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Profile for J. Dawson > Reviews

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Content by J. Dawson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,125
Helpful Votes: 1005

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Reviews Written by
J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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BIC HB Evolution Colourful Graphite Pencil with Eraser End (Pack of 3)
BIC HB Evolution Colourful Graphite Pencil with Eraser End (Pack of 3)
Price: £2.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Durable, great for kids, almost perfect!, 29 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
£2.00 for 3 pencils seems a bit steep right from the off, but quality costs and these pencils are on another level. Made of a wood-free resin, they are bright and colourful as well as resistant to splinters and chewing. Best of all is that the HB graphite centres are treated for ultra-resistance to breakage. Anyone who has wasted time sharpening a pencil over and over only to find the lead is snapped in multiple places will appreciate the joy of finding this stays wholly intact. They sharpen well, write well, and erase about as well as can be expected too, and come with eraser ends and pre-sharpened. Really the only improvement they could make here is to find a way to stop them going missing!


Vitabiotics Wellwoman Energy Lime - 10 Effervescent Tablets
Vitabiotics Wellwoman Energy Lime - 10 Effervescent Tablets
Price: £5.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Extra energy and relatively painless!, 29 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Been using these for about a week now and I do think I can notice a bit of a difference in my energy levels, which is always a good thing! They are effervescing tablets that you drop into a glass of water for extra vitamins. Allegedly they are lime flavoured, but this is a bit tenuous! The resulting drink isn't actively unpleasant but nor is it something you'd choose for the taste - like most sports drinks, I suppose. The colour is an alarming neon shade, enough that I'd actually hesitate to drink this in public as it looks like something you'd give to children that would cause hyperactivity. I thought at first the price tag (£5.35 for 10 tablets at time of writing) seemed a little steep but then again that's a bit more than 50p a day, and I guess if you really find it gives you more energy, that's worth it. I probably won't be replenishing my supply regularly, but would certainly buy again if I was feeling a bit run down.


Hallmark Mother's Day Card "Thank You" - Medium
Hallmark Mother's Day Card "Thank You" - Medium
Price: £3.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty card, sentimental but not sickly, 23 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is quite a pretty card with lots of attractive details, and it strikes a nice balance between fresh and traditional in both its design and its sentiment. It has 3D details enhanced with glitter and ribbon on the front, a die-cut lacy edge which shows the contrasting colour beneath, and a paper insert with a verse. The description page here on Amazon does not spell out the sentiment. I usually avoid cards with overly long messages but this one isn't too (pardon the pun) flowery:
You've always been so kind and dependable
someone who can really be counted on
You've been there to listen, encourage and care
in all the ways that have mattered most
so I couldn't let Mother's Day go by
without thanking you for all the good things
you bring just by being you
Happy Mother's Day

The design likewise is a pretty floral theme, but with a more modern feel so the overall sense is sort of traditional with a fresh twist.

The reason I've only given three stars is the price. This card costs nearly £4 at time of writing and for that amount, I'd prefer to buy an actual handmade card or spend a bit more on a gift!


Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, but not great literature, 20 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the kind of novel that presents me with a problem in terms of review. In all honesty, there are plenty of justifiable criticisms to be made. But however much I wished it was "better" (in a literary sense) than what it was, I can't deny that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The premise is a promising one: an aimless 20-something woman with a Punjabi background and modern aspirations, a promising student who has become an underachieving adult, takes on a job as a writing teacher for Sikh women at a nearby temple. She has well-meaning but naive visions of helping to empower forgotten women, enabling them to find a voice. However she hasn't bargained for the group of students who turn up and shape the class to their own ideas, a supervisor with a hidden agenda, or the intrigues and dangers of the religious community she has largely turned her back on.

I felt the characters weren't developed very well here. I didn't feel most of the students had defined personalities, nor did we ever gain any real insight into the motivations of Nikki's family or other supporting characters. I also thought the author tried to cram too many themes into the story - the daughter who is a disappointment to her parents, grieving a father who died without resolving a brief estrangement, the dutiful sister pursuing an arranged marriage, the burgeoning new relationship, the gangs who harass temple women....many of these points were simply superfluous to the story, others just simply not fully developed. I also found the actions of certain characters difficult to believe. Foremost here were the Punjabi widows themselves, who seemed all too eager to turn their writing class into erotica-sharing sessions. Now I don't doubt that old women can still possess sexuality and all the fantasies and experience that go along with it, but considering the intolerant nature of many of the other characters in their community and the dangerous nature of loose tongues, they might have been just a little bit more hesitant about sharing such fantasies in front of a stranger or indeed others they didn't know and/or trust. Finally, and this is perhaps my own cynicism coming through, this was one of those books that I rather felt was written with an eye already on the film rights. It is all too easy to imagine some studio executive thinking this will tie very neatly into the "Exotic Marigold Hotel" genre and rake in a bundle of silver pounds....

