Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of things I loved, things I hated, things that I just can’t form a strong opinion about.

Three Months in Book Reviews: Quarterly Recap 3/2016

Book Reviews Summer 2016 - daneesaur.co.ukI’m currently reading six books at once. Six. Granted, some of those are ones I haven’t actually touched in weeks, but when I do pick them up again, I won’t start at the beginning. And I’ll be honest, although sometimes it makes be a bit anxious to have that big number S I X staring at me on my Goodreads profile, I quite enjoy having something to fall back on when the book I’m reading can’t hold my attention. I’m kind of living after Sanne‘s example here, I guess. And I definitely feel that her tip to read at least 50 pages of a book before moving on to another one certainly helps.

This quarter is the one where I managed to complete my Goobadge-home-completed-1736dedbcd3c31946d5b98bb506c1051dreads Reading Challenge 2016! And the year’s not over yet! I’m happy — last year I’d only read 16 books the entire year, which now feels such a tiny, insignificant number. I feel like the world of books has welcomed me back at last! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a crack at the 50 books challenge in 2017. Whew.

For the first time in a long time, I also finished a book in one sitting. Two books, actually. Or one and a half sittings, I should say — I did dare to sleep in between. I started both Everything, Everything and Eleanor & Park late-ish at night, went to bed, woke up and immediately started reading again, not stopping until I’d finished. I think the last time I properly did this was still in Harry Potter days?

To jump quickly to a specific book, here’s a helpful list:
Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe | Outlander | FangirlEverything, Everything | The Last Star | Eleanor & Park | Landline | More Than This | Room | Attachments

Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea am Großen Fluss - Book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 185
Published: 1994
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea, daughter of wolves, doesn’t want to go the bear clan at the Great River. But her foster-father Ezuk wants to leave her in the hands of her mother, the healer of the clan. The people at the river are wary of her – apart from Henek, the son of Ezuk’s enemy. But will the love between Tanea and Henek have a future? (translated blurb)

I was scouring my old bookshelf at my mum’s place, looking for something my nephew could read, and came across one of my favourites from my childhood. It’s about an 11-year-old girl in the Stone Age and her journey towards becoming a healer and a woman. It’s actually the second part of a trilogy, but I found this and the next volume in a sale and, to this day, haven’t got my hands on the first part. Might hunt it down online though! Reading the story back now, it makes me hugely uncomfortable that she’s just an eleven year old kid and so many horrible things happen to her that are just glossed over. But that’s what you get for reading about a primitive age, right? Right? I think this was the first book that spiked my interest in botany and prehistoric times, and, like many other things, that interest kind of fizzled out again over the years, only to resurface during the last couple of months. It certainly holds a very special place in my heart.

Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe| ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea - Der Clan der Wölfe - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 184
Published: 1995
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea has finally found the wolf clan. But there’s a bad surprise waiting for her: Jaka, her nemesis, has become the leader of the clan. And we will not allow her to undermine his authority. But Tanea is not only self-confident and fearless, she is also a healer. And someone like that is desperately needed by the people of the wolf clan … (translated blurb)

Having read the other Tanea book, I immediately continued with the next one. Out of the two, this had always been my favourite when I was a kid, and that feeling carried through to today. More botany, more healing, more prehistoric peculiarities. … more creepy events that should never happen to an eleven or twelve-year-old kid, Stone Age or not. I remember that I was actually kind of creeped out by it as a kid already, so yay me, perhaps? Still, love these books. They’re now sitting on my nephew’s shelf, waiting to be read.

Outlander (Outlander #1) | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Outlander - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Pages: 896
Published: June 1st, 1991
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. (Goodreads)

I saw the adaptation of this suggested to me on Netflix, remembered seeing it reblogged onto my Tumblr dash, gave it a go … and fell in love. I also remembered that my sister-in-law is utterly obsessed with it, and that my mum owns all volumes. After watching the first season back three times, I gave the original a go. And I have to say … some things, especially in the domestic violence department, made me so angry in the book. I think the show handled those topics much better, which may be helped by the fact that it’s being produced 23 years after the novel. Y’know, fair enough. Other than that, despite Outlander-the-show being astoundingly close to the book, of course the characters are a lot more fleshed out in the book, especially Claire, whose struggle to adapt to 18th century medicine is much more believable here. And she’s a lot less whiny/dramatic and much more sassy. Which is exactly how I like her. Good job, Ms Gabaldon, I really like your writing style!

