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Chrestomanci (UK)

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Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner 385ml
Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner 385ml
Offered by Cosmetic Solutions Inc.
Price: £6.27

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Organic - full of Chemicals, 17 Aug. 2012
VERY disappointing. The product information and brand name "ORGANIX" led me to beiieve this is an organic conditioner. However, the list of ingredients starts with: Aqua (water), Behentrimonum chloride, cetyl alcohol, glycol sterate glycerine, dimethicone, certearyl alcohol, ceteaerth-20, parfum ...etc ... and so it goes on with the "organic" ingredients so far down the list their value is negligible.
This is a cheap chemical-based conditioner (including artificial colour and perfume) with a few so-called "organic" ingredients so it can be sold at a ridiculously overly-inflated price. As I only use use non-chemical dimethicone-free products, I now have something valueless and unusable. I feel like I've been cheated. In future I shall return to using Aubrey Organics products, and avoid this dishonestly packaged rubbish.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2013 10:04 PM BST

Swan Lake/Sleeping Beauty/The Nutcracker [DVD] [2011]
Swan Lake/Sleeping Beauty/The Nutcracker [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Ballet Box Set
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but a little dated., 16 July 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice boxed set of Ballet performances, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. I enjoyed watching them; although the music was pleasant to listen to, I think the sound could've been a little better. The productions felt a little dusty and dated, and, at times, the visuals a bit grainy. Of the three, the Nutcraker seemed by far the best in terms of picture, sound and production values. On the whole, a nice gift package for someone who likes ballet.

Collins Concise English Dictionary (Collins Concise)
Collins Concise English Dictionary (Collins Concise)

5.0 out of 5 stars Blue is the Colour!, 16 July 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I always enjoy getting a new dictionary ... but I wondered how this one could possibly improve on my last. After all, on the face of it, one dictionary seems pretty much like another in that they all define words. However, this new version boasted of being in colour. All this actually means is that all the words to be defined are in a bright blue ink; interestingly, this contrast really DOES make finding the words you want much easier and clearer. The other selling point of this dictionary is that you get a password enabling you to access an online version. Again, I had my doubts how useful this woud be, but it turns out that if you need a word defining whilst working at your computer, accessing the Collins Dictionary online is faster more convenient than fetching the book off the bookshelf! Well worth having!

Scrabble Scramble
Scrabble Scramble

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Flawed Gamepaly, 15 May 2008
This review is from: Scrabble Scramble (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a very regular Scrabble player, I was looking forward to this trying this game ... but sadly, I found it very disappointing. I felt that, compared to the original scrabble, this version had some flaws that, ultimately, made it a poor playing experience.

Firstly, because there are just 12 dice-shaped lettered tiles, if an excperienced scrabble-player gets a seven-letter word, this means the next player is at a disadvantage, having just five letters to make their word from. It doesn't seem fair gameplay to me unless the next player has an equal chance of achieving the same kind of score ... so surely 14 of the dice-shaped letter tiles would've been more logical.

Secondly, and most importantly, because of the smaller sized board, and the fact that unused tiles are removed after each go (leaqving only one word visible at a time), players seem to inevitably get "stuck" in the corners of the board. Play starts off okay, but once, after a number of goes, a player has the chance to play a word on a triple-word score, the next player HAS to intersect with THIS word and, therefore, when the previous tiles are removed, the triple-word option on the board is unavoidably re-opened. Therefore, once play reaches a triple-word area, it tends to stay there time after time. With three or four players this lack of wider gameplay was mildly annoying, but when there were just two players the game was seriously skewed; with one person being able to use the triple-word go after go, while the other person had no option but to keep re-opening it for them, one player kept scoring very high whilst the other player scored continually low ... go after go after go. VERY annoying ... and, in my opinion, a serious flaw that the game designers should've spotted.

My final gripe is that the dice, board and egg-timer etc are designed to be packed away in the dice-shaker. However, owing to the inbuilt ridges inside the lid (meant to ensure each player gets seven letters only), the lid is VERY fiddly and awkward to get on.

Scrabble-Scramble's only plus was that the games were over mercifully quickly ... but, after several games over two or three nights (giving it a fair and thorough test), it was put away for good, as we unanimously decided that none of us had any desire to play it ever again.

