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Reviews Written by
A. J. Russell-pattison "Tony" (Manchester. U.K.)

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Philips GC2045 EasySpeed 2300 W Steam Iron
Philips GC2045 EasySpeed 2300 W Steam Iron
Price: £49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A new convert!, 7 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was keen to review this iron as I do a lot of ironing being a priests housekeeper . Not just for the clergy in the house but also a constant through put of church linens such as altar cloths, mean I get at least a half day of ironing a week. I hate ironing!

My old iron (which I must say has done faithful service for over ten years) is a Tefal Turbo Pro 400, just so you know what I am comparing this new iron with,and it's really solid and heavy. For me this was very reassuring, after all you expect an iron to weald some weight to get the creases out!

The Philips iron is, in comparison, very light. This at first perturbed me until I had tried it a few times and got to trust the three steam settings to do the work that my old irons weight did! The Eco setting for steam is the default setting but I found that there was not quite enough steam on this setting for the job, so used the next one up. To be honest, I iron all things on maximum heat ( except woollens, which I don't iron at all) and on the first steam setting it works well. There is of course a dial of different heat settings for different fabrics, but I am a bloke and just go for very hot!

It also has a clean setting that allows you to steam clean the iron which has come in handy . My old iron did occasionally drop some rusty water out as it was difficult to clean, if you have ever ironed an immaculate white altar cloth only to have your iron put rust stains on it at the last moment you will understand my joy at this cleaning setting.

I have also used it to do some vertical steaming of curtains and linen vestments which also worked very well.

So, I am a convert. Light and steamy beats heavy and rusty. It's easy to use, does what it says on the tin and gets the job done. Simples!

The Catalyst: The Wars of Angels Book One (The Wars of the Angels)
The Catalyst: The Wars of Angels Book One (The Wars of the Angels)
by Helena Coggan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A very promising first!, 28 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are those in the so called “adult world” who would dismiss fiction meant for a young adult audience as beneath them. This is a great shame, as it means they miss some truly remarkable writing. My teenage world was littered with authors who wrote for this audience; Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Ursula LeGuin to name but a few and I have returned to those early works often and with pleasure as a not so young adult. This remarkable book is not only designed for this market but written by a member of it, the teenage Helena Coogan.

The author conjurers for us a post-apocalyptic world ruled after “The Veilbreak “ by angels and those with magical abilities brought about by a symbiotic merging of souls and the “Ashkind” non magical inhabitants of the world who suffer under the regime.

In this skilfully woven world we are introduced to Rose Elmsworh and her father David who work for “The Department” to maintain the magical dominance and so prevent further wars. But Rose and her Dad hide a desperate secret, they are hybrids, prone to changing werewolf like every six weeks into to destructive monsters!
Rose becomes embroiled in helping (albeit thanks to blackmail) what would be considered enemies of the state and so becomes introduced to anomalies in her otherwise settled life and existence that make her reassess her life as her world implodes in a fast moving and climactic change of events.
To give more away would be to spoil the very real pleasure you could have by reading the book! Occasionally the pace and time changes of the plot seem a little clunky and at other times breathlessly manic but this adds to the excitement for the most part. Any, slight technical rough patches will, in future novels I am sure, be smoothed out by experience.
A truly remarkable start for our teenage author!

The Nuns of Sant' Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal
The Nuns of Sant' Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal
by Hubert Wolf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.92

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent "Chalice boiler"!, 15 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In 1998 Pope John Paul II opened the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and with them the files of the Holy Roman Inquisition providing unprecedented access to researchers and historians. Hubert Wolf, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at The University of Munster and internationally renowned scholar unearthed as a result the scandalous tale of the Nuns of Sant Ambrogio.

This lurid sex/abuse/political scandal kicks off with the admission of German princess Katharina Bon Hohernzollern to the convent in 1858. Her subsequent experiences, particularly at the hands of novice mistress and madre vicaria Maria Luisa will embroil Jesuits, Benedictines,Cardinals, an Abbess and a Pope in a romping tale of sexual abuse, attempted murder , heavenly letters and ultimately The Inquisition!

I like books about Nuns, not entirely sure why, but there you have it. On its arrival this book gave me some pause though. It's Dramatis Personae at the beginning gives a daunting cast and its end notes etc ( all 96 pages of them,all in ) announces a truly serious book, undertaken by a serious and lofty author. This is in fact true, but any concern of mine about being inundated or about being insufficient to the task where misplaced.

