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Reviews Written by
Four Violets (Hertford UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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The Fortunes
The Fortunes
by Peter Ho Davies
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and relevant, 23 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Fortunes (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It took a while to dawn on me that some of the people in the four different stories in this book were real people from history. For example in the first story, Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1880's, using Chinese labour. The Chinese had originally arrived with the Gold Rush and were popular because of their reputation for hard work - but the Chinese undercut other nationalities with their prices in the labour market, notably in the food and laundry industries - and were finally excluded from further immigration in an Act of 1882.

The second story is about Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star (1905-1961) and consists of bitty extracts, quips and brave attempts at humour over the bitterness of the experience of racism Chinese endured at the time.

The third story is told as though by a friend of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was murdered in 1982 in Detroit - because his attackers mistook him for Japanese

The final story is about a mixed race Chinese American John Ling Smith and his Irish-descent American wife travelling to China to adopt a baby girl. This was the story I struggled the most with. Throughout the book the point was repeatedly made that the Chinese were equally racist and even the prostitution they practiced was often as a result of being sold by their own families - there is no attempt to paint any one race as "better behaved" than another on the earth. However author John Ling Smith (hard not to associate him with Peter Ho Davies, the son of Welsh and Chinese parents) is hard to like - on the day of meeting their baby he chats to a casual prostitute because there was nowhere to take her - his wife being asleep upstairs, and thinks that he would succumb if they were somewhere private, and even names his new daughter after her.

There is a lot to think about in the book, and it's challenging reading, with themes of racism, prostitution, misogyny, parenthood and alienation.


Fly London Hert, Women's Sandals, Black, 6 UK (39 EU)
Fly London Hert, Women's Sandals, Black, 6 UK (39 EU)
Price: £73.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a totally perfect fit for my size 6 feet, 23 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a little disappointed with these as they are about half an inch too long and my heel looks a little odd at the back as though I'm wearing shoes that are too large for me. I find this quite surprising as apparently your feet grow as you get older, and recently a couple of pairs of shoes I have bought elsewhere in my usual size (6) have been on the tight side. I have quite wide feet and these are quite wide shoes. To be fair they are fashion shoes not designed for long walks but I feel I could walk a moderate distance in them with reasonable comfort. They are certainly eye catching and unusual, with the see-through area through the sole! They appear to be well made, robust, and I like the fly logo in the leather on the outside of each heel strap. I intend wearing them with a skirt but they will go equally as well with trousers. Strangely, the size of shoe is nowhere to be found, only on the box. I've never seen that on a shoe before. The inside of the strap has numbers that end "40 15 39" - possibly indicating size 39 - who knows. They are made in Portugal and the leather is good. I feel the wearer could get a lot of wear out of these if looked after properly.


Fly London Wege, Women's Sandals, Black, 5 UK (38 EU)
Fly London Wege, Women's Sandals, Black, 5 UK (38 EU)
Price: £79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A bit different - and extremely comfortable, 20 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are unbelievably comfortable - as well as looking great. I feel I could happily walk in them without getting a blister and they look stylish and fab with both skirts and trousers. They feel and look well made as well as being eye catching and a bit different. I'm really happy with them. I also love the flies! on the sole, side, leather side strap and under your heel! Nice touch. They are made in Portugal - always a good indication! The Velcro fastening is discreet and very secure.


Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey 24 Plus Total Active 250 g
Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey 24 Plus Total Active 250 g
Offered by Natural Health Ltd
Price: £30.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! wonderful honey, 20 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is truly good honey, with flavour rather than sweetness. The unique Manuka flavour here is delicious - bad honey just tastes of sugar. Googling tells me that to be described as Manuka, at least 70% should come from the Manuka or New Zealand tea tree.
This is not too runny and is wonderfully easy to spread without running off the toast! I gave it to two Cornish bee keepers to taste and they (grudgingly) admitted it compares favourably with the best Cornish heather honey. What a pity it's a bit pricey, I eat honey every day and I'd definitely choose this every time.


Manuka Doctor ApiClear Facial Moisturising Lotion 100 ml
Manuka Doctor ApiClear Facial Moisturising Lotion 100 ml
Price: £13.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Squeeze gently!, 14 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an excellent product. It smells lovely, absorbs quickly without the slightest irritation, and feels wonderful on the skin. The plain packaging is deceptive - its far more luxurious than it looks. Even my hands were softer where I had used them to apply the cream. Use with care as its a little runny and the first time I used it, it came out too quickly. Squeeze gently!


Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask 40 ml
Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask 40 ml
Price: £19.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Prefer other Manuka Doctor products, 8 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using the Manuka Doctor Purifying Face Mask which is far more matt and clay-like than this - the Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask. The Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask in fact looks like a very thick and creamy moisturising cream. When I put it on my face there was a feeling of slight stinging, quite noticeable, so I only left it on for 8 minutes - the instructions say to wipe off but I preferred to wash my face, which was rather blotchy, red and a bit itchy afterwards. I didn't experience any of the beneficial results listed, like a feeling of firming or lifting, or pores/wrinkles looking less obvious. I far prefer the Purifying Face Mask. However my skin is excessively sensitive and it could just be an ingredient that my particular skin reacted to.


Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Flawless Primer 30 ml
Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Flawless Primer 30 ml
Price: £15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It's a primer....but not as I know it, 5 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm relatively new to primers and I think of them as the plaster layer before the paint goes on, smoothing out imperfections, cracks and discolourations! Generally providing a smooth base so that foundation goes on more smoothly. The two I usually use are Smashbox and Laura Mercier. The Manuka Doctor primer is quite different as it has a colour - I can't see there is any difference to this and a BB cream. I was impressed with the level of cover when using a very small amount, and although the colour looks alarmingly pale pinky/beige when it goes on, it blends in totally giving a satisfying level of camouflage to areas of blemishes, thread veins and blotchiness. On a good skin day I'd wear this alone.


Manuka Doctor Drops of Crystal Beautifying Bi-Phase Oil 30 ml
Manuka Doctor Drops of Crystal Beautifying Bi-Phase Oil 30 ml
Price: £29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely product but not much effect, 1 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This has the most divine smell and the bottle looks amazing, when you shake as instructed it looks as though some magic potion is brewing up, a very pretty though slightly frogspawn-like bubbly something churning around in the glass container. Apart from bee venom and manuka honey there is oil from the Mediterranean Pistacia Lentiscus tree. Otherwise known as the Mastic Tree, this produces a resin in "tear drops" - hence the name I assume, and is traditionally regarded as having healing properties.

I found the recommended three to four drops did nothing so I used more, and perhaps that is where I went wrong, because I felt that my skin reddened and accentuated my skin's small broken capillaries.

This is probably a product which is going to produce very different reactions in everyone. I'm disappointed it didn't suit me more because I'm sure the ingredients are good ones.


Manuka Doctor ApiClear Purifying Face Mask 40 ml
Manuka Doctor ApiClear Purifying Face Mask 40 ml
Price: £24.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Replenishes the skin, 1 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I usually use Apivita masks from M&S, especially during winter, to try and boost my skin's hydration levels. This mask is entirely different as although it applies like a thick, very slightly clay-like cream, it dries on your face. I waited about 12 minutes and during that time my face felt fine, although slightly cold - but nicely, refreshingly so. When I took the mask off with warm water and cotton wool it had started to dry enough to crack. I was astonished by how soft my skin was, and it really did feel replenished and moisturised. Glowing!


Baylis & Harding Jojoba Silk and Almond Oil Travel Set
Baylis & Harding Jojoba Silk and Almond Oil Travel Set
Price: £8.05

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 1 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I always use Baylis and Harding hand washes in the bathroom - they look deceptively posh but are good value for money, ie quite cheap.

The size of the travel set is 50ml for the conditioner, and 100ml for the shampoo and shower gel. For comparison a "normal" size shower gel is 250ml. So these are good for at least a week's holiday. Or are they? The shower gel and shampoo bottles look and smell absolutely identical - very nice in fact - like vanilla - which is faintly irritating when you are trying to work out which of the totally identical bottles you want. I found a little went a long way in spite of the consistency being a bit gloopy, so I would be relaxed about taking these for a week's holiday. I had no adverse skin reaction and my skin is sensitive. The shampoo requires a lot to make a lather, and left my hair a bit straw-like.
However the conditioner - after I finally managed to wrestle off the foil seal - wouldn't last more than 4-5 days because so much of it is needed - it's thin.
The bottles are far too large in my opinion for "hand luggage only" - I'm down to emptying and re-using those tiny tiny hotel miniatures - so not entirely brilliant as a travel pack. For a similar reason I wouldn't use the bag - it's too bulky.
I'd certainly use the shower gel again at home.
And I'd give the set as a gift.

The "instructions for use" made me laugh - reminds me of a wonderful cartoon of a flight attendant demonstrating how to fasten the seat belt and a passenger exclaiming: "Sweet Mother of God so THAT'S how you buckle a seat belt!"


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