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I've been colouring my hair for several years now, and recently decided to go somewhere near my natural colour again. This is relevant because they recommend you don't use this stuff on your hair unless you're going for within two shades of your natural colour. So far, I passed.
The next step is the allergy test. This stuff contains several scary-sounding ingredients, and includes ammonia and hydrogen peroxide (bleach), amongst other things. I would recommend you check the list of ingredients and don't buy this if you're allergic to any. You're supposed to do a skin test 48 hours before using the colour on your hair. During this time you're not suppose to wash this area at all, which seems a little bizarre to me. I managed a full twenty minutes before I decided I wasn't in anaphylactic shock and that it'd probably be OK, BUT I would not advise you do the same. I was just impatient.
The instructions provided with the product are very clear. First, gloves are put on. Unlike the usual white powdered gloves, these are black and not powdered. This not only means they are difficult to put on, but they also made me feel a little like I was dressed to kill someone. I suppose if I were less imaginative, they might appear more professional than the white ones.
Secondly you're required to cover clothes with a towel. This is definitely necessary if you have anything other than very short hair, because hair does tend to fall off (not out of!) the head in the earlier stages of application, and will get your clothes if they're not covered.
Thirdly, mixing. Instead of the customary shaking until you're purple in the face and your arm aches, this requires inverting five times only. This results in a weird brown-looking liquid, and at this point I was not convinced I had done it right.
However, I went with the instructions, and squeezed the bottle. Whitish foam appeared in my hand, and I put this on my roots as I was told. The instructions say keep doing this until the bottle's empty. My hair felt pretty saturated after half the bottle, and I thought it couldn't hold any more by three-quarters, but I kept going and as if by magic my hair looked like the ideal level of coverage shown in the picture on the instruction sheet. Beautiful. Even though my hair was over-saturated to the point I felt it must start to drip soon, it didn't during the entire time I was applying it and waiting to wash it out. This is very impressive.
While I was applying the colour, the smell was quite strong. I think this was the ammonia, as it got in my eyes a little (as ammonia does). It smelt like standard hair-dye smell, so not especially pleasant. One to use with the window open, or some kind of fan system in place.
I then settled down for 20 minutes, followed by rinsing. Rinsing took about as long as for other colours I've used, and the conditioner provided in the box was really no better. I left it on for 5 minutes as the upper limit of their recommendation. It smelt alright, nothing special and a little chemical, though that may have been the smell of the washed-out colour persisting.
I towel-dried and then blow-dried my hair. The medium ash-blonde I was aiming for was perfect, exactly what I wanted but a little darker than the packaging might suggest. My hair was not noticeably damaged, though a little knottier than usual despite the conditioner.
My hair was amazingly evenly coloured, I am exceptionally impressed with this aspect, although I would like to see how it copes with root touch-ups as the foam seems a little imprecise.
Overall I was quite impressed. As the first to use this kind of mixture, John Frieda have done very well, but their formula does need some 'tweaking', particularly with regard to the ammonia in the product and resultant smell, and they could use a slightly better conditioner. The instructions were brilliant and the whole experience was generally pleasant. I love the colour and will probably use it again given its low-ish price of £9.99 RRP.
I recently reviewed both 'Northern Lights' and 'the Subtle Knife', the acclaimed first two parts of the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. This is the final volume in the series, and to my mind a suitably excellent continuation and final conclusion to the overarching story.
It is a little longer than its predecessors, but this is by no means to its detriment. There is rich description here that was slightly less evident in the rest of the series, and this is necessary to gain a picture of the diverse locations and items encountered during the course of this book, more so than in the others.
In this book the mystery explored through the first and second novels deepens and is finally resolved. The novel begins where the second book ended, namely, on a bit of a cliffhanger. I don't want to say too much in case someone who reads this has not yet read the second book, but suffice to say that there are appearances by many old friends, and one or two intriguing new faces. The title of the novel refers to an item discovered by the scientist Mary, who becomes a very important, or even central, character. The three-dimensionality of the characters, even some minor, continues here. Most impressively in a book aimed at younger people the evil force's identity shifts somewhat so that the reader gets an idea of complexity in people's motivations and goals. This really adds more depth and is pretty unique (I think) in a book aimed at teens.
