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Laura T (Oxford, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Nivea Q10 Look and Feel Beautiful Skincare Collection
Nivea Q10 Look and Feel Beautiful Skincare Collection
Price: £15.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable as a gift, 27 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This gift set contains three Nivea Q10 products: 250ml Body Firming Lotion, 100ml Anti-Wrinkle Age Defying Hand Cream and 50ml Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream. As other reviewers have noted, the quality of these products is good and they are a decent size. However, I was very disappointed in the presentation of the set. The bag looks extremely cheap and tacky - it's basically just white plastic with a flimsy gold zip. I don't think it looks nice enough to give it to somebody as a gift, and I certainly wouldn't want to reuse it myself as I already have a couple of old gift set bags that are much nicer. This is compounded by the fact that the gift set is actually slightly more expensive than buying all the products individually. I know that many gift sets follow this model, but I far prefer gift sets like the ones from the Body Shop that represent a slight saving on the prices of the individual products as well as being well-presented. If the gift bag was reusable, I might not feel so strongly about this, but in my eyes it is not. Three stars for the quality and reliability of the Nivea products, but nothing for their presentation as a gift.


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 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Your task this week is to design a shampoo..., 14 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This shampoo is aimed at women with fine or thinning hair who want a bit of a volume boost. As I have fairly thick hair, I am not really the intended audience, but as other reviewers have pointed out, it seemed unlikely that its pseudo-scientific claims will do much good. It's incredibly expensive for a shampoo - I would normally spend about £2 for a bottle this size - and while it's true that it lathers extremely well, so you don't need much to wash your hair, I don't believe that this represents good value. For a premium product, the packaging/branding is extremely boring (think Apprentice product design task) and the bottle is even more unimpressive. I think the idea is to make the shampoo look more medical, but it simply makes it look cheap. The shampoo itself is clear in colour, with a rather nondescript, citrusy smell that I didn't find particularly pleasant. (It feels like putting soap/shower gel on your hair, rather than shampoo.) Its effects on my hair have been fairly neutral, but it does seem to weigh it down a little - something I've noticed before with other shampoos that claim to increase volume. I can only imagine that this effect would be even more noticeable if you had thinner hair. Some reviewers have obviously found that this shampoo works for them, so it may be very dependent on your hair type - but I would be wary of spending so much money when I imagine there are equivalent products at a fraction of the price.


Dettol Mould and Mildew Remover Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Dettol Mould and Mildew Remover Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Price: £10.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye mould, 14 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have used this Dettol spray for several years to tackle mould problems in a series of rented flats. It is extremely effective for the black mould that forms on grouting, on tiles and shower sealant, and around windows. Often, when I spray it on, I can actually see the mould disappear instantly, but for more persistent mould issues, leaving the spray on for a few minutes before wiping it off usually does the job. The instructions advise that it should not be used on painted surfaces, and this is probably good advice if you are especially worried about damaging the paintwork. However, I frequently use it on paintwork without doing any damage - it seems to be fine as long as the mould is not too severe. It's important to use this product in a well-ventilated area, as it can be painful to the eyes and nose if accidentally breathed in, or if it is present in the air. Usually opening windows and doors etc to get a through draft does the job. I usually buy this product from large supermarkets, where I think it costs around £4, so this three-pack also represents excellent value for money. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a place with bad mould issues, like our last flat, you will get through a lot of it, so it's a good idea to stock up. Highly recommended.


The Settling Earth
The Settling Earth
by Rebecca Burns
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Their children will inherit the earth..., 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Settling Earth (Paperback)
This brief collection of interlinked short stories, set in colonial New Zealand, around Christchurch, is linked not only by character but by theme; children lost and found, dead and alive, grown-up or in infancy. While one woman hopes for pregnancy, we discover the darker side of nineteenth-century childbirth in the premises of a baby farmer, taking in unwanted, illegitimate infants who are condemned to a gradual death through neglect and drugging. In another story, a remarried woman realises, too late, that as her daughter has grown into adolescence, she has grown away from her, and she has not been able to protect her. Rebecca Burns's writing style is clear, direct and compelling, and these stories are consistently readable. They perhaps err on the side of too little historical and geographical detail - while I liked the fact that they are stripped back to basics (unlike much historical fiction, which labours under the weight of its own research) occasionally I felt as if the Christchurch landscape might have been more vividly conveyed. However, Burns uses telling details well, and cleverly links these stories through particular objects as well as characters; the lamp with coloured glass that brightens up a prostitute's room is one good example.

