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This was written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who worked on Drive, which I wasn’t keen on either. This film falls within the drama / crime genres and is set in Bangkok. We’re introduced to Julian; he killed a man 10 years ago and went on the run, ending up in Bangkok and running a boxing club that is a front for a drugs op, which he runs with his brother. One night his brother goes out and kills an underage prostitute. The police call upon Chang, a retired cop. Dubbed the ‘Angel of Vengeance’, he carries a rather large sword with him on his back, seemingly at all times without causing any discomfort or unfortunate accidents. Chang tells the father of the murdered prostitute he can beat the man responsible for taking the life of his daughter. The grieving and angry father ends up killing the killer. The now grieving mother of Julian's brother enters, seeking revenge.
The rest of the film just takes us through what happens to these central characters, namely the cop with the sword, Julian and his mother. It also explores some of their relationships, such as that between Julian and mother dearest, which appears odd to say the least. It gives an edge of being creepy, and makes us wonder what’s going on there, what the history was, what pull over him the mother has. And yet our questions seem to go unanswered.
I had the constant feeling that I was missing something, that I didn’t understand what was going on. Surely I had overlooked something, perhaps fallen asleep and missed an important nugget of information. Alas, the film was just that; a mishmash of noise, long, hard stares, gore, and little intelligence in between.
The premise in itself was ok, in terms of the cop being an ‘angel of vengeance’ and what happens when family loyalties get in the way. The ending was perhaps a little predictable, yet nothing special. & there were no real answers.
Scenes gave way to overpowering noise for a soundtrack, dark settings with redish tones to give an eerie feel, and drawn out silences. This ‘noise’ just became grating.
Gosling, who seemed to utter fewer words than your average toddler, had one setting of bland throughout, seemingly placed in the film to look good and attract fans. The acting skills of certain others left a lot to be desired, including the mother of the two brothers, who was both annoying and unbelievable in her portrayal. Again, there’s something going on with her, and between her and her son, but it’s never quite expanded upon.
Any upsides? Some of the attempts at creating atmosphere worked, to some extent, as I did feel a degree of tension and anticipation for what was to happen next.
The Guardian apparently gave this quote on the flick: "mesmeric, mad, brutal and brilliant". It was a tad mesmerising at times, but it led to disappointment due to not delivering, and it was brutal. Some of the violent scenes were quite in keeping with some foreign title horrors and thrillers, and I thought they were, for the most part, quite well done. There were instances of nudity too which resulted in the 18 rating, which didn’t always seem necessary and I found to be a bit cringe-worthy.
This comes boxed, in an 18ml plastic tube. It’s gold in colour, with a white screw on lid that it ‘stands’ onIt’s worth noting that there are slightly different versions available that differ in terms of the SPF available.
The product is ‘enriched with brightening Pure Lemon Essence, which is apparently a ‘powerful skin exfoliator’. The formula contains SPF 21/PA++, designed to protect skin from UVA/UVB rays. In addition to this, ‘mineral pigments’ give a ‘natural effect and long lasting perfection’ to help cover skin imperfections. The list of things this miracle little cream claims to do is as follows:
- Lightens dark spots / acne marks
- Mattifies / reduces oil for a ‘powder finish’
- Evens skin tone
- Brightens up skin
Quite impressive, for one little cream that I bought for 99p! It’s available in different shades, including Light and Medium that I’ve seen. I think mine is Medium, which was the only option available.
To apply, this is very quick and simple. It’s designed to be used like your usual moisturiser, by putting a small blob on main areas and gently spreading over your face for even coverage.
The cream is intended to be lightweight, which I would agree with once it’s on It claims to not block pores and be suitable to wear; I can’t guarantee it doesn’t block pores, but I’ve not noticed a worsening of skin or imperfections having used this, and once it’s on your skin it does feel comfortable.
The cream is a golden colour and quite thick, so the consistency isn’t as easy to spread as my usual moisturiser. It seems like it’s going to be too thick and heavy to apply easily, and indeed it’s a little tricky, especially when you’re trying to use as little as possible. It smells pleasant enough, quite sweet, and a mix between a moisturiser and a sun cream possibly.
