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Laura T (Oxford, UK)

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When She Was Bad
When She Was Bad
by Tammy Cohen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome guessing games, 21 July 2016
This review is from: When She Was Bad (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When She Was Bad flips between two very different narratives, leaving the reader to puzzle over how these stories will connect. In England, a group of office workers are apprehensive after their boss is sacked and Rachel, tough and divisive, takes her place, threatening further redundancies in the team. In America, a child psychologist remembers a difficult case from decades ago, when she was asked to assess whether an abused four-year-old girl, Laurie, should be put up for full adoption and allowed to ‘forget’ her troubled past, or whether this would be impossible because her needs for ongoing and intensive therapy were still too great. There are hints that these two stories will collide in a workplace murder, but otherwise, When She Was Bad feels like two very different novels awkwardly smashed together. To preserve the twist, the link is not revealed until very late in the day – but by then, the pacing has also been distorted by the need to keep this secret.

If I were to sum up my reaction to When She Was Bad, I would say that it seems so concerned to keep its readers guessing about the identity of the eventual murderer (and, to an extent, the victim) that it throws all the other rules of storytelling out the window. For me, the only compelling thread for the majority of the novel was the story of Laurie – it takes up almost half of the page count and also brings something new and different to the usual psychological thriller plot-line. However – and I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers – it turns out that our investment in Laurie as a character is largely wasted. This means that half of the book, and easily the best half, is essentially thrown out the window by the ‘dramatic’ climax, which I found hilariously contrived. On top of this, Cohen is so keen to keep almost all of the office workers in play as potential suspects that she doesn’t play fair with the reader, deliberately introducing suspicious lines and leaving out key information to keep us uncertain, even if this distorts their narration. Perhaps this is one reason why the cast feels so flat – they exist only in service of the plot. However, I didn’t find that this tactic built much suspense at all. On the contrary, because so little happens in the ‘office’ thread of the novel until the last few chapters, I found that I was bored with it about a third of the way through, only reading on so I could find out what happened to Laurie.

This is the first thriller I’ve read by Tammy Cohen, but unfortunately it hasn’t encouraged me to try any more of her work – I prefer thrillers to be more character-led, and am not interested in guessing games, especially when the author has left very few clues to the truth in order to artificially preserve the secret. For others who feel similarly, I’d recommend Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, Harriet Lane’s Her or Tasha Kavanagh’s Things We Have In Common.

Contagious Communities: Medicine, Migration, and the NHS in Post War Britain
Contagious Communities: Medicine, Migration, and the NHS in Post War Britain
by Roberta Bivins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £31.50

4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Welfare State for the whole of the Commonwealth'? Migrants and medical policy in Britain 1948-1991, 16 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Health Committee of the Association of Municipal Corporations, a representative body for many of Britain's towns and cities, expressed concerns about immigration to the Ministry of Health in a meeting in 1957. Immigrants, argued the deputation from the AMC, might be coming to the UK because of 'the encouragement which a free health service could give to such people to come to this country with the object of seeking free treatment.' In addition, public prejudice against immigrants was linked to 'the problems they created and the demands they made on the Health Services.' As Bivins notes: 'Only a decade after the NHS opened, the fearful and possessive discourse of its exploitation by "medical tourists" was already emerging, hand in hand with redefinitions of British "identity" and "belonging".'

This is an academic monograph, and it is not really intended for a general readership. Even as an historian, I found it a dense and difficult read, although it is immensely rewarding. However, there are a number of important arguments here that are hugely relevant to contemporary debates. Bivins presents a series of closely-researched, linked case studies, covering the period 1948-1991, that think about the NHS not through the lens of national policy and re-organisation, like many earlier histories, but by centring the shifting attitudes to migrant health, and the ways in which local, community-led pressure groups, the Ministry for Health, associations like the BMA, the media and other government departments interacted in both shaping, and quashing, concerns. Contagious Communities is clearly-organised. The first two chapters consider how official responses to TB changed both nationally and locally between 1948 and 1962. The third chapter rethinks smallpox along similar lines. The fourth chapter flips the language of analysis to consider discourses of 'race relations' between 1962 and 1971, arguing that 'the language of race itself became increasingly tainted' and that even 'the appearance of racism' was seen as harmful by politicians, civil servants and diplomats. However, as we shall see, this did not necessarily lead to more positive initiatives. The fifth chapter considers a disease that was environmental and easily addressed, yet embarrassingly, still prevalent in modern Britain: rickets. In contrast, the final chapter thinks about genetic diseases that were associated with 'ethnic' populations; sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.