As mentioned, this book is geared towards the younger reader. I read this aged around 12, and again only fully understood some of the things discussed until later, although this did not result in less enjoyment over the first reading! I'm 20 now and would still very happily curl up with this and take something different from it that I've not considered before. For this reason I'd say that it would also be suitable for adults. One of the themes explored in some depth is that of religion, but especially religious organisations. These are not necessarily portrayed in a positive light, so something to be aware of if that kind of thing offends. To be honest for me the religion aspect is quite easy to ignore, and the book easy to read as just an adventure, despite angels occasionally popping up, and Church people appearing left, right and centre!
As the third book of three, I would not recommend reading this as a stand-alone novel. The first reason for this is that Northern Lights and the Subtle Knife are both cracking reads and should not be missed, and the second is that a lot has happened and a great deal explained prior to the start of the third novel, and I am just not sure it would make sense by itself. Finally, in my opinion the full joy of the final book can only be experienced when you've followed (main characters) Lyra and Will's full journeys.
For those who have followed them, the ending is genius and also very beautiful in a way, although at the same time a little frustrating. If that hasn't intrigued you, I don't know what will, but I highly recommend this novel as part of the trilogy. By itself it doesn't really work, which is unfortunate as it's so well-written. This is an important criticism, but is easily remedied by reading all three books in order! As a series I really couldn't sing its praises any higher, for young readers as well as adults.
For the novel alone, I'd like to give it 9/10, but it's going to have to be 4/5 again...
I bought this a little while ago as I was on a rare trip into the body shop, and thought I'd deserved a bit of luxury. At the time this cost around £7, which is more than I'd usually spend on a beauty product. However, the sales lady was adamant that I would not regret it, so there I was.
When I got home, I had some initial trouble getting the oil to flow out of the pen. The brush bit on the end just wasn't filling itself with oil, but after some effort, I finally got it to work. This was achieved by turning the end of the pen until a big drop of oil was seen in the brush. This was plenty for an application on nails of both hands.
After use, the lid goes on, and the lid can also be used to push back cuticles and to rub oil into the nail. This is a really nice touch in my opinion, as you have everything you need right there.
The treatment smells absolutely gorgeous: a strong, nutty scent (which I imagine is thanks to the almond oil). It fades quite a bit over time but it's a really nice scent to have while doing your nails.
Being oily, it doesn't rub in very well, which is fine if you're just cutting nails and pushing back cuticles, but I wouldn't advise applying nail polish immediately afterwards, or even before hands have been thoroughly washed as I don't feel it'd work well given the oil. Of course, washing it off kind of defeats the point!
This stuff does soften cuticles and make them look healthier. I find it works best when applied after a cuticle scrub, and before pushing cuticles back gently. Nails themselves look shinier and healthier too, although the effect only lasts a day or so for the shine. After that, though I tend to polish over the top anyway, as the treatment has done its work on the cuticles.
I really have noticed a difference, and I would therefore recommend it despite the price.
I recently wrote a (admittedly very similar) review on Simple's regeneration age resisting day cream. To be honest this product is so similar that I could almost write them both up in one review, but unfortunately Dooyoo doesn't work that way. So excuse any near-duplication of material, I have written this from scratch so any similarity is unintentional!
Simple is a brand in which I'm always moderately interested, being as I have quite sensitive skin and like the idea of natural ingredients in a moisturiser.
Simple's night cream comes in a cylindrical pump-top container with a transparent plastic lid which is removed entirely for the moisturiser to be used. I often get the day and the night creams confused; the packaging is identical but for the contents and I often find myself having to squint at the writing at night and early in the morning to figure out which to put on my face!
The packaging may be almost identical, but the moisturisers themselves are pretty different. The night cream is a more greyish colour, and smells a little less fresh. This is still no unpleasant smell and I actually find it quite a nice scent. Even if you don't like it, it doesn't stick around past half an hour or so after application.
