Sunday, July 22, 2012

How I manage to forget this, I have no idea

I guess it comes down to this: I don't sample (test) any of the perfumes I have and then, a couple of days goes by, life takes all my energy and I have no more left to use for testing a sample (in order to write about it).

So, after several days pass in such a manner and the only perfume I smell is the one I apply in the morning and then forget about, it somehow slips my mind and I forget how much perfumes help with easing one's (stressed) mind.
And that is exactly what they do for me. No matter how much I like them or not, the fact is, when I smell a perfume, I can feel my mind easing off the stress and my body relaxing.
I wish I would remember for future stressful times that I don't need to apply perfume in order to write about it, I could just apply different things to my arm in order to get lost for a bit in this beautiful universe.

Although, honestly, I'm not that surprised that perfumes are the last thing on my mind (for testing and writing purposes) - so far, this has been a very difficult year, for me mostly because of the workload, but also full of bad news not applied to me directly, but hitting very close.

Perfumes and books (and now running) help me deal with all of this, I just wish I wouldn't keep forgetting how big a role perfume actually has in helping with stress.

Oh well, hopefully now I've put it down in writing, I won't forget it soon. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How I review

I guess I should have written this long time ago and not after three years of writing a blog (I still can't believe it's been so long).
But now at least I can look back and explain how I do it. If you had asked me in the beginning how I decide what to write, I don't think I could have given a meaningful answer.

This post has mostly been prompted by the stuff happening in the book bloggers community that I managed to almost completely miss but that has been brought to my attention by this post.

So basically this is about books but is also valid for perfumes.

  • Most of the stuff I read is the books I bought. I probably should mention that in my reviews because if I think a book worth reading, I will buy it.
  • This is where NetGalley comes in - I get a lot of books for free from there. So far I only reviewed 12 of the 40 I received. Those are the ones that caught my attention amid everything else that I can choose from (and believe me, I can choose from quite a lot).
  • I don't have a problem with not finishing a book. There are many out there I won't have time to read so I don't get worked up because I stopped reading a book that didn't interest me. This also means if I reviewed it (even if not in the best of ways), I find it good enough to be read (before everything else I can choose from).
  • This brings me to the fact that I could put in action my own style of grading the books. There would only be 3 categories: Had to start reading sth else in the middle of the book as it didn't really hold my attention, Read it without stopping for something else, and Had to force myself to go to sleep because I couldn't stop reading
  • As my library (valid for perfumes as well) is rather large, the fact that I haven't yet reviewed something I received for free doesn't mean I didn't find it interesting or good (but it could mean that), it probably means it wasn't yet time for it to catch my attention - sometimes I'm in the mood for particular things and the rest lingers
  • I believe in being nice and polite to people - so if I don't like something, I probably won't get nasty about it, but then again, the topic probably won't come up unless I'm provoked
  • Lately, my tolerance for YA adult novels is diminishing and by that I mean, I look for more than a new type of story
  • I also believe authors shouldn't get all worked up over bad reviews - does everyone you meet in real life like you!? Why should then every review be a good one? Not to mention the fact that literary geniuses are rare.
  • I don't believe my book reviews are typical - I don't find it necessary to repeat the basics of the story (as that can be found everywhere), so I just try and go with things I enjoyed about a book (I just wish I was more in the habit of making notes while reading a book)
  • I'll finish this list by saying I am always up for reading a genre I haven't yet - one of those being steampunk novels (I look forward to reading my first one)

And to end with some of my thoughts on reading:

  • Have you ever noticed how everyone in novels speaks without problems? Usually all the sentences are correct from beginning to end without any hitches. I never talk like that. Then again, it might just be mine particular problem with forming and pronouncing sentences perfectly at all times.
  • The other thing I noticed from my favourite books, but it also seems books that are usually most loved,  and on top of lists, feature difficult, tragic situations where there is a lot of suffering for the main character - Is it just me, or does that sound very Matrix to you too? It wouldn't be believable or good enough if there wasn't suffering in it to balance the happiness?