It felt ‘light’ on my face and not like it was clogging my pores, greasy or caked on. I liked this about the BB cream because it’s not like wearing a foundation, or at least it wasn’t for me as I’d not used much. It didn’t make my face feel tight or dried out either; whilst the moisturising aspect wasn’t immediately noticeable, it must have done something to keep my face feeling smooth.
The product does seem to give a nice glow to my skin, which, as I’ve said, it usually very pale. It didn’t look orange nor strange, nor like I had layers of make up on. It just looked healthier and more ‘even’ in terms of skin tone. I wouldn’t say this cream made my face look oily nor did it really look overly matt, but it seemed just right at the time, if perhaps leaning towards the former after a few hours.
We used to have Robinson’s quite regularly in the kitchen cupboard and I’ve tried numerous flavours within their range. I’ve not always been keen on the taste of some of the Fruit and Barley varieties, and whilst Strawberry and Kiwi one of the better ones out there, it’s still not something I’m a massive fan of and that’s why we no longer purchase them regularly.
Robinsons is a family favourite countrywide when it comes to squash, and being such a popular choice it’s not surprising that they have an ever expanding range. The squash is available in various flavours, for both squash and fruit & barley, including Strawberry and Kiwi. I liked the sound of this when I first tried it (probably a few years ago now) as it seems fruity, more interesting and very refreshing. As I often tend to opt for lower calorie versions of things, the No Added Sugar variety was my first choice.
This is sold in a fairly sturdy, transparent plastic 1L bottle. This squash is a kind of medium dusky pink.
Per 250ml diluted this contains 8 calories and only 0.4 sugars. They suggest that one serving is one part Robinsons and 3 parts water. I find that it’s not very pleasant when it’s too weak, but at that calculation you should get 20 servings per bottle.
The product claims to contain ‘real fruit in every drop’, with no added sugar, only the naturally occurring stuff. It does, however, contain a source of Phenylalanine, which is, albeit debateable, a potentially dangerous amino acid. This isn’t a health drink in that sense, and doesn’t replace the goodness of real fruit either. The percentage of strawberry and kiwi concentrate is actually very low (under 5%).
The squash is reasonably refreshing and quite thirst-quenching, and the fruitiness is uplifting and light. However, I always find something a little odd with these Robinsons squashes, though I’m not sure I can quite explain what I mean. It’s almost like a certain tangy or sharpness to it, like it’s a little tart and this is the taste initially and after drinking. I'm not sure what contributes to this taste and texture. Perhaps it's the artificial stuff in here, perhaps it's the barley aspect. I really don't know, but I have noticed it with other Robinsons fruit & barley flavours. The only upside is that the flavour of this distracts from it somewhat.
Robinsons fruit & barley is also available in various other flavours including Summer Fruits (unfortunately, not the Kopparberg variety!), Peach, Apple & Pear, Grapefruit, Orange and Tropical. Some of these, such as the grapefruit one if I remember rightly, didn’t go down so well with me as they seemed to have a yucky aftertaste, and seem almost sharp or tangy to the taste. Strawberry and Kiwi is probably one of the better flavours that I have tried in the range.
This comes in a large 250ml plastic squeezey tube, with flip top lid at the bottom on which it stands. The design is quite basic and not something I would have necessarily expected from a higher priced brand. We are told the product is 97percent natural and that this particular conditioner is for ‘fine, limp hair’. On the back we’re given a bit more information on the product and brand.
The product claims to condition fine hair without weighing it down. The grapefruit and passion flower extracts ‘help to lightly smooth down the hair cuticle’, whilst the corn extracts ‘plump it up’. The brand prides itself on being as natural as possible: ‘made with lots of naturally derived ingredients without sulphates, parabens, petrochemicals or silicone; this is goodness in a bottle’.
It is used much the same as any other conditioner. Massage evenly through hair after washing/shampooing for a minute or two and then rinse away. Gently comb hair to get rid of knots and tangles.
The conditioner is white in colour and of a reasonable consistency. It feels smooth and soft, and just the right thickness. It glides over hair and massages in quite easily, so it’s pleasant to use. There is a scent to it, but it’s not one I can really put my finger on. It’s almost a bit tart in smell, but again, I’m rubbish at describing smells, I apologise! Either way, it wasn’t a scent I particularly liked; when using it on my hair as it fills up the shower, I realised I wasn’t a fan and found it a little off-putting on first use. It’s not the kind of sweet or delicious smell you may associate with a luxurious or pampering conditioner.