The moisturiser is very thick and creamy, but despite this pretty easy to rub in. It does leave skin a little shiny after application, but obviously as a night cream this is not of massive importance to me.
Immediately after application, my skin feels less tight and very well moisturised, but also a little greasy. I don't mind this when my skin is dry, but otherwise it does tend to provoke spots.
In the morning, skin feels pretty good, well-moisturised and no longer greasy.
As far as age-resisting effects go, being only 20 I'm not sure I need these! I can't really comment as I'm not sure my skin would be looking older without my use of this night cream.
Ingredients include green tea, various nutrients and vitamins, and no perfumes or colour. I have sensitive skin and have had no problems, even around the eye area where most of my other moisturisers don't get to go anywhere near!
Overall I really like this stuff. It is a little greasy but sometimes that is what my skin needs, and I like that I can use it all over my face without fear it'll irritate. I'd recommend it, but if you have acne-prone skin perhaps one of which to steer clear.
Simple regeneration age resisting night cream is available in chemists and supermarkets nationwide, for around £5ish: a bit pricey, but as I only use mine infrequently, it has lasted ages and definitely something I'll buy again (if they don't change the ingredients first!).
I'm not huge on lip gloss; however, I was given this as part of a set and thought I should probably give it a go. The tube is standard Rimmel: a gold band separating the red screw-on lid and the transparent body of the container. Mine is a browny colour, and this does look pretty good I think. Not premium, but also not nasty and cheap.
Application is similar to other glosses I've used, except in the applicator itself. The lid screws off and attached to this is a long thin bit of plastic with a saturated brush, like the kind you'd use to apply lipstick, on the end (as opposed to the more usual bit of spongey material).
This is really neither pleasant nor unpleasant; due to the saturation of the brush I got what I felt was too much product, but which when spread over my lips actually turned out perfect. The gloss initially looks - and I can't find another word for it - 'gloopy': it is a similar consistency to honey, but I suppose slightly less stringy and much less sweet!
A few minutes after application it begins to tingle, and feels sort of 'cold', in the same way strong mints make the mouth tingle. This is a little unusual sensation, but I'm told not abnormal for plumping products, as apparently this is how they work. I'm not sure to what extent my lips looked fuller, but they certainly looked prettier than when bare, and the gloss was not excessively shiny making it suitable for daytime and/or more casual evenings.
The gloss stays put for a couple of hours at a time, which is pretty decent for a lip gloss in my experience.
Overall I'm pretty impressed. I've never been a huge fan of gloss because it's sticky, messy and looks a little childish sometimes; this, by contrast, really does accentuate natural features and colour, and for that reason I would recommend it. However, the 'plumping' effect was hard for me to see, and being as this is its selling point that's a bit of a concern. I do love this though, and will continue to wear it despite. 3/5.
Notes: I own this gloss in shade 'seduce', which is a natural pink-brown colour. It is available in various shades at chemists and some supermarkets nationwide, with prices around the £3-£5 mark, depending on where you get it.
This December my boyfriend and I were invited to a friend's 21st birthday ceilidh. While she offered to let us stay for one night, we thought we'd take advantage of being up in Edinburgh anyway, and taking some time to see the city. Since we're both students we were looking for something that was affordable but not totally unromantic!
Premier Inn has several hundred hotels in the UK, including two in Edinburgh. We chose the one with the lowest price at time of booking. They offer a 'Good night guarantee', meaning you can claim back your money if they don't offer you everything you need for a good night's sleep. This does not mean you can claim to have had a bad night's sleep, as obviously that is not their fault!
The Edinburgh Haymarket Premier Inn is located less than a mile from the centre of Edinburgh and this is a great position for visiting the town. We were driven there by my friend who knew the way, but it doesn't seem the easiest location to find if you haven't got savnav! There's plenty of parking behind the hotel which I believe is free to guests, although we didn't use this facility.
The hotel itself looks fairly new and the exterior of the building is well maintained and fairly modern-looking. The reception area is located directly inside the main entrance. This area was not big but was clean, with a couple of chairs and the main reception desk, and a desk with a computer which charged around £5 an hour for the internet. The reception staff member who booked us in was very friendly, took our details and gave us the key. We were offered a room on the quieter, car park side of the hotel. He asked if we would like breakfast in the morning, and we politely declined because to be honest I am not in the habit of paying £6 for breakfast.
