Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Séville à l’aube - a place where you get seduced

With the arrival of The Perfume Lover, there came a little round black bottle containing some of the most potent stuff I ever smelled in my personal fragrant history. The juice in that bottle could be called radio-active due to its strentgh, vibrancy and longevity.

Now my little black bottle is empty (and I've read the book), I believe I got to know it well enough to end up seduced by it. :)

The book also helped me identify more of the notes and smell the warmth of the drydown which I had problems with in the beginning getting pounced upon by orange blossom and petitgrain. It took me several tries to delve deeper than these notes.
I also think it has something to do with my skin as when I smell the bottle, I have no problem finding incense in there and the warm, full, sweet and rich, slightly ambery, base.

Just reading a review of what this perfume smells like will not prepare you in the slightest for what is to come. Plus, what is coming will last and last and you will have quite a ride before you reach the end.

For me it was a slow seduction, first I got to know the ebullient flowers, then I slowly delved through their depth to find incense coming through with occasional glimpses of metallic saltyness (which I'm guessing was the part meant to evoke blood), only to end up warmly enveloped in the still flowery cocoon of sunrise (possibly a bit drunk when I consider the lingering wafts of my little bottle).

Ok, I just took a look back onto my words and it seems I got more influenced by the book than I thought. ;)

The perfume is coming out soon so you can get ready for being seduced by it.

Notes: petitgrain, petitgrain citronnier, orange blossom absolute, beeswax absolute, incense resinoid, Luisieri lavender absolute and Siam benzoin resinoid.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Denyse Beaulieu: The Perfume Lover

So, I might be slow, but I get there in the end. :)

And here I am, finally having read The Perfume Lover and ready to talk about it. Or, at least try and talk about it.

The name of the book is certainly apt - it is about perfumes and lovers, sometimes combined, at other times trying to get to each other.
As you probably know (it's rather obvious by the sub-title, A Personal History of Scent) the book is about Denyse's memory being turned into a perfume, and the path that perfume in making takes. But it's not only that, it is a highly autobiographical and very personal narrative we dive into from the go.
And it makes you part of it. Which is something I admire in a writer. And the fact that it reads like a novel is just one more thing to like about it.

Now, I've entered the perfume world several years ago and since that time, I've been learning and sniffing and basically just acquiring more perfume knowledge each day.
That is why it came as a pleasant surprise how many more interesting information I found in this book - not only on perfume, but on many different things.

And then there were the parts I found myself nodding to - yes, I completely understand what duende is supposed to mean; yes, I am also finding it more and more difficult to be moved by a perfume (but that might be just stress in my case); I do see signs, or at least, hints as to what might be a good path to take in life (btw, is it a sign I was a witch in a previous life if burning incense makes me nauseous?); yes, other senses can evoke memories as well as the nose; the IFRA, and so on.

The book also made me long for days of the past I would never be able to live in, made me realize perfumers are everyday people with their jobs, it just so happens that the product of their jobs influences many lives, and that being French (or living as the French) means you will probably find lovers without any problems. :)

But, the most clear things that The Perfume Lover showed me were:

1) I could never be a perfumer even if I wanted to
2) My nose is nowhere near as good as I thought it might be
3) I want to live in Paris (ok, I knew that one before) ;)
4) Perfume library is a grand idea
5) I always appreciated the work of Mr. Duchafour, but now I really like him as a person
6) A perfume coming out with a book instead of a blurb makes you really get to know a perfume (and smell it better)

P.S. The cover of that book is just amazing and I was lucky to be provided with the book by Harper and Colilns (along with the sample, with review of that coming up tomorrow - hopefully).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies, read-long, last week (5)

So we've come to the end of another adventure with Jean and Locke and how this one ended, I'm wondering how will they both make it into the next  book.
But I'm optimistic about Mr. Lynch finding a way around it, even if it's the easiest one, it was all a ruse.

