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captive8122@hotmail.com "Isla" (Nutzville)

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Remington Pearl CI95 Curling Wand
Remington Pearl CI95 Curling Wand
Price: £21.40

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you have dry or damaged hair, steer clear..., 14 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can't deny that the pearl wand works. It's sleek, it heats up within a minute, the controls are easy to manipulate, and it produces curls which last. I won't be using it again, though, for two reasons - firstly, even on the lowest heat setting, I managed to badly burn my ear, so please be wary of letting any little ones handle this gadget (or the terminally awkward like me). Secondly, my hair's in really bad condition due to a lot of factors, it's very dry and pretty hopeless, really, so maybe it's unfair of me to criticise a heat styling product for making it any worse. But I've used other curling wands that left my hair relatively shiny - this one left it as parched and lifeless as straw. Something else rather bizarre I should mention - I haven't coloured my mop in ages, but I've got a few grown-out highlights (natural colour is mousy brown), but for some reason this wand sent a few of my old highlights pink. Yes, pink! I had some crazy pink curls... some a deeper red-pink, and combined with the parchedness and the pain, I fancifully wondered if my hair was bleeding, or at least giving me a colourful cry for help.

All in all, can't recommend this to any other than the richly, healthily haired, and the mightily brave. There are better wands out there, and I actually got a far nicer effect (more volume, lasting curls, no damage) just using some bog standard soft bendy rollers that I put in semi-dry hair and slept in. Also, putting those rollers in took about 15 minutes - painstakingly curling with this torture device took over twice as long.


The Soldier: A History of Courage, Sacrifice and Brotherhood
The Soldier: A History of Courage, Sacrifice and Brotherhood
by Darren Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A very moving read, 26 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to be honest, I planned to pass this on to my dad, he's an old military man and I thought he'd enjoy it, but I found myself leafing through when it arrived, and I was unexpectedly gripped from the very first chapter. It's really not my typical fare at all - I've never read any military fiction nor military history, and escapist fluff is usually far more my cup of tea than gritty realism. But Darren Moore's history is so sensitively written that I'd defy any reader of any age/gender/demographic not to read the first few pages and find it difficult to set aside. It's the painstakingly researched tales of individuals that will grip you - one of the horrible tragedies of war is how it subsumes its actors and victims in a giant, faceless tidal wave of horror, and we rarely have the chance to identify on a deeper, personal level. But the author relates many such individual tales of quite tremendous heroism, from seemingly very ordinary people who managed to find amazing courage in the most terrible of circumstances.

I found this a very moving read, written with great insight and humanity. Highly recommended.


AVG Internet Security 9.0 (3 User, 2 Year)
AVG Internet Security 9.0 (3 User, 2 Year)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain price for a great performer, 26 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At Amazon's current price, this really is a must-buy. Two years of free updates and a three user license means you won't have to look elsewhere for protection for multiple machines. As for the protection itself, it's an impressive all-round performer that even tops Webroot's anti-spyware abilities, which I thought was fairly unbeatable. As as plus, it's pain-free and speedy to install, unlike many security suites, and compared to the big-priced big names in the market, it's most definitely no resource hog. It runs quietly and unobtrusively in the background, has an excellent pop-up blocker, and I've noticed no impact on general system performance even using it on a rather frail old laptop. Excellent buy, especially at this price.


Scandalous
Scandalous
by Tilly Bagshawe
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Raunchy escapist fluff, but her sister did it better, I think..., 18 Aug 2010
This review is from: Scandalous (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a teen, I devoured everything Louise Bagshawe (in her pre-Tory MP incarnation) produced. Career Girls, Tall Poppies, The Movie, Venus Envy... I read and re-read and thoroughly loved the trashy lot of them. So this, my first Tilly Bagshawe, had a lot to live up to in terms of familial expectations! To an extent, she didn't disappoint. She's perhaps even raunchier than Louise was in her hey-day, and that's saying something. Both Sasha and Theresa fit the Bagshawe mould of strong, intelligent women on a vengeful mission, and you really can't help but root for either of them. The settings are textbook glamourous affairs, but it's in hero creation and development that Tilly perhaps doesn't hit the heights attained by her sis. Or maybe I've just got older (a decade may do that to a girl) and find less of a no-holds-barred alpha male more attractive than the breathtakingly arrogant types trotted out in books like Scandalous.

Still, for an indulgent candyfloss beach read, I can't really fault this too much. It ticks all the titillating boxes and will keep you turning the pages waiting for the next explosive incident. All I'd say is: maybe check out Louise Bagshawe's backlist first, it's pretty identical fare, but somehow quite a bit juicier!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2012 10:08 AM GMT


Antony Worrall Thompson by Breville Gourmet Pie Maker
Antony Worrall Thompson by Breville Gourmet Pie Maker

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sounds good on paper..., 22 July 2010
I couldn't resist trying this machine out. Anything with 'pie' in the title and I'm a lost woman. Unfortunately, if you're truly passionate about your pastries and a real pie-lover, you'll quickly realise that you've fallen into a gimmicky trap with this gadget as soon as you read the manual.

