Sunday, April 29, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies, new Scott Lynch read-along

I'm participating in the next book of Locke Lamora (and Jean's) adventures and the second book is called Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Once I started reading it, I realized how much exactly am I invested in the lives of Locke and Jean. It felt like finally going back to meet my friends and check whether they've been doing fine since we left them dealing with the aftermath of Grey King problem.
The read-along is again hosted by these great blogs and this week's questions were provided by Bryce of My Awful Reviews.
The hosts:
The Little Red Reviewer
My Awful Reviews
Dark Cargo
Lynn's Book Blog
OhThatAshley at SFSignal

And here are the questions with my answers:

1. The Sinspire. It looks like our heroes (can they really be called that?) find themselves in search of a way into an unbeatable vault. Do you think they have what it takes to make it happen?

He, he, after reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, I'm pretty sure they will make it happen. Probably not as they planned it, but, in the end, I believe they will do it.

2.  Anyone want to guess how they're going to make it happen?

No idea. I see they are starting again by saying to their victim they plan on robbing him (in a different manner though) but as the Bondsmagi were already introduced into the story, I know that there is absolutely no way for me to guess what will be happening. My only guess is that it will hurt and won't be nice.

3. It's a little different this time around, with us just being focused on Locke and Jean. Is anyone else missing the rest of the Bastards as much as I am?
Oh yes. And Locke and Jean are missing them as well - there are many references to them throughout the story. My heart aches each time I read a reference.

4. I love the section where Jean starts to build a new guild of thieves. It really shows just how well trained and tough he is. Do you think the Bastards will end up training others along the way again like Bug?

Good question. I'm  wondering a bit how would they be able to believe anyone anymore so completely though. They practically grew up together, no one will again be the same as the Bastards that were family.
And I should add I was very impressed with Jean taking care of the situation so quickly and effectoively.

5. For those of you looking for Sabetha, we still haven't spotted her yet. Anyone else chomping at the bit to see the love of Locke's life?

I'm tired of all the references to her! :) I want to know what happened between her and Locke! And she better show up somewhere in the books, otherwise I'll be really unhappy.

6. It's early on, but the Bastards are already caught up in plots that they didn't expect. How do you think their new "employer" is going to make use of them (The Archon, that is)?

Again, I cannot offer any ideas. It's just that Mr. Lynch's mind works in such a devious manner when it comes to his characters, I cannot even begin to imagine what Archon might have planned for Jean and Locke. Possibly the murder of the Spider? The best I can come up with is that it will have something to do with Camorr as there seems to be a lasting hate between the two states (or whatever they are).

But I believe that Locke and Jean will in the end kick some Bondmagi and Archon butt. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stuck in perfume limbo

I'm blaming it on the weather (and possibly fatigue and stress, but mainly weather).

The spring started here even before the calendar said so, and then went back-tracking into something resembling more autumn and now  we're finally getting the sun and warmth, and now we're hitting almost summer temperatures which is coming as quite a shock to many people (the instant rise from cold into summer).

I had started contemplating spring perfumes sometime in March when the spring first showed its face and then I got stuck, as the temperatures fell and I needed to wear my coat again in order to feel warm enough.

So now it's very warm, I've skipped my spring perfumes and I'm at a loss what to apply each day (like I've been for the last month and a half).
I've sort of lost my perfume (wearing) thread.

Not to mention the fact that most of my summer perfumes are hidden somewhere in the depths of my closet ...

If not sooner, I'm hoping the next trip to Paris will deal with my perfume limbo. After all, Paris helps with any problems you might have. ;)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Julie Kagawa: The Immortal Rules

I seem to be stuck in the YA niche. :) Not that I mind.

And it's turning out to be a dystopian, futuristic YA worlds I'm reading about. In this one, the vampires live in cities and humans are registered and kept practically as cattle because they are registered in order to give their monthly supply of blood for vampires and that is all they do. They survive for only that reason.
Then you have the Unregistereds who do not want to give blood but at the same time, cannot gain the food. So they are forced to scrounge and find whatever they can while remaining hidden from vampire powers.

And then we have Allie, who hates the vampires with a vengeance and of course, runs into trouble that causes her to become one.
As usual I won't go into the details of the story, there is so much I could write about it. The world is well detailed and well described so you can imagine it without any problems.
The reasons how the future world came to be dominated by vampires and how people ended up as nothing more than vessels of vampire food is described as well.

