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Denise4891 (Cheshire)
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Little Black Lies
Little Black Lies
by Sharon Bolton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and harrowing portrayal of grief and guilt, 5 July 2015
This review is from: Little Black Lies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’ve enjoyed Sharon Bolton’s crime thriller series featuring DC Lacey Flint, but my favourite of her books are the early stand-alone novels Sacrifice and Awakening so I was intrigued to hear that she has returned to the stand-alone format for her latest book, Little Black Lies. And boy is it a dark one! The synopsis mentions the death of two children so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the battering my emotions have taken over the last two days.

Set on the Falkland Islands in the mid-1990s, the story has three central characters: Catrin, a marine biologist who grew up on the islands, and her childhood friend Rachel who three years earlier was supposed to be looking after Catrin’s two young sons when the car they were in rolled off a cliff, killing them instantly. Lastly there’s Callum, a veteran of the Falklands conflict who has returned to live on the islands and suffers from crippling flashbacks which leave him with gaps in his memory where he can’t explain where he has been or what he has done.

When a child goes missing on the islands, the third in as many years, the anger and resentment Catrin feels towards Rachel, and the latter’s guilt and remorse at her actions three years earlier, all add to the pervading sense of fear, suspicion and menace which grips this small and claustrophobic community. Bolton cleverly develops and enhances the story by reliving the events through the eyes of the three main characters. The pace is relentless and just when you think the ends are going to be tied up neatly, she’ll throw in another curve ball to knock the reader for six (wow, that ending!).

Some of my favourite thrillers, including Bolton’s Sacrifice, have been set on remote, brooding Scottish islands, and here the Falklands, with their windswept cliffs, savage wildlife and rolling seas, make an excellent alternative. It’s a gripping but harrowing story of grief, guilt, revenge and forgiveness which won’t be an easy read for parents or animal lovers (or anyone, really). However, I have been completely engrossed in it for the last two days and for my money Sharon Bolton is the best thriller writer in Britain today.


Remington Ultimate Bikini Kit
Remington Ultimate Bikini Kit
Price: £26.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Handy gadget which gives good results, 5 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This gadget has three attachments: a trimmer to trim hair to a short enough length for shaving (with a separate plastic guard which can be adjusted to get the required length), a hypoallergenic shaver head and an exfoliating brush to buff the skin and discourage ingrowing hairs. It's easy to use - each head can be attached and removed easily and the unit is easy to hold and operate via the switch on the front, and can be used in or out of the shower (I prefer to use it 'dry' as I feel I have more control). Although it's billed as a 'bikini' trimmer it can be used on the underarms as well.

It comes with a neat little carrying pouch so you can keep all the bits and pieces together, including the charger. Ah yes the charging - why do these small electric devices need so much charging time? You have to leave it plugged in for 24 hours when you take it out of the box, which will give you 30 minutes' usage (enough for two uses so I haven't had to recharge it yet), and then you have to recharge it for 14-16 hours when that runs out.

Overall though it's a neat and compact little device which is easy to use and gives good results.


The Girls
The Girls
Price: £6.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and claustrophobic summer read, 2 July 2015
This review is from: The Girls (Kindle Edition)
I’ve kind of grown up with Lisa Jewell’s books over the past 15 years or so. During that time she’s evolved from writing stories about people in their 20s starting out in life (jobs, relationships etc), to more family based, observational novels and now with her latest release has taken a darker turn, almost into the psychological thriller genre.

The Girls features a group of families of all different shapes and sizes who live in a terrace of houses with a communal garden at the back. The main family are the Wilds; newly single mother Clare and her daughters Grace and Pip. When one of them is found unconscious after a summer party in the garden, the sense of friendship and trust that the family had gradually built with their new friends and neighbours turns to one of nagging suspicion and doubt and as the investigation into the incident continues, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets and skeletons lurking behind the shutters.

The claustrophobic atmosphere of the communal garden during the summer months is skillfully conveyed but, as usual with Lisa’s novels, the characters and the relationships between them are at the heart of the story and the Wild family and the supporting characters are very believable and emphathetic. Lisa Jewell has yet to disappoint me and, whilst this isn’t my favourite of her books (I still have very fond memories of Ralph’s Party, and of her recent novels, The House We Grew Up In will take some beating), I thoroughly enjoyed it and eagerly await her next one.


