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Doha (London, UK)
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Leading Man
Leading Man
by Benjamin Svetkey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars No, 25 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Leading Man (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm hovering between two and three stars (2.5?). I really want to like this book but I really don't. It was actually the reviews here that got me excited, but I should have followed by instinct to avoid it. I enjoy a good romance with a dash of glamour and realism, but Leading Man just feels like an exercise in navel-gazing where over a hundred pages in, I just want to smack the boy who refuses to get over his first love. IT'S OVER, DEAL WITH IT ASFK ASDGJ DFGA


BISSELL Multi-Reach 2-in-1 Light Weight Cordless Vacuum with 18 V Lithium-Ion 90 W - Orange
BISSELL Multi-Reach 2-in-1 Light Weight Cordless Vacuum with 18 V Lithium-Ion 90 W - Orange
Price: £219.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good vac for light jobs, 25 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The skinny:
- cordless makes it really, really versatile
- it has an actual built-in removable hand-vac
- very easy to empty
- very easy to charge
- very flexible
- it folds in half for easy storage

I've been using it for a little while, and I'm still not too sure about it. Initially, I thought it picked up a lot of dirt and maintained its suction well, as long as you emptied the cup regularly. I think it might be unfair for me to judge it against my heavy-duty Henry, so let me call it a quick-clean vac, best for light jobs rather than thorough deep-cleans. It's really nice for upholstery, furniture and tight corners, especially with the handvac, and it's sleek and pretty. I like it a lot, but I don't think it's got the cajones for intensive and heavy use. I have thick carpets and wooden floors, and it doesn't take much off the carpet that I can see. If there's fluff on it, it stays on it. As for the wooden floors, they do better with a soft broom. Or Henry. I love you, Henry.


Storm and Stone: Struck
Storm and Stone: Struck
by Joss Stirling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A little flat, 25 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Storm and Stone is the story of Raven Stone, an orphaned American girl who comes to live with her grandad in an English boarding school. Weird things start to happen, like her best friend-and-roomie vanishing, and then turning up with a personality transplant. Enter two new boys, who are young detectives in disguise. Raven becomes friends with them, and stuff with the school gets weirder and more dangerous. But at the same time as surviving the crazy, she also has to take A-levels.

Since this won an award for romance and I've heard lots of good things about Joss Stirling, I was excited to read it, but I'm disappointed. The book does a good job of balancing the mundane trials of a sixth-former with the deepening mystery, but the romance felt flat and a little insipid, the dialogue was awkward, and nothing about the plot really felt novel - it's all something I've read before, that's been written before, and not much makes it different.

BUT there is one thing that makes it different that IS worth talking about from a diversity standpoint: the main character is black, and the cover (wait, did they change the cover?) reflects it. I dig that a lot, and it's a good trend to see more representation in mainstream fiction.


AmazonBasics Microfibre King Fitted Sheet, Beige
AmazonBasics Microfibre King Fitted Sheet, Beige
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Really soft, snug-fit polyester, 25 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my first time using non-cotton bedsheets, and it's not bad at all. Like other reviewers have said, it's a lovely soft sheet (as expected from microfibre). It's a nice deep fit as well, keeping the mattress snug and secure with full elastication all the way around. It's been nice to use over the cool spring we've been having, but it's going away for the summer. I'll definitely be bringing it out again to use in the winter for the extra warmth!

Amazon's Basics range is generally pleasing, with good quality to meet economy, and I always feel confident buying it. Just be careful if you have problems with synthetic fabrics!


XLS Medical Max Strength Diet Pills for Weight Loss - Pack of 120
XLS Medical Max Strength Diet Pills for Weight Loss - Pack of 120
Price: £53.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No weight loss, but good digestion, 25 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I honestly don't see that these pills made any difference whatsoever to my weight. At the same time as taking these, I was exercising regularly and watching what I ate. However, I think the action of the pills results in more comfortable bowel movement as it bulks up your business, if you know what I mean, with the carbs you're not absorbing getting ejected. So it gets points for that. I didn't get a chance to use the dietitian service because I work long hours, but users are supplied with a fair amount of paperwork and information about constructing a proper weight-loss regime. It's probably worth emphasising that the pills are only meant to be an *aid* to weight loss, so there should be according lifestyle changes for best effect.

I don't know if this works better for moderately overweight people who want to shed just a few kilos (i.e. not me), and I imagine there's a lot of individual difference in how a body reacts to specific things. The pills made me take my regime more seriously and I absolutely felt fitter and stronger because of the intense exercise. However, towards the end of the month, I got inexplicably sick which put a stopper on everything. I wonder if for me, taking these resulted in any kind of vitamin or mineral deficiency? I hover at the edges of a number of deficiencies which I make up with supplements -- do these mop them up or prevent me from absorbing them from my food? When I stopped taking them, I got better. I'm hesitant to say they're necessarily related, because they might not be, but I'm worried enough that I won't be taking this kind of thing anymore and stick with the old-fashioned way.


The Road to Character
The Road to Character
by David Brooks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.59

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book in an ego-driven world, 1 May 2015
This review is from: The Road to Character (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In The Road To Character, David Brooks identifies the key internal qualities that elevate a human life from a consuming, self-centred existence to serving something more than itself. Drawing on a wide range of sources, he uses historical figures to illustrate how they exemplified each quality, and these stories could be quite dark - necessarily. The thing to really appreciate in these examinations is how, as well as the positive effects of the characteristics, Brooks also points out the negative ways in which they lived those qualities. It's a reminder for caution, that those traits can cut both ways, and why self-knowledge is a fundamental process in creating character.

