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Dark Places - Gillian Flynn 19/02/2017

A gripping thriller with a silly ending

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn About the book PUBLISHED IN 2009 BY WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON PAGES: 370 Synopsis Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the ‘Libby Day fund’. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent. Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend – a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family’s past to uncover the truth – no matter how painful… My thoughts Like many people, I read and enjoyed Flynn's better known novel Gone Girl, and decided to try out something else by her. And I found this to be a gripping read, with interesting – if generally unlikeable – characters. Our narrator is Libby, but we also get third-person chapters from both her brother Ben and Patty, their mother, set in the past when the murders took place. This structure worked really well for me and built up a ...

Soap & Glory Heel Genius 24/01/2017

Pampering for your tootsies

Soap & Glory Heel Genius Why did I buy it? I received this product as part of a Soap and Glory giftset. I probably wouldn't have purchased it on its own, but I was more than happy to give it a try. About the product The lotion is part of the Soap an Glory range, which is best known for its fun and quirky bodycare products. This is designed to be used as a 'mask' for your feet - so you apply it at bedtime, apply cotton socks, and let the cream get to work! The packaging of the product I have is pink, as is the version currently on the Boots website, so it is slightly different to the version shown here by Ciao. A 125ml tube of the foot cream will set you back £5.50 at current prices - although you should always look out for offers as this range is frequently part of a 3 for 2 deal in Boots. Using the foot cream The lotion is a thick texture and is a bluey green colour, which was a bit unexpected! It also has quite an unusual scent, which is definitely different to anything else by Soap and Glory - the over-riding scent is fresh and minty. It has quite a greasy feel, and I tend to slap loads on to my feet when I use this. If you then apply socks and leave the cream on for several hours, or even overnight, this definitely makes your feet feel really nice and soft. I wouldn't say this is a treatment for very dry or hard skin, but if your feet are already in quite good condition, then this lotion offers a simple way to make them feel soft and lovely. The verdict This isn't my favourite Soap ...

Still Alice - Lisa Genova 22/01/2017

I liked it - but I think I preferred the film!

Still Alice - Lisa Genova About the book STILL ALICE BY LISA GENOVA SELF-PUBLISHED IN 2007 PAGES: 340 The synopsis Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world around her – for ever. My thoughts I saw the film of Still Alice when it first came out, and found it very moving, especially as my nan was suffering from dementia at the time (she sadly died just a few months back). We follow Alice and her family as they come to terms with her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s, and find out how they cope with it in different ways. At first the family comes across as quite unsympathetic and I took an instant dislike to Alice’s eldest daughter Anna and her husband John, who both came across as very selfish – and even Alice herself who was pretty full of herself at the start of the novel. Having now seen the film and read the book, I think the film made the characters appear a bit more rounded to me than they were depicted in the novel. On paper, a lot of the characters seemed a bit under-developed; Alice’s son Tom barely features at all, for example, and only younger daughter Lydia seemed to take on her own personality. Also I found that the book got ...

Character Options Character Options Scooby-Doo Mystery Solving Crew 14/01/2017

We love our Scooby Doo gang!

Character Options Character Options Scooby-Doo Mystery Solving Crew Why did we get it For Christmas, I asked my mother-in-law to get some Scooby Doo toys for my 4-year-old, as he is such a big fan of the programme. I suggested the Mystery Machine van, which I have reviewed separately, and the set of characters to go with it. Currently on Amazon, the set of five characters costs just under £8, which I think is a great price. The RRP is around £10, and even at this slightly higher price I think this represents good value. What is it? So this set includes the five main characters from the Scooby Doo gang. These are Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and of course Scooby himself. On the back of the box is a little biography of each character which I thought was a really nice touch! The characters I really love this set, and so do both my children. The characters look exactly as they do on the show, even down to the small details, so they are instantly recognisable. They are fully posable and their limbs seem to move in all directions! As mentioned, we also received the mystery machine van, and the characters fit perfectly inside the van, and can sit comfortably on the front seat, so they have been well designed to use alongside other Scooby toys. My two children love playing with these characters alongside the Scooby van. I think the fact they are so familiar with the characters from the cartoon increases the playability, as they know all their characteristics and can bring these to their play. The verdict These toys have been a great hit ...

Scooby Doo Trap Time Deluxe Mystery Machine 10/01/2017

My pesky kids love this machine!

