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AmazonBasics 2-Slice Toaster, Black
AmazonBasics 2-Slice Toaster, Black
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars with a nice sleek black casing and silver trim, 26 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was the first product from the Amazon own brand electronics I have tried, and I was impressed. The toaster is surprisingly elegant looking, with a nice sleek black casing and silver trim. One thing that detracts slightly from the look is the "Amazon Basics" logo on the front which you can see in the photos. If you're trying to impress visitors with shiny kitchen goods then the "basics" brand doesn't exactly scream tasteful or premium. This isn't an issue for me personally but it may be for some people, who could spend similar money on something that looks similarly nice but without the logo.

Other than aesthetics, the toaster does everything you'd expect and toasts evenly and all the usual features such as warming, defrost, crumb tray etc. Can't fault the functionality and if the slight minus for the appearance doesn't bother you, then I would heartily recommend this. It will be interesting to see what other electronics Amazon takes on, but I think they may want to reconsider the branding element.


Durex Thin Feel Condoms (Pack of 24)
Durex Thin Feel Condoms (Pack of 24)
Offered by Book-Emporium
Price: £7.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does the job as required, 5 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, how do you start a review for a packet of condoms? It's difficult to really give a detailed review of such a product. The only thing I can say is that they are comfortable and do a good job of not impeding or reducing any pleasurable feelings, which is essentially what they should do, whilst providing suitable protection as required. I have no complaints in that regard. Comes in a large box with 12 sheets of 2 condoms, which can then be split into individual "sachets" as required. I suppose this is a good feature as it makes them highly portable and convenient to use. Comes highly recommended if you are looking for a good value, multipack of condoms.


Great Expectations [DVD] [2012]
Great Expectations [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Helena Bonham Carter
Price: £3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent adaptation of a Dickens classic, 30 Mar. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whilst I am not a huge fan of Charles Dickens' work, I did have to read Great Expectations in detail for my English Literature A-Level a few years ago. It's funny how, with the passing of time, a book that you started to hate from such regular close examination cycles right back around to the point where you can again appreciate it's brilliance. You'll be in one of two camps - someone who has read the book before or seen one of the previous film/TV adaptations, or someone who hasn't.

If you're in the former camp who is familiar with Great Expectations, then the question is whether this film does justice to the iconic source material and other adaptations of it. I thought this take on the story was entertaining, but largely perfunctory. It is a pretty straight translation and no big changes or reinterpretations are included. The acting was, on the whole, good although some of the younger members of the cast weren't particularly convincing at points. For me, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane grounded the story with unshowy, believable performances and Jeremy Irvine made the best of the lead role of Pip, which can be difficult to make interesting or stand out from the other more memorable characters. Helena Bonham Carter acquitted herself surprisingly well in the role of Miss Havisham, thankfully toning down the intensity of her usual performances into something much darker and more interesting as a result.

If you're in the latter camp, I'm not too sure whether this adaptation would completely engage a modern audience or make anyone want to read the book for the first time. Of course that is always the difficulty with a 2 hour screen adaption of a huge book, and of course much of the detail and intricacy of the plot and characters are inevitably lost. For my money, the 2011 BBC version allowed more time to develop the story and characters. The direction, cinematography and score were all perfectly acceptable but at no stage did I feel it elevated this version above the ordinary.

In summary, if you do fancy dipping a toe into screen adaptions of Dickens classics, this is a fine but workmanlike version of a great story. For anyone who loves any of the previous screen versions, I am not sure this will replace any of them in your affections, but for Dickens fans half of the fun of a new adaption is picking out which elements work well, which actor brought something new to a particular part or how well some of the timeless themes are translated. For this alone and the obvious competence with which this film was made would be worth a recommendation, but I don't anticipate it becoming the definitive version of the novel.


