Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amanda Hocking: Hollowland (The Hollow #1)

My first dystopic, zombie novel ever! :)

And I loved it. Not so much the part where it ends with a cliffhanger and I have to wait for the next book, but everything else was great. Including the zombies. :)

Ok, so before I give you the idea it's a funny story, it isn't. In no way can you call a future where a virus turns people into zombies and coming into contact with their saliva or blood while sporting an open wound, will transform you into one too, funny.
Honestly, I never thought I'd find a novel with such a topic interesting. But if there are more like this, I'm all ears (or eyes in this case). :)

Important to mention is that this is a YA novel. I do seem to be on a kick with those lately. But what can I say, I enjoy the perspective. :)

Remy is an incredible (albeit  a bit too far away from my perspective) character and I enjoyed immensely her track to find her little brother.
I won't give you any spoilers because even a hint might give away too much.
But, if you enjoy YA novels and are not scared of depressing future scenarios, you might give this one a try.

The first book is free for download and I just saw the second one is 5$.

P.S. Did you know Amanda is a self-publishing wonder? She made quite an amount of money through e-publishing,  and serves as a poster girl for those who want to go that way. The only problem is, it's not so easily reproducible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trish Milburn: White Witch

I wonder why is YA literature so tempting and interesting?
Once you start reading YA novels, it's really easy to get sucked into that teenage world full of strong emotions and instant decisions that always seem monumental. :)
Sometimes I wish I would feel again such strength of conviction and emotion. In the meantime, I'll enjoy some YA novels.
And I really enjoyed this one. :)

The good thing is, it's only the first in three. The bad news is, there doesn't seem to be much information on when the others are coming out. Or any. The really bad news is that by the time next book comes out, I'll forget most of what happened in this one.

But let me say something about the book.
I love the new witch angle - that the covens are secret and some time ago got their powers from evil sources so they are all evil now. And we get enough proof of that - but basically, it's again all about power, having it, maintaining it and getting more of it.

Jax is not yet 17 (when according to bad witch lore she would come into her full powers) but she manages to run away from her coven in order not to lead the evil life they will make her lead.
And this is where the story starts and gets interesting with hunters hunting the supernatural beings (and of course, who gets to fall in love?), with high-school problems, meeting a best friend, fighting off some bad stuff and looking for a way out of the life on the run.
All this is done very nicely, the pace is quick and you get pulled into the story without having to concentrate. Of course, it follows a traditional YA approach but in a novel enough manner.

I wish the sequel would come out soon as I really enjoyed reading White Witch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

M.J. Rose: The Book of Lost Fragrances

As an avid reader, I always love an opportunity to receive a free book on the topic that interests me. Perfumes certainly qualify as a topic.
Therefore, I was more than happy to receive an ARC of The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose, especially as The Reincarnationist has been on my to-be-read pile for some time (it's still there, I'm afraid).
And speaking of reincarnation, even though I haven't read any other books by MJ Rose, reincarnation seems to be a recurring theme.
If I were to say my thoughts on the subject, it would probably be, I believe it's possible but I can't say I'm sure it's real. Then again, most of the stuff I believe fall into the same category. :)

Onto the book itself.

I love the idea of a perfume that enables you to become aware of your past lives. I must say, I never before heard of memory tools out of the history that made that possible. I don't know if that part of the book is real or invented.
I just realized, I cannot put this book in a category. If I were to classify it, it would be a novel about a quest. Intentional and unintentional.
Also, it's obviously a novel by an author who put a lot of research into the perfume industry (every perfumista out there will recognize so many familiar problems, issues and notes). I'm still wondering about blue lotus...

I'm also wondering about so many things in this novel, did Napoleon really have such a delicate sense of smell, are perfumers sellling dreams and not formulas, are the Triads causing so much problems for the Tibet, or is it China itself, or is there a connection between the two (which strikes me as the most possible), is it possible to learn about your past lives, are tulpas real/possible, etc.

The book poses so many questions. At the same time, there are many wonderful ideas to be taken from it.
Perfumers are artists (and Jac being the true manifestation and at the same time struggling with her genius), scents described in colors, all the things to see in Paris (I'm visiting L'Orangerie on my next trip), the whole reincarnation - Lama - Tibet angle, love (although I'm not terribly happy with the love scenes), the sorcerer of scent idea...

I won't tell you the details of the story but I will tell you that if you order the book before March 1, you are eligible for a sample of perfume being released alongside the book (although only for residents of USA and Canada I'm afraid):

How does it work?

1. Just click on the preferred website and pre-order THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES from the links below.
2. Email the receipt or a scan of it to LostFragrances@gmail.com along with your name and your Snail mail address for fragrance delivery.

