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violet Status violet (Level 4/10)


I am a former journalist and English graduate who has given up her reporting career to look after her baby daughter. When I am not picking up toys and wiping up sweet potato puree I am establishing myself as a freelance writer.

Reviews written

since 22/02/2012


Mog The Forgetful Cat - Judith Kerr 22/04/2013

Mog the Forgetful Cat - Memorable

Mog The Forgetful Cat - Judith Kerr Mog the Forgetful Cat, written by Judith Kerr, tells the tale of Mog who, as the title declares, is a forgetful cat. She forgets everything from the fact she has a cat flap to the fact she can't fly. But it is this weakness which makes Mog the cat a heroine in the end, however unintentionally on the part of Mog. Mog the Forgetful Cat is a book penned by the same author as the more widely-popular The Tiger Who Came to Tea. There is reason for this as The Tiger Who Came to Tea has a simplicity and a surrealism which instantly captures the imagination of readers. This is not to say that Mog the Forgetful Cat does not hold an appeal all of its own. For me, as a little girl, the cat as hero of the tale was a very appealing one. Psychologically speaking, it represents the triumph of the maligned and ridiculed - essentially the triumph of the little guy – something which will always hold a certain sway with youngsters. Mog is incredibly impeded by her personality flaw. She makes mistakes which lower her in the favour of her owners, the Thomas family, and even the little girl, Debbie, her one ally, is pushed to the limits of her sympathy towards the end of the book. It is at this crucial point that Mog carries out her good deed and wins back round her family and an award at the same time. I get a real sense of nostalgia on opening up a copy of Mog the Forgetful Cat. In fact, it is my own well-read copy of the book that I now read to my own two-year-old daughter. My little girl ...

Monkey Puzzle - Julia Donaldson 18/04/2013

Monkey Puzzle - No puzzle why this is so good

Monkey Puzzle - Julia Donaldson Monkey Puzzle, penned by Julia Donaldson, is a simple tale about a baby monkey who loses his mum and a friendly butterfly who helps him find her. But the search is not quite as straight-forward as you would think because the butterfly does not understand that the monkey's mum looks just like him. Instead the butterfly repeatedly mistakes a host of other animals from an elephant to a bat as the monkey's mum. The reason for the butterfly's blunder is revealed later in the story. Monkey Puzzle is written by the same author as the now widely known tale of the Gruffalo. This book is however by no means an inferior work to its more famous counterpart, despite being less well known. This is because Donaldson is at her best in Monkey Puzzle at combining her unique mix of humour, sentimentality and instantly recognisable rhyming style to create a story which is suitable for children of all ages – and adults will certainly enjoy the story as well. My daughter began to listen to this story read aloud just before her second birthday and the bouncy, rhyming style and the colourful illustrations by the talented Axel Scheffler ensured the book was an instant hit and requested again and again. The repetition often used in Donaldson's books is alive and well in Monkey Puzzle, most obviously in the repetition of “No, no, no...that's not my mum” which is an excellent cue for youngsters to join in. Whilst the bold pictures of animals allow children of all ages to pre-empt what's coming next ...

A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff 15/04/2013

A Vintage Affair - Plenty of lace embellishment but no real depth

A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff A Vintage Affair, written by Isabel Wolff, follows the story of protagonist Phoebe Swift as she embarks on opening her very own vintage clothes shop, Village Vintage. We soon learn Phoebe is not a novice when it comes to vintage clothing having worked for an auction house valuing clothing for a number of years. But we also learn very quickly that the opening of this shop has not been borne solely out of a love of old clothes but because her best friend Emma has recently died – a death she blames herself for. What follows is a tale of Phoebe's burgeoning success as a vintage fashion retailer, her entanglements with two very different men and most notably her friendship with an elderly and terminally ill Frenchwoman, whom she meets when called upon to value some of her old, but rather lovely, clothing. It is this character, Mrs Bell, who helps her come to terms with her past and enables her to move forward after the death of her friend. I came across this book purely by chance when searching for an author I very much enjoy reading, Eva Rice, on Amazon. Isabel Wolff's offerings were recommended by the online retailer as 'something similar' to Eva Rice which I may also enjoy. I had never come across Isabel Wolff's work before but committing the cardinal sin of being enticed by the book's rather attractive cover, I decided to give it a go. A Vintage Affair turned out to be a light-weight yet enjoyable read which keeps the reader wanting to know more, especially about 'that ...

