during that time my son linked it to his own pc upstairs and streamed some games through it. Anyway, it ran perfectly well while plugged in to the mains. There was a very minor issue with stuttering sound, but that might be another result of the streaming process - I had no trouble at all playing music cds, ripping music, and playing back mp3 music files from a memory stick.

It comes with MacAfee security software, which I wasn't too happy with as I've had serious problems with that in the past, but it will be easy enough to replace that with something more reliable. It also has Windows 8, which I am not used to but which seems pretty easy to navigate. A lot of the standard software is unfamiliar to me - it has a different PDF reader than Adobe, for example. All of it seems functional, and I have to admit the program I found least user-friendly and useful was the pre-installed version of Microsoft Office onboard. It has a version of Cyberlink's Power DVD 10, which seems to work perfectly well for both dvd and cd playback, and for burning data and audio discs (I have not tried burning a video disc yet). You do need to set up your Autoplay options before you put in any discs, but once that's done it ll seems very smooth. Picture and sound quality are good, and you get good audio through the headphone jack too. I watched an HD video on Youtube and that also was completely acceptable for smoothness, sound and vision. One thing I didn't like was that the disc drawer seemed a bit slow responding when I opened it, but again that might be due to my unfamiliarity with the machine.

As far as gaming, it runs games via Steam very comfortably, though obviously some games are a bit much for it to handle (hence the streaming). I also installed a game from disc and found the process very easy, and it played extremely well despite being a game not designed for Windows 8.

The machine has a good capacity, and in fact we have set up four accounts on it, one for each of the family and an admin account for the adult users. Each has plenty of hard drive space, switching users is easy, and we have each found it a very good performer for our needs -myself for music, photos and documents, my daughter for skyping and netsurfing, and my son for gaming on the go. The only quibbles I have are the poor manuals, the use of MacAfee, and the fact that it does seem a bit fragile (my daughter will not be allowed to use it unsupervised, I think). Apart from that it's a nice, neat, surprisingly impressive little machine, and it doesn't cause third degree burns to your thighs.


Busy B Baubles Design Christmas Planner - Multicolour
Busy B Baubles Design Christmas Planner - Multicolour
Price: 14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Fine for the purpose, 4 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing I thought about this planner when I got it was that the image online is more attractive than the real thing. There's a nice touch with glitter on the cover and seen sideways on (say, on a bookshelf) it looks okay but I wasn't really thrilled at the look of it. it is a bit bigger than I expected, too but not large enough to be a problem. The cover is held closed with an elasticated cord, there's a little elastic loop for holding a pen (not included) and it has a ribbon to mark your place. There's a notepad inside the front cover which will be handy for shopping lists. Inside the cover the sections are spiral bound so you can flip back and forth nice and easily and it lies flat when you want to consult a page, another handy feature. There are four sections in alternating colours of red and blue - Cards, Gifts, Food and Recipes, and Planning. The card section allows you to list name and address for each person and has space for you to tick off both sent and received cards for each one over five years. The gift section has two parts, one for gift ideas and one to log gifts received. In the ideas part there are ten pages, two for each year, where you can put down the name of the recipient and a couple of (rather small and inadequate) slots for ideas, another column for your budget and finally one for amount spent. It's much the same for gifts received; you can log the name of the giver, who got which gift in your family, what they got and if a thank you has been given. The food section begins with menu planners, then some pages to add in your own recipes. The planning section is simply space for to-do lists with a space by each line to tick off when it.s done. All the sections have a few Notes pages at the end and a card pocket for holding anything you might find relevant, plus the recipe section has some clear plastic pockets, presumably for popping recipes in while in use, so they don't get messy. I doubt very much I shall be half as organised as this book makes provision for, but it will do the job nicely for the planning I do, far better than the scraps of notepaper I usually use. And it will last five years, so it is reasonably good value. I just wish it looked a bit nicer...