Carmex Original Tube and Pot - (Pack of 2)
Carmex Original Tube and Pot - (Pack of 2)
Price: £5.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Effective but not my favourite, 29 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using this lip balm for about a week now. My lips (which weren't particularly dry to begin with) are smooth and chap free. The balm gives the lips a glossy appearance and feels pleasant to use (the balm in the pot is slightly stickier and more solid than the tube which is more 'gloopy') and contains camphor and menthol which give a slight tingling sensation when applied to the lips, and cocoa butter which probably accounts for the 'custardy' smell. It also contains less pleasant sounding ingredients such as petrolatum, paraffin and lanolin, so if you prefer to use (and ingest) a more natural product you should probably look elsewhere.

In this pack it's not the cheapest lip balm on the market so personally I would prefer to spend a few more pence on something with nicer ingredients.


The Truth According to Us
The Truth According to Us
by Annie Barrows
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and funny small-town tale, 21 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book was a joy to read and the perfect pick-me-up to get me out of a reading rut.
The Truth About Us is the story of a year in the life of the Romeyn family; the year is 1938 and the location is Macedonia, a small town in West Virginia. The Romeyns were once high on the list of Macedonia’s most prominent families but the Depression has affected them badly. However, their lives are seemingly uneventful until Layla Beck arrives, sent at the behest of her Senator father to prove her worth by writing a history of Macedonia for the West Virginia Writers’ Project (a scheme set up under Roosevelt’s New Deal to support writers facing hardship).

Layla’s research rekindles some uncomfortable memories for the family and, despite locking horns at first, she soon finds a friend in redoubtable Jottie, the matriarchal figure of the family, whose own tale is central to the mystery at the heart of the story. However, for me the star of the book is Jottie’s niece Willa, an intelligent and intense 12 year old girl who is fiercely loyal to her family (and blind to their faults), and who turns girl detective in an attempt to find out the truth about one particular family secret.

There’s a lot of humour in the book, thanks mainly to the cast of quirky and eccentric supporting characters. The only criticism I’d make is that the book is a little long and I was starting to flag a bit around the ¾ mark, but overall it’s a winner. If I had to compare it to anything I’d say it has the small-town cosy quirkiness of Fannie Flagg mixed with the humour and pathos of Laurie Graham. I really enjoyed it.


Fates and Furies
Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too self-consciously 'literary' for my taste, 20 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Fates and Furies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really tried with this book (having really enjoyed The Monsters of Templeton a few years ago) but I’m afraid I gave up around the half way mark. I don’t feel guilty about that – if a book isn’t entertaining, educating or interesting me by that point then I know it’s extremely unlikely to.

Fates and Furies is essentially the story of the marriage of Lancelot and Mathilde, who we meet when they are young star-crossed lovers and journey with through the ups and downs of married life. I’m used to reading books with unlikeable characters with unpleasant mannerisms and personality traits – this can often make for challenging and entertaining reading. However, the ‘hero’ Lancelot/Lotto (even the name(s) were really starting to bug me!) was just so shallow, narcissistic and, quite frankly, dull that I couldn’t find any redeeming features to latch onto.

Other reviewers have commented on the self-consciously clever writing style and also the omnipotent narrator who butts in occasionally with a comment on something the characters have said or done (I actually quite liked this and found it one of the more interesting and quirky aspects of the book). I just wish the characters were saying or doing something more interesting for the narrator to comment on.

So sorry, I don’t like giving up on books and never do so lightly, but this one defeated me.


NAILS INC Nail Polish, Porchester Square
NAILS INC Nail Polish, Porchester Square
Offered by Pixie Promotions
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, subtle shade, 16 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I absolutely love this colour, a sort of pinky/grey/beigey shade (depending on the light) which is subtle and sophisticated. The polish itself is hardwearing and one coat gives full, even coverage, even of my slightly discoloured and ridgy nails.

This would be a 5 star review if it weren't for the new design of the Nails Inc bottles. I find the rectangular lid much more fiddly and difficult to control than the previous round one, especially when using my left (non-dominant) hand to pain the nails on my right. Hopefully this is a passing phase and they'll return to the more conventional and easier to use lids soon.


Tender
Tender
by Belinda McKeon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pain and the passion, 16 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Tender (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Belinda McKeon’s second novel is a beautifully written, poignant and, yes, tender portrayal of the relationship between two young people in 1990s Dublin, a relationship which veers from intense friendship to full-blown obsession, betrayal and grief.