Trish Milburn: Bane

I'm pretty sure that whatever idea you have on what the Bane in the title means after reading the White Witch is wrong. :)
Now you can consider the possibilities before learning what it stands for.

This is the second book in the series and we continue from where we left off in the White Witch. Jax and Egan have left their loves behind in order not to put them into more danger and now they are loooking for answers in Salem.

And the more they look for answers the more questions turn up, along with some strange happenings.
We are also following Jax's fight for good to win inside her because the dealings in White Witch left her with some strange blackness inside her that is trying to turn her into a true Coven witch.

We don't get an answer to this question in Bane (whether Jax will win or not, but I'm guessing the end here cannot be dark and tragic). ;)
The thing though that I find interesting is how many people are trying to convince her it's a choice to be either good or evil when from her perspective it sounds more like she is posessed by it. I guess we'll see in the end what happens and what was the cause of the problem.
If she expells evil from her body and mind, it wasn't a choice.

In the meantime, Jax is behaving like a typical teenager and that lands her in all kinds of troubles, some small but some very big and life-changing. She is also a fleshed out character and believable (as I've been having some problems with that in the YA novels I read recently).

The problem I face now is - when is the next book coming out? As this one ended with a cliff-hanger...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Random perfume (and other) thoughts

These are the things that don't require a post of their own but that keep going through my head lately:

  • After falling in love with Chypre Palatin, I cannot but think about Denyse's book The Perfume Lover and what she mentions there of her talks with Bertrand Duchafour - that he would do so many different and strange perfumes but has no financial backing for them (I now wish Mr. Duchafour could win lottery so he can create whatever he pleases and of course make it available)
  • And speaking of Mr. Duchafour and Denyse, I really want a bottle of Séville à l’Aube

  • I'm looking forward to reading Alyssa Harrad's book, Coming to my Senses, I haven't read any of the reviews as to not influence mine
  • Then again, I am looking forward to reading many books once my vacation starts (just 2 more weeks to go!) :)
  • While I'm on the subject of books, there is way too much of them I want to read and not enough time in my life to do it

  • Speaking of reviews, it's a minefield out there in the perfume community if you want to review a perfume that just came out, and you were lucky to receive a sample, but don't want to be influenced by what other reviewers wrote (especially if you're slow like me)
  • I'm still amazed by the perfume synchronicity happening - a perfume seems to find its way to you at the right moment when you need something exactly like that (latest case, Mito)
  • Hopefully, with my vacation nearing, I'll be able to write more perfume reviews as there are many perfumes I'd like to talk about (Chypre Palatin being on top of the list)

  • I also need to read my posts before I publish them because when I get to them later, I find really stupid mistakes I made while writing them

  • They might tell you (they being your trainers) that it's not easy to lose weight while running, but everyone else will think you did - you might lose a little bit but the rest gets re-arranged so everyone will think you actually lost quite a bit (I'm not going to talk about rising energy levels now which you get too)
  • While I'm on the subject of running, as with everything else in my life, I am slow but I get there in the end - you just need to let me do it in my own rhythm

OK, I'm off to finish the book I'm reading at the moment (re-reading Kresley Cole's Lothaire).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vero Kern: Mito (or, please bribe me)

I don't think there is anyone in our perfume community who after some time doesn't start believing in synchronicity.
It seems each season, I have the same type of a problem. I want something new (to enjoy along some of my all time favorites) but I don't feel like trying many things I haven't tested yet looking for the perfect seasonal scent.
And then sometimes, they simply fall into your lap. :) Or, well, arrive in the mail.

After being offered the opportunity to try the latest Vero Kern perfume Mito, of course I jumped at it.
I might have guessed it would take a while to get us to know each other if I were to go by previous Vero Kern perfumes (Kiki, Rubj, Onda).