Voice was something that I thought a lot about while reading these stories, which are all told in a different third-person perspective. On one level, the characters' voices are very similar, regardless of their differences of gender and situation. On another level, however, this consistency of tone contributes to the calmly hypnotic quality of the book, whereas jarringly different voices might have shaken the reader out of its spell. Overall, therefore, I felt that Burns had made the right decision in order to tell the narratives she wanted to tell. I'm afraid, however, that I was disappointed by the final contribution in the book, a story written by Maori writer Shelly Davies from the point of view of Haimona, a Maori man who provides a different perspective to the conflicts between white men and white women that we have seen played out over the preceding pages. I loved the idea of providing a counterpoint of this kind, and was very much looking forward to reading Davies's story. Unfortunately, to me, it read very similarly to the earlier stories in the book, just at the moment when a break with the unity of style provided by Burns would have worked well. Rather than interrupting and questioning these narratives, Haimona's narration seemed to add much less than it might have done, although it was still an interesting read. Nevertheless, The Settling Earth is a strong collection that may appeal even to those who don't think that they like reading short stories, and I would definitely recommend it.

I received a free review copy of this book from the author via NetGalley.


The Dish
The Dish
by Stella Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful meal, but slow service, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Dish (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Laura Parker is a PA at popular magazine The Voice, but she also has a secret sideline; she's the anonymous food critic for weekly column, The Dish, where she expresses her passion for non-pretentious, good food. When she meets chef Adam, who cooks at the new luxury restaurant, LuxEris, which has just opened, she finds herself falling for him, but there's already an obstacle in their path - Laura has already been to LuxEris, and hated everything about it. When it comes time to publish her column, should she stick to her guns or relent for the sake of their relationship? This is a charming and very readable novel that reminded me of other chick lits that have successfully focused on food, such as Katie Fforde's Recipe for Love and Dana Bate's The Secret Supper Club and the Stall of Second Chances (the latter is particularly similar, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Dish). I haven't read anything by Stella Newman before, but she clearly knows her stuff when it comes to food, and the detailed descriptions of various dishes made me rather hungry.

This novel's strengths and weaknesses are both linked to its slow pace. The plot line I outline above, which tells no more than appears on the back of the book, is the sole focus for most of its 450+ pages. I do feel that this page count could have been cut substantially, as it does feel that the story is being dragged out unnecessarily. On one hand, I did appreciate how the pace allowed us to get to know Laura and Adam as characters, and really invest in their developing relationship. This worked very well, and distinguished the novel as a cut above much chick lit with its somewhat indistinguishable heroes and heroines. On the other hand, I was a little frustrated that Newman did not take advantage of the space she had to develop the secondary characters more solidly. There seem to be endless encounters between Laura and her one-note antagonist at the magazine, Sandra, and I would have much preferred it if Sandra had been presented as a more complex person, rather than a bureaucratic villain. Similarly, Laura's two close friends, Sophie and Kiki, remained hard to tell apart in practice throughout the novel, despite their 'tags' of very different personality styles. Despite the pacing, I still enjoyed the novel and read it quickly, so I would recommend it - but if you like fast-paced, tight writing, this may not be for you.


InstaNatural Eye Cream For Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles & Bags - 1.7 OZ - Best Under Eye Gel Treatment Solution For Eye Bags, Crows Feet, Dry Skin, Fine Lines & Sagging Eyes - With Plant Stem Cells, Hyaluronic Acid, Matrixyl 3000, Cucumber, Peptide Complex, Cucumber, Aloe, MSM & More
InstaNatural Eye Cream For Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles & Bags - 1.7 OZ - Best Under Eye Gel Treatment Solution For Eye Bags, Crows Feet, Dry Skin, Fine Lines & Sagging Eyes - With Plant Stem Cells, Hyaluronic Acid, Matrixyl 3000, Cucumber, Peptide Complex, Cucumber, Aloe, MSM & More
Offered by InstaNatural UK
Price: £79.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely perks up tired eyes, 6 Feb. 2015
I really like this product. Not only does it visibly improve the under-eye area, there is a pleasant tingling sensation after you apply it that makes your eyes feel much more relaxed. It has a lovely fresh cucumber scent, and the bottle is well-designed so you can squeeze out a small amount of the gel each time, as you don't need very much. The product can be used on your whole face, but I've been avoiding that for the moment, as I want to conserve it. I've knocked off a star for two reasons: firstly, it does make the area under your eyes a little sticky when it dries, so it's not great to wear under make-up. For this reason, I've tended to put it on at night rather than during the day, although the bottle says you can do both. Secondly, the price is a little prohibitive. The bottle is a good size and should last for a long time, so that mitigates it slightly, but this would be a big investment for me and I would have to think before purchasing it again.