Scooby Doo Trap Time Deluxe Mystery Machine Why did we get it? My 4-year-old son is a huge Scooby Doo fan, so when my mother-in-law asked for ideas for his Christmas present, I immediately suggested something Scooby-related, as he has no toys to complement his love for the TV cartoon! He was absolutely delighted to open this on Christmas morning, and it has definitely been the favourite of the items he received. Price and availability This seems to be widely available but watch out, as some versions come with some characters included, and others come with none. The one we received had no characters included, but my mother-in-law kindly bought the full set of characters to go alongside this too (and I will review this set separately). However, if you buy the character-free version, you are going to have problems playing with this! Looking online, you will probably pay anything from £12.50-20 for a mystery machine with one character. Currently on amazon, you can buy the vehicle and full set of five characters for under £25 - I would suggest the latter is the best purchase for any fans! What is it? This is basically a very accurate version of the gang's famous mystery machine. If you have even seen the cartoon, this looks exactly the same and is unmistakably the van in which the pesky kids and their dog go around hunting down the bad guys. It is made of plastic and seems to be very sturdy. The whole back of the van opens up - the back and both the sides can be pulled down. One side has some little steps and the ...

Original Source Skin Quench Body Butter 06/01/2017

A gorgeous nutty butter

Original Source Skin Quench Body Butter Why did I buy it? I love my body butters and used to be a big fan of the Body Shop ones, but have been trying out as many others as possible as I do find the BS versions to be really expensive! I had seen the Original Source butters appearing in stores recently, and decided to give one a try. Price and availability At full price this is currently £5.99 in Boots for a 200ml tub. I have also seen this in Superdrug, and when I bought it, it was on offer so worth hanging on if you want to try this one out! It comes in three fragrances - lime and coconut, watermelon and jojoba oil, and the version I am reviewing here which is vanilla and almond oil. About the body butter This body butter promises to nourish, moisturise and quench the skin, and contains lots of natural ingredients. It comes in a tub with a screwtop lid, and has quite plain and neutral packaging. Inside, the body butter itself is a beige colour and looks incredibly thick - I'm pretty sure you could throw this tub across the room and the product wouldn't budge! It also has a lovely nutty scent - although I can smell the vanilla it is very unlike other vanilla products I have used that can be quite sweet. This is definitely much nuttier and intense. One of the real tests for me when using a body butter or any lotion is whether or not it absorbs quickly into the skin. And this one definitely passes the test! Despite the texture of the cream being incredibly rich and thick, it sinks into my skin straight away and ...

Soap & Glory Endless Glove Hand Mask 03/01/2017

A handy cream with a fruity fragrance

Soap & Glory Endless Glove Hand Mask Why did I buy it? I am a big fan of Soap and Glory products, and always buy their giftsets after Christmas when they are reduced! It's a great way to try out products in the range without spending a fortune. This was from last year's haul and, looking on the Boots website, doesn't seem to be available there any longer, but it can still be bought via Amazon or eBay. You can expect to spend £4+ for this hand cream. What is it for? The hand cream is designed to intensely moisturise your hands and can be used either as a normal hand cream, but also as a mask, so you can apply the cream at night, put on cotton gloves,. and give your hands a proper hand treatment as you sleep. The cream contains various fruity extracts, including fig and orange oil, as well as pomegranate and shea butters. Is it any good? The lotion itself is white and not too thick in texture, and it sinks into the skin as soon as it is applied.The first thing that really hits you is the fragrance! It is really strong and fruity, as you would expect from the description, and I find it to be a really lovely fragrance. However, it is strong! I used to apply this a lot at work and people always commented on how much they liked the scent - however, if you are not a fan of strong scents then this one is definitely not for you! Personally though I do like it, and I am very happy for my hands to smell so nice and fruity! In terms of moisturisation, I would say the lotion is really good. It probably isn't the ...

City of Thieves - David Benioff 24/12/2016

A clever mix of humour and despair in this unique novel

City of Thieves - David Benioff About the book PUBLISHED IN 2009 BY SCEPTRE PAGES: 400 The synopsis Seventeen-year-old Lev fears for his life when he is arrested for looting the body of a dead German paratrooper, while his charismatic cellmate, Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested for desertion, seems bizarrely unafraid. Dawn brings, instead of an execution squad, an impossible challenge. Lev and Kolya can find a dozen eggs for an NKVD colonel to use for his daughter’s wedding cake, and live. Or fail, and die. In the depths of the coldest winter in history, through a city cut off from all supplies and suffering appalling deprivation, man and boy embark on an absurd hunt. Their search will take them through desolate, lawless Leningrad and the devastated countryside surrounding it, in the captivating journey of two men trying to survive against desperate odds. My thoughts I must admit I didn’t really like the sound of this book, and I never would have picked it up if it hadn’t been chosen for my book group. But then I realised it was by the same author who wrote 25th Hour, which I read a few years back and really enjoyed, and so I became more optimistic. And I found myself sucked into this novel straight away. Lev and Kolya are great characters as they are chalk and cheese yet both really likeable – I especially liked Kolya with his quick wit and inappropriately timed comments, while Lev is much more innocent and naive. It can’t be easy to mix humour and utter despair but that is just what Benioff ...

