Dupe Hunting: Shiro’s Cake

18 Nov

As you probably know, Shiro is discontinuing their Randomly Generated collection. It wasn’t one of their most popular overall, but unfortunately it contains one of their most beloved colors: Cake, a pearly white with a red shift. It’s a great multi-purpose product, because it’s just as good as a highlight as it is as a shadow. It’s also pretty much impossible to find a highlighter with a red shift, so Cake is a coveted product. And, after December 31st, it will be no more. So what’s a Cake-loving girl to do? Go dupe hunting! I sifted through all my shadows and found 4 shades in the same family. Anyway, let’s get on to the swatches!

[UPDATE] Apparently Cake will NOT be leaving us forever! Well, this formula will be: Caitlin will be reformulating it and adding it to the sandbox next year. She says it will be an improved version, so I can’t wait to see it!




[all swatches applied dry over bare skin]

From top to bottom we have:

Shiro’s Cake: The original! Cake has a sheer neutral-white base and a very strong true red shift. It’s also glittery: I hadn’t worn it in a while and in my mind it was a satin finish, but there are definite sparkles going on. [Buy here]

Dawn Eyes’ Alena: Alena is superficially similar to Cake. It has a shift in the same family, but the base color is golden white instead of Cake’s pure cream. It’s also much more of a satin finish, lacking the sparkles of Cake. Personally, I find Alena a lot more wearable as a highlight color though it’s not a perfect dupe. [Buy here]

Dawn Eyes’ Early AM Vineyard: This Dawn Eyes color is a lot closer to Cake. It’s just a sparkly, and the base color is nearly identical. However, the shift is a pinky red instead of a true red.  [Buy here]

Dusk Cosmetics’ Moro: Moro is very, very close to Cake at first glance. There are a few differences: Moro has a silvery-white base that leans cool, and it’s much stronger in color than Cake. The shift is not as strong, though the color is nearly identical. It’s also about equal in glitter levels. [Buy here]

The Chequered Lily’s Snow, Glass, Apples: Snow, Glass, Apples is like a more glittery version of Cake, if you can imagine such a thing.The base is quite sheer, a feature of Cake that a lot of the other dupes are missing, though it leans a little grayer than Cake’s. The shift is also a little pinker.  [Buy here]

So there you have it! 5 almost-dupes of Cake. I think Moro is the closest to the original, though I prefer Alena for use as a highlighter. If you want something like Cake but a bit cooler, Early AM Vineyard is great, and for a more glittery version try out Snow, Glass, Apples. Sadly none of them are totally identical to the original, and I’m crossing my fingers that Shiro decides to keep it as a permanent color.

November 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 1 & 2

17 Nov

I had kind of a bumpy start to November, which is why I didn’t do a wrapup for week 1. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted my reading to go in and felt generally kind of slump-y. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of dual-week wrapups which you might have noticed. I’m still trying to figure out if weekly or bi-weekly is best: I’d like to stick to one format, but it really depends on how many books I finish in a week! I mean, does anyone want a weekly update if I only finish 1 or 2 books? But if I do 5 in a week, I don’t want to wait until the next one to review. It’s a conundrum. Anyway, let’s get into the reading adventures!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling. Finished November 3rd. So in the beginning of November I felt kind of lost. Most months I have a theme (like October was horror) or I pick out a series. My to-read list is intimidatingly long, so I always have something to pick from. But I don’t know what it is about November… it’s my least-favorite month, I feel the most blue, and I just didn’t know what to do with my (reading) self. So, back to comfort food, which for me is Stephen King, Harry Potter, or one of my favorite books. I went with a combo: my favorite Harry Potter! I don’t know how many times I’ve read this, so does it even count? But this time no skim reading, I took my time and felt all those good nostalgia tingles.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





Brady VS Manning, by Gary Meyers. Finished November 5th. So I’ve probably never mentioned it on this blog, but I have a passionate love of football. I’ve been watching it practically my whole life, but oddly I’ve never combined my love of books and love of football. My mom actually downloaded this one and asked me if I wanted to buddy read it and I was like, hell yes! Finally, these two areas of my life are combined!

If you don’t like football, this is not the book for you. Even if you do like football, it might not be for you. If you like reading endless stats, checking rankings on 6 different sites every week, scrolling through every article about your favorite team… then man, you are gonna love this. It’s filled with an insane amount of details, stats, and anecdotes about (of course) Brady and Manning. I love Manning and hate Brady (though baby Eli is my fave, of course) but even I felt bad for Brady while reading his backstory. This isn’t a perfect book, though: the writing is kind of dry and repetitive, and I feel like there was more about Brady than there was Manning (plus Meyers skims over the Eli/Brady rivalry). In terms of enjoyment based purely on my nerd-like love of football, this was 5 stars. Based on writing, probably 3. So I tried to round the rating out right in the middle.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff. Finished November 8th. As you can see, I was all over the place in the first week of November. People kept mentioning this book right along with A Little Life in terms of their favorites of the year and for some reason I thought “hey, I could really go for some dense and depressing literary fiction!” And that was such a good decision, because I LOVED it, and it really got me back in the mood for reading. I went into this expecting a book about marriage with two unlikeable main characters, because that is what basically every review frames it as. But that’s not what Fates & Furies is at all. It is a book about a marriage, but it is not really a book about marriage as a theme or institution. And the main characters are far from good, but they are hardly unlikeable. They’re complex and wonderfully real.

This book is really about deception, betrayal, and revenge. It’s subtle, and doesn’t really come together until the end, but it does so beautifully. There is also the question of memory, perception, and whether our actions really matter in the grand scheme of things, a theme I really adore. What makes something the “true” version of events when everyone remembers it differently? Does it even matter? I could say SO much about this book (and have!) so you can check out a more in-depth review here.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge. Finished November 12th. I wasn’t really feeling like a long fantasy series for November, so I turned to scifi! Because let’s be honest, those are the genres that most often have series. I picked this book kind of at random, but I guess not really randomly because my dad recommended it to me a few months ago right around when I read Axis. While I love most forms of science fiction, my favorites are definitely space horror and space opera: the more epic the better. So this, a super epic space opera, is right in my wheelhouse. It also has one of my favorite, and super-obscure, features: when a book combines the story of a very high-tech world with a very low-tech one (as seen in The Void trilogy and the last book in the Revelation Space series). Part of A Fire Upon The Deep takes place in an advanced civilization with crazy tech and aliens (including talking coral), while the other is on a medieval world with some of the craziest aliens I’ve ever met. I won’t spoil it, but they are just… amazing.

