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Content by Annabel Gaskell
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Reviews Written by
Annabel Gaskell "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK)
(VINE VOICE)   

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Don't Turn Out the Lights (Commandant Servaz)
Don't Turn Out the Lights (Commandant Servaz)
by Bernard Minier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another French crime star - but not for the faint-hearted., 30 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a huge fan of French crime novels - Pierre Lemaitre, Pascal Garnier and Fred Vargas for starters. Now I shall add Bernard Minier to the list and track down his previous novels to read, particularly as this, the third of his Commandant Servaz books, is book-ended by material relating to the Toulouse cop's arch nemesis. Not having read the other two, these sections meant little, however, ignoring them Don't Turn Out the Lights can be read on its own as a gory thriller very much in the mould of Pierre Lemaitre's books.

The action starts on Christmas Eve when Christine, a successful radio presenter is about to leave for dinner at her prospective in-laws. She finds a letter in her mailbox telling her someone is going to to commit suicide and what is she going to do about it. To cut a long story short, this is the first salley in a determined and creepy campaign against Christine which will cost her her job and fiance and turn her nice life totally upside down, making her a paranoid hunted woman.

Meanwhile Commandant Servaz is currently on holiday from the Toulouse police, regaining his mental health at a police rest-home, presumedly after his previous encounters with his arch-enemy. He is not ready to return to the fray, but someone thinks he is, sending him a key to the Toulouse hotel room in which a woman committed suicide some months ago... He can't resist investigating on the quiet, and soon is finding out that the background to the suicide doesn't add up.

The two threads will eventually come together after many twists and turns into an end-game with even more fiendish games. Every time you think you are getting somewhere, Minier pulls back to reveal another puppeteer pulling everyone's strings - it's very clever! Also the entire novel is written with references to opera. It is staged in three acts, and each chapter bears an operatic term or aria as its heading. Puccini has a lot to answer for!


All We Shall Know
All We Shall Know
by Donal Ryan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars An assured third novel - I loved it., 27 Oct. 2016
This review is from: All We Shall Know (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is Irish author Donal Ryan's third novel, and he's an author really getting into his stride, after receiving prizes for his first novel, then a somewhat tricky second novel (IMHO). All We Shall Know tells the story of Melody Shee and the opening lines are arresting to say the least:

"Martin Toppy is the son of a famous Traveller and the father of my unborn child. He's seventeen, I'm thirty-three. I was his teacher. I'd have killed myself by now if I was brave enough."

Melody tells the story of her pregnancy, her dysfunctional relationship with her husband who walks out when she tells him, her attraction to the local Traveller site and the tentative friendship she strikes up with a teenaged girl there called Mary who is the subject of a clan war within the Traveller community when she left her own husband.

Melody starts her story at week twelve of her pregnancy and the chapters follow week by week up to the birth. Melody has a hard time, not with the baby itself, but with attitudes of those around her towards her adultery. It's one thing for men to sow their oats elsewhere, but for women in Ireland, it is still unforgiveable. Unfortunately Melody makes it worse for herself by being quite unlikeable at times. Thank goodness for her father who is just lovely and loving.

Ryan has a great ear for dialogue, and captures that small town mentality where everyone knows, and interferes in given the chance, each other's business. I can't tell you what happens, but the ending is superb!


Bourjois Sweet Kiss Lip-Gloss Shade Number 03, Light As De Pink
Bourjois Sweet Kiss Lip-Gloss Shade Number 03, Light As De Pink
Offered by Jaks Beauty Parlour
Price: £5.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Good shine, 25 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A bit sticky and thick and doesn't really show the pigment much in use. Nice fragrance and flavour and gives a good shine. The small brush applicator makes it easy to apply precisely.


RockJam Lightshow Fog Machine with Built-in Multicolour LEDs, 1 Litre of Fog Liquid and Wired Controller - White
RockJam Lightshow Fog Machine with Built-in Multicolour LEDs, 1 Litre of Fog Liquid and Wired Controller - White
Price: £34.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, fun, fun!, 25 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you want coloured lights that change with the music beat, then this is the little smoke machine for you! The translucent plastic case of this machine houses a range of different coloured lights which respond to noise - just talking near it will work, as well as louder music - so the whole thing will do its own disco-thang. You can't turn the lights off though - so if you don't want the lights buy a conventional solid sided one.

The other drawback is that the power lead and wired smoke controller switch are only approx 2m long and conventionally chunky which may be a little limiting in terms of placement, but we shall have great fun at Halloween with it. It takes just a couple of minutes to heat up, and will then produce a decent amount of smoke before needing to heat up again. The reservoir of smoke fluid (1l is supplied with it) will last for ages.

Apart from using it to put smoke into a room, you can put some smoke into an airzooka to blow huge smoke-rings etc too. We shall have fun on Halloween with a smoking pumpkin...


