Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamore, read-along, week 4

So, we're into week 4 and there is only one week left and I admit, I read the book last weekend. :) I just couldn't stop.

This week's questions are provided by Ashley of SF Signal and here they are with my answers:

1.      In the chapter “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” we learn of the tradition of the night tea in Camorr. I found that not so much fantastical as realistic – how about you?

I found it intriguing as it made me realize the women are very important to the smooth running of Camorr. Hm! That does make it realistic quite a lot. :)

2.      When Jean meets with what will become the Wicked Sisters for the first time, the meeting is described very much like how people feel when they find their true work or home. Agree? Disagree? Some of both?

True work? True love? It does seem like he's found himself. I am enjoying his character immensely, especially since he's the one you are most likely to overlook (along with the rather small and thin Locke), and of the most deadly opponents to face.

3.      Salt devils. Bug. Jean. The description is intense. Do you find that description a help in visualizing the scene? Do you find yourself wishing the description was occasionally – well – a little less descriptive?

Oh, yes, it certainly helps with visualization. And keeping one at the edge of the seat (or wherever you're reading).
And I did wish there were some less descriptive parts as I really felt awful seeing them in my head. Which brings me to the obvious conclusion they were extremely well done.

4.      This section has so much action in it, it’s hard to find a place to pause. But…but.. oh, Locke. Oh, Jean. On their return to the House of Perelandro, their world is turned upside down. Did you see it coming?

Oh no, I did not! As a matter of fact, the end of the previous section had me read further to see what happens and I read to just somewhere about here. Which is why I was so UPSET last week with Mr. Lynch.
I learned to live with it, as someone last week mentioned Jean makes it into book 2, so that made me feel a bit better.

5.      Tavrin Callas’s service to the House of Aza Guilla is recalled at an opportune moment, and may have something to do with saving a life or three. Do you believe Chains knew what he set in motion? Why or why not?

Good question. I wish I knew more about Chains to answer it. :) I think we are going to learn more about Chains and his motives (I sincerely hope so) as that seems to be the way the books are written - you learn everything at the right moment.
I see this more as good thinking on Mr. Lynch's part. ;)
And it obviously fits Jean.

6.      As Locke and Jean prepare for Capa Raza, Dona Vorchenza’s remark that the Thorn of Camorr has never been violent – only greedy and resorting to trickery – comes to mind again. Will this pattern continue?

I do believe Dona Vorchenza was correct and when I read that, I instantly had a high opionion of her. But honestly, after someone murders what is obviously your family even if you're not blood related, I would never expect Locke to remain non-violent. I'm sure in any other scenario, he would be because his intelligence is best displayed in complicated schemes.

7.      Does Locke Lamora or the Thorn of Camorr enter Meraggio’s Countinghouse that day? Is there a difference?

I'd say Locke Lamora tries to enter twice but then it's the Thorn who actually manages to make things possible. Or, more precisely, at the point when Locke has the plan in his head, the one that sounds more like a true Thorn plan, that is when it works.

And our hosts for the read-along are:

The Little Red Reviewer

My Awful Reviews

Dark Cargo

SF Signal

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I've been thinking

As the title says, I've been thinking about discontinued perfumes all day today, prompted by Birgit's find of a perfume shop with vintage treasures.

My mind went mostly the way of discontinued Guerlains but it could be applicable to any company still in existence and producing perfumes.

The way I figure it, it all revolves around money and economy. Economy being the operative word here. One I hate sincerely. Because you cannot possibly convince me it's in my best interest to follow economic principles that can't be understood through common sense (which is most today). And honestly, the banking and economic systems in effect today seem very far away from common sense to me. That especially includes banks. Basically, any institution that makes you pay for the mess they made of the world we live in today.

Ok, I'll stop with the rant - this really is about perfume. :)

So, I was thinking, most discontinued perfumes went that way because of lack of sales (making enough money as the company deems profitable). I say most, I'm aware some can no longer be produced due to unavailable ingredients.
But basically, the perfume goes into alcohol so you don't need that much of the original formula to make several hundred bottles.

What I've been thinking is, many discontinued perfumes have fans that would love to get access to bottles of their favourite perfumes.
So, why not make smaller batches of those perfumes and  not place them into boutiques but make them available at order? You wouldn't need to ship them to boutiques and basically, only hardcore fans would buy them straight from your headquarters. I'm pretty sure you could even put those in simple bottles, just as long as fans would get the juice they wanted.

And I believe even eBay wouldn't be a problem because anyone could order a bottle for themselves and those that went on eBay would mean that the seller would have to go below the original price, otherwise anyone could get a bottle for the usual price from the company. So, I don't think many of those bottles would appear on ebay.

