Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's
Profile for Caterina > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Caterina
Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,968
Helpful Votes: 740

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Caterina (UK)
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
pixel
Hanson HX5000 Glass Electronic Bathroom Scale
Hanson HX5000 Glass Electronic Bathroom Scale
Offered by Biraz Furnishings
Price: £11.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can anyone think of a function for bathroom scales that don't work?, 12 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I decided to treat myself to digital scales (as opposed to my old fashioned ones). After unpacking them and merrily throwing away the packaging (doh!) I leapt on them, only to discover to my horror that I had put on 6 lb overnight. Well, I thought, it must just be that my old scales were faulty, I'm fatter than I thought. Then just on the offchance, before heading off to the gym for the next 96 hours, I tried the spare (digital) scales in the bathroom, as well as my old scales which thankfully I had not thrown away. And yes, the old scales were right, and these, the new ones, were 6 lb out. (Phew!)
Being a saddo I then tried them with various household items, checking with the old bathroom scales and even the kitchen scales and the results were wildly erratic -sometimes they registered nothing at all even with a fairly significant weight on them, sometimes gave excess readings. (But no accurate ones.) Then I tried with myselfd again and lo and behold this time I had lost 10 lb (cancel gym membership).
Obviously this is something to do with the initialisation. I've tried and tried to re-initialise them without success - the message that flashes up on them is not that specified in the instructions. (And yes, I'm using them on a hard floor.) So now I'm left having spent money on a useless product - they are simply far too erratic to rely on. And to get my money back of course I've got to go to the time and trouble of queueing up in the post office - even with a pre-printed returns label you have to queue. Let alone going to the bother of finding something to package them in.
This is a big item, and one that has only one function. My experience is that it cannot perform that function reliably. Returning something this big is a pain in the backside (maybe like me you'll have to lug it into work and do it in your lunch break?). So my advice would be not to buy these scales unless you're happy, potentially, to put up with the nusiance of returning them - and whatever you do, don't destroy the packaging until you've tested them thoroughly, using another set of scales for this purpose. Do not make my mistake and destroy the packaging! Because you may need to use it for a return.


Letterland Stories Level 3a (Letterland at Home)
Letterland Stories Level 3a (Letterland at Home)
by Lyn Wendon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colourful, attractive and imaginative, 14 Feb. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are looking at moving on an early reader, this is a good resource. I used it after going through the Reading Corner Phonics and initial Read with Ladybird books. It was more challenging with a wider vocabulary but held my sons' interest well.The pictures are large and colorful and imaginative. (Plus one advantage I have found with Letterland books is that they contain quite a lot of material - so are significantly more economical than certain other series.) In terms of age group - well, that will depend on your child. I used this in Year 1. A child will need to be good with phonics to be able to cope with it.

I must admit that I am a bit startled by some of the comments here to the effect that the Letterland books are dated. I can't really understand where that comes from. They are imaginative, bright books with colorful drawings. No, unlike say the Oxford Reading Tree (which I found awfully tedious) they don't attempt to show modern life - they show a fantasy world! Talking snakes and cats and kings and queens!

I also want to comment on the idea that using phonics means Letterland is superseded. I'm not qualified to comment on how the Letterland books integrate with phonics based methods of teaching. What I can say is that I used the phonics Read Write system - flashcards, ditties, storybooks - to teach my sons to read. I found it really effective. But I also found that Letterland books were a good secondary resource. I basically just used them for reading practice alongside the Read Write system. If I'd spent all my time with sons using the phonics books available, ploughing through the interminable adventures of Biff and Chip and what not, I suspect they would have become bored solid and I would have torn my hair out - it is the zaniness of Letterland books which makes them attractive to children.


Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved Book Two) (Immortal Beloved 2)
Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved Book Two) (Immortal Beloved 2)
by Cate Tiernan
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Immortal beloved, 11 Feb. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this second book of a trilogy, heroine Nastasya is resident in a "rehab centre for wayward immortals". Nastasya herself is immortal, as are her co-residents, including romantic hero Reyn, with whom she has exchanged fevered kisses. Reyn is the son of Erik the Bloodletter, who was responsible for the slaughter or Nastasya's family: not surprisingly this has placed some difficulties in the way of their romance. Meanwhile, something bad is looming, and it seems to be out to get Nastasya, who has to leave the rehab centre, fearful that she's bringing evil to it. And out in the real world her past catches up with her. Will she find her way back to safety and Reyn, and come to terms with her own powers?

