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Orange Prose (London, UK)

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Distinctive Superior Washing Powder - Masculine Fragrance
Distinctive Superior Washing Powder - Masculine Fragrance
Offered by Distinctive Superior Washing Powder
Price: £15.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great scent but average cleaning power and prone to clumping., 10 May 2016
It's alright. The scent is indeed fantastic – quite unlike any other laundry powder I've used. But after having bought and used the whole pack, I would say it has two significant issues that would prevent me from buying it again. Especially at what is quite a considerable price.

Firstly, and perhaps most significantly, it's not the best at getting clothes clean. The big brand bio powder I also use will still get greasy food marks out of things in a way that this does not. And after washing synthetic gym kit with this, I found that there was still a very faint sweaty smell. It's not dreadful, and if you're not washing gym gear or getting marks out it does a fine job. But it could be better.

Second issue is that the powder clumps in my machine drawer, and doesn't get drawn into the drum. Curiously, the other Distinctive scent product seems to have a grainier formulation and doesn't do this. But the Amber and Sandalwood one is very fine, and some of it sticks in a lump when the water starts coming through the drawer. I solved it by putting the powder into an old liquid dispenser, which seemed to work better.

Ultimately, I like the fact that Distinctive is a small, British company going up against the big players. I think it could take them on. But the formula needs a little refinement before it really starts to take the fight to Ariel and Persil. I might buy it again if they boost the detergent a bit. But for now, I'll go back to what I used before.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2016 11:37 AM BST

Palace Council
Palace Council
by Stephen L. Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing thriller with brains... some stamina required, 26 April 2011
This review is from: Palace Council (Paperback)
Stephen L. Carter's Palace Council was a fascinating read. As you'll gather from some of the other reviews of this book and the author's other work, it's not for everyone. It's long, detailed, dense and academic in tone and features characters who aren't terribly emotive about anything. However, I really enjoyed it (with a few minor gripes) and I feel that it deserves a decent rating.

The story, which spans over two decades in the middle of the last century, tells the stories of two characters; Harlem novelist Eddie Wesley and the woman he loves but cannot be with, Aurelia Treene. In the early 1950s, rising literary star Wesley is at a party during which Aurelia, the love of his life, announces her engagement to a member of a wealthy and influential family. Leaving the party in a state of shock, he stumbles across the body of Philmont Castle; a white lawyer who, as we are told in the preface, was a member of a mysterious group of powerful individuals (although Wesley doesn't know this at this time). Why this man was murdered, and who the mysterious group are, provides the driving thrust of the novel alongside Wesley's search for his politically radicalised sister, who disappears shortly afterwards.

The clever thing about Palace Council is how it attaches a purely fictional plot and characters to real events of the period. It even includes real-life figures with whom Wesley interacts - J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph Kennedy, Langston Hughes, JFK and Richard Nixon are all characters within the novel (Hoover and Nixon in particular are significant characters and are key to several plot developments). It had me, at points, checking my own knowledge of 1960s American history to check what was real and what was fiction (Jimmy Carter, in particular, would have been relieved to discover that a certain character was fictional!).

Although in some ways the novel doesn't move terribly fast, it certainly covers a lot of ground. From the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling to Gerald Ford's pardoning of Nixon in 1974 and taking in desegregation, assassinations (lots of assassinations; America was a dangerous place to be a public figure in the 60s, it appears), wars and scandals along the way, one slightly false note might be that Wesley, somewhat like Forrest Gump, manages to find himself at the centre of so many of these events. How he manages to find himself in the inner circles of both JFK and Nixon seems a slight credibility stretch.

Another small criticism is that after 400+ pages of relatively slow moving intrigue, with the tiniest crumbs of information extracted from sources or clues, the final fifty pages suddenly seem to shift into a different gear, tidying up plot points extremely rapidly. It almost turns into the airport novel that its cover suggests and could possibly have done with spreading the woo out a little more over the final third of the book.