I wasn’t too keen on the immediate feel to my hair after using it, noticing some sections that felt almost stuck together even after drying, like some hair had gone hard or greasy from use. However, I know I thoroughly washed it out, and it’s happened each time I’ve used it. When I’ve showered in the evening using this, the day after, with lots of brushing, it’s not too bad. I’d say my hair was perhaps a little less frizzy and looked more tamed than normal, but the roots seemed more flat, like it was going greasy when it wasn’t. As for adding some ‘bounce’, it’s like my hair had less volume than before. There’s no lovely scent to my hair either, though the top layer of my hair may look a little better and less damaged/dry/frizzy.
The next day and I’m feeling like the top of my hair is brittle and greasy, and I’m left with the urgent desire to thoroughly wash my hair… with a different shampoo and conditioner!
I wasn’t keen on using it and it didn’t leave my hair looking healthy or bouncy; it appears to have made it limp rather than revive it. Wouldn’t buy again regardless of price.
This comes in a 250ml plastic bottle in a beige/cement kind of colour with push down lid on top. It’s translucent so you can at least see how much product you still have left in the bottle. At the front, the design is very basic with a small outline of a flower and text in predominantly white and red lettering. We are told this shampoo is designed for ‘straight/longer hair’. My hair is relatively straight and quite long, falling just below my shoulder blades, and often find my hair to be fairly dry on the lengths and ends so I was keen to give it a go.
The bottle is ‘fully recyclable’, which I like. It’s ‘vegeterian friendly’ but not suitable for vegans. It’s also not tested on ‘Bambi, Lassie or Skippy’, which is good to know.
The product claims to have ‘highly moisturising and soothing aloe vera and marshmallow plant extracts to add weight and gloss to the hair shaft, helping prevent kinks and annoying flyaways’. The shampoo is also designed to be gentle and the brand prides itself on being as natural as possible: ‘made with lots of naturally derived ingredients without sulphates, parabens, petrochemicals or silicone; this is goodness in a bottle’.
You use this much in the same way as any other shampoo. Apply to wet hair for a ‘feather soft lather’, then rinse well. Apply a second time if necessary, and we’re advised we should get a ‘better foam second time around’.
The shampoo is almost clear in colour but with a slightly unusual consistency. It’s more like gel than shampoo. In a similar way to the conditioner I’ve reviewed, I can’t quite get a handle on the smell. It’s a little sweet, a little tart, and not something I’m too keen on. I wasn’t so keen on actually using it, with it feeling greasy going through my hair and almost squeaky; rather than liking the notion of ‘squeaky clean hair’, it felt a bit yuck. It wasn’t easy to glide over my hair and didn’t lather particularly well, even when doing a second application. I tried to thoroughly wash it out and this took longer than usual due to the odd consistency.
After use, whether blow drying my hair or leaving to dry naturally, I haven’t been too wowed by the results. Admittedly, my hair appears to be a tad less frizzy and it looked more tamed.
I wouldn’t say it felt fresh and clean, because I feel like I want to wash it again not long after using the shampoo. It feels a bit heavy, with my hair almost feeling like there’s still too much product in it, despite the endless thorough washing out of the shampoo. Does it feel silkier? Possibly, yes. But it also looks flatter and this gives the impression it’s a tad greasy when it’s not.
All in all, it’s definitely not one I’d buy again due to the consistency, scent and feel of my hair afterwards.
This is for the Glacaeu Smartwater. I didn’t buy this because of the ‘smart’ properties of this water. In fact, the first time I had this I didn’t buy it at all, my parents picked it up for me whilst I was in hospital. Thankfully, it was lovely and crisp, and very refreshing.
I was surprised to learn, although I perhaps shouldn’t have been, that this is a product line by Coca-Cola. I remember, vaguely, of an article about their upcoming ‘smart water’ and recall thinking how stupid it was. It’s gimmicky and takes advantage of those wanting to improve their health quickly and easily. I am rather sceptical about these sorts of things! Anyway, I wasn’t too bothered about the ‘smart’ properties so I can’t really comment on these, and don’t see how anyone really can judge whether they feel something from the ‘added electrolytes’.