Stick to the original SCRABBLE ... still the best BY FAR.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2008 6:06 PM GMT

French: Beginner (Collins Language Revolution)
French: Beginner (Collins Language Revolution)
by Tony Buzan
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French without Tears, 20 Mar. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've never been much good at learning languages - yet, when I travel, I always long to at least try and communicate with the locals, (if only for the sake of good manners!) However, my last trip to Paris proved that my faded memories of school French are practically useless. Clearly, I needed something new ...

Tony Buzan's "Language Revolution Beginner's French" seems the ideal solution. This basic set includes a text book divided into short easy lessons, and two CDs, (one to accompany the book, the other to listen to seperately). The course is also supported by a dedicated website.

Chapters/lessons are themed: shopping, taxi/hotel, restaurant, tourist info etc. Vocab is nicely divided up into three basic groups: French words that sound almost the same as English words, French words that might remind you of similar English words, and French words that have nothing in common with English words. For these latter words, funny or easy-to-remember word/image associations are used. The student is also told to draw "mind-maps" as an aid to remembering the vocabulary, and encouraged to make these as artistic and colourful as possible. This certainly seems to have worked for me, as I always find it far easier to remember images than words or numbers. The student is also advised to repeat/revise each lesson ... after an hour, a day, a week, a month, and six months ... and assured that such repetition is part of the winning formula.

Buzan's claim is that: "This time you'll remember!" Whether this proves to be true in my case, only time will tell ... but, so far, the signs are good, and I'm certainly retaining far more than I've ever managed before!

The Hoax [DVD]
The Hoax [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Gere
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £1.97

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ... but not gripping!, 20 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Hoax [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I thought I might enjoy this film, as the basic premise sounding intriguing enough - however, I did find it a tad slow, and the plot/characters not especially convincing.

I didn't think this one of Richard Gere's better performances; he plays Clifford Irving, a desperate writer who fools the publishing world into believing he is Howard Hughes' official biographer. Despite his outrageous lies/claims, I felt Irving was portrayed as both dull and not an especially likeable character, and this, perhaps, prevented me from fully engaging with the film. Alfred Molina, (who plays Irving's researcher/assistant), puts in the best performance, but it wasn't enough to make it worth watching. The plot/action dragged in the final third, and it was something of an effort to keep watching right through to the end.

Perhaps worth renting, but not a DVD I'd recommend to buy.

The Interesting Bits: The History You Might Have Missed
The Interesting Bits: The History You Might Have Missed
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Ideal Book for ..., 22 Oct. 2007
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This collection of bizarre historical factoids makes an enjoyable "coffee table" book that you can peruse when you feel like expanding your trivia repertoire. But don't expect anything too serious; despite being based on genuine historical documents, (according to the intro), this volume asks the questions that most history books omit, like: "Where is JFK's coffin?", "Which English king exploded?" or "Who was the `Bob' in `Bob's your Uncle'?" ... all answered with a dash of QI-style humour.

All quite good fun ... but, if humour IS the aim, then it might have been funnier. Educationally, it treads a fine line, trying to avoid reading like a school text book, yet not always giving quite enough relevant background information to satisfy. A difficult balance; mostly it manages - but it won't suit everyone's tastes.

Would make an ideal gift for:
1) People who like boring their friends with obscure facts and trivia, (there's one in every family).
2) School teachers, (might help them liven up their history lessons).
3) Pub quiz fanatics, (both potential "egg-heads" and those whose job it is to set the questions).
4) Anyone studying history at university, (preferably with a sense of the ridiculous).

Probably not ideal for:
1) Children. Instead, try the "Horrible Histories" books by Terry Deary, which are age-appropriate, divided into curriculum-friendly historical periods, and ... they're far funnier for kids!

Stoneheart: Book 1
Stoneheart: Book 1
by Charlie Fletcher
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Idea for a Story!, 5 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Stoneheart: Book 1 (Hardcover)
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but, as happens all too often when there's a considerable hype attached, I was somewhat disappointed.

There were certainly things I really liked. The pacing is fantastic; it kicks off at a run and ends up at a gallop. It's very visual. The dialogue is totally convincing. And the concept, (London's statues coming to life) is a mesmerising one.