Your sample of Âmes Sœurs will be shipped to you on or before March 13th. The book will arrive separately, from the store of your choice, at the same time so you can enjoy both together.

Barnes & Noble

Btw, I completely forgot to mention the Âmes Sœurs angle - souls finding each other again and again through time, but then again, you won't miss that angle once you start reading. :)
And speaking of that, it's all left a  bit hanging in the end - I realize the idea behind it but I think the perspective should have been explained better.
All in all, a very interesting book to read.

*Offer ends March 1st, is limited numbers of supplies available and only to readers in the US and Canada.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tom Knox: The Lost Goddess

Well, I don't know where to start.

I actually can't be sure what I think of this book. It's obviously interested enough if I managed to finish it. And it raises some interesting and troubling questions, without actually aiming to make you conform to the answer. But that only happens at the end.

In the meantime, you go through an action packed thriller that didn't manage to pull me into the story. Although it did manage to broaden my geographical and historical horizons. Sometimes in a more gory and troubling manner than I would have wanted.
Quite a lot of story describes the regime of Khmer Rouge and Cambodian bloody history. This part made me realize my historical knowledge of the 1960s to 2000. is seriously lacking. Because I don't remember learning about the Khmer Rouge which could be termed as smart because it's too tragic (and traumatic) for teenage years if you ask me. I don't see how it could be described in any historical book without coming across as a horrible tragedy, contained in one country and performed by its people on its people.
But I don't want to go into that - the history of our world is full of tragedies (which always makes me think of the movie The Fifth Element where Milla J. watches the history of our world and considers humans not worth saving).

I realize I haven't really said much about the book. :)
I should warn you that some parts are not for sensitive people or those with a weak stomach and good imagination. Because at some parts I kept thinking to myself, please, this can't be true. Although, I'm afraid it probably is (was). Which brings me back to the fact that this was an educational read and one that made me realize how little we know of the world outside the cocoon of our lives.

Unfortunately, I could understand the character of Chemda the best. Both Jake (the photographer) and Julia (the archeologist) weren't people I could connect with or understand their motivation. But I'm not holding that against the book because the experience was eye opening and the premise of guilt/the leap in mankind's thinking/and the god module was a very interesting one. More so than many I've come across lately.
But it still feels it could have been better intertwined in the story, because after finishing it, I felt like the parts were disjointed in my head.

Still, in my opinion, it is a book worth reading.
Especially if you consider my reviews are usually short and I obviously had a lot to say about this one. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Sometimes the most unexpected things occur to me.
Although, I probably shouldn't call them unexpected. It's just the fact that they haven't occurred before that makes them unexpected but then again, every idea anyone has could be called that. :)

Basically, I realized I hoard my samples and decants.
Especially decants.
They are rather small to begin with (compared to bottles) and are either 5 or 10 ml of perfumes I like, and would like to know better (so I can review them).
But that same size makes them rather fleeting, when compared to bottles, so I'm scared of using them, in order not to use them up before I get the chance to write about them.
I realize it's rather stupid, because if I wore them, I'd have a better chance of actually talking about them than now, when I'm hesitating of wearing them in order not to use all of what I have.

That is also why this winter I've been rotating 5 bottles I have in order not to spend any of the decants I have. Which I guess contributes to the winter blues I'm experiencing, but hopefully, now I'm aware of my perfume hoarding tendencies, I'll be able to combat them with spraying decants with abandon. :)
After all, they are a legion. :)

Does this happen to anyone else?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Visiting India II : Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations

It took me quite a long time to get to know these perfumes, but now I have (not completely, mind you), in my mind, they each have a designation beside their name: the Cardamom one, the Tea one and the Mango one (I'm saving the mango for the end).

I admit, my knowledge of India is limited to what I heard from people who were there (and school), but mango and spices do feature highly on the list of mentionable India characteristics.

Mohur for me, is the Tea one, and  "embodies, and is a dedication to, the mix of all the best of Mogul and the Bristish Raj".

I realize this is a "rose-based perfume" (that's what its description calls it) with additional facets "that can only be imagined during a hight tea after a polo match".

Still, for me it's a tea based perfume, as that is the note I get most prominently and with the most endurance. Although, I have to admit, it's a rose tea in my mind. :) The first two notes I got out of smelling Mohur were tea and rose, followed quickly by almondy (lightly alcoholic and salty of all things) quality with a lightly botanical tinge.
Here again, we have a shape-shifter perfume.

Wear it once, and you think you know what's it all about. Wear it again, and you're wondering what happened to the flowers from the first time, a more violet powdery floweriness is coming through. Then, wear it for the third time, and I wonder what did they do to make those flowers behave in such a transparent manner. And all the time I'm having problems teasing out particular notes, the scent is wafting as if on a breeze and when you want to stop and smell it, it wafts out of your reach.

