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I'm back after a long break I love that ciao members leave nice comments :). Thanks for all the reads, rates and comments - I'll always try to reciprocate!

Reviews written

since 06/05/2008


A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry 18/10/2012

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry; a fine book

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry A while ago, I was watching a series that celebrated world book day; 'My life in books' (presented by Anne Robinson!), where various well known people in the public eye talked about their favourite books. One of the ones I put on my 'to-read' list was this - A Fine Balance. The person referring to it talked about how great the writing was. My sister and mum read the book before me and said that I definitely HAD to read it, so I took their recommendation. When they were reading it, they couldn't resist making references to it, and from their reactions when they had finished, I inferred that overall it was a sad book, so I prepared myself mentally! My copy is a free world book night copy. The novel tells the story of four main characters: a widow, two tailors and a student,who all end up trying to help each other survive the trials and tribulations of life in the underclass of Bombay during the state of emergency imposed by then-president Indira Gandhi. It is set in the 1970s. As someone with a South-Asian background, this book was of interest to me. I am quite ignorant when it comes to history, so had to do some background reading about 'the emergency' and asked my mum to give me some insight too. I think it would help to have some background before reading the book, so here's the wikipedia link (since everyone doesn't have access to a history book :) Other information: Paperback: 614 pages Publisher: Faber and ...

The Body Shop Foundation Brush 09/10/2012

The body shop foundation brush - it's great!

The Body Shop Foundation Brush Recently, I used an offer at the body shop to get 40% off. This brush, whose normal price is £12, was one of the items I used it for. The body shop description is: This flat, tapered brush works brilliantly with liquid foundation. It gives an even, flawless finish. Gives a flawless finish Super-soft synthetic hair Cruelty-free The entire length of the brush is 160mm. The length of just the bristles (at the longest point) is 35mm. I can't remember how the brush was packaged. I think the brush is nice and professional looking. One side of the handle has the text 'FOUNDATION/FOND DE TEINT' and the other has 'THE BODY SHOP', both in white. The text has faded a bit after a few months.I like the handle, as it's chunky enough to hold and control properly and not be unwieldy. Also the base is flat so you can stand the brush up, which is good. The bristles fade from brown (at the root) to black, which adds to the professional look, and means it doesn't look dirty once it's been used. It is also good as you can see how much foundation you have on the brush The bristles on the brush are silky soft against my face. The first time I used it, and each time I use it just after I've washed and dried it, I had to use more foundation than normal because the brush absorbs a bit - not an alarming amount though! I've found that I get the best results by squeezing a small amount of foundation onto the back of my hand, dipping the tip of the brush in and using downward and outward ...

One Hundred Shades of White - Preethi Nair 08/10/2012

100 shades of white by Preethi Nair

One Hundred Shades of White - Preethi Nair 100 shades of white (not to be confused with 50 shades of grey(!), is a book I read a few years ago. The story stayed with me, and I remembered it being a heartwarming book, so as I had been feeling a bit down, decided to re-read it. I read another book by Preethi Nair; 'The colour of love' but didn't enjoy it. I bought it used on for 1p plus £2.80 postage. A kindle version is available for £3.99. Some info: Paperback: 304 pages Publisher: HarperCollins; first published 2003 ISBN-10: 000714346X ISBN-13: 978-0007143467 Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm The author I learned from that "Preethi Nair worked as a management consultant but gave it up to follow her dream and write her first book, Gypsy Masala. Working under the alias of Pru Menon, Preethi managed to gain substantial coverage and subsequently signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins. She won the Asian Woman of Achievement award for her endeavours and was also short listed as Publicist of the Year for the PPC awards. When the author couldn't find a publisher who could publish her previous book, 'Gypsy Masala', she reacted by publishing and distributing the first run of copies herself. This fact really impressed me! I would recommend visiting this website if you are interested in the book or the author as it contains some interesting information. Who would enjoy the book? In my opinion, the book is definitely a girly one. I would recommend it to people who ...

Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Eau De Parfum Gift Set 05/10/2012

A pretty perfume gift set

Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Eau De Parfum Gift Set Background To be honest, I'm not a very perfume-y person - I wear perfume because I have been given it as gifts. This set was no exception - a recently-met friend of mine presented it to me as a surprise, which I thought was so lovely! Who does that nowadays?! Anyway, I had never heard of Carolina Herrera before (apparently she's a successful fashion designer), or any of the perfumes, so for this review, can safely say I was not conditioned by any advertising or images beforehand! The perfume for women seems to come in the eau de parfum form only. Apparently there are 9 other Carolina Herrera scents out there - including men's and women's. There is a Carolina Herrera 212 sexy for men - I can't say anything about these as I haven't tried them The perfume comes in different sizes ( 30ml, 60ml and 100ml). Tester sized bottles can be bought on Ebay and other places. The 30ml perfume costs around £20, and the gift set (again I'm talking about the 30ml one) - there are a couple of differently packaged ones out there, sells for around £30, although debenhams has it on sale for £21.50 just now (there are lots of places that sell online, so I'd advise shopping around for the best deal) What you get in the gift set In my gift set (from internet research, I can see there are some options for different gift sets), there is a 30ml bottle of the perfume (eau de parfum) and 100ml of body lotion. The scent I don't know much about perfume notes, but here is what the scent ...

The Body Shop Mini Brush Kit 01/10/2012

Decent mini brush kit

The Body Shop Mini Brush Kit A while ago, there was a 40% off offer on the body shop online, so I decided to get this set as part of my stash. It's currently priced at £14.50. The main reason I bought it was that I needed another eyeshadow brush and also a good blusher brush - I prefer a round one, rather than the flat ones that come with some other mini sets, so buying the mini set was cheaper than buying those 2 brushes full sized. The set comprises: a nylon pouch with a velcro closure and a pocket for each brush, and a tiny mirror built in a blusher brush an eyeshadow brush a slanted brush a lipstick/concealer brush The brushes have synthetic hairs My verdict: I really like the size of the pouch and brushes (maybe I should point out here that I have really small hands) - the handles are long enough to grip, and feel sturdy, and the fact that the pouch has a flap closure with velcro - it's nice and simple and easy. I also like the way that the pouch and brushes look - sleek and simple and easy to clean (the pouch is wipe clean). I hate the feel of the pouch - it feels really cheap. Also the mirror that's built in is too small - I tried to do the eyeliner of just one eye in it but it was just too small. The pouch also doesn't have enough width from the side, so the brushes bristles tend to get flattened when the pouch is closed The blusher brush is nice and soft and spreads my blusher evenly, and I can blend the blusher in well too. I'm not a big blusher wearer, and I do like it to be ...

Fitness First, Glasgow 06/06/2011

Fitness first for women

Fitness First, Glasgow Fitness first for women is part of the Fitness first chain, which a lot of people will probably have heard of. In Glasgow, there are two 'normal' fitness first branches (one on Cathcart Road, one at Law place, East Kilbride) and also Fitness First for women, at 250 Sauchiehall street. I first registered with Fitness First for Women on Sauchiehall Street more than 3 years ago to lose weight for my sister’s wedding.had been working in the West end, where there were lots of nice places to eat, and so had become more podgy! I decided to go for this Branch, and not the mixed one in the South side of Glasgow because I felt I would be more comfortable, and because when I had made enquiries at the other branch, the staff were really aggressive in trying to force me to join, and they took my phone number and proceeded to pester me with phone calls for months, until I complained formally! To be honest, I didn’t use the gym much until about a year ago, when I started to get serious about my health. It was not difficult to join – there are often staff outside the gym, handing out leaflets or promoting discounts and deals, but if not, it’s easy enough to go in and enquire – a member of staff usually takes your details and if it’s a busy period, will give you a day and time that suits you, to be shown around the gym and discuss the different options for membership. I currently pay about £27 per month, but many people pay more – it’s difficult as they often have different deals and a ...