L'Oreal Cosmetics Kristina Bazan Full Box Kit Contains Eyeshadow Palette, Lipstick and Lipliner, Mascara and Eye liner
L'Oreal Cosmetics Kristina Bazan Full Box Kit Contains Eyeshadow Palette, Lipstick and Lipliner, Mascara and Eye liner
Price: £24.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous set, let down by the packaging., 23 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a super make-up set giving you all the items you need to create a particular look - in this case nude with smoky eyes. Each individual item is of excellent quality as you'd expect from L'Oreal and they work together really well. The lipstick is creamy and gives a good finish, perfectly complimented by the lipliner. The eyeliner has really strong pigment and a superfine nib which is excellent, although it could have been more water resistant. The mascara has a good brush and is also extra black. The star is the eye-shadow palette which has a gorgeous palette of natural shades and a mix of mattes and shimmery styles. The only thing that let this set down was the packaging - the items were just loose inside the box - a bit uninspiring if intended as a gift.


Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Precision Micro Eyeliner, Black
Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Precision Micro Eyeliner, Black
Price: £5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good vfm, good all-rounder., 23 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like this eyeliner, excellent value for money. The brush/nib works well making it easy to apply with precision. It has good waterproofness and lasts well too. All-round great black eyeliner.


MAGIX Movie Edit Pro (2017)
MAGIX Movie Edit Pro (2017)
Price: £35.52

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practice makes perfect, but fun for beginners, 19 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm still at the playing stage with this software having no previous experience of video editing at all. Once I've got the hang of things (time-permitting) I hope to do some vlogging (eek!). Meanwhile it is fun, fairly intuitive and online tutorials are very useful. It's great that a year's sub to online support is included with the product, but I haven't used that yet other than registering. As with all new software and techniques, practice makes perfect, but I'm enjoying this new tool in my software kitbox.


Tefal FV5540 Aquaspeed Steam Iron, 2600 W - Blue
Tefal FV5540 Aquaspeed Steam Iron, 2600 W - Blue
Price: £49.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Irons well, but a heavy and awkwardly shaped heel stand/weight distribution., 18 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This iron ironed really well. It glided along, the pointy tip went around buttons neatly. Easy to set the temperature etc, plenty of steam generated but...
- With it's 'heel' stand, it's too heavy and awkward. The stand wouldn't sit in the end of my ironing board, so I had to fully sit it up on the board itself while I adjusted positioning of item to be ironed awkward with big items - I'd need to buy a new board to accommodate this iron on the stand end. The weight distribution of the iron is point heavy, so hard on your wrists to keep sitting it up.
- The cord wasn't very long - adequate, but a bit more length would give more flexibility.
- The shot of steam trigger is under the handle and it's so easy to catch that while moving the iron - I keep on giving unintended shots of steam, which meant that the reservoir which isn't quite as big as my existing iron ran out quickly.


Scotch Crystal Strong Tape, 19mm x 66m (6001966) - 1 Roll
Scotch Crystal Strong Tape, 19mm x 66m (6001966) - 1 Roll
Price: £4.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Crystal clear but use scissors to cut, 18 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love clear tape - it always gives a better finish when wrapping. This tape is great in that respect with good adhesive properties too, you need to get the positioning right first time on paper. However the one thing it isn't is 'easy tear'. You can use your teeth but you won't get a clear tear (mind you, you never do if you use your teeth!). For a neat tear use a tape-dispenser or, better still in my opinion, scissors to cut it.


TomTom Touch Body Composition Fitness Tracker - Large Strap, Black
TomTom Touch Body Composition Fitness Tracker - Large Strap, Black
Price: £85.53

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Styling detracts from everyday wearing - otherwise works well..., 15 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I jumped at the chance to review this device for Vine as I couldn't afford to buy one. I've been using it for about a week now so here are my thoughts:
- I have not been able to get it to pair with my phone. My phone times out every time I try to connect (Android). I'm not wedded to my phone, so have given up on that and sync it with my computer instead when I plug it in to recharge. Charging is really quick though. (UPDATE: Finally worked after about 20 tries. Remember to switch to wi-fi only else it'll use you data up).
- It's a bit chunky - I'm used to a 4mm thick Swatch Skin watch - this is 1cm thick (approx). My wrist is near the smallest size for this strap fitting and it really does look rather large and weird on my wrist - but the strap stays done up with the double studs.
- The chunkiness puts me off wearing it in bed, but the sleep function really did work! It got each time I woke up during the night. If you work up and stayed quietly lying down in bed - would it still think you were asleep? I haven't tested that.
- I'm not sure how accurate the green light heart-rate monitor is, but that's not what I wanted it for.
- Measuring steps and distance walked is my main interest - and one day, I took the device off and put it in my bag which I carried around all day and it kept measuring for me - I walked nearly 3 miles around the museum where we were based all day!
- Calories used is also a useful incentive to do more.
- Functionality-wise the display goes off too quickly. That saves battery of course, but it's annoying that the display is so fleeting. If you don't play with it too much the battery lasts a couple of days.
- Tom Tom support is good - they contacted me to see if they could help with the bluetooth pairing!
I shall enjoy continuing to play with it though - and hope it will encourage me to keep my exercise levels higher than they have been.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2016 2:26 PM BST


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