Philips Series 3000 Beard Trimmer QT4013/23 Cordless, with Self Sharpening Titanium Blades
Philips Series 3000 Beard Trimmer QT4013/23 Cordless, with Self Sharpening Titanium Blades
Offered by Zu Store
Price: £40.20

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best facial hair trimmer I have owned, would recommend highly., 9 Mar. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have now used this trimmer several times and I am very happy with it. I have used a couple of different models by different manufacturers previously, and always approached trimming my facial hair with some trepidation as it can often be difficult to do neatly, uncomfortable if not downright painful.

My previous trimmer had a plastic attachment for choosing different beard lengths, which unfortunately had fairly sharp "teeth" designed to allow some distance between the trimmer and your skin. Using this meant effectively scraping a comb across your face whilst you shave, which was not very comfortable at all and sometimes resulted in painful cuts. As a result, I had to scrap the attachment and use the trimmer directly against the skin, which again risked cuts and inconsistent hair length. I have sensitive skin and any type of shaving can irritate it or lead to a break out of minor acne, which can you can imagine wouldn't be helped by scraping the skin.

So this is a revelation. The unit is compact, fairly light and comfortable to hold. It charges very quickly (1 hour charge for 1 hour usage) and comes with a thin bag for carrying. But for me the most important feature was the trimming attachment. As you can see in the close up photos provided here on Amazon, it is more like a "cage" which surrounds the trimming blade. Unlike the model I had previously used, the plastic is all rounded and smooth, basically you choose which length you want by turning a dial, which moves the attachment further from the blade to achieve a longer hair length. This keeps the blade at a specified distance, but more importantly does so without irritating or hurting my skin at all and with no risk of getting the blade anywhere near the skin.

As a result I've had an extremely smooth and comfortable experience shaving, and it's also now much quicker for me. I am really happy with this product and happily recommend it.


Marware SportGrip Silicone Skin Case for Kindle Cover, Black (will only fit Kindle)
Marware SportGrip Silicone Skin Case for Kindle Cover, Black (will only fit Kindle)

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for minor protection from bumps and scrapes, 18 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This cover is a really good choice if you have a Kindle that you use mainly at home. It slips snugly onto the Kindle, and would keep it safe from minor drops, and protection from wet surfaces or dust. It doesn't protect the screen and if you need stronger protection against bumps and scrapes (for example if dropped on pavement or from a significant height), it would be better to seek out a proper case that covers the screen and provide stronger support for the Kindle. This however would be fine for a light and unobtrusive slip case to provide some protection for a Kindle that will generally be kept fairly safe anyway.


Braun Series 5 590cc-4 Electric Shaver with Cleaning Centre
Braun Series 5 590cc-4 Electric Shaver with Cleaning Centre
Offered by AOT (UK VAT registered)
Price: £117.82

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good high end foil shaver, 16 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had begun my shaving "career" using cheap disposable razors. I duly upgraded to wet razors with disposable blades using shaving foam, which were certainly efficient but only provide the option of shaving all facial hair off.

As I prefer to have at least some stubble on my face, I decided to explore electric dry shavers as they offer the option of choosing the hair length so you can maintain stubble if you want to. I had been using a Remington Beard Trimmer kit, which I found was a vast improvement upon either disposable razors or wet razors with changeable blades. Although it takes a while to get used to a dry shave without the traditional shaving foam, the precision of the shave and ability to trim to different lengths (for example sideburns slightly longer than facial stubble) is definitely a much better option.

I decided recently to explore the electric "foil" style shavers and went with this Braun model. In my experience it has been a very good razor but it depends more on what type of shave you prefer. As I mentioned, I prefer not to shave all my facial hair off, so the fact that this comes with three different length settings is ideal.

There is no doubt the product build is of a high quality, and the charge time is very short, with one hour being enough to fully charge the razor for a 45 minute shave. Personally this will usually be enough for at least four or five shaves, which would last me at least a couple of weeks as I don't need it to be extremely neat every day. However if you were using it every day you probably wouldn't need to use it for as long each time as the hair would be kept quite short anyway, so for most people I'd imagine a charge once a week would be fine even for those having a complete clean shave every day. One of the big benefits of a higher end model like this is that there is a battery life indicator, which means you can always be sure there will be enough charge left if you plan on shaving. As someone who has had a previous electric razor without this function run out midway through a shave, this is a big improvement!

