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Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay
Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay
by William Boyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Picturing the Twentieth Century, 3 Sept. 2015
William Boyd has always been `a safe pair of hands' in my eyes, as a novelist. He always writes well, he writes with interesting perspective, creates well-rounded characters and has a strong sense of narrative, a story well-told.

And those novels where he examines the sweep of the twentieth century through the eyes of generally a creative mover and shaker of some kind, such as The New Confessions (a film-maker) and particularly Any Human heart (a writer) are particularly gripping, rich and rewarding reads.

So I was delighted to discover that Sweet Caress was following this successful and fascinating route, for Boyd fans - another follow the arc of the century, with the protagonist this time a photographer, and one, moreover, who married the art of photography (as opposed to snapshots) with major world event - a war photographer. What is different in this novel is that his central character, and narrator, is female. There are always challenges in trying to feel and interpret the world across gender. Inevitably, it is going to be women who will really assess whether his first person narrator (this must surely be the most difficult way of writing inside another, that `I' voice, in crossing the biological divide)

And I do have to say I wasn't completely convinced that Amory Clay was believably female in her sensibilities. Clever Boyd to give her a neutral and unusual name so that she kind of holds, for this reader at least, the imprint of another similarly named Amory - Amory Blaine from F Scott FitzGerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise. It rather gave an androgyne quality so that Boyd's Amory came trailing the clouds of post first world war youth and hedonism, like her Fitzgerald namesake.

What Boyd sensibly avoided was to write the detail and the emotion of Amory's sexual encounters. Perhaps nowhere are we so inside our gender as in those bodily sensations.

Where I couldn't quite connect Amory Clay as female was in a curious disconnection from explaining how she was feeling within her relationships, the emotional tenor of them, whether as lover, or, more particularly, as mother. It's certainly not true that all women are more feeling, all men more thinking, in tone, but there was a kind of distance from her feelings, with Amory, given that Boyd had chosen the first person narrative, the character inside her own head, that did not feel quite like a female. I could, just, rationalise this by relating it to her profession - a photographer is standing outside the situation and observing it, and, given that she was a public photographer, a photojournalist, her profession will have led her to something that makes a comment about situations rather than inhabits it. And this was underlined by the structure of the book - it is peppered with photos from Amory's album, from her first, early snaps as a child, to photos she took as a War photographer in the Second World War and in Vietnam, so there is a lot of describing what is going on in her own life, deconstructing and commenting on her own life and feelings as if she were an outside observer of it.

This sense I had of a disengagement with emotion does not in any way mean that Boyd is a writer who is disengaged with emotion. I think back to Lysander, the central character of Any Human Heart, who was intensely emotional - a particularly suffused with feeling man.

Structurally, the book alternates between the central character, an elderly, widowed woman living in the far north of Scotland, in a settled degree of rural isolation, in the present, or near present, and going back to her beginnings, moving forward in the journey of how she got from there to here. She was an interesting and fascinating person to spend a life journey with, and there are the usual trademarks in these kinds of books of Boyd's - real people, real events, drift in to the edges of Boyd's imaginary characters, giving the feel of biography as much as fiction, though he doesn't (thankfully) take outrageous liberties with the real people and force them into some kind of close or meaningful encounter with his fictional people.

Having spent a lot of time trying to put my finger on what makes this novel not quite reach the pinnacle of satisfaction that Any Human Heart had, I was still captivated and held by it, warm towards it, though it definitely had sections which did not quite work. I understand that the photos in the book were various pictures he had found (presumably in some sort of photo job lot from various second hand photo outlets) and enjoyable though the pictorial interludes were, occasionally I did wonder whether the pictures chosen had driven the story being written, rather than a story, which the author then tries to find pictures to underline with. There is a section late in the book, an American strand, which felt particularly contrived rather than organic

Nonetheless, Boyd's hands are still safe, even if not as brilliantly so as in many of his other outings

I received this as an advance copy for review, in digital format, from the publishers via NetGalley


Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Lacking the plangency and heart thrill and squeeze of the original.........and yet, 31 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Jacques Loussier Trio - Jacques himself on piano, Vincent Charbonnier on bass and Andre Arpino on drums, here bring their jazz interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons - two instruments to provide what an orchestra does, in terms of melody texture, tone and harmony, and with a much stronger emphasis on rhythm, with that third instrument being percussive.