Ok, onto the questions provided this week by Lynn of the Lynn's Book blog.

1. Oh my god, such a lot going on I thought the showdown between the Poison Orchid and the Sovereign was brilliantly written and they were holding their own until Utgar and his nasty device turned up. Well a lot of you had kind of predicted it, and I suppose we’d been let off too easy so far in terms of deaths of well-liked characters – but come on, did you expect something like that? And how on earth will Jean ever recover?

I didn't predict it but I thought those who did were on to something. And it proved correct. And it was even worse because it showed how much she truly loved Jean. My heart just broke.
I don't want to think about the aftermath. I suffer thinking about Jean just now. I also believe on the outside it will look like he recovered but he will keep suffering for years to come.
Here is where I must say it was some great writing that managed to convey in their short affair the love they felt for each other.

2. The deceit, the betrayal, first Rodanov and then Colvard. Even now I’m not entirely sure I understand Colvard – Rodanov was never keen on the oath but Colvard seemed okay with it all and yet in this final deceit she was more devious than Rodanov – what do you think was her motive?

I know I don't understand Colvard but I really haven't thought about her betrayal. I didn't get a feeling if there was nobody against the plan, she would do something.
She strikes me more as a cunning politician, always getting the best out of a situation without dirtying her hands.

3. Merrain – such a puzzle, no real answer, the mysterious tattoo, the determination to kill everyone to keep her identity and that of her master a secret. Does anybody have any ideas where she’s from and what she’s up to exactly and who the hell is she working for??

I'm afraid here is where I go back to my standard Lynch answer - no idea. :)
Hopefully she will turn up again in a future book where we get some more info on her.

4. Finally we get to the point of the GB’s latest scheme, all that elaborate planning for two years, fancy chairs, gambling, dust covered cards, abseiling lessons – all for one gigantic bluff. I loved the diversionary tactic here but having finally reached the end of the story and, more to the point, the end result – do you think the GB’s are as clever as they think they are?

First off, the diversionary tactics were great and the plan to do it also great. BUT (saying this with a huge grin), it once again proves our heroes are young, and no  matter how smart they are, they still seem to lack enough experience to make them as clever as they think they are.
I do think they will eventually get there which is where the series will probably end.

5. I must admit that I liked Requin and Selendri – particularly at the end – I don’t think Requin will go after Locke and Jean, he was even sort of cool and composed about it all, in fact he came across as a bit pleased with himself because he had the last laugh. Plenty of good characters this time which did you enjoy reading most about this time?

I don't think Requin will go after them either. And the end made him really a character I can respect. I had such a laugh when he explained to Selendri why they needed to go to the vault. :D
Completely unexpected but so funny how he got the last laugh. He is the one who seems to me really to be at the top of his game.

6. Finally, a triple barrel question, I know I shouldn’t ask this BUT, on reflection do you have a favourite between LoLL or RSURS?? And why? Are you going to pick up Republic of Thieves? And, where do you think Lynch will take us to next??
Yes, I consider RSURS a favourite of the two.  Not so many shocking deaths of family characters and friends. Female pirates, Locke taking that kitten with them (I knew it!!), a love story (even though a tragic one), games within games, and the bad guys getting their asses kicked in a really satisfying manner...
Definitely my favourite.
But then again, after reading the Republic of Thieves, I will probably change my opinion to reflect my adoration of that book.
Which of course means I am looking forward to reading it. :)
As soon as possible.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Need help - with a possibly smelly problem

As a cosmetics addict, it is usual for me to try new things and check how well they work (for me).

Even though some might claim incredible results, using most of them does not have reverse effect than the one stated.

That is, until we come to deodorants.

I used up the Vichy anti-perspirant and rather optimistically, bought some other roll-ons in order to try something else. Plus, the lady who sold me the Vichy told me it's not supposed to be used all the time (?) as it's an anti-perspirant, so for some people that obviously means not completely healthy.