The hotel seems mainly to cater for business users, certainly in terms of their advertising. There were several meeting rooms available, with various capacities and costs. I'd suggest ringing the hotel directly if you're interested.
As with most budget hotels, this is very basic and there aren't any leisure options. However, I don't see this as a massive problem: I wasn't visiting Edinburgh to spend time in the gym!
Our room was located on the fourth floor of the building and was accessed via a lift and a corridor. The corridors of the hotel were quite well maintained, as was the room itself. It was faultless for the money we were paying and had a double bed, a large desk and a chair, and a coffee table with two armchairs (the wooden uncomfortable kind, not the squashy kind!).
The size of the room was perfectly fine for our needs and had a kettle, a hairdryer and a television. This had Freeview, with all the usual channels that come with this. The only thing the room was lacking was a mini bar, which we wouldn't have used given the prices, but which we've previously used as a fridge. This was disappointing but understandable given the budget nature of the hotel.
The bathroom was located on our right as we entered the room and was in good condition. We both showered several times during our visit and the water was suitably hot every time and the pressure was good as well. The bath/shower gel/shampoo stuff provided in a big white container stuck to the wall was predictably poor, so bring your own (unless you have a particularly hardy nose and skin!).
The staff were exceptionally helpful. We ran out of tea and coffee on the second day, and when we asked at reception they allowed us to help ourselves. We also had a slight issue with the pillows: my boyfriend is very picky and likes hard pillows, else his poor big head doesn't get enough support and he wakes up with a sore neck. We requested some harder pillows, but apparently they didn't have any (!). We were given a collection of things they did have, including a spare duvet and some more towels. We really couldn't complain as they tried very hard to help! (the eventual solution was to stuff a folded towel inside the pillowcase with the pillow, for anyone who's interested...).
As mentioned, we decided we could do better for breakfast than what the hotel offered for less money. Tea and coffee equipment was provided in the room, and we bought some croissants from a supermarket 10mins walk away one morning, and had a cooked breakfast in a cafe the other morning for around £4 each.
We didn't have dinner at the hotel either, which for the purposes of this review is unfortunate! However, we did spot a biggish telly showing Sky Sports from the reception area, and the bar which looked decent. These hotels do often tend to overcharge for food, so we took a 15min walk into town and had a lovely dinner.
Check in is from 2.00pm onwards and check out is by midday. Breakfast can be added to the room for £7.50 for a hot premier breakfast or £5.25 for a cold continental breakfast. I didn't have the breakfasts so can't comment on them, although £7.50 does strike me as a little pricey! Rooms at the hotel are from £29 a night, depending on time of year and how long in advance you book.
I'd certainly stay here if I ever went to Edinburgh again. The hotel cost us £58 in total for two of us over two nights, and we had a really pleasant stay despite our issues with the pillows. The staff were exceptionally helpful, and we were very impressed by this. Check in and check out was really straightforward. The location is ideal for getting to central Edinburgh, although it was initially not easy to find the way. We both had decent nights' sleep, and I would recommend this hotel for its staff, its price and its location. It only gets 4/5 stars because it seems crazy for a hotel with a good night's sleep policy not to have different types of pillow!
Simple is a brand of which I've always been a little sceptical: their advertising claims that they use natural ingredients, but I can imagine that when you look closely at the ingredients, this is not necessarily the case. I don't know enough about the various things that go into moisturisers to be sure though, so when I was given this as part of a gift set, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
The first thing to say is that the moisturiser is very creamy, and I can only use it when my skin is very dry or tight as otherwise it does provoke spots. For this reason I'd not recommend it for those with acne-prone skin.
Since it's so creamy, a lot goes a long way. The cream comes in a pump-top cylindrical container. I find that half a pump is plenty for my face. Although the cream is thick and creamy, it's easy to rub in and as it's white, it's easy to know when you've rubbed it in enough. Make-up, when applied over the top, does not slide off easily, but if wearing without make-up, it does tend to look a little shiny, and even greasy.