Schwarzkopf Gliss Asia Straight Shampoo 20/12/2016

Straight up - it works for me!

Schwarzkopf Gliss Asia Straight Shampoo Why did I buy it? I have quite dry, naturally curly hair so I am always looking for hair products with straightening or smoothing properties! However I don't like to spend a lot of money on my shampoo, so I was very happy to see this in a pound shop. The product isn't widely available, and I haven't seen it in the supermarket or Superdrug or similar stores. However you will find it in discount retail stores if you're interested in giving it a try. About the shampoo The product contains liquid keratin and is designed to smooth the hair. It contains Bamboo and Orchid Essence, and is also supposed to make your hair look more glossy and shiny. I really like the packaging of this shampoo. The bottle is clear and very simply designed, and the shampoo itself has a lovely, vibrant purple colour which I find quite appealing! Using the shampoo The first thing you notice when you dispense this shampoo is the scent. It has a very strong scent, which is sweet and flowery, and although I like this it might well put people off who prefer less of a fragrance. It is probably one of the strongest smelling shampoos I've used! I find that the shampoo works really well for me. It lathers up very well and is also quick and easy to wash out of the hair. After application, my hair feels nice and silky, as well as squeaky clean! I always use conditioner on my hair after washing, so I can’t say for definite that this shampoo really affects the condition of my hair, but I have used other ...

Paper Mate Papermate Inkjoy Retractable Pack of 4 Assorted Fun Colours 14/12/2016

A joy to write with

Paper Mate Papermate Inkjoy Retractable Pack of 4 Assorted Fun Colours Why did I buy them? I have to admit I am a sucker for a nice bit of stationery, and I have more notebooks than I could ever fill! But I’m also a big fan of nice pens, and as my office doesn’t deliver anything beyond black biros, I decided to get a few of my own to liven up my work. Price and availability I have now purchased large packs of these pens a few time on amazon. You can get a pack of 10 different coloured pens for around £2-3 and 20 for about £5-6. You can also pick them up in Rymans and from other online retailers, but I do think that amazon seems to have the best price on these. How do they look? The design of these pens is very simple. They have a button at the top that you press to switch on and off, a little clip to attach to a pocket, and the colour of the outside of each pen is in the colour of the ink inside, as you would expect. They are very simple and unflashy, as you would expect at this price! Using the pens I really love these pens, and I have a few at both work and home. I love the assortment of colours, which gives them a bit of a novelty value, but actually they are also very good quality pens too. The colours are bright and easy to read, and the ink glides on to the page smoothly and easily. The pens don’t smudge and they also seem to last for a long time. The variety of colours makes these pens really good for office work, but my children really like using them too. We use them to write cards, and my daughter also likes them for her ...

Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner 07/12/2016

No elbow grease required!

Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner Why did I buy it? I am not the biggest fan of cleaning in the world, but despite this I do make an effort to keep the house as clean and tidy as possible. But I must admit that while I give attention the rest of the kitchen, the inside of my oven really does get neglected! But recently the oven was setting off the smoke alarm even before I had put anything into it, so I realised it was high time I gave it some much needed attention. Price and availability This product is widely available in the cleaning aisles of all supermarkets. It currently costs £3 from Tesco, which I think is the standard cost across the board - but of course you often see these types of product on offer so keep your eyes peeled! Using the oven cleaner This product comes in a simple aerosol spray format, and uses the distinctive orange colours of the Mr Muscle brand. I put on some rubber gloves and sprayed this onto the problem areas – which was basically the whole of the inside of the oven. Straight away the product starts fizzing and frothing away, which I found quite reassuring. It also has a very strong chemical smell which isn't particularly pleasant. You then close the doors and let Mr Muscle do the work. I was really impressed when I came to wipe down the oven after half an hour or so. Using a damp sponge, I simply gave the oven a wipe, and the sponge came out black. Disgusting – but satisfying! Although it took a bit of time to clean out the oven and the gunk, it took no elbow grease at ...

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser 01/12/2016

It's taken prime spot in my makeup bag!

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser ** I have the instant fatigue blur version of this product, which comes in light pink packaging ** Why did I buy it? I had seen this in store a few times, but only got round to trying it out when I spotted it going cheap on a discount cosmetics website. I read some positive reviews before making the purchase, and decided it seemed to be worth the £3 that I got it for! Price and availability This retails at £7.99 from Boots or Superdrug (although of course you can often get special offers on cosmetics such as 3 for 2 deals). However, as mentioned, I got it for just £2.99 from the discount cosmetics retailer Cosmetics Fairy. So my advice is to shop around! About the product The product is designed to hydrate, refresh and smooth the skin, and you can either use it alone or under your usual foundation. This comes in a small tube – it’s a pale peachy colour with simple graffiti-style writing. It’s quite nice packaging, and small enough to slip into a handbag. When you screw off the lid, there is a thin nozzle from which you dispense the product. This works perfectly for me as it allows you to control exactly how much of the product comes out at once – and as you don’t need much this is a really useful design feature. The lotion itself is a really light and smooth consistency, and is pale pink in colour. I find it really pleasant to apply this on my face as it sinks in straight away and feels quite soothing. I always apply it over my moisturiser which seems to work ...