The world here is EPIC. You could easily set 10 books in it and still have enticing material. The premise is that the galaxy is divided into zones that limit what technology works. There’s the Unthinking Deep, which is at the center and where basically nothing works; the Slowness (where humanity started out and only basic tech functions); the Beyond, which is super high-tech; and the Transcend, where post-physical all-powerful beings dwell. The plot goes between the zones, and gives us what is essentially a light-years-long high speed chase (awesome!). I don’t want to give away much of the plot, but if you like scifi that gives you that sense of wonder, read this. You won’t regret it! Unless you do. Then you can blame me.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half





Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds. Finished November 12th. As you might have guessed, November is going to be scifi month! After A Fire Upon The Deep I wanted more. I loved the Revelation Space series and there’s many Alastair Reynolds books I haven’t read, so I decided to dive into the newest one. This is actually a novella, so it’s kind of impossible to even describe the basic plot without spoilers (I would recommend not reading a synopsis before diving in). It reminded me of how much I love Reynolds: his bleak worlds, the amazing fresh ideas, his strong female characters and grey morality. I loved every single aspect of this. If you like happier, bright scifi with a sense of hope this might not be for you. But if you like a more cynical worldview, you should definitely try out Reynolds.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King. Finished November 15th. I was so bummed that this book didn’t come out in October (since, you know, spooky book month) and then I totally forgot about it. Oops! Better late than never. I love King and his short stories are definitely my favorite thing he does, so of course I had to read his new collection. Unlike his earlier ones, Skeleton Crew and Night Shift, this contains a mix of horror and straighter literary fiction. Of course there’s an element of the macabre in everything he touches, but this collection is definitely lighter on the horror. There are almost no monsters! I know, crazy. But it still reads like classic King.

We have a car story, quite a few dissolving marriages (including the amazing “Morality,” which is already one of my favorites of his), sad tales of aging parents, creepy evil kids (like in “Bad Little Kid” one of my favorites from the collection), stories clearly reflective of King’s addictive past and his post-accident pain, and of course a classic apocalyptic tale (“Summer Thunder” which is so brilliant and it almost made me cry, because sad animal stuff). There were, as always, a few duds (“Premium Harmony,” “The Dune,” and “Blockade Billy” didn’t really do much for me) but were more than balanced out by the good. The longer stories, like “Ur” and “Obits” were just spectacular. A really well-rounded collection.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half





The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn. Finished November 15th. Two years ago, when I did my first 52 book challenge, I devoured all of Gillian Flynn’s books (Sharp Objects was my favorite).  I’ve been waiting patiently for a new one, but with all of her movie work it seems like we might be waiting a few more years. But in between, a bit of Flynn in the form of a short story. It was actually originally published in Rouges, a short story collection, but I have such an aversion to R.R. Martin that I skipped it. Thankfully a solo version has been released.

I have mixed feelings on this. It’s got all the traits of her work: a morally ambiguous and ambitious female protagonist, manipulative people, twists and turns, and the stereotypical dark undertone we’ve come to expect. But it was WAY too short, and the various twists at the end were way too close together and felt incredibly rushed. I would have enjoyed this a lot more as a novella, with more time given to flesh out the characters & motivations. The ending was just too ambiguous, and we don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about what we “think” happened. Enjoyable enough for a short read, but also kind of disappointing.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

October 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 3 & 4

5 Nov

Sadly, spooky book month has come and gone! Even though I will probably continue reading horror into November because it’s really what I am in the mood for. I read a ton of great stuff in October, and I feel good about how much I got through even though (for the first time this year!) I didn’t read a series. I just wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want to force myself to read something I didn’t want to. So, aside from that one Kate Daniels novel at the beginning of the month, no series this month! Which I actually feel okay about.


Burnt Black Suns, by Simon Strantza. Finished Oct 21st. So this month I was really in the mood for short stories, especially horror and new weird ones. I blame it on Cthulhurotica! People who love Laird Barron recommend this collection over and over, so I had to take a shot at it. The opening story (“On Ice”) is a wonderful Lovecraftian tale, and there’s some Ligotti inspired work here as well, but a lot of it is original in both concept and execution. “One Last Bloom,” a short novella about scientists and creepy things under the sea, was by far my favorite.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Blackout, by Tim Curran. Finished October 22nd. This book sounds like everything you’d want in an October book. The storm of the century! Tentacles descending from the sky! A small town plagued by horror! Sadly, it falls completely flat. Sure, the core concept is really cool (and the ending is the only thing that saves it from mediocrity), but nothing else stood up. The characters were boring, the action was so expected, the plot was… kind of dull. Kind of disappointing, because the monsters were totally fantastic.

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half





The Children of the Old Leech, curated by Ross E. Lockhart. Finished October 23rd. I adore Laird Barron, so of course I had to read a collection inspired by this cosmos. Sadly, this was not exactly what I was expecting. None of the stories have that same spark that Barron puts in everything he touches, it’s more just stories set in his world (but lacking a lot of my favorite elements). The entire first half was, for the most part, kind of dull. But the second half was incredibly strong with a lot of great stories. It left me feeling like I really enjoyed it, but looking back it was just terribly uneven. The stories should have been in a totally different order, and I wish there had been more… pizzazz? in them. Some of the stories were 5 stars for sure, but it’s hard to rate overall because I was kind of disappointed in the experience.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





The Wide, Carnivorous Sky by John Langan. Finished October 26th. After a kind of mediocre short story collection, I read an amazing one. SO amazing. Everything about this is perfect. John Langan takes classic horror tropes, like zombies, vampires, exorcism, and werewolves, and mashes them up with super inventive story structures. There’s a play, a movie, a classroom lecture, and a second-person piece of investigative journalism. Interspersed are stories inspired by the greats, like Lovecraft and The King In Yellow. The writing in this collection is so amazing: weird, lush, and wildly innovative. I’m totally in love with this author.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





Slade House, by David Mitchell. Finished October 27th. Usually we get a David Mitchell book every 4 years, so it was weird to have one a year after The Bone Clocks. But the two are connected, so it makes sense! This is a novella about a house–kind of a haunted house (so it fits the spooky book month theme)–that appears every 9 years. And the plot is directly connected to all the magical goings-on of TBC, so the two are linked. You could technically read Slade House without having read TBC, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are so many references (both to TBC and other Mitchell novels) that this really is not a good starting place. But if you are a Mitchell fan, this book is like candy. Intensely creepy, suffused with magical realism and great characters, along with a tight plot that brings in some great characters from other novels. I actually liked this more than The Bone Clocks: the plot was tighter and the magic system seemed more cohesive (though that’s probably because I knew all about it before I went in).