Character-wise, Eddie Wesley is best described as `hard to love'. A slightly faceless and unresponsive hero, Wesley seems to find himself in the middle of things rather than actively driving them forward. That said, he's a novelist, not a police officer or federal agent, so it's perhaps in fitting with what someone with his education and background might do. Aurelia, on the other hand, is a revelation and brightens up the book whenever she appears. Resourceful and determined, her story is often the more relatable and interesting through the book and her motivations are (almost) always completely understandable. Secondary characters Lanning and Margot Frost, Mona Veazie, Gary Fatek, George Collier and Bernard Stilwell also impress, often with few appearances. The characterisations of real-life characters are well handled, particularly J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon, whose dialogue is almost entirely believable.

In summation, Palace Council probably won't scratch your itch if you're looking for something pacy and fast moving. It's not a Dan Brown or Lee Child novel. However, for a literary thriller with historical pillars and an intriguing set of characters facing interesting and complicated dilemmas at its centre, it's well worth a read.

Kenwood kMix BLX510 Blender - Raspberry Red
Kenwood kMix BLX510 Blender - Raspberry Red
Price: £88.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Looks great, feels solid - but it leaks!, 14 Dec. 2010
I've had my Kenwood kMix blender for a few months now. Whilst it looks great, feels solid and performs well in many regards, a small but significant fault has developed.

Essentially, the blade unit has started to leak. When the blender is used, it now leaks liquid all over the base (possibly into the motor housing, it's all sealed so it's hard to tell) and all over whatever surface the jug is lifted out onto.

For a piece of equipment that cost (at the time) almost £100, this is a bit poor. Although the blender gets used pretty heavily (my partner and I are both gym users so we use it to make protein shakes before and after gym visits) it's not like I'm grinding hard stuff in it - it's all just liquids.

Not brilliant.

24 - Season 8 [Blu-ray]
24 - Season 8 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Kiefer Sutherland
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £8.00

6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "WHERE ARE THE NUKES???!!>!..111..!>>!>!>!!!!??!?/!?/1/!?", 22 Nov. 2010
This review is from: 24 - Season 8 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I wish we knew. Then we could have saved Jack Bauer an awful lot of screaming into people's faces, dashing around, staring into space with a haunted expression and poking people aggressively with bits of rusty metal.

Day 8 of 24 - don't worry, I'm not going to give away anything important, mainly because nothing particularly important actually happens throughout - is both the final season of what a certain prole-editable online encyclopaedic colossus refers to as `the longest-running espionage-themed television drama ever' and a massive, crushing disappointment. So much so that it even manages to top Day 6 on the boring/ludicrous Venn diagram in which 24 operates.

Basic details are as follows: Jack, living in New York with Kim and Stefan Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries (watch out, Kim!) but about to move back to LA, is reluctantly dragged back into CTU-land after an old source turns up on his doorstep with `thrilling' news. Cue a big threat that isn't actually the big threat, a bigger threat that isn't actually that threatening, plus the usual espionage and political machinations, all influencing/coinciding with events leading up to the signing of a peace treaty between the West and a fake Islamic nation at the UN. Russian gangsters, rogue government agents, politicians with agendas, dignified heads of state, Presidents' daughters and crudely-drawn caricatures of `evil' Islamists come and go in the usual manner. The final few hours bring a new twist on events as a new player shows their hand and the events of the day finally take their toll.

What's weak about this season is the sense that we've seen it all before. What's more, we've seen it done better before too. With previous seasons, once the initial set-up episodes have played out the sense of tension builds on itself throughout, swiftly creating that `must watch another one!' sensation. I've stayed up until 5am before now (that's real time, not 24 time), just to keep watching. I literally couldn't switch it off. Not with this season. The sense of urgency never gets above a level seven even right at the season climax. Critically as well, one key character becomes so deranged at one point that all viewer sympathy ebbs away; the actions of that character, which have previously been questionable yet somewhat justified by a flicker of humanity, become totally inhuman. It could be deliberate - the costuming and sheer brutality of the sequence of events would suggest as such - but it's a major error.