The problem I now face is that nothing seems to be working.
For the time being I am pretty sure it's only me who is bothered by this (careful inquiry with some of my good friends revealed that) but it's still making me feel uncomfortable and well, smelly.

I know that the most obvious solution is to get another Vichy roll-on (and it's on its way, Escentuals has them for a great price) but I would still prefer a choice and a change.

So, this is where you come in. :)

What is your preferred choice of deodorants (spray, roll-on, stick...) and what is THE deodorant that you cannot live without, one that works incredibly?

P.S. Just to give you a run down of stuff I tried that didn't work in roll-on variety: Rexona, Dove, Adidas, Nivea, Avon, Biotherm, Balea, Garnier, Neutro Roberts, Rituals, Bourjois, Lancome...

Sprays generally don't last long enough on me, and I just recently heard some women prefer sticks as those work best for them. I'll be trying my luck with those next.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gwenda Bond: Blackwood

Where to start?

A possible YA story of what happened on Roanoke many centuries ago and the curse of it being handed down through generations still living on the island?
Sounds good to me. :)
If at times a bit scary which is not something I usually encounter in YA novels, even when they deal with zombies.

Miranda is very mature and serious for her age but then again, her mother died when she was young and her father became an alcoholic so yes, it makes sense she is the way she is.
Of course, she is the main character through whose bloodline the curse is being kept alive. The other part of the puzzle comes packed in a "bad" boy - Phillips.
Well, you can guess where that leads to.

But, in the meantime, we are treated to some funny dialogues, some melodramatic phrases (I really don't turn my eyes often at dialogues, I mean, I do read romance as a rule, but some parts were really eye-roll worthy here, which I found funny) and some interesting ideas as to what might have happened on Roanoke.
Ok, the interesting ideas are only possible in the paranormal world but they are still interesting.

And, some parts of the story were rather well hidden so you couldn't guess them. Which is always a plus. A huge plus actually.

As usual, I'm skipping telling you everything what this book is about, there's much in the story to keep it flowing and interesting.
I really think I should give books I read a scale of how good I find them by either having to read something more interesting in the meantime or reading them straight. This one I read straight through. :)

As this is Ms. Bond's (great surname btw) first book, I am looking forward to those that might come next.
Because her version of paranormal YA verges perfectly on the boundary to really scary and that is something to admire.

My copy of the book was received through Netgalley.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies, read-along, w4

Only one more week left and we're done. I'm already scared to contemplate what might befall our heroes in this last part (if I'm to go by the previous book) and we ended on a cliff-hanger this wekk.
Whose bloody idea was to it end there?! ;) (that's me getting into the pirate character)

This week's questions were provided by nrlymrtl at Dark Cargo and here are my answers:

1) I was much relieved when Jean and Locke made up, which started with Locke's gesture of a cup full of honesty with Cpt. Drakasha. Do you think that was hard for Locke? Or was he using this bit of honesty like any other weapon in his arsenal to get what he wants in the end?
Very good question. I really can't say. But I believe he weighed the pros and cons and decided it might work in their favour if he told Drakasha the truth.
I was very happy to see them make up, too. :)

2) The Parlor Passage: We still don't know Locke's true name, but whatever was in that mist does. What do you think it is?
Beats me. I wonder if we'll even get to know (what with Mr. Lynch being rather slow on divulging those type of information).
Possibly something to do with the Elders?

3) There was an interesting section of the book that started about where Locke assisted Drakasha in selling the Red Messenger; he put on the persona of Leocanto Kosta and used the alias Tavras Callas and then Drakasha was still thinking of him as Ravelle..... Did using all those various aliases in such a short amount of time have your mind spinning a little? Do you think Lynch did this on purpose to give the reader a sense of Locke's mind?

In retrospect, I find it sounds a bit confusing but at the time I had no probelms following the story and I probably ignored the exchange of names as I knew who was saying what and just went with that.