Many years ago, in the brief period when I stopped listening to classical music by safely long dead composers, I came across a jazz version of The Four Seasons - no idea who by, I had mistakenly thought it must be Jacques Loussier, due to his connection with Jazz Bach - but I've recently come across this definitely Loussier version. And very fine it is too

I do have to say that the original orchestral piece, with the richness of the different tones brought by more instruments, and the dominance of melody and harmony which classical music has, over overt rhythm, is full of much more visceral, heart, soul, spirit grab than a jazz version is likely to be, for me. Classical pieces (well certain classical pieces, if well performed, and Four Seasons is one) seem to unlock my tear ducts, and I will listen, tears (without obvious simple, named emotion behind them) will pour down my face, and I will feel the music stretching itself as if into the fascia of my body. Not a cerebral response, not a `this is pleasant' response, but a kidnapping, a taking over.

Anyway, this, I do like a lot, it is marvellously pleasant, and I nod along, very happily, tapping my feet, thinking all sorts of things. It is bright, it is skilful, musical, playful, inventive. And I am very happy for all those things. I do not want to be kidnapped and held hostage all the time. I can admit to being very fond of this CD. It is not the madness of the coup de foudre of falling in love, which Vivaldi's original is for me.

Warmly, even if not madly and irrationally, enjoyed. I do think there is something fiendishly transformative about violins, violas and cellos............


Simon & Tom Lips - INCREASE HYDRATION for naturally PLUMPER more DEFINED lips. Moisturising Evening Primrose and Argan Oil based VOLUMISING balm with lip brush. For a perfect pout. 4ml
Simon & Tom Lips - INCREASE HYDRATION for naturally PLUMPER more DEFINED lips. Moisturising Evening Primrose and Argan Oil based VOLUMISING balm with lip brush. For a perfect pout. 4ml
Offered by Beauty Solutions Ltd
Price: £29.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely soft, unsure about plump, 31 Aug. 2015
I received this from the supplier in return for an honest review

Something I can absolutely verify, is that this definitely softens, and unlike those (to my mind) horrid products with mineral oil, this doesn't soften and THEN dry out, so needing more application. In fact, you are encouraged NOT to over-apply - just once or twice a day.

What I have noticed, if I forget to apply it for a few days, is that there is a very very low level 'sensation' in my lips, and, particularly my top lip with then have a more marked border, almost like applying a lip-liner. This leads me to think that the 'plumping' response is a very low level of irritation, (but I do mean VERY very low) - which causes blood to rush to the area, hence the definition response. So - I would say sometimes I get a slight 'more defined' look.

Overall, I am very happy with this as a beautiful softener. And it certainly doesn't irritate my lips in the way all those mineral oil with tingly menthol added do.

The lip brush is the long pointed top, you pull it out just above the black line in the curvy lid; the lid itself unscrews where it is labelled with the brand name. It's a good design feature, keeping the brush clean. You only need a teeny amount, so the product will last quite some time. I've been using it for a couple of months, more or less twice a day, and have at least another couple of month's supply of product left

I'm likely to continue to use it, and buy the product, when my sample runs out


A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
by Jackie Copleton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A delicate and redemptive story of Nagasaki, 30 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jackie Copleton, the author of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding, was working in Nagasaki as an English language teacher in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on that city. This book has in some ways been percolating away for 20 years.

