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J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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Gourmet Mon Petit Tempting New Fish Recipes with Cod Sardine and Salmon Wet Cat Food (Pack of 8)
Gourmet Mon Petit Tempting New Fish Recipes with Cod Sardine and Salmon Wet Cat Food (Pack of 8)
Price: £15.92

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cat loved it, owner - not so much, 15 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have very mixed feelings about this product. When I selected it to review, I didn't notice the brand. I haven't purchased Nestle products for years due to ethical reasons, and there is no way I would purchase this in future for that reason alone.

However....if we take my personal ethics out of the equation for the purposes of this review, it's a slightly different story. The thing is, my cat loved this. And she is extremely fussy. In fact, I have never known her to eat ANY soft food apart from Felix. All other attempts to change her brand, even one very expensive organic make I bought her as a treat, have so far been rejected. Even with her usual food she's usually a somewhat picky eater and never terribly enthusiastic. But this stuff she seemed to actively enjoy.

Unfortunately for her, once this case is gone that's it. Even were I willing to support the company, it is considerably more expensive than what we usually buy. And the smaller sachets, although convenient (my cat usually only gets half of one of the larger sachets at a time so these are sized exactly right in that regard), mean a lot of extra, non-recyclable waste.

So yes, this seems to be a very good product, but unfortunately not one we will be using in future.


AmazonBasics Everyday Double Duvet Cover Set, White with 2 pillowcases
AmazonBasics Everyday Double Duvet Cover Set, White with 2 pillowcases
Price: £29.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality basic bedding, 15 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm clearly a cheapskate, because my initial reaction to this item is that it seems kind of pricey for such a basic set. That being said, I love that it's made in the UK and the quality seems very good. I've seen some bedding that was so thin it was like tissue paper, but this feels much more substantial. Research has recently suggested that plain white bedlinen also contributes to better sleep, so this may well be a wise investment. However, I normally stain any white textiles within five minutes of entering a room, so expect this will largely be reserved for guests. And at the end of the day, I still want a bit more excitement for my money.


AmazonBasics 19-Inch (48 cm) Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel
AmazonBasics 19-Inch (48 cm) Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very robust and well designed, 11 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Unfortunately this has not yet become available to buy so I've no idea what the price will be, a factor I always like to take into account when writing reviews. However, the AmazonBasics range seems to be reasonably priced so we will assume this is an affordable item, and probably competitive with other bare bones transport boxes on here.

If it is indeed the case that this item is priced similarly to other animal carriers, then customers would do well to opt for this one (or a larger version - assuming they are available!). It is super sturdy, feels very secure, and full of well thought out details. The most obvious of these, of course, is that one has the option to load the animal in through the usual side door or through the top.I always seem to get on better with the standard side doors but giving a choice seems such an obvious and simple thing to do that I'm not sure why I've never seen another carrier with this feature. The top and bottom can also be separated and stacked together, which would be handy for storage in limited space and also made it less bulky to ship. The base has a bit of depth to it so if your cat has an accident in transit, it should be contained. The latches on the openings are spring loaded and feel robust whilst still being easy to open - the side door is even easy to open with one hand - yet also very secure when closed, I've no concerns my cat would escape from this. The meal bars of the door are also really strong, much more than they would actually need to be. The top attaches to the bottom with clips which feel quite secure on their own, but there are bolts also included to fasten the top and bottom together even more securely.

The only drawback I can see is the size, which will only really suit smaller cats and tiny dogs, but there is a larger version available. It is also a bit heavier than other models, but that is due to the strength of the materials and it's a small amount of extra weight for a lot of extra confidence. I would happily buy this again, and recommend to others.


Zero Zero Zero
Zero Zero Zero
by Roberto Saviano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Courageous journalism, but a rather daunting read, 11 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Zero Zero Zero (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Roberto Savino is a brave man. He's already been living under police protection for nearly a decade, having exposed and denounced the world of organised crime. With "Zero Zero Zero" (a slang term for mythically pure cocaine, based on the grading system for wheat flour) he takes on the worldwide cocaine trade. As one might expect from the sheer scale of Savino's target, the scale of this piece of investigative journalism is truly epic.