I quite liked this. Reyn comes across as a bit of a college jock, but there is an element of romance. The idea that Nastasya wants to exchange fevered kisses with him in a stable is believable. And the anti-hero is seriously bad. One things that did disappoint me though, was that we see relatively little of Nastastya's past life as an immortal, after the death of her family. And at over 350 pages I think it could have been cut back somewhat. Overall - light escapist reading in the bath with a glass of wine. But not comparable to Elizabeth Kostova.


No Title Available

138 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bye bye whiffy room, 10 Oct. 2012
If you are expecting a new baby this is one of the products I would really recommend investing in, though you need to factor in the cost of the refill cartridges (and postage for them if like me you buy refill packs online). Basically, you pop a dirty nappy into the unit, push it down into the film, turn a little knob so the nappy is covered up by the film entirely (this bit is essential) and hey presto no more nasty smell in the room. And you don't have to take the dirty nappy out to the dustbin or have it ponging away in the kitchen bin. I find there is no smell from the unit, so long as I've remembered to twist the little knob. I empty it once a week (though I only use it for pooey nappies) and splash some bleach or anti bacterial spray around in it when I do. I wouldn't stuff my head in it and draw a deep breath but that is not what it's for. I find a 3 pack refill lasts me around 2-3 months, and I buy my refills from Amazon (I don't know where they would be sold on the high street). A product that is used every day and makes life that little bit easier with babies and toddlers around.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2014 4:09 PM GMT


Slime Squad Vs The Fearsome Fists: Book 1
Slime Squad Vs The Fearsome Fists: Book 1
by Steve Cole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great boys' reading, 10 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Slime Squad books are great for encouraging young boys to read independently. (This isn't meant to be sexist: I haven't got any girls so don't know if a girl would like them or not. There is certainly a female monster member in the Squad who is feisty and likeable.) The books are full of jokes (the sort of yucky ones boys love) and are lighthearted and fast moving. I've actually read a few of them myself and enjoyed them. If your ambition is to get a young boy reading independently I would strongly recommend the series- I suspect parents may not find them as congenial as familiar series like the Secret Seven but the point is that they do a great job in moving children on to independent reading. In terms of age, I first got these for my eldest son at 6 and at 7 he still enjoys re-reading them. If you're looking for books to encourage boys' independent reading, other series I would recommend are Bug Buddies (rather simpler, great for reception and year one) and Steve Coles other series, Astrosaurs, Astrosaurs Academy, and Cows In Action.


Shakespeare: The World as a Stage
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shiny and witty, 10 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having just posted a very sour review of Bill Bryson's "At Home", I feel I should redress the balance by praising this great little book. It is a very short, accessible, well written and entertaining introduction to Shakespeare's life and times. (It doesn't deal in any detail with his works: there is a brief discussion of the Sonnets, but that's pretty much it.) The first 8 chapters take the reader from Shakespeare's birth and early years to his death, and the last deals with the widespread belief that Shakespeare did not in fact write Shakespeare. The scene - Elizabethan and Jacobean England - is set really well and the brutality of life in the sixteenth century is made very clear. Some reviewers have commented that it is a slight work: I suppose that is true. But it is an introduction: what is wrong with that? We cannot all be born with a great knowledge of Elizabethan England and Shakespeare's life. A warning, though: this book is so good that you may well find yourself keenly buying other books on the period and on Shakespeare.
After reading this book I felt that Bill Bryson should get some sort of award for his services to increasing human knowledge and understanding. After reading "At Home", sadly, my enthusiasm for this cause took a dent.


At Home: A short history of private life (Bryson)
At Home: A short history of private life (Bryson)
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Retitle: "A random collection of facts, some interesting, many rather dull, and far too many horribly tedious", 9 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I would have given this 2 stars, but for the fact that its subtitle ("A short history of private life") is so horribly misleading. A more accurate subtitle would be that I have suggested above.