The fundamental problem is that you're instructed to start assembling the pies when the machine has heated up. This is not only a recipe for burnt fingers, singed hair and very frayed nerves, but it also means that your pastry starts to melt and shrink as soon as it touches the heated surfaces. If you're an incredibly efficient bish-bash-bosh kind of cook and can chuck everything together inside of a minute, then you might be okay with this, but if you're a bit of a painstaking snail like me, you'll find that your pastry base is pretty much cooked through by the time you'll filled it, let alone got the lids on. It also goes against all my experience in achieving decent pie results. I've been making and guzzling pies since I was a nipper, and after many years of failures, I've picked up some hard-learned tips along the way. The main one is that you get the tastiest pastry, and the best shaped pies, if it's been chilled at each step along the way, including a final chill/rest in the fridge immediately before your tray or tart tin goes in the oven. Putting your lovingly crafted pastry into a pre-heated machine is quite frankly barmy! Bread may appreciate a rapid injection of direct heat, but pastry is a sensitive soul and it needs gentler treatment.

I've also found that expensive equipment for pastry-making is usually a rip-off. I've got the best mince pie results from a bog standard non-stick shallow patty tin - the 12 hole type used for yorkshires or small fairy cakes. Keeping your pastry quite thin and your pies small means that they cook nice and quick, and you get delicate little morsels that are much nicer than the brick weight shop variety. Sure, you can inhale about half a dozen in one sitting, but that's just a good excuse to make more! The strange thing about the pie maker is that the designers have decided to make room for four pies that are too big to be mince or fruit pies (3 inches across), and far too small to make for a satisfying savoury pie for a family meal. I guess they wanted to try to make it appropriate for both sweet and meat pies, but they've fallen between the two stools, I think. Either a 6-8 pie capacity for sweet treats or a 3 pie design for savouries would have made more sense. Even a machine that makes one big pie would've been better. But, again, if the pie it makes is pretty woeful, design quibbles are a bit of a moot point.

The construction of the machine itself felt rickety. Straight out of the box the central hinge already looked a bit battered, and the top plate wobbled from side to side when I opened it up. It manages to be both weighty and plasticky at the same time, which is quite an achievement. It also took several rinses to remove a very strong chemical scent that smelled a bit like TCP liquid antiseptic. The final kick in the teeth is that the cooking surface is most definitely not non-stick. Even brushing the plates with melted butter left a lot of stuck-on mess that was a nightmare to clean.

It's a shame this gadget doesn't live up to its billing, because it would be an economical way to make pies while giving your overworked oven a rest. As it is, it's not a solution - it's fiddly, messy, liable to burn you, and incapable of producing really good pies. Still, it would be a good Christmas present for a masochist, or someone you really don't like, I guess.

Back to the old patty tin...


Lord of the Rings Sterling Silver Arwen's Evenstar large
Lord of the Rings Sterling Silver Arwen's Evenstar large
Price: £87.20

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really lovely piece, 21 July 2010
I was racking my brains trying to come up with a not-too-predictable present for a friend's birthday, and Amazon galloped to the rescue with this offering. For any fan of LOTR, it's a beautiful reminder to have, but even non-fans (they exist, I understand) couldn't help but admire this. It's just over 2 inches long and it isn't remotely gaudy. The sterling silver is solidly crafted, the stones are really clear and have a tremendous sparkle, and it has a really reassuring weight to it. Time will tell, but it does feel like a good quality piece that will last. It comes in a rather stylish presentation box, but you'll need to find an appropriate chain for it, which can prove a bit of a headache. I ended up buying a plain length of silver chain and a few fixings from an online bead/crafts supplier, and it was a matter of minutes to put it together with a pair of beading pliers. It's a nice inexpensive option and lets you get a good feel for the right length.

I was a bit concerned about the size of the item when reading its specs, but it's not at all ostentatious and the timelessness of the design means that it goes with basically any outfit, although it looks particularly stunning against a neutral colour.

Really pleased I went for this... just a little reluctant to wrap it up and give it away!


