Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm scared

This week has not been kind to me so far and it seems to have spilled over onto my love of disovery. After discovering treasures last week, now I'm scared to test anything new for fear of it being not good enough (which given the amount of bad or mediocre in the perfume industry, is not actually so far off the target). I don't know what to do now, but hope it will pass. In the meantime, I sniff things I know I liked and I try learning more from them. It's actually working, I can tell that my nose has progressed from 2 years ago when I started this road of discovery.

That is not to say that there isn't so much more to discover but it's heartening to realize there was actually some progress along the way. :) Since I'm not a terribly patient person. :) What an understatement. ;)

So, no particular perfume or book to talk about today, just my thoughts. I hope I'll be able to try the Van Cleef & Arpels collection everyone has been talking about lately and saying such lovely things. Maybe that would be a less scary road forward. :) Chances are I will like them.

Enough of my bad mood for today. Hopefully, soon I'll write about a new discovery that lifts both my heart and mood. :)

Pic of my Paris visit (I so want to go back and enjoy it some more).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WoW: Julia Quinn

This week's author is Julia Quinn, and the book Minx. I do think I've already read Julia Quinn before but must say that I usually read covers and if the excerpt doesn't sound promising, I don't buy the book (unless it's one of my established writers). :)

So, I wasn't exactly thrilled by the excerpt but thought it might be ok. Well, her books are not about steamy sex scenes, I can tell you that. You get some kisses and in the end the book progresses accordingly, but almost the whole book is more concerned with emotions. One good thing I can say about that is, it's been a while since I actually felt my chest constricting with emotions from reading what the characters are feeling (maybe I was just in the mood but I don't think it was that). I don't know if you remember the feeling of unrequited love or just feeling completely in love with someone who is not returning that love the same way and that feeling of tightness in your chest that can accompany such anguish. Well, Ms Quinn has managed to evoke it in me. And that makes her good in my book. Now, I'll just have to check whether she can repeat the experience. :)

And I do like the heroine, a cheeky brave girl of 20 (going on 21). Most of the time she is funny. And one of the first things that seduced her future husband was the smell of lemons coming from her (her hair). And that fact that he is fascinated by her smell is repeated several times in the book.
Well, I don't think anyone is going to remember me by the same fragrance my hair or my skin may be emitting... :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

So much to learn and discern

First off, I need to learn more about Ava Luxe line. I tried yesterday no. 23 (I managed to forget I have swapped for it) and almost swooned how great it was. And after smelling it for a while, it hit me. It reminded me strongly of DK Black cashmere. Now I'll need to try them side by side.

The thing is, this happened the other day as well. I finally tried Lily Bermuda's Somers (which I was lucky enough to win at Perfume shrine). I decided to try that first after reading the notes and thinking it sounds just for me. It struck me as a masculine (I tend to put most masculines into a unisex category) and after a while I realized it reminded me terribly of Kenzo Peace.

So, I decided to sniff them side by side. Turns out I still have a lot to learn and discern. Nope, they don't smell that similar when put side by side. Peace is such a stronger and more forceful but basically level structure. It smells more uncouth than Somers. Somers has a more lighter dry opening that is spicier than Peace. The thing is Peace does not have that many notes as Somers and it is clearly visible (smellable). I like Peace well enough but Somers beats it - gives it more range and depth and something keeps happening all the time.

It was only in the drydown that they came quite close - maybe it's just my still beginner nose, but I don't think if I didn't know on which arm I had which, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

Notes for Peace: musk, heliotrope, cedar, tonka bean, mandarin, vanilla.

Notes for Somers: bergamot, cedar, cardamom, licorice, black tea, nutmeg, coriander, geranium, sage, gaiac wood, olivewood bark, incense, suede, amber.