Melissa & Doug Bead Set Bundle (Pack of 2)
Melissa & Doug Bead Set Bundle (Pack of 2)
Price: 19.93

3.0 out of 5 stars Bright and fun, but needs a proper lid!, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this set you get two wooden trays each containing about 120 wooden beads, stringing cord in matching colours, and six clasps, making it possible to create six bracelets per tray. One set is mostly in shades of blue, yellow and purple, and butterfly themed; the other is predominantly red, pink, and white, and heart themed. Both have a variety of sizes and shapes of bead so you can produce some really nice an varied bangles. Instructions are on the back of each tray and while basic, are clear and sufficient to get making. They look attractive and are pretty easy to handle, though stringing can be a bit tricky for younger kids (it is not suitable of under 3s, by the way). Nothing is included to help stringing, but I did have a large plastic needle from a first cross stitch kit which could hold the cord and made it easier to get it through the holes. What stops me giving it a higher rating is two things. First, once you have opened the packaging the beads are in a plastic insert and there is no proper lid to the tray. If the plastic top had gone over the wooden box it would be ok, but it fits inside the tray, and not very tightly, so we had a problem with beads falling out. And secondly, the finishing on the beads could be better. One of the larger butterfly beads actually split in two as we took it out of the box, and some were a bit rough on the sides around the hole. Still, it is a lot of fun and very creative, and the little girl who tested it with me was very happy with her pretty bangles, and even gave some to her mum as a birthday gift.


Delonghi Pod Coffee Machine, 1500 Watt, 15 Bar, Red
Delonghi Pod Coffee Machine, 1500 Watt, 15 Bar, Red
Price: 89.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, fast, but lousy instructions, 22 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to say, I really do like this machine, but at best I can only give it four stars because the instructions provided are extremely poor. Presumably to avoid needing to issue the booklet in multiple languages, the makers have gone for a series of very small and not terribly clear pictures to show you how to use it. I don't think I am unusually dense but I really struggled to make sense of the images. One actually looked as though they intend you to impale your eyeball on a small lever. Eventually I did get it sorted out and got it up and running, but then faced another aggravating lack of clarity; the information given with the coffee pods was as clear as mud. Does a pod produce one cup of coffee, two cups, ten? No idea. I will have to use trial and error to establish that, unless the pods sold in the shops for this machine are a bit better supplied with information.

Apart from that, the machine is very nice. Sleek, stylish, quite compact and remarkably quick to produce steaming hot coffee. I did find a bit more splash-back than I'd like, but not so much it is unusable. I have tried a couple of the six pods provided and found they make a very tasty cuppa. You can use it to make cold drinks but so far I have not tested that facility; the cold water flow was very quick to come through when giving the machine its first run-through, but how it works with a pod I can't say. But as a coffee maker it is excellent, if only they could be bothered to tell you how to use it properly.


Monster High Freaky Fusion Sarina Von Boo Hybrid Doll
Monster High Freaky Fusion Sarina Von Boo Hybrid Doll
Price: 19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exotic and Interesting, 21 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The new Freaky Fusion range toys could have been a cheap money-spinner, in that it would be very easy to produce new characters by mixing and matching body parts from past dolls. Though some of them are blendings of old characters, the new creations are definitely not recycled. This doll has unique and very detailed parts unique to the character, and unlike previous dolls can stand unaided (provided you open her tail out a little - if you want the full mermaid look you can fold it flat). The face is nicely detailed, especially round the eyes and ears, and the hair is also very attractively done. My daughter did find one arm did not articulate properly at the elbow when she first examined it, but it did loosen up without breaking and she could be posed as easily as any other doll in the range. Like other of these figures, it isn't the sturdiest toy in the world, but they are not really meant for younger children or rough play. There are no separate accessories apart from the diary, but the costume has a lot of imaginative detailing and my daughter felt that it was good value. I'm very happy with this latest addition.