Original Source Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower Cream 20/04/2012

Original Source Vanilla and Raspberry – I'll have two straws with that

Original Source Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower Cream I love Original Source products. I like their simple packaging and organic and natural credentials which separate them from so many other brands on the market. It is rare to find a cheaper end cosmetics brand caring so much for the smaller details such as making sure they are vegan friendly. This is usually the domain of higher end products. But Original Source has a real eye for detail despite its products selling for just a few pounds. I usually have an Original Source shower product of some description on the go but tend to buy one from the citrus range. The Vanilla Milk and Raspberry version is a slightly different scent for me. The Product The Original Source Vanilla Milk and Raspberry Shower comes in Original Source's typically angular bottle with a black flip top lid on the bottom. The bottle is frosted to allow the colour of the product to show through. Original Source shower gels tend to be bold and rich in colour. This particular one is white with ever such a subtle hint of pink. Original Source shower product labels are usually free of images and just consist of block capital letters describing the contents and a little slogan at the top describing such and such a number of - and what ever the main ingredient of the shower gel is – went into making this product. This milk and raspberry version is slightly different as it states 82 British sunrises helped make one moisturising bottle of this Original Source Vanilla Milk and Raspberry packed with natural fragrance ...

Alberto Balsam Mandarin Shampoo 19/04/2012

Alberto Balsam Mandarin Shampoo – I have shiny hair!

Alberto Balsam Mandarin Shampoo I bought Alberto Balsam Mandarin Shampoo for one reason – it was cheap. Bottles of this shampoo, and the matching conditioner, usually sell for £1 in Tesco which is cheap anyway, but recently the Alberto Balsam shampoos were all on offer for just 80p – a steal. As this is a cheap end shampoo I did have my doubts over how effective it would be but I felt I had little to lose at this price. The Product Alberto Balsam Mandarin Shampoo comes in a tall, thin frosted bottle which allows the muted orange colour of the shampoo inside to show through. The bottle is topped off with a flip style cap in black. On the front of the bottle is a gold edged label with a black background onto which has been placed an eye-catching image of mandarins cut open – even though to be fair if you didn't know you would think they were oranges. Above the image comes the Alberto Balsam brand name, and beneath the image are the words limited edition and mandarin. We are informed by a little sticker in the corner of the label however that this limited edition shampoo is now here to stay. Under the main front label are the words shampoo in gold-brown writing, the information 'with mandarin and papaya' follows, along with another band of gold right at the bottom informing people the shampoo is aimed at normal to dry hair. The bottle contains 400ml of shampoo. Turning the bottle around there is a blurb boldly stating that consumers liked this limited edition shampoo so much they have added it to their ...

Aquafresh Milk Teeth Toothpaste 17/04/2012

Aquafresh Milk Teeth – Say cheese

Aquafresh Milk Teeth Toothpaste I wish I'd looked after me teeth – proclaimed quirky northern poet Pam Ayres in the poem of the same name. This is a phrase I don't want my daughter to ever have to utter and so my campaign to keep her teeth as clean and healthy as possible started as soon as her very first teeth appeared. The toothpaste of choice has been Aquafresh Milk Teeth from the very beginning thanks to a sample of the paste I received in one of the many goody bags I was plied with on her birth just over a year ago now. The product The toothpaste comes in a white tube with an image on it of what looks like a water drop with a face and hands, displaying a sign with 0 to 3 years written on it. Underneath is the word 'milky' in childlike writing. I don't know if this is meant to be the name of the water drop or a reference to the toothpaste. Either way, underneath this comes the typical Aquafresh logo and under this the words 'milk teeth' in colourful bubble writing. Right under this comes the more serious information 'fluoride protection 1000ppm'. This figure of 1000ppm means little to me I have to admit but I’m guessing it is supposed to be a selling point in favour of this toothpaste. Turning the tube over there is more information about the toothpaste and how to use it. It reads; “gentle fluoride toothpaste for baby teeth and gums”. Then come the directions 'brush twice daily' followed by different instructions according to the child's age. Under threes should use a smear of toothpaste for supervised ...