Soon now I'll do this with No. 23 and Black cashmere, but before that just to compare the notes:

Black cashmere: saffron, clove, rose, white pepper, Ethiopian incense, vanilla, amber, patchouli, African wenge wood

No. 23: Sandalwood, Hawthorn blossoms , Acacia, Rose, Himalayan Geranium , Lavender, and Musk

See? Much to learn and discern. I can't wait to try them side by side.
Picture by: ava-luxe, via /

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WoW: Stephanie Laurens, Bastion Club

I finally finished yesterday the last book in the Bastion club series, Mastered by Love, the one dealing with the mysterious Dalziel (turns out he's the Duke of Wolverstone - such a cool name). Anyway, there's a new series by Mrs. Laurens in the making and I can't wait to get my hands on that as well, since the Cynster series is coming to an end as well. Well, SL (in this case Stephanie Laurens and not Serge Lutens) is quite proliferous so I'm not scared there won't be more of the same type of historical romance I got used to reading from her. :)

She's definitely one of my favorite historical romance writers (more will be featured in WoW as I go through them). Like I was saying the other day with Mary H. Clark, all novels follow the same structure but when you know what to expect and enjoy it, well, it is certainly fun to read them. My expectations are not big for such type of romance and I cannot understand all those people who get upset because sometime the writer is not up to the level of the previous book for example. I don't understand such strong feelings regarding this type of literature but hey, I usually don't get too upset in my life as a general rule (could be because I'm an Aquarian).

Anyway, I got my dose of steamy sex scenes, fun conversations, some crime and one-upping men (love that part). Although it's always about partnership in relationships. That's why she is one of my favorites among many I have read (some tend to talk about partnership but it leans more toward male partnership, that's why I'm no longer interested in Johanna Lindsey although I still do read her novels as well).
The Bastion Club is a series revolving around men who were British spies during Napoleon wars and are now back and trying not to get caught in marriage by tonnish mamas. Eventually, of course they all fall in love but have a slightly hard time convincing their chosen brides they should marry them. :)

Now, I'm very much looking forward to Black Cobra quartet by SL - first novel will be out at the end of October. Yeey!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saying goodbye to summer

I can't help it, it makes me feel sad (even though I do not prosper in the heat) that the summer has ended. The fact that I'll have to wait for almost a year to enjoy drinking morning coffee at a table looking at the sea and drinking in the sun and the heat and the smell of sea just makes me sad.
So, to mark the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (and the period of those lovely warm scents that are just waiting to be picked up), I'll talk about a summer discovery that I am somewhat ambivalent about.

I am talking about Avon's Brazil Beat. :) Don't ask how I came to own that, sometimes I wonder myself at the things I manage to acquire. I've learned that I am not a huge Avon fragrance fan, and can for the time wear only their CL Absynthe.

You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to get notes for this. As a matter of fact, it is so difficult that all I got is: fruity notes and floral notes (and some places note a wood drydown - although that part is well hidden in the fragrance).

What you get is exactly what it says. A whole lot of juicy fruit, not so much floral for me (although you won't mistake it's not there) and just a lovely, exuberant juicy fragrance. OK, so maybe that does not sound very promising but I can't really say I don't like or that it's bad. In small quantities, not to make it too exuberant, it's a happy, summer, girl thing. It smells like a bouquet of juicy orange/red fruits. I like smelling it although I don't quite think I'll be wearing it. It's just too exuberant for me with all that youth connotations and fizzy sweet summer cocktails it brings to mind. But it makes me wonder how would the air around dancers to brasil beats smell like? Who knows, maybe I'll find out one day and it turns out it smells fruity?

Monday, September 21, 2009

I've been thinking...

First off, I love Mariah Carey's version of "I want to know what love is". Me, singing with her, not so good. :)

I've been thinking about perfumers yesterday. It came about quite spontaneously strange. I tried En Passant and realized why I gave my sample to a friend. She had a deodorant that I just couldn't stand and it smelled too powdery to me (didn't realize at that moment that there are violets or something of the sort painted on the deodorant). That's what En passant reminded me of, in a much better way and without making my stomach turn. Smelling it, I can tell it is really well done and I hate the fact that I just can't wear it. I've been reading reviews of En passant and the whole "rainy" idea is completely lost on me. :) But all that is not the point.

I was thinking how there are families of perfumes I just don't like, and some notes as well, but I'll stick with families. I think it's normal that we like some things more and some things less. And I believe that might be true of perfumers as well. So, what I was wondering is, do perfumers create fragrances belonging to all families or do they stick to their preferences? And a perfume being a unique work requiring inspiration, how can one be inspired to do something that just doesn't rate high on the list of likes? I believe if one truly loves orientals, it might be easier to be inspired in that direction. Or in my case, I don't think there will ever be an aquatic perfume I will love. Or do truly great perfumers put aside their likes and dislikes and approach the creation of a new perfume objectively/dispassionately? And should they? Perfumes are little works of creation and inspiration, a small work of art, they shouldn't be done objectively, should they? Which brings me back to my original question - do then really good perfumers stick to families they like more and where their love can shine through the fragrance, or do they try their knowledge with families they are somewhat indifferent to? And is there then a difference in the experience of the public of those different scents?