Basically, this sounds sensible to me (bear in mind I have no economic knowledge).

What do you think? Are there huge holes in my idea I can't see?

Visiting India III - Bombay Bling by Neela Vermeire Creations

Or, saving the best for last. :)

I really thought I loved Trayee and Bombay Bling the same, but there is just no getting around the fact that mango is my thing. In any way you can imagine.

The problematic thing with Neela Vermeire perfumes is that each time you smell them, something new pops up in your head as association to what you're smelling (ok, that's not really a bad thing, only when you're trying to describe it). :)

So, for me, this is a happy, smile-inducing mango perfume. In the beginning. The opening reminds me of a fizzy mango drink, as it were made with tonic, you know, lightly herbal (or green) and citrusy but mango is still the most prominent note.
At some point I started wondering if I were smelling tea again, but no, that turned out to be a black currant/cardamom combo. When you start smelling this combination, the whole perfume seems to get another twist - it gets a gourmandy background. Well, at least that's the way I see it. Or better smell it.
It's hard to explain but that whole creamy base of ylang-ylang, white woods, sandalwood and vanilla makes for me a gourmandy base for the fruit (probably because it reminds me of Thai food coconut/spicy dishes which automatically transfers anything into a gourmand for me).

Later, you lose the mango prominence and the whole perfume is a riot of smells (in a good way) - not too sweet, not very juicy, lightly flowery and spicy.

Notes: mango, lychee, blackcurrant, cardamom, cumin, cistus, rose accord, Turkish rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, white floral tuberose accord, frangipani, gardenia, patchouli, tobbacco, white woods, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla

P.S. I'm not a cuminophobe, quite the contrary, and I can easily smell it in a perfume usually, but I don't smell it here at all.

Pic and notes by:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read-along, week 3

It's time for the third part of the read-along and this time the questions were provided by Bryce of My Awful Reviews.
So, without further ado, my answers and some venting of frustration regarding Mr. Lynch and his treatment of characters.

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books. From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using? Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage's powers?

I sincerely hope so (about Locke and company getting around it). I hate it when people are full of themselves in real life so that one particularly got on my nerves (the Falconer). Although it doesn't hurt Locke to understand sometimes he might not be the top intelligence in something.

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.

Can't answer this one as I got a bit further so I know, but any guess of mine wouldn't have come close. Although, I'm still wondering what's the reason behind it all?

2.5 (since 2 wasn't really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)
Ok, first off, it wasn't fair in the week 2 to point us in the wrong direction speculating about possible Nazca/Locke future. :) And no, I didn't see that coming. Especially after that question in week 2.

I wasn't really contemplating possible future shocks but in retrospect I should have. I am SERIOUSLY UPSET with Mr. Lynch for what comes up in the read-along in the week 4. I sincerely hope he makes it up to both characters and readers in some way (and if you know, feel free to ease my mind with hinting at that).

3. When Locke says "Nice bird, arsehole," I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?

Oh yes, chuckling for me is part of the book, as well as the shocks. At the moment, I can't come up with the chuckles part (as I'm still upset with Mr. Lynch). :)

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they're "cleverer than all the rest?" Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?
Oh, they've been outplayed. But, as they are all still young, I'm hoping it's Mr. Lynch's way of making them learn they are never the smartest thing around and should stop thinking of themselves in such a manner.
Unfortunately, I cannot answer the questions as I would have if I had stopped reading where the read-along stopped for this week.
I mean honestly, did anyone stop who's first reading this is?

5. I imagine that you've probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the "present" storyline, but I'll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?

I now see my point from question 4 is addressed. :) (I didn't read all the questions ahead before starting to answer them)
Point for Locke for guessing it correctly. I was a bit shocked about the whole drowning thing to be able to coherently think ahead.

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?

I find the characters believable enough. What I still struggle with is understanding Locke.

7. Now that you've seen how clever Chains is about his "apprenticeships," why do you think he's doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?

Hmm, I have no guesses to offer why Chains might be doing this, and I wouldn't say revenge is the deal, unless the revenge is againt the state of affairs (ruling families).
This book just opens more and more questions without giving us answers.

The read-along is hosted by these blogs so hop on over and check them out:
The Little Red Reviewer
My Awful Reviews

Dark Cargo

P.S. I'm still upset with Mr. Lynch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

I admit, I am quite late to this party, but what's even stranger is, how did this party happen without me catching even a hint of its progress?
I mean, considering my taste in books, this one falls right in - except for the freshly discovred post-apocaliptic worlds I used to avoid. That might be the reason. :)

Anyway, after hearing about the movie, I checked the books and decided to give it a go at first (luckily for me, there are three).
And here I need to give you a word of advice:
DO NOT start reading that book unless you have enough time to finish it. Reading until 2 am when you have to get up in the morning is not very appropriate if you have to stay awake the whole day after. :)

But it's been a very long time since that happened to me.