Fangirl | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 461
Published: September 10th, 2013 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible … (Goodreads)

Oh Cath. Cath Cath Cath. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since Leena said that it’s the book that made her understand fangirls. I’m involved in fandom culture, and aeons ago I have actually written my own really, really bad self-insert fanfiction that will never see the light of day, but nowadays I hardly read any. So in a way, I’m halfway between Leena’s approach and, say, my friend Anna’s approach to Fangirl and Cath as a character. Cath writes fanfiction about “Simon Snow”, the Harry Potter of their universe (no, really, down to the wizarding school, the Chosen One who gets mentored by the headteacher and has an intelligent best friend and a fairly stuck-up nemesis, etc etc).  I must say, in a way, this is a very generic young adult book; it doesn’t really get social anxiety right (probably because socially anxious people who are actually incapable of making friends and not having anyone gently forcing their friendship onto them is not really entertaining to read about), but it gets close; the romance is super predictable (as in, I called it the first time the character shows up in the novel). That being said, “generic” as it may be, the formula works, and in this instance, it does so so very, very well. I’ve read Carry On before this one and already loved Rainbow’s writing style, and this book just furthered that impression. I’d have given this 4.5 stars on Goodreads if I could have, because I loved it and it almost completely hit the mark for me. One thing that really threw me off, though, is that apparently, Harry Potter exists in this universe as well. I can’t possible imagine how the Harry Potter and Simon Snow franchises can exist alongside each other.

Continue reading

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Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty (Self-Preserving) – Review

Lush's Mask of Magnaminty

Over the last couple of months, I’ve become a hopeless Lushie. I’ve tried body conditioners, shower gels, soaps; by now I refuse to use any other hair conditioner, and I’ve just bought my first shampoo bar.

When I went to their flagship store in London’s Oxford St, I had a hard time deciding what I should bring home. In the end, it didn’t turn out to be one of their shop exclusives, but rather an absolute classic: the Mask of Magnaminty.
I’m by no means a pioneer in reviewing or writing about this mask, as it’s been a staple at Lush stores (and in Lush addicts’ homes) for ages, but I just couldn’t not write something about this little wonderpot.

On their website, they say:

Easily smoothed over the skin anywhere you like, this mask is made with peppermint oil to stimulate, marigold oil and chlorophyllin to treat the skin; evening primrose seeds and aduki beans to gently exfoliate as you remove it. There’s also mineral rich kaolin to nourish, antibacterial honey, and peppermint oil to stimulate the blood cells just under the surface of your skin to leave it looking bright and refreshed.

I’ve decided to get the self-preserving version; the difference is a reworking of the original formula to include fewer artificial preservatives. The mask instead has a bit more honey, which naturally has antibacterial properties and acts as a natural preservative, and has the added bonus of being just a tiny bit more nourishing.
Thankfully, both the original and the self-preserving version of the Mask of Magnaminty have around the same shelf-life (around three months, I think – I bought mine early September and the Best Before tag says 19 Dec).

Lush's Mask of Magnaminty - Review

Just after the first time trying it out, I fell in love with this green lil monster in a pot. It smells like a delicious mug of fresh mint tea, and due to the mint in it, it tingles a bit on your face. But not to worry – it doesn’t burn or irritate. YMMV, but I’ve got fairly delicate/irritable skin, and I was fine. In fact, I really like the sensation. It’s a wonderfully cooling effect, which I can imagine being absolutely brilliant in summertime, especially if you keep the mask in the fridge beforehand.

Lush's Mask of Magnaminty - Review on daneesaur.co.ukMhhh, glorious green goop!

I usually leave it on for around ten minutes and then wash it off with a warm, wet face cloth. And ohhh, your face will feel so supersoft! I promise you, when you’ve tried this out, you will wonder how you could go your whole life without it. Especially if you’re as mint-crazy as I am.