Notes: magnolia, citruses, champaca, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress, moss

While checking for notes, I saw that this was classified as a floral and even though you cannot miss the florals, it still smells more like a (floral) grapefruity chypre to me. No wonder when you see galbanum, cypress and moss listed as notes.

For me it starts off green with a bitterish undertaste, helped along with citruses and cypress I guess, but I can't help but think of the citrus in this as grapefruit. That is my idea of the citrus in Mito. And well, you cannot miss the galbanum in the opening. If you are wondering how exactly does galbanum smell like, try Mito.
But what you can miss and if you're not careful and you blink (or don't inhale at the right moment), you'll miss the sweetness of mint playing hide and seek in there. You might seek after but it will be well hidden. :)
The whole perfume is a game of hide and seek for me actually.
Try it once, and you would swear there is the greeness bolstered by citrus and kept fresh and serious until the end.
Try it again, and there is the sweet mint playing hide and seek, and the hyacinth is making you wonder if that is its trail you're picking up when smelling some sweet powdery dryness in there.

And if you are trying to find the flowers, you will really need to play hard. Their hiding place is well chosen. You can hear them in the background but look as hard as you want for them, and they will elude you.

For some reason, I am trying to fit vetiver into this perfume. :) I don't know why my mind goes, Is there vetiver in there? as it's not listed in the notes (but then again, neither is the mint).
I realize my description might not be very helpful. :)

After the beginning, the best I can do is say, the galbanum dissipates as do the citruses and the floralcy becomes more apparent  but in my case not as you might point, aha! I see you jasmine! (I do glimpse you though) but more in the line of true perfumery - the florals enveloped in the greenery.
They do have leaves and stems after all and are usually located in a garden...

P.S. As a little side note, Mito actually means "a bribe" in Croatian. :) I wouldn't mind being bribed by this. ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

James Rollins: Bloodline

I seem to be saying this again  and again but I am so happy with my Kindle. For the most part because I can have the books I want to read as soon as they are out, as opposed to waiting until they reach Croatia.

So, of course, as soon as the Bloodline was out it was on my Kindle as well. Because I really am a huge fan of the Sigma series.
Therefore, I didn't doubt I would enjoy the last Sigma installment as well. And I did. And again it was full of interesting premises, this time revolving around making man immortal (or just very long living).

The story though revolves aroun Guild trying to disband Sigma (and practically succeeding). I had fun as the Knights Templar made a guest appearance (I always enjoy them being mentioned).
Basically the thread Mr. Rolling decided to use as the background for Bloodline is really good.

What I enjoyed immensely in this story (one thing I haven't really noticed earlier, which doesn't mean it wasn't there) is that the bad guys really get their come-uppance in the manner I (most readers actually) find deserving. (Btw, lately I noticed my vengeance factor for the bad guys is really great).

The other thing is I learned a lot about Somalia - and that MI6 doesn't employ women? I still find that one strange.
Anyway, this time around, one more thing about Mr. Rollins' writing became apparent but I'm not saying this as a complaint. He is a guy after all. ;)
The thing is, there are many strong female characters in Mr. Rollins' novels. Smart, strong, capable and scary. But when you take a closer look, it's always the men who have more power, understand the situations (where the bad guys are coming from) and generally seem to take care of those strong women in the end.
Once again, I am not complaining about this or trying to make it into a feminist issue, it's just something I found interesting while reading Bloodline.

As expected, this was again an action-packed, intriguing story full of interesting concepts we get explained in the end (not of the novel but the book).
No wonder I am such a huge fan of it. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Voyage à Paris

By Asali

Being slow to start writing about our recent trip to Paris, has meant that it’s now a bit difficult not to just be repeating what you already know... But wait, there was a wish from Tara, and maybe a little bit of this and that that I can add along the way, and not just feel like an imitator, but hopefully add something new to the mix as well.