Johnsons Baby Bath 13/04/2012

Johnson's Baby Bath – Incredibly mild for delicate skin

Johnsons Baby Bath Johnson's is the leading producer of baby products in the UK and as a parent you feel you are purchasing a premium product when you buy anything carrying the Johnson's logo. Would Johnson's Baby Bath live up to the same high standards though? The Product Johnson's Baby Bath can be identified from all the other baby baths and body washes produced by Johnson's by its powder blue coloured bottle. The packaging is altogether very simple. The Johnson's logo is on the front of the bottle. Underneath is written 'baby bath' in simple, darker blue letters. Under this is the 'no more tears promise' in its customary red tear drop and right at the bottom it states 'mildest ever'. Turning the bottle around, on the back are more details about the product divided into two clear categories – Best for Baby and Best for You. Under Best for Baby it reads 'This no more tears formula is as gentle on the eyes as pure water and mild enough to clean a baby's skin without drying it'. Under Best for You it says 'Mild enough for sensitive skin. Use regularly to gently clean and keep your skin baby soft'. This baby bath is mild enough for babies, soap free, pH neutral and tested by dermatologists, the label continues. Then follow the directions for use. For baby it says add one to two squeezes of baby bath product to running water and swirl with hand to mix evenly. For You it reads 'add to running bath water. Swirl with hand to mix evenly'. Then follows a list of ingredients. The bottle I have contains ...

Johnson's Baby Shampoo 12/04/2012

Johnson's Baby Shampoo – It's like a new head of hair

Johnson's Baby Shampoo Johnson's is without question the brand leader when it comes to baby products and as a parent you can gain a certain amount of comfort from purchasing and using any of their products on your child. But just how good is Johnson's baby shampoo compared to others on the market? The Product Johnson's Baby Shampoo is nothing short of eye-catching. Unlike a lot of their products which come in powdery shades of blues, pinks and purples this shampoo comes in a vivid yellow. On closer inspection it appears the packaging is actually clear and it is the shampoo itself which is creating this eye-wateringly bright colour. To most clearly describe it I would put the colour as akin to olive oil. This colour rather contrasts with Johnson's claims of mildness on baby's scalp and hair and its no more tears promise. The bottle is set off with a more subtle yellow flip top lid. The front is ornamented with a simple label on which is emblazoned the Johnson's logo with 'baby shampoo' underneath. The only other details are a red tear drop onto which has been placed the 'no more tears' catchphrase in white type and at the very base of the label the words 'softest ever'. Turning the bottle around, the label reels off the shampoo's credentials. These are that this is Johnson's 'best ever shampoo to leave your baby's hair feeling softer than ever before'. It continues 'the gentle formulation of Johnson's Baby Shampoo maintain hair's natural moisture balance without leaving any residue – and the no more ...

Nivea Soft 11/04/2012

Nivea Soft – not so much soft as intense

Nivea Soft Nivea Soft appears to be a very canny buy. It promises to moisturise face, hands and body and so in theory should save you having to fork out for three separate products. But does it work on three very different areas? The Product Nivea Soft comes in both a bottle and tub variety. The product I purchased was a 200ml tub. The tub is white in colour with a screw lid. The Nivea logo is emblazoned on the top with 'Soft' written under it. There is an image which forms the backdrop to the lid's label which looks a cross between a feather floating on the air, a dandelion clock and a leaf scudding across water. Either way the image is there to conjure up images of incredible softness, and it works. Then comes the information this product can be used on face, body and hands in capital letters. The words 'Refreshingly Soft Moisturising Cream' follow at the base of the label. The same logo, image and wording is repeated along the side of the tub, with the extra information that the product includes Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E. My Experience I bought this product predominantly as a facial moisturiser as I had just run out of my previous one. I found the Nivea Soft cream to be a lot thicker than usual moisturisers geared at the face so was careful to use only a small amount. The cream is white and quite gloopy and cold to the touch. It needs a good rub in, but it left my face feeling refreshed and thoroughly moisturised. My skin had a pleasing glow to it and looked vibrant and full of life. ...