4) That was a sweet little kiss between Cpt. Zamira and Cpt. Jaffrim at the end of the Captains' Council. Do you think they have some history, or is it just innocent flirting that's been going on for some time?

I think it's just some flirting between friends but anything is possible. Even that they were more than friends at one point. They certainly seem only friends now.

5) Jean and Ezri. Cue dove-cooing and little winged hearts with sparkles. Do you think Jean will stay with the Poison Orchid or that Ezri will leave her ship to pal around with Jean and Locke?

I think neither will happen as it seems like a possibility now and everything that seems a possibility to the reader is NOT what is going to happen (at least that was my experience so far).
And unfortunately, after reading many posts last week saying they don't think Ezri will make it, I'm now scared for her.

6) What is Utgar up to? What are his motivations?

I honestly have no idea. I'm wondering if I'm reading it wrong but it doesn't seem like what he's doing is all for evil purposes.
We'll see.

7) So last week we hashed over that Merrain killed some of Stragos's guards on Windward Rock. But when Jean and Locke visit him, he doesn't mention it. What is up with that?

I was wondering about that.  And it would be stupid for Jean and Locke to appear without even giving an excuse for the killings if it were them who made them.
I wonder if Stragos suspects Merrain?

8) This week's section left us where the book began - Jean pointing a crossbow at Locke's throat. Do you think Jean knows who sent these crossbowers? Is he on their side? Is it a clever ploy to get him and Locke out of this predicament? Did you find it excruciatingly hard to stop here?

Excruciating doesn't even begin to describe it.  :)
So far, I had two theories of why Jean would behave like that, and the one where he is upset with Locke over Ezri and the pirates went down the drain during this week's part, and somehow I no longer believe it's the Bondsmagi. Although that is still  a possibility.
Basically, I have no idea what is happening.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read-along, week 3

This week's questions were provided by Ashley from SF Signal (or twitter @ohthatashley). And this week I finally had time to read the section in peace and I can post my answers on Saturday! It makes me feel like I'm getting back control over my life. ;)
The only problem I'm now having is stopping at the designated place and not reading on (but I knew that would happen).

So, here are the questions and my answers:
1. Locke and Jean's ability to find themselves at the center of a serious mess seems unparalleled. At this point, do you think that Stragos will get the return he expects on his investment in them?

He, he. No. :)
Or, at least not in the way Stragos might have imagined it. I can't help but think that whatever plan Jean and Locke hatch to deal with Stragos, it won't work and also that Stragos' idea will backfire on him exactly beacuse he used Jean and Locke.

2. Merrain's activities after our boys leave Windward Rock are interesting. What do you think her plans are?

Ok, I was very upset when I read that. For some reason I thought she might help them in the future but now I see they are better off without her help.
I wonder who is she working for?

3. Does anyone know why having cats aboard the ship is so important?

Hmm, I have no idea. Possibly because they are adroit so they add to the good vibrations of the ship? And are rumoured to have 9 lives so might share some of that as well with the crew?

4. The word "mutiny" creates a lot of mental pictures. Were you surprised? Why or why not?

Well, at that point, no, but before that I actually thought they might manage it. :) Running the ship by themselves. (eternal optimist is what I am)
I was surprised at Locke's inventiveness as to how come they ended in that situation -I shouldn't be at this point but I still am. :)

5. Ah, the Poison Orchid. So many surprises there, not the least of which were the captain's children. Did you find the young children a natural part of the story?

I was a bit surprised, I must say. Which makes me now feel I'm prejudiced. Why shouldn't a successful woman warrior want children and have them along with her on her ship? I do wonder who the father(s) might be. And if that part of the story fits with something else later on...