In her foreword, Copleton states her aim, with this book

"When we talk about conflict we tend to divide the warring sides into the good guys and the baddies. This book was never meant to be a story about blame or accusation. I wanted to pull something good from the ruins of the city"

It was that stated intention which drew me to this, as it rather suggested a writer of emotional nuance and depth, and the following was the clincher:

"The more you research a subject the more it shatters into different interpretations. We view history through the prism of who we are, what we believe, how we see ourselves and how we want to be perceived. We pick through the bones of the past until we find the narrative to suit our needs"

So.....clearly Copleton is a thoughtful person with clear aims and empathy and imagination towards different stories, different viewpoints.

But is she a novelist? Resoundingly so

Yes, this book does look at the moment of impact, when the bomb fell, and there is a detailed and searing account of the blast and its horrific consequences. This chapter is stark and terrible, but it is not the big set-piece climax or story of the book

In some ways, this is a story of an ordinary family, leading ordinary lives, with ordinary secrets, lies and cupboards of skeletons. It is the terrible impact of `pikadon' (brilliant light, boom - the sight and sound of that bomb) on those ordinary lives with their ordinary skeletons which the book follows, giving us a picture of Japan through the eyes of her central character. Amaterasu Takahashi, an elderly Japanese widow, living in a retirement home in America in the nineteen eighties. Amaterasu and her husband Kenzo left Nagasaki after their daughter, Yuko and her son, their grandson, Hideo, aged seven, died in the blast. Amaterasu's story, however starts, aged 15, shortly after the end of the First World War in Nagasaki, in a very different kind of Japan.

When the book opens Amaterasu is alone, lonely, secretive, living with terrible secrets, and a feeling of guilt. She feels it was through her fault that Yuko was in the direct epicentre of the bomb's impact, on that day. She, rather than anyone else, caused Yuko's death. She keeps herself to herself, and since her husband's death gets through her days with just enough alcohol to take the edge off her unbearable anguish.

The past breaks through when a middle aged Japanese man, dreadfully burned, dreadfully disfigured, unexpectedly knocks at her door and announces himself as that long dead grandson, a lucky survivor of pikadon. And his story, and the story of how in the end he found her, and the documentary evidence he brings, unravels the secrets, the skeletons, the lives.

Interspersed, at the beginning of every chapter, are excerpts from An English Dictionary of Japanese Culture, by Bates Hoffer and Nobuyaki Honna, which take a word which describes a Japanese ethical, cultural or philosophical concept which has no direct Western correlation, and picks it apart, explains it. The concepts chosen are to some extent unfolding in the succeeding chapter

There is a kind of modesty, an elegance and restraint in Copleton's writing, in the voice of her central character, the letters and diaries written by protagonists in this story, which rather honours and embraces a country which is now so Westernised - but, also, so strange to Westerners.

The story is one the reader needs to discover for themselves. I did guess quite a lot of what might be going on, probably because I have read some other fictional books with a Japanese setting, so putting two and two together about certain characters, I was not as a reader surprised by narrative. Which made not a jot of difference to my pleasure in the reading.


Losing Israel
Losing Israel
by Jasmine Donahaye
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The shifting sands of home, 29 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Losing Israel (Hardcover)
Jasmine Donahaye's confessional exploration of the heartbreaking complexities around the divide between Israel/Palestine: whose land? whose homes? whose sacred and historical places? whose truthful history? - the aching, tearing emptiness in clear sight for one's own, and others emotional faultlines - is a beautiful, soulful, despairing and melancholy piece of writing.

Donahaye, daughter of two kibbutzniks, one of them born in Israel (her mother) and the other an English born Jew, keen to help the socialist vision of an Israeli society, was born in the UK when her parents left Israel and came to live in her father's birthplace.

She first visited Israel at the age of 10, in 1978. Losing Israel recounts her profound sense of home, belonging, commitment to Israel, and her swallowing of its myths and hero stories, as absorbed in childhood from her former kibbutznik parents. Israel was the longing-in-the-blood home; Israel was beloved grandparents; Israel her history and connection

The stories we learn in childhood, before we are able to analyse, stand outside and deconstruct them, or learn that there might also be other stories, are seductive and often, quite literally, enchanting - that is, they exert some kind of magic over us, and learning that our view of the world is a subjective, not an objective one, and that someone else is glamoured by different stories and world views, is shocking and unsettling. Often it's the easiest, least challenging way to live if we accept that is our own stories which are objective and true, and that it is your stories which are glamours, wrong, false, subjective.