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





The Queen, by Tiffany Reisz. Finished October 28th. I have been reading the Original Sinners book series for years. The characters practically feel like extended family. And now we’ve come to the end. This book was kind of heartbreaking to read, because I knew I’d get to the end and then it would be over. I can’t mention anything about the plot because it would just be… a lot of spoilers, but it was perfect. A great end for all the characters, along with a really nice explanation of what happened before the first book kicked off. Nora, I’m going to miss you so much!

Lipstick Rating5 Full





The Red Tree, by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Finished October 31st. It’s fitting that I spent a month reading horror and saved the creepiest book for last (though not intentionally). Caitlin Kiernan is mentioned whenever someone brings up Laird Barron, John Langan, and all those guys (who I have obviously been exploring in depth this month) so of course I just had to read her. This novel is amazing–it has a simple plot that allows the horror to really build to peak tension, and also my favorite plot device: the book-in-a-book! There’s both a found manuscript and mysterious short stories over the course of The Red Tree, which is basically my favorite thing ever. It’s so creepy and atmospheric, with moments of absolutely chilling horror.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

October 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 1 & 2

20 Oct

It’s October, and you know what that means! Spooky book month. I’ve shifted my reading focus to horror and new weird, though of course some other genres are going to sneak their way in there depending on my mood. I think I might skip doing a series this month and instead focus on the 2spoopy4me books, because I’ll be honest–it’s kind of draining at this point. I haven’t even gotten to any of the big books I swore I was going to read, because I’ve been putting so much focus into picking & reading series! (Am I going to be able to read Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, and Ulysses before the year is up?… probably not). I miiiigh finish the last 3 Kate Daniels books, though I have to be honest–I really don’t want to.

On a more positive note, I hit my 150 book challenge! My reading seems to be increasing slowly every year. In 2013 it was 137 books, in 2014 it was 160, and I’m at 157 right now so I’ll clearly break that unless I like fall into a coma or something. Maybe I’ll set next year’s challenge for 175!


Books of Blood VII, by Clive Barker: Finished October 1st. Starting off with horror! I always find Barker’s work to be a mixed bag: he’s written my all time favorite short story (“In The Hills, The Cities”) but others just don’t do it for me. Probably because he dabbles in a lot of types of horror and I’m not a fan of all of them. This, like his other collections, follows that same pattern: I LOVED some of them (“Dread,” “The Skins of the Fathers”), liked others (“Jacqueline Ess,” “New Murders in the Rue Morgue”), and disliked one of them (“Hell’s Event”).

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson: Finished October 3rd. A historical fiction book with a dose of fantasy. It covers the life of Ursula… or rather, the lives of Ursula. She lives, she dies, she comes back and does it all over again. This was a great way for Atkinson to explore the different paths lives can lead us down, all those unexplored avenues of choice. There was an overarching plot, that she was destined to do one specific thing, but I’ll admit that didn’t interest me much. What did was all the subtle ways her lives changed, and how her environment affected her personality and mood. This is a really lush and beautiful book, and actually made me like WWII historical fiction which is kind of a miracle.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full






Harvest Home, by Thomas Tryon: Finished October 5th. This is one of those books that I read compulsively in my early teens (along with Valley of the Dolls, The Thornbirds, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle). I wanted to revisit it and see if it held up now, and it does! I love gothic horror that focuses on a small town–it always feels very Stephen King to me, even though this was published a year before King’s first book. I did forget how long it takes to really build up to the horror: there are a few creepy incidents, but the tension builds and doesn’t break until the very end. It kind of lulls you into a false sense of security, only to slam you in the chest when you get to the climax. I’d forgotten the very end, which is so deliciously disturbing. A perfect October read!

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Magic Rises, by Illona Andrews: Finished October 6th. Guys, I am so done with this series. I loved the premise, loved a lot of the characters, but it’s literally turned into the Kate & Curran soap opera. The tension in this book comes from the fact that Curran is being a total psychopath idiot and treating Kate like shit. Wow, just what I want from urban fantasy! Also, Curran is the worst. Why does anyone like him. This book was basically “let’s talk about pack dynamics and watch Kate moon over Curran!” which… is everything I didn’t want. So frustrating, made no sense, huge deus ex machina ending. I don’t know if I can finish the next books at this point, but I’m already 6 in and I really don’t want to be a quitter.

Lipstick Rating 2 Full





Cthulhurotica, curated by Carrie Cuinn. I will admit that I read this because I thought it would be stupid and fun, but it’s actually really good. Like no joke. It’s not exactly Lovecraft erotica, more like a feminist slant on the mythos (with some sex thrown in). The stories have a nice amount of variety, and I really didn’t feel like there were any weak points in the collection. Some were kind of mediocre, but I didn’t skim through any or find any of them downright bad. This also sent me down the slippery slope of Lovecraft Mythos–I will admit that I’m kind of snobby about Lovecraft, and so far have only read the original stuff, none of the expanded works. But after reading this I just wanted more. Oh, and this was my 150th book of the year!

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half





Rose Madder, by Stephen King: Finished October 11th. Rose Madder is part of a loose trio of books with Gerald’s Game and Dolores Claiborne, connected not by plot but by theme (the lives of women). Gerald’s Game is one of my top 3 favorite King novels and I really enjoyed Dolores, so of course I had to read this one eventually. The beginning of this is so strong, a brutal peek into the life of a woman living in an abusive relationship. It was really stomach-churning and you just felt so, so bad for Rose. But I think after the first section, it kind of slides downhill. Her husband was an absolutely amazing villain, but all her day-to-day life stuff felt kind of dull after 500 pages. And while there is a supernatural element, I really feel like it would have been stronger without it.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





The Year of the Runaways, by Sunjeev Sahota. Finished October 13th. This was the last book on my Man Booker list (and, hilariously, the only one I didn’t read/didn’t want to won! my life, sigh). Oh, by the way, I’m really bitter about A Little Life not winning. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, this sounds like a book I should love–it’s about immigrants from India, both legal and illegal, trying to start a life in the UK. The cultural background is rich, and the layers of detail really make you feel like the setting & story is alive. But that’s kind of all I liked about it. Two of the main characters, Tochi and Narinder, I adored–but more of the focus is on Randeep and Avtar, who I really didn’t like. Also I kept confusing them, because their stories are kind of similar. The plot just dragged on and on and really had no direction. The focus was never on the important stuff (for instance, towards the end one character is living on the streets with no job–yet there were like 2 scenes of that), instead we ended up dealing with a seemingly endless amount of minute details about their everyday lives while big plot moments were skimmed over. I really wanted so much more from this.

