Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book Review: Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem. Sarah Pinborough. (Pub. 2013) 352 pages.
I've followed Sarah Pinborough on Twitter for a while and her witty, sarcastic tweets are what made me interested in her writing. 

Happily, I discovered a copy of Mayhem in my local library and I immediately knew it was my sort of book from the beautifully illustrated cover.

The story begins in late nineteenth century London, at a time when the city is gripped in the fear and hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper. However when the headless, dismembered corpses of unidentified women start turning up in the Thames, Dr Thomas Bond (physician and police surgeon) immediately knows he is dealing with a very different, far darker murderer than Jack. 

These murders actually occurred, and were dubbed the Thames Torso murders, but were over-shadowed by Jack the Ripper's work. Dr Bond was also the real surgeon who performed the autopsies and is often referred to as the first criminal profiler. 

Set in three parts, the story is written in both third and first person and is also sprinkled with newspaper articles from the time. The dominant point of view, is that of Doctor Bond, and his personal struggle to deal with the gruesome murders and get to the truth. However you also get the point of view of the detectives, a couple of the victims and of course, the killer. The killer is revealed probably just over half way through the book, but the story continues to be intriguing despite this, due to the supernatural element of the story. 

I particularly like the atmosphere created by Pinborough's writing. The polluted, dank and dark environment is brought to life by the language and dialogue of the characters.  I found the seedy opium dens of the time that Dr. Bond frequents really interesting. Especially as I have since discovered that the real Dr. Bond used narcotics to help with insomnia, which is thought to have contributed to his suicide. 
The author has also captured the sense of fear and the heightened state of alert that a Victorian, East London must have felt. 
Characters such as Dr. Bond are well-rounded characters and realistically flawed, and because of this, as a reader, you can empathise with them.

When I first began reading, I was a bit concerned that the story would be all about the shock of the horrific crime scenes without a decent storyline, but I was soon proved wrong. I think the first part is perhaps on the long side, as it takes a while to piece all the different components and view points together, but once they start coming together, the pace of the narrative picks up. 

For me, Mayhem is great. I believe it takes an extremely talented writer to take on actual historical crimes and weave them with their own fictional plot. All the murders in the book did actually take place, and I believe they remain unsolved. Pinborough has managed to maintain respect for the victims yet at the same time create a compelling novel. 

I can't wait to read more of her work, in fact, I've just ordered a hardback copy of  her 2014 book 'Murder', which again features Dr. Bond. I'll keep you posted on it!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Beauty Review: Zerreau Towel Off Shampoo.

This exciting new product is described by Zerreau as a mix of dry and wet shampoo. The purpose of the product is to clean your hair on those in-between days or when you simply do not have the time to wash it properly. It is suitable for all hair types.

The first thing I liked about the towel off shampoo was the packaging. Its sleek black design and contrasting green logos were attractive and would look very trendy in any bathroom.

My bottle of Zerreau Towel-Off Shampoo

The product itself is a great smelling foam. I reviewed the apple scent, which smelt delicious! You lather the foam into your hair, either all of your hair or just the roots, whatever is needed. Once you've thoroughly applied the shampoo, you simply towel dry your hair.

So, did it work? Yes it did, but I didn't see results immediately. However, I think this was because my hair still appeared 'wet' from applying the product. Perhaps I used a bit too much and didn't towel dry it enough afterwards, also I do have very thick hair. I usually wash my hair daily or every other day, because it can look greasy at the roots. I used Towel-Off on an 'in-between' day, where it was just beginning to look a bit greasy at the roots. I applied a liberal amount of product, but I felt that I needed to dry my hair after use. (I didn't though). That being said, I was not displeased with the results. Once my hair had completely dried it looked freshly washed. I also received a compliment on how nice my hair smelt at 3pm later that day.

My daughter (aged 10) also loves this product. She washes her hair every other day and uses this every other day. She is at that age where hormones are kicking in and her hair can look ok in the morning and greasy by the time she's home from school. So it is great for a quick freshen up for the kids. Especially if you're running late and don't have time to chuck them in the shower.

Before using Towel-Off, I used another brand of dry shampoo regularly which I was satisfied with. However, I do prefer the Towel-Off because there is no powdery-type residue left over after use. You don't end up looking like you've just patted a load of talcum powder on top of your head. Personally, my hair actually felt 'clean' after using it, where as with the spray dry shampoos, it doesn't. The lasting smell of this product and the overall feeling of clean hair makes Towel-Off better than ordinary dry shampoos.

The only negative thing that I can think to say about it, is that it is slightly more time consuming than a dry shampoo. Other than that, I think it's great. I would recommend it, particularly for festivals, children and it would be ideal to pop in your bag to use if you're going out straight from work or university.

You can find out more about Towel-Off by clicking here.

Here is the fun promotional video explaining more about Towel-Off. No that is not me in the clip!!!

Also the kind folks at Zerreau are offering a 20% discount on all items purchased this summer. Just enter the discount code SUMMER20.

Strawberry scented.

Let me know if you've used the product and what you think. I shall be purchasing the strawberry scented one next time!

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes. No payment was received by me to review this product. All opinions are my own and my honest opinions of the product.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Latest Wins!

'Comping' has become a rather addictive hobby of mine. It started about 18 months ago, when my son was a baby and I had ceased employment and had some spare time. I began entering competitions on Twitter and the prizes began to roll in with very little effort. Encouraged by my success, I started to search for more competitions online and found there was a huge 'Comping Community', which I am proud to now be part of.
So, at the around the end of each month, I have decided to document any wins that I have had; partly because I want to share how easy it is to win prizes, and partly to keep track of the lovely prizes I have received. It will also act as an acknowledgement to the lovely companies who have provided the prizes.
Many of the prizes that I win are books, mainly because I love reading so much, I tend to focus on entering a lot of book competitions. Which is great for me and my blog, and the books also get reviewed by me, so hopefully, that goes some way towards a thank you to the company who provided the prize.  

So here are my wins for June and July! Not a bad few weeks, I'm sure you'll agree.

Book: His Father's Son by Tony Black from Black & White Publishing.

Book Bundle: Cat and Mouse, Four Blind Mice, Pop Goes the Weasel and Roses are Red, all by James Patterson from Headline Publishing Group.

Book: The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen from Transworld Publishing.

Trutex School Skirts: Not exactly a prize, but I was selected by Mumsnet to test and review the products.

Top to Toe Makeover at a hair and beauty salon in Sutton Coldfield. (Not yet redeemed.)

2x tickets to Drayton Manor from Days Out. Can't wait to use these during the summer holidays.

A video and still image camcorder from No.1 Brands 4 You!

Kiddylicious goodies from fellow blogger U, Me and the Kids. (Not yet received).

Tickets: Family tickets to Festival on the Farm, from baby/toddler food company Organix. (Not yet received).

Book: Simple Flower Arranging by Mark Welford & Stephen Wicks from Wordery.

Very cute mini alarm clock from Jones Clocks which my daughter has nabbed for her bedroom.

And finally more books: Two beautiful classic children's books- The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain and Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling from Mojo Mums.

Let me know if you've had any big wins this month, I'd love to hear about them. I look forward to telling you about future wins!

Silent Sunday.