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Chantal Lyons "C.S. Lyons" (England)
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The Rocks
The Rocks
by Peter Nichols
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to love, 25 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Rocks (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For me, this book had an identity crisis very early on that set the tone for my not being able to engage with most of the story. The casual, almost cutesy typefont of the title on the cover, and the opening, with an elderly Lulu suddenly becoming prone to liberal use of profanities following a stroke, together suggest a light-hearted, amusing affair. But the mood abruptly changes to sadness and regret; then we zoom a little bit back in time, to a party where there's a dizzying number of names and the physical appearance of every person is fastidiously described, but you're already feeling cast adrift and struggling to immerse yourself. Then there are sudden flights of fancy in the prose that completely throw you out, like:

"...she was skilled in bed, but with a rote avidity that smacked more of concious performance than lust..."

"Overhead the light breeze soughed the breath of multitudes through the needled branches"

I'm not a fan at all of POV jumping between characters between paragraphs (do it between chapters when it must be done), but probably the main reason I never felt like I was doing more than looking at the book rather than reading it was the sheer number of characters who are given prominence and are meant to be interesting to the reader. Maybe others might appreciate this - I felt a disquieting anxiousness throughout reading that I was really missing something - but it felt to me as if the surface complexity of the characters and places were all hiding the fact that there wasn't much underneath.

I appreciate that this book was trying to capture life in its full spectrum - from humour to joy to anger to sadness - but for me, there were very few moments of sheer pleasure (the only two parts that stood out for me were Luc's mishap at sea and Aegina and Luc's exploration of the markets of Morocco), and the rest had to be waded through.


Revlon PhotoReady Primer, Shadow and Sparkle - 2.8 g, Metropolitan
Revlon PhotoReady Primer, Shadow and Sparkle - 2.8 g, Metropolitan
Offered by L4RGE
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A real help (and everything is better with glitter), 23 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a woman who is hopeless with make-up, this eye-shadow-by-numbers is a huge help, and excellent value for money all things considered. I'm not quite sure how useful the primer layer is (all the primers I've seen before were liquid ones) but I felt happy with the final result when I saw it in the mirror. And in the photos of me from the subsequent night out, the brown colour (which looks more grey in the product image) really brought out my blue eyes.

My two criticisms/suggestions for improvement would be:

1) The instructions are placed on the back, which is quite awkward as you keep having to shut the case and flip it over
2) The two eyeshadow applicators have two brushes each, so four in total, but of course there's five different layers of eyeshadow provided in the case. Three applicators would've been better!


SmartBedz Eticat Natural Cat Litter 5.5 kg
SmartBedz Eticat Natural Cat Litter 5.5 kg
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this - my three cats, not so much., 16 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing I noticed about this litter is that it smells really good - a sweet hay smell. And once the cats started using it, the bad smells stayed down. I've always used clumping litter, so I'm not quite used to having to thrown the whole load out instead of sifting. It saves time though, and I could have easily got used to it. Unfortunately, my cats were determined not to. They ended up flinging wads of the litter and the *other* stuff out of the tray (quite impressive really, given that it's a covered one with a smallish hole for them to get in). A clear protest vote. Maybe after a while they would have got used to it, but given the price of this product, that is quite a financial commitment. Top marks for the recyclable packaging though.


The Mountain Can Wait
The Mountain Can Wait
by Sarah Leipciger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling, 14 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Mountain Can Wait (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a story that quietly takes hold of you and still doesn't let go once you've reached the end. It's a testament to the book that when I was two-thirds through, for a day I thought I'd left it on the tube and I was so annoyed with myself because I wanted so much to find out what happened.

Interestingly, I recently read another book courtesy of Amazon Vine that started with a boy hitting a girl with his car and leaving the scene, but "The Mountain Can Wait" is miles better - where the other book wasted the potential of the premise and rendered itself irredeemable through a conclusion that wiped away all the emotional turmoil of the characters in true Hallmark Channel fashion, Leipciger's book plainly stares the consequences of the hit-and-run in the face, and the only closure to be had is acceptance.

The book is for the most part beautifully written (apart from a few attempts at description that were so pretentious they didn't make sense) with apt, incisive imagery, such as Curtis as a just-born baby with white paste in the creases of his hands and his little fists rising up past the sides of his head. The atmosphere is incredible, in particular on the island of Aguanish, a perpetually weather-beaten, misty place, and when I followed Tom as he climbed the mountain I felt a keen need to join him.

From the blurb on the book (or in the case of this ARC, inside), I had expected a more overt environmentalism than I found, which was slightly disappointing, but invigorating in a different way - there are characters connected to their land in different ways, whether they live by trading and collecting shrimp and kelp, or by planting pines for felling and shooting wildlife cleanly (how I wish every hunter was like Tom!). As well as the book telling a compelling story, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways some might live their lives in the wilder parts of Canada. I can't recommend this enough.


Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain - 2.7 g, Honey
Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain - 2.7 g, Honey
Price: £5.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 10 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've never been a fan of lipstick but have gone off sticky lip gloss, and this is a nice compromise. You apply it in much the same way as normal lipstick, but it doesn't feel quite as smeary, and gives more of a subtle touch which is great for pale girls like me - although it doesn't stay on more than a two hours or so I've found, necessitating several re-applications over the day.

The real convenience of a pen style like this is that you just need to twist to make the stick come up, like normal lipstick. That and the fact that the lid stays on like it's meant to (surprising how often manufacturers neglect that point).


Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Price: £12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Economical and does the job, 31 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having used these tablets a few times now, I can say that my kitchenware has come out nice and shiny (including the glasses). No residue/bits of the tablets were left over afterwards, and they're a small neat shape that fits nicely into the box in my dishwasher. The price for two packs of thirty looks high at first, but considering how long it should take the average household to get through them, ultimately I'd say these are a money-saver.


The Lovers of Amherst
The Lovers of Amherst
by William Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 26 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Lovers of Amherst (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not a faithful reader of William Nicholson, so I'm afraid I can't offer any comparisons in that way to readers who are. But I've read enough of his works to know I'd be in skilled hands with this story.

It's a reasonably short novel, fairly compelling and happily returned to. To my shame I admit I knew next to nothing about Emily Dickinson except her being a renowned poet, but Nicholson really does do justice to the poetry of hers that he quotes, even getting me to speak the verses out aloud (lovely rhythms) as I read. In fact, I'd love to actually see the film of the screenplay that Alice works on in the story!

The parts of the story set in the past felt odd, in a way, often going at such a quick pace so as to be impersonal and outside of the characters. When Emily Dickinson dies (this event covered perfunctorily, perhaps reflecting the idea that Emily alive and Emily dead were not that different), Mabel Todd feels irritated that the poem chosen for her eulogy doesn't fit her at all; but I was surprised that Mabel didn't seem to express any anguish at never having had the chance to meet Emily before her death, given that apart from loving Austin, engineering a meeting with the poet was her life's ambition. I found Mabel herself difficult to like, too; she's so hopelessly naive about the very society she's grown up in that she seems at times to have the mental age of a child (and I mean that literally).

My reading tastes don't tend towards examinations of love, which this book is (and isn't), so while I enjoyed the story, it was the ragged sort of ending that left me feeling fully satisfied, a few narrative quibbles aside. Perfect endings don't do justice to life.


Set of 5 IPOW(TM) Flexible Multi-purpose Silicone Pot Holder, Trivet,Mat, jar Opener, spoon Rest and Oven Use(set of 5), Insulated, Dishwasher Safe and Easy, Heat Resistant Hot Pads and Coasters Cup Insulation Mat
Set of 5 IPOW(TM) Flexible Multi-purpose Silicone Pot Holder, Trivet,Mat, jar Opener, spoon Rest and Oven Use(set of 5), Insulated, Dishwasher Safe and Easy, Heat Resistant Hot Pads and Coasters Cup Insulation Mat
Offered by soaiy
Price: £11.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply handy, 25 Jan. 2015
These fun little mats/trivets are highly practical. They're fairly flat (though not flat enough to not be able to do their job, of course!) making it easy to store them. The silicon material gives a great grip so it doesn't slide around on a table and enables the trivets to be used as a substitute for oven gloves (very useful when you've only got one pair of oven gloves and more than one person serving); but they're also easy to clean. I think I'll be saying goodbye to my wicker heat mats.

The funky different colours also mean that if you have a colourful kitchen, you can leave one or two out on display in a way that fits in with the style/scheme of the room.


Pure Evoke D4 Mio Portable DAB Digital/FM Radio with Bluetooth - Aloe
Pure Evoke D4 Mio Portable DAB Digital/FM Radio with Bluetooth - Aloe
Price: £149.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Very high-quality, 11 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Both the style and the substance of this radio make this radio absolutely worth the price.

Pleasingly retro, the turquoise surface is very slightly rubbery (and would be easy enough to wipe kitchen stains away from, I imagine). It's fairly large and chunky, so doesn't work so well as a lightweight/compact radio, but this is a very minor quibble. Functionally, it's the easiest radio I've ever tuned, and setting up preselect stations is simple and easy. It does come with a remote control, but I haven't found myself needing to use it really.

The most important criteria for a radio is of course sound. On this one, it's balanced and crisply clear, and has a good volume range. Time will tell whether this radio is truly well-built, but from my initial impressions, it is (and I will update this review if not). Absolutely satisfied.


Haute Cuisine
Haute Cuisine
by Barney Broom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I tried..., 9 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Haute Cuisine (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I very,very rarely don't finish a book. Even the worst ones usually have a compelling feature that drives me to grudgingly finish. But I think there comes a point when you just think "it's not worth it."

I didn't look at the author's bio on the jacket till after I'd given up halfway through. I was extremely surprised to discover that Broom is a supposedly successful screenwriter - I guess novel-writing and screen-writing are very different arts. 'Haute Cuisine' reads like a self-published first draft. The prose is dull, functional, and lifeless, and utterly devoid of the black humour that other reviewers led me to believe I'd find. Plus, the author's research of New York City doesn't appear to have gone beyond Google Maps.

But the main problem with this book is that it has no connection to any reality whatsoever. The action didn't make sense (for example the really weird way one character manages to run over another character), and neither did the ability of the chef and his business partner to open a restaurant within a few days (what, no legislation or licence hoops to jump through?) and serve up their unusual cuisine without any regulatory body demanding samples of all dishes. Granted I should have noticed that before I picked the book, so it's partly my fault I didn't enjoy it - but the rest is down to a shoddy author.

P.S. I notice that almost all of the reviews for this book that aren't from the Amazon Vine program are short and extremely flattering ones made by reviewers who have no other reviews on Amazon to their name. I presume these are fake (or made by friends/family).
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2015 7:44 PM GMT


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