This comes in a clear 600ml plastic bottle with translucent screw on top. The outer sticker is clear, with text predominantly in blue and white. I like this look; it gives it a modern but fresh and simple feel to it, and one of good quality too. I do like that the label isn’t paper as it lasts better on the bottle too without the problem of getting damp, dirty or ripped. On the front, we’re told this is ‘vapour distilled water with added electrolytes’. The nutritional snippet underneath tells us the water contains 0 calories, as expected. On the back is further information on the product and brand. It gives a little story of how the water came about in a light-hearted way: ‘inspired by clouds… sometimes the answer is right under your nose, and other times it’s floating above your head… in our case, it was the humble cloud that got us thinking. Inspired by the water cycle, we vapour distil our spring water and then add electrolytes to deliver a distinctive, clean, crisp taste, smart because it’s made that way’.
The main thing, for me, is the taste. They promise a ‘clean, crisp taste’, so does the water live up to that? I would say so, yes. It was certainly very refreshing, especially when recently out of the fridge so it’s nice and cold. It didn’t taste of plastic, or earth tones, or anything other than clean, pure spring water. I felt hydrated and that I could easily drink the whole bottle. I’ve bought it since the first time I had it in hospital and have thought the same thing since. It’s definitely a nice water, in my opinion.
On the back we’re also told this is made in GB and that the bottle is recyclable. It’s also a ‘plant bottle’, with up to 30% of it being made from plants. I find the bottle to be quite robust, easy to carry & drink from, & of a good size at 600ml Compared to brands like Evian or Highland Spring, it's actually not ridiculously priced as you may expect.
I’ve been a fan of these for a while now and don’t just buy them in the summer months. Unfortunately, there seem to be no more offers in the cold winter months on these, so looking for the odd discount, or cheaper place to buy them, means I tend to stock up on a couple each time.
Del Monte is a popular, well-known brand that’s synonymous with fruity goods. They date back to 1882, and since then the range has expanded to include a variety of tinned fruits, drinks and lollies. Their Juice lollies are available in Orange and Pineapple flavours; I love the Pineapple ones but they seem almost impossible to get hold of these days, which is a shame.
The Orange Juice Lollies are sold in boxes of 3. The box stands out with its white and green design, and large image of a mouth-watering lolly on the front to show us what to expect from the product. Each lolly is individually wrapped and the use-by dates are usually far enough in to the future that you can safely stock up on them in the freezer without much concern. The packaging is adequate and I’d say reasonably good quality.
These are designed to be simple and natural. On the Del Monte website, these are described as ‘The first ice lolly brand to count as one of your portions of fruit. This healthy and delicious refreshment ice made with 100% pure fruit juice is virtually fat free…’ They are marketed as 100% fruit juice, which is great in times when almost everything you see if made up of artificial sweeteners and 95% ingredients you’ve never heard of before.
Each lolly contains 69 calories and 0.1g fat. Due to them being ‘real fruit juice’, they are higher in sugar, at 14.6g. At least it’s more natural sugar. It’s made with concentrated orange, but also, interestingly enough, that’s not all. It’s actually 82.5% orange, 9.5% grape and 8% apple juice. I’m not complaining though as those concentrated juices are the only ingredients. The lollies are 75ml each and I’d say large enough to be satisfying and last you longer than a minute to eat, unlike some cheaper versions that may be watered down and shrunken in size. Each also counts as one portion of fruit and they are suitable for vegetarians.
I find these lollies to be delicious and very refreshing. They taste natural, and they have a great orange flavour to them. Whilst they are iced lollies, and you don’t get anything else in them, you know just to expect the juice taste in ice and nothing too extraordinary. However, the flavour is strong enough, and sweet but not too tart. The vast majority I’ve had have been good quality with no problems in terms of ice lolly deformity, wonky sticks or opened packets. The sticks are strong enough to last without snapping in half or splintering whilst you eat the lolly, which is always a good sign.
L’Occitane have a range of hand creams in different sizes and fragrances, the Pivoine Flora being one of them. I had no idea what ‘Pivoine’ was at first, but the blurb on the website fills in a few gaps : ‘Just like a caress of a peony petal, this hand cream enriched with shea butter helps to soften and nourish the skin while enveloping the hands with a green floral scent inspired by a blooming peony.’ The peony extract is apparently from Drôme, France. It sounds quite fancy, but simple when you break it down. I like that there are no complex chemical names and wonder ingredients marketed here. It’s simple, but special.