"As with any national narrative, in order to legitimise itself, the modern Israeli one is grafted, like a new fruiting variant, onto an old gnarled trunk with deep historical roots"

So, for Donahaye, `the Arab' was dangerous, one who was trying to take `our land'. And then, the complicated history of Israel, or Palestine, or what had been the British Mandate, rather flung itself upon her, after she discovered the role of those passionately idealistic kibbutzniks, including her own grandfather, in taking those desert wastes and uncultivated scrublands, to build the kibbutz. Build Israel, There was a false potency in the myth of desert wastes and uncultivated scrublands, a false potency in naming that land, the ownership it implies, that hid the other story of displacement. Not the sorry uncultivated scrubs, but land already settled and farmed by Palestinians. Who has displaced whom, in all its sorry complexity, becomes the theme of this painful, honest and unresolved exploration

"Israel's national anthem is in minor chords, saturated with longing for a redemption that cannot be, a hope that cannot be fulfilled, because who can ever be fully at home in the world when that home rests on the homelessness of others"

Donahaye was well into middle age before that other story, that Palestinian story, began to demand she listened to it. Although she had grown up in the UK, where there has been open, sometimes deeply painful dissent between the concepts which `Israel' and `Palestine' contain, she then spent over 10 years in America, where perhaps the Palestinian arguments have not been so widely listened to. In conflicts, the history which gets heard is that of the victors. It is not `the true' history. It is the history of the victors. The `true' history must always be knotty and uncomfortable : it contains oppositions.

I didn't find Donahaye's late realisation of that other history surprising, precisely because those beliefs we grow up with, as received truths, whatever they are, shape us. Changing our fundamental beliefs, `losing our faith' - whether that is religious, political, or any other belief which is as much emotional as intellectual, is an overwhelming experience. Letting go of our cultural and family myths may in the end be liberating, but there is likely to be a deeply painful process involved in that awakening. For Donahaye, it was also linked with the rightness - or wrongness - of her own family history, rewriting her heroic parents and grandparents and finding darker actions in their past

"No matter what I learn about its history, what I feel about its government's acts, its citizens electoral choices, what I think about its political foundations and exclusions, Israel is inextricably caught up with my mother - my inaccessible, elusive mother, who left her community and her country, but inwardly never left, who carried her home all the years of my childhood not in a book.....but in the locked chamber of her heart"

I discovered (and was not at all surprised) that Donahaye is a poet. She has that poetic sensibility of grasping the importance and texture of language, of writing, not only beautifully, but with thought, with precision, working images, narratives, descriptions and reflections, whether of her own internal debates and confusions, or what she sees outside her, with freshness, immediacy, authenticity.

She has also been, all her life, a passionate bird-watcher. And ruefully reflects how language to describe bird travels and origins: `native', `migrants,' comes to have a weightier meaning in that land whose name is loaded, always denying the other. Israel/Palestine - whose home? This became a particularly powerful, and unresolved metaphor in the name of a particular bird, native to the region. As a child, she learned to call this bird the orangetufted sunbird. However, its other name is the Palestine sunbird:

"When I was a child we never called it the Palestine sunbird, because we never used the word Palestine.....Naming acknowledges and therefore begins to validate a story. Not naming erases. ...it renders a thing void.....semantically the name Palestine erases Israel...the meanings and associations of the word Israel semantically erases Palestine"

This is an honest, and a painful book. An uncomfortable one because the author does not take a black and white decision, there is not clear-cut, done and dusted resolution. Rather she stays in that difficult place of nuance. Our stories, it seems to me, all our stories, closely examined, are ambiguous

"Love of a person, of a place - the more you know, the more complicated it is. The knowledge that the person is wounded, that the place is stained doesn't diminish your love.....your need to love is a longing to feel whole, knowing you cannot be whole - a longing to be home, though you will never be at home in one place, not fully"

I recommend this book unreservedly. She took me into the heart of the real battleground - we glibly talk about `hearts and minds' and how we have to win the hearts and minds to resolve conflicts, but it seems to me that is the only real and lasting solution to the eternal, global conflicts which our complex, conflicted species, each and every one of us, are so prone to.