Well, those are questions I've been asking myself since yesterday and have no real answer to. That actually happens often to me (the part with no answers, there is always a lot of questions in my head). :)
Do you have similar questions, or perhaps some answers?

It's been almost a year since my visit to Paris and I've been thinking how much I'd love to see Versailles again, so the photo is a little reminder of my visit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

WoW: Mary Higgins Clark

I read this week Clark's "Nighttime is my time" although unfortunately in Croatian, not in original (I borrowed it in a library so my mum could read it as well). I won't go into detail about the translation and typos because in that case it would seem the book wasn't good when it actually was a typical MHC read, which is what I was looking for. A good suspense to relax me.

Of course, there's always someone dying and the main character almost dies in every of her novels but gets saved in the nick of time, and there's always a budding romance between the characters colored by suspicion because they are never sure if maybe the potential partner is the killer (but of course, that never happens even though the evidence might suggest different throughout the novel leading one to doubt whether the accusations are true or not).

The good thing though is I couldn't tell who is the killer. Perhaps if I had given the whole plot more thought, and not have gone blindly through the novel, then maybe I could have guessed - this way, I just couldn't be sure. This being a psychological suspense, it is supposed to make you wonder.

What I like about MHC is that her novels seem well, possible. As if they could have happened, or like a news article you read at the end of a police case, but here you have a full story. She's one of those authors whose books I just need to make sure I haven't already read and I just take them with me because I know what to expect and I know I won't be disappointed. :)

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Ava Luxe: Madame X

After discovering the smell of labdanum and falling in love with it, Elena/Helg of the Perfume Shrine was very generous and she sent a sample of Ava Luxe's Madame X. I cannot say thank you enough. :) I'm not one to fall instantly in love and it does not happen often (last time I felt instant love was with Frapin's Caravelle epicee) but here it happened again.

This is what I need when I feel strong and sexy, or when I want to feel like that. I mean, this one is a perfume with a strong feel, this woman knows what she wants and knows how to use her wiles to get all that she wants. She's erotic and smart. And everyone seems to be fascinated by her smell. :) I tested it on several people of different sex and age, and everyone was intrigued. They ought to be.
Notes by : coriander, acacia, labdanum, jasmine, rose, frankincense, leather, patchouli, oakmoss, civet, coconut, sandalwood, musk and vanilla.

I love the fact that I get a lot of labdanum with rose and leather, and then it just turns into, I cannot call it loveliness because this is not the word that should be used when describing this perfume, but into an intoxicating smell that you need to smell and not let go. I guess you can tell by now I really love it. Even the rose and I am not a fan of rose to say the least. :)
Picture taken from Madame X description on:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

She's like the wind

I guess everyone has heard by now that Patrick Swayze died after giving a good fight against pancreatic cancer and having a positive outlook all that time (something I can't help but admire).

It feels right today to remember one of the first memorable actors of my life and the beginning of my love of love stories. When I finally got my hands on the Dirty Dancing video tape (I believe I was around 12-13), I watched the movie every day. For several weeks. :) So, one could say I got to know it. I remember being fascinated by the dancing and the fact that love can be so great, terrifying and generous. My love of romance was starting. And I remember dancing to the movie and crying when the song from today's title was playing (when he is leaving her after losing his job). One would think after seeing the movie for I don't know how many times, it would eventually stop, but no. :) Even watching it today, that scene still brings tears to my eyes. As well as hearing the song. It is one of my favorites of all times and it is the one written by Patrick Swayze and the only one he is performing in the movie.

Honestly, even after all these years, I still want to be the girl from that song. :)

And btw, it is just starting on the radio I'm listening today.

So, today is not about books or perfume but I still believe it is fitting because Patrick Swayze and Dirty Dancing were the reason I begun reading romance novels.

