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Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales)
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The Offering
The Offering
by Grace McCleen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Immersed in a near unending quagmire of misery. Not the most cheerful of reads..., 20 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Offering (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First published back in January of 2015, 'The Offering' formed the third novel to be published by British author Grace McCleen.

DLS Synopsis:
Madeline Adamson's childhood was far from joyous. As an only child, home-schooled by her mother, her best friend in the world became their family dog, Elijah. For Madeline it was a quiet and lonely existence. Her parents brought her up understanding the love of God. They were more than God-fearing folk. Their existence was one in the hope of spreading the word of God. They lived for the love of God. He is the provider.

When Madeline was thirteen, they moved out to a remote island where they hoped to have more success with their preaching. Madeline's father had always struggled finding work. He would ask around for any labour jobs going. Moving from job to job, never really knowing how long they will have money coming in for.

On the island it was no different. The locals seemed apprehensive of the new arrivals. Their attempts at preaching won them no favours. Within days of arriving they felt like outcasts. Unwanted on the island. And so work was doubly scarce.

After just two months spent at the bungalow, the Adamson's move again to a farm that recently went on to the market following the death of the previous owner. Here they hope that their luck will change. Madeline's mother thinks of all the things that the farm could bring them. A coffeehouse where people could drop by. A guest house which could bring in a healthy income. But mostly, it was a new start for the family.

But it was never going to be that easy. Their idyllic wishes would be little more than unresolved dreams. At the farm they will find hardship, poverty and bad fortune. But they still have their faith in God. A faith that He will see them through their difficulties. Even Madeline's faith is as strong as ever. She has found a way to let God in. And she knows that if God can visit her, then he must be looking out for them. He must be there. He must be.

But something happened to Madeline Adamson on the night of her fourteenth birthday that would tear the rest of her life apart. The night she ran away, something happened that was too traumatic for her mind to process. When the police found her she was dishevelled and incoherent. Over the following weeks she stopped speaking, eating and sleeping.

Now, twenty-one years later, and Madeline resides at the Letham Park Mental Infirmary. Her current illness is symptomatic of the repression her mind has put in place. But with a new doctor now offering the possibility of a cure, Madeline's troubled past is about to be opened up again.

As Dr Lucas will soon find out, the ground that Madeline is about to re-tread is one of shame, isolation and a bitter misguided belief...

DLS Review:
I have to admit that I'm an absolute sucker for stories where religion is given a bit of a battering. Faith can be so easily twisted to one's perception of what is right and wrong; with rituals and sacrifices allowed to flourish and mutate until they have a 'justified' place in life. And in essence, this is at the very crux of Grace McCleen's novel. If a child is brought up without proper guidance, with just murky principles and an over-dependence on religion, then it's so easy for things to get misconstrued and for it all to end up as one big psychological mess. It's an idea that's certainly fertile ground for a tale. The question is - just how far will McCleen push it?

The story is split into two distinct threads. Firstly you have the perspective of Madeline Adamson in 2010 where she resides at Lethem Park Mental Infirmary. This particular side of the story is very akin to the likes of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' (1962), whereby the reader is immersed into the day-to-day life of a mental institution. Here you have the usual patients who add a degree of colour to the picture, such as the quiet Brendan who instigates an uprising in the patients' lunchtime.

The second thread is instigated by Dr Lucas' revisiting of Madeline's past in a hope to finally cure her. Delivered via passages from Madeline's diary from when she was an adolescent, as well as through Madeline re-living her past though hypnotism; this second and far more dominant thread follows young Madeline's life from when they moved to the island, until that fateful night which ultimately brought about her mental collapse and psychological retreat. And to be fair, McCleen effortlessly jumps between these two threads; not overly dwelling on one particular period for too long, yet still allowing aspects to flourish and drive the storyline forward.

If you hadn't guessed it already, this is one depressing and bleak story, magnified by seeing it through the misguided and painfully innocent eyes of a lonely adolescent. In fact, there are so very few moments of any joyful light in the novel that it ends up feeling like a constant blanket of woe which smothers the reader from start to finish.

Very, very surprisingly, characterisation is strangely weak. Madeline is left only marginally sketched-out, even with her being the main focus of the entire story. Her parents (two key players in the tale) although they have one hell of an impact on the storyline, are still just shadows of characters, without any lasting definition applied. Furthermore, Dr Lucas is given a once over from when we (and Madeline) are first introduced to him, but after that, the character is left as little more than a tool in which to enable the story to be told.