I bought this around a year ago now, and use it sparingly, but particularly when I went on holiday and while it's been so cold recently to protect my skin.
I should mention that the day cream has an SPF of 15, which is plenty for me for a sunny day in the UK, though probably not enough for anywhere you'd summer holiday abroad.
Finally, this cream is designed to be 'age-resisting'. I am not really sure about this, as being only 20, I'm not very prone to wrinkles just yet! However, I imagine that since it moisturises so well, it's good at maintaining moisture and elasticity, but I stress I can't test this on my skin. I suppose age-resisting is something it has done for me, but I'm not sure to what extent that is the moisturiser over just my skin not being old yet!
Overall recommended as a nice creamy moisturiser that works, though not for acne-prone skin and no idea about anti-aging effects. 4/5.
My hair is pretty dry at the ends, and many shampoos that I've tried over the years don't moisturise the ends very well, leaving me with greasy roots and frizzy ends and mid-lengths. I thought I'd borrow my sister's Pantene shampoo, as I've heard both good and bad things, just in case it proved to be my saviour....
Pantene comes in small as well as massive bottles. The one I've used is pretty huge, and looks a little bulky sitting on the edge of the bath. However, this size bottle is better value than the smaller one, so I suppose that's just what you get when you want value! It has a flip-top lid as it pretty standard on shampoo bottles.
The shampoo itself is a neutral whiteish colour. It lathers up well with no strong smell really, I suppose it smells 'clean'. It's not a smell I particularly love, nor one I could imagine hating. The lather is quite creamy which is nice, and even I didn't need a huge amount, and I have long, very thick hair.
My hair was less tangled after just the shampoo than after some conditioners, and this is certainly a plus, but apart from that my hair wasn't noticeably softer or smoother, and it still required as much styling as always. It didn't look any shiner either, and I wouldn't say it was much more manageable. Obviously better than when shampooing with soap, but that's quite a flattering comparison for any shampoo. Even when I used the matching conditioner, my hair wasn't smoother or sleeker than usual.
This really is what sums up this shampoo: it's fine, but not exceptional. Overall it was something of a disappointment, although in the absence of something better I would use it again. It is also pretty inexpensive, so on a tight budget this might be a product to consider, although I wouldn't recommend it based on my experience. A pretty poor 2/5, though I've rounded down from 5/10!
Nivea makes some of my skin's favourite products, and I therefore had pretty high expectations of this, despite its low price.
The shower cream is definitely unisex, to the extent that it's not especially woman-friendly; I like shower gels and creams to feel just a little bit feminine and luxurious, and this doesn't really give me that sense. Really not to take away from it as a product, that's just my personal preference and not something that may be off-putting to everyone. However, if you are like me, then perhaps stay clear.
Firstly, the packaging is decidedly non-committal; it's not girly enough for me, really, and not manly enough that my boyfriend would buy it off the shelf. It's quite plain, cream coloured with a blue lid, and a blue 'swirl' on the front. In my opinion, pretty unexceptional, but then it is just shower cream.
The boyfriend may not buy it; he would however use it, given an absence of anything more manly. The smell is very neutral and certainly not feminine, although it doesn't smell overtly of man either. This may be positive or negative depending on your perspective; for me it doesn't do the product any favours.
It lathers up well on the body, particularly when you use one of those shower puff things.
The creme does leave skin clean and soft, so in this respect does deliver what it claims. This also doesn't dry out my dry skin particularly, and this is a definite plus.
Overall I wouldn't really recommend it. I didn't like the fact that it was not really targeted at either gender, leaving me feeling hard done by, and my boyfriend slightly emasculated (!). Having said that, it did the job fine and I'm probably just spoilt, although I would choose differently next time and probably not pay money for this.
Note: I didn't actually buy this product; it came as a miniature as part of a gift, so when I say I wouldn't buy it, I wouldn't and haven't.
I'm not sure I'd classify cleansing wipes as 'daily essentials', as I normally prefer to wash my face properly, but I thought I'd give these a try for nights when I get in late and really just want to flop into bed!