The Third Man
The Third Man
by Peter Mandelson
Edition: Hardcover

44 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Ego has Landed..., 16 July 2010
This review is from: The Third Man (Hardcover)
I think it's fitting that Mandelson chose a movie title for his memoirs. The obvious question is should we classify this as fiction or non-fiction? Well, considering it's (allegedly) written by Peter Mandelson himself, spin doctor extraordinaire, media puppeteer, master of the thinly veiled 'euphemism,' stylish soundbite and cashmered quip... perhaps you should draw your own conclusions as to its veracity. What Mandelson is basically expecting you to do, on reading these memoirs, is a charming exercise in appropriately Orwellian doublethink. You must accept that the public presentation of the New Labour years, which Mandelson engineered largely by himself, was utter twaddle, and that these diaried accounts are now the unvarnished truth. I don't know if anyone recently saw a picture in the news, apparently taken in the Florida Everglades - it showed a dead python which had attempted to swallow a giant alligator, but had burst in the attempt. Swallowing the gospel according to St. Peter may have the same effect.

There's a part of me that thinks this volume should have been supplied wrapped in yesterday's newsprint and sprinkled with more than a pinch of salt. Fishy? Undoubtedly. And Mandelson kindly supplies the vinegar himself. Each chapter is seasoned liberally with a good dose of carefully crafted bile, with pithy reflections on former colleagues that are no doubt intended to seem like throwaway remarks, but nothing about Mandelson is casual. You just know that every barb and thrust has been painstakingly selected for maximum impact. I must admit that he does have an entertaining flair for the dramatic - it's perhaps a shame that he didn't pursue a career on the stage instead of public office. The role of pantomime villain does seem to be one that, if not actively courting, he has certainly rather relished. Yet some of the more farcical episodes in his career, which he freely discusses, smack more of Widow Twankey than Voldemort.

He's an easy figure for the potshots, but given his enormous influence on British politics it would be foolish not to take him seriously. The real wonder, for me, which is never properly examined in Mandy's account, is *how* exactly he managed to become such a pivotal figure in the circus. How he managed to set himself up as such an invaluable linch-pin. That's more an issue for independent observers, I suppose. He's not giving away his secrets, and whatever else you think of Mandelson the man, you do have to grudgingly marvel at his sheer tenacity and capacity for political reinvention. However, you're also left scratching your head in wonderment that so many people could be quite so naive for so long. Were we all really so gullible? Or was it more that times were good and it didn't really matter what tripe was trotted out by the resident band of power-crazed professional liars in government? Who knows.

Is Mandelson's revisionist history worth forking out for? Well, if you're a diehard political nerd (like me!) then you'll want this for your collection, regardless of its content or value. If you're not a nerd, but still believe in things like natural justice and the tooth fairy, then you may even read this and close it contentedly, feeling like you've finally heard the truth. For everyone else, I'm not sure the so-called revelations justify the purchase price. It's undeniably interesting to read events from Mandelson's perspective, in particular his relationship with Blair, but to be honest, the prose itself can be leaden and rather pedestrian, and you may find yourself skimming portions, waiting for the next injection of cattiness. And if you're of a rather cynical bent (come sit by me), then you may find yourself flinging the volume at the wall on occasion as St. Peter, the ever-so-sincere and blameless, brings on another bout of cognitive dissonance. Or acid indigestion.

To be fair, I think The Third Man will really come into its own when it can be properly compared to Campbell's new offering, and Blair's own account. That should be quite fun. Watching the unholy trifecta of hoodwinkers attempting to untwist their collective knickers and present clean slates may actually reveal some of the true story.

Hope this doesn't sound all too repulsively cynical for words - I guess I should add that I don't think Mandelson is any worse than your average self-serving public servant, and at least he's cut a colourful figure on the scene amid the usual band of grey Whitehall suits. It's the same old story whoever's in power, really, isn't it? The same propaganda, same soundbites, same charade that any of them have any greater concern than their own hides. Maybe the best we can hope for is to get a little entertainment from the spectacle while they rip us off.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2010 4:45 PM BST


Ed Reardon's Week: Series 3
Ed Reardon's Week: Series 3
by Christopher Douglas
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a comic parson's egg..., 15 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One person's comedy gold is another's poison, so you take a chance by trying, however rave the reviews. Still, I'm glad I did have a listen to this series. Ed Reardon, in the best tradition of comedy antiheroes, is an utter git. Not quite on the level of an Edmund Blackadder or Alan B'Stard, and certainly nowhere close to a Francis Urquart, but he's still a man you'd probably cross the street to avoid, the automatic candidate for the re-parceled scented candle set at Christmas.

The episodes revolve around Ed's relentless pursuit of the elusive pound, as a freelance scribbler thwarted at every turn by the big knobs at the Beeb, unfeeling publishers, an ineffectual agent, and a generally cruel misalignment of the cosmos. There were some genuinely very funny moments, mostly provided by a solid supporting cast including the excellent John Fortune and Stephanie Cole, and Ed's endless diatribes were usually witty and articulate, if not rib-tickling. I have to be honest, though, I did find much of this rather tepid fare. I guess I like my comedy a good bit darker. Reardon is a hopelessly bitter misanthropic old fart, yes, but he's not creating enough devious bedlam for my liking! It's perhaps just a little too safe to really be up there with the comedy greats. It never bites very close to the bone, and it's probably unfair to hope that it might - it's not meant to be controversial, it's part of a stable of R4 offerings designed to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Still, if your tastes run to eloquent comedy of a slightly lighter hue, then keep your expectations on a leash and give it a try. It might just be your comic cup of tea.