L'Oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara 10/04/2012

L'Oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara – Comes with a magic wand

L'Oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara L'Oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara promises length and precision definition thanks to its high precision flexible brush. Finding a good mascara tends to be all about trial and error. It is impossible to fully trust advertising on the television because too often false lashes have been used or lashes have been enhanced in post production, or both. Therefore on purchasing L'Oreal's Telescopic mascara I didn't hold out the highest hopes it was going to give me amazingly long lashes. What I was really attracted to was the clean definition promise of the product. So many times you find mascara clumps lashes together and over time the mascara wand becomes so clogged it is impossible to apply the mascara with any kind of accuracy. Would this mascara combat this and surprise me with its lengthening abilities as well? The Packaging This mascara comes in a shiny silver, mirror effect tube, which makes it different to a lot of mascaras on the market which tend to come in black packaging. On closer inspection, it appears L'Oreal have incorporated the name of the product into the style of the packaging. The tube has been made to look like an extended telescope. This is a quirky little touch which is subtle enough that many users may not even notice it. At the same time I think L'Oreal could have done without shaping the mascara tube in this way as it is a little gimmicky and cheapens the product slightly. L'Oreal mascaras fall mid-way in the mascara market. You expect to pay ...

Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips 09/04/2012

Vaseline Rosy Lips – Everything's not so rosy

Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips Vaseline Rosy Lips is a petroleum jelly lip salve the likes of which has become synonymous with Vaseline. What makes this one different is it comes with extracts of rose and almond oil. It promises to provide 'therapy' to lips at the same time as gently tinting them. The Packaging Vaseline Rosy Lips comes in a small circular 20g tin like so many of Vaseline's lip salves do these days. This tin is a peachy pink in colour with splashes of contrasting white. The lid is half pink and half white so that the lettering on the pink half is white and the lettering on the white part is pink. The remainder of the tin, including the base, is pink. The lid carries the brand name Vaseline in bold white letters in the centre, with 'lip therapy with rose and almond oil' across the top and 'Petroleum Jelly Rosy Lips' at the bottom. On the base of the product is a list of ingredients. If you turn the tin to the side you spot for the first time the promise it will gently tint and care for lips. I think there is a reason the 'gently tints' element of the product promise is hidden to the side of the tin. More of that in the next section. My Experience The little tin comes open with a twist and pull of the lid. Inside is revealed a pinky red coloured petroleum jelly. I was surprised at the redness of it as the outside container is much more subtly coloured. The lip salve looks shiny and inviting. I find I don't need much of the balm to coat my lips. Just a little rub of my finger on the surface of ...

Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion 06/04/2012

Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion - Indulgence for skin

Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion I purchased Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion as part of my ongoing quest to find a cheaper but just as effective alternative to Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula. The fact the 200ml bottle was on offer in Tesco for just £1.50, half its usual price of £3, was an incentive. As this body lotion is made by Vaseline I had high hopes for this product. Vaseline, as it even states on this bottle, has been caring for skin since 1870, and they are a well-recognised and respected name in the beauty industry. You know that you are always going to get a decent product from Vaseline, and at times a really wonderful product – but which category was the Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion going to fall into? The Promise According to the front of the bottle, Vaseline Conditioning Cocoa Butter Body Lotion is a rich feeling lotion for healthy glowing skin. It continues on the back that it promises to leave skin feeling healthy and glowing and combines the magic combination of pure cocoa butter with multi-layer moisture. The Product The body lotion comes in a rectangular bottle which is a light golden brown in colour with a darker brown flip top lid. Brown is not the most appealing colour for a cosmetics bottle but as this is a cocoa-based product the colour is appropriate to illustrate the main ingredient. It is actually also a summery colour. It reminds you of sandy beaches and the resulting tan and even has similarities to bottles of fake tan and sun tan lotion in design. ...