The tube is silver plastic (for the tester), though I believe the full sized is more metallic. It’s quite sturdy and reminds me a bit of a small toothpaste tube. The design is pretty, yet simple, with a pink colour scheme for the front label that features a pink flower. It looks feminine and whilst the tube seems modern, it has a hint of being traditional or ‘homely’. The tube opens with a black screw top, that’s easy enough to get in to and fastens securely so you can pop it in your bag without any worries of it leaking or accidentally opening.
The first thing I noticed was that the white hand cream inside is quite thick. You can catch a bit of the scent from the tube, that being floral and sweet, but actually I find it more appealing and a tad more noticeable when you’ve actually got it massaged in to your hands.
This absorbs really well; it feels like it’s instantly sinking in, so give it a minute and you’re good to go without any greasiness. My skin feels refreshed, comforted and moisturised, without going overboard.
Only a small blob is needed per application so it’s lasting me quite a while. The cream is quite thick, however I still use it quite sparingly. It is smooth and soft to massage in to hands, so I like the consistency.
The scent is floral and sweet, with an ever so slightly musky undertone that prevents it from being sickeningly sweet or overpowering. The fragrance lasts for long enough but not too long. It’s feminine and fresh.
As for the price, this is where I get a bit deflated. I do think they’re overpriced, but then again, I tend to go for cheap but branded hand creams, where you get more ‘bang for your buck’. None the less, this cream lasts reasonably well, definitely feels lovely on my hands and leaves a pretty scent, and I must admit it feels a bit special to use.
The scent is lovely so I’d be interested to check out the other products in the Pivoine Flora range, of which there are a few, from a lip balm to shower gel and EDT.
The product description, on the Kellogg’s website, tells us this is a ‘Rice, wheat and barley cereal bar with milk chocolate pieces dipped in a smooth milk chocolate layer’. They are designed primarily for those wanting a low far and low calorie snack, treat, or meal addition.
Each 20g bar contains 79 calories and 1.8g of fat, so if you’re looking for something low calorie and low fat then it’s a good option going by those numbers. Compared to other cereal bars, or cakes / biscuits etc, that’s fairly good, depending on how you look at it. The Cadbury Brunch Bar contains 140 calories and 5.4g of fat, so a reasonable amount more than the Special K one here. However, it also contains more chocolate, oats, a ‘drizzle of honey’, and weighs in at 32g (though it looks like quite a small bar). It is far more satisfying, larger and tastier than the Special K bar, however.
You will notice just how light they are and that the cereal looks almost shiny. On the underside of the bar is the layer of milk chocolate, and there are a few chocolate pieces / chocolate chips throughout. These obviously contain gluten as the cereal is formed from rice, wheat and barley. The product is, however, suitable for vegetarians, for those this applies to.
The texture of these things is quite hard; biting in to it, they seem fairly brittle. They’re not soft or chewy, nor are they dense enough to give your jaw a good workout. They’re light and quite ‘airy’ in that sense, but brittle because of the very noticeable cereal. It simply seems to be cereal pieces, hard and looking somewhat shiny as if they’d been coated in PVA glue, followed by a thin layer of chocolate on the underside of the bar and with a couple of sparsely planted choc chips throughout.
I wasn’t keen on this brittle texture. It may have been better if it felt there was more to it, but it just seems bland and yet nowhere near satisfying like you may anticipate from a crunchy product. The chocolate was fairly minimal, which I don’t mind to keep the bars low calorie/fat, but unfortunately it didn’t go far enough as to make the product tasty or appealing. The taste itself was of cereal, as you’d expect, but there was nothing tempting about it. I’d say it was somewhat sweet but not sweet enough if you want this as a treat, and the lack of anything else such as oats just made it taste bland and boring. I don’t usually mind bland food, but the fact I hated the texture just meant these weren’t going to be emptied from my product quickly unless they go straight in the bin.
