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Profile for Chantal Lyons > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Chantal Lyons "C.S. Lyons" (England)
(VINE VOICE)   

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Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Regular GPS Fitness Activity Tracker with Smart Notifications and Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor - Black
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Regular GPS Fitness Activity Tracker with Smart Notifications and Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor - Black
Price: £164.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very, very pleased!, 25 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am pretty obsessed with this device, and pretty pleased.

I do a fair bit of exercise and it's been really useful to be able to track exact distances, as well as being regularly reminded to move during the hours I sit at my desk at work. I've got a joint condition that's aggravated by sitting for long periods of time, but I still forget too often to keep moving, so Garmin's Vivosmart is a big help.

The device is fairly unobtrusive, and reasonably sleek. It's comfortable most of the time (occasionally I feel the need to loosen it a notch) and stays firmly in place during activities like running. The display is clean and easy to use/interpret. And the heart rate graph is pretty cool.

The battery is GREAT. I haven't had it die on me yet, despite there being several periods of days where I didn't connect it or only connected it briefly to let it sync (and I've been using the GPS).

I've so far used the device for running, cycling, and everyday walking around. Interestingly, if you consistently beat the targets set for you daily/weekly, they increase. My Vivosmart expects me to do 12,000 steps per day now! Which has gone OK, so far... When it comes to running, as mentioned before, it's really handy to get exact distances - plus the device lets you know how long each mile has taken to run.

When you're not exercising, and sitting down, the device will eventually buzz and tell you to move. If you ignore it, a bar builds up that you have to clear by moving around enough to satisfy it. I suspect that naturally competitive people (like me) will get a little kick out of getting the bar back down.

Another thing this device measures is sleep, specifically your level of movement, and how much deep and light sleep you're getting. This where it's least accurate - it frequently thinks I've gone to bed earlier/woken up later than in reality, but it's easy to edit the data once uploaded to your computer or phone.

If you don't have a smartphone (or a decent smartphone), don't be put off this device - I've been using the computer version of the software and website and am very happy with the functionality of it. You can view daily, weekly and monthly breakdowns of your activity and sleep stats, edit sleep data, add data about yourself (like height and weight), and connect with friends also using Garmin devices. I suspect I still haven't fully explored what's possible with the website. Also, syncing is very, very quick, about five to ten seconds in all. One thing I'd like to know though is how many activity sessions you can store on the device. Metrics like step count and heart rate are tracked constantly but when you do an activity like running or cycling, you notify the device and it stores the activity as a session afterwards.

Accuracy IS an issue with the Vivosmart, and the reason I've not given a full five stars - as well as misinterpreting sleep, somehow when I'm driving, the watch thinks I'm experiencing intense activity. it also mistakes clapping for steps, so remember to remove the device when taking part in applause!

I think the retail price of the Vivosmart is just about worth it, so long as it doesn't break (or the strap doesn't break) for a good long time. I'm really pleased with it so far, and it's definitely helping to keep me more active day to day.


Heathcote & Ivory Blush Rose Manicure Collection in Tin
Heathcote & Ivory Blush Rose Manicure Collection in Tin
Offered by Beyondcosmetics
Price: £11.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 19 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For the retail price, this is a great item - not only do you get some gorgeous smelling cosmetics (that will hopefully improve my skin etc!) but you also get a lovely tin that you'll be able to use for other things. On the whole this set would make a fantastic gift for someone.

Having used the nail/cuticle cream for a week or so, my cuticles do seem to look better. Harder to tell with the nails, although they've been breaking just as much as usual... top marks for the smell though!

The hand cream is unexceptional amongst the plethora of hand creams available, but again, it smells lovely and rubs in pretty well (I much prefer flip lids rather than screw ones though).

The tin in itself is great and I reckon it'll soon be filled with my sewing equipment!

P.S. One thing the item could do better on is the plastic - it looks good when you open it due to the card panel, but is it really necessary??


No Man's Land
No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4.0 out of 5 stars A patchwork of a novel, 12 July 2016
This review is from: No Man's Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This felt like two different books wedged together. And if I was reviewing just the first half of "No Man's Land", I'd only give two or three stars - there was so much narrative-clogging detail, and things irritated me like the frequent repetition around the beginning about how young Adam was "brave by nature". There was just far too much telling not showing, and Adam's nemesis Brice was a pastiche of a villain.

But as soon as we were in France on the front line, everything changed. Tolkien's prose found its home, stunning with horror and fragments of joy and warmth. Life and battle in the trenches was meticulously well-researched, and while so many novels have been written about the same things, they still rang anew in "No Man's Land". I took the inevitable deaths and heartache hard.