To be honest, the more I read and hear about Lush, the more I am in love. The day that they will be in the news because of some dubious work ethic or any sort of scandal I will be infinitely crushed, but I doubt that this company will let me down.
No matter what shop I’ve gone to, their staff has always been incredibly nice and welcoming, but not too pushy. At least in my personal experience anyway, I do know some friends that felt kind of overwhelmed and overrun by their floor staff, but oh well.

My only problem is that I can’t seem to stop myself from buying something new whenever I set foot in a Lush branch. There’s just so much to try … oh well. Pasta with ketchup for the rest of the month then, amiright!

Price: £5.75 / 7,95€ (85ml)

Lush's Mask of Magnaminty - Review on daneesaur.co.uk

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Never Again: theneedlecraftshop.co.uk

I like recommending good shops, restaurants or services. I really do. Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to talk about the other side of things as well. Bad customer service. Or, in this case: complete lack of any service at all.

needlecraftscreenA little while ago, I wanted to get back into cross stitching and looked into getting some supplies. Coloured Aida cloth, embroidery hoops, the likes. A quick Google search led me to theneedlecraftshop.co.uk. Its layout seemed trustworthy – I am sort of reluctant to order from online shops that look like they haven’t updated their websites since the early 2000s – the products looked nice and inexpensive, so I went for it.

Everything was okay at first. I created an account, placed my order, paid with PayPal. I received the payment confirmation email from PayPal, but, as I only realised weeks later, I didn’t receive an order confirmation from the website itself. This was early February.

The weekend after my birthday (so around Feb 23rd), as I was waiting for presents to arrive in the post, I noticed something odd about the lack of packages, and for the first time wondered where my needle craft parcel was. I checked my emails to see out for the first time that I hadn’t received any confirmation from their side. I then logged into my account on their website in order to check what status my order had, to find out that my order history was empty. I immediately wrote them an email using their contact form, to which I still haven’t received a reply.

Luckily the payment has gone through PayPal, which has at least some customer security, so after I received no word from the shop for several days, I opened a dispute on there, writing the following:

On Feb 9th I ordered items with you and paid £9.20 with PayPal.

Not only have I not received a confirmation of the order via email (other than the information of payment from PayPal), it also does not show up in My Orders on my account on your website.

A week ago I have sent you a message about this via the contact form on your website, and haven’t received a reply.

So by now I have absolutely no interest in any of your products anymore and want my money back.

Thanks for the attention, and please refund the £9.20 ASAP.

After ten days, I still had no reply from the shop, so I escalated the dispute to a claim with PayPal, who acted fast and efficiently and refunded the money a few days later.

In the end, I guess, this is both a cautionary tale to keep your hands off of that shop, but also a big thanks to PayPal for their quick reaction and security for buyers.

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{German} Konsumgöttinnen und Valess Part Deux

In letzter Zeit bin ich etwas frustriert mit den Konsumgöttinnen. Seit dem letzten Projekt, an dem ich teilnehmen konnte, sind vier Monate verstrichen. Mir ist vollkommen klar, dass die Community riesengroß ist, und natürlich auch ein wahnsinniger Rann auf die Produkttests gemacht wurde, aber frustrierend ist es dennoch.

Vielleicht war auch mein “Fehler”, dass ich mich nicht für alles und jedes beworben habe und somit irgendwie “weniger” Chancen hatte. Aber was will ich mit einem kostenlosen Produkt, dass mich gar nicht interessiert, oder, noch besser, für das ich persönlich gar nicht wirklich Verwendungszweck habe? Darunter: Shiseido, ein Anti-Aging Serum, Moulinex, ein Vielzweck-Küchenhelfer, der besonders das Schnippeln erleichtert (was mir noch mit am meisten Spaß macht!), oder jetzt ganz aktuell: Veet EasyGrip Kaltwachsstreifen (wenn ich mir meine trockene Haut nicht auch gleich mit wegwachsen möchte, sollte ich davon echt lieber die Finger lassen).
Alles an sich echt tolle Sachen, aber … eben nichts für mich. Also nicht beworben.