The grand finale that the story has been working its way towards from the very outset becomes quite predictable from early on. However, due in part to McCleen's strong delivery, and also the time invested into establishing the final platform for the event; thankfully it doesn't really lose any of its gut-wrenching impact. In fact, the final couple of chapters tug at your heart-strings like there's no tomorrow; ultimately laying down a truly sad and really quite depressing ending.

It's a tough read, drenched in hardship and almost unending misery. And I can't say it's not slow. At times the pace becomes sludgy and grinding - with very little emerging from the quagmire of festering depression. But luckily these moments are somewhat few and far between. And ultimately the crushing finale makes it all worth preserving with.

The novel runs for a total of 259 pages.


KINGLAKE® 24Pcs Makeup Brush Set Latest New Horse Hair Professional Makeup Cosmetics Brushes Set Kits with White Cream-colored Case Bag (24PCS)
KINGLAKE® 24Pcs Makeup Brush Set Latest New Horse Hair Professional Makeup Cosmetics Brushes Set Kits with White Cream-colored Case Bag (24PCS)
Offered by KLTMALL
Price: £17.24

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good quality set of makeup brushes in a stylish faux-leather case..., 15 Feb. 2015
Length:: 5:08 Mins

The Kinglake 24pcs Makeup Brush Set is a large semi-professional set of makeup brushes that comes in a handy carry case.

WHAT YOU GET:
The set arrives in a clear plastic zip-lock bag. Opening this up you're presented with a plush looking faux-leather fold-up case in a light cream colour. Folded-up the case measures approximately 26cm (W) x 17cm (H) x 6cm (D). Opening out the case, it measures an impressive 60cm in width (not including the fastening section).

Inside the case you have 24 different sized and different style brushes including:
- Powder brushes
- Foundation brush
- Fan brush
- Contour brush
- Concealer brush
- Mascara & brow brushes
- Eyeshadow brushes
- Flat-edged eyeshadow brushes (use along lash line)
- Angled Eyeshadow brushes
- Fine line brush
- Sponge-tipped brush used for smudging

Along with these you get two additional mascara wands that come with the set. What's handy is there's two small sleeves located by the largest brush where you can slide these two mascara wands in (see video). Furthermore, you also get a powder puff thrown in. Not exactly a deal breaker, but a nice complementary touch nonetheless.

THE BRUSHES:
The brushes are all made from horse hair - which will last longer than synthetic ones and will produce far better results. However it should be noted that horse hair is nowhere near the quality of sable or squirrel hair, and so should not be seen as a top-of-the-range purchase. However, for general day-to-day use by non/semi-professionals, horse hair is ideal.

The brushes feel soft and provide a delicate stroke which is excellent for applying and blending powders or shadows. The 24 pieces allow for a good range of applications, covering pretty much every possible need. It's just a shame that a Foundation Buffing Brush hasn't been included (especially given that they are so popular and widely used now).

SUMMARY:
All in all this really is a very good makeup brush set. The brushes are all of a good quality, with a tight and strong grip on the horse hair bristles. Together with their matching handles they look stylish and elegant. Similarly, the faux-leather carry-case they come in is quality and looks good. Furthermore the sheer range of makeup brushes included is superb. This really is a very good set, and given the unbelievable pricetag, is a set that you really won't be disappointed in. Very highly recommended.

DISCLAIMER:
The product was provided to me free of charge for a 100% unbiased review.


Nail Fan Dryer
Nail Fan Dryer
Offered by Fashion Topro
Price: £45.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reasonably bulky nail dryer that produces consistently good results..., 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Nail Fan Dryer (Misc.)
Length:: 2:39 Mins

The Makartt Nail Fan Dryer is a reasonably large nail fan for use with drying standard nail polish onto the nails of your hands or feet.

WHAT YOU GET:
Inside the box you get the nail dryer measuring approximately 32cm (W) x 27cm (D) x 19cm (H) along with a simple one-page single-sheet instruction manual.

THE PRODUCT:
The nail dryer is manufactured entirely from a tough and hard-wearing plastic with a high-gloss finish, making it very solid and easy to wipe clean should you accidentally spill any polish on it. There's very little in the way of brand design on the dryer other than the small Makartt logo in red at the front. Either side of the logo it has 'Nail Drier' in bold black print. Sadly this grammatical faux pas emblazoned across the front of the dryer won't exactly boost confidence in the 'professional' manufacture or attention to detail within the design of the appliance.

Around the left-hand-side of the dryer you have the on/off switch with a sticker underneath it denoting this. Similarly on the other side of the dryer you have a switch for changing between warm/cool air. The use of stickers to denote what these switches do is undoubtedly so that they can be changed to accommodate the language of the country the dryer is being sold within.