Urban Decay Surreal Skin Powder Mineral Make Up 20/09/2010

Urban Decay not quite surreal skin but nice powder foundation!

Urban Decay Surreal Skin Powder Mineral Make Up As someone with dark Asian skin, I have never found, or in fact considered a powder foundation to suit me. I decided to try and find one to go over my liquid foundation, to seale it in and for the occasions when I want buildable coverage for a more made up look. It was in Debenhams one day that I spotted this - Urban Decay Surreal Skin Mineral Foundation. I decided to ask the sales assistant to apply it, as I have never used powder, then left it on till I got home and had a look in the mirror. I was pleasantly surprised at the range of shades available (though none for very dark skin). The shade I chose was mirage and it cost £17. When I went back to buy it, the sales assistant gave me some freebies - including a mini lipstick and a sachet of serum for mattifying the skin, which was a nice surprise. As the Urban Decay is a brand I trust and can only usually window shop at, I went away happy! Here is a link to Debenhams showing the shades available Boots only had 4 shades available and no testers :(. Here’s a link I did try on the cream to powder compact of the same name, but they did not have the same shades available as the powders, so couldn’t find one to match my skin tone. There are ...

Myface Mymix Foundation 18/09/2010

Myface Mymix my favourite

Myface Mymix Foundation The creative director for Myface cosmetics is make up artist Charlotte Tilbury, whose clients include Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Gwen Stefani and Drew Barrymore, among others. The range itself is the brainchild of Gail Federici, who used to run John Frieda’s global haircare company. The range is sold exclusively at Boots locations throughout the UK, at and at and was launched in October 2008. I first came across the Myface brand while looking for a new foundation in Boots. What attracted me was the way the make up was split up into categories - fair, medium and medium/dark - with a range of foundation, concealer and lipstick for each. I find it difficult to get a mid range foundation (I don't want to pay like £30 odd for Bobbi Brown!) for my dark Asian skin as most foundations either look chalky or red on me. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried on the Myface foundations as the tone was nice - there are 3 shades in the medium/dark range and Myface claims that each shade in a category will blend to match you. I found that this was true but that shade 2 looked the most natural ( there are 3 shades, with 1 being the lightest. I tried on all 3 and walked about town like that, then went home and looked in the mirror to see which looked right). The foundation is sealed in a plastic cover that is perforated for easy opening. I like my make up to be sealed when I buy it so that I know nobody has used ...

Epson Stylus DX8400 15/09/2010

Epson Stylus DX8400 is a decent printer, scanner and photocopier

Epson Stylus DX8400 The Epson Stylus DX8400 is an all in one printer, scanner and photocopier which I have had for a couple of years I think. It's currently available for about £100 on the Epson website. It was quite quick and easy to set up - there was some software with it to be installed but there were instructions, and nothing went wrong! The printer can print directly from an XD, SD or MS card, without a PC - I have never used this function. The print quality is good and sharp, even on lower settings (except for the draft setting). I have only printed photos a couple of times - the quality was great but it did use up a lot of ink. The printer comes with a black cartridge and 3 colour cartridges which means you only need to change the colour cartridges that are empty. I have found that the cartridges don't last very long and the printer does not print (not even black and white on the lowest quality setting :(...) if any one colour runs out. This can be really frustrating. The cartridges are available on Amazon, usually a pack of all 4 colours costs between about £25-40. I would recommend using the genuine Epson cartridges as using not doing so invalidates the warranty, and I have also found that they can be quite dodgy (e.g not working at all or not lasting very long, or drying up). The machine is quite sleek looking and attractive with a glossy grey top and matte gray sides. The top has buttons that are easily accessible and clearly marked. There is a display screen that can be lifted ...