He defines what character is, and each section is devoted to a particular quality. He starts by making a distinction between our two selves: Adam I who is self-serving and appetitive, and the moral and service-driven Adam II.

I found this book an affirmation of the beliefs and values I've been taught since childhood, which often seem out of place in the modern age, and the fact that it's a mainstream, mostly secular voice bringing these values to the fore is powerful to me, as a person with a religious upbringing, but also a lover of the classic children's literature whose backbone is made up of these same things - struggle against your self, self-respect, reflection and circumspection, the need for boundaries, and so on.

I'm glad this is a #1 bestseller. I hope that means that we can expect society at large to return to old-world values, because service and self-mastery shouldn't ever go out of fashion.

There's a line that spoke to me most strongly, because it's the sum of my own life's experience, that after trauma, "You don't come out healed, you come out different." Amen.


MICRO Nail Electric Nail Polisher
MICRO Nail Electric Nail Polisher
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit basic, 1 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This piece of kit basically does two things: buff and shine. It does a fairly pleasant job, and quickly. It comes with two of each roller, and a little pouch to keep them in, and takes two AA batteries. The operation is straightforward, and the instructions are clear.

I'm not sure why, but I'm not overwhelmed by it. Another family member who used it *really* loved it, although we both agree that we'd get better results manually. But the big plus is how quickly you can touch up with this, although the fun in doing your nails is taking your time with it! I appreciate sometimes you just need to get it done, so this is good for time-saving. I think the nature of the roller-head makes it hard to reach the deepest part of the nailbed properly, so it can be a little un-uniform towards the back, although I was afraid of spending too long with the buffing-head to reach those parts in case I ended up thinning my nail too much.

A direct quote from family member, "With the short amount of time I spent on it, I am impressed with the result. This is a really good addition to your self-care collection." So that's two opinions to help you decide!


A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers & Scientists (IEEE PCS Professional Engineering Communication Series)
A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers & Scientists (IEEE PCS Professional Engineering Communication Series)
by Robert E. Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough guide, but not for the casual user, 12 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not a student anymore, but I was once a scientist. This guide interested me because I figured it would be clearer and more practical than other writing guides. I write for an entertainment website right now, and have found the manual useful. It's not really the subject matter that is an issue when it comes to writing, but the desired clarity of communication, and I desired clarity.

It's a really excellent, thorough guide, which I use mainly for reference. Although my current area of writing is in entertainment, bringing scientific rigour to it certainly makes it better writing. On the other hand, I recognise that for us scientists, it's more useful to have a straight-up no nonsense guide, than digging up a buried hook in a more flowery book. It might be more than an average undergrad is interested in, but certainly for anyone who needs to write important papers at postgrad level, who wants a little extra support in constructing clear work, this should be helpful. It starts at the basics of the purpose of clear writing, and moving on to basic grammar and sentence construction, to addressing the overarching themes over the course of a piece of writing.

On the downside, it can be a little dense, and sometimes the conciseness of the guide itself makes accessing it hard work. For someone with less previous exposure to grammar, this may not be the right book. It's the kind of book best mined if you have the time to study it a little more deeply. It's worthwhile, but it's not casual!


The Raven's Head
The Raven's Head
by Karen Maitland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too dark, 12 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Raven's Head (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Raven's Head is a dark historical piece, with a thread of esoteric running through it. In France, Vincent is an apprentice scribe who starts off with ambition that outweighs his ability to follow it. Because of that ambition, he finds himself sent on an errand to transport an object - the Raven's Head - and he ends up in England after a string of curious events.

But this book's not for me. If I didn't have to review it, I wouldn't have read past the first chapter. It's clever, tightly-constructed, and well-written, but there are a few reasons it's not for me.

1) Vincent's character. I need to like the main character to like a book, and I couldn't like Vincent, no matter how much I tried. He was occasionally amusing, but he was crass and objectifying. He had a little self-awareness that actually made him worse.

2) Child abuse. I know historically, these practices likely happened, but I'm not robust enough to make it through such unrelenting misery, torture, and abuse inflicted on children (or anyone, but it being children was just so much worse). It was too dark for me, and I wish I could unread it.

It's my first book from this author, so I didn't really know what to expect, but it's unlikely I'll read her again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2015 1:41 PM BST


Pinzon Everyday Cotton, Light Brown Double Fitted Sheet
Pinzon Everyday Cotton, Light Brown Double Fitted Sheet
Price: £14.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Good fit everyday sheet, 24 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My general concern with fitted sheets is whether they'll fit deeper mattresses: not to worry. Even on an extra-deep orthopaedic mattress, the fit is generous enough to even tuck a little under so it doesn't slip off or over. The mattress protector, which is a bit heavier, also fits nicely inside it without them interfering with each other.

The sheet itself is light, with a nice compact weave. I got this for family members who tend towards using hospital-grade heavy cotton sheets, so this was a little different to their usual, but their feedback is positive. The colour is nice and neutral -- it's not so much brown as beige. It's machine-washable and doesn't need ironing (does anyone iron their bedsheets?). All in all, it's exactly what it says it is, so it's all good.


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