In some respects it represents the writers trying to do a `greatest hits', particularly in the final half of the season when they all found out that they'd be seeking alternative employment the following year. The trouble is, the vast majority of the genuinely interesting characters from preceding series are dead or in comas, meaning that there are thin pickings to throw in for `special guest appearances'. Last season's break-out star, Annie Wersching (Renee Walker) returns, as do a smattering of familiar faces from the political side of things, but overall it lacks wattage.

The problem with this season is that most of the elements are present but they don't add up to a satisfying whole. In fact, it's more a case of `dissatisfying holes'. 24 has always had its share of `oh, come on...!' moments (ever since the cougar, really) but some of the suspensions of disbelief required here are just too much. Characters dive in and out of highly flexible personal moralities seemingly on baseless whims and the number of post hoc ergo propter hoc conversations borders on the ridiculous.

It's not all doom and gloom. Plenty of stuff we love about 24 is back. Cherry Jones once again gives an excellent performance as morally-driven POTUS Allison Taylor, now more isolated than ever after the events of Day 7. CTU NYC looks appropriately futuristic and oppressive; like Hell designed by Philippe Starck. There's plenty of torture and plenty of talk about how awful torturing suspects is. A couple of performances in particular stand out; Anil Kapoor as President Omar Hassan and Necar Zadegan as his wife Dalia both make their marks with layered portrayals of well-written roles. Kim is barely in it. And there's plenty of Jack; stealing cars, screaming at insurgents, `holding it in' and, of course, giving of his word.

I love Jack and his `giving of his word'. It's become something of a 24 catchphrase and is usually uttered, earnestly, into the rear-view mirror of a black SUV (there are no other vehicles in 24) just after Jack has brutally tortured the person in question, giving a nice sense of utter confusion to all concerned. Of course, we all know that Jack's word means nothing - he'll quite happily torture someone, then give them his word that he'll get them immunity, before deciding that he needs to either torture them again or simply shoot them in the face.

Couple of quick points about the Blu-ray; first of all (and maybe this is to do with how 24 is filmed in the first place) the picture doesn't look perfect in the same way that, say, House season 6 does. Actors' faces look slightly shiny and there's a graininess to the action scenes which is slightly disappointing. Secondly, the pop-up menus that navigate on to the next episodes have major plot spoilers in them - so look away if you value the few `surprises' that this sadly lacklustre season has in store.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2012 9:47 PM BST

In Plain Sight - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
In Plain Sight - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mary McCormack
Offered by SAS MUSIC & DVDS
Price: £4.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It ain't HBO, but it's hugely entertaining nonetheless, 4 Aug. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In Plain Sight is a police drama/procedural show that centres on Mary Shannon, a US Marshall responsible for entrants into the Federal Witness Protection Programme in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition to the demands of her witnesses, she has a challenging home life and a rapidly unfolding string of personal problems. So far, so generic, and to a certain extent, there's not much that's truly new here. However, In Plain Sight has fantastic qualities and it has gradually become one of my favourite `weeknight tune out' shows.

The witness protection programme construct is handy as it allows for a variation of storylines. Sometimes Mary's witnesses are criminals, sometimes they're innocent bystanders who happened to get in the way of a criminal act. Sometimes they're single people and sometimes they're families. So there's always a different `how did they get here' theme to explore. Outside of the crime storylines, Mary struggles with her family and personal network relationships. Occasionally soapy and melodramatic, nevertheless this element gives the show an added layer which makes it a bit more interesting than the usual `criminalists without personal lives' shtick of other cop shows.

The interesting - and comment-worthy - thing about In Plain Sight is that it seems to have attracted a better calibre of cast than this kind of show normally gets. Mary McCormack is convincing and charismatic as the tough, nonconformist Mary. Fred Weller (cousin of Robocop Peter Weller - fangeek alert!) as Marshall Mann proves to be an excellent sidekick, equally adept at laconic asides and the action scenes, and has gradually developed into something of a second lead. Paul Ben-Victor (Spiros Vondas from The Wire) is brilliant yet largely wasted as Mary and Marshall's boss, as is Todd Williams as Det. Dershowitz, although both manage to steal scenes from the main cast with pleasing regularity. Nichole Hiltz gets some hilarious scenes as Mary's sister Brandi, as well as a subplot which builds up to the seasons's effective two-part finale. And Cristián de la Fuente is great but basically eye-candy as Mary's adorable put-upon boyfriend Raphael, who puts up with an inhuman amount of nonsense and emotional detachment from her. Despite this, he still manages to find plenty of time to take a heroic number of showers (the fact that de la Fuente is one of the most beautiful men on television MUST be the reason behind this cleanliness obsession!).