L'Occitane Immortelle Essential Face Water 15/09/2010

My new favourite toner - L'occitane immortelle

L'Occitane Immortelle Essential Face Water Recently, I bought a couple of items from L'occitane from Debenhams as there was a free gift of several items. I opted for this toner as it was the cheapest (that's how classy I can be!) at £14 for 200ml. The actual packaging is as pictured in the photograph a blue bottle (plastic) with a screw cap. When unscrewed, there is a plastic cover with a hole in it to dispense the liquid from. When I bought it, the hole had foil over it - reassuring me that it had not been used before! I quite like the packaging - it is unobtrusive and looks quite sophisticated. I only knew this was a toner because the sales assistant told me so - it doesn't say so on the front label; it is labelled 'visage eau essentielle a l'eau florale d' immortelle biologique essential water face on the front. Hmmm. The back tells you in French and English that it is 'essential water for face - immortelle has an exceptionally long life; it will never wither or wilt, even after being picked. The essential water for face is an alcohol-free toner. It is enriched with immortelle floral water, a moisturising agent, toning green tea extract and firming Centella asiatica. Pleasantly refreshed, the face is toned and firmer for a prolonged youthfulness. Apply every morning and evening on the face and neck with a coton pad after cleansing.' The fragrance of the toner is hard to describe - it's a bit like lavender but more leafy? I don't find the smell to strong and I think it's quite pleasant - it doesn't linger on ...

Numatic Henry HVR200 14/09/2010

Nice wee vacuum cleaner

Numatic Henry HVR200 'Henry' is the name of the red/orange vacuum cleaner made by Numatic. There are other colours which have different additional functions. Recently in the house, our Electrolux hoover started to get a bit dodgy so we decided to get Henry, as my dad uses him (ok, it) in his shop. I think it was about £90 from Costco. The box contains the main body and top part of Henry, the flexible hose, three pieces of metal tube, the floor tool, a brush, a crevice tool , a small tool for stairs etc, and a small connector to connect tools straight to the end of the hose. The curved tube has a black twistable part to open a hole to decrease suction. There were also instructions but I don't think I used these, as Henry is very simple. I think a few bags were supplied (each holds 9 litres), as well as a red Canvas Henry shopper bag. The bag was easy to put in - just had to lift up the top part of Henry and a filter, and clip it in, and put the filter and top part back on. The top section contains the motor inside and a rewindable cable and flip up handle. It is attached to the body by two flip up clips which are quite sturdy. There is an on/off switch and a hi/lo switch. I have found Henry likeable and easy to use (I admit to saying 'come on Henry', encouragingly, when vacuuming!). However if you're sleeping in a not quite dark room with Henry in front of you, his smile can look ominous :o Henry is great for use on wooden floors - I use a low setting and he glides across the floor (he has 4 ...

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith 27/03/2010

A good read

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith I recently read this book as there had been a lot of hype about it and because my sister bought it! ---------- THE PLOT ---------- Taken from the interview on because I don't trust myself not to give too much away: Child 44 is a thriller set in the terror of 1950s Stalinist Russia, a brutal regime that executed anyone who disagreed with its dogma. It proclaimed to be a perfect society. So, when a series of brutal murders take place, no one is permitted to say that these are the work of a serial killer. In a perfect society there can be no crime. One man, Leo Demidov, a State security agent, a man who has spent his entire career arresting innocent men and women, decides to redeem himself by catching this killer. To do so, he must buck the system, risking his life and the life of everyone he loves. I really enjoyed reading this book - it was a real page turner and none of it dragged - there was a lot of suspense. -------------- THE SETTING -------------- Because my knowledge of the history of Stalinist Russia is not great, I would not be able to say whether the portrayal was completely correct, but the author did a great job of setting the scene and gives a lot of descriptive and evocative imagery, and portrays the bleakness of the weather and the surroundings well. --------------- --- THE CHARACTERS --------------- --- Because there were not too many characters, the book was easy to follow. The main character was Leo, who I could sympathise with but ...