For this they are great: it's not specific to these wipes, but they are a great deal quicker than a proper face wash in the evening. A great things that is specific is that there is no need for moisturiser once you've used these. Make-up is removed very easily, even my waterproof mascara. I have no objection to using this around the eyes as it's very gentle.
Not especially moist, but plenty to remove make-up effectively, so this is not really a problem, though a little odd initially.
An important problem with these wipes is that they are not at all ecofriendly. They are single-use, and are then discarded into the bin. Clearly this is not a great use of the earth's resources, which does bother me to an extent. Obviously this is not specific to the product, but to face wipes in general, so this doesn't affect my rating too much.
I'd not recommend it for those prone to acne as it leaves the feeling of quite a greasy moisturiser.
Also they smell quite strongly and the scent it is most reminiscent of to me is baby powder. I find it slightly odd going to bed smelling like this, although it's by no means unpleasant. Something to watch out for, as this smell does stick around for a while (though it's gone by morning if I use these at night).
As I said initially, I don't use these daily. For occasional use I've found them perfectly adequate, as they remove make-up and don't make my skin tight. Therefore they are recommended for quick and easy make-up and general dirt removal, but it does to an extent get in my pores and is only really suitable for my skin when it's a bit dry. It's also not at all ecofriendly, and this is an important consideration for me. 3/5
I have tried different types of shampoos and conditioners in the past, but I do have to keep changing the brand I use as my favourites tend to get less effective after a while. This is incredibly annoying, as I have quite dry hair naturally and it's even dryer since I started colouring it. I'm sick of spending far too much money on moisturising shampoos that don't really do anything special, or even worse, make my roots greasy but leave ends dry and brittle.
I was in Boots looking for a new shampoo and spotted Herbal Essences hello hydration on the shelf. My mum used to buy shampoos from the Herbal Essences range years ago, and I remembered that the smell was pretty good. However, I had previously regarded it as pretty unexceptional and never really gave it much thought. With the launch of their new range, though, I thought it may be worth giving a try. I bought it without its matching conditioner as for some reason I get through conditioners much more slowly than I do shampoo.
Herbal Essences is a brand name used by Clairol, part of Procter & Gamble if anyone's interested. The ingredients that are meant to interest someone in the product are coconut and orchid extracts, which seems an interesting combination to me. Anyway.
Hello (hydration) shampoo
First impressions are pretty unremarkable for a shampoo. The bottle is big (holds 400ml, though also comes in 200ml size I believe) and perhaps a little bulky if you need to move it around a lot. The bottle is translucent blue, through which you can see slightly swirling, blue stuff. As standard, the lid is pressed down so that the other side opens. This is neat as you're not left with a lid to put somewhere, and less likely to potentially break off.
As soon as the cap is opened, you're greeted warmly by a lovely smell: this really is a lot of the appeal of Herbal Essences as a brand for me. I'm not a fan of coconut but this scent really wasn't obvious; instead I got musk, honey, melon, apple... heavenly.
The consistency was great: thick, rich and creamy. This means that you really don't need to use too much of it: I have really thick, longish hair and found that I needed quite appreciably less than other similarly priced shampoos, which definitely made me happy!
As mentioned above, the colour is a little off-putting. It is very difficult to believe that something of this particular shade of blue could consist of natural ingredients. This is quite off-putting to me, as it doesn't look the way I'd want shampoo to look, or indeed anything I'm putting on my body. I hope they haven't coloured it this way deliberately.
Inviting in hydration
This shampoo is designed for dry or damaged hair, which is how I would describe mine (at least, before use).
As I said before, it only requires a little because of the creamy thickness of the formula. When massaging into wet hair, a surprising amount of lather is produced, which is really quite impressive. The smell was lovely; much better than just smelling from the bottle.
Rinsing was pretty standard, and took a similar amount of time to usual. I towel-dried my hair without conditioning, as I wanted to get an idea of the shampoo by itself.
My hair was more tangled when I brushed it than when I condition, and possibly more tangled than with other shampoos. For this reason, the next time I washed my hair I used my usual conditioner, and results were considerably better!