The dryer has a permanently attached power lead measuring a reasonable 130cm. Although not a bad length, it would have been nice if the lead was that little longer to accommodate areas where mains supplies aren't necessarily that close by.

IN USE:
When turned on a small red LED lights up where the Makartt logo is positioned. As soon as a hand (or foot) is placed under the proximity sensors located on the underside of the dryer, it starts up and a series of odd disco-like LED lights start to illuminate. I'm sure the lights were meant to add a certain degree of pizzazz, however the end result is verging on tacky.

The dryer keeps going until the user's hand is removed from underneath the sensors. After approximately five seconds of it not picking up anything under the sensors the dryer switches off.

SUMMARY:
All in all my wife has been pretty happy with the nail dryer. She works as a beauty therapist, and so is very well acquainted with equipment like this. The dryer is quite large and bulky, however after having been used quite frequently over the last week, my wife says it's produced consistently good results in drying nails (usually around 60 seconds under the dryer gets the nails touch-dry). So all in all not a bad product at all.

DISCLAIMER:
The product was provided to me free of charge for a 100% unbiased review.


36W LED NAIL LAMP
36W LED NAIL LAMP

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stylish UV nail lamp for use with gel polishes..., 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: 36W LED NAIL LAMP (Misc.)
Length:: 5:44 Mins

The Makartt K1 LED UV Nail Lamp is a compact LED nail lamp for use with curing gel nail polishes.

WHAT YOU GET:
Inside the box you get the LED nail lamp measuring approximately 19.5cm (W) x 17.5cm (D) x 8.5cm (H). The UV lamp comes with a detachable AC/DC adapter with British 3-Pin plug, as well as a short instruction manual.

THE PRODUCT:
The UV nail lamp is manufactured predominantly from what appears to be a hard plastic that's been given a high-gloss coating, making it incredibly durable and easy to clean. Attention has clearly been paid to make the lamp look stylish and fitting for a beauty salon or at home. In fact, the overall appearance is reasonably professional whilst still looking quite glamorous. The top of the lamp includes so delicate stencil work in silver - not overly showy, but adds a nice touch to the overall look.

The opening (or 'mouth') of the UV nail lamp (i.e. where you place your hand or foot) measures approximately 13.5cm (W) x 5cm (H), offering more than enough room to accommodate all hand or foot sizes.

A particularly nice touch is that there are two power input sockets located on the reverse of the lamp. This allows the user to be able to easily position the lamp according to the space they have, rather than having it dictated by where the power lead can go.

FUNCTIONS:
The UV nail lamp has a timer which you set to either count-down or count-up. To set it you simply have to twist the dial to the time you want (10 secs, 30 secs, 50 secs, 70 secs or 90 secs). Then just press down on the timer button and the timer starts counting down (or up if you set it to zero).

The UV nail lamp includes a motion detector inside it, which means it starts as soon as you place your hand inside. This is incredibly handy when you're trying to multitask (i.e. applying gel to the other hand at the same time). The lamp stops once the timer has reached the time you set it to.

The UV nail lamp also includes a removable base plate which should be taken out when curing gel on your toes (see accompanying video). The plate simply pulls off the bottom (it's held on with magnets), and is put back just as simple. There's also plenty of room in the lamp's mouth for a foot to be put in.

IN USE:
When in use the UV nail lamp illuminates from within with a bright blue LED colour. The lamp is completely silent in use, and cures your nails quickly and evenly.

SUMMARY:
All in all my wife has been very happy with the UV nail lamp. She works as a beauty therapist, and so is very well acquainted with equipment like this. Compared with the other ones she owns and uses, this nail lamp is pretty much on a par with your average UV nail lamp - nothing particularly special but does the job well.

DISCLAIMER:
The product was provided to me free of charge for a 100% unbiased review.


Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain - 2.7 g, Honey
Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain - 2.7 g, Honey
Price: £5.67

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, vivid 'pink' that keeps its colour well..., 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 0:51 Mins

The Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain (Honey) is a sort of half-lipstick half-balm-stain.

THE PACKAGING:
The balm stain comes in a standard looking lipstick holder with a reasonably long 11cm length to it.

THE PRODUCT:
The balm stain offers a really good pink colour that comes out a fair bit darker than the packaging would have you believe. It comes in the now very popular 'crayon style', which is particularly easy to apply and gives a very light coverage over the lips. However, the balm stain seems to give a deeper colour than other crayon style lip stains.

During and after application the balm stain feels noticeably nourishing on the lips. Furthermore, and as expected from Revlon, the balm stain has very good 'staying power' and didn't come straight off on my wife's cup when she had a cup of tea.