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half





Hear the Wind Sing, by Haruki Murakami: Finished October 14th. This and its sister novel finally got re-translated! I can’t believe I didn’t hunt down a copy before, but here we are. In this short work you can see so many of the classic Murakami traits: jazz, cooking spaghetti, a male protagonist filled with ennui, a girl with a strange but alluring trait, weird obsessions, and seemingly unconnected side tales. There was none of the magic realism that is in most of his books, but you can see the scaffolding of his style taking form, which is really amazing if you’ve read a lot of his later stuff. The writing is a bit more… stiff? I guess, than his other stuff, and the plot is a little looser than what I normally like from him, but it was really fun going back to the beginning.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Pinball, 1973, by Haruki Murakami. Finished October 15th. These books were written very close together, but you can see the progress. This book is more cohesive, and a bit more bizarre, than Hear The Wind Sing. There’s still no outright magical realism elements, though the strangeness of some of the occurrences hints at it. Plus, finally cats make an appearance! I found this more compelling than HTWS, though it’s so short it was hard to really sink your teeth into. But the twins might be some of my favorite characters of his, I wish we got more of their backstory! Though, really, I think the mystery is what makes them so great.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half





The Pretty Ones, by Ania Ahlborn. Finished October 15th. Oh Ania. What are you doing. I usually don’t do spoilers, but this mini-review is going to contain full spoilers for The Pretty Ones. It’s not worth reading, so don’t worry. It’s about a downtrodden, dumpy office worker who feels like the world is out to get her. Her brother, mute from a terrible childhood accident, lives with her and pushes her limits constantly. She’s full of just-contained rage and fantasizes about killing her co-workers. Then one day, one of them is actually murdered! And she thinks her brother did it, dun dun duuun.

The twist is so obvious, just from that little writeup. Her brother died as a kid, she’s batshit crazy and hallucinates him/thinks she is him while killing people. This is a twist that has been done SO MANY TIMES. I can think of 7 books that do exactly this, or some variation of it (one sibling dead, person thinking they’re someone else while killing, etc) and it’s just painfully, stupidly obvious. Reading this made me feel dumber because why, Ania, why! I really adore two of her books (The Seed, The Bird Eater), and one of them is just okay (The Neighbors), but everything else is trash. How is she so painfully inconsistent.

Lipstick Rating Half





Year’s Best Weird Fiction, curated by Laird Barron. Finished October 18th. I am such a Laird Barron fangirl that I will read anything he even remotely worked on. Plus, after Cthulhurotica, I really wanted more weird fiction and Cthulhu mythos. This anthology has a LOT of stories in it, so of course there will be hits and misses–I really adored a good chunk of them though, especially “Furnace,” “Success,” and “The Year of the Rat,” and it introduced me to a ton of authors I’m really excited about. The misses were also few and far between (and were more about my reading taste than actual quality), and this was a really well-crafted collection that I couldn’t put down.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Jagannath, by Karin Tidbeck. Finished October 19th. Oh. My. Goodness. This slim little collection of tales from a Swedish author is absolutely amazing. It’s hard to classify: weird fiction would be the best category, I guess. Though there are only a few stories in here they hit a bunch of different genres: folktale, steampunk, new weird, and even bizarro. They are beautifully crafted with lush language and amazing imagery, and while each story is technically unconnected to the ones around it there are trails that link many of them together–and not just thematically. Though there is a running theme (family dynamics–especially parent/child and sibling) which makes this weird little collection feel entirely cohesive. If you like lyrical weird fiction please read this–it won’t disappoint!

Lipstick Rating5 Full

September 2015 Wrapup: Week 4

11 Oct

September was, overall, a good reading month for me. It started out pretty lackluster, but picked up once I dumped a series that was holding me down. And the last week was as good as the rest: 5 books read, which is pretty much my ideal pace. Yeah, I think the insane sprint of week 3 was a fluke…


Magic Strikes, by Illona Andrews: Finished Sept 23rd. Book 3 of the Kate Daniels! This is one of those series where people say “oh, it gets really good at book 3!” They were right about the Dresden Files, but after finishing this I was still not 100% sold on the series. The plot is a definite improvement over the first two, the characters were far more fleshed out, and I loved the Indian mythology. But, once again, Kate was threatened with sexual violence for absolutely no reason. And I still don’t like Curran.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Magic Bleeds, by Illona Andrews: Finished Sept 25th. Okay, so this is where I was finally like “oh yes, now I get why people enjoy this series!” I think everything picked up here: the plot was connected to the meta-story that’s been floating in the background, we got more of my fave (Ghastek), the bad guy was totally amazing, there was some nice character development, and I finally bought into the Kate x Curran romance. Okay, not until the last 10% of the book, but that ending? Yeah, I finally liked them as a couple (though how they got from ”omg you suck but you’re hot” to “I HAVE UNDYING LOVE FOR YOU.” is still kind of a mystery).

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler: Finished Sept 27th. Continuing the Man Booker shortlist! I’ve really liked what I read so far, but this was a disappointment for me. It’s a totally average book: a literary fiction family drama about disparate siblings that are drawn back together by a family illness/mystery. Yawn, been there done that. And I don’t think this really offers anything new: the writing was a bit bland, the characters were nothing memorable, the plot kind of drifted aimlessly. The base idea (of a family history unraveling backwards over the course of the story) is interesting, but it takes a really long time to get from the core story to the backstory. The focus is also all over the place: some siblings get a ton of backstory, and others are totally ignored. I really don’t understand how this got a Man Booker nod, it’s so prosaic.