The author has skilfully divided the events of the epic drama into digestible and logical chapters all of which are sub divided into delightfully titled sections . The momentum of this ,almost operatic story ,carries you along with enthusiasm and an eagerness to know more. The context of the period with its beliefs in the direct intervention of heaven in worldly affairs, particularly via Mary, The Mother of God , makes plausible what would otherwise possibly leave the modern reader sceptical. The author weaves his obviously extensive historical research from wide ranging sources into a narrative that is eloquently simple and enjoyable.

I , unequipped with any historical skills or background , enjoyed this book immensely as simply an excellent story well told, that fact that it's a true story adding icing to the cake!

Tefal ActiFry AH950840 Family Express XL Low Fat Healthy Fryer, 1.7 kg - Black
Tefal ActiFry AH950840 Family Express XL Low Fat Healthy Fryer, 1.7 kg - Black
Price: £174.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three men can get through a lot of chips!, 29 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this all male household we all love chips and roasties, no surprise there really. Disliking the standard chip pan because it's greasy , smelly and in some hands down right dangerous, we have relied on oven chips, which while adequate never seem right in terms of crispness or texture.

Then, along came the ActiFry express XL ! It's a bit bulky but nice enough looking out in the kitchen with its spacey dark good looks. It's eminently easy to get up and running, which I did as soon as it arrived! The accompanying instruction book is nice and clear, even if it is printed on the cheapest paper possible (it looks and feels like Izal toilet paper). This is a shame as the product looks classy and and the very cheap looking instruction booklet detracts from that.

An added attraction, you would think, would be the free recipe book which comes with the fryer. To call this a book (which they do) is a major exaggeration. Three recipes each for vegetables, meats, fish and deserts and a repeat of the cooking times for various food stuffs , already available in the cheap instruction booklet, does not a "book" make. More a pamphlet ! You can augment these meagre recipe options by accessing the Facebook ActiFry page ( although some neglect is evident here given that some recipes are submitted without quantities and do not state whether the paddle was used or not.) Surely a company this size could edit the page? Other web pages for similar products also give recipes for what is termed, rather unfortunately, "brown air cooking". Amazon books have a small selection of recipe books for this sort of cooking, but to be honest the reviews if these were not great, so I didn't splash out!

Well how does it cook I suppose you want to know. The chips are great (and the roasties!), crispy, fluffy and delicious and all with only a really tiny amount of oil. A full load is just the right amount for three adult men. Cooking time is shortish and there is no mess or smell while cooking.universal thumbs up in this house for the chips and roasties!

Being an adventurous type I decided to try some other stuff. Sausages do really well (without the paddle in) and chicken cooks well too, although it dries out easily. You can add water instead of oil to cook and I tried this on carrots which did not work out so well. Back to oil cooking and mushrooms did great but not onions or peppers. I am heading for fish cooking next!

The inside basin is effectively non stick, but the paddle which rotates the food is much less so and seemed to scratch very quickly (washed in a dishwasher as recommended only. Easy cleaning although the component parts are large and take up a lot of space). Food then catches on the paddle surface causing some food breakage.

I remain to be convinced of its versatility in cooking foods other than potatoes, but for the chips alone, this household gives the ActFry a well deserved thumbs up!

Philips HX6732/45 HealthyWhite Electric Toothbrush - White
Philips HX6732/45 HealthyWhite Electric Toothbrush - White
Offered by EuroFairy
Price: £79.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tooth fairy and I saw far too much of each other!, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Dental hygiene came to me late in life and this coupled with a pathological fear of Dentists ( and more especially Dental Hygienists...more scraping !) led to an increasing and unfortunate relationship with the Tooth Fairy. The little lady flew off with four adult molars before I decided to get real with dental hygiene.

I progressed from manual toothbrush to electric only about a year ago and the improvement was notable. I had heard from friends about the even greater joys of the sonic toothbrush but had not tried one; and then Amazon offered me this one to try!

The handle looks sort of sleekish and the recharge base is easy to sort out and looks neat ( with convenient ports for two toothbrush heads). The heads attach with ease. I got two different brush heads and to be honest I am not sure what they do differently so I use them alternately. The handbook promises coloured collars so that different people using the same base can work out whose head is whose. A good idea but there were no such collars in my kit!

There is , apparently, an "easy start" feature that gradually increase the power over the first fourteen brushes, but I did not use this feature and found full power brushing fine.

There are three power settings, clean, sensitive and clean and white. I tried all three and found them all fine. The brush on clean and white is timed which I found handy. The sixty four million dollar question I suppose is "did my teeth look whiter within two weeks?" as was the company boast. The answer is definitely yes. As an added bonus your teeth really do feel almost as clean as when the hygienist has had a go at them but you get that feeling every day!