I received Losing Israel as a digital review copy from the publishers, Seren, via NetGalley


Skin
Skin
by Ilka Tampke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellently written YA/Fantasy Fiction/Historical Fiction/Dystopian Apocalypse with Lit Fic knobs on thrown in for good measure, 28 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Skin (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well. Ilka Tampke is an Australian writer, and Skin is her first novel. And what a strange, but excellent novel it is.

Skin is set in Britain, and specifically in Summer (Somerset) between AD 28 and AD 43 in a matriarchy. Iron-Age Britain, a Druid culture, and the might of Rome preparing for invasion.

The central character, Ailia, born in AD 28, is some kind of outsider, and part of the book's journey is to find her complex destiny, which will bring her to become a leader of her people. Ailia's age, and her intelligent nature, her individuality and leadership qualities of course suggest the book has a YA market, with Ailia as a role model to identify with. There are also strong young men who are leaders or seers - so heroes of action and heroes of reflection and emotional integrity.

But this is not only a book for a YA audience - it is likely to have appeal for those who are followers of all the heroic myth and fantasy serials which are increasingly popular, probably for a 20s audience.

I'm neither of those markets, but was interested in this because although the cynic in me could suggest this might be a book written to capitalise on some populist markets, and is at least a small series (I understand there is a sequel), and the strong storyline and characters inevitably suggest filmic possibilities - the actual writing, not to mention the unusual setting, was the lure.

The exact rituals and beliefs of ancient Druidic culture have been rather lost in the intervening 2000 years, particularly as Rome did not tolerate Druidism, and, Christianity, some 300 years later, after Constantine the Great's conversion, did much to complete its veiling. I'm not certain, one way or another how much Tampke's very detailed, fascinating weaving of `Druid' culture and ideology is real, partially real, wholly imagined - but what I will say is there is an absolute coherence in her blend, which is satisfying both in terms of its mysticism and ritual, and it's very graphic depiction of the world. She has clearly woven into the story a central idea from Australian totemic spirituality (and, I think, Native American Indian culture) that of animal totems, a kind of connection to the rest of the living world which anchors humanity as a part of the animal kingdom and a part of the landscape. I found all those aspects of her possible invention absolutely fascinating and the book is `true to itself' And has that wonderful quality of tapping in to deeper, wider myths. The book as a whole is absolutely `the hero journey' It can be read on many levels simultaneously and doesn't topple over itself for being made to bear too much.

If you love adventure stories, particularly fabulous ones which make integrated sense, rather than just being a gung-ho collection of mythic or actual battles, I recommend this. I swept through it, turning pages fast, caught up in the story, but also found myself very satisfied with the integrity of her characters, the complex relationships, the believable structures and culture of her ancient society.

Ailia, the central character is without `Skin' in metaphorical, rather than literal, anatomical terms. Skin is the totem tribal connection - her journey to find `Skin' and its meaning is satisfyingly archetypal.

"The passage from womb to world was only half a birth - the body's birth. Our souls were born when we were plunged, as babes, into river water, screaming at the cold shock of it, given our name and called to skin.

Deer. Salmon. Stone. Beetle. The North wind. Skin was our greeting, our mother, our ancestors, our land. Nothing existed outside its reach.

Beyond skin there was only darkness. Only chaos.