The built in cleaning system is also a handy tool, as you simply slot the cleaning fluid cartridge into the display unit and whenever the razor needs cleaned (the unit will indicate this to you too) you simply set the razor into the display unit, press the button and let it work its magic. Included is also a carry case which is always an essential for any type of razor for storage or travelling.

I found this razor pretty comfortable and was happy with the results, although it does take a bit of practice to get used to the foil type shaver if you haven't used one before. I was very happy with this product, although I would also like to try a electric wet shaver as I have heard these combine the comfort and smoothness of a wet shave with the improved precision and flexibility of an electric shaver. A very good purchase for those wanting to try a foil shaver.


All-In-One Driving Test 2010/2011 Edition (PC)
All-In-One Driving Test 2010/2011 Edition (PC)
Offered by SC-WHOLESALE
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great guide for passing your driving test., 23 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This kit contains everything you need to pass your driving theory test. If you spend a few hours a week completing each aspect of the course you should be ready to take the test within a couple of months. I had sat and passed the theory test before with the same company's product for previous years, however I did not sit the practical test and my theory has since expired, so I have been studying this recently to prepare myself to take the test again. It is an excellent way of supporting, revising and building upon the knowledge and skills you will pick up in driving lessons, very useful for those who are trying to pass their driving test or anyone who simply wants to revise their knowledge of safe and efficient driving.

The component that I felt was most useful was the CD-rom which can be used to practise theory questions, and you will be surprised at how these are exactly like those used in the real test, from the diagrams used to the exact wording of the questions. The hazard perception tests are also very useful because there is no other way to practise how the test works, and I'm sure that your skill at hazard perception will increase significantly if you practise a few times using this.

I would definitely recommend the package to anyone who is planning on doing the theory and practical driving tests and I suspect it will significantly improve your chances of passing if you spend enough time soaking up all the relevant information, which will boost your confidence in the tests. Highly recommended. I have tried a few versions of these CD-roms and have found that the content doesn't vary hugely year-to-year so you may find it cheaper to buy the previous years' version, however you may miss important changes so it is best to check any changes in the official test before purchasing. To be totally safe I would recommend the most current version if you can afford it.


How to be a Better Person
How to be a Better Person
by Seb Hunter
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A funny and inspiring study of how difficult it can be to help others., 9 Jun. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Seb Hunter presents a hugely readable and funny memoir of his adventures attempting to get involved in volunteering for charities and organisations that make a difference to society. What follows is both entertaining and informative, as Hunter pursues a range of activities ranging from the most prosaic (litter picking, charity shop), hilariously misguided (a poorly attended computer class for pensioners, ill fated attempt to volunteer at the zoo) to genuinely useful and touching (supporting an asylum seeker in his attempt to stay in the country with his family).

The book follows a journal style format which makes it very readable and it is easy to be tempted to keep reading another section as each one finishes. What emerges is a genuinely concerted and robust effort to engage with society and make a difference in people's lives. Hunter accurately (and more importantly, comedically) captures a strong sense of the people he subsequently encounters on his journey, almost unintentionally painting a varied picture of the people who rely on charities or community groups and, perhaps more intriguingly, those who get involved in them, either through genuine philanthrophy or for other more complicated reasons (Loneliness? Boredom? A sense of obligation? To attain a sense of superiority?), skillfully sketching out characters of memorable real-life people.

My one criticism of the book is that the lengthy footnotes at time become a distraction and annoyance, it would have been easy to simply incorporate these into the main text of the book, which with some minor editing would have helped produce a more seamless read. Despite the humour, I think the book also tries to make a serious point that we rely on selfless individuals to look after more vulnerable and less secure member of society, often doing difficult and tedious work for little thanks or reward. But that it is important that everyone tries to do something to help their fellow man. As he progresses through the book, you realise that not every type of work will suit every individual, but it's about finding what you can help with and feel fulfilled by doing, and contribute in that way if you can. It might take a few missteps, but just as Hunter did, you'll get there. He touches on our modern culture of bureaucracy and health and safety rules which at times are more of a hindrance than a help, but where there's determination to do good, we can all make a positive impact on the world, however small it may be.


