Haus of Gloi’s Halloween 2014 Scents

28 Aug

I have been looking forward to Haus of Gloi’s fall collection for, oh, 8 months or so now. I got into indie perfume RIGHT after the Fall 2013 collections, and since that’s my favorite seasonal scent category I had to see review after review of tantalizing goodies. Ghost Puffs and Samhain have been lingering in my mind for a looong time now. Of course HoG’s releases are an absolute madhouse, but I was prepared and got everything I wanted… from round 1. Oh yes, I will be buying more.

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Ghost Puffs (buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo): Things I love: gourmand blends, butter, marshmallows. This blend was MADE for me. It’s sticky-sweet, teeth-rotting, “oh god I want to chew my arm off” good. Like the goop at the bottom of your pillow case after a night of trick-or-treating. The butter makes it “sweet but not to sweet” and I seriously want to drink this. But I won’t. Not because it would be gross, but because then I couldn’t slather it all over myself.

Pumpkin Eater (cream, glowing pumpkin, rich vanilla bean and the tiniest touch of nutmeg butter): I waffled for about 30 seconds before deciding on the full size of this rather than a sample. Cream, pumpkin, nutmeg. I LOVE ALL THESE THINGS. This is definitely not a pumpkin pie blend, though, which I am thankful for: it’s unique, and has a candy-like edge. I make a mean pumpkin fudge for Thanksgiving every year using actual pumpkin, and this smells EXACTLY like that. Super creamy and smooth thanks to the vanilla and cream, and the nutmeg elevates this to “oh godddddddd I need to bathe in this” levels.

Samhain 2013 Vintage (turned earth, wet leaves, and a cool specter ridden wind): I was insanely excited for this. I mean, dirt! I’m the queen of dirt blends! But this smells like…. licorice. Headache-inducing licorice. It’s definitely a wet blend, but more like “accidentally stepping in a pile of soggy leaves” than “wet leaves on a forest floor.” The drydown is actually very nice, a soft earthy scent that’s just on the edge of not being there at all. Countrycide‘s darker cousin. But I’m not sure of the “oh god licorice I can feel the migraine coming” is worth it, and I’m still incredibly disappointed in the lack of dirtiness. Samhain, I waited so long for you and you let me down!

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Old Cider Haus (oak, sweet drying hay fields, crushed apple pulp and vanilla husks): I don’t like fruit scents, especially fake apple smells, so my rational  brain beat out my ”I LOVE CIDER” brain and I didn’t buy a full bottle of this. Damn you, rational brain, because this is FANTASTIC. The apple scent is very fresh and crisp, and I swear I smell cinnamon. I mean, it is cider. So you need some spices in there. The vanilla adds a nice sweetness and this is pretty much fall in a bottle. Definitely getting a full size when the restock happens!

Pumpkin Queen (hay pillows, pumpkin, ripe peaches dusted with clove and nutmeg, dried summer herbs and lastly, a lovely crown of amber): The peach note here scared me a bit, but I have to try every scent in the lineup. For reasons. Thankfully, I don’t get any peach! This is much more “pumpkin pie” than Pumpkin Eater, featuring heavier spices and whiffs of herbs from the kitchen. The amber adds a soft, almost powdery note that works quite well. I’m usually not a powdery amber lover but this blend… it’s fantastic! Almost makes me want to try Queen Mother, the only blend I DIDN’T try (because that pricetag, ouch)

Spider Silk (delicate water mint, wispy grey musk, crystalline webs of amber, oakmoss, torchwood, copaiba resin, and a touch of withered violet leaf): This is probably the blend I was least excited about (aside from the fruit ones), but I am SO IN LOVE. A soft, floaty, watery floral. It has a juiciness to it, like melon without the fruit aspects. There’s heady musk and oakmoss and at the tail end of the sniff, a stunning wisp of violet. An aquatic floral unlike any other I’ve tried. Definitely need a full bottle!

The Horseman (forest and wood, distant fire, smooth saddle leather, brown musk and the lingering scent of a dark gentleman’s cologne on a black woolen coat): Smokey leather and cedar. This is a gorgeous masculine fragrance with a heavy musk that I am so in love with. One of my absolute favorites from this set! I am really into truly male scents and they can be hard to find in the indie world, but this really hits all the right notes.

Persephone’s Descent (pomegranate, pale musk, narcissus blossom and black amber): Fruit! I knew I wouldn’t like this, even though pomegranates are my food passion. This is fruit & florals on me, very Bath & Body Works. But probably pretty nice if fruits are your jam.

Tobac (tobacco, a wisp of smoke, bourbon vanilla and two cedarwoods): Super masculine, with gorgeously strong notes of smokey tobacco that fade into cedar and vanilla. I imagine a manly woodcutter helping his mom make pies, maybe spilling a little vanilla on his flannel shirt. Delicious. More “feminine” than The Horseman, but both are decidedly on the male side of unisex.

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Lavender Pumpkin: Lavender pumpkin usually means “lavender with pumpkin spices” which is what I expected, but this is more “lavender with pumpkin flesh.” Unique, girlie, refreshing. I have to admit that I do wish there was more spice, but this is definitely an interesting spin on what even I must admit is a kind of played-out combination.