"Zero Zero Zero" is a daunting read. The subject matter is grim, it's interlaced with shockingly violent crimes, it is heavy on statistics, it ranges across the world, and it features a cast of thousands. I found it very difficult to keep the names of all the players straight, especially as most have nicknames and Savino jumps back and forth between which titles he uses to refer to the men he writes about. That was perhaps the single biggest hindrance to my total immersion in this book, and while it seems like a petty point to get hung up on, the action is so convoluted that if you can't keep the people involved straight in your head then you really have no chance of following the stories told here.

I daresay this is an important read, however, for Savino does expose a world that few people have real insight into, and a problem whose scale appears to be far more vast than most people perhaps realise. It is also the case that many of the players - some of the world's most brutal career criminals - are largely unknown. It is a world that desperately needs a light shone onto it, and Savino has dared to do just that.


Fourth of July Creek
Fourth of July Creek
by Smith Henderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting insight into the dark heart of modern America, 5 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Fourth of July Creek (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a rich and complex saga with much to say about modern America. It follows the intersecting lives of a social worker, a survivalist, their families, and various other small town characters. All are damaged, all are - at times - monstrous, and yet all are portrayed with great sympathy and emotional depth. The story is told from multiple points of view which helps the reader relate to the characters, and the slow unfolding of survivalist Jeremiah Snow and his son Benjamin is a gripping mystery that proves we should never jump to conclusions. Life doesn't usually offer neatly tied up endings, and neither does author Smith Henderson. The degree of deliberate ambiguity in the final pages of this book may be frustrating for some readers, but it's a neat mirror to the problems of life which so often have no easy answers or quick fixes.


Rexel A4 Budget 2 Ring Binder with Spine Ticket Window - Black (Pack of 10)
Rexel A4 Budget 2 Ring Binder with Spine Ticket Window - Black (Pack of 10)
Price: £15.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, but not as well as it would with a rigid cover, 4 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You get what you pay for and these are clearly labelled as "budget". In this case that means they do the job, but perhaps not quite as well as something else might. I run my own business and am a bit of a hoarder to boot, so always need binders but usually make due with a motley assortment of reclaimed ones. It's nice and professional to have a whole matching set, the price is totally reasonable, and it's always a little plus to have the space for a label on the spine. However, these have one major drawback which is that they are flexible rather than rigid and as such they won't sit as easily on a shelf. For me, that's a major drawback. And with pound shops springing up on every street corner these days, even the price is not as competitive as it could be. Personally the firm binding - not to mention saving £££ - is important enough that I'd rather buy a different product, so although these are fine, they are not something I'd bother to purchase.


Russell Hobbs 20581 Smartglide Pro Steam Generator Iron - 2800 Watt
Russell Hobbs 20581 Smartglide Pro Steam Generator Iron - 2800 Watt
Price: £119.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cumbersome but effective, 4 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In order to fully understand this review, I think it's necessary to start by explaining a little about Amazon's Vine programme. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have been invited to join rare offered items which we receive for free in exchange for writing honest reviews of them. At the time of writing, these reviews must be written within 30 days in order to be offered further items. It's a powerful incentive to keep up with your reviews as you never know what you will be offered. So when I say this item has been sitting behind a chair for several weeks, you must realise that this may well mean I have missed out on hundreds of pounds worth of other Vine merchandise. That alone says much about this item.

It is HUGE. I should be charging rent. Dragging this beast out to tackle any normal household ironing job feels akin to driving an articulated lorry down to the shops to pick up your groceries. And for that reason alone, I am sceptical of how much use I will really get out of it. This wants a dedicated station in a utility room in an ideal world, though if you have a small business (eg a B&B) that involved lots of ironing, it may well be worthwhile.

When I finally braved it, the instructions were reassuringly straightforward and the unit itself feels incredibly substantial and well made without being off-puttingly heavy. Like other reviewers, I am not keen on the idea of an anti-scale cartridge that must be replaces within a matter of mere weeks, as that seems like it might add a substantial cost to this already pricey item if you were using it heavily or lived in a hard water area.