SUMMARY:
All in all the balm stain has been a big hit with my wife. The colour it offers is bold and very pink, with excellent coverage and moisturising qualities to it. The colour lasts well and application is incredibly simple. What's not to like?


Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick - 4.2 g, Pink in the Afternoon
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick - 4.2 g, Pink in the Afternoon
Price: £6.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A nice bright pink with a creamy and nourishing feel to it..., 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 0:47 Mins

The Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick (Pink In The Afternoon) is a stick of rich and quite bright pink lipstick.

THE PACKAGING:
The lipstick comes in a standard looking lipstick holder with a 'classic' looking gloss black and gold plastic casing.

THE PRODUCT:
The lipstick is a very delicate colour. Applying the lipstick it goes on like a standard formula, but with a slightly 'creamier' feel to it than other, richer lip colours have. There's a nourishing sensation as the lipstick is applied (although how much nourishment the lipstick actually offers is probably open to debate). After application the colour lasts really quite well, maintaining its bright pink colour with very little reapplication required.

SUMMARY:
All in all the lipstick has proven to be a particularly good one. The colour it offers is bright, but still quite a delicate shade against its otherwise rich and creamy depth. The colour lasts well, application is simple and with a nice nourishing feel to it.


Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter- 2.55 g, Peach Parfait
Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter- 2.55 g, Peach Parfait
Price: £6.41

4.0 out of 5 stars A light and delicate colour. Not a bad product at all..., 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:05 Mins

The Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter (Peach Parfait) is a stick of 'lip butter' in a lipstick style packaging and design.

THE PACKAGING:
The lip butter comes in quite a pretty looking lipstick holder. The lid is surprisingly difficult to remove due to it being so low down, such a thin piece to grip, and on surprisingly tightly. Other than that, the lip butter's packaging is just like a standard lipstick.

THE PRODUCT:
The lip butter is basically a light formula of lipstick giving a very sheer coverage across the lips. This colour (Peach Parfait) has a light shimmery, glittery sheen to it. The colour itself is very delicate. Definitely leaning more toward a lip butter than a lipstick colour.

SUMMARY:
All in all it's not a bad product. The colour it offers is light and delicate, it goes on very easily, stays on your lip reasonably well for a lip butter, and adds a nice sheen to your lip. So really quite happy with it.


Vandesail® CAT7 High Speed Computer Router Gold Plated Plug STP Wires CAT7 RJ45 Ethernet LAN Networking Cable Professional Gold Headed Network Cable High Speed Premium Quality Cat seven / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN (3-meters-White Oblate Shielded)
Vandesail® CAT7 High Speed Computer Router Gold Plated Plug STP Wires CAT7 RJ45 Ethernet LAN Networking Cable Professional Gold Headed Network Cable High Speed Premium Quality Cat seven / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN (3-meters-White Oblate Shielded)
Offered by VanDeSaiL
Price: £14.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good internet connection, good secure connectors, and a nice flat cable., 8 Feb. 2015
Length:: 0:54 Mins

This is a review of the Vandesail CAT7 High Speed Computer Cable (3m white oblate shielded). Obviously this is only a review of the specific cable that I tested out. Other variations may have different results.

WHAT YOU GET:
Basically you get exactly what you order - the cable length and specific type, nicely rolled up and slipped inside a flat Amazon cardboard envelope.

THE PRODUCT:
The 3 meter oblate and shielded Ethernet cable comes measuring exactly 3 meters from the base of the connecting head to the one at the other end. The heads have a gold-plated exterior which I'm reliably informed helps with the quality of the connection.

The cable itself is approximately 7mm wide x 1mm deep (so very flat). As such it's ideal for lying under carpet or flooring, should you need to.

The cable heads feel solid and very well made. The connectors 'click' into your router and feel very secure.

SUMMARY:
Let's be honest - this is a cable we're talking about here. It's a CAT7, high-quality and ultra-reliable cable, but nevertheless it's still a cable, so I'm not going to get overly excited about it.

I can't say that I've noticed any change in my internet connection since using it. But then I've never really had that much call to pay attention to these things. However, for an Ethernet cable, you can't get much in the way of better quality than these ones. For a few extra quid, in my opinion it's probably worth it. Good internet connection, good secure connectors, and a nice flat cable.

DISCLAIMER:
The product was provided to me free of charge for a 100% unbiased review.


RESEED Ginkgo and Sabal fortifying Shampoo for Women 250 ml
RESEED Ginkgo and Sabal fortifying Shampoo for Women 250 ml
Price: £24.03

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seems to do something. Not a great deal...but something., 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 0:51 Mins

The Reseed 'Ginkgo & Sabal' Fortifying Shampoo is an expensive shampoo that (when used in conjunction with a veritable host of other products by Reseed) claims to increase density in hair, prevent further hair loss, whilst nourishing and restoring your hair.