My hair smelled lovely and fruity; it was soft, manageable, and moisturised. It also seemed shinier than normal, although the ends were not as soft as the roots and midlengths. I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and have noticed that my hair seems less dry and is less frizzy, and more manageable. Success!
It's available in most supermarkets and chemists. It costs around £3.50 for the big 400ml bottle at Boots, but it's often on offer somewhere.
Saying goodbye to hydration
My lasting impression of this shampoo was overwhelmingly positive. The two main criticisms are the colour and the fact that it leaves my hair pretty tangled. I would recommend this, but with a warning. If you like your shampoos seeming natural, this will not be for you, and if you like your hair detangled, make sure to buy a good conditioner.
I recently reviewed Northern Lights, the critically acclaimed first novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy. This is, in my opinion, justifiably the best-known and most praised of the three books, but although Northern Lights concludes well, there is a clear sense that the story is not over; in fact, it is only beginning.
The Subtle Knife begins with the introduction of Will, a twelve-year-old boy from Winchester, who lives with his mother. This town is unlike Lyra's, as it is in the world we know. This strikes a somewhat unusual note, if you're expecting more of Lyra's world initially. Will deposits his mother with a family acquaintance, an accident happens, and Will becomes a fugitive, ultimately finding himself somewhere he would never have dreamed to end up. Here he meets Lyra, and I shall spoil no more for those who have yet to read this book.
As Northern Lights is, this book seems geared towards the somewhat younger reader. I first read it aged around 11 or 12, although I didn't fully understand some of the themes discussed until much later. In my opinion this is a great appeal: a book you can read over and over and always gain something from a reading is a precious thing indeed. Even now, in my 20s, I would happily read this and take something from it I've not really thought about before, and I daresay there are some considerably older and wiser than me who might appreciate it!
As the second book of three, I would not recommend reading this as a stand-alone novel. This is despite the fact that terms are explained well, but due to the nature of the characters and their journeys; I would feel as though I was missing a great deal if I had missed Lyra's development and personality through Northern Lights, and it would also decrease some of the suspense with regard to the villains, as their identity is pretty crucial.
The characters, both new and old, are -as in Northern Lights- wonderfully three-dimensional. Will is a fierce little boy, made so by his gradual gaining of understanding in the merciless nature of the world around him, and Lyra is very similar, but driven by very different motives. Even Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon, holds his own as a main character. The focus of the main force of evil in this book shifts slightly, but this adds depth to the story and is really only a good thing.
Overall I would recommend this as part of the trilogy, but by itself it doesn't really work. It also ends on a massive cliffhanger, leaving it feeling like I find with so many second of three books, a little bit awkward, as there may be quite a clear beginning but no clear end. This is really my only criticism, and can be remedied easily by buying the three books in one go...
I'd like to give it 9/10, as 4/5 seems a little harsh, and it's not perfect.
To me, Clearasil is one of the main brands of choice in my constant fight against spots and other blemishes. Therefore, when these were on offer at Boots, I decided to go for it, as cleansing wipes arealways useful.
They come in a pot of 65 wipes in a cylindrical tub with a screw-top lid, and a foil seal. Each wipe is surprisingly small: only around 5cm diameter. However, this is plenty big enough to clean my face.
The best thing is that the wipes are just about wet enough to get a really clean feeling, but not so wet you have to wring them out before you start. Each little wipe has an indent so they're easy to pick up.
The smell is quite clean and antibacterial, which I like because it makes you feel like any spots will just be removed without problem. The wipes are also mildly exfoliating, meaning that skin really does get cleaned deeply.
The instructions require that you use these morning and night, but frankly they are too strong for my skin for me to do this. Instead, i use them in the evenings only, every couple of days, and alternate with moisturising Nivea wipes. This sounds a little complex, I grant you, but this does maintain the correct balance of my skin!
The wipes do help to get rid of spots and keep them away; they are not overly drying although they are too strong to be used as instructed; and they do get rid of blackheads. My skin is left feeling really clean and grease-free, which is definitely what I want.