My only downer is that the slightly raised on off button is not raised enough so that when the brush is in your mouth you sort of have to fumble to find it, but that aside, it's a great bush and most definitely does what it says in the tin!

December 2015 update. At my last dental check up I got a gold star and for the first time in a long time did not need referring to the Dental Hygienist (which I hate more than the Dentist). This works!

Happy Easter Greetings .. A pack of 8 small & beautiful art cards ' The Sun ' .. dazzling rays bringing light & warmth this Eastertime.
Happy Easter Greetings .. A pack of 8 small & beautiful art cards ' The Sun ' .. dazzling rays bringing light & warmth this Eastertime.

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully packaged and with a hand written note, 21 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Delightful cards. Arrived practically the day after order. Beautifully packaged and with a hand written note. Very well pleased!

The Devil's Detective
The Devil's Detective
by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hell has had a make over since Dantes day, 14 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Devil's Detective (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hell has had a make over since Dantes day and Mr Unsworth immerses us straight away into this newly nightmarish world. Gone the eternal burning oil, the pitchforks and constant agonising torture of souls by demons dedicated to their tasks and , in comes souls sharing a world with demons who casually and wilfully use damned souls incarnated into futile lives and roles in an infernal and achingly modern economy of hopelessness. Futile hopelessness is never tasted fully unless a tiny sliver of hope exists to highlight hell and this hell provides.

In this hell one very unusual role is that of "information man", hell's nominated police ( complete with back up forensic workers) . As with all jobs in hell the job is a nightmare. Three have this role and our hero is Thomas Fool. All "crimes" in hell are reported but most are not investigated unless they are highlighted as of interest to the regime.

Someone or thing is killing , but not just killing, ripping the souls out of their victims, but who or what. Fool and hell would like to know and so the investigation begins. Fools role, increasingly less futile ,brings him to investigate angles and demons and to access all of the halls of hell to get to the truth. He succeeds ,but will hell win in the end?

An excellently, surreal and fast moving who-done-it. Weaving the world of hell into a "Christie" style detective story of great skill. A two sit reading for me and greatly enjoyable. I wholly recommend this novel and will keep a keen eye open for the next to come from this author.

BIC Cristal Fun Ballpoint Pens Purple 20 Box
BIC Cristal Fun Ballpoint Pens Purple 20 Box
Offered by Wrap it and Pack it (UK VAT Registered Business)
Price: £6.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Did you ever have one of those multicoloured pens the size of a small missile?, 7 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Did you ever have one of those multicoloured pens the size of a small missile? Well these pens in their unichrome glory are nothing like that at all!

I chose to review these pens because I actually hand write a lot and they seemed quirky. I suppose I also seem quirky these days, free of the slavery of the mobile phone I am delightfully text free. Eschewing instant banal communication I like to write cards, letters etc and thought coloured ink might add a gentle touch of eccentricity. Writing in coloured ink has garnered several opinions historically ,the "green ink brigade " seen as weird conservative meddlers , the phrase "purple prose" condemning over florid, emotional literary outbursts. I don't much care, I just like colour.

These pens come in four colours , turquoise, pink, lime green and purple in boxes of 20 of one colour ( I can't find any reference to mixed boxes, which is a shame as I would buy one of them!). This being Lent, I was delighted to get a box of purple pens (the appropriate liturgical colour), it helped in sharing out pens to my clergy colleagues to try.

The pens look good. The tops are a bit hard to get off initially. The nib is 1.6mm giving a broader line than normal that is actually quite pleasant. At first, all the pens needed a glob removing from their nibs (use tissue!) and then warming ( with enough heavy breathing to induce asthma) to induce ink flow ( this was true of every pen).

Once they got going I liked them, as did my colleagues. Nice colour, nice write. As I say a mixed box would be particularly attractive to me. I am a complex man and would like to worry the people with whom I correspond by changing writing colour often!

And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures In A Cloistered Life
And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures In A Cloistered Life
by Jane Christmas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bridget Jones Goes Benedictine, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is ,as you will gather from the blurb, is the story of Jane Christmas. A lady in her fifties with a few ex husbands who decides to investigate her life long yearning for religious life commencing unfortunately at the exact time that her current beau asks her to marry him. He is very understanding and off she goes to "experience" life in three convents and one monastery over an unusually long period. Ostensibly an Anglican our author stays with two Anglican order of sisters and one Catholic monastery and a Catholic convent.

I should, perhaps, have known from the title and should have been certain by the cover design but still I plunged ahead. The sad history of this lady and her avowed self disclosure of religious journey should have been moving I suppose, but no.

