Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Beauty Care Product Review: ALVA SANDDORN HAND CREAM

About Alva Sanddorn (Anti-Ageing):

Sanddorn is Alva's premium anti-ageing skin care range based on the cold-pressed oil of the organic sea buckthorn berry - one of the most valuable
anti-oxidants in the natural skin care world. Sea buckthorn is renowned as an effective protection against the sun's UV rays, as well as being prized for its anti-ageing and moisturising qualities.

Alva Sanddorn Hand Cream is a deeply penetrating, nourishing and moisturising hand cream that provides extensive care for stressed hands, preventing them from drying out and boosting
the skin's elasticity. As we age, along with our face, the hands are the most exposed part of the body and are therefore subjected to a multitude of environmental stressors and UV damage, leading to premature age spots and dry leathery hands. Organic shea butter and cocoa butter, along with organic sea buckthorn oil help to stimulate regeneration, providing supple hands and shiny fingernails.

I have been using Alva's hand cream for several weeks, it is ideal for normal and dry skin as well as mature skin over the age of 30 (which I am!).

It is very rich and thick and creamy and is dark yellow in colour. I loved the smell which is quite light, and while it did take some time to rub it all into my hands I really felt as if it was working deep down to protect them from drying out in the cold weather. It can be used both night and

I really love using this hand cream, it is certainly more rich than any cream that I've used before and I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for something extra or if your hands are particularly dry.
The packaging is also a pretty white, gold and orange colour.

It has not been tested on animals, is parabin and paraffin free and contains no alcohol.

It is available from the mypure website in a 75ml tube for £12.00.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Genre: Crime and Mystery

Published by: Orion Books (October 2010)

Pages: 400 (Hardback)

My Rating: 8.5/10


About the Book:

When Mickey Haller is invited by the Los Angeles County District Attorney to prosecute a case for him, he knows something strange is going on. Mickey's a defense lawyer, one of the best in the business, and to switch sides like this would be akin to asking a fox to guard the hen-house.

But the high-profile case of Jason Jessup, a convicted child-killer who spent almost 25 years on death row before DNA evidence freed him, is an intriguing one - particularly since the DA's determination to re-charge and re-try him for the same crime seems doomed to failure.

Eager for the publicity and drawn to the challenge, Mickey takes the case, with Detective Harry Bosch on board as his lead investigator. But as a new trial date is set, it starts to look like he's been set up, with the renewed prosecution merely a tactic to prevent Jessup from successfully suing the state and county for millions of dollars.

To avoid humiliation, Mickey and Harry are going to have to dig deep into the past and find the truth about Melissa Landy and what really happened to her all those years ago.

My Thoughts:

The characters of Mickey Haller (criminal defence attorney) and Harry Bosch (Detective) are both well known to readers of Michael Connelly's other books.

But I was a little worried as I hadn't ready any of his books before and wondered if I wouldn't really know the characters by not reading them before. But I needn't have been concerned as Connelly managed to give just the right amount of back story for each so that, by the end of the book, I felt I knew them both pretty well.

The first part of the novel deals with the build up to the trial, the story of Jessup's conviction and the reasons for the re-trial, the talking to the witnesses, choosing the jurors, all of which made an interesting and steady build up to the trial.

The last part then deals with the trial itself which I thought was the most compelling and fascinating, I love court room dramas and this did not disappoint.

I also really enjoyed the way the story alternated chapters between the lst person of Mickey Haller and the 3rd person of Harry Bosch. I really got a feel of how each character was thinking and of how the characters thought of each other. It really brought a new dimension to the story.

This is a wonderful description of a judge presiding over another trial:-

Presiding over this anthill was Judge Malcolm Firestone, who sat with his head down and his sharp shoulders jutting up and closer to his ears with each passing year. His black robe gave them the appearance of folded wings and give him the overall image of a vulture waiting impatiently to dine on the bloody detritus of the justice system

This was a storyline that kept me intrigued throughout with intelligent characterisations, simply told explanations of the justice system, a couple of twists and turns scattered about, and is one of the best court room dramas I have read for a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable!

For more on Michael Connelly his website is here

Also, many thanks to Waterstones.com for sending me this book to review.