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half





The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma: Finished Sept 29th. The Fishermen is a lush, gorgeous book, a family fable wrapped in a blend of folklore and Greek tragedy. The premise makes it seem as if this will be some sort of coming-of-age family drama but it is a dark, brooding look at what madness and obsession can do to people. How the actions of one person can echo through an entire family, causing events no one could possibly foresee. It’s is peppered with a myriad of folklore, mythology and religious imagery: definitely one of those books that would benefit from a re-read, because I’m sure I missed a lot of them. And then there are clever hidden twists in the text, like the fact that almost all of Abulu’s prophecies are things that happened in his past. There are a few places that are a bit rough around the edges (at time the symbolism gets a bit heavy-handed, for instance) but this is a clever and deep first novel.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half





Magic Slays, by Illona Andrews: Finished September 30th. Just when I was getting into this series, I hit a roadbump. This was nowhere near as good as Magic Bleeds for me, and I had a lot of issues. Mainly on the Kate x Curran aspect: after a good moment in book 4, they felt so toxic here. Kate is physically abusive, Curran is mentally abusive, and they seem to only like each other because they both love violence so much.

Also, I hate the focus on Pack dynamics! Shifters are not one of my favorite paranormal beasties, and I dislike that every book is SO heavily focused on them. No matter who the bad guy is (and area where the series really does show great diversity) it’s always “hey, let’s call the Pack!” It’s sad, because we got to see so many new factions in this book but of course the center of it was Pack dynamics. Do not like. One of the things I love about the Dresden Files is how well spread out all the factions and people are: you rarely get, say, two Fae-heavy books back to back. Imagine if Harry only called Billy & the werewolves every time there was a problem? Yeah, it’d be dull, which is what this series is starting to suffer from (for me). Honestly, I’m not sure if I want to continue… but there’s only 3 books left, so I feel like I have to

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

September 2015 Wrapup: Week 3

21 Sep

It seems like ditching the Malazan series last week was definitely a good idea. In the first 2 weeks of September, I read 4 books (and one of them was a novella). In the 3rd week I read 7 books. 7!! I think this is a record for this year. Since there’s a lot of content to go over, let’s just dive right in.


The Animals, by Christian Kiefer: Finished September 14th. This book is everything I wanted The Wolf Border to be. It’s about a man who runs a wildlife sanctuary in a small, wintry town. He has a criminal history that comes into conflict with his idyllic present life, so in a lot of ways it’s a book about old vs new, past vs present. While the plot might not sound like edge-of-your-seat excitement, I loved every single thing about it. The writing is lush and gorgeous. The characters are complex and well drawn, including the animals in the sanctuary–by the end you feel like you know them, especially the bear Majer. The story unfolds organically, alternating between past and present. It’s a dark, lush, gorgeous book that ripped my heart right out. And I loved every second of it. If you like literary fiction and/or grit lit, I highly recommend this!

Lipstick Rating5 Full





Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O’Farrell: Finished September 16th. This is not the kind of book I’d normally gravitate towards. It’s a family drama, basically. A woman’s husband goes missing in the heatwave of ’76 in London. This crisis pulls together her three disparate children, who have all basically abandoned their family a long time ago. The actual core mystery is not what is interesting here: I mean, it’s okay, and I did like the resolution. What really shines here is the characters.

There are two sisters and one brother, all of whom are incredibly well done. Each is going through a kind of mini personal crisis in the midst of this reunion, so this book is like a nesting doll of family drama. And as I’ve said, that type of thing usually bores me to death. But man, something about this book! The heatwave was a great backdrop, and I just loved all the characters. It was far from perfect, though: I think everyone’s plot threads got wrapped up way too fast and neatly, and I think the main mystery could have been stronger.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half





Breathe, by C.D Reiss: Finished September 16th. This is the 10th book in a series, so it’s hard to talk about it without major spoilers. It’s actually kind of a standalone (though reading it before the rest of the series really spoils the ending, so… if you don’t mind knowing what happens with Johnathan and Monica, maybe it’s a good place to start?), and focuses on the empty time period in Coda. This was too short for me to get really invested in the plot, but I love these characters and story so much that even a little bite is wonderful.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half





Mind of Winter, by Laura Kasischke: Finished September 17th. I’ve been over psychological thrillers for a while. After reading a chain of just really terrible ones (Before I Go To Sleep, The Good Girl, The Girl On The Train, Don’t Stand So Close) I kind of broke up with the genre. But I guess it’s been long enough since I read one that I saw this and thought “yes, this is a great idea. Let’s read it!” Though actually, I did enjoy this. It’s about a woman and her adopted daughter, who are trapped together during snowstorm on Christmas. Yeah, sounds a lot like Don’t Stand So Close, but this is a decent read. The writing gets a little repetitive (though for a reason explained later on), and I felt like it was lacking that special spark, but… a fun, fast read. It had a really creepy mood that was closer to horror than thriller, and some of the scenes were very unsettling. And, for once, the conclusion/twist was actually interesting! You can go back and see all the pieces fit together. Overall, though, a little forgettable–I think I’ll look back at the end of the year and go “what was that about?”

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half





Satin Island, by Tom McCarthy: Finished September 17th. It seems that all the reviews of Satin Island are all either one stars (this is the crappiest book I’ve ever read) or 5 stars (it’s a masterpiece!). It’s obvious what side I fall on, but I understand why people hate this book. In fact, I’m kind of shocked anyone but me likes it. Imagine if Sam Pink and Haruki Murakami teamed up to write the echo chapter in House of Leaves, and then turned it into an introspective anthropological article. Yeah, not appealing for most people. But not only do I love all of those things, I have a degree in cultural anthropology, so reading this was like coming home.

Satin Island has none of the things you would expect in a book–plot, fleshed out characters, consistent pacing. It’s kind of a not-book, an unconnected series of rambling about an odd assortment of things (oil spills, parachute deaths, the Shroud of Turin, cancer) with no particular drive or direction. Except… they all are connected, thematically. This book tackles a lot of the big questions that pop up in anthro: how do we invest things with meaning? Who decides what is real and not real? How do things BECOME real? Does the act of recording something change it? How do we define reality from perception? I just loved everything about Satin Island.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





Magic Bites, by Illona Andrews: Finished September 19th. So after I dumped the Malazan books, I really did need a series for September. So of course I picked an 8-book one, sigh. Really, I’m probably not going to finish this in September. I’m honestly not even sure why I picked the Kate Daniels series: urban fantasy is not usually my thing, but I loved the Dresden Files SO much I was like “hey, why not?”