6. Jean is developing more and more as a character as we get further in to the book. Ezri makes the comment to him that "Out here, the past is a currency, Jerome. Sometimes it's the only one we have." I think several interesting possibilities are coming into play regarding Jean and Ezri. What about you?
Interesting you should say that about Jean, I noticed for some time that I keep refering to our duo as Jean and Locke, it sounds more natural to me. I wonder why. :)
This question ties in with what I'm thinking about the children, is their part of the story important for that currency of the past?
And I'm startting to wonder if it's possible that Ezri is the reason for that strange situation from the prologue? I mean, Jean did warn Locke at the end of chapter 10...

7. As we close down this week's reading, the Thorn of Camorr is back! I love it, even with all the conflict.  Several things from their Camorri background have come back up. Do you think we will see more Camorri characters?
It was so funny to read Locke's train of thoughts and then see what everyone else thought of his actions. :) But I'm glad Thorn is back (even though he only seems to appear when the situation is practically out of control) and I can't even guess if we're going to see more Camorri characters - I'd love to, but I have no idea where we're going with the story at this point.

Check out Little Red Reviewer for other participating blogs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parfum de Nicolai: Odalisque

When it comes to perfumes, each spring I try and find green perfumes that would work for me. You know, not too fresh as it's not yet summer but they need to connote the springness - the sun, the grass, the flowers, the morning dew and chill and the gradual warmth permeating our world.
Each spring I don't know where to look but eventually a perfume makes its presence known to me and the spring suddenly feels like THE season for enjoying perfumes.

Before you start thinking I only came across Odalisque the other day, it wouldn't be true. I have a little bottle for quite some time now. But it only dawned on me some days ago that the greenery I seek might be hidden in this bottle.

It's a strange little perfume. It doesn't smell the same to me when I spray it on my arm and smell it there and when I spray it on me and I catch my own sillage. There aren't any big differences but what I smell in my sillage seems to be clearly chypre-ish while what I smell on my arm distinguishes itself with other notes.

Top notes : green citrus, bergamot and tangerine

Heart : lily of the valley, jasmine, orris, oakmoss
Base : musc

Honestly, lately I started to think that the only note I can always rely on smelling in a perfume is a citrusy one. :) I don't mean to say that Odalisque is the general thing you can smell anywhere, this is just what usually comes up in my first sentence when taking notes on a perfume. I'm starting to find it funny, but I also realize I'll have to develop my citrusy vocabulary because they don't smell the same.

Anyway, in Odalisque the little citrusy feel you get smells green and there is no sweetness at all (as evidenced by the notes). When I was smelling this without the notes, I thought that the little fruity aspect that could be gleaned came from some kind of a dark berry, but in retrospect I guess the tangerine-oakmoss combination works its little magic. I was also getting a light camphorous feel from it but I can't guess where that one came from.

The thing is, I would never have come across lily of the valley if I haven't read the notes (jasmine too). There is a barely floral tinge to the oakmoss in there and once I saw lily mentioned, I could smell it in there but the most important part of this perfume for me is that it reminds me of spring wet wood and grass. Not that it smells like that - but the oakmoss is working its magic with a lightly mossy and woody notes.

Btw, I just went to check the meaning of odalisque and came up with a serving girl in a harem. :)
I don't know how that would relate to the perfume and I don't really care - all I know is that it worked for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Roja Dove: The Essence of Perfume

I am slow when it comes to reading perfume books, but I do eventually get around to doing it. :) I've had The Essence of Perfume for quite some time now, but managed to finish reading it only yesterday.

And I am impressed.
I absolutely love that book - not only does it look wonderful (especially if you want it visible on your coffee table) but it's also full of useful and interesting information for any perfume lover out there.

Mr. Dove writes in such an easy, natural way, I cannot but think he must be a great speaker (which is something that is hinted at in the book through comments by other people). He is also obviously very knowledgable on the subject (he must be when you consider his life) and brings it alive in front of your eyes.