However, as the story progressed, I started to feel that this one brilliant idea had been stretched a little too far, and I wasn't convinced it was enough to sustain an entire book, let alone a forthcoming series. Basically, it's a story of two children being chased by living statues; they run, the statues chase them ... that's it ... chapter, after chapter, after chapter. Although it seems an unlikely thing to say, after a while the excitement starts to get a little repetitious ... almost boring!

My other issue with this book is that it's one of those stories that depends on the sort of irritating plot device where the main protagonist doesn't really understand what's happening, but everyone else around him does, and no matter how many questions he asks they never quite get around to telling him anything useful. The `Gunner' (who's meant to be helping George), is always giving annoying cryptic hints or saying things like, "...wrong question again. Just come ..." So do the sphinxes, Dictionary and the Black Friar; they keep George intentionally confused by withholding vital information ... but ONLY because it serves the plot from the reader's point of view.

The children at the centre of the story, George and Edie, aren't particularly sympathetic characters. George isn't the most heroic of heroes, and Edie has an disturbing habit of settling arguments by being nasty, bitter and hitting anyone who disagrees. Personally, I find that stark realism and fantasy rarely fit well together, and, as a result, I didn't find myself caring about either of the two children very much; I liked the statues more than the humans, and, bizarrely, found them more believable! There's a lot of swearing in the text; this didn't bother me especially, (it's usually appropriate to the adult characters speaking), but some parents might want to be aware of the content before giving this book to younger readers.

Finally, if you're a dragon fan, don't let the cover image deceive you; there's only one dragon (statue) in the story, and it appears only in one chapter.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
by Rick Riordan
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightning Strikes Twice - Another Monster Hit!, 10 Sept. 2006
I've been awaiting this sequel to "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" with eager anticipation - and it certainly didn't disappoint. It has everything that made the previous book one of my favourites of last year, with the added advantage that the characters already felt like friends!

Once again, from the point of view of a regular adult reviewer of children's books, I could see where most of the plot threads were leading - but younger readers, (possibly less familiar with Greek legends and heroes), wouldn't have this problem.

Again, the boarding school setting leads to inevitable comparisons with Harry Potter ... and on the whole Percy Jackson stands up well. (Normally, I thoroughly object to the media's habit of comparing all books to HP - but in this case, the parallels are unavoidable). So far, I haven't found the whole hidden world of the Greek Gods in Manhattan as believable and well realised as Harry's community of wizards secretly inhabiting the Muggle world. Hogwarts has a texture and meticulous attention to detail that, as yet, Camp Halfblood lacks, making Percy's world not quite as convincing. However, the writing, (done from the first person POV of Percy and in a style far closer to the wit of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, is often sharper and funnier than J K Rowling's latter books.

This is an outstanding book - and I'm already looking forward to the third in the series!

Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony
Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony
by Eoin Colfer
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Colony or Losing the Plot?, 10 Sept. 2006
I've long been a fan of Artemis Fowl - the fast paced plot and the sharp, witty dialogue ... but speaking personally, this latest offering is my least favourite. It's hard to be precise about the exact reason; all the usual ingredients are there ... but then, perhaps THIS is the problem. At times it all felt a bit "same-old same-old!"

The addition of a potential romantic interest for Artemis didn't feel entirely believable to me; he's always struck me as someone so utterly focussed that not even puberty would be able to distract him. It felt like it was the sort of thing `expected' of the author, and I wondered if there has been some editorial pressure to head in this direction now that, in the world of Hogwarts, Harry and Ginny are an item! I suspect that the majority of Artemis's fan base is male, and research shows that most 9 - 14 year-old boys prefer wall-to-wall action to romance.

In this latest episode, while the setting was new, the plot felt a little more predictable than usual ... and at one point I even wondered if I had the patience to read it right through, (something that practically NEVER happens). Well, I DID read it right through, and by the end felt more optimistic for future books in the series. (Mild plot spoiler ahead), with Artemis acquiring a little magic of his own ... and returning home to discover he's now an older brother to twins ... future plot potential is, once again, looking distinctly hopeful!

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