In the 1950s, TB, rickets and smallpox were all diseases that had been all-too-familiar in Britain in the not-so-distant past. However, Bivins shows how popular and official memories of these once-endemic menaces were swiftly transformed. TB became 'an imported illness', despite its continued incidence among the native population. While smallpox outbreaks had occurred six times between 1951-60 in Britain - as Bivins puts it, smallpox in this period was 'both spectacular and quotidian' - it was the 1961-62 outbreak, framed by debates over the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, that led to its reframing as 'the killer that slipped through the net' (Observer headline, 1962) or 'the oriental killer'. Rickets, related to poor diet and a lack of sunshine, was relabelled as 'Asian rickets' due to its incidence within Asian communities, ignoring the internal diversity within this group. Evidence to associate these particular conditions strongly with immigrants was patchy, especially for TB. Bivins meticulously considers how figures on TB incidence were selectively used to support the favoured policies of the group in question. For example, a 1957 Ministry of Health survey on TB incidence in the UK presented a complicated picture: 'Irish and Hungarian rates were among the highest, while rates from West Indian and African communities were very low... The highest rates of incidence... were found in the group from the Indian subcontinent.' However, if Europe had been considered as a single category, rather than the Hungarians being categorised as a separate group, 'it would have produced a significantly larger group of affected migrants.' The Ministry of Health, seeking reasons to justify health controls for Indian and Pakistani migrants but not migrants from European countries with an equally high level of TB incidence, did not choose to present the survey results in this way.

Another important aspect of Bivins's book, however, is the caution with which she handles the temptation to ascribe these actions to 'simple racism'. Racist attitudes took varied forms, and much health policy was formulated in the context of promoting community integration to improve 'race relations'. Furthermore, in the context of the Cold War and Britain's waning international influence, Britain's ties with the Commonwealth were becoming increasingly important, and government officials were reluctant to do anything that might be perceived as racist and exclusionary, especially in the earlier part of the period covered by this book, when Britain actively sought to attract foreign labour to assist in post-war reconstruction. However, the language of integration did not necessarily serve the interests of migrant communities. For a start, integration was assumed to be more difficult for non-white migrants, especially younger migrants who did not arrive in family groups, who were presumed to indulge in 'non-British' cultural practices that were detrimental to their health. In the early 1960s, for example, the British Medical Journal invoked such stereotypes about young South Asian male migrants, claiming that their living conditions were primitive and uncivilised. This kind of attitude affected public health interventions. Rejecting fortification of foodstuffs with Vitamin D to address the rickets problem in 1993, the Principal Medical Officer in the Nutrition Section of the Ministry of Health stated that immigrants needed 'education rather than nutrition.' The Department also rejected screening or counselling interventions for individuals affected by sickle cell anaemia because they believed this would be stigmatising for the populations they believed were at risk; Africans and West Indians. 'There were no consultations with any affected community,' Bivins notes, 'simply a uniformity of internal opinion that 'they' would respond poorly.' Here, a supposed sensitivity to racial issues actually led to othering and ignorance. Similar concerns arose in relation to thalassaemia. However, when the United Kingdom Thalassaemia Society was formed by parents of affected children in 1976, it swiftly told the Department that they wanted targeted screening and genetic counselling to help reduce rates of the disease.

Finally, Bivins considers what was meant by 'public health' in this period. Viewed as transient minorities, migrant communities were often excluded from public health considerations, and it was suggested that they should not be given special treatment, despite their different medical needs. The Stop Rickets campaign of 1981-2 proposed a three-year project to eradicate rickets that would cost £149,000 in its first year, and £100,000 for each of the next two years. 'After all... the recent HEC [Health Education Council] Mother and Baby Campaign had cost £600,000. This comparison provoked a frosty but revealing reply [from the Department of Health and Social Services]: the latter was entirely different as it addressed "the entire population".' Bivins argues that as models of intervention changed from ideas of 'social medicine' to an assessment of how citizens could individually manage risk, the Department 'increasingly sought to intervene in public health problems only if "the public" in question was co-terminous with the entire British population or some nationally distributed cross-section thereof (pregnant women, for example.' Addressing problems that were particular to migrant communities were seen as incompatible with these priorities - a stance that was justified by appeals to the need to preserve good 'race relations' by not treating certain groups differently from the community as a whole.