As you could expect, there must exist a place in this world where people live where they aren't food, but it would be too much to describe how we get to know about that part. :)

The stuff I found both interesting and frigthening is how after an apocalyptic event in the world's possible future, it wouldn't take long for the people to lose much of the knowledge they now have. If you remove the books and no knowledge gets transfered to children, after 2 or 3 generations, no one is  able to read any longer.

What bothered me a bit about the book is the fact that everything always falls exactly right for Allie, even when it seems it's going wrong, in the end it turns out right. Not to mention the fact that at some points, I was rolling my eyes at how blind/stupid people can be, but then again, it could be just my low tolerance of stupidity (which I know I have).

But, the world building is great, you really feel pulled into it and there are zombies! Kind of. :)

Even with these little things I thought could have been done better, I didn't feel like stopping with the reading and finding something better (which is a clear sign for me the book is not really good) and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series, so on the whole, I think it's a good addition to the YA pool of novels.

My copy of the book was provided through

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The unexpected joys of running

As some of you might know, I decided to join a running school this year and it's been 5 weeks now that I'm going. Albeit not completely regularly but as an Aquarian with so many self-inflicted obligations, the only way I can live with them if I skip them sometimes.
Therefore, it is obvious I am not 100% regular, but I do make it to 2 out of 3 weekly trainings.

I can see the smiles as you read running schoold. :) This is the second year Adidas is organizing this in Zagreb (this time in other Croatian cities as well) in order to promote running as a healthy choice for city people. After initial testing, we were separated into 3 groups and are following a program made for each group. The program is difficult enough that if you skip more than once, you will feel it the next time you're there (so I try and keep to schedule, but honestly life does interfere).

Anyway, today's training was a bit eye-opening in the manner that I enjoyed the running for the first time. Up to now, it's been a constant battle with my body over the fact that my lungs seemed to have a problem with oxygen. :) And then, my stiff shoulders protested and tended to constrict even more so I was leading a battle between my mind and my body.
My shoulders are finally easing down (and my pilates instructor can't believe that running is helping me after all the effort she put into that) and my breathing is getting a rhythm my body can follow and now to the joys.

Well, there are the obvious joys of meeting new people, doing something good for your body, feeling your levels of fitness actually rising (I find it incredible how fast you can the signs of improvement, little, but they're there), enjoying the fresh air (as we are running alongside the river running across Zagreb), releasing stress...

The unexpected joy happened today - someone in front of me was it seems wearing a tuberose perfume - which wafted in front of my nose for the duration of our running stretch. A good tuberose perfume I should add. :)

The other unexpected joy was meeting a friend from my university rowing days running in the opposite direction.

And the third unexpected joy is realizing you can actually do it (I'll see if I'll get into enough shape to run the half-marathon they are certain they can shape us up for) - and coming home realizing you keep smiling for no reason, but out of sheer joy. :)

Before you all go thinking it's all fun and joy, I should add there are some unexpected problems as well.

Like, realizing your feet aren't used to running so they ache during and after (it passes quickly). The same goes for your legs - it's not your muscles which get overworked but some strange aches appear in tendons and parts I don't know how to name.
Not to mention the fact that 3 times a week gets your body exhausted and you don't have time to recuperate completely (hence me skipping some - and that helps me a lot).

But the basic line is, it's a great body-mind exercise and if you listen to your body - it becomes joyful and fun fast. :)

P.S. Of course I'm using it as a way to lose a bit weight as well (as the pics of me from the school demonstrate I'm in dire need of that, even though they are a bit exaggerated, I hope) so it came as a great coincidence that I was pointed to this site yesterday in order to finally be able to count what I eat and its exact contents.  So Slim Kicker, I hope it works as a diet tool for me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Penhaligon's Artemisia - my undercover business perfume

And when I say undercover, I mean that it works for me without anyone noticing anything. :)
Because, where I work, no one ever comments on perfume (two comments in 5 years don't count). But I noticed people tend to smile more and feel helpful toward me when I'm wearing Artemisia. So now, I count it as my undercover perfume when I need business situations to go my way.  ;)

The strange thing is, I know this perfume and can recall its smell without wearing it, but trying to put it into words - no deal.
I've been meaning to review it since I started my blog (which was 3 years ago) but the words i.e. notes eluded me. They still do, but I'll give it my best (people should  be aware of this little gem).