One Moment, One Morning
One Moment, One Morning
by Sarah Rayner
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very sensitively crafted, if a bit close to the bone..., 15 July 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don't know if the author is drawing on personal experience, but much of what she writes, especially regarding the central tragedy of Simon's sudden death, is painfully well-observed if you've ever been in a similar situation. This is no reflection on the author's skill (if it is, it's a positive one) but I did find myself trying to hurry through the event itself as I found it quite upsetting to read. If you've recently lost anyone, this maybe isn't the right novel to pick up... at least, not while feelings are still very raw, although I guess it depends on how you personally cope. Some people I know who've been recently bereaved have found a lot of comfort in reading this book, it helps them to get up close to the pain, in a slightly shielded vicarious way, and confront and work through it. I think I'm maybe a bit too much of a wuss for that approach to really work for me... I finished this novel and then went in search of the lightest, fluffiest bit of throwaway escapism I could find.

I hope I'm not being unfair to the author - her delicate characterisation and gentle handling of the events cannot be faulted, and she weaves her tale with a great deal of sensitivity and style. I found the character of Lou especially engaging, and delving into her story and unrelated struggles regarding her sexuality was a welcome distraction. I found Karen very easy to relate to, she's pragmatic and deeply likeable, an everywoman who manages to be extraordinary.

I will definitely be reading more of the author's work in the future.


Zotrim Herbal Weight Loss Aid 90+90 Tablets
Zotrim Herbal Weight Loss Aid 90+90 Tablets
Offered by Nutrisun
Price: £19.89

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just drink the water!, 24 Jun 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have the appetite from hell. Leptin, ghrelin, insulin... whatever hormone it is that's supposed to make you recognise when you're full - I don't seem to produce it. I love food and could probably eat my favourite foods (rice, pasta, sandwiches, chocolate, fruit cake) until I literally burst.

I've lost several stone in weight - and regained them promptly - over the years. I'm a champion loser, I must have lost the same 4 stone five or more times. Classic hopeless yo-yo dieter. Two years ago I decided enough was enough and I was going to kick dieting to the curb for good and embrace something I may have some chance of sticking with. That meant thinking long term and regarding food as friend and nourishment rather than enemy and punishment. In a year I shed the weight I wanted to lose, and I've managed (with some bumpy patches!) to maintain that loss for the past year. I'm hoping my dieting days are behind me, but I'm a food addict and the price of being relatively comfortable in my own skin means constant vigilance regarding food, and some degree of denial. That's the cold hard truth. There's no magic or miracle solutions, it's just graft and a matter of how much you want it.

Along the way I tried many potions and promised aids - Zotrim among them - and I can't say they made a blind bit of difference to my gluttonous desire to demolish any cake within a 5 mile radius. My appetite is as monstrous as its always been. What I've found -does- help, slightly, is what they call water-loading. Filling up with drinks. Water, tea, cal-free squash etc. Sometimes satisfying thirst can at least prolong the urge to hit the biscuit barrel. I think this is how Zotrim can (sneakily) appear to work for some people. It's not the pills curbing your appetite so much as the water filling your belly for a little while and slaking your thirst.

I don't like to see people taken for a ride, especially regarding their health - and there's so much money to be made out of people wanting to lose weight. The dieting industry is a goldmine. But in my humble opinion, just on the basis of my own chequered past and experiences with losing weight, dieting just doesn't work. Anything you can't see yourself living with for the rest of your life just doesn't have a future other than failure. At the end of the day, I think you've got to be kind to yourself and think about losing weight as just a side effect of a lifestyle change and a readjustment of your relationship with food. When I was bigger, I used to binge on chocolate, cake, crisps, biscuits. I'd eat enough rice in one sitting to feed a family of four. For a week. Finding some other outlet for my anxiety and comfort-cravings has been a big part of losing weight, as well as ruthlessly planning my daily meals - I find I need to be armed with a plan I can stick to or else I aimlessly graze and nibble and ultimately binge. All just boring common sense, really. No magic, no miracles, just finding a way to eat less of the bad stuff, fill up on fruit, veggies and healthy wholefoods, have a bit of patience and think long-term. Best of luck to all trying to shift the pounds, I know it's hard, but I wouldn't waste your hard-earned cash on gimmicks that don't work. Save the money for your new wardrobe! :)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2010 2:50 PM BST


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