Starting on this very blog only 6 months ago was a conversation to follow the last trip to Paris that Ines and I went on, individually, but none the less to meet up. I copied the exchange because it was what ignited it all; it went like this:

Suzanne; Oh boy, that could be a problem -- or do they let saucy little redheads run wild and loose in Paris these days? ;)
Love you, Ines, you lucky duck!

Ines; Suzanne, of course they let redheads roam the streets of Paris.
Paris actually makes them feel quite welcome. :D
I should get a picture of this redhead roaming the streets - one just for you (as proof of course). ;)

Suzanne; I like your response, Ines! And I would love to have a picture of you roaming the streets (especially with Asali in tow - I've enjoyed reading her guest posts here).

Me; <3Thanks Suzanne <3, I'll make sure that Ines makes no mischief- without me that is ;-) About the not so lucky ducks, I plan for us to eat their livers and wash it down with champagne :-D

Suzanne; LOL! That's a very good plan, Asali. If I'm ever in Paris, I think I'll call you up to see if you might be available to meet me there as a tour guide. (Or at least to point the way to a good foie gras.) <3

You can imagine that with this conversation, we had to go... And there we were 6 months later, Suzanne, Ines and I, plus a special guest star Mark, Suzanne’s husband, meeting up in the city of lights at a small but (as Suzanne aptly named it) ‘serviceable’ hotel in the old and lively Marais quarter of Paris.
Meeting Ines again was lovely, it was just like a further conversation of our mails and letters, and although this was only the second time we met, it already felt so familiar, catching on where we last left. I love meeting new people, and through our e-mails and her authoritative and deeply personal style at her perfume journal, I never doubted that I would like Suzanne very much, but I think I could never have anticipated what a magnificent time we would spend together, the four of us.  We spent almost all wake time in each other’s company, only to part shortly before passing out in our beds from sensory overload. Like Ines, I kept thinking ‘have we talked too much perfume now?’ Or a bit guilty every time we passed (on) Louvre to go and sniff perfumes.

'Popsicle trees at Champs Elyssees for Suzanne'

It’s true that with Suzanne’s fragrant writing and sniffing skills and her generous and wise spirit I did imagine her taller, but she’s in fact rather delicate but with these strong eyes that make you at once seen and seen through, in that friendly way which makes you feel that you don’t have to explain everything, because she already knows. She had brought along her husband Mark, who not only patiently came with us to every perfume shop, but enthusiastically threw himself into full perfumista mode, with a playful and open mind, and ready to jump any fences or provide extra skin space where needed, he was a bonus to the already wonderful company. 
Also, I feel obliged to report that we did get to eat quite a few of those unlucky ducks’ livers and wash them down with a kir royale or two. One place the Kir royale was particularly interesting and was served with fig liquor instead of cassis, very memorable stuff. And since I was so lucky as to be gifted by Ines with a Croatian fig liquor I am now in the fortunate position of being able to recreate this little bit of Paris in Copenhagen.
Yes, I praised Jovoy before, and I cannot say it enough times; if you go to just one place- go there! For all the reasons already mentioned by Ines and Suzanne (and me last year), and because I’m sure afterwards you’ll have your very own Jovoy story to tell, it’s that kind of a magical space. Time stops, new spaces are created and the rest is perfume...
But perhaps you did want to hear a bit more than that? Since I last wrote about Jovoy, they got the opportunity of opening a second shop in a superb location, between the Tuillerie Gardens and the Place Vendome, a prominent position, neighbour to the most expensive hotels in Paris. This was where we went. It’s a much larger shop than the first in Rue de Danielle Casanova, with an even bigger selection, yet the shop is made to seem inviting and cosier through its crimson walls, the sofas at the back of the shop, and not least because of the very warm and welcoming spirit of M. Hénin which embraces the space. Yes, he’s a grand host; he makes everyone seem special and always has time to spare and a perfumed story to tell.
 (This one’s with Tara in mind)
It was a must to go visit Maison Guerlain at the Champs Élysées. First catching my eye, were all the gorgeous extraits. I had a serious struggle to not just pour Vol de Nuit all over me, and forget all about saving skin space, or concern for other peoples perfume space tolerance or lack of same, but since even Mark’s knees had been spoken for that day, much to a concerned bar owner, with newly reupholstered chairs‘s dismay, I restrained. The restraining exercise was due to the new and much talked about release of orientals; Les Déserts d’Orient.
As it turned out, they had only just got them in the day we arrived, which was great luck; I would have been guttered to miss them. They are really so deep and interesting, and as a literally red thread though all three runs one of my most beloved perfume notes; saffron. Merci, M. Wasser.
An incense in name ‘Encens Mythique’ is something as unusual as an aldehydic oriental, or the beautifully deep and dark rose oud; Rose Nacrée. My main attention was instantly focused on the woody dry Songe d’un Bois d’Éte though, and it was sprayed for a test drive. After Suzanne and Mark had left (to go looking for an obscure perfume wish from Undina) I had Ines ask for some help at the Guerlain make-up counter, since she seemed very interested, but equally because I had high hopes that I could rest on some very inviting sofas in the meantime. For Ines the make-up artist chose a gorgeous copper colour to match her hair, and did a pretty wonderful make up on her.