Nivea Lip Care Carefloss and Shine 22/03/2010

Nivea Caregloss Lip Trio

Nivea Lip Care Carefloss and Shine After realising recently that the lipglosses I had were really old and manky, I decided to go on a bit of a make up shopping spree (lots more reviews to follow hopefully), only possible because I recently got a job (yay!) I decided to go to Watt Brothers in Glasgow, as they usually have some decent, discounted make up. A package which caught my eye was the Nivea Caregloss Trio, in an attractive pink cardboard box - as it was only £2.99, I decided to give it a go. The lip gloss trio is about £4.99 most places on the internet and individual careglosses are £3.29 in Superdrug at the moment. Each gloss contains 10ml. In the package, there are 3 colours - 'pure natural' - a peachy pink colour that smells like strawberry laces (the sweets), 'pink star' - a darker pink that has a raspberry fragrance, and 'lovely red' - whose colour is as its name suggests and smells a bit like those cola cube sweets. The colours of the actual glosses are slightly different than on the package. All the fragrances are very sweet and quite bubblegum like - so I wouldn't recommend these lipglosses if you like unfragranced products. The lipglosses themselves are in a handy little squeezy tube - you can squeeze out as much product as you like and spread the lipgloss as well. The gloss is quite thick and a little greasy (I am used to this as I usually use vaseline from the pot) and the colours are quite subtle when applied, so every colour suits just about all skintones. The effect of the gloss, for me, ...

JML Vac Pack 30/07/2009

JML storage bag (jumbo)

JML Vac Pack As I recently finished my course at university, I had lots of notes and things which needed to be stored, but the space was taken up by giant laundry bags and boxes of bedding, which took up a lot of space. I decided to try out the JML jumbo sized vacuum storage bags. The bags come in a cardboard package which contains 2 bags plus 2 little plastic clips (I personally didn't need these). The cardboard package is not very heavy and would probably get crushed and bashed about quite easily. Instructions are printed on the box. To use the bags (I payed £11.99 from Tesco - they're much cheaper from some amazon sellers), you place your items into the bag and then seal the plastic seal (like a giant version of the seals on those little bags you get spare buttons in on new clothes). I checked that it was sealed really properly as I figured that the bag might re-inflate later if I didn't. You then insert the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner into the special one way valve so that the air gets sucked out and the contents and bag get compressed. This only takes a few seconds, and is quite fun to watch! You end up with a tight, heavy-ish slab. I managed to fit a double and single duvet plus some clothes and cushions in one bag, and in the other, 2 double duvets and some pillow covers. This was great as I could then fit them under my bed, or stack them in the cupboard instead of using bulky, lumpy bags which waste a lot of space. JML claim that the bags protect against damp, dust, dirt and ... 28/07/2009

My experience was good I had previously thought Marshall Ward was an 'old lady' shop, so when I was looking for a decently priced swimdress, and one from Marshall Ward came up in my search, I was surprised that it was quite nice. Marshall Ward is a brand of the Shop direct group, whose other brands include * Additions Direct * Choice * Empire Stores * Great Universal * Kays * Littlewoods * Very * Littlewoods Ireland Strangely, all of these seem to have the same products, but either at different prices, or some have a delivery charge and some don't, so if you were going to buy something, I'd check which of these had the smallest price! The website is very easy to navigate; the phone number is clearly shown at the top, there is a search bar, and buttons with all the different categories (Women, Men Kids & Nursery, Sports & Leisure, Home & Garden, Furniture, Electricals, Gifts & Jewellery, Toys & Games, and Offers). Once you have clicked on your item, a clickable picture of the product appears, which can be zoomed in on. On some of the items, there is more than one image of the item (to show alternative colours, how it looks from the back etc). Many of the items have been given a rating out of 5 (5 is the highest). Under the rating is the number of people who have rated the item (e.g if 10 people have rated, it says '10 ratings'). On some of the other shop direct sites, there are customer reviews of items, which I find very useful to check as if an item fits badly, you'll know in advance ...
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