The novel still falters when it comes back to Adam's nemesis. Perhaps Tolkien felt that a simple story about a man being changed by the war was not enough, hence the sub-plot concerning the villain which ended up unfurling into the novel's conclusion. I never cared for it - but the excellent parts of "No Man's Land" make up for the poorer ones.


Danielle Creations Peony Make-Up Case with Side Handle
Danielle Creations Peony Make-Up Case with Side Handle
Price: £13.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty, 9 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really pretty wash-bag/make-up case that has plenty of space in it, and would also be lovely as a gift.

The outside has a pleasing, slightly fabric texture (made of polyester), and the inside is of course lined. There's a small piece of metal attached to the zip to make grabbing and holding the zipper easier. The bag retains its shape when empty, though can be flattened for storage purposes if necessary. I'm not sure if there's a point to the strap on the end (would anyone ever hold a wash-bag that way?).

Overall, a high-quality wash-bag


Cath Kidston Meadow Posy Lip Butter Jar 15 g
Cath Kidston Meadow Posy Lip Butter Jar 15 g
Offered by English Designer Gifts
Price: £7.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 5 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a lovely little lip balm. The container is cute and compact, with a lid that's easily screwed on or off (I find the Vaseline ones difficult as soon as they get any kind of dent), and a nice, clean design.

The balm smells delicately gorgeous, though doesn't have a sweetness that would encourage you to (unconsciously!) lick it off your lips. It's fairly easy to apply, though you do need to rub your finger across the surface of the balm a few times to get enough of it. It rubs into lips quite nicely, with a non-greasy feel.

I've never found a truly satisfactory lip balm, but at the moment my lips feel great - here's hoping I can bump this review up to five stars in the near future. It is, however, rather pricey - unless you're buying it as a gift.


Mister Memory
Mister Memory
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.59

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 30 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Mister Memory (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a tough one to review. I really enjoyed Sedgwick's books when I was younger, so I jumped at the chance to review an adult book of his, as an adult this time. And there are some great elements to "Mister Memory" - just not enough for me to give this book more than three stars.

The premise is an intriguing one, and does have a whiff of "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, as promised by the blurb. But Zafon's story was made warm with its characters, while "Mister Memory" - for reasons I'll go into - lacks this.

The narrative style was off-putting for me. It's omniscient, and I never felt like I was truly descending into any of the characters. The switching between past and present tense, while mechanically correct, nonetheless jarred. And the staggered feeding of revelations to the reader felt contrived, mirroring a little the way that books using in-depth POV sometimes suffer when the character is obviously being forced by the writer to not work something out that would otherwise give away important information to the reader.

The "main" character, our Monsieur Memoire, is as you'd expect the main focus of the book - until about halfway through, when he's withdrawn far into the background. After that, even when the story briefly returns to him, he no longer feels as alive as he did before; merely a plot mechanism. I suppose I struggled too with having his journey replaced by that of another character's, and then that character's journey being replaced in turn.

Sedgwick is still an excellent writer, conjuring an 1899 Paris teetering between the past and modernity, chaos and order, civilisation and barbarity (although I would've appreciated a few more delicious turns of phrases like the city "sitting in a furnace of its own expired breath"). Sometimes I felt gripped. But more often than not I felt that I was reading simply to get to the next part, and then to finish the book. "Mister Memory" will not linger in my own memory, I suspect.


Scotch Crystal Strong Tape, Dispensered Roll, 19mm x 25m  - 1 roll
Scotch Crystal Strong Tape, Dispensered Roll, 19mm x 25m - 1 roll
Price: £2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible for the environment..., 30 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The tape works fine - but this is a horrendously wasteful product in terms of the non-recyclable plastic.

When it was sent to me, I was under the impression that this was a "refillable" dispenser. However, after trying and failing to pry it apart (I quit before I could break it), it clearly isn't designed for this. Being able to cut the tape without scissors or teeth is practical, but it's hardly less hands-free when you have to hold the dispenser with the other hand (and who doesn't have scissors?)

So all in all, I don't recommend this product.


A Boy Made of Blocks
A Boy Made of Blocks
by Keith Stuart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warm read, 26 Jun. 2016
This review is from: A Boy Made of Blocks (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"A Boy Made of Blocks" is a sweet, absorbing read, written by an author himself raising an autistic child. The book is truthful about life, and warm and bittersweet for it - this is a story of grief, empathy, anger, regret, guilt, and love. Not only does Alex, the narrator, have to deal with the seemingly irrevocable disintegration of his marriage and the distance between him and his son, but he also still hasn't got over a tragedy from his childhood. In a way it's almost too much to handle, and part of me wonders why the author felt that the story couldn't be carried by the relationship between father and son alone.