Bill Bryson says in his introduction to the book that "whatever happens in the word...eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house". Of course this is true. But it is no excuse for failing completely to filter the information he provides. Every Christmas a tedious array of "gift books" are wheeled out which provide a random selection of facts, dealt with in a shallow way. This is what this book reminded me of. The idea that it is a history of private life, anchored around a Victorian rectory in Norfolk, is ridiculous.

For instance, in Chapter 9, "The Cellar", we have a lengthy discussion of the Erie Canal and hydraulic cement, early American colonists' use of wood, stone as a building material, brick, John Nash, coal smoke, Coade stone, building in Chicago, and cast iron. (The reason given for this is that the cellar provides a sense of the superstructure of the house.) In "The Passage" we learn about the Eiffel Tower, about the lifestyles of the super-rich in the US in the nineteenth century, about concrete, and about Alexander Graham Bell. In "The Study" we learn about mice, rats, bed mites, bedbugs, hygiene in the home, bats, and locusts. I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that if I wanted to learn about these topics I'd buy a book on them.

To be fair, not all of the chapters are this disparate. "The Bathroom" discusses hygiene - but in very general terms - and sewerage: flush toilets, cholera, John Snow, and yellow fever. "The Nursery" does discuss childhood - but goes on to encompass chimney sweeps, child factory workers, the lives of the poor in London in the 1830s, Malthus, workhouses, Engels, Dr Barnardo, and Darwin. "The Bedroom" does discuss bedding and sleeping habits, before discussing sex in a rather melodramatic way, and then going on to sexually transmitted diseases, Fanny Burney's mastectomy, Victorian mourning customs, live burial, grave robbery and cremation. There is a large illustration of a "penile pricing ring" in this chapter but nothing in it - nor, so far as I could see, in the whole book - on contraception. I would have thought that had more of an effect on private life in the bedroom than grave robbery and found the omission very surprising.

Bill Bryson also says in his introduction that he has had to be "painfully selective". It shows. There are many pages where adjacent paragraphs don't seem to fit together all that well, giving the impression that something has been cut out. There are also many infelicities of language and many places where I found myself thinking "does that sentence even make sense?". I suspect that this is because the subject is so enormous - sex, death, childhood, illness and medicine, hygiene, architecture, electricity, furnishings, religion - that it simply can't be dealt with in one book, and very heavy handed cutting has taken place.

I bought this in hardcover because I've enjoyed his other works so much and have read them till they've fallen apart. But my hardback is on its way to Oxfam. I am glad to have finished it and think Bill Bryson's editor would have done him a favour, when the first draft of this was produced, by suggesting that this time he had bitten off very much more than he could chew .
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 11, 2013 2:34 PM GMT


Dollhouse: Season One [DVD]
Dollhouse: Season One [DVD]
Dvd ~ Eliza Dushku
Price: £6.99

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wasted several evenings on this: can I have them back?, 7 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dollhouse: Season One [DVD] (DVD)
Despite being a Joss Whedon fan I didn't watch Dollhouse when it originally came out because I was rather afraid - after seeing publicity material in which Eliza Dushku appeared scantily clad and pouting - that it was aimed at the 12-16 year old boy market. But I decided to invest in the series after reading the ecstatic reviews on Amazon. I suppose I was expecting the things that I would (until now) have expected from Joss Whedon - a story line handled with enough respect for the viewer's intelligence to allow me to suspend disbelief, great dialogue, believable characters with real relationships, a believable "alternate universe", and some thought provoking social/political/philosophical issues. Oh dear. I did not find these things.

Many reviewers have outlined the plot of series 1: Eliza Dushku plays a "doll", Echo, who can be "imprinted" with different personalities to meet the "needs"of clients. As the series develops we find out more about what led Echo to the Dollhouse, about her previous life as "Caroline", about the staff of the Dollhouse and their motivation, and about the Dollhouse's purpose and its relationship with the shadowy Rossum Corporation. As many reviewers have commented, the episodes change in nature rather after the first 5 or 6 episodes. There are some good things about this change - in particular, the fact that the episodes become significantly less salacious. (My original suspicion was confirmed: although obviously this is a mainstream TV series and without any explicit sexual contact or nudity, the first few episodes came across to me as coarsely salacious in a way that Joss Whedon's other series never have done.) Also Eliza Dushku's acting range becomes rather wider: but since she started off with just one expression, sultry pout, that really isn't saying very much.