So, the story. The basics are probably familiar to everyone interested in either the book or the movie.

What I'm wondering though is whether the movie will be able to display the bleakness of the lives in some of the districts and the non-smiling faces of the contestants (and in some cases aggresive and blood-thirsty).

Possibly the practicality of Katnyss'  character?
The world she lives in calls for practicality if you want to survive. That doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings, her family means everything to her but that is also where practicality steps in - she needs to keep them alive and well.
She's as strong a girl (she's 16) as you could imagine.

I must say I'm wondering which parts of the book are not going into the movie, and also how are some parts I'd like to see transfered onto the screen possibly being delivered?

I plan on seeing the movie and then reading the following 2 books (if I can wait that long). :)

I can't help but wonder if someone will be able to do something to bring down the awful world they live in.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Locke Lamora read-along, part 2.

This weeks read-along questions were posed by Susan from the Dark Cargo and here are my answers:

1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game - and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!

Ok, for me the answer to this question is something that solely is author's choice. I'd say Locke can pull it off by taking into account his previous (and further) accomplishments but you never know what obstacles might be put in his way by the author.

2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?

I'm always digging any alcohol details. :D

3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?

I'm wondering the same thing, and this being my first reading, I'm wondering if she will even appear in the book - although I'm guessing at some point the childhood parts will catch up with the beginning of Locke's adult life, so I hope Sabetha will appear at some point.

4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?

Oh yes I am. What I'm left wondering if that is really so easy to accomplish, how come nobody uses it as punishment? Or just for showing their evilness?

5) I got a kick out of child Locke's first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?

Nope, I have a hard time seeing them together - but then again, it's too early to say so in the story.

6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?

I must say I have no idea what will be the Gray King's part of the story (which makes it a good story for me, I hate it when I already think I know what will happen and it proves correct). Although, as soon as I saw the mention of the Gray King, I knew it was him following Locke's troop in their shenanigans.

7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can't 'create' the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke's solution to this conundrum?

Ingenious! Especially the part where they earn back the money they needed to pay for the corpse. :)

The read along is hosted by these great blogs:

Little Red Reviewer

Dark Cargo

Ashley at SF Signal

My Awful Reviews

Monday, March 12, 2012

I breathed a gentle fragrance – April Aromatics

By Asali

We all know the feeling; so much to do, so much we want to do, and yet there seems to be not enough hours in the day, days in the week etc, to do all that. I was actually in the privileged situation that Ines wanted me to write here on her blog, and it would have been a very suitable time to ‘help out’, since she’s busy with her thesis. But I just couldn’t find the space, neither in my diary nor in my head to write something, and that, although I wasn’t short of things that I wanted to write.

One of the things that I have wanted to write about, are the perfumes of April Aromatics. However, I got a bit carried away with one of them. So, I’ll save the others for another time.

April Aromatics are organic perfumes from Berlin based perfumer Tanja Bochnig. I first read about Tanja’s perfumes at another blog, where all her fragrances were listed with a mini review of each. One particularly seemed to be calling my name, not as usual because of the description or the notes as such, but the name; it was called ‘Unter den Linden’. This name associated so many stories for me that, wanting to refer to some of them now, I hardly know where to start, or how to explain the deep strings it tucks at with me.

First of all, the famous Boulevard in Berlin, the place where for the last three and a half centuries Berliners and visitors alike have been taking their Sunday strolls. It’s also the calling name for the famous old Statsoper Berlin, also called Staatsoper Unter den Linden (as opposed to the (former)West- Berlin opera called Deutsche Oper Berlin), in short Unter den Linden.  Any musician talking about Unter den Linden will be referring to this historic house. Then there are the numerous poetic references to lime tree in the German literature as being the tree of love. From Walter von der Vogelweide’s (1170-1230) ‘Unter den Linden’ to the Romantic poetry, the lime tree becomes the symbol of love and harmony, the place where lovers meet, below the lime trees. Perhaps most famous of all is Müller’s poem from Schubert’s Winterreise ‘Der Lindenbaum’ or ‘Am Brunnen von dem Tore’ as it’s called when sung as a simple strophic version of Schubert’s more complicated artsong. My own favourite song of lime trees is Mahler’s interpretation of a Rückert poem ‘Ich atmet’ einen linden duft’ (I breathed a gentle fragrance), where Rückert plays with the different meanings of the word Linde in German to make it respectively; the twig of lime blossoms, gentle, soothing or with ease. It is also under the lime tree that the thwarted lover seeks and finds eternal peace (as in ‘Am Brunnen...’, or another Mahler song ‘Die zwei blauen Augen’).  So there is also sadness in this idyll. You probably see where this is going...