That being said, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I was very much drawn into the world of the Punjabi widows, desperate to find out the dark secrets that were hinted at throughout the book, and rooting for the class to evade discovery by the misogynistic gangs and Temple elders who would shut them down. I also loved that the book was not simply a rosy tale of a particularly close-knit community but also painted the darker side of such communities and how intimidation, gossip, and paranoia can ruin lives.

Overall, this may not be great literature, but it is a pretty great read for all that.


The Primal Pantry Brazil Nut & Cherry Paleo Bar 45 g (Pack of 18)
The Primal Pantry Brazil Nut & Cherry Paleo Bar 45 g (Pack of 18)
Price: £24.32

3.0 out of 5 stars Healthy and tasty but not cheap, 20 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you follow the advice that the fewer ingredients on a food label, the more healthy and desirable that product is, you will be impressed with these snack bars right from the start. They only contain three ingredients: dates, cherries and Brazil nuts. They are never going to replace your favourite sweet, but they are quite palatable, with quite a rich and nutty flavour (the cherries, it must be said, are more difficult to discern). I've had them as a post-gym snack and feel quite virtuous and not weighed down after.

The packaging is also really smart - I had forgotten ordering these and when they arrived, I couldn't figure out what it was as it looks almost like a posh presentation box! I thought someone had sent me a gift.

The price (£25.45 for a box of 18 bars at time of writing) is probably fair considering the cost of raw ingredients, however that means each bar comes in at around £1.40. For most of us who have to budget, that's going to be difficult to justify unless our diet is dictated by food allergies or other restrictions.

The other thing which is slightly off-putting is that in several of the bars I have bitten down on what seems to be cherry or date pits of Brazil nut shells. Just tiny pieces and not lots of them, but for the price it seems perhaps they could be more careful about this.

Perfect if you're on a paleo diet or have other dietary restrictions, but probably a bit specialist for the everyday omnivore!


Umbra 1004047-660 Estique Scarf Organiser, Metal, White
Umbra 1004047-660 Estique Scarf Organiser, Metal, White
Offered by A Place For Everything
Price: £12.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and well-constructed, 20 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Scarves can be difficult to organise what with all sorts of different lengths, weights, shapes and textures to contend with. This organiser offers a straightforward solution - 8 hooks and 6 hanging loops that will hold everything from bulky wool to flimsy silk without a snag. It's really nicely finished with cream enamel and polished wooden balls on the ends of the hooks, and the hanger even swivels so that it can be rotated for easier access. For me there are only two small drawbacks: firstly, the size of this means it won't fit in the locker where I have been keeping my scarves as it's too broad. This is, however, a small and very specific niggle. The other drawback is the price - £14.60 at time of writing, which seems a little on the pricey side for a simple bit of kit. But I guess quality costs, and I can't fault the construction here. It feels solid and the finish is smooth enough to trust with even the most delicate fabrics. If you struggle to contain your collection of scarves, this could be the answer to your prayers.


SunSense Sport Gel with SPF50 125 ml
SunSense Sport Gel with SPF50 125 ml
Price: £15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Greasy when wet, 20 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer but I'm prone to sweating, so regular suncreams often feel heavy and greasy on my skin, and/or are prone to running. This one sounded really promising - a quick-drying clear gel designed to absorb into skin without feeling heavy and resistant to water. When I applied it, it did indeed absorb quickly. The smell and feel of it reminded me of those hand sanitisers - it's a clear runny gel with a high alcohol content so there's a strong initial smell but it disappears very quickly and doesn't leave the skin feeling greasy. Unfortunately, as I got warmer and began to sweat, it became clear that this was not fully absorbed. My skin felt greasy and when it ran into my eyes, it was very sore.

Compared to heavier creams, I think I do prefer this, but it certainly wasn't as light or as fully absorbed as I had hoped.