My main objection is that the more we find out about the plot, and about the backstory, the more it becomes obvious that the story is just plain stupid. I mean "stupid" in the same way that a lot of big budget TV series are "stupid": childish, badly thought out, oh just ridiculous, because we at Fox assume all our viewers are dim and who cares about them anyway. The dialogue is awful. The characters are unbelievable. I notice that one reviewer commented that Adele de Witt (the manager of the House) and Topher Brink (the imprinting wizard) were particularly believable. I found them pathetic caricatures ("imprints", perhaps) of more successful characters in Buffy and Angel. And as for the last episode, Epitaph 1, a post-apocalyptic dystopia - well, I found myself cringing with embarrassment as more and more cliches and hammy dialogue were rolled out, culminating with the most ludicrous piece of hammy, melodramatic overacting from E Dushku.

Well, obviously lots of people love this and good for them. I wish I had done too. If you are thinking about buying it, my advice would be not to think about whether you like Firefly and Buffy and Angel, but to think about whether you like hugely successful US series like CSI and Lost and the later X files. I don't like those series, and I think they are the TV works that, in tone and level and spirit and in jaw dropping tedium, Dollhouse resembles.


The Mystery of Banshee Towers (The Mystery Series)
The Mystery of Banshee Towers (The Mystery Series)
by Enid Blyton
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Run, run, from this book, 17 Sept. 2011
Much Enid Blyton can be fun: no point being snobbish about this. But this is dire. I wanted to wail and fling myself around the room each time I read it to my son, and he showed little interest in it. So in the end we stopped half way through - a very rare event.
I found 2 main problems.
First, the story is astonishingly padded out. Very very very little happens, and it happens very very very slowly over pages and pages of padding. There's just not enough going on. It's boring.
Second, the unattractive social snobbery. I'm not one of those people who expects books written in the 1930s to conform to modern social standards. I don't think of myself as at all politically correct. But I found the social distinctions drawn in this book quite horrid. The distinction is that drawn between Fatty and the gang on the one hand, and "Ern" on the other. Ern speaks differently. He is subservient. He sees Fatty as better than him, because Fatty is posh and Ern is common. Fatty speaks to him in a patronising way. Ern's commonness is painted as comic. He is "not quite like us dear" as some of my more elderly relatives might (regrettably) have said. Yeeeurgh. Pointing out the differences between different types of people can be fun. But this just left a nasty taste in my mouth.
We haven't read any others in this particular series so I don't know if this is par for the course. But on the basis of this book I would stick to the Famous Five and glorious Secret Seven books.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2014 4:35 PM GMT


Tumtum and Nutmeg
Tumtum and Nutmeg
by Emily Bearn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight - for boys too!, 17 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Tumtum and Nutmeg (Paperback)
This is a really enjoyable children's book. It's the story of two mice - Tumtum and Nutmeg - and their battle against the enjoyably dastardly Aunt Ivy. It's well written, with better grammar than many children's books, and a wide vocabulary which will introduce new words to children in an accessible way. It's very imaginative and has a good "cosy" quotient - Nutmeg wears an apron and makes cakes, and there's snow outside. There is no sign of the "padding out" which seems so prevalent in many children's books: the story romps along.

I found it a pleasure to read as a bedtime story and was happy to go through two chapters a night. I initially wondered whether it might be more suitable for girls than boys - but my 6 year old boy loved it. He hid under the bedclothes, wailing with alarm, when Aunt Ivy's plots became dangerous, and pranced around the room waving an imaginary sword when the mice and their ally General Marchmouse took her on with weapons. So it's a great read for either boys or girls, and would be very suitable at Christmas I would have thought, as it is set in snow. Highly recommended.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9