Because I was without skin I could not be plunged or named. I was half-born, born in body but not in soul. Born to the world but not to the tribe. I could never marry less skin taboos were unknowingly betrayed.......I was not permitted to learn. All learning began and ended with the songs of skin"

Finally, the hardback book itself is stunningly beautiful, with gold coloured mandala like shapes, suggesting complex artistic metalwork all nudging at symbols of interconnectedness, which underlines much of what the book is about.


skinChemists Hydro-Active+ Day Moisturiser 50 ml
skinChemists Hydro-Active+ Day Moisturiser 50 ml
Price: £60.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In a scientific experiment, using myself as control AND test subject..............no change, 27 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
So, I'll come clean and state my prejudice first, and admit that `prejudice' and expectation may indeed colour a subjective qualitative feedback. It is of course perfectly possible that some kind of quantitative method of analysing my skin might yield different results - but the look and feel of my skin after 6 days of my little experiment indicates absolutely no difference between this and my current moisturiser which retails at less than a quarter of the price.

Here was the experiment : after my normal morning cleansing routine on my whole face, each day I applied my normal moisturiser to the right side of my face only, and skinchemist to the left side. I applied the same amount of massaging in, with each product, so I tried to keep everything as unvariable as possible, with the two moisturisers as the only factor for change

The only difference on immediate application was that the skinchemist felt nice and cool because it is a lotion base, and initially absorbed a little more quickly than my normal moisturiser - carrier oils, with essential oils. As the latter is of course only oil base, not the oil and water of a lotion, you won't get that `cool'. But within 5 minutes there was no appreciable difference to the feel on my skin. I perhaps was a little more aware of a very very low level feel of sensation on the skinchemist side - not quite itch, but a slight feeling of `tight'. I was aware of sensation is all - and the `tight' was not a sensation which I felt was good. I realise 'tight' might be experienced as 'toned' or it might be experienced as 'dry'. Here is where there is a subjective response. My interpretation said 'dry' - a little as if washed with soap and water (I use cleansing lotion and toner, and latterly, a one step - micellar water - as I don't like that soap and water feeling)

After 6 days, not only could I see no changes between the sides of my face, no one else was telling me that one side of my face looked different from the other, either. And after the absorption, on both sides of the face had happened, there was no difference in the feel of my face as I touched it, either. If anything, I think my 'normal moisturiser side has an ever so slightly smoother feel

So...........I was delighted to get offered the chance to try this: even if it was to confirm my prejudice that my current simpler, far less expensive, moisturising routine is better for me than this 4 times as costly one.

I can see ONE benefit of this one, and it will go to the back of the cupboard, against that time - a holiday in a hot country where exposure to the sun needs addressing, even to those, like me, of Mediterranean skin tone who does not burn.

However, though it's right that with the depletion of the ozone layer ya-de-ya we are all needing to be more careful of the harmful effects of UV sunrays, it's equally important to be aware that we also need moderate exposure to sunlight in order to synthesise Vitamin D. The current swing the other way where we are so terrified of the sun that we block its rays almost entirely leads to the problems associated with a lack of D vitamin. D vitamin helps the absorption of calcium from food sources. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth.

Now, given (sadly) that summer seems to have almost packed its bags, the temperature is dropping, and we are likely to be wearing more layers - do we REALLY need the one part of the body which gets exposed to sunlight as we head into winter not to be getting that possibility for synthesing something we need? Okay, there are food sources - one of the best being oily fish, liver, dairy and egg yolks, but as a vegetarian, sunlight will do me, moderate exposure is fine, thank you

No doubt, HAD the sun been wonderful and glorious for those 6 days (I was inside all day on the one day of my test when it was, sadly) I would no doubt have seen a difference in one side looking a bit paler and washed out, compared to the other.