Head Notes: Nectarine and Green Foliage
Heart Notes: Green Apple, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine Tea, Violet and Vanilla
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Musk, Amber and Vanilla

I would be lying if I said I can smell the fruity notes. The only way for me to know there is some fruit in there is by taking into account the whole I'm smelling - which is florally, powdery sweet with a hint of bitterness and something not letting it be dry and powdery but giving it warmth and joyful sweetness (at points interspersed with fresh burst of an orchard fruity smell).

Oh, I don't think I'll get it right this time either.

On the whole, the perfume doesn't change much, which is completely fine with me, as I love the calming effect it has. And for a perfume that seems so very mellow to me, it has some serious longevity.

My best description of it could be summed up with a creamy, lightly powdery, intricately floral, charming little minx of a perfume.

And for some reason, it reminds me of Paris. The smell of Artemisia never fails to conjure Paris in my mind.

Notes and pic y:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

As you already know, I don't really review the books in the usual sense but talk mostly about what I enjoyed (or didn't enjoy).

And I REALLY enjoyed The Hunger Games series. :)

The books are actually incredibly dark and well, pessimistic but you kind of lose sight of that while reading, as the story is gripping and the setting, although on Earth, is a future we are not familiar with so it's easy to forget the madness, grayness and cruelty going on.

One of the things that I always consider a sign that the book is good is when I cannot guess what will happen next. And although it wasn't difficut to guess there will be some rebels against Panem (there are always rebels in societies like that) and that the District 13 is probably alive, I didn't know what to expect from the rest, or how the story might resolve.
Both in Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

The only thing I guessed was the political fallout in Mockingjay (I was very proud when that turned out to be like I imagined). But just that, the fallout, nothing of the story around it.

And speaking of the story, I must say Mrs. Collins is an incredible story-teller. Oh, she surprised me there, I admit.
You're reading and reading, and cannot stop and you're completely in the story and then when the emotional turmoil hits you (the reader), you're left wondering where did that come from?!
It came from Mrs. Collins' incredible words.
The fact is, her words convey more than just the plain story, there are emotions hidden deep in there so until they burst forth, you have no idea they were there in the first place.

Somewhat like the rebellion Katniss causes without realizing she is the spark that was missing. The girl on fire, or a well placed word, and before you know it, your world rocks on its axis.
But not to worry, the rocking is for the good. Albeit the process is bloody and tragic.

And yesterday I saw the movie and I must say I am impressed with how much they stuck to the story and elaborated some points that become clear in Catching Fire.

The problem now is, when is the next movie coming out?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The last week of The Lies of Locke Lamora read-along

Well, the book has been behind me for some time now but it's still fresh in my mind. It's not one you would forget soon. :)

This week's questions were provided by Lynn from Lynn's Book Blog and here they are with my answers:

1.       The Thorn of Camorr is renowned - he can beat anyone in a fight and he steals from the rich to give to the poor.  Except of course that clearly most of the myths surrounding him are based on fantasy and not fact.  Now that the book is finished how do you feel the man himself compares to his legend.  Did you feel that he changed as the story progressed and, if so, how did this make you feel about him by the time the conclusion was reached?

I don't think the legend is far from the truth. I mean, Thorn's/Locke's intellect moves in different planes than my own and I know I'd never be able to come up with the solutions he comes up with. And that thinking at the spur of the moment? Incredible.
I don't think he changed through the story, I just think life forced him to become all that he can be.

2.       Scott Lynch certainly likes to give his leading ladies some entertaining and strong roles to play.  We have the Berangia sisters – and I definitely wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of them or their blades plus Dona Vorchenza who is the Spider and played a very cool character – even play acting to catch the Thorn.  How did you feel about the treatment the sisters and Dona received at the hands of Jean and Locke – were you surprised, did it seem out of character at all or justified?

Nothing concerning any of the women seemed out of character. I'm guessing you're thinking about the violence?
The society of Comarr strikes me as very much balanced and democratic when it comes to sexes and no sex is allowed the upper hand. Fair dealings or if it's not, you better watch your back, whoever you are.

3.       Towards the end we saw a little more of the magic and the history of the Bondsmagi.  The magic, particularly with the use of true names, reminds me a little of old fashioned witchcraft or even voodoo.  But, more than that I was fascinated after reading the interlude headed ‘The Throne in Ashes’ about the Elderglass and the Elders and why their structures were able to survive even against the full might of the Bondsmagi – do you have any theories about this do you think it’s based on one of our ancient civilisations or maybe similar to a myth??