I received this product free from the manufacturers in exchange for an honest review


InstaNatural Hyaluronic Acid Serum -2OZ- With Vitamin C + Green Tea + Vitamin E - BEST Anti-Aging Serum for Face, Fine Lines & Wrinkles - Obtain Youthful, Radiant, Plump, and Vibrant Skin That You Have Always Desired -TWICE the SIZE comapred to Other Bottles
InstaNatural Hyaluronic Acid Serum -2OZ- With Vitamin C + Green Tea + Vitamin E - BEST Anti-Aging Serum for Face, Fine Lines & Wrinkles - Obtain Youthful, Radiant, Plump, and Vibrant Skin That You Have Always Desired -TWICE the SIZE comapred to Other Bottles
Offered by InstaNatural UK
Price: £49.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like medicine than skincare, 6 Feb. 2015
This product is an effective, moisturising serum that does seem to repair a bit of the day's damage to your skin when left on overnight. However, I had a few issues with it that prevent me from giving it a higher rating. Firstly, it does not fully sink in, and feels a little sticky on the face. Secondly, I'm really not a fan of the pipette that you have to use to get the serum out of the bottle. It doesn't really suck up the serum very easily, and comes out covered in the stuff anyway, so you might as well dab it off the pipette rather than trying to use the pipette as designed. I had the feeling that the bottle had been designed this way to look more 'scientific' and authoritative, rather than for ease of use. Thirdly, I found the smell of the product quite unpleasant; it smells very medicinal. The price of this product is also a bit out of my usual range. I generally buy Lacura serum from Aldi, which is much cheaper. If this product was fantastic, I would be happy to pay the listed price for it, but it wasn't quite there for me.

I received this product free from the manufacturer in exchange for an honest review.


InstaNatural ORGANIC Argan Oil For Hair, Face, Skin & Nails - 100% PURE & ECOCERT Certified -Huge 4OZ Bottle- Moroccan Argan Oil is Therapeutic for Every Skin Condition - Also Great for Acne, Dry Scalp, Split Ends, Frizzy Hair, Stretch Marks, Body Cuticles & MORE - This Argania Spinosa is Guaranteed To Make Your Body Shine!
InstaNatural ORGANIC Argan Oil For Hair, Face, Skin & Nails - 100% PURE & ECOCERT Certified -Huge 4OZ Bottle- Moroccan Argan Oil is Therapeutic for Every Skin Condition - Also Great for Acne, Dry Scalp, Split Ends, Frizzy Hair, Stretch Marks, Body Cuticles & MORE - This Argania Spinosa is Guaranteed To Make Your Body Shine!
Offered by InstaNatural UK
Price: £49.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Too oily/heavy for me, 6 Feb. 2015
I've never tried Argan oil before, but it was billed as a multi-purpose moisturiser for hair, skin and nails. As Argan oil is a standard product, you will likely know whether or not this will work for you already. I found that it wasn't very effective for my hair and skin, although it is nice to use as a massage oil. A few drops on my hair seemed to have no effect, but when I tried putting another few drops on, my hair suddenly felt greasy and weighed-down. Similarly, the oil felt too heavy on my skin. The discounted price seems reasonable compared to other sellers offering this product - although it isn't the cheapest of the bunch - and the bottle will certainly go a long way. However, this wasn't really for me.

I received this product free from the manufacturer in exchange for an honest review.


Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does whiten laundry, but soaking rather than washing is best, 4 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tried this product out in two ways: firstly, by adding a scoop to a normal wash, and secondly, by leaving some rather greying white laundry to soak in water with a scoop of this product added. Adding this product to a normal wash did not seem to make much difference to the brightness of white items, in my opinion. It may be that it has a cumulative effect over several washes. However, I have given it four stars because I was impressed by its performance when soaking greyed items. It really did make them much whiter after soaking for a few hours. The price is also reasonable considering how much of the product you get, and I imagine that this box will last a long time. However, I would recommend the targeted approach, rather than adding it to every white wash, to achieve the best results and make this product last longer.


Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain - Parisian Passion
Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain - Parisian Passion
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In love with a lip stain, 1 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've never worn a lip stain or a lipstick before, so part of my enthusiasm for this product might come from the excitement of discovering a new dimension to my make-up, but I just love it. Unlike some other Revlon products that I've seen, the packaging is elegant and functional. The stain itself is a dark berry colour - rather darker than it appears in the picture. When first applied, it can look a little too dark/plum-coloured, but I found that blending it with the application wand or with a finger produced the perfect shade. While the colour would not suit everyone, it really worked for me. I am very pale, but with darkish hair, and I felt that the berry stain not only coloured my lips but complemented what colour there is in my cheeks. If you put on the stain neat, it creates a dramatic look that I feel would be more appropriate for the evening than for everyday wear. However, I found it easy to mix the stain with a bit of Vaseline to create a toned-down version that could be worn during the day.

I was impressed that the lip stain did not smear or come off easily on the rims of cups, as other reviewers have mentioned. It is reasonably long-lasting - if you want it to stay dramatically dark throughout the night, you have to reapply, but the colour will stay for much longer than that as it gradually fades. The moisturising claims are a little over-hyped, but I wouldn't expect a coloured lip product to be super-moisturising, so I wasn't especially disappointed. It doesn't dry out lips, and seems to protect them from getting drier, but you'll need a bit of the aforementioned Vaseline to make them more moisturised. I loved the look of the product so much that this wasn't a big issue for me, however. The price is great, too. Well done Revlon!


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