Special mention must go to Lesley Ann Warren, who plays Mary's mother, Jinx. Warren, a truly class act and something of a legend, is by far the best thing in this show and many of her scenes achieve genuine emotional heft. Vulnerable, flirtatious, loving yet anti-maternal and occasionally defensive, Warren walks a tightrope between pathos and parody, always teetering on the edge of emotional collapse yet never allowing Jinx to become truly monstrous. Her character's journey is interesting and it is good to see Warren given a three-dimensional, meaty role after several years of guest starring in other shows.

Negatives? Well, it won't win any awards for originality. The tone is uneven at times, veering between dark drama and comedy, and there are occasional scripting clunkers (particularly early on; it seems to take a handful of episodes to find its groove). It can be surprisingly cheesy (although I have now decided to find this charming!). Paul Ben-Victor is woefully underutilised. Will McCormack, appearing in the last two episodes of season one as FBI Special Agent O'Conner, attempts scenery-chewing villainry but falls totally flat. The disparity between Mary's care and compassion for her witnesses, and her frustration and occasional anger with her family, isn't always handled terribly well and can, at times, feel incongruous; likewise, her dismissive and passive-aggressive treatment of Raphael seems unfair and as a viewer, you often end up siding with him instead of her when they disagree (the only time that Mary, as a character, seems genuinely unlikeable).

Bottom line: although this show is extremely entertaining, engaging and well acted, it is not The Wire. So don't start watching it expecting it to change your life. Nonetheless, it's rapidly become one of my favourite shows due to the quality of its acting and its entertainment value.

In summation I really enjoyed the first season of In Plain Sight. I have just bought the second and was pleased to hear that as of July 2010, the US network continues to put faith in the show by commissioning two further seasons (taking it up to five).

Fudge Matte Head Firm Hold Texture Paste With An Extra Matte Finish 75g / 2.5 fl.oz.
Fudge Matte Head Firm Hold Texture Paste With An Extra Matte Finish 75g / 2.5 fl.oz.
Price: £9.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A finger of Fudge is just enough..., 24 May 2010
I've always struggled to find decent products to style my hair. I have quite coarse hair which goes fuzzy easily and doesn't stay where it's put - so in the past I've often ended up overloading it with product just to get it to stay styled!

However I've found Fudge products generally to be really good. Matte Hed is great - although it's not strong enough on its own to style my hair, it's a good 'base' for other products, such as Fudge Shaper cream, Fudge Fat Hed or American Crew Fiber. Having a base product means you can style (or blow dry, which I do sometimes - give it a try boys, the dryer's not just for girls you know) the basic shape and then finish using a stronger product. This also means you use a lot less of both - a squidge of Matte Hed on my finger is enough to shape my hair.

Plus, it smells nice - it has an appealing clay-like sort of smell - pleasant and not perfumed.

BRITA Marella Water Filter Jug, 2.4 L - White
BRITA Marella Water Filter Jug, 2.4 L - White
Price: £14.58

111 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic function good, but a couple of small irritations, 18 May 2010
Fundamentally, this does what you buy it for; i.e. filter tap water so that it tastes nicer and doesn't fuzz up your kettle with limescale. It has a nicer design that the older Classic type jug, is a little easier to hold and the little flap through which you can run tap water is handy.

However, it has some small annoyances. Firstly, and this could just be peculiar to my kitchen, it doesn't fit in the door of my fridge - it's too fat.