Eeven though I'm calling this a tea perfume in my head, it's a perfume with a floral heart.

Notes: Cardamom Absolute, Coriander Seed Oil, Ambrette Seed, Carrot, Black Pepper, Elemi Oil, Turkish Rose Oil, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Rose Accords (more or less 11%), Jasmine Accord, Orris, Aubepin Flower, Almond Milk Notes, Violet Flower and Orris Effects, Leather Vitessence, Sandalwood, Ambre, White Woods, Patchouli, Oudh Palao from Laos, Benjoin Siam, Vanilla and Tonka Bean

Pics and notes by: http://www.neelavermeire.com/

Monday, February 6, 2012

Visiting India: Trayee by Neela Vermeire Creations

Sometimes you smell something and your brain refuses to provide the notes for what you are smelling. That is what happened to me with Neela Vermeire Creations (brought to life by Bertrand Duchafour).

It took me quite some time to form words around these perfumes, and today, I'll talk about Trayee, which name harkens to the divine origin of the first 3 Vedas, the Triad.

Trayee is one of those perfumes that each time you apply it, it smells a bit differently. A shape-shifter of the most interesting order which displays its shape-shifting nature mostly on skin.

Usually it starts for me with a sweetish, strangely earthy, cardamomy smell, soon to be enveloped in spices. Several times I thought it had a really natural start to it (as similar to what I'm used to with natural perfumers).
Sometimes, it smells like the resins from an evergreen tree are mixed with meadow flowers, but those flowers barely peek  through the spices mixed with cardamom.
Last time though, the cardamom got in line by the blackcurrant dancing on the fumes of sandalwood, cedre and vetiver.  It had that lovely dark fruitiness that blackcurrant can provide.
Eventually, the fruitiness dissipates and the smoothness of the base notes comes to the fore, interspersed with vetiver and other relatively raspy notes so the smoothness wouldn't be boring (I'd be lying if I said I could smell exactly which).
Sometimes the smoothness takes on a leathery tinge.

On paper though, the fruitiness completely bypassed me and instead smelled more like a combination of cardamom and cedre, lightly cinnamony and lightly sweet, but spicey (clove and saffron do their thing). Also, it was only on paper that I caught whiffs of ambery background.

But then again, who knows, maybe next time I wear it, amber and oud come out to play as well... :)

Notes: Blue Ginger from Madagascar, Elemi Oil, Cinnamon Bark, Ganja Effects, Blackcurrant Absolute, Basil, Sambac Jasmine Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Cardamom Absolute, Clove, Saffron, Sandalwood, Javanese Vetiver, Haitian Vetiver, Incense, Mysore Sandalwood Oil, Patchouli, Myrhh, Vanilla, Cedar, Amber Note, Oudh Palao from Laos and Oak Moss

Samples of all 3 were provided by Neela Vermeire.

Notes and pics taken from: http://www.neelavermeire.com/

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Veronica Blade: Something Witchy This Way Comes

I'm pretty sure it hasn't escaped anyone's notice that except for romance, I am also a fan of YA novels (where there is always romance as well). :)

And I must say, I didn't think I was going to say this (I blame it on Ms Blade) but now that I finally read a stand-alone book, I am wishing for sequels. Usually, I'm upset with the cliffhanger in all those YA series but now I read this and enjoyed it a lot, I wish there were more adventures for Tessa and Hayden.
Tessa who is Miss Perfect (and I don't mean it in a condescending way) and Hayden who is the poster bad boy. :) And who of course gets in contact with his conscience and good nature during the book.
Again, I don't mean it in a condescending way, it's actually quite nicely done.

I must say I enjoyed all the Star Wars references (especially when those concerned Hayden).

I could give a word about the story now. :)
Basically, Tessa finds out she's a witch and can do all these interesting things, and is courtes by one group that is saying the other possible group to belong to is not nice. Of course. :)
So, Hayden is enlisted as her bodyguard during school hours and this is where the story starts. It's easy to follow and enjoy the book, it has the feel of watching a good teenage movie.
One of the things I especially liked is that the problems don't rain from all sides but some situations actually have a positive resolution.
And, of course, the novel ends with a happy-end and the final feeling. Which is something I missed (everything nowadays is coming out in numerous sequels, not that I mind a lot, but it's hard keeping track in your head what happened where).

So, even though I was happy to press my Kindle button for the last page, I did feel a bit sad I wasn't going to read more about Tessa and Hayden.

(which is in no way an endorsement to Ms Blade to write a sequel, I believe the story is perfect the way it is and that a sequel might ruin the whole)