There are other flaws - while the author's personal experience means that the character of Sam cannot be considered anything other than genuine, the dynamic between Alex and his wife, Jody, felt less well-portrayed. Things have got bad enough between them that they're having a trial separation, but Jody often felt too placid towards Alex given the circumstances. And a few times Alex quickly lost his temper with Sam, shouting and swearing - you'd think that Alex would've learned to control himself, given that it only ever made Sam worse. The humour was sometimes too try-hard, and I can't count the number of times that Alex in his narration reiterates how he's learned that Sam has always understood; Sam is guiding him. It's like the author didn't trust the reader to remember.

Still, those issues aside, I enjoyed reading the book and looked forward to returning to it. I hope it helps a lot of people to understand autism better, and perhaps even to recognise in public when a child (or even an adult) is autistic, and be a little more compassionate.


By Caprice Home Parisian Matt Satin Pleated Eyelet Header Curtain 1 Pair of 168x183cm drop curtain
By Caprice Home Parisian Matt Satin Pleated Eyelet Header Curtain 1 Pair of 168x183cm drop curtain
Price: £55.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied, 17 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As mid-range curtains, these aren't bad at all. They have a strong "new" smell that sticks around for a few days (or did I just get used to it?), and feel a little thin, but on the whole I'm really happy - particularly as they work well to block the light, which has made such a difference to my sleeping patterns.

I'm not quite so keen on the gold colour of the satin against the black, and in real life they don't look any better than in the photo, but really, as long as they help me sleep it doesn't really matter! Being ring curtains, they're really easy to put up and take down, and they're reasonably light so you won't do your back in.

If you live in a household where furniture suffers from a high erosion rate (small children, pets, etc...) I would suggest that these aren't for you. I suspect they are not hugely durable when tested - when I opened the packaging, I spotted a loose thread, and as mentioned before the fabric (even with its double lining) is thin. But for the price, they'll do the job.


The Loneliness of Distant Beings: Book 1 (Ventura Saga)
The Loneliness of Distant Beings: Book 1 (Ventura Saga)
by Kate Ling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst example of YA sci-fi, 17 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm at a loss to explain how this got published, except that YA sci- fi in space is huge right now, so I guess anything will do.

Romance novels usually have a bit more substance to them than the romance. The main character lives and breathes independently of their love. Seren, the main character in this book, does not. She's a mood-killer for the first few pages before falling in love (yeah, it happens that fast), and after that she's utterly boring. There are too many descriptions of her thinking about or engaging in kissing and heavy petting with the love of her life to bear. She isn't interested in anything else apart from sometimes looking out of windows into space.

Let's go back to that falling in love thing first. The author tries to show how self-aware she is by having Seren acknowledge how cliche/typical it is when she's paired with the guy she hates the most for the community's breeding programme. But that's not a get out of jail card for the next few pages when Seren suddenly notices Domingo for the first time (even though it's a spaceship with limited, well, space) and falls immediately in love. This would only be acceptable if the book was meant to be some satirical postmodern literary work. But it's not. It's YA, and readers of YA deserve far better.

The book is just so, so boring. Scene after scene of Seren being told she has to pair with Ezra, then going off to canoodle with Dom. And here's the thing - Seren and Dom's lust and love for each other is so full-on, so frequently and heavily described, that it feels utterly hollow. There is never any actual sense of romance. This book is one big tell, without any show. And that's not even counting the terrible way the author forces intimacy, for example:

"... because he can he's only smiling at her, pulling on the front of his cap so that it shifts up and down on his head, something I've never actually seen him do before [because they've known each other for about a week] but which I feel instinctively he does when he's uncomfortable".

There are so many other problems with this book. The spaceship setting is poorly realised, Seren's home so difficult to picture and feel; and hinted-at themes of oppression and religion, usually such rich fare for sci-fi, are never anything more than wafer-thin. I also think it's insulting and cynical of the publishers to have said on the back of the advanced reader copy that the book "touches on the theme of mental health". It doesn't. Seren behaves and thinks like any human would do in her situation (not being allowed to be with the love of her life). That isn't mental illness. If you want a YA book that actually deals with mental illness and actually cares, try "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" or "The Rest of Us Just Live Here".

The only good thing about this book is the cover.


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