Rest in peace.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

WoW: Jenna Black

Last weekend I had time to read the third installment of Morgan Kingsley exorcist fun. :) As I was saying last week with Ilona Andrews, it seems the further they go, the better they get. Or maybe, in this case it's just me and the fact that I have a hard time of accepting characters that go against common sense and their own wellbeing (I can't understand people not maintaining a healthy balance in their life - that goes for both books and real life). It seems Morgan is finally growing up (sort of) so I find it easier to follow her mind.

Anyway, Morgan is an exorcist and demons are public. You even have societes that want to host demons, they are not allowed to posess people unless the people go through a strict procedure saying how that is what they want to do. Once they host demons, they are pretty much done with their lives. Well, in case demons to not heed the law, Morgan is called to exorcise them (and of course, she's the best there is).

It all gets terribly complicated straight away in book one, when she gets posessed against her will, but being of very stubborn nature, the demon can't do much. The complications arise when she finally realizes waht happened and it turns out demon kingdom is in a fight and the legitimate king is actually hiding in her. That is all the story I'm giving and that's only the beginning of book 1. It gets much more interesting later and Morgan is a very complex character (that actually means, I'm still not understanding her completely). :)

The good news for me is I somehow missed there are now 5 books in the series (and the excerpts sound promising) so I'll be getting the next two installments soon.

This probably sounded quite bizarre and my guess is most of you are thinking:"What in the world is she reading?" That would be urban fantasy but instead of vampires and werewolves, we have demons this time. And I haven't even gotten to fairies yet...

Open mind people - you never know what is hiding in plain sight. ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Discovering the smell of myrhh

No one ever said learning was easy. Interesting, yes, easy, no. I mean, it all feels like it is entereing your brain easily enough and you understand everything, but a week later, it seems half of it is either hidden someplace in your brain you can't reach, it has disappeared completely.

This is how I feel about perfume world at the moment. It seems I will have to cover some grounds over and over again before it settles completely in my mind. And stays there for years to come.

After sampling labdanum last week (and falling completely in love with it), this week it was time for myrrh. I didn't choose this randomly, it coincided with the fact that one lovely swapper sent a small decant of this and I decided to see what will happen when I sample it while trying myrrh original.

Now, honestly, I kind of got lost a bit. I kept thinking I might fall for the both original myrrh smell (based on my experience with labdanum) and following that path, that Myrrhe ardente was going to be a new autumn addition to my perfume wardrobe. You can probably guess where I'm going with this. :)

The original myrrh initially smelled like I just entered the paint and varnish shop. My guess was that varnishes obviously must contain some type of resionous material (which is kind of obvious now in retrospect, but then I was just surprised). So, I opened my little book and went to check what is myrrh supposed to smell like: warm, ambery, aromatic, mossy, resinous. Yeah, I totally got the resinous - aromatic part. :) I kept wondering about warm, ambery and mossy though.

A day later, I could find traces of amber, and then finally, I got the mossy part. Only, to me it smells exactly like an autumn walk through the woods with fallen leaves, moss and the smell of fungi. Anyway, when compared with Myrhhe ardente by Annick Goutal, it comes as strong, aromatic and fungous and MA pales in comparison.

The notes for MA: myrrh, benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean, guaiac wood, honeyed beeswax, vetiver.

Straight off, I couldn't find the original smell of myrrh in MA. :( The other thing was, I smelled it without having a list of notes, so I was guessing what I was smelling. Tha t was kind of daunting, but it turned out, I wasn't so far off the base. Yeey for me! :)

I thought the beginning was a woody smell tempered with slightly floral and camphorous smokiness (guaiac, benzoin and vetiver perhaps). Thinking I should be able to smell myrrh from the booklet's description, I got hints of amber and probably clove because it was sth that was shrill to my nose). The drydown was in the end ambery, leathery and I thought I smelled cedar, but now I see the notes, it was probably a combination of the notes that gave off that smoky, earthy, sweet-woody feel.

In the end, I can't say I didn't like the myrrh, I find it complex and hard to wear but intriguing. I thought Myrrhe ardent was going to be stronger and harsher in the manner of the original, but I guess if you're not smelling the straight myrrh, it is probably quite strong in its interpretation of myrrh.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ilona Andrews or the beginning of WoW

By now, I guess you got a picture of how much I love to read. :) That's actually an understatement, but never mind now. All this week I've been thinking about the book I read over the weekend and how I was positively surprised by it (I'll get to that part) so yesterday I decided to gather my books and author comments into a new feature: Writer of (the) Week (WoW just sounds and looks better than WotW so please forgive the non-existant "the").

