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Reviews Written by
Mrs. D. J. Smith (Luton, England)

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What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved
What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Matters in Jane Austen, 15 Oct. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is subtitled "Twenty Crucial Puzzle Solved". I'm not sure I quite agree with that - it's more a case of throwing some light on areas of the novels that may puzzle a modern reader but would have been plain to a contemporary audience.

For example, there is a chapter on the games played in the novels. No one (that I know!) plays at Speculation any more, but we can grasp both the fundamentals of the game ("I am never to see my cards and Mr Crawford does all the rest" as Lady Bertram puts it!) and read into it some further illumination of the participating characters. And of course understand why Sir Thomas thought that it might not amuse him to have wife wife as a partner in Whist!

There are sections on characters who have no reported speech (it had not occurred before that we never hear Captain Benwick speak, but it is quite true!), clears away the myth that there are no scenes where women are not present and wraps up with an important consideration of Jane Austen's place in the development of the novel. I think that as she is so very readable, and perhaps also because she is a woman writer, people in general are too apt to dismiss her importance, but her innovations in style are immeasurable. I don't think it is going too far to say that without Austen the novel would not have developed in the way it has. If you read Henry James, Flaubert, Kafka and a long et cetera, you best give your thanks to Jane Austen!


Jane Austen and Food
Jane Austen and Food
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of Food in Jane Austen, 15 Oct. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Over the years there have been a glut of 'Jane Austen and.....' books. She just far enough away for us to need some explanation of some of the things that her contemporary readers wouldn't have thought twice about and this is one of the things that this book does very well. Confused about service a la Francaise or a la Russe? Think the French Bread at Northanger is like a modern French Stick or not sure why Mrs Grant's Turkey wouldn't keep until Sunday? - this book will certainly help you there!

Of course, it goes a little deeper than that. Only on occasion are we given reference to very specific foodstuffs, so when we do, you can bet there is some greater significance to it. There is also the significance of female characters as 'housekeeper' and what this says about them. Mrs Jennings may at times be a comic character and have lower social origins, but sh is a good housekeeper, in contrast to Mrs Price, who really doesn't know what she is about.

I read this on Kindle and there could have been a little more in terms of proof reading. The book itself ends at about 80% in due to index, bibliography and an extract from another book - I mention it as it came sooner than I expected.


ELEMIS Life Elixirs: Clarity Perfume Oil - Perfume Oil Rollerball 8.5ml
ELEMIS Life Elixirs: Clarity Perfume Oil - Perfume Oil Rollerball 8.5ml
Price: £27.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea...., 13 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like the idea - a concentrated perfume to help calm you - apply to pulse points when expecting stressful times.

Did it work? Ummm, not particularly for me.I applied before a couple of stressful meetings, but to be honest I couldn't tell that I had it on at all.


Herbal Essences Cucumber and Green Tea Shine Conditioner, 400 ml
Herbal Essences Cucumber and Green Tea Shine Conditioner, 400 ml
Price: £4.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Average Performing Conditioner, 13 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Cucumber & Green Tea Conditioner is one of the new line of products from Herbal Essences. One of the selling points for this new range is that the manufacturing process is more environmentally friendly and that the products themselves contain fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients. Really, that's just what the majority of us want. How far they actually go in meeting their claims is less easy to determine!

As to the product itself, it's white and a good consistency. The smell I found pleasant and not too strong. I have fairly fine hair, oilier at the roots and a little drier at the ends and while I had no problem with this conditioner, it wasn't any better than any other product I have used as there was no discernible difference in my hair after repeated uses. This is a large 400ml bottle, but still quite pricey, so I don't think I would buy it myself.


Oxford Campus B5 Wirebound Hardback Notebook - Assorted Colours (Pack of 5)
Oxford Campus B5 Wirebound Hardback Notebook - Assorted Colours (Pack of 5)
Price: £24.19

4.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Student Notebooks, 13 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These wire bound notebooks are obviously targeted at students, being branded as campus notebooks and having a page at the front for copying out your lecture timetable.

Obviously, you don't have to be a student to use these. They come in a pack for five with various colour covers (I had two red, two light blue and one navy). The pages have a nice writing surface - smooth paper and relatively thick, so that you can write on both sides without it showing through.

The B5 size is smaller than a standard A4 pad, but more likely to be able to pop it into a bag and it's plenty big enough if you need to take quite a lot of notes without having to turn the page too frequently. The wire binding means you can tear pages out should you need to, although pages are also perforated for easy removal.

There is a lot to like and these are definitely high quality pads. This is reflected in the price, working out at around £5 per notebook. These might be a nice gift for a student setting off to university but would be for those who value quality over quantity.


John Frieda Ultimate Fixation Hairspray 75 ml
John Frieda Ultimate Fixation Hairspray 75 ml
Price: £1.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Good non-sticky spray, 10 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not a massive user of hairspray, but do put my hair up when I go to dance classes - and want it to stay there.