Chill Factor Frozen Cocktail Maker - Green
Chill Factor Frozen Cocktail Maker - Green
Offered by Clearstone Trading
Price: £16.19

1.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality and ineffective, 15 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Last year I spent what I considered an embarrassing amount on two of Zoku's slushy cups. It seemed a a ridiculous extravagance but my goodness does every drink taste better when it's part-frozen! JWP's version is even more costly (£18.32 at time of writing) though it does include a juicer, a grater, a straw and a cocktail shaker-style lid. But these added embellishments can't save what is a clearly inferior product.

I began by storing this overnight in the freezer as directed. But when I added my cocktail mix and tried to squish it to mix and "slushify", everything just exploded from between the lid and the cup as the seal was so poor. That would have been irritating enough, but acceptable if the result had been good. I was always sceptical of the manufacturer's claim that the drink would be slushy within one minute, but even after a few minutes of squeezing there was no sign of the drink thickening. In fact, it hardly even seemed particularly chilled.

To make matters worse, the inner bit of the cup is those plastic bags filled with gel that you use in coolers, just clear plastic inside which you can see the liquid. Now it may be that the plastic is super tough, but it looks and feels cheap. Because of the shoddy quality, when I poured my drink I was completely paranoid that the cup had leaked into it and it tasted "off". It took until the next day to determine whether this was the case as it's very difficult to get the cup dry - the inner "bag" bit freezes in odd shapes which means it can hold liquid in its folds, so as I saw it drip onto a paper towel for hours afterwards I was even more convinced there was a tear in the plastic. Only when it was finally fully dry was I able to give it a squeeze and determine that it actually seemed to be sound. But by that time I had been put off the whole idea.

Slushy cups are a marvellous invention and if you have space in your kitchen and a penchant for sweet drinks, they are well worth it. But I'd recommend finding a much more solid, better quality version than this.


Kitchen Craft "Living Nostalgia" Milk Pan, White/Grey, 17 cm
Kitchen Craft "Living Nostalgia" Milk Pan, White/Grey, 17 cm
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice item let down by rough finish, 5 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love vintage kitchenware so I was really excited by this range of simple, nostalgic enamel cookware. At first glance, this certainly looks the part - I was reducing some cream in mine when my elderly mother was visiting and she immediately commented how lovely the pan was. It works fine, too - nice size for sauces and although some things (like that cream) stick a little bit, it's easy enough to clean.

Unfortunately, the low price does reflect the quality in this case. The pan arrived with a large chip out of the enamel on the rim, and the join between the handle and the pan is very rough. The metal handle also gets hot with use.

I'd love this pan if the quality was a bit better. As it is, I'm sure it will get used but I certainly won't be buying any more from the range.


Origami Heart
Origami Heart
by Binny
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lazy and pointless "story" wrapped up in an attractive package, 5 Mar. 2017
This review is from: Origami Heart (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to break with other reviewers here and say I really couldn't stand this book. The illustrations were cute, the idea of having some origami patterns at the back was nice, and the production quality was lovely. But those are literally the only positives I could find here.

The "story" manages to be both overly simplistic and also rather vague. Normally I would never include spoilers in a review but since there is little plot to spoil here, I feel safe in outlining the gist of this book. Obsessively neat bunny boy prepares for date with bunny girl. Bunny girl stands him up. Bunny boy is sad. Bunny boy removes heart patch from his chest, folds it into airplane, throws it from window. Random bunny girl catches it. The end. I don't want to read too much into a story the author didn't seem to waste much time thinking about, but it's kind of unfortunate that most of the text is spent explaining how obsessive the boy bunny is, whilst neither of the girl bunnies have any personality traits at all - well, the second girl bunny is "dainty" but she is also nameless. And I'm not entirely sure what the underlying message is - if your heart is broken you'll find someone else? If you're rejected by someone you love, give your heart to the first random stranger who passes by?

It feels like Binny has written this solely as a vehicle for her artwork, with no regard to the children who should be her target audience. Young children may require a simpler story but that does not make them stupid, and this borders on insulting. The legendary Maurice Sendak used to spend months writing the brief text that accompanied his picture books, Binny seems to have spent perhaps five minutes on hers.

Binny also claims to be fascinated by Japanese culture but what she shares in this book seem to be the broadest stereotypes. Japanese people live in cities. They are tidy. They do origami. They drink tea. She has even names the characters Kabuki and Yoko. I'm not concerned that this is offensive, I'm offended because it is so incredibly lazy.

There are so many beautiful books out there aimed at young children, I'd urge you to spend your time and money on authors who show a little more respect for their readers.


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