For close to twenty-five quid (at the time of writing) you'd certainly hope some, if not all, of these claims are true.

Admittedly my wife doesn't suffer from loss of hair due to age or anything of that sort. However, she does seem to moult hair like there's no tomorrow. Sometimes her hairbrushes look more like a dead guinea pig. As such, we thought we'd give this pricey shampoo a whirl and see how she would get on with it.

So, week one of using the shampoo once-a-day (without any of the accompanying jazz they try to palm off on you) showed very little in the way of difference. The shampoo smells quite pleasant. Not twenty-five pounds pleasant, but not bad at all.

Still, the same hair-choaked plughole following a shower remained. So nothing at all to report back on thus far.

Week two on the other hand brought about what looks like a gradual but nevertheless noticeable change. There may well have been less hair cascading off my wife's scalp pre-post-and-during it being washed.

By the end of week two we were both reasonably convinced there had been a change. My opinion - not twenty-five pounds worth of change. But then I'm a £2.49 Head & Shoulders man.

Okay, so not exactly a carefully controlled scientific experiment, but some results are nonetheless in. The Reseed Fortifying Shampoo does something. Not a massive amount in our experience, but there's definitely something in it that works. You just need particularly deep pockets to receive the full effect.


Philips HP3621 200w InfraCare Lamp
Philips HP3621 200w InfraCare Lamp
Price: £35.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very compact infrared lamp that works wonders on aches & pains etc..., 8 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:50 Mins

The Philips InfraCare Infrared Lamp is a compact and portable infrared lamp that can be used for pain relief on muscular and joint pains as well as for cosmetic applications and relaxation.

WHAT YOU GET:
In a nutshell you get the InfraCare lamp, an instructional manual, a two year guarantee, and that's pretty much it.

THE PRODUCT:
The lamp measures approximately 32cm (H) x 20cm (W) x 17cm (D) - making it a very compact, easy to store away and very portable piece of equipment. Furthermore, the lamp is surprisingly light, which is ideal for anyone who is looking to use the lamp in a more professional capacity. The lamp comes with a 180cm long mains lead, which is a reasonable length, but due to the nature of the product, it would have been nice to have seen a longer power lead on it so that you don't need to move from a comfy chair to one that's nearer to a mains socket (if you don't want the faff of getting out an extension lead).

The lamp sits on a sturdy plastic base which allows it to be angled upwards to enable you to position the lamps heat in the right area. The pivoting action is smooth, with a surprising amount of resistance (which helps it not to slip down).

WHAT YOU CAN USE IT FOR:
There are basically three main things you can use the lamp for. These are:-
(1) Therapeutic applications (i.e. for relieving muscle pains, stiff muscles and stiff joints).
(2) Cosmetic applications (i.e. for keeping your facial skin healthy and clean by opening the pores of the skin and absorbing skincare products better).
(3) Muscle relaxation and preparation for a massage (my wife's a beauty therapist and uses these things all the time for massage prep).

IN USE:
When you hit the 'on' button the lamp bursts into life; instantly pumping out its pleasant 200W worth of infrared heat. The active face of the lamp measures approximately 15cm x 13cm, making it ideal for focussing the infrared heat onto particular areas. As such, it should be noted that the lamp is not great for warming up the whole back area in preparation for a massage.

The lamp gives off a very good infrared heat (my wife's very familiar with these lamps and gave it a thumbs up). After spending the day running around the park with the kids, the lamps penetrating heat worked absolute wonders on my aching calf muscles (I'm quite unfit). I also suffer from slight pains in my lower-back which often comes about when I've spent the day doing DIY stuff around the house. Again, I found the lamp was excellent on relieving these aching twinges in the evening.

DOWNSIDES:
One of the main downsides with the lamp is that it has to be placed on a flat surface and pointing either straight forwards or upwards. You can't lie down and have it pointing down across your back for example.

The other big downside with the lamp is the cost of running it. Don't forget what you're pumping out for 15 minutes at a time is a whopping 200W. If used regularly, the lamp will start adding its own weight onto your electricity bill.

SUMMARY:
All in all, even with the cost of running the lamp and its flat-surface-only-positioning, we're still very impressed with the lamp. As I said earlier, my wife's a beauty therapist and is now using the lamp with reasonable frequency for beauty stuff as well as occasional pain relief for my pathetically aching muscles. Furthermore, for sports massages, she's finding the focussed heat perfect for concentrating on particular areas prior to giving the massage. So a well-deserved five stars.


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