This is for the Foaming facial soap, also called the Sonic wash because it’s designed to be used with the brush though it can be used without also. Clinique is a higher end high street brand and one that I don’t tend to have in my bathroom. I had this as a tester but it’s usually sold in a green plastic 150ml squeeze tube with flip top lid that it ‘stands’ on. The product description on the Clinique website tells us that the product ‘gently yet thoroughly removes dirt, excess oil and impurities to reveal smoother, clearer skin’, whilst living skin ‘feeling soft and comfortable’. The foaming soap goes in conjunction with the brush because it ‘helps bristles glide across face’.
It’s quite a good consistency, being quite thick but light, like it’s whipped. It is not what you would expect when you think of ‘soap’ at all. I also haven’t really noticed any scent from the product, even sniffing the tube I can’t catch a whiff of anything chemical or perfumed. This is good, given that the Clinique range is designed to be 100% fragrance free.
This is designed to be used daily. You can pop a blob on the brush, or use without by using a small blob on your fingertips and massaging gently across your face in small circular movements. I have applied this on my face when it’s been damp and have found that it glides over my skin smoothly and feels soft and creamy as it foams. And it foams well, turning what was only a small blob of the stuff in to a foaming frenzy and giving good coverage. I found it easy and pleasant to use.
The product is oil free and allergy tested. I can sometimes get some sensitive skin but haven’t found this product to have any adverse effects. It hasn’t irritated my skin nor left it red/blotchy after use, so I’ve been happy with that, and it’s easy enough to wash off without too much mess. After use, my definitely feels cleaner, and somehow a bit softer too. However, in terms of improvement to my skin, in terms of spots, blemishes or blackheads, I’ve not noticed any. It’s not a miracle cure for problematic skin, nor has it really improved the appearance of my skin in any noticeable way, which is a shame.
As you need only use a small blob per application, the tube should last you quite a while, and longer if you don’t use daily. It is pricey, in my opinion, at around 16 pounds, but I think it is sometimes, though perhaps rarely, on offer.
Whilst it hasn’t worked noticeable miracles, it gets a thumbs up for being pleasant to use, simple and gentle, and for leaving my face feeling thoroughly cleansed and soft.
Witch is a popular brand with a reasonably large range of products, primarily aimed at problematic skin and those wanting to keep skin clean and clear.
This comes in a soft plastic 150ml tube with clear flip top lid that it stands on. It’s quite recognisable as being from the Witch brand with its blue and green design. It’s modern and the plastic is soft, but good quality and squeezable. The flip lid opens/clicks down well.
The product aims to cleanse and clean skin deeply. It contains ‘natural micro-granules’ and willow bark extract to cleanse pores, challenging the dirt / oil while ‘gently clarifying your skin’. It claims to be good for all skin types, particularly those with oily or combination skin.
To use, wet your face first with water, then squeeze a small blob of this face wash on to your fingertips. Massage it gently over your face in small circles; I tend to focus more on ‘problem areas’ such as the T-Zone and chin. Then rinse it off well with water and pat dry. I often find face washes a bit messy so prefer using them in the shower, but I haven’t found this one so bad.
You’ll notice that the face wash, when you open the tube, is pretty much clear. You can see what look like small crystals or grains, and these act as the scrubbing beads that you’d find in other exfoliators. The scent is one I can’t quite put my finger on but it’s very much what you’d expect from Witch, the smell of cleansers and shower gels and the like. I like the consistency of the wash because it’s part way between a cleanser and a gel; it’s not too runny but it’s not too thick, making it easy to glide over skin and massage in, and also to rub off afterwards.
I sometimes have some areas of sensitive skin but haven’t noticed this cause any irritation. This wash does dry my skin a tad, though I find many cleansers do, so I usually apply a small smidge of moisturiser.
Unfortunately, I rarely seem to see much improvement from products in terms of spots, blemishes and blackheads. However, I do think my skin looks a bit healthier when I’m using this; it looks cleaner, a bit brighter, less shiny.
In terms of value for money, I’d say it’s reasonably priced. It can often be found on offer too, so that’s the best time to give it a try. Because you only need use a small amount per application, and needn’t be using it every day, it should last a while so it’s been a decent investment in my skin care routine.
All in all, whilst it hasn’t been a miracle worker for me, it is certainly pleasant enough to use and it does leave my skin feeling clean and refreshed.
Despite having heard of Murakami, I hadn’t read any of his work until 1Q84 this year. It’s one I would definitely recommend if you want something unique, well-written and captivating to read.