The Radleys
The Radleys
by Matt Haig
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting interpretation of the vampire myth., 9 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The Radleys (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With the current craze for vampire stories continuing unabated, I was pleasantly surprised to find this novel managed to take a slightly different approach than some of the most popular supernatural offerings whilst retaining many of the classic elements of vampire mythology to create an interesting world and well drawn characters.

If I had to compare The Radleys to any of recent vampire media, I definitely think the politics and practicalities of vampire "life" (or unlife?) owe a small debt to Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books (thrillingly brought to our TV screens as Alan Ball's operatic southern gothic series True Blood) although it strives for a stronger element of realism than Sookie's sexy and occasionally humourous adventures. The complicated motivations and dark relationships between the characters is strongly reminiscent of the superlative Joss Whedon series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which remain the definitive modern vampire TV shows for their ability to combine drama, humour and action, looking through the prism of the supernatural to explore what it means to be human and alive. Twilight's unrealistic characters and thin plots do not get a look in here.

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the front cover, contrary to that old adage. It's a tasteful but wonderfully potent image of a white picket fence with a small splash of blood, representing the dark side that lies behind everyday life and the secrets of the nice middle class family that live behind it. Haig has also subtly evoked one of the classics of American literature in the name of the titular family the book focuses on, referring to the creepy Radley family from To Kill A Mockingbird. This reference cleverly identifies the Radleys as a misunderstood family with dark secrets right off the bat, but also summons up relevant themes about prejudice and tolerance from Harper Lee's coming of age story. Just as her young protagonist begins to understand the realities of the world and the potential cruelty of humanity, the Radleys shows a family struggling to survive in a hostile world against the attitudes of unsuspecting humans.

I thought this book was well written and well paced, as the world Haig explores is slowly expanded before the reader and the characters are well developed so that as the plot begins to lurch forward, you start to care about them as the various twists and turns unfold. If I had to make one criticism it would be that the main antagonist was not as well developed as the other characters, and felt a little like a stock villain character placed there to endanger the family. I don't know whether Haig wrote this novel with the intention of launching a franchise, but it does feel on the whole a little like the first stage of a larger story. But it is definitely a story that I am interested in following, and with a lot of the initial exposition out of the way it may be satisfying to see what Haig could do with the characters in a subsequent novel.


ghd Iconic Eras New Wave Limited Edition Gold Series Classic Styler Hair Straightener Gift Set
ghd Iconic Eras New Wave Limited Edition Gold Series Classic Styler Hair Straightener Gift Set

4.0 out of 5 stars Very impressed with this product., 15 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got these hair straighteners as a gift for a lady who is very pleased with them. I've been assured that they are perfect for the main job of straightening hair, with little effort or stress for the user. They heat up relatively quickly and have a built in safety feature to turn off automatically if left on too long - which is very useful given in the past we have had scorch marks on our carpets from straighteners absent-mindedly left on after use.

The bag and accessories that come with the product complete the set nicely, although as noted by other reviewers the case is slightly too small to acommodate the straighteners comfortably. For me this is only a minor concern as long as the product does what it's intended to do. The only major potential flaw with it is that it has only one setting so you it can't be changed for different hair types or to help achieve different styles if they require a higher or lower heat.

These straighteners are a good solid choice for most users and are a worthwhile investment. However someone with the need for more settings (e.g. a hairdresser or someone who has had problems with straighteners before) might be better researching other options for more specialised straighteners. At the considerable sum they should be considered an investment for a couple of years at least and if you don't think they will be able to fulfil your requirements other products may be able to. But for most people these are a good option.


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