Bivins' monograph is an important read for historians of post-war Britain, intersecting with numerous themes in existing historiography; race, gender, medicine, the NHS and the welfare state. Inevitably, it presents a series of case studies, as covering this entire period in detail would be an impossible task. However, it presents us with a new way of looking at the history of the NHS - an angle that is especially relevant given how we talk about the NHS today.

Luxebell® 12PCS HQ Hot Professional Makeup Brush Set Cosmetic Blending Eyeshadow Foundation Concealer Brushes Powder Tool Kit (Black)
Luxebell® 12PCS HQ Hot Professional Makeup Brush Set Cosmetic Blending Eyeshadow Foundation Concealer Brushes Powder Tool Kit (Black)
Offered by Simple Tek
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant set of make-up brushes, 24 April 2016
I was very impressed with the quality of this set of make-up brushes. The picture doesn't do it justice. The brushes come in an elegant case with a lid that attaches securely to the bottom half of the case with two poppers, so you can travel with them if you need to. The brushes themselves range from larger brushes to blend powder and foundation to smaller brushes to apply eyeliner. I've found all the brushes I've tried so far to be effective and easy to use. This product looks great on the dressing-table and is well-priced for what it is. Highly recommended.
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Sensor LED Bike Headlight,Portable Multifunction Lightweight Small Bicycle Light with 4 Modes Tail Light Gesture Control Waterproof Shockproof Easy Installation Remove for Mountain/Road Bike,SkyGenius
Sensor LED Bike Headlight,Portable Multifunction Lightweight Small Bicycle Light with 4 Modes Tail Light Gesture Control Waterproof Shockproof Easy Installation Remove for Mountain/Road Bike,SkyGenius
Offered by GameZone Cymru
Price: £9.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Bright headlight, white/red settings, 24 April 2016
I cycle along a very dark riverside route to get home, and was looking for a bright headlight that would light my way as well as alerting other cyclists and pedestrians to my presence. This headlight certainly does the job. It has four light settings - bright, medium, low and red. I especially appreciate the red light setting, as it's great to have a spare light that would work on the back or front of the bike. It also has a 'sensor' setting, so you can wave in front of the headlight to turn it off. I'm not sure I would ever use this setting, but if it's on, one of the red lights on the headlight gives out a dim glow, so you can't leave it on by accident.

The headlight uses three AAA batteries, which are a little fiddly to take in and out - this was a bit of a downside for me, as I like to remove the batteries from my bike lights when I'm not using them in case they turn on in my bag. However, it looks like this won't be too much of a problem with this light. It fixes to the bike via the usual method of a bracket which you can then slide the light off or on. I always find this a pain to get onto the bike, but at least this model makes it easy to take the light off the bike once it's on, which isn't the case with all bike lights. At the current price, it's good value for money and I would recommend this product.

I received a free sample of this product from the seller in exchange for an honest review.
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Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Pulling his punches (three and a half stars), 18 April 2016
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist pieces together a kaleidoscope of perspectives on the day of the Seattle World Trade Organisation protests in 1999, largely among either the police or the protesters, with the exception of interludes from the Sri Lankan delegate to the conference, Charles Wickramsinghe. Yapa’s writing as he jumps from head to head is frequently mesmerising, especially when he narrates from the point of view of Victor, a mixed-race nineteen-year-old who is the long-lost son of white police chief Bishop. As Victor takes part in a peaceful protest by chaining himself to other activists, their arms in tubes so it is difficult to get them apart, he is gassed and beaten by police. In the midst of his pain, his mind wanders to his absent mother: ‘Perhaps you spent a cold and shivering morning opening the soup line, from the time you were eight on up, from the early morning hours of the first school bell, fed the men who would spend all morning, perhaps all day, shivering in their thin clothes from warmer weathers and waiting for a job to come by in the form of a pickup truck and a wave and a whistle. Not so different from the whistle of her own childhood, she had once said to him, the steam-kettle shriek that had called his grandfather to the factory… Maybe it was a hundred cold mornings you spent with her. Even a thousand would not have been enough.’