Monster High Freaky Fusion Avea Trotter Hybrid Doll
Monster High Freaky Fusion Avea Trotter Hybrid Doll
Price: 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and Detailed, 21 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was a bit concerned that this latest wave of figures in the Monster High range might be just a sneaky way to recycle body parts of past figures into a new money spinner. That certainly didn't prove to be the case with this doll. Though elements are very much in keeping with the previous ranges, this is very much a new character and an impressive one. The horse part of the body, for instance, is nothing like the horse figure previously issued with the headmistress set; the legs articulate at several points, including posable hooves, and the body shape is much sleeker and more attractive. And I was very much impressed with the detailing on the face, especially round the eyes. The costume is nicely done, with several removable accessories (such as leather puttees for the legs). It's a well-thought-out creation, looks very good, and unlike other figures can actually stand without the usual plastic support. It does not come with anything extra apart from the customary diary (no brushes, purses, pets or the like) but my daughter didn't feel short-changed as the doll itself has more play value than some others in the range and the costume pieces were much easier to remove and replace. It is a little fragile, but certainly as robust as any other Monster High figure. A nice addition to the collection.


Cyberlink Power DVD 14 Ultra (PC)
Cyberlink Power DVD 14 Ultra (PC)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: 67.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and user-friendly, 31 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My son has been using this as his blu ray drive had no software with it to actually play blu ray movies (it could handle games but not films). This has been the solution to his problem. It was easy to install, though he thought the instructions might throw a novice pc user off a bit; generally, though, he found them clear and user-friendly. It also installed pretty quickly, all things considered. The user interface is not cluttered or confusing, and he has found it very easy to do whatever he liked with it. It has played blu rays of considerable length and with lots of bells and whistles, and never turned a hair; it plays dvds with ease, and the same for cds. Everything seems to run smoothly, good picture and sound quality, and no issues. As for online video, he has an HD monitor and says this is the first software that has given him online video at HD quality. He has also used it in conjunction with his iPad and says it does synch very well and works exactly as supposed to. All round, very happy with the software and all its features.


SlimX 1000 Ultra Formula Thermogenic Weight Loss Supplement
SlimX 1000 Ultra Formula Thermogenic Weight Loss Supplement
Price: 28.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No appreciable impact, 31 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before buying these you should be aware there is a warning on the product that it is not to be taken by those suffering an existing medical condition, liver or thyroid disease, anxiety, depression, seizure disorder, diabetes, or basically if you are taking any medication, are prone to dehydration or if the weather is excessively hot, or you are pregnant or nursing. I have been trying this in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet and exercise programme from my GP. After seven days I can state that there has been no measurable improvement on weight loss, which remains slow but steady. It certainly hasn't improved. I do find I am less tired in the afternoons, which may be down to using these tablets, or may not. To be honest I could have got much the same effect from taking caffeine pills or glucose tablets. I will continue to use them and monitor my progress, updating it once I have taken the full course.


Dynamic Fat Burner 800 mg Coffee Bean Extract with GCA Natural Weight Loss Supplement - Pack of 60 Capsules
Dynamic Fat Burner 800 mg Coffee Bean Extract with GCA Natural Weight Loss Supplement - Pack of 60 Capsules
Price: 13.13

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing so far, 8 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After using this product for over a week in conjunction with a GP- prescribed diet program and exercise regime, I can state that I have found absolutely no change in the rate of weight loss, either up or down. The tablets are also rather large and a bit hard to swallow, and have to be washed down with a large glass of water (and I've found just having a large glass of water about half an hour before meals reduces my appetite on its own). And there is a warning on the pack they should not be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers, persons under 18 or anyone with an existing medical condition without consulting a GP, so ask before you buy if that applies to you. I wouldn't say they are worth anything from my experience so far but a week's use is not long and I will update this review when I have finished the bottle to be fair to the product.

Update: having finished the course I can honestly say that it has not had any impact on my weight loss. I did begin to experience excessive sweating in the third week but that may be down to the weather. I really wouldn't waste my money if I were you.


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