UdL has a lovely fresh citrusy opening, like the first linden blossoms still light and gentle. As the fragrance warms on the skin, you feel other blossoms coming out to play, here I especially smell a rounded mimosa; but like with the bergamot in the beginning, it feels like they are there to add to the true nature of the linden scent, rather than wanting to take over from it. There is never any of that heavy summer drunkenness of the lime, it’s the early excitement of the first curious flowers all dewy fresh in their loveliness, and only slightly sweet. Now and again I feel as if a tiny bit of twig found its way into the perfume as well, as if in homeopathic style the flowers would still remember the tree which they grew from. The fragrance shimmers as if you were walking underneath the lime trees, the sun shining through the heart-shaped leaves, between lightness and sweetness, playfulness and reflection.

Unter den Linden manages to be calm yet uplifting, and joyous yet melancholic. It's an adorably beautiful Linden Duft, and just perfect these days as we long for warmer and gentler weather.

"Unter den Linden" spoke to me from the first moment, the name alone, I wanted a perfume with that name, and it was everything I hoped for and more too, and I'm delighted that it found me. That’s one happy linden-love story.

Notes for Unter den Linden from Tanja’s webpage; Linden blossom, Mimosa, Honey, Bergamot and Gardenia (and confirmed no twigs in thereJ) and can be purchased at

As a little aside UdL has just been nominated for a Prix de Parfum Artistique.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read-along

This is my first ever read-along and as I wanted to read The Lies of Locke Lamora for some time now, this read-along seemed like a great idea.
Plus, I never really think much about the books I read and now that the book is split into several parts after each there will be a discussion, I feel I will get to know the book in a much better way than I do the books I regularly read.

So, each Saturday for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting my answers to the discussion questions, posted by one of our hosts, The Little Red Reviewer, Dark Cargo, SF Signal and My Awful Reviews.

And here are the answers to this week's questions:

1. If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far? 

Well, I could tell from the reviews I read of this book that I would like it. I was wondering a bit about all the warnings I read regarding cursing but since I live in Croatia, where curses are such a standard part of language I no longer register them as such, I find the book fits right in among the type of discourse I am used to on a daily basis. Although, I do admit, it doesn't sound so invisible in English.
Besides that, I am enjoying the pace and the changes in the story - which aren't difficult to follow at all.
And I absolutely love the banter. :)

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world?

Honestly, the flashback is working fine for me. In my opinion the story would be much worse if the time lines didn't switch. This way, the information comes at the right time and all is revealed accordingly.

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch's world building?

There is only one thing I can say to that. I sincerely hope an explanation will come regarding the alchemy used by the peopleof Camorr and the race that built all the incredible glowing structures. And how it relates to the story.

4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn't it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into? 

Honour among thieves? That is what Father Chains and even Master Thief seem to adhere to. As with every other society today (or in the past) there doesn't seem to be a fair leadership in power, so people are left to field for themselves the best they can.
As far as I can tell, Father Chains is teaching Locke to steel from the rich and powerful and not those who don't have much. And not to take himself too seriously but be aware of his intelligence at the same time (and aware of other people's intelligence as well).

5. It's been a while since I read this, and I'd forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer  set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what's happening?

Oh no. I'm quite fine with the set up. Actually, I could even do with more of it as I keep having unanswered questions about many things.

6. If you've already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand.

Can't raise my hand on this one, I'm afraid. :) I'm such a lousy liar and not so very capable with my hands, I just know I wouldn't be able to do anything.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is here (and hopefully, so am I)

Ok, so spring might not be exactly here, but it's definitely coming (the sunny day today is rather cold and biting).

We've been having sunny days and some rather high temperatures for this time of year but mostly, it's a slow rise of temperature into real spring.
But spring is definitely here as evidenced by the photo my boyfriend sent me the other day from a large park (partly woods) in Zagreb (Maksimir):

Anyway, I have big plans for this spring and I do hope I make some of them come true (knowing me, some is fine as I tend to plan for more than is actually possible).
One of the plans is another trip to Paris in very late spring (probably summer weather by then) as Suzanne already announced on her site. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to meeting Suzanne and having fun with her and Asali in Paris. :)

I also hope, now that the hectic period is over at work, I'll be able to write more regularly and sniff more regularly as for the past few weeks all this was on hold.

Happy spring time everyone!