Yapa’s beautiful writing, however, has the curious effect of flattening much of the action of this novel, lulling us too gently with the rhythm of his prose, rather than demanding the intense emotional engagement he seems to be after. This isn’t helped by the fact that from the point-of-view of certain, less well-realised characters – most notably John Henry, who acts as a figurehead for the cause – his writing is more vulnerable to purple missteps; after a while, I felt I was drowning under the weight of lines like ‘some force inexorably gathering around them here at the edge of the millennium’ and ‘their words had the quality of midnight prayer.’ In short, Yapa tells us so insistently that this is an important moment that he sometimes falls short of showing us, despite the visceral power of his descriptions of tear gas and police violence. It’s towards the climax of the novel, which is more solidly focused on action, that Your Heart comes fully into its own. In a way, this maps the trajectory of the protest itself; the long, heaving work of the march followed by a sudden explosion of pain; but it keeps the reader at quite a distance for much of the time.

Barely a teenager in 1999, I knew little about these protests before reading this novel, and this sense of fuzziness was multiplied by the fact that Yapa makes little or no attempt to explain to the reader – at least until the introduction of Wickramsinghe’s narrative – what is at stake here. It isn’t even clear when the novel is set. Even assuming that many readers will know more of the context then I did, this still makes Your Heart feel oddly disengaged, despite its celebration of protest. If it felt more rooted in the particular issues of this protest, some of the flatness that I complained about above might dissipate. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and difficult to convey so much complicated information within the bounds of a novel, but I felt that Yapa might have made a better stab at it. Your Heart demonstrates his obvious talent, but I felt that its impact was muffled; more of a nudge than a punch.

I received a free e-copy of this novel from Little, Brown via NetGalley.

The Ballroom
The Ballroom
by Anna Hope
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Shadows in the ballroom, 14 April 2016
This review is from: The Ballroom (Hardcover)
Menston Asylum had a ballroom; a fact that Anna Hope uses to great effect in her second novel. In this more neutral space the men and women of the asylum could, if allowed to attend, shed their identities as patients for a few brief hours and dance together. It’s an image that illuminates a novel that is in many ways so bleak. Ella Fay has been sentenced to the asylum because of her refusal to submit any more to the ‘work-discipline’ that positions her as nothing more as a cog in the factory machine; she works as a spinner, and one day is so desperate to ‘see the sky’ in their gloomy spinning room that she ‘slid a skep of empty bobbins out from under her feet, picked one up and launched it at the window beside her.’ The image of the open window will follow Ella throughout her time in the asylum, as she continues to seek out the natural world despite her daily toil in the laundry; when she is first allowed a bath, she stares outside: ‘Beyond the windows was green, mucky-dark in the low winter light, but green all the same. Hills in the distance, covered by a thin haar of mist.’ Hope writes beautifully about the countryside that surrounds the asylum, and its deep connection to the characters. And when Ella finally escapes the routine of the asylum to meet secretly with another inmate, John, she, of course, climbs out through a window.

John and Ella’s relationship is completely convincing, despite the limited time they have together; I’m no fan of love at first sight, but Hope manages to demonstrate the many ways they get to know each other, despite their frequent physical separation. John’s letters, read to Ella by her friend Clem, because Ella never learnt to read in her crowded elementary school, form a crucial point of connection, demonstrating their shared love of the landscape around them. As John writes of the flowers he sees, ‘They make a great display in the fields so that the fields seem almost to be made of gold… I think they are most beautiful just before they fall.’ Much seems to have been made in the publicity for this novel of the fact that it’s set in 1911, the famous ‘long summer’ that also marked the beginning of what was once known as the ‘Edwardian crisis’; union unrest, gun-running in Ireland, suffagrette militancy and the German war council of 1912 are all on the horizon. But to be honest, with the exception of some of the eugenics in the novel (more on that later) I didn’t feel that it was set at a time of change, or indeed in any particular year at all. Ella and John’s stories play out against a backdrop of alienation from the land and forcible separation from the fruits of their labours that could easily have been set at any time from the early nineteenth century onwards. Hope’s eye for specific detail ties it to the Edwardian years, but this choice of date is not essential to the story; nor does it need to be.