Like most long UF series, this starts out slow. A lot of this book is just setting up the world, which I don’t particularly mind because the world is awesome. It’s an almost post-apocalyptic Atlanta, where magic and technology clash in ‘waves’ of power. I loved Kate: a strong female character who doesn’t fall into the “super girly” or “acts like a dude” binary. Kate is decidedly feminine, but unlike some UF female leads she doesn’t run around in a corset and leather and perfectly styled hair. However, I wasn’t attached to any of the supporting characters here, I thought the main plot was a little lackluster, and I wanted to throw my book when it turned out that the big bad was a rape monster. WHY is that such a trope in UF? I don’t like it. I don’t want it. Makes me appreciate the Dresden Files even more.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Magic Burns, by Illona Andrews: Finished September 20th. Continuing on with Kate! There was definitely improvement in this book: the main plot was a lot more interesting, and we got the full info on why the world is like it is. And the side characters! Liked them so much more here! Mostly Ghastek, who I adore so much.

But I still have some quibbles. I hate that the big “mystery” of Kate’s powers/heritage is already totally solved. I was hoping for a slow-burn development on that (a la Harry Dresden’s still-unsolved mystery past/purpose), but it’s just handed to you. Also… WHY is every male character threatening Kate with sexual violence? Bad guys, good guys: they all want to force her into bed. It’s not a fucking compliment. If this continues in book 3, I don’t know if I can go on even though I do love the world & main character.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

September 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 1 & 2

17 Sep

My reading was so embarrassingly slow in the first half of September that I really didn’t have enough for single posts. I mean, guys, it was bad. Mostly because my series of the month (well, actually, planned September-November) was dragging me down hardcore. So far I’ve breezed through all my series selections and really enjoyed them (except for the Kingkiller Chronicles, but they were still decently fast reads). So this month felt very much like hitting a roadblock that I bullheadedly tried to just power through.


Gardens of the Moon, by Steven Erikson: Finished September 5th. This is the first Malazan book, a series that so many people absolutely adore. Also an insanely long one, at over 20 entries counting the novellas. So many of the things I’ve heard about it (“it’s too hard/detailed’ “it’s too difficult/too long” etc) made it sound right up my alley. And this wasn’t a hard read, exactly. The author throws you right into a fully formed world, but things come together nicely and it’s not overly confusing (though there is a distinct lack of explanation, and many things are left kind of hanging). However, I felt oddly distanced from this book. I loved some of the characters, but I never felt very attached to the story, and by the end I was definitely slogging through. I did enjoy it, just didn’t love it. However, everyone says that the books get better with time, and I had a similar experience with the Dresden Files–slow starting, but ends up amazing. I trusted this would happen with the Malazan books.Lipstick Rating 3 Full







The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo: Finished September 7th. I absolutely could not read two Malazan books back-to-back (which should have been a clear sign they’re not for me). So I went for a quick read, historical fiction set in Malay that revolves around the underworld and ghosts. Sounds right up my alley! And the worldbuilding totally was. Everything else? Yeah, not so much. The characters are lifeless, the plot has no direction. But man, I really felt immersed in the culture while reading this, and all the underworld mythology was SO cool. Still torn about this one.

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half






Deadhouse Gates, by Steven Erikson: Finished September 12th. This book. I tried SO hard to like it. I slogged through 1,200+ pages of the Malazan world before I decided it’s just not for me. At all. I was so bored by the end, I had to force-read the last 200 pages. I can’t even give you a concrete reason why I don’t like them. The worldbuilding is extensive and detailed, but I don’t like it. I find it overly convoluted, like the author just gives things exotic-sounding names and expects us to be all “ooh, wow, how fancy, how strange!” without explaining WHY it’s strange and exotic. It’s like a magic trick: they tell you a species is named the Trell and they’re somehow different from humans. How? Who fucking knows. We just have to accept that Trell are magic mysterious things with “different” abilities. Can you tell this frustrated me to no end?

It’s also a military-based series, which I did not know going in. I HATE military/war books. They just do nothing for me. So the most interesting plotline in this book was just something I didn’t want to read. I did like a lot of the characters, but I felt this insane distance between myself and the story. There was no immersion: it was like reading a dry history of what took place during this time period in this world. Very textbook-feeling, for some reason. I understand why people like them: if you like military fantasy, or worldbuilding with insane details, this is probably for you. It’s just not for me. Which hurts: I had planned this from day 1 of this challenge! What series am I going to do now?!

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half






Secret Window, Secret Garden: By Stephen King. When I need a brain-clearing-out, I go to Stephen King. Have a book hangover from something really great? Feel sluggish after reading something you hated! The answer is Stephen King. Always. I’ve been slowly working through the novellas in Four Past Midnight, and this is #2. I didn’t like it as much as The Langoliers (especially since I’d seen the movie and knew the twist), but it was nicely refreshing after reading a book that quite literally put me to sleep. Maybe The Dark Tower will be my next series…

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

August 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 3 & 4

1 Sep

Well, August has come and gone, and though I was sure I’d screw up my reading goals for it after the first two incredibly slow weeks, I actually had a decently satisfying reading month! I read a series, I read one of my favorite books of the year (A Little Life), what more could you want? Well, more than 14 books finished, but we can’t always get what we want.


In The Woods, by Tana French: Finished August 20th. This was a re-read, and a pretty recent one at that. I first read it last year and loved it. Yet it’s part of a series, and I never thought of continuing on? Crazy. Why. So I decided it’d be my series for August, even though I finished it on the 20th and there are 5 books in total. I’m not going to say much about this here because I’m planning a post on just this book, and then one on the series. I’m just obsessed. Crime fiction isn’t usually my thing, but I will always make an exception for Tana French.

Lipstick Rating5 Full






The Likeness, by Tana French: Finished August 22nd. This book has such mixed reviews, but I adored it. I loved Cassie in ITW, so following her story almost directly after that was magical. The premise (that a detective is the doppelganger of a murdered girl and sinks into her life) is indeed far-fetched, and I think if you like really hardboiled crime fiction that might be an issue, but my usual jam is speculative fiction and magical realism. So, yeah, not so much an issue for me.