We are introduced to a few key characters, namely Aomame, Tengo, Komatsu and Fuka-Eri, with numerous others making appearances throughout. It’s Tokyo 1984; Aomame is on the expressway and somehow, at some point, the balance of reality seems to have shifted slightly. She doesn’t know how and can not explain it, but suddenly she sees 2 moons in the sky. Meanwhile, a young girl, Fuka-Eri, gets help from Tengo to write a novel of little people and air chrysalis, a tale of a strange world that seems once published, sets the literary world on fire. But something strange is underfoot. The characters are linked somehow, and events are linked also, somehow, but we do not see what is really happening. The transformation of reality in to something else, a new world nicknamed ‘1Q84’, is something we learn about in a piecemeal fashion throughout books 1 and 2.
The premise isn’t one I can really describe easily. It doesn’t really make much sense and there’s nothing tangible I can write without it sending crazy or giving too much away. This really is one you would need to read to understand and grasp what it’s actually about.
The style is also interesting. The chapters take the bird’s eye view of different tangents, one for the character Aomame and the other for Tengo. Through seeing the events unfolding around these characters, we’re almost seeing two sides of the same coin and getting a little more information each time.
There is a sense of the novel being mesmerising, gripping, absorbing, like transporting you to another world. It’s magical and wonderful and strange; you want to keep reading to learn more. Yet, at the same time, it still feels reasonably grounded. It made me curious and transported me away from the mundane, yet kept me believing it was real. I don’t usually like unfinished endings but this was done with purpose as I felt I needed Book 3 ASAP!
The characters themselves are quite well depicted, being sculpted in a way that made them easier to imagine. I enjoyed learning about them and felt like I cared what happened to them. Small details are captured, nuances are noted and original terminology is applied, all to make reading the novel even more captivating.
Granted, the premise is rather odd. I found the pace reasonably so-so. Some may find it a little on the slow side, however I quite enjoyed some of the slower moments. It gave me time to appreciate the scenery, if you like. I didn’t find myself getting bored at any point, so I found the tempo suitable. I couldn’t guess the outcome of the novel, in book 1 or book 2. It was so original that it could have only been borne from the author’s imagination.
Panasonic as a brand is one I have a decent amount of trust in so I bought this from the Currys website and paid £20 extra for installation. It comes with a 2 year guarantee. This is for NA-127VB5WGB
... Technical Aspects ...
This model has a 7KG capacity, which is pretty good for a ‘neat’ looking washing machine, and ample for a load of washing for a family. It has a spin speed of 1200rpm, a quick wash time of 15 minutes, an A+++ energy rating. It has a variable temperature with 12 programs to choose from. It’s front loading machine and weighs in at approx. 73kg. It measures. : 84.5 H x 59.7W x 52.7 D (cm).
Additionally, it’s worth noting that this has a water circulation pump, a foam sensor, cycle end buzzer, auto load sensor, ‘hydroactive technology’, leakage protection via a water level sensor, and a heat protective two layer door screen.
... Looking Swish ...
It certainly looks very swish. It has a modern, clean and advanced feel to it, helped in part I think by the shiny white exterior and electronic display. The ‘porthole’ at the front, although transparent glass, looks almost black on first impression.
... Programs ...
I wanted some variation in terms of washes to choose from, and this machine gives you 12 programs, including Bedding / Colours / 15°C / Quick / Rapid 15 / Shirts / Wool / Sportswear / Easy-care / Cotton Eco, plus wash functions of Easy Ironing, Pre-Wash and Extra Rinse.
The 60° wash time is 170 minutes, 40° is 160 minutes and the quick was is just 15. I like having the options available for different products and needs, even if I don’t use all of them.
... In Use ...
I have found this fairly easy and straight forward to use. The manual is helpful but I tend to try to do things myself first, and the machine is quite intuitive. It’s loud in the sense that all washing machines will generate noise, however it’s not as ear-drum aggravating as my last machine! Nor does it rattle all the adjacent kitchen units…
I have thus far found the machine to wash very well with no problems and it beeps when finished. I've not had any issues with maintaining the machine and have come across no problems or worries with it.