Except, perhaps, for the narrative of our third protagonist, Charles, a member of the asylum staff, and an enthusiast for new treatments. It’s with Charles’s voice that I felt The Ballroom was at its weakest. The novel recognises the troubling popularity of eugenic ideas among relatively progressive people in early twentieth-century Britain, and at the beginning of his downward tumble, Charles is portrayed as complex and sympathetic, especially as we swiftly realise he is struggling with his own homosexual desires. However, as he veers towards villainy, I found that I was increasingly questioning why his story was taking up so much of this otherwise well-balanced novel, if all we were to take away was that his standpoint is so bizarre and wrong that it could not be accepted by anybody reasonable. Of course, Charles’s ideas are repulsive, but rather than exploring how such ideas could have won support among the medical establishment, Hope seems to prefer to depict him as an outlier, despite a few references to other respectable figures who think in the same way. The twist in the tale – that Charles is the one veering towards madness as John and Ella, the supposed ‘lunatics’, clearly retain tight hold on their sanity – didn’t work for me; I found it a bit obvious and unenlightening. I started wondering what place there was in Hope’s novel for people who really are suffering from (non-asylum-induced) mental illness, rather than being victimised by social norms? They are reduced to shadows in the ballroom – or are not allowed to venture there at all. When exploring its central relationship, The Ballroom is on solid, and ultimately harrowing ground. But I felt there was more to say about the world beyond its walls.

I received a review copy of this novel via NetGalley.

The Kindness of Enemies
The Kindness of Enemies
by Leila Aboulela
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'A failed hybrid', 11 Feb. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Natasha Wilson is a lecturer at an unnamed Scottish university, researching the life of Imam Shamil, who led the Muslims of the Caucasus in resistance against the Russians in the mid-nineteenth century. Shamil framed his war in the language of jihad, but, as Natasha puts it near the end of the novel, describing her most recent conference paper, 'I wanted to compare Shamil's defeat and surrender, how he made peace with his enemies, with modern-day Islamic terrorism which promoted suicide bombings instead of accepting in Shamil's words "that martyrdom is Allah's prerogative to bestow." How did this historical change in the very definition of jihad come about?' Natasha herself feels isolated by her stigmatised identity; half-Russian, half-Sudanese, she changed her surname from Hussein to Wilson after her experience of arriving in London as a fourteen-year-old in 1990, 'just as Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Imagine an unfamiliar school, a teacher saying to the class "We have a new student from Sudan. Her name is Natasha Hussein."' Natasha has always perceived herself as trapped between cultures, not really belonging anywhere: 'The two sides of me... were slammed together against their will... refused to mix. I was a failed hybrid, made up of unalloyed selves.'

Natasha's sense of displacement mirrors most closely not Shamil's own story but the lives of two other crucial figures in his struggle; Anna Chavchavadze, a Georgian princess married to the Russian prince David Chavchavadze, who was abducted by Shamil's men in 1854, and Shamil's son, Jamaleldin, who had been given as hostage to the Russians in 1839. Shamil would ultimately orchestrate the exchange of Anna and her small son for Jamaleldin in 1855. Jamaleldin, who grows to adulthood in Russia, acquires a taste for Russian culture and courtly lifestyle, and struggles to cope when he reluctantly returns to his father: 'It was strange not to listen to Chopin, not to visit the theatre or dance in a ball; not even to play billiards or dominos or cards.' Anna, although much gladder to leave her captivity, also feels disorientated when she returns, missing the company of Shamil's wives and his recognition that she is 'a princess in her own right'; not a Russian, but a Georgian. These historical sections of the novel are by far the most immersive, with all three protagonists swiftly earning the reader's sympathy.

In contrast, Natasha is difficult to like; and I think we are meant to like her. Early in The Kindness of Enemies, Natasha's friend's son, and Natasha's own undergraduate student, Oz, a Muslim, is accused of planning terrorist acts. Natasha happens to be at her friend's house when the police come for Oz, and her own computer is seized as well. Her reaction is to distance herself as quickly as possible; she immediately drives away, thinking, 'save your skin.' Natasha is sharply aware of her position as an outsider in the world of academia, and so her need for self-preservation makes sense; but she also deserts her friend in her time of need. Later, we learn that Natasha volunteered herself to write reports on students 'in danger of radicalisation', believing that this is the quickest way to emphasise that she is not really a Muslim, despite her heritage, not like them. Again, this makes absolute sense as a response, but this, alongside Natasha's generally grim attitude towards her undergraduates (she laughs mockingly and publicly at one Muslim girl who asks if she too is a Muslim, and seems to revel in the 'stupidity' of another student), made me feel even less kindly towards her.

More importantly, however, by the end of the novel, it seems we are meant to believe that Natasha is now embracing, rather than rejecting, her heritage; and yet, in the very last pages, she is still focused on the fact that 'the anti-terrorist squad searched my office after Oz's arrest... I might as well have stayed Natasha Hussein!' Natasha's fury here is justified and understandable; what is alienating is the total lack of support she offers to Oz or his mother, and her seeming inability to realise that, although what has happened to her (which amounts to little more; she retains an esteemed position in her university) is unfair, what has happened to Oz is far worse. We are told that she sent messages to his mother, but we are never actually shown that she truly cares.