This week's author is Ilona Andrews who is actually Ilona and Gordon Andrews but the books are published (the ones I read) just under Ilona. I've been reading their Kate Daniels series and while thinking about this post, I realized that I have no idea how to classify most of what I read. I mean there are so many categories, ok, so it is paranormal, is it at the same time urban? Urban fantasy? Paranormal romance? :) So, I just read and do not bother with discerning what type it is - I either like it and will continue reading the series, or I won't.

Since I've read book 3 over the weekend (Magic strikes) you can safely assume I like the series. Well, now I do. It almost lost me on book 1 (Magic bites). The first book seemed undefined, characters not enough evolved and I got lost in the world created by the Andrewses. The book 2 was better, but I'm hooked with the book 3 and now I can't wait for the next one. The third book finally answered some questions I've had since book 1 and explained some of the history of the characters. And now it seems they are prepared for new dangerous assignments. :)

As you probably deduced from title of books, there is magic, there are vampires (have to admit, the Andrewses have got a completely new angle on those), were animals, etc. If you are just starting with paranormal fiction, then Kate Daniels might not be the place to start. But if this part of fiction world is already familiar territory, then give it a try.

And you do know what is the signature idea/crucial premise of all these paranormal fantasy books?

The kick-ass heroine. :)

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The smell of Warm sand

It was my bad decision this morning not to go again with Organza 2008 Harvest which got listed in Sniffa article as one of Elena's Scents for a sultry summer and chose to put on something that might deceive one into thinking it's going to be warm, sunny and if you're lucky, slightly oriental. Hence my choice of Matthew Williamson's Warm sand. It's actually funny, I didn't know what are the listed notes but for some reason thought it was going to be similar to Bronze goddess which, OK does not bring to mind sands of Morocco, but it does bring to mind warm beach sand and accompanying ideas.

I've read that Warm sand was supposed to evoke Morocco and if you take the name into accound, maybe then the sands of Morocco. It is also listed as oriental.

Here are the notes (what I was able to find): ginger, lilly, saffron, rust, musk, sandalwood.

I've been wondering all day how exactly would this fall into the oriental category since most of what I smell is lilly with a metallic hint. I actually did get some saffron 2 hours into wearing but it went away quickly and now it's still metallic lilly (with slight aquatic whisper?). It comes nowhere near to being an oriental on me, just floral.

I haven't been to Morocco but I can't imagine it would smell like lilly - or floral as in continental Europe floral. To be honest, there is some hint of saltiness in the end (I keep wondering now is it me, or is there something in different perfumes that hints at saltiness?).

I got a 5ml decant of this and I don't plan on wearing it again (there are so many nicer things waiting at home for me). :)

So, if anyone is interested in trying the rest of my decant, please let me know by Friday and it will be on your way (in case there is more than one interested sniffer, I will randomly pick one on Friday).

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It seems that lately this is the note I come across most often as interesting, hard to define, and not being able to distinguish. I swapped with Carol from WAFT by Carol and got DK Labdanum (which I loved) and after that, labdanum started appearing everywhere (it probably just seemed so to me). And everytime it appears in a perfume in a somewhat large amount, I like the scent. So, yesterday finally, after trying one of Boadicea scents and finding listing of labdanum, I came home and took out my Coulisse de parfums to try the original scent.

OH MY GOD! Is there a variant of this in a perfume bottle? Because if there is, I need it - badly. Very badly. :) Btw, if there was any variant of this Labdanum in Boadicea's Complex, it never reached my nose. Being new to the world of perfumery, my guess is there are probably variants of the Labdanum which might not all smell the same. This one is Rockrose Labdanum and it's absolutely wonderful. It smells sweet, slightly medicinal to me (herbaceous - most medicine I had when I was a child was herbal, so now I tend to associate the two) and ambery-boozy. The booklet that came with the coffret described it as floral as well, but I have to admit, I didn't get any floral. Today, my little strip did start emiting slightly leathery whiffs, but I still can't get any musk. Hmm. Maybe because I still do not really know how musk is supposed to smell...?

Anyway, if anyone has a suggestion as to something that smells pretty much like the labdanum from the Coulisse, please share. :)

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