Overall I'd say that for skin prone to breakouts, these are really great. However, care should be taken not to overuse them, and also not to use them around delicate eye area, as I'm pretty certain this would lead to irritation of some sort. I'd recommend them, but with a warning! For occasional use, there isn't another brand I've tried that does the job better. 4/5
First off, I need to say that I'm not huge on lipstick. I find that it rarely looks natural, and I don't like to look as though I've tried too hard. However, on the rare occasion that I do dress up, I need a lipstick that doesn't cost the earth, is low maintenance, and still relatively low-key, too.
On cost, this is great. 17 seems to be Boot's own value makeup brand, generally aimed at the younger lady. Prices are correspondingly low: only around £4.29. 17 is also frequently on special offer so this gives a real chance to experiment, as (to an extent) it's not a disaster if you go wrong.
You might think that given the budget price-tag that the quality is not all there. I have not found this to be the case particularly; indeed, I feel that this little tube does everything I'd expect thoroughly adequately. Let me explain...
To be honest, this doesn't look amazing or sophisticated or expensive. It looks fairly basic, simple, and is not especially distinguishable. For me this is fine: I don't need my dressing table to make a statement. Also, this is easily hidden away in a bag for a night out, and I don't need the contents of my bag to make a statement either, so again not an issue.
As far as application goes, this too is standard. It goes on relatively evenly, and doesn't feel dry. Despite the name, this stuff is not overly shiny, so certainly shiny enough for me. Beware.
It stays put quite well, although of course this depends on whether you're eating or drinking or whatever, which obviously makes it come off quite quickly! I've never tested it particularly, but a couple of hours is definitely do-able.
This comes in so many shades that there is one to suit every skin tone and possibly every mood; the main advantage for me is that I found one which just accentuates my natural lip colour, making it look natural, but just a little prettier than that.
Overall, this is a simple product which does the job adequately. Since I don't wear it often, this is a great product given its low price, and I would recommend it to anyone who just wanted a new shade to wear occasionally, or someone straying into the world of lipstick for the first time.
The fact is not as widely known as should be, but previous to his becoming sufficiently accessible as to be played on Radio 1 during the daytime, Frank Turner was the frontman of hardcore punk band Million Dead.
"Every love that made me lose my reasoning / every cause that made my conscience ache...well none of them come close / to singing back the song in my head / I always had a song inside my head." You'd not be wrong to think that these words follow the themes of Turner's second solo album, Love Ire and Song. However, these lyrics come instead from 'Living The Dream', the standout track on Harmony, No Harmony. Whilst his solo work is indeed outstanding, he would be extremely fortunate ever to release an album that betters this.
While the music is almost exactly right (the bass riffs judder along, interspersed with whiny staccato guitar flourishes, probably best evidenced on 'Achilles Lung'), and the range of styles present means that boredom is far, far away (post-hardcore as on the label, but also folk, pop-punk and epic rock), this album's true brilliance lies in the lyrics. The choruses of To Whom it May Concern and Father My Father are gloriously defiant and youthful, not to mention sing-along: particularly "I'm only working here / 'cos I need the fucking money" struck a note (no pun intended) with me while working a terrible summer job one year!
The lyrics are more complex than this at times: "trying to pretend that I am going to stop/ I'm either a smoker or I'm not/ You will keep on smoking/ For the rest of my life, and don't I know it./My favourite fatal weakness" in Achilles Lung tells of a recognition in his own flaws and lack of resolve.
Overall a well-rounded album with outstanding lyrics and almost uniformly brilliant music. Standout tracks for me are 'Living the Dream' and 'to Whom it May Concern'. Definitely something for those who are a fan of the solo artist, though be prepared to have your ears blown off! (as it were). Highly recommended, a 9/10.
Full track listing:
1. Bread And Circuses
2. Holloway Prison Blues
3. After The Rush Hour
4. Plan B
5. Carthago Est Delenda
6. To Whom It May Concern
7. Living The Dream
8. Margot Kidder
9. Murder And Create
10. Achilles Lung
11. Bovine Spungiform Economics
12. Father My Father
13. Engine Driver
14. Harmony No Harmony