Good question. I have no idea why Elderglass survived but I'm guessing the Bondsmagi power somehow comes from the Elders. I sincerely hope we'll learn more about it in the next book.
As to true names, I came across that type of magic in some other books, and I find it both intruguing and terribly frightening from the perspective where everyone knows my name. :)

4.       We have previously discussed Scott Lynch’s use of description and whether it’s too much or just spot on.  Having got into the last quarter of the book where the level of tension was seriously cranked up – did you still find, the breaks for interludes and the descriptions useful or, under the circumstances did it feel more like a distraction?

I think the interludes work great for two reasons. One is, you learn important stuff in order to build a good background, and secondly, it works wonders for the intensity of the story, making you read faster and faster to get to the part where it continues after the interlude.

5.       Now that the book has finished how did you feel about the conclusion and the eventual reveal about the Grey King and more to the point the motivations he declared for such revenge – does it seem credible, were you expecting much worse or something completely different altogether?

I didn't know what to expect honestly. It was clear to me quite soon I had no idea who Grey King was and couldn't even hazard a guess (which makes Mr. Lynch a really good writer for me). It seems credible as some people really get hung up on revenge and that is the only purpose of their lives. Whether it's a justified revenge or not, doesn't matter, because for them it's more than justified.

6.       Were you surprised that Locke, being given two possible choices (one of which could possibly mean he would miss his chance for revenge on the Grey King) chose to go back to the Tower  – especially given that (1) he would have difficulty in getting into the building (2) he would have difficulty in convincing them about the situation and (3) he would have difficulty in remaining free afterwards? Did anyone else nearly pee their pants when Locke and the rest were carrying the sculptures up to the roof garden?

Not really. :) Like I said, revenge is not a rational emotion. Plus, by that time, I didn't doubt Locke could do pretty much anything he set his mind to.
Carrying the sculptures was for me like watching a movie where they still have second to defuse a bomb before it goes off. Scary.

7.       Finally, the other question I would chuck in here is that, following the end of the book I was intrigued to check out some of the reviews of LOLL and noticed that the negative reviews mentioned the use of profanity.  How did you feel about this – was it excessive? Just enough? Not enough?

I believe I mentioned this in my first post, I live in a country where profanity is so much a part of language I no longer notice it most of the time (unless someone is being imaginative).
I don't think the use of profanity deserves a bad review.  I mean there are many different cultures in our world and some of them use profaity as everyday speech, does that mean those are bad cultures and peoples?
I think it should be put in proper context, because societies whre profanity is used never truly mean those words, they are more a part of the colorful background and that is how I interpreted it here.

8.       Okay one further, and probably most important but very quick question – having finished, will you pick up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?

Of course!! :D
Although I believe I'll wait for the next read-along, it's way more fun like that.

The read-along is hosted by these blogs:

The Little Red Reviewer

Dark Cargo

SF SIgnal

My Awful Reviews

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Perfume shopping in Zagreb - Parfumerija Lana

I admit it freely - I cannot stick to my resolutions. There, it's out. Now on to more interesting subjects.

It's been awhile since I had a new perfume shopping destination to tell you about.
This perfumery has been around for quite some time (I believe around 20 years or so) and over the years I've been hearing good things about its cosmetics department. Only recently (in the last 6 months) have I heard that it is also the place to go if you are interested in shopping for some "niche" perfumes.

So today I went to check. :) And buy a mascara. That was it. The problem was, I wasn't expecting to get blind-sided by Ananas Fizz. There is so litlle left in my bottle, and now it's discontinued, I had to buy it. Which reminds me, there are 3 more bottles left although not exactly cheap I must say (you know, if someone is a hoarder like me).
Anyway, I got to smell some things I didn't expect to and I foresee my visits there continuing with me bringing paper strips of my own to take away with me when I leave, so I have some remembrance of everything I smelled (it felt stupid to ask to take with me the lovely cloth strips they have, and I didn't know what was on them anymore).

Everyone was nice and very generous so my experience was completely positive.
So, without further ado, if you're looking for the following brands in Zagreb, they can be found in perfumery Lana (Bartola Kašića 8):

Tom Ford (the regulars and the exclusives, and the new exclusives)

Serge Lutens


Juliette Has a Gun

Hermes (although not the Hermessences and Elixirs)

L'Artisan Parfumeur

Van Cleef and Arpels (Collection Extraordinaire)

Annick Goutal

CdG (some)


Acqua di Parma


The Different Company

Montale (some)

I probably forgot some but I'll update the list with those once I visit again.

And if you're wondering if I bought any other bottle of perfume, the answer is - Hiris. :) I wanted that one for ages.

Pic taken from their facebook page.