Catherine Reilly is a sheltered, somewhat naive 18 year old who leaves the bosom of her close-knit family to begin her undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin. Through friends she meets James Flynn, an enigmatic and engaging young photographer who has just returned from working in Berlin, and the two embark on a claustrophobic, all-consuming friendship, although an early revelation from James should have made it clear to Catherine exactly how far the relationship could go.

Catherine and James’ story is relayed through lyrical and at times almost poetic prose. The sense of time and place is enhanced by the carefully placed 90s references which are acutely observed and subtly inserted into the storyline (rather than laid on with a trowel as they can be in some retrospective novels). The two lead characters are sensitively and sympathetically portrayed; Catherine, from whose perspective the story is told, could easily have come across as a clingy, needy nightmare, and James a selfish narcissist, but they don’t – I really liked them both.

I know it’s a co-incidence, but the timing of the release of this novel seems doubly poignant just weeks after the Republic of Ireland became the first country to legalise same sex marriage by means of a popular vote. On a personal level I was totally absorbed in James and Catherine’s story and bewitched by Belinda McKeon’s writing, and am off to investigate her earlier novel Solace which somehow passed me by but, from the reviews, sounds just as intriguing.


Lee Stafford Frizz Off Hair Kit
Lee Stafford Frizz Off Hair Kit
Price: £28.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek and shiny, 16 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Frizz Off hairdryer by Lee Stafford has a powerful 2,300W motor and, for a big hairdryer, is relatively lightweight and easy to handle. It has two speed and three heat settings which are very easy to reach and operate, a cool shot button to ‘set’ your style and a hanging loop. The hairdryer itself is a shocking metallic pink – not to everyone’s taste – but strangely the detachable nozzle is in a different shade of transparent pink plastic. The nozzle fits well but, because of the colour mis-match, does look rather odd.

The set comes with a dehumidifier spray, a brush and a shocking pink quilted evening/cosmetic bag (can’t see me using this as an evening bag, but an extra washbag is always handy). There aren’t really any instructions on the spray (other than to use it before exercising or clubbing) – it would have been handy to know whether it should be applied to wet or dry hair.

Tech spec: The dryer apparently operates with FAR infrared technology which emits a longer wave length to generate deep heat which penetrates the cortex of the hair to allow it to dry quicker. The grille is also infused with Keratin – not sure how that works or how long the Keratin supply will last.

So, do the frizz reducing claims hold up? I’ve used the dryer twice now and my hair does seem a bit sleeker and I have fewer fly-aways, so yes I’m pleased with the results. I’ve only used the spray once (on dry hair) but I didn’t notice much of a difference to the time I used the dryer without the spray. It’s not an expensive drier so over all so far I’d say it’s worth the money.


GILDA Perfect Eye Cream
GILDA Perfect Eye Cream
Price: £24.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant to use, good results so far, 24 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I usually use a Liz Earle eye cream during the day (which has brightening properties to diminish dark circles and an SPF) and a Clinique one at night. This cream, from a new (to me) brand called Gilda, should be used twice daily (ie night and day) as it claims to deeply hydrate and prevent fine lines as well as brightening dark undereye circles. I’ve been using it for three weeks now.

I have a few tiny lines starting to appear around my eyes but my main problem is dark circles – this seems to be hereditary in my family but is worse at the moment as I’m having very restless nights due to stress at work and in recent weeks I’ve been waking up with extremely tired-looking eyes with very dark circles underneath, so this cream has got its work cut out!

Gilda Perfect Eye Cream is pleasant and cooling to use. It has a non-gloopy, gel-like consistency which spreads easily under and around the eye. The applicator has four small holes at the end and the instructions (such as they are) advise you to apply the cream around the eye using the applicator. However, I found it easier to use the traditional method of applying cream to the tip of my ring finger and gently patting it around the eye.
In terms of my dark circles, they do diminish slightly after applying the cream but this could be due to the patting motion. I still have to apply my normal cosmetic concealer on top of the cream to diminish them further. I haven’t noticed any new lines or wrinkles, so hopefully the cream is keeping them at bay.

The cream contains multipeptides which apparently help to increase collagen and elastin formation, and Vitamin A and wild musk rose oil to reduce wrinkle depth. It doesn’t contain an SPF (which the Liz Earle daytime eye cream does) but is unperfumed and paraben-free. (Other reviewers have said they noticed a slight scent but I couldn’t smell anything.) In terms of cost this cream is at the high end of the scale, certainly more expensive than the other creams I use, and I’m not sure if the results have been good enough for me to consider buying it next time. You only need a tiny amount for each eye so it will last quite a while though.


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