These difficulties in Natasha's characterisation, which is largely told, rather than shown, point to a larger problem with the novel. Although solid and well-researched (these little-known historical incidents around the time of the Crimean War are absolutely fascinating) most of it never really came to life for me. We move from the Caucasus to Russia to Scotland to Khartoum, and yet Aboulela's writing consistently lacks precise detail, the strong sense of place that such an itinerant story requires. In Khartoum, for example: 'The pavements were narrow and broken and sometimes there were no pavements at all. Toyota pickups zoomed past me. Motorcycles, vans and more four-wheeled drives. Tea ladies sitting in a row... Rubbish piled on the side of a street; broken chairs stacked on top of each other. Too much struck me as incongruous. A donkey stood in the middle of a dusty street.' To me, this conjured up any number of cities and places; I've never been to Khartoum, and there was nothing in this that took me there. More broadly, Aboulela has a habit of spelling out the messages of her novel, as some of the quotations in the first paragraph of this review demonstrate; we are never allowed to forget that this is a novel about people who don't fit in trying to figure out where they belong, or (to pick up on the sub-theme about Oz that is oddly dropped in the middle) a novel about the changing meanings of what it means to be Muslim, and what it means to fight a holy war. In the end, The Kindness of Enemies simply isn't very well-written; which is a shame, because the subject-matter alone kept me reading.

NIUTOP 48 Assorted Color Marco Raffine Drawing Art Colored Pencils Supplies with a 48colors Roll UP Washable Canvas Pencil Bag Pouch Wrap Set for Artist Sketch, 2 Direction Buckle for Different Usage (48-colors)
NIUTOP 48 Assorted Color Marco Raffine Drawing Art Colored Pencils Supplies with a 48colors Roll UP Washable Canvas Pencil Bag Pouch Wrap Set for Artist Sketch, 2 Direction Buckle for Different Usage (48-colors)
Offered by NiutopUK
Price: £15.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful set of colouring pencils plus storage pouch, 6 Feb. 2016
This set comprises 48 colouring pencils in every shade I can imagine needing, plus a smart pouch which keeps them neatly tidied away and in colour order. The pencils themselves are excellent quality, and I think this would be a great gift alongside one of the adult colouring books that are all the rage at the moment. The pouch holds them securely and looks neat and professional. The price is also reasonable, and I highly recommend this product.

I received a discounted sample of this product from the manufacturer in exchange for a review.

Leap TF307 Digital Sports Stopwatch Timer -Black
Leap TF307 Digital Sports Stopwatch Timer -Black
Offered by Product Nation
Price: £5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Purple stopwatch, 6 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great value stopwatch that is easy and intuitive to use. It compares favourably with a similarly-priced stopwatch from Argos which I had before, which was much less easy to set and conked out after a relatively short period of time. The large display is especially appreciated, as I usually use it for timing lectures and presentations and need to see how much time I've spoken for already at a glance. For the same reason, I love that it doesn't beep when you stop or start it, as this is much less obtrusive. It comes with a long cord that you can leave wound up if you don't need it (I haven't so far). I have the purple version, and I'm not a fan of the colour - it isn't a deep purple, but a lighter purple that looks a bit trashy. But otherwise, I have no complaints about this product and would recommend it.

I received a free sample of this product from the manufacturer in exchange for a review

adidas Born Original for Her Eau de Parfum Spray 50 ml
adidas Born Original for Her Eau de Parfum Spray 50 ml
Offered by the-beauty-shop
Price: £25.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong, basic scent, 27 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a sweet, citrusy scent that is a bit too strong for me. I might wear this on a night out, but it's a bit overpowering for daytime. I got very few of the subtler notes that the perfume states it includes - I can't detect jasmine or cedarwood, for example - and I didn't find that the scent changed very much over time. The bottle is also not to my taste - I found it hideous, especially given the colour of the perfume. A particularly irritating aspect of it is the fact that it lacks a cap, so if I wanted to take this perfume anywhere, I'd be risking it leaking. I've kept the temporary protective cap it came with in case of this eventuality, but it's not very attractive.

To be honest, I can see this appealing more to teenage girls than anyone else, although the price might be a bit outside their reach. It reminds me of the sort of body sprays I wore when I was a teenager. The scent isn't unpleasant, it's just not really for me.

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