Für alles andere, was da war, hab ich fleißig die Bewerbungsformulare abgeschickt. PIA NOON Bodyscrub, der im Moment irgendwie genau das richtige wäre. Ein Catrice Testpaket, die Marke, von der so viele “Beautygurus” in der Blogosphäre schwärmen, die neue Mascara von RIMMEL London, oder der Test zum Babyliss iCurl. Klar, das waren auch gerade die Produkte, bei denen sich 90% der anderen “Konsumgöttinnen” gedacht hat, “BOAH, mitmachen!” und eben mehr Glück gehabt hat. Hach, Mensch.

Kommen wir doch einfach zum zweiten Teil des Eintrags.
Und zwar hab ich mich ja beim Handling des letzten Produkttests auch nicht gerade sehr diszipliniert verhalten (ob die sich das aufschreiben, und man deshalb weniger bekommt? Hihihi…). Aus der “tollen Reihe über Valess” wurde … ups… genau ein Beitrag.
Den Rest hole ich jetzt in einer kleinen Zusammenfassung nach!

Bei meinem zweiten Valess Schnitzel Gericht hatte ich versucht, mich an eine der Rezeptvorschläge auf der Valess Homepage zu halten. Und zwar an “Valess Toskana mit Spaghetti und Zucchinistreifen”. Ja, also… Zucchinis hatte ich nicht mehr… und Chilischoten auch nicht… letztendlich ist es das Toskana Schnitzel mit Spaghetti in einer Knoblauch-Olivenöl Sauce und frisch gemahlenem Chili geworden. Auch gut! Aber die Zucchinistreifen haben schon gefehlt.

Das war dann auch  der einzige Versuch, ein Rezept nachzukochen.

Für die Nuggets hatte ich meine Ampelmann Pasta rausgekramt, und dazu eine Sauce aus Tomaten, Zucchini (da hatte ich wieder welche!), Minimais und Möhren gekocht. Auch nicht schlecht! Wobei die Nuggets echt für zwei Personen gereicht hätten. Und, während es mich bei den Schnitzeln nicht gestört hat (da die meisten Füllungen gehabt haben und das dann sogar gut gepasst hat), hätte ich mir bei den Nuggets gewünscht, dass die Panade ein wenig knuspriger gewesen wäre. Ich hatte ja auch schon die Soja Nuggets von Alpro Soya probiert, bei denen die Panade zu knusprig war, dass sie schon in der Pfanne halb abgefallen ist. Ein Mittelding zwischen den beiden wäre ideal.

Natürlich habe ich nicht nur Nudeln gekocht, wie man hier sehen kann. Das hier dürfte das Frischkäseschnitzel gewesen sein, mit einer Reis-Paprika-Pfanne. Sehr lecker! Die Schnitzel sind wirklich sehr vielfältig. Man kann sie mit so ziemlich allem kombinieren!

Und das hier war das letzte, das normale Schnitzel ohne Füllung, auch hier wieder mit einer Reispfanne mit Paprika und Brokkoli. Meine Mutter hatte sich noch die mit Champignons gemacht und auch zu dieser Reispfanne gegessen.

Fazit? Bis auf meine kleine Kritik an der Panade der Nuggets sind die Schnitzel echt lecker, und einen Platz im Kühlschrank wert.

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{German} Calu Naturkosmetik

Vor ein paar Wochen habe ich von der Firma Calu Naturkosmetik ein kleines Testpaket angefordert. Mittlerweile hatte ich genug Zeit, zwei der Produkte zu testen, und möchte euch ein bisschen davon erzählen. 😉

Bei Calu handet es sich um kontrollierte und zertifizierte Naturkosmetik. Die Inhaltsstoffe sind fein säuberlich inklusive Erklärung und “Einsatzstelle” auch auf der Homepage aufgelistet, was schon einmal viel verspricht. Darüber hinaus verspricht Calu:

  • auf pflanzlicher Basis
  • mit Inhaltsstoffen aus kontrolliert biologischem Anbau
  • frei von synthetischen Farb-, Duft- und Konservierungsstoffen
  • Hautverträglichkeit dermatologisch getestet
  • natürlicher Duft
  • hergestellt in Deutschland
  • faires Preis- Leistungsverhältnis

(Quelle: calu.de)

In dem Testpaket enthalten waren je 15ml Tuben von dem Powerserum, der Vitamincreme und der Hydrocreme. (Eine Übersicht über die gesamte Produktpalette findet ihr hier.)