This is a small can that you could fit in a handbag if you re-do your hair on the go.

I haven't noticed a particularly strong smell and it holds hair well. It brushes out easily afterwards too.

Decent hairspray - decent price!


ELEMIS Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask - Radiance Boosting Mask 75ml
ELEMIS Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask - Radiance Boosting Mask 75ml

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Fruity Facecare, 9 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Elemis Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask

It certainly smells fruity! Apparently with extracts of Strawberry and Kiwi, you certainly get a waft of the former! The mast comes in a 75ml tube and the product itself is grey in colour and fairly thick.

The recommended application is to apply a layer a couple of times a week, leave for 10-15 minutes, rinse and - hey presto! If you want a treat for you face, but can't find a few minutes to yourself, I do what a therapist recommended I do with the exotic Moisture Mask (also by Elemis!) - apply at night (you don't need too much as it's hard to rub thoroughly in) and sleep with it on and in the morning, wash your face and you have lovely soft skin!

Elemis stuff is a pricey brand, but this would be one product to consider shelling out a little more on as if does make a significant difference and it will last you ages. This said, the Skin Buff is still my top Elemis product, but they do work well together as this mask works particularly well after a good exfoliation.


ELEMIS Pro-Definition Facial Oil - Face Oil for Mature Skin
ELEMIS Pro-Definition Facial Oil - Face Oil for Mature Skin
Price: £55.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but pricey facial oil, 6 Oct. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This facial oil by Elemis says it is targeted at Mature Skin, so I'm probably rather on the young side, although anti-ageing skin care now starts when you hit your twenties....

My skin type is combination normal/oily but with a perverse tenancy to dehydration!

The recommendation is for 3-4 drops per use and some other reviewers have said they needed to use more. Again, being perverse, I've found that 1-2 drops is adequate for me - we all need to find our own ideal level. Putting oil onto rather oil skin does seem counter-intuitive, but I have tried other facial oils and if you get the right product in the right quantity, it's absolutely fine.

This product has a pipette dropper so you get the right amount dispensed. The oil absorbs easily and has a pleasant smell. My skin has been feeling hydrated all day after using this, so I'm very happy with this product.

It is pricey - recommended retail price is over £60. However, as you only need a very little, even if you are using the recommended 3-4 drops per use, this will last you for ages.


Face Inc Show Me The Bunny Sheet Mask
Face Inc Show Me The Bunny Sheet Mask
Price: £5.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey single use face mask, 29 Sept. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These sheet masks seem to becoming all the rage over here at the moment. Personally, I'm still to be convinced. I tried one last week which made my skin red and uncomfortable but to be fair, this one didn't do that. It did drip down my top while I was trying to apply it to my face there was so much liquid in the mask though. I spent the 15 minute application time recumbent on the sofa, but still had it dribbling down my neck.

Having removed it and rubbed in the excess 'stuff', my skin does feel fairly soft, but it's a superficial feeling as it doesn't really feel nourished and moisturised. It claims to be an oil balancing mask, and I do have combination normal/oily skin, but also a tendency to dehydration that this just wasn't hitting.

For a single use product that I can't see having a lasting impact (no visible improvement and I'll slap on some night cream before I go to bed) £5 a go is pretty steep, so although it's OK, I wouldn't buy it at that price.

As for the bunny face on the mask, I'm guessing it's just a gimmick as I reckon I looked more like the villain from a horror film than a rabbit, so if nothing else, you could put one on before answering the door at Hallowe'en.


Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Calming Paper Mask (1 Count)
Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Calming Paper Mask (1 Count)
Offered by Pure And Natural Cosmetics
Price: £4.49

2.0 out of 5 stars No to this mask, 22 Sept. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With just a single use mask I thought it might be difficult to give a fair assessment, but as it happens, that's the easy part!

Cucumber, generally considered soothing. I have combination normal/oily skin which can sometimes be a little sensitive, but not particular allergies and actually in pretty good condition at the moment (thank you Elemis Skin Buff!).

Packet easily opening and rather slimy mask extracted and unfolded without incident. Mask applied to face. Weird flaps under the eye holes and the mask didn't really lie flat on my face. The wide strip between the eyes made me feel cross eyed after a whole. On application if felt cold, and not in a nice soothing way. I kept it on probably a little over the prescribed 10 minutes, but can't say it felt soothing or relaxing. Try more like cold burning or stinging! Once I removed the mask I could see that my skin was visibly reddened. I removed the residue of the product with miscellelar water and used my usual facial oil and moisturiser and it's feeling OK again now.

Nothing in the ingredients list that would lead me to expect this sort of reaction, but having skimmed the other reviews here, looks like plenty of us had similar experiences.


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