The atmosphere is hands-down the best part of Tana’s books. I mean, okay, the characters are great, the thematic overlap is amazing, but she is so killer at setting up a unique and amazing set that just pulls you in. I felt like I was living at Whitethorn house while reading this. More importantly, I wanted to live at Whitethorn house, even with all of its messed up and insidious happenings.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half






The Faithful Place, by Tana French: Finished August 24th. This is many people’s favorite book in the series, but it ended up being my least-favorite. Don’t get me wrong–I still really enjoyed it, but I found it the least compelling. I guess the whole “close-knit messed up family in poverty” just wasn’t my favorite theme. The protagonist, Frank, was actually one of my favorites, but between my kind of meh feelings about the rest of the characters and the fact that I guessed the culprit the first time we met them, it was just a little lackluster compared to the other 4 books.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half






Broken Harbor, by Tana French: finished August 26th. My second-favorite book in the series, definitely. Each book has its own distinct mood, but I think Broken Harbor has the same creepy, eerie vibe as ITW. There’s something almost surreal about the way events unfold here: what seems like a normal (if gruesome) murder turns into an absolutely bizarre and twisted story about insanity and family. I mean, all of her books are about family way down in the core. But this one touched some cord within me. I loved all the characters, the plot, the mystery, the twists… this was almost as perfect as In The Woods. Almost.

Lipstick Rating5 Full





Secret Place, by Tana French: Finished August 29th. The last book in the series! So far, because I’m sure there will be more. The format, where the main characters are only loosely connected and each case is essentially a stand-alone, makes it so it never gets old. With a lot of detective/crime series you get SO tired of the main detective, which is obviously not an issue here. So Tana French, please write a million more. I WANT SO MANY MORE.

Ahem. Secret Place is a bit different than the rest of the series: it takes place in one day, to start, and many of the ongoing themes (duality of characters & past/present, which I’ll be talking about in the full post) are subverted. Also, every single suspect is a teenager, which makes for a twisted web of girl subterfuge to dig through. It’s also nice proof that not every book with teenage girls in it has to fall into the tropes & pitfalls of young adult. This is actually my 4th-favorite book in the series, but I love them all so much.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Working For Bigfoot, by Jim Butcher: Finished August 29th. When I finish a series I really love, I get kind of a book hangover. Once I read that last page of Secret Place, my immediate reaction was “great, now where’s the next one?!” And I tend to dislike the book I read right after, so I thought long and hard about what to read after the Dublin Murder Squad series. And really, what’s better than another entry in another series that I love? Yeah, more Dresden Files for me. I have the comics left, too, but now I’m trying to stretch it out as much as possible.

This is a collection of 3 novellas about, well, working with a Bigfoot. Who is actually mentioned in Skin Game, so it was exciting to go back and get the backstory on that. Since these were so short they were lacking in the signature character development of the Dresden world, but they were still fun reads that just make me want the next book so bad.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Murder On The Orient Express, by Agatha Christie: Finished August 30th. I wanted a really fast read, and I enjoyed And Then There Were None a lot, so this seemed like the obvious next choice for me. This was an interesting reading experience. Up until the end I was convinced it was a 3-star read for me: I found the strange sexism/racism (Italians kill people with knives cause they’re passionate, what) offputting, and all of the coincidences were just too much.

And then. You get to the end. Oh Christie, you got me! The resolution was absolutely amazing: in plain sight the whole time, but not something you would ever get. The clues are all there, though, and this was just such a masterful mystery. While I’m not a huge fan of Christie’s characters, she sure as hell can weave together a mystery.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full





Rule, by C.D Reiss: Finished August 31st. I’m reading the Malazan series in September, so I wanted to end August on something fun and easy. C.D Reiss is such a guilty pleasure author for me, and I devour her Drazen books like candy. This is the last of Theresa’s books, so it was kind of a bittersweet read. I love her (even though Fiona is my favorite Drazen, gotta be honest), and having to see her story end was so sad. Plus Reiss rips our hearts out several times… I just want Theresa and Antonio to be happy! Why are you torturing me! And why do I love it so much!!

Lipstick Rating 4 Full


August 2015 Wrapup: Week 2

17 Aug

The second week of August was yet another slow reading week for me, with only 3 books read just like last week. At least last week I had the excuse of “but they were so long!!” This week? I don’t even know, guys. Just slow, stagnant reading. The middle book basically took me the entire week and was a huge drag to finish. Plus, I’ve totally neglected my series challenge this month! I was honestly thinking of just skipping August since once September hits I’m tackling the Malazan series, but I don’t want to “give up” on a challenge even though it’s something I made up and I’ve read so many that I could certainly take a break. But my brain is absolutely convinced that I HAVE to finish a series this month, so I feel kind of stressed about that since I’m not in a fantasy/scifi mood really… maybe I’ll pick up the Dublin Murder Squad books, I never did get around to finishing those.


The Narrow Road To The Deep North, by Richard Flanagan: Finished August 12th. After A Little Life, I was really in the mood for more literary fiction–so why not try last year’s Man Booker winner, which is about the Burma Death Railroad! Because what I need is MORE depressing reads. I really wanted to like this more than I did. The scenes on the railway, which surprisingly was only about half the book, were amazing and shocking. I loved a lot of the side characters. And I especially loved the last third, where we got to see many of the camp leaders after the war–I’ll admit, up until then the book practically felt like anti-Japanese propaganda because there was SO much vitriol from the main character. But it ends up humanizing both sides nicely.

However… I hated the main character. Dorrigo is just awful. He goes on an on about how he is “not a good person” during the war when he does literally everything a good person would do. He goes above and beyond, sacrificing his own health for the health of others. It felt like the “I’m not a good person!!” line was just a way to justify cheating. Which honestly was never really explained. I was expecting the side story with Amy, the woman he has an affair with, (who I also hated) to somehow tie into the main one? Or explain his behavior with women after the war? But it didn’t really. Most of the side plots felt really disjointed, and while the writing was beautiful I just… I didn’t connect to anything.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full





Stallo, by Stefan Spjut: Finished August 15th. Once again I am sucked in by a creepy woods cover! For some reason (the cover, the friggin description) I expected horror from this. Spooky troll supernatural horror. And I think I’d be less annoyed if the first chapter wasn’t an amazing, perfect, creepy, atmospheric horror scene in the woods. It was great. And then… the tone totally shifts, and it goes from horror to supernatural mystery/thriller. I mean, I’m fine with that, and I actually enjoyed the first half of this book. But it just has this dry, monotonous tone that drags on and on–I think this book is generally too long, and I found myself skimming the last 20% because I just wanted it to be over. Which is a shame, because there’s definitely potential here (the scenes in the troll house!) but the “mystery” aspect is totally weak and I hated how ill-defined the mythology was. There are several different creatures–or several different kinds of the same creature? They have different powers, different personalities, totally inconsistent morals. I LOVE mythology and folklore, so the weak way it was handled here drove me insane. This was just a really disappointing book.