Die Hydrocreme hat sich entschlossen, auf Wanderschaft zu gehen, und ist erst vorhin wieder aufgetaucht, deswegen habe ich bisher nur die anderen beiden getestet.

Vorweg gesagt, ich fand es beim Powerserum ein bisschen irritierend, dass in der “Anwendungsanleitung” stand “Für ein strahlend schönes Hautbild Calu Powerserum morgens und abends auf die mit Calu Feuchtigkeitsspray vorbereitete Haut auftragen“. Dieses Spray war im Testpäckchen natürlich nicht dabei. Natürlich kann man das Powerserum auch so benutzen, aber wenn es empfohlen wird, zur “optimalen Verwendung” das Feuchtigkeitsspray zu benutzen, dann sollte dies auch im Testpaket enthalten sein. Oder eben das Powerserum erst gar nicht. 😉

Sei’s drum, getestet wurde es natürlich trotzdem.

Das Powerserum gehört zur “Basispflege” von Calu (bestehend aus Reinigungsmilch, Feuchtigkeitsspray und eben dem Powerserum), die eine optimale Grundpflege gewährleisten soll, Hydrocreme und Vitamincreme sind Teil des erweiterten Pflegesystems, mit dem die Pflege optimal auf die speziellen Bedürfnisse angepasst werden kann.

Außerdem soll das Powerserum auch als Make-up-Unterlage geeignet sein. Darauf möchte ich ein bisschen genauer eingehen.

Ich habe ja generell Probleme mit trockener Haut, auch im Gesicht. Make-up aufzutragen ohne irgendeine Art Feuchtigkeitspflege darunter ist quasi visueller Selbstmord. Das Serum hilft hier echt gut, noch besser als die Creme, die ich bisher benutzt hatte (und die war schon relativ gut). Es ist sehr ergiebig, und spendet gut Feuchtigkeit ohne zu fetten. Große Begeisterung demnach für das Powerserum!

Bei der Vitamincreme sieht es aber auch nicht anders aus. Der Anwendungsanleitung nach soll sie morgens und abends nach der Reinigung auf Gesicht, Hals und Dekolleté aufgetragen werden. Naja – ich hab sie nur im Gesicht benutzt, aber hey. 😉

Und auch hier: sie spendet Feuchtigkeit satt, zieht schnell ein und hinterlässt ein richtig weiches Gefühl. Auch am nächsten Morgen noch.

Letztendlich: der Preis. Darüber kann man sich jetzt natürlich streiten, ob es erschwinglich ist. Manche Leute geben ja auch 40€ für eine Mascara aus, manche (ich zum Beispiel) gucken schon bei 5€ komisch, und hier geht’s immerhin um recht essentielle Pflege.

Ein Set der Calu Basispflege kostet in “Mini” (50ml Reinigungsmilch, 40ml Feuchtigkeitsspray, 15ml Powerserum) zurzeit 15,80€, in “Normalgröße” (200ml Milch, 200ml Spray, 50ml Serum) 39,80€.

Wie vorhin schon erwähnt gibt es natürlich auch noch andere Produkte im Sortiment. Mich persönlich würde besonders die Augencreme noch interessieren (die Haut um meine Augen ist bei mir besonders empfindlich), außerdem die Bodylotion. Ganz besonders die Bodylotion. Wenn die in etwa genauso wirkt wie die Sachen für die Gesichtspflege, wär das ein Traum. Ich habe ja immer schon ein Problem mit unglaublich trockener Haut, nach dem Duschen wird immer fleißig eingecremt, und ich hab mich schon durch fast die ganze Produktpalette der Drogerien durchgearbeitet. Etwas richtig begeisterndes habe ich allerdings noch nicht gefunden. Vielleicht wäre Calu da ja mal was! 🙂

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