I must just add that the book I received was an uncorrected bound manuscript proof and the quoted text above may not appear exactly as quoted in the actual book.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

BOOK NEWS: V&A museum pleads for cash to save Charles Dickens's manuscripts

Handwritten drafts of David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and The Mystery of Edwin Drood are suffering from acid paper rot

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens at work in 1860. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Charles Dickens picked up his quill in 1859 to write the words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," at the top of a clean sheet of paper, he was setting down some of the most enduring opening lines in world literature. The novelist's striking phrase helped to set the scene for his celebrated story of love amid the turmoil of the French Revolution, but the famous passage with which he began A Tale of Two Cities might not endure for much longer without urgent intervention.

This weekend the Victoria and Albert Museum is launching a campaign to raise funds to conserve the original manuscripts of three of Dickens's best-loved works, including A Tale of Two Cities. Rescued from the novelist's home by his close friend John Forster, the manuscripts came to the V&A in 1876 when Forster, a literary agent, bequeathed his library to the fledgling museum.

The V&A now hopes to restore the priceless originals – which are still legible although blotched and underscored – in time for international celebrations of the bicentenary of Dickens's birth in 2012. "At the moment we can't display these manuscripts safely because they are so damaged and so fragile," said John Meriton, deputy keeper of word and image at the V&A. "They were last conserved in the 1960s, when they were rebound and placed in what are called 'guard books'. But the backing paper used, unfortunately, was very acidic, causing a lot of stress to the original manuscript leaves."

Some parts of the manuscripts are also impossible to read because the leaves were pasted down, making the left hand or verso pages inaccessible.

If the museum – which, like other national heritage institutions, is now facing severe budget cuts – can raise £25,000, curators say it will be able to protect the full manuscript of A Tale of Two Cities, the story of the love between Lucie Manette and the aristocrat Charles Darnay, as well as the original manuscript of the equally loved David Copperfield, published in 1850.

The third manuscript is Dickens's perplexing, unfinished last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. If this manuscript is restored and conserved, museum visitors and Dickens scholars will be able to study the author's own notes and textual alterations and even perhaps deduce their own solution to one of the most intriguing unsolved cases in literary history.

"You can see the corrections Dickens has made to each section of the stories," said Meriton. "And these are the pages that he would have handed into the printers for typesetting, before receiving the galley proofs for correction in return. We have some of those proofs too, and so it will be possible for visitors to trace the editing process that went on."

Written in "iron gall" ink on low-grade blue writing paper, purchased by the author from WH Smith, the manuscripts were never "wonderful quality", according to Meriton. But they remain a crucial part of Britain's cultural heritage.

To read the full article in theguardian.co.uk click here

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Interview with Eliza Graham, Author of Jubilee

I'm so thrilled that Eliza Graham has agreed to take part in a Question and Answer session on my blog.

Her third novel, Jubilee, was published in June 2010 by Pan Macmillan and my review of her book is here

Eliza lives in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire with her husband, children and dogs.

When your 1st novel, Playing with the Moon, was published when and where did you first see it in a bookshop, and how did you feel and what did you do? I'd probably want to go round and tell everyone that that's my book!!

I first saw PWTM in the flesh at my book launch and I was rendered speechless by the sight of boxes of the book. I kept wanting to touch them. Part of me also feels a little alarmed when I see my books in 'real life'. I want to blurt out that it was only a story I made up! I always imagine people flicking through books to find bits that are wrong... People are often very kind about telling me where they've spotted my books. Sometimes they report back a few weeks later and say that the books are now 'gone' and then I wonder if they 'went' in customer bags or were simply sent back to the publisher because they didn't sell. These are questions best not considered in the early hours of the morning.

I love watching The Book Show on Sky Arts and one of my favourite parts is when we see authors in their writing area surrounded by all their little bits and bobs, and I wondered if you did your writing in a particular place and do you set yourself targets for the day?

It's not very glamorous, my writing space! I am typing these answers where I normally work: on the breakfast bar in our kitchen. I started off writing in a more bespoke writing area but then we had those two very cold winters and the kitchen was just warmer. We have also had a series of puppies, who live in the kitchen while they're being house-trained, and it's just easier to be here with them. One of them is curled up round my foot at the moment. Unfortunately being in the kitchen means I'm never far away from the digestive biscuits, too...