First thing I noticed was that the oddly shaped (but easily removed) water tank means one might have a tendency not to hold it level which might be an issue when gauging fill level, so make sure it's sitting on a flat surface when you check whether it is below the max fill line. One thing I did not like is that you can't see what most of the buttons on the base unit actually are without pushing them as the symbols only show when illuminated, but this would only be a small issue when using the unit for the first time. I also just about jumped out of my skin when, a few moments after switching the unit on, it let out an ungodly noise which I assume was telling me the steam function had reached full temperature. The time it took for this to happen was remarkably short, so big points for that, but partial deduction for scaring the bejeezus out of me in the process. As this repeats itself as the thermostat works to maintain its temperature, I soon got used to it. It's a fairly brief noise which the unit only makes intermittently, but it is surprisingly loud, especially when you realise it's basically an iron - not normally the noisiest of household appliances!

I gave this unit a proper testing - had an unworn linen dress waiting to be returned to the shop which had sat in its bag for a couple of weeks so was pretty wrinkled. This unit did not actually work magic on it, but it did do, in just a few relatively painless minutes, sufficiently well that I am happy to return the dress now. I can imagine it would be a real life saver with curtains or last minute steaming of an outfit you don't have time to fully iron before wearing.

It's nice that it feels so sturdy, and that the base plate has nonslip surfaces and stays cool so it should be relatively safe. The steam function is really impressive too, it almost feels like you are using an industrial unit. I don't actually have space to do a traditional iron at the moment, but will be eager to try it once I move house. Size and cartridge replacement aside, I really liked how this unit actually feels in use.


Purina ONE Indoor Formula with Tuna and Chicken in Gravy Wet Cat Food 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Purina ONE Indoor Formula with Tuna and Chicken in Gravy Wet Cat Food 8 x 85 g (Pack of 5)
Price: £14.95

2.0 out of 5 stars The cat was unimpressed, 16 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have an incredibly fussy rescue cat who, in the course of the six months I have had her, has refused to eat any food other than the brand the shelter provided and, occasionally, titbits from my own meals. So when I opened my first sachet of this and she was lapping at it before it even made it into the bowl, I had high hopes that perhaps our options were opening up a bit. Sadly, her enthusiasm was short-lived. It turned out she was resorting to her regular trick of licking off all the gravy/jelly bits and refusing to touch the meat. All subsequent attempts provided the same result, so it seems I have merely found one more brand of food that my cat will waste. I'm sure this is no reflection on the food, but for us it was merely another failure.


The Offering
The Offering
by Grace McCleen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Striking at the dark heart of authority that destroys innocence, 16 April 2015
This review is from: The Offering (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are looking for a light read or a cheerful diversion, steer clear. "The Offering" is hard work. It is, as many other reviewers have already pointed out, beautifully written and offers,in parts, a most lyrical meditation on the beauty of nature and the changing seasons. However the novel has a very dark heart where innocence leads to spectacular downfall and authority figures inadvertantly collude in the destruction of childhood and purity. It seems Grace McCleen is highly suspicious of all sorts of institutions, and with this book she effectively strikes at the heart of two very powerful ones, evangelical Christianity and mental health care.

Not an easy read, but a drawn-out, gently unfolding one fraught with menace and slow corruption and decay. If you are prepared to enter Madeline's worlds of the mental hospital in which she has been incarcerated most of her life and the rural Eden from which she was brutally expelled, this is a very rewarding book. But making that journey will take you to some very dark places and you may not find redemption at the end.


Philips GC3811/80 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 160 g Steam Boost and Steam Glide Plus Soleplate, 2400 Watt, Multi-Colour
Philips GC3811/80 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 160 g Steam Boost and Steam Glide Plus Soleplate, 2400 Watt, Multi-Colour
Price: £34.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great all-rounder, 16 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
No one likes ironing, but this model offered some good features that made a tedious task go a little more smoothly (pun intended!) The "nose" is really pointy to allow it to get into the smallest spaces and work on finer details. The spray and steam on demand features were really helpful to ensure the areas that most needed pressing could be specially targeted. And the resting plate was really stable so you never felt there was a danger of it the iron tipping when not in use.

I also had a go at using it as a vertical steamer and although it didn't completely remove creases when used this way, it did show a marked improvement in the appearance of the fabric, so would be ideal for rush jobs on the way out the door!

I only had a couple of minor niggles, neither of which much affected overall performance. It's difficult to see the waterline when filling this iron, and difficult to direct the spray when using the spray feature. I'm sure the latter will improve with practice, and it still worked really well so will be happy to continue using this.


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