Michael Foreman's Peter Pan And Wendy - J. M. Barrie 05/04/2012

Peter Pan and Wendy – Will he be flying by tonight?

Michael Foreman's Peter Pan And Wendy - J. M. Barrie Peter Pan and Wendy by J M Barrie is an incredibly moving and poignant tale which is guaranteed to set the imaginations of both children and adults on fire. The tale follows Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, from the time he meets Wendy and her brothers as children to when he returns to the nursery many years later to find Wendy a grown woman, whilst he is still a boy. In between, Peter takes Wendy to Neverland where she meets the Lost Boys, Captain Hook and his band of pirates, and their adventures together truly begin. Much has been said about J M Barrie's personal life because of his close relationship with the Llewellyn Davies children whom he befriended and, on the deaths of their parents, took into his care. It has been insinuated, rather cruelly, that he was in fact a paedophile and he prayed on the five young boys. In my opinion you only have to read Peter Pan and Wendy to understand he had no improper intentions towards those boys – in deed he was childlike himself and so therefore probably felt more comfortable associating with them than he did a lot of adults. He said the character of Peter Pan was based on aspects of all five of these boys but I feel, and I know others do too, that J M Barrie is more of a Peter Pan figure than those boys ever could be. It is his childlike imagination and his extraordinary ability to create new worlds which ensures his tale of Peter Pan is such a wonderful and enduring one. Peter Pan is a story of which I am very familiar but ...

Tommee Tippee Explora Active Sipper Cup 04/04/2012

Tommee Tippee Explora Active Sipper – Doesn't keep its promises

Tommee Tippee Explora Active Sipper Cup Nothing makes me more nervous than purchasing a new cup for my daughter. To date there is only one cup she will drink out of happily and that is the Tommee Tippee First Cup – and even that took a lot of hard work. What I was really looking for as I browsed the shelves of Tesco was a Thermos flask style piece of kit so I would take her warmed milk out and about with us in something other than a bottle in an insulated bottle bag. Firstly, my daughter has always refused to drink from a bottle so it is a little at odds to be carrying her milk around in one and also my daughter is one now so I felt it time to move on and find something a little more toddler-like for her milk. I felt instantly defeated by the shelves filled with sports-style bottles as I had no doubt my daughter would struggle with the technique required to drink liquid out of these. As already stated, she has never taken to a bottle which requires the same kind of sucking action. Even cups with valves have proved difficult for her. So I moved on from these and then I spied the Tommee Tippee Explora Active Sipper for children aged 12 months and over. Unlike the others is has a little lip from which a child can sip and a valve which can be taken out – which would be ideal for my daughter. The cup also clearly stated it was insulated which was just what I was after. It look like it would do a good job at this as it was made up of a clear external beaker decorated very prettily in flowers and birds, then there was a ...

Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl 03/04/2012

Fantastic Mr Fox – Fantastic of course

Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl Fantastic Mr Fox is a cracking little tale for children of all ages and has a few surprises up its sleeve for adult readers as well. In writing Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl employed a range of classic techniques commonly used by children's authors to engage young readers – namely rhyme, repetition and the power of three. No where else in Dahl's back catalogue does he so evidently employ such techniques other than in his 'poetry' like Revolting Rhymes. In this respect Fantastic Mr Fox makes for the perfect book for a primary school aged child to learn to read aloud. At the same time, I cannot recall a Dahl book which so blatantly weaves adult subject matter into the text. To prevent alarm I had better clear this up immediately – I am alluding to the consumption of alcohol and getting drunk. But even so... Few little ones will realise what is really meant by the fact Bean the farmer lives on cider alone. As soon as I read this section out loud to my daughter recently I turned to my husband with raised eyebrows. His look showed the same recognition – Bean is a drunk. I had no idea about this when I was little and first read the book. That is how Dahl is so clever. He knows he can get away with such references with children because they will be none the wiser – cider is a lovely drink made from apples – but it will give the adult reader a chuckle. Dahl also paints Bean as the cleverest farmer. Is he trying to say cider lubricates the brain – controversial. Dahl even dices with ...
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