Bemused, I looked at the other reviews on Amazon of this book. They fall neatly into two groups. The majority ravers and the minority dissenters. I position myself squarely with the later. This is not a good book.

Why? It feels and reads disingenuously. Another reviewer felt that the author was just gathering information for a new book and spun the story around it. I tend to agree.

Our author starts with an Anglican order of sisters in Canada. Here she muses on the inadequacies of the breadth and diversity of Anglican theology and longs for the dogmatic certainties of Rome. Later in her Roman Catholic stays she rails against that very dogmatism and longs for the Anglican latitude. Then to the Isle of White to stay at Worth Abbey (RC...monks) and St Cecilia's Abbey (RC...Sisters). Here she becomes surprised at the fact that RC sisters adhere to RC dogma (painting a very bleak picture of the sisters in particular ). She is affronted that the good sisters have an age limit of admissions.

For someone with a life long hunch that she might have wanted to enter religious life she seems to have done bugger all research. All the orders she visited have excellent websites with detailed information on all aspects of vocations, including usual age ranges (this book was published in 2013 not 1960). Someone who has had a yearning for religious life would surely have some knowledge about the differences in Anglican and Roman Catholic theology ( particularly as she has parents ,one of each denomination ) but she comes across as an astonished adolescent. This is why it feels disingenuous .

The counterfeit feel and breathless adolescent style was not to my taste and the humour, minimal at best.

If you have read some of the rave reviews that state that this book is quite spiritual, it isn't . If you read that it is an excellent book for those considering entering religious life, it isn't ( contact your national vocations office of the denomination of your choice).

Sorry Jane. I won't be bothering with your other books and sorry if this upsets you but you published it and I paid for it so that gives me a say!

Air Wick Freshmatic Max Air Freshener Refill  Crisp Lush Hideaway 250ml (Pack of 4)
Air Wick Freshmatic Max Air Freshener Refill Crisp Lush Hideaway 250ml (Pack of 4)
Offered by UK Business Supplies
Price: £14.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who thought I would grow up to be an air freshener reviewer? Ah well!, 27 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Air Wick Freshmatic Max Refill Lush Hideaways 250 ml (Pack of 4)

Who thought I would grow up to be an air freshener reviewer? Ah well!

A bit of context. I live in a Vicarage. Not some quaint rose adorned abode named "The Vicarage" but a real one, with a Vicar, on a large housing estate in Manchester. As such this is very much a working Vicarage with meetings in the sitting room, eager parents wanting Christenings, chatting in the study and all manner of callers. As the Housekeeper I want the place to look and smell nice for all these people. A slight draw back being that both the Vicar and I smoke and we have a dog that when wet could win prizes for the most pungent wet dog smell imaginable! Thus my obsession with cleaning and nice smells!

To date I have relied mostly on scented candles for planned meetings (quite good) and plug in three scent diffusers from Ambi Pure (good but costly) for background scenting and, of course, good old fresh air, although our elderly parishioners are not that keen on artic freshness when trying to talk to the Vicar!

So I thought I would try this product for the first time and see how it goes.

It comes complete with batteries (which was a relief) and, if you follow the instructions, is easy to assemble into the working object. I am not sure what the "four pack" refers to, unless it's the casing, two batteries and the aerosol can with the fragrance which makes up the quartet. The casing is black and so unobtrusive in our house as most of our furniture is dark wood, I would imagine it would be stark in the modern home with lots of fashionable white, but not a problem here.
The first decision was where to place it. Given that it dispenses a squirt of fragrance regularly it needs most definitely not to be at head height where it could (despite the 15 second delay) catch someone in the face. We plumped for the entrance hall as the foot fall is greater there.

The fragrance is dispensed by the unit activating the aerosol automatically with a distinctive "pssst" sound. This is something you get used to after a bit but initially I kept thinking someone was trying to attract my attention! You can have it on three settings, low to high. We had it on low, which seemed more than adequate.

Compared to my previous methods of air freshening (see above) there is, on activation, inevitably a strong concentration of scent that you can almost taste, not thrilled with this bit, but it does diffuse quickly. The scent, it is claimed, is multi-layered (wild berry, coconut and fresh mint in the can I received). The scent is ok as to whether it is "multi-layered", how would you tell? I have been using mine on minimum for a month now and there seems plenty left to go in the can, so it does last.

Would I buy it again? Yes, for the entrance hall it works well. I am not sure I would want one in all the rooms as being followed round by a series of hissing sounds would not appeal and would I think be a little too strong and pricey given the cost.

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