I don't usually have word count targets as that tends to encourage me to write words for the sake of words and often they aren't the right ones. Most often I challenge myself to get through a particular chapter or scene or transition. Even just a tricky hundred-word paragraph, if it's a bad day. More and more I think that, for me, a lot of the writing takes place in my head when I'm going for a walk or pottering around. If that part of the process is going well the words seem to get themselves written. If I'm struggling I often need to think a bit more about what I'm trying to do and perhaps bounce ideas off friends.

A recurring theme in your books seems to be the 2nd World War. Is that deliberate or it's just the way your stories have evolved?

I've always been fascinated by WW2. Where I grew up in London there were still air raid shelters and my grandmother used to tell us stories about the Blitz. It's such a rich repository of stories and themes and there's so much material available now that I've found myself drawn back again and again.

My latest novel and the one I'm planning next probably won't have that part of history in them, though.

You must have done a lot of research, particularly about the prisoner of war camps, in Jubilee. Do you enjoy that side of your work?

I love research and have to be careful that I don't get carried away and let it take over. It's much easier to look things up these days and the internet is my best friend. But I also love libraries, museums and archives. I often get the urge to visit small museums in small towns--you find interesting little details in them. I'm still trying to think of a use for some little boots I saw in an agricultural museum that were designed for sheep to wear.

What sort of authors do you read and what book are you reading now?

At the moment I am reading the last Lee Child book and then I'm going to move on to Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin. I tend to have reading obsessions and need to read a whole series at a time. I read almost every kind of book, from Anita Brookner to Trollope to Len Deighton. The only books I don't enjoy are westerns and romances. I think I am drawn to thrillers and crime because there's such a lot of good plotting in those books and you can very enjoyably learn a lot as a writer.

Can you give us some idea of your next book and when it's going to be published?

I am touching wood as I type this answer... My fourth book is set in an apparently idyllic boarding school in Oxfordshire where the apparently serene and charismatic head has some disturbing personal secrets that start to come out. It also involves reborn dolls: particularly life-like dolls that are often mistaken for real babies. I am touching wood because you never really know what will happen with a book until you get the go-ahead from the editor. Or the cheque.

Ooh that story sounds a little scary, but intriguing! Can't wait to read the book.
A huge thank you to Eliza Graham for taking the time and trouble to give me such brilliant answers.

Jubilee is out now and is published by Pan Books.

Monday, 1 November 2010


Product Description

Living Nature Nourishing Day Cream - New FormulaTreat your skin with this nutrient rich day cream that has been formulated to deliver nourishment and protection, optimising your skin health. A unique blend of Manuka Honey and Shea Butter will restore valuable moisture. A lovely, smooth cream suitable for combination, normal, and dry skins.

As with all the products I have reviewed from mypure this is sulfate free, paraben free and phthalate free.

I have been using this nourishing Day Cream for the last few weeks. It comes in a pretty but quite plain container and I had real problems in opening it! I tried unscrewing the top, pushing it, pulling it but I just couldn't open it, until I looked on the bottle and read that you have to first remove the tag from the cap at the BOTTOM of the bottle and then it opens. Not sure if I was just being a bit stupid or it was a stupid way to open it. Anyhow, I opened it but I'm still not convinced that this is a good idea as sometimes when I pull the cap the cream spills out.

However, that is my only real complain about the product.

The cream is a lovely smooth consistency which smells divine -- I can't place the scent but I presume it is manuka honey and totara extract as those are the ingredients on the front of the box.

Living Nature claim that the plant actives can speed up the skin renewal and repair process -- and repair the damage done to your skin during the day, i.e. free radical damage, loss of moisture and UV damage. It also promotes cell repair and brings fresher, younger-looking skin to the surface.

It spreads very easily on my face and was soon absorbed. It's very light. I have combination skin and it is suitable for normal and dry skin as well.

My skin felt lovely and smooth afterwards, and it didn't get too greasy later in the day which it has a tendency to do.

As I've only been using it for a few weeks I haven't really noticed a huge difference, but I really do like the feel of it and would definitely recommend it for everyday use.

A 50ml bottle sells on mypure for £21.00.


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