Malibu Lip Care Balm SPF 30 29/11/2016

Cheapo lip balms with an SPF bonus!

Malibu Lip Care Balm SPF 30 Why did I buy it Like a few other reviewers on this very site, I have a very problematic lip balm addiction! I have tons, yet am always on the lookout for new ones to dry! In my defence, I do suffer from very dry lips and am applying balm all the time. I have balms on my dressing table, on my desk at work, in the car, in my handbag - in fact everywhere you can think of. So of course it's essential that I have a lot on the go at any one time! I spotted this pack of three balms in Savers for the grand total of £1.50. It was the height of summer so, obviously I was being very responsible when buying these as they have an SPF of 30. I also had no idea that Malibu made lip balms to of course I had to give them a whirl! Price and availability This trio seems to be quite widely available online for under £2 which I think is a great price. You can get different combinations of flavours as far as I can tell, but the trio I bought consisted of strawberry, vanilla and tropical. Since buying this pack of three, I have since seen individual balms available in pound shops in a range of other flavours. As mentioned they have an SPF of 30 and are suitable for children, so really good to pack for sunny holidays. Using the product These come in the traditional stick format, so you have a plastic stick with a little cap, and you can twist the bottom to make the stick of lip balm move up. I think, despite the low price, these balms are really good quality. They have a nice creamy ...

The Talented Mr.Ripley - Patricia Highsmith 25/11/2016

You've seen the film - now read the book

The Talented Mr.Ripley - Patricia Highsmith About the book THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY BY PATRICIA HIGHSMITH FIRST PUBLISHED 1955 BY COWARD-MCCANN 252 PAGES The synopsis Like a hero in a latter-day Henry James novel, Tom Ripley travels to Italy with a commission to coax a prodigal young American back to his wealthy father. But Ripley finds himself very fond of Dickie Greenleaf. He wants to be like him-exactly like him. Turning the mystery form inside out, Highsmith shows the terrifying abilities afforded to a man unhindered by the concept of evil. My thoughts I watched the film of The Talented Mr Ripley many years ago, but couldn’t really remember too much about it when I came to pick up this book from the library. Patricia Highsmith was a prolific author before her death in 1995, but this is the first novel of hers that I have read. Tom Ripley is summoned by the father of an acquaintance to travel to Italy to bring back his son. Ripley is surprised to be asked, as he is not that familiar with Dickie Greenleaf, but he is happy to accept the free trip to Europe. Despite being rebuffed at first, Tom and Dickie strike up a close friendship – but Tom’s motives are not always as they seem… Told in the third person, the novel gives us a fascinating insight into the character of Ripley, who is a strange yet compelling character. He is ill at ease with himself, and seems to make a lot of assumptions about people and take a dislike to them – not least Dickie’s close friend Marge. As he quickly builds up his own friendship with ...

Palmolive Gourmet Shower Cream 23/11/2016

A sweet treat at shower time!

Palmolive Gourmet Shower Cream Why did I buy it? I was shopping online recently and spotted these new shower gels from Palmolive. I had never seen the before but was definitely drawn in by the chocolate one! You can also get this is strawberry and vanilla fragrances, so it's the full Neopolitan ice cream experience! But I was keen to give the chocolate a whirl as it’s so unusual a scent for a shower product. Price and availability This costs around £2.50 for a 250ml bottle, but is currently half price in Superdrug for just £1.29. It's also on offer for 2 for £2 on the Ada website, so there are some good deals out there if you want to give this a try! The product includes cocoa extract, as you might expect, and is designed to moisturise and nourish the skin. Using the shower gel I must admit that there is something really odd about using this product in the shower. It has the consistency of a chocolate mousse, and as soon as you dispense even a small amount the cocoa fragrance hits you! It really is like having a wash with a chocolate pudding – which might be a good or bad thing depending on your views! This does indeed have a rich and chocolatey fragrance, and it also has a rich texture. It lathers up really well and feels nice and creamy on the skin, leaving it feeling lovely and soft. After drying off, there is a faint scent of chocolate on the skin, but much more noticeable is the scent of chocolate which lingers in the bathroom after use, which is really rather nice! The verdict I think this ...
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