Irritation number two: the Maxtra cartridge doesn't fit properly. Even when you 'click' it down, there is a gap between where the filter stops and where it is supposed to sit. A small amount of water gathers in this gap and doesn't filter through, as the hole through which filtered water is meant to pass has a raised ridge around the edge. Not sure that this water sits around long enough to get stagnant, but it's not very nice.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2015 1:55 PM GMT

BRITA MAXTRA Water Filter Cartridges - Pack of 3
BRITA MAXTRA Water Filter Cartridges - Pack of 3
Price: £9.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure this represents significant improvement over the Classic filters, 18 May 2010
I have two Brita filter jugs, one in the fridge for drinking water and one room temperature one for the kettle and veg steamer. The fridge one takes Classic filters and the kettle one, being a little newer, takes these Maxtra ones.

I'm not convinced that the Maxtra cartridges are much good, or at least, that they're any better than the Classic ones.

First of all (and this could be a design peculiarity of the jug so I won't go into it in much detail here), there seems to be a fit issue with the jug (a Marella) whereby even when pushed down to the 'click', there is a gap between the bottom of the filter and the part of the jug it sits against. An amount of water sits in this gap as the hole through which the water is supposed to pour is slightly raised.

Secondly, the cartridges seem to have to be 'rinsed through' several more times than the Classic ones, as they seem to leak grey water (even after the ceremonial dunking, shaking and double-filtering that Brita recommend on the side of the pack) when new. I understand that this is charcoal and isn't dangerous, but it's slightly gritty and certainly doesn't look very nice.

Finally, in terms of limescale prevention, I'm not sure that the filters are terribly effective. My kettle gets fuzzed up with limescale almost as quickly as if I just used tap water. Having said that, Maxtra filtered water seems to be scum-free for hot drinks, stocks, soup etc so I suppose it must be doing something.

So although it seems to work to a standard, there seem to me to be a few small issues which stop it being an exceptional product. Having said that, now that Brita don't make Classic filter jugs any more, I'm going to have to persevere with Maxtra with one of their newer jugs - hopefully it will fit the filter better.

Also, the price here on Amazon, with the discount, is very good - supermarkets and chemists don't reduce these at all!

Kenwood SB 256 Smoothie Concert  Liquidiser
Kenwood SB 256 Smoothie Concert Liquidiser

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheaply made, and not as funky as it looks in the pictures, 17 May 2010
This was my second in a long line of blenders (they get heavy use in our house, making smoothies, milkshakes, soups, curry pastes and blending protein powders post-gym!) and it's probably been the shortest lived of the half dozen or so that we've had.

Although it looks funky and rather recherche in the pictures, when you lift it out of the box it suddenly looks extremely naff. The plastic - yes, the entire body is plastic, even the bits that look like chrome or stainless steel - feels cheap and flimsy and the various attachments feel very lightweight.

It blended reasonably well, to begin with, although like many blenders the blades sit above the bottom level of the jug, so unless you have a reasonable amount of liquid in there, stuff can get trapped at the bottom and gets missed by the blades. The 'big knob' thing, which I think is supposed to be used to push bits of fruit down into the blades, was semi-useful as a kind of poking device, but I quickly found it wasn't quite long enough.

The worst - and most unexpected - issue with this thing was the smell. The plastics stank after being washed, whether by hand in the sink or in the dishwasher. It got worse too - even tainting the food (I had to throw away some otherwise perfectly good Lovely Wobbly Mayonnaise) which really irritated me. What's more, the motor started to pong too (that nasty burnt grease smell) after about a week or so.

I persevered with it for a bit, but after a couple of months the usual cheap blender fail occurred - some of the teeth snapped, meaning the engine no longer drove the blades properly. It got consigned to the dustbin.

All in all, a poor product, especially considering the manufacturer (I also have a Kenwood Chef which is over a decade old and has never failed once; how come they can't build blenders properly?). Avoid.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.85

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MCMXC AD - Enigma, 10 Feb. 2009
This review is from: MCMXC A.D. (Audio CD)
I can't really add much to what everyone else has been saying about this album for the last eighteen years, but I will say this.

If you have seen Tropic Thunder, you will never be able to listen to 'Sadeness (Part 1)' without descending into fits of giggles at the scene where Robert Downey Jr and Tobey Maguire make googly eyes at each other in the trailer for 'Satan's Alley'.


The album all sounds like that. Get it.

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