And if anyone is interested in 'what IS your normal moisturiser, normally I would say I can't head you over to a brand, because I make it myself, for myself, and it is not something I sell. However, I was recently sent something else to try, which is branded, and sold on Amazon, and I was enormously pleased with it, admitting it is BETTER than what I make for myself, so it is my new normal, and I will be buying it when my review bottle runs out. Here is the link Skin Radiance 100 % Natural Liquid Face Serum (Derma Roller Serum) I use it now daily, not just after dermarolling


skinChemists Under Eye Definer 2.5 ml
skinChemists Under Eye Definer 2.5 ml
Price: £45.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not convinced this is really different from other, modestly priced options, 25 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Okay, so I have had a couple of different versions of 'how to hide your dark circles and unsightly bags' concealers. Neither of which broke the bank, and both of which are cheap, cheerful, do the job, and clearly state they are not tested on bunnies, beagles or any other little fluffies.

Now I have to admit that I'm a fairly cynical sprout about what marketing, and PR get up to, particularly in the fashion and beauty industry. I freely admit I would never buy an undereye definer at this kind of price unless I had somehow been able to try it and see if it really was significantly earning its price hike by being different from my cheapandcheerfuls. So, of course, given the opportunity to try for free I jumped at the chance and chose to turn my undereyes into a mini scientific test - this under one eye, the modestly priced one under the other.

Did I notice a difference? Well this seemed a little thicker - but that may be because I had to click the durned clicker 13 times - yes 13 times to get any concealer to appear on the brush at all, and the first appearance was a great wodge of product. It did dry on my skin a little quicker than the other, and yes, I would say it concealed better from a single sweep of the brush. But applying a second sweep with the less expensive one (and blending both) I can't really say I saw a difference.

Now I understand from Googling around that the company say they don't test on animals, but I am concerned that this isn't stated on the product. After all, with more people feeling that animal testing of cosmetics is something they want to avoid, why WOULDN'T a company advertise its cruelty free credentials. It's surely a positive selling point?


Skin Radiance 100 % Natural Liquid Face Serum (Derma Roller Serum) - A Powerhouse of Premium Natural Oils to Erase Fine Lines, Brighten & Perfectly Even Out Skin Tone. Packed with Plant Extracts, Essential Fatty Acids and Wrinkle-Fighting Antioxidants, it Revitalises, Nourishes and Supports at the Deepest Level. 100% Natural and Specifically Blended for Use With Skin Radiance Derma Rollers Includes the Miracle Working Rosehip Seed Oil to Heal Scar Tissue. UK Produced & Full Money Back Guarantee.
Skin Radiance 100 % Natural Liquid Face Serum (Derma Roller Serum) - A Powerhouse of Premium Natural Oils to Erase Fine Lines, Brighten & Perfectly Even Out Skin Tone. Packed with Plant Extracts, Essential Fatty Acids and Wrinkle-Fighting Antioxidants, it Revitalises, Nourishes and Supports at the Deepest Level. 100% Natural and Specifically Blended for Use With Skin Radiance Derma Rollers Includes the Miracle Working Rosehip Seed Oil to Heal Scar Tissue. UK Produced & Full Money Back Guarantee.
Offered by AVIBE
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naturally delighted, 23 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having been offered this as a free product in return for an honest review I was happy to accept it after having clarified the following with the suppliers : that they realised that 'honest' could mean honestly critical. 'Honest' might mean a low rating. Yes, they were aware of that. (There are, unfortunately, suppliers of free product in return for 'honest' review who mean only - give us a glowing review - and we might attempt various ways to bribe you for that - or we might find various ways to bully you or censor your review if it is negative)

Now, 'Skin Radiance' were not going to do, and had not done, either. So I looked forward to receiving and testing - and had also alerted them to the fact I would not be quickly posting a review as I'd use for a good 3 weeks in order to assess results.

But I'm breaking my time scale, because I truly love what the product is, how it feels on my skin, and the fact that it is a natural product, containing nothing untoward, no impressive sounding but incomprehensible snake-oilish ingredients with little genuine accessible research to substantiate claims, and moreover constituents which seem to have some levels of toxicity, and an unknown reaction when several of them, each with some potential low-level cautions, are mixed together.