I admit I am thouroughly jealous at the wonderfully fragrant and interesting life Roja Dove led (and still does). :)

As an Aquarian, I no longer know how many times I read that is a sign that looks to the future (and I do, I'd love to live at a time when space travel is possible and standard) but I also love history and that is for me the best chapter in the book - one where history comes to life straight before your eyes through the descriptions of the decades and perfumes that highlighted the historical aspects of those decades.
At several points I found I had tears in my eyes because of how strongly Mr. Dove weaved his fragrant magic into the words.

The whole book is full of images of perfumes (well, not just perfumes but I paid most attention to those) and by the end of the book, I was thouroughly hooked, not only on trying to find some more vintage perfumes, but also trying to locate some of those incredible bottles that are no longer in production and can be found mostly by having a lot of luck.

I never thought about the empty bottles of perfumes and their beauty. Now I do.
And I need a bottle of that Ombre Rose L'Original badly - I'm pretty sure from the description it smells great, but the bottle it comes in?!  I seriously feel the need to have it!

After reading this book, I now have a much better understanding and respect of the finely crafted works of art that perfumes are (or should be) and of the symbolism some of them hold.

I'd say The Essence of Perfume works great as an introductionary encyclopedia for any perfume lover.
But if you are not a perfume lover, once you read it, you can never go back to the life you led before perfume world opened its doors through the words of Roja Dove.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No longer fighting a losing battle (hair products) - R&B by Lush

I believe every perfume lover out there, using hair products knows what a pointless fight it is to try and find a hair styling product that doesn't have an overwhelming smell, that doesn't even need to clash with your perfume in order to annoy you - it's enough there is an additional smell wafting from you that isn't the perfume you applied and at the same time is something you cannot go without.

I cannot go without hair styling products as I have short hair (and it requires styling products) but I also like to use serums for the ends, and generally products that make my hair look nice and shiny. :)

I no longer remember where did I read about this product, but I bought it last summer and used it for a while until I somehow fell out of practice (most likely because I bought something new).

I still remember how for a few days I kept turning around and trying to find out where was this nice jasmine-y smell coming from? And I couldn't find it and I knew I wasn't applying a perfume with those notes.

Eventually it did dawn on me it was wafting from my hair. :)

Even if the product wasn't that good, I'd be buying it for the smell - it's strong and lasting but it's also so very nice to smell it wafting around you. I don't remember smelling a Lush perfume I liked as much as I like the smell of this hair treatment.

R&B stands for Revive and Balance and well, I can't say about revival as my hair didn't really need it but I can see it is soft and shiny (and smells great).

It is primarily meant for thick hair and I can understand that as it's quite thick in texture (like pomade) so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't fit the description, but those with thick hair probably know how difficult it is to hydrate your hair without making it look greasy. And this works great.
You would probably need to find your own amount to use because you can easily go overboard with this.

Basically, this product made me stop fighting the losing battle of hair products without a smell and I accepted this one whole-heartedly into my life. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read-along, w2

Being in a hurry, I'll quickly answer this week's questions brought to us by Little Red Reviewer:

1.Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.

Well, he knew it half-way through and still wanted to go through with it. He really is incredibly crazy and unafraid of failure. :)

2. Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing? If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?

Amazing! I have no idea what I'd take. Possibly a machine that creates perfumes if it exists?

3. What did you think of Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?

Oh definitely crueler. And very reminiscent of all the excuses today's politicians make when confronted with their nations' problems, I'm afraid.

4. The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them. What do you think he’s so afraid of?

Hmm, it never occured to me he might be afraid. But if I were to guess, he seems like the type of misguided liberator-tyrant-dictator who wants the best but has a misguided way of getting there. Bondsmagi are the ones I would say he's afraid of because he cannot gain any protection from there (nor control over them).

5. And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days? they just almost got poisoned (again!)!

Beats me! :) I'm guessing whoever it is hasn't yet appeared, or possibly has but there was no way for us to connect the dots.

6. Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?
Of course! It's Locke we're talking about!. :) I'm just wondering what he'll do about sea sickness....