So a lot of words to get to my Guerlain point; On my last day in Paris, Ines had left the night before and Suzanne and Mark had left early that morning, so I was on my own and the weather had once again turned; it was now cold and rainy and it was sad to be alone after the days spent in such loving company. In that way I suppose the weather quite mirrored my state of mind, which is sometimes better than feeling mocked by bright sunshine on an introvert day. A lot of thought had already gone into deciding and thinking about what perfumes to potentially buy - I had suffered severe perfume stress - and I had narrowed it down, through as extensive a wearing as you can do when you go perfume sniffing. I’m just not very good at deciding which ones are truly mine, it’s like the perfumes take a bit of time to reveal their true self to me, or maybe that’s just me not asking the right questions?
Anyway, I decided to see if they would have the orientals at the Place Vendôme Guerlain shop. And not only did they have them, I also met the wonderful SA Patricia, who turned out to be exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful, chatting IFRA and lamenting discontinuations. She just knew it all, and - hold your breath - she even admitted to reading perfume blogs when she had the time!
Mostly we met truly dedicated and wonderful SAs. However, I think some were a cut above the rest. I’m happy to say that between us we must have mentioned them all. And Patricia should get on that list too. So Guerlainistas, now you know your next G-stop in Paris when it sizzles.
I’ll end with the text of G. Apollinaire, which Poulenc sat into music.

Voyage à Paris

Ah! la charmante chose
Quitter un pays morose
Pour Paris
Paris joli
Qu'un jour dût créer l'Amour.

Translates approximately into:
Going to Paris
Ah, how delightful it is
to leave a dismal place
and head for Paris!
Beautiful Paris,
which one day Love had to create!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Marilee Brothers: Moonstone series

It seems lately I'm reading YA novels which are fine and I go through them quickly, not because they are short, (well, they aren't really long either) but because they are interesting even though they seem to have some things going against them. Well, for me at least.

So far, I've read the following four novels in the Moonstone series: Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun and Shadow Moon. And considering where Shadow Moon stopped, there will be at least one more book in the series.

Generally speaking, the series is easy and fun to read as the main character enjoys easy banter (and she's very good at it). But the problem is that even when the situations are difficult and Allie faces trouble and death, it is hard to see those situations as such - they just don't translate into something seriously important and dangerous. And I believe the idea is that they are supposed be.