Nothing in this product is 'novel chemistry' It's right to be cautious of 'novel chemistry' because living organisms will not necessarily have the ability to synthesise and detoxify. Of course, natural products might have cautions and contraindications too, but living organisms also develop methods to synthesise and detoxify, to a certain extent, what has been in their environments over millennia.

Enough waffle from me : The ingredients of this alone were enough to excite me. Its carrier oils - rosehip - which has long had traditional use in softening keratinised scar tissue, and there is some research showing its tissue regenerating properties; evening primrose, which has had some studies with positive results on topical application externally for eczema and psoriasis; sweet almond, which is the carrier oil of choice for many massage practitioners - not least for its content of several skin repairing and enhancing vitamins. Vitamin E, which occurs naturally in several vegetable carrier oils, (including sweet almond) is a natural preservative.

And then we come to the marvellous essential oils - some of which have been used in skincare across the world for thousands of years, and 'modern' science has recently been sitting up and taking note of them because it finds reasons to understand (through analysis of the complex chemistry) why they might be effective. Our ancestors, of course, did not need to know the reasons for something to work, there was a verification by observation being passed down through the generations.

So, in this lovely product, let's hear it for Lavender, Rosewood, Clary Sage, Cypress, Sandalwood, Carrot (I assume it is the essential oil from the seed which is being used here, though it could be the macerated oil from the roots of the wild carrot - both are excellent in skincare), Frankincense and Rose.

I confess a kind of admiring vested interest here. I have been using natural carriers and essential oils for many years, and make my own simple skin care products from them. Not commercially. So I don't tend to BUY these products from those who do produce them commercially. However, because of the need to keep percentages of essential oils in a blend quite low - they are powerful, and can irritate the skin as they are highly concentrated, my skincare products are simple, and only contain a couple of essential oils.

What the supplier of this lovely product can do, because of producing in quantity, is use 8 beautifully chosen essential oils to work synergistically. Not one of the oils is a random choice. I'm very admiring - and likely to break my own traditions and buy this when my sample runs out. Particularly as the price charged is very, very good indeed. I know that some suppliers using these kinds of products do a much heftier markup. The cosmetics field is a little notoriously overpricing in some ways, capitalising perhaps on the fact that we believe an eye-watering price guarantees quality.

Skin Radiance have brought a quality, natural product to the market at a reasonable price. And, I must say, this feels, not to mention, looks much more beautiful on my skin than what I've been doing for myself! Dewy face in the mirror! One punp is sufficient to moisturise my whole face. I use a second after dermarolling, only because I sterilise the roller before (and after use) by spraying it with surgical spirit, and that of course is drying. So this will last a goodly time.

It's especially helpful when used after dermarolling, and really soothed my skin.

And last, but by no means least, the packaging (although I do agree with another reviewer who suggested a dark glass bottle, - UV light is one of the degraders of the shelf life of essential oils) is very practical. The pump action means you aren't going to contaminate the product in the bottle with what is on your own hands and the design of the pump and its protecting lid manages to avoid the inevitable oily dribble down the side of the bottle which my own products suffer from.


Hangerworld 43 cm (17") Quality Padded Satin Top Coat Clothes Hangers with Buttons, Pack of 10, Black
Hangerworld 43 cm (17") Quality Padded Satin Top Coat Clothes Hangers with Buttons, Pack of 10, Black
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, elegant, and oh so practical, 20 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are excellent. Well made hangers particularly suited to skirts, strappy slinky dresses, jackets and clothes made of lovely delicate fabrics. Wooden hangers might snag the delicates, and the wispy strappy slinkies, on plastic bar across type trouser hangers have a habit of slinkily sliding off such too smooth hangers and crumpling sadly on the wardrobe floor - so the little buttons are an excellent invention to prevent the sliding of those slinky straps.

Padding, of course, is exactly what you want to maintain the good shape of heavier jackets and coats.

These are just the right width, too, for my rather slim-line wardrobe.

How to make a hanger attractive, as well as fit for purpose - ticks all the boxes, and completed with a girly bow, as well, to finish.


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