Lipstick Rating 2 Full





And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie: Finished August 16th. This is really the perfect murder mystery. The plot is tightly paced, the characters are morally ambiguous, the mystery is intriguing and unusual. I don’t think there is a single wasted scene–it’s a short novel, with all the fat trimmed off.

I think this would be 5 stars for me if I hadn’t guessed the ending. Of course this was the first time this premise and twist were executed, but they are both so common in pop culture now that I feel like I’ve seen this plot over and over and over (with my favorite version being the Dark Brotherhood “murder house” quest in Oblivion). Which, of course, is not at all the fault of the book: but it’s weird to come back and read the origins of a trope after being so familiar with them.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

Southern Comfort Perfumes’ Launch Scents

11 Aug

It’s been a while since I did a perfume post! This is for a couple reasons (trying to spend less on indies, focusing more on the book side of things) but I can never resist a new company. So when Southern Comforts opened their doors with a really stellar sample offer ($8 for all 5 of their launch scents in 2ml vials, with 10% off) I absolutely had to get them. Plus the theme got me: it’s all Southern, obviously, but the names were just so cute. I was helpless in the face of such a good deal.


Turnaround time was pretty insane: I ordered on the 5th, it shipped on the 6th and got to me on the 10th. 6 days from start to finish! Packaging was unexpectedly adorable: the vials are packaged with a header card and everything. One of the labels was hand-written but the others were printed, which I assume was because I ordered on literally the first day the store opened. The vials are sturdy and larger than your average perfume sample (obviously) at 2ml instead of the usual 1ml. They are a little tricky to open and close, and it requires some force, but they are absolutely leak-proof and not even the scent seeps out.

Grandma Odene’s House (almond, pound cake, milky coffee, peach preserves): Peach is a little iffy on me, so I wasn’t sure about this one even though I adore all the other notes. Thankfully this isn’t the candy-sweet peach I’m used to, and it reminds me of the juicy note Arcana uses. But the peach isn’t front and center: this is definitely primarily a sweet gourmand. The almond (not leaning cherry at all!), cake and coffee are all present, and the strongest elements. It smells like breakfast! In college I used to get almond croissants and iced coffee on the days my classes started early, so this brings back a ton of memories for me. It’s a very comforting smell, simple but full of evocative notes: definitely a good start to my testing!

Aunt Bessie’s Bunnies (creamy violet candy, pound cake batter, geranium, marshmallow fluff): This was the scent I was looking forward to most, because I have a violet fetish and am obsessed with marshmallow blends. On first sniff it’s candied violets, followed by a surprisingly warm burst of geranium and cake. You know those fancy cakes that have thin icing and real flowers for decoration? That’s what this smells like! Only more lived-in and comfortable. It’s hard to describe, but this scent comes off as very cozy. Eating cake on the back porch in summer, feet in the grass kind of cozy. The marshmallow doesn’t really show up until the drydown, when the violets calm down a bit and the other elements come through stronger, and it’s really just a creamy hint but it definitely adds to the overall ambiance of the scent.

Darlin‘ (peach candy, sunscreen, violet, wild rose, day lily, vanilla): I will admit that I see lilies in a scent and panic. It’s a death note for me, and can sometimes trigger migraines–but only some companies’ lily, not all of them, so it’s like a fun game of “is my head going to explode?” scent roulette. Thankfully this blend does not have death lily in it, but just regular lily. It’s mainly peach, the same juicy one in Grandma Odene’s, but there’s a candy edge here and a sweetness from the vanilla. This is a fruity blend, which isn’t really my jam usually, but the florals definitely help balance it–they’re quite soft and in the background, but they keep this blend from being one note. I mean, it mostly smells like I rubbed those Japanese peach gummy snacks all over myself, but that’s definitely a vibe I can get behind. I do wish the sunscreen was a little stronger, just because I think peach-coconut sounds killer.

Bless Your Heart (Night blooming jasmine, white tea, iris, orange rind, powdered musk): Jasmine is really one of those love-it-or-hate it scents, it seems. So I was cautious going in to this, because it’s a note my skin really amps. Thankfully it’s quite tame here… in fact, I don’t really get a ton of jasmine at all. I thought this blend would be very floral, but it’s powdery musk on me: not baby powder, but like sniffing an old compact of perfumed face powder. This is one of those smells that I can’t help but think is “old lady.” For some people that denotes heavy floral: for me, it’s powder. Thankfully after about half an hour the powder calms down and some of the florals start peaking through, white and creamy. Funnily enough this lasted the longest on my skin, with a wear time of several hours.

Folly Beach Follies (light rain, sea spray, ocean breeze, warm sand, dry grass): This is a light, aquatic beach scent–while I get hints of vanilla in the background (where is that coming from?!) it’s mostly natural. No sunscreen, no tropical fruits, just ocean air and rain. It opens with a bright rain note, very fresh and blue, and grass follows. It’s not as in-your-face as most grass notes (I guess that’s the “dry” aspect) and definitely doesn’t dominate the blend. This is one of those scents where it’s kind of hard to pick out individual notes: they just blend together into a general watery green impression. It’s not as salty as I’d expect, and the rain aquatic comes through a lot stronger than the sea spray for me: in fact, I get a kind of wet-meadowy impression. It’s definitely an atmospheric blend, and I think each person will read it a bit differently.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with Southern Comforts’ scents. Especially the first three: I felt their gourmands were definitely the strongest of the bunch, but I’m sure a lot of that was personal preference. I mean, I’m a sucker for violet, and there was a whole lot of that! My only complaint was the wear time: most were pretty weak after only an hour, except for Bless Your Heart which stuck around almost all day. I’m a little less sensitive to wear time than most people since my skin eats perfume anyway and I like to change it up throughout the day, but do keep that in mind if you order.

Since opening, they’ve added 3 scents–all 3 of which I want, of course. There’s a french toast blend, a sweet tea one, and a citrusy yuzu blend. Umm, yes please.