Also, as with the other series I read recently (My Blood Approves) it seems the love stories are getting more and more platonic. I suppose it's the Twilight phenomenon but honestly, I find it a bit strange.
Allie seems to have a boyfriend at all times but most what they do in a way of a relationship is share a kiss. Which really seems strange to me for a teenager of some 16 years with really hot boyfriends.  But what do I know what's modern now for that age.
Or, is it the current political climate overseas influencing the steam level of teenage books? Because I am pretty sure I read some that weren't as platonic.

The story seems to be easy to predict most of the time but there are some surprises. Though not enough to counteract the fact that the rest is predictable. :)
The only unpredictable book for me was Moon Spun but for some reason that was also the one I had most problems finishing. The whole fae world and everything just felt completely unreal inside the story. Not that it wouldn't fit the story, just that it was written in such a way that it somehow felt disconnected and again not really dangerous, even though fae people were killed during imprisonment and others might have gotten killed during the story.

In my opinion, the last book is the best one (even though predictable again) but still, it finally felt connected, easy to read and actively interesting.

I can't help but wonder if the fact that authors are writing everything in series now waters down their stories. You know, series aren't necessary if you can tell a good story in less than 4 not really  big books.
Although, I'm not sure how big the books are as I have them on my Kindle, but they didn't seem long when I was reading them.
I seem to be in a rather critical mood these days. :)
It's just, I like this series so I can't help but think if the story was a bit more condensed (and less predictable and less scattered at times) it would make for much better book(s).
Because the idea is really good and I like Allie and her mother. Her boyfriends I cannot understand at all though.

So, before you all go and think I didn't like the series, on my scale of reading books straight or with pauses, I didn't stop reading the series until I reached book 3, and once I finished that one, the Shadow Moon went by in one go.

P.S. I realize I didn't say anything about the actual story. :D Well, the story is interesting as we have warring witch factions, fae coming into the story, some seriously scary powers being unlocked through the moonstone and good looking boyfriends (some of which aren't completely human).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Amanda Hocking: My Blood Approves series

Luckily for me, the first book I read by A. Hocking was the Hollowland which is why I went in search for other titles by her. I say luckily because if this was the first series I read, I don't think I'd go in search for other books she has written.
That said, I still read the 4 books without stopping so it's not as bad as it might sound from my introduction (and the review that follows).
Books in the series I read are: My Blood Approves, Fate, Flutter, Wisdom.

I don't know if it's me or the writing but I kept getting upset. :)
The main character, Alice, comes off as really stupid at times (as in ignorant and slow to make connections) but in such a manner that when she has moments of intelligent thinking, they don't sound like her, they are a bit unbelievable.
The other thing that I really didn't enjoy is the fact that this reads like a Twilight spin-off. There is a family of vampires that really like her and want her to become one of them (only in this case she has a brother so he's included as well). There are two possible love choices, and she loves them both but goes with her heart instead of her blood bond, the  feelings of love are very melodramatic and in the end, they fight some bad vampires off.
Oh, and Alice and Milo (her brother) are more special than other vampires but I won't say why (which is part of the story that was rather obvious at some point).

One last thing about the books, I couldn't find any point to the story.
It feels stupid saying this, as most of the books I read are the type of fiction that doesn't really come with a moral of the story, but the endings usually have some kind of a point. I didn't feel there was any here but then again, I could be wrong, Wisdom might not be the last book in the series, even though it felt like it was.

Ok, all that said, the first book hooked me because the tragic parts of the story really brought tears to my eyes. And then it was also very intriguing by not revealing much (albeit, Alice comes with the idea Jack might be a werewolf but vampire never crosses her mind?!).
The second book was still ok, but with the third all  my notes were revolving around Alice's ignorance (not to say something worse).

So, if you're looking for something similar to Twilight, look no further. You will probably enjoy the series a lot.
The good thing about the books is the pace. It feels like there is always something happening even though it might just be the usual running of their lives. Which shows that A. Hocking certainly knows her way around with words.
And she obviously got better when it comes to characters and story because Hollowland is much better in my opinion. And I'm looking forward to the next book in that series very much.