SkinClear is a Boots own brand product. I found the range a little tricky to find in store amongst the other skin care brands, and it doesn’t really jump out at your either in terms of the packaging. It can also been found on their website. I picked up the products when the range was on offer. The Oil-Free Mattifying Lotion is sold in a 75ml plastic squeeze tube, with a white flip top lid that the tube stands on. There’s a sticker on the front and back, with the front sticker being a blue and white design. It’s reasonably easy to read, keeps things simple and to the point, and doesn’t make too many wild promises. It looks quite basic and understated, but I don’t mind as I like to think we’re saving a few pennies on fancy packaging.
We are told this is for ‘clearer confident skin’ and that the product is designed primarily to do three things: Reduce shine, leave an instant matte complexion and remove excess oil. The product was ‘formulated by Boots Skincare Experts to absorb excess oil’ with its ‘non-greasy formula’, leaving an ‘instant perfect matte finish to your face’.
The product is, unsurprisingly, nice and simple to use like most moisturisers. You just squeeze out a small blob and apply to your skin, avoiding contact with the eyes.
The first thing I noticed was that the lotion seemed quite thin. It didn’t take much of a squeeze of the tube for a load of the lotion to come out, with the consistency being far more liquefied than I had expected. There is a scent but it’s not too overwhelming, though there is something there that reminds me a tad of sun tan lotion, which isn’t so great. It’s smooth to apply to your face and neck and I like that it glides on & you don’t need much, but it’s too watered down for my liking.
The other annoyance is what happens once the lotion is actually on. I tend to apply a bit of concealer if I’m going out and usually do this straight after moisturising. A bit of the moisture from this seems to really help the concealer go on my face without caking or flaking. That’s not the case with this moisturiser. The lotion seems to flake off, not just the concealer. Even after giving it a little bit to absorb and not using too much on the application, the lotion still seems damp, and it practically starts to rub off. Very odd, and not something I can recall coming across with any other moisturiser. As for the anti-shine and mattifying promises - I’ve certainly not noticed my face look any more matte, possibly the opposite, and there’s been no improvement to the condition or appearance of my skin.
After Dark is fictional Japanese novel, translated in to English, that I would say loosely falls within the genres of drama and mystery, with a little something extra thrown in to the mix.
It’s approaching midnight and there’s an almost empty Denny’s diner. A young girl called Mari sits reading. A musician, due to practice all night with his band, interrupts Mari’s solitude to say hello. Mari has missed the last train home and intends on staying out all night, in the city, on her own. But once the sun disappears and night falls the city is different, with mysterious undertones. The musician leaves and Mari soon gets approached from a girl from the Alphaville Hotel, a Chinese love hotel, to help with a situation.
On the flip side, the same time but a different location, we see Mari’s sister. She is sleeping in a deep sleep and has been for 2 months. Almost like a coma, but not. We see the TV flicker, but it’s not plugged in. Could the midnight hour be causing something to stir this night, or is it just imagination?
The book basically takes us across these two tangents. The former is told in present tense, giving us a sense of us watching the interactions between characters and events as they unfold. The latter is told in a rather different way, with the author talking to us as if we are watching the sister from a different perspective, like giving a commentary when watching a bird of prey through a camera.
The layout is very interesting and quite original. The story is told in the present tense and follows a ‘real time’ timeline; chapters are not split by number but by the time, as the minutes and hours tick down from just before midnight to just before 7am, so we get a more concise view of events. I felt mesmerised almost to keep reading, and this was helped by the book being broken down in to chapters of varying length, none of which I felt was too long.
The novel ‘flows’ well and feels fairly natural, making it easier to read. I would say there was a reasonable depth of characters, but this isn’t to a great extent. I don’t think I found myself particularly identifying, or feeling empathic towards, any of the characters, but I did feel some sense of understanding or familiarity with them by the end of the novel. The lack of depth is something that adds to its mysterious and ‘quirky’ nature, strengthening the growing feeling you get that you never really quite know what’s going on.
I wasn’t so hot on the ending because it’s very loose and doesn’t tie anything up nor provide an explanation for all of our unanswered questions. However, the author intended it this way and so in its own way it adds to the mystery.
On the back is further praise, including: ‘The novel delivers gloriously… Inventive and alluring’ – Guardian, ‘Hypnotic, spell-binding’ – The Times.