Hazelnut Mocha Latte: Nutty, chocolatey coffee. Three things that belong together, now on my lips. I ADORE HoG’s balm formula, and it was insanely hard to pick only two flavors for my first order. But man, this is a winner!

52 Book Challenge: The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne

26 Aug

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{This is going to be structured differently than usual: the first half will be things I like, completely spoiler free! The second half, under the cut, will deal with problematic issues of the book, and will have appropriate spoiler & trigger warnings}

Rarely does a book leave me feeling as conflicted as The Girl In The Road. And, sadly, not in a good way, though there are a lot of things about this book to love. It features two female main characters, one African and one Indian. There’s a great and brutally honest representation of untreated mental illness. There are, for all intents and purposes, no white main characters. There is a transgender character who is treated with immense respect. And the book takes place in Africa and India, drawing upon the rich cultural and mythological background of both locations. Basically, it’s the opposite of your usual “Medieval England fantasy.” Though, to be honest, this is not really fantasy though many people have dubbed it so: this is pretty much straight scifi, set a few dozen years in the future.

I’ve read a lot of reviews that struggle with the story. Not in a “I don’t get it way” since its spiral structure is laid clear by the end. But The Girl In The Road uses a lot of imagery that probably isn’t familiar to the casual reader. When you read a book that draws upon traditional Western mythology, you know the meaning of the imagery even if you don’t know the exact details behind it: we’re all familiar with the Wild Hunt, Odin’s time as the hanged man, Jesus’ death and resurrection. Even if you don’t know the specifics, the underlying meanings are clear. But TGITR deals with Hinduism, Santeria, Buddhism, and a host of other mythological references. I believe that if you don’t get something while reading, take the time to look it up! But, you know, since I already did it for this book, here’s a quick rundown of some of the rich mythology Byrne drew from.

  • Both main characters are named after a religious figure. One is compared to Mary (self explanatory), and the other to Meenakshi Devi. Meenakshi’s body is divided into two colors, which is particularly relevant since our heroine is heavily implied to be bipolar. She is often referenced in poems dealing with children/early childhood.
  • Each of our heroines has a “protector” figure. One is Yemaya, an alternate spelling of Yemaja–the Santeria goddess of the sea. She is the embodiment of the ocean, a representation of motherhood and a protector of children. The other protector figure is Mohini, the only female variation of Vishnu. She represents sexual and gender fluidity.
  • Snakes are a prominent theme. There is, of course, the snake in the Garden of Eden: temptation. But in other Abrahamic religions, snakes represent sexuality. In Hinduism, they are coiled desire. In Buddhism, they are protector figures. And in the medicinal world, the snake is a double-edged blade: producing both poison and medicine.
  • 5 is a prominent number in the book. We’ve got the 5 wounds of Jesus on the cross, but also 5 as a symbol of divine grace, harmony, and balance.
  • Towards the end of the book, Meena meets the Lotus Eaters, an Odyssey reference. There’s a clear Hero’s Journey going on here, though the trials along the way are more similar to Hercules and Ulysses than what you’d expect from an Eastern-centered work.

So we’ve got awesome mythology, strong female characters, a inventive plot structure, well-explained futuristic technology, an immersive world… what went wrong? Well that is going to require a whole lot of trigger warnings, so my “why god WHYY” rant is under the jump.

[...]

52 Book Challenge: Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

25 Aug

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{Proceed with caution, light spoilers all up in this bitch}

This is a book I’ve been anticipating for a long time. There was a lot of hype surrounding it, and it was on my “to read” list for months before the release. I mean, the idea is just so insidiously deviant: all the children of the world die, at once, and are revived several days later… but they aren’t the same. In fact, the only way they can be kept alive is by ingesting blood, which they beg their parents for.

Suffer the Children is a slow burn horror. In fact, the resurrection only happens about halfway through. The first few chapters introduce us to the main players we’ll be following: a family with two happy children, a single mother, and a doctor & his wife who lost their only son several years ago. The family dynamics are quickly set up, and Craig DiLouie does a wonderful job at making well-rounded, flawed but likeable characters.

Then, the death. I was not expecting such emotional impact from these scenes. I suppose it’s because, well, the plot involves them coming back… but the parents do not know this. All of the scenes involving the deaths of the children, and the subsequent news coverage, were devastating. The mourning of the parents was just as horrific as any of the “true” horror in this book.

Of course, things get more and more twisted once the children “come back.” I say that in quotes, because… well, they are a little off until their parents figure out how to cure them. And a “feeding” only keeps them alive for a while. There are many directions DiLouie could have gone with this, since it’s a worldwide event, but we’re kept in the orbit of the previous three families in this small town.

The horror is slow, slow, but always mounting. Two thirds of the way in the tension is impossibly high. In fact, most of this book is pure emotional horror: there’s very little blood or violence until the last few chapters. And it has one of the most well-executed endings I’ve ever seen in a horror. Really, this is pretty much the epitome of a good horror novel: amazing plot, fascinating characters, and events that play out with frightening reality. You could see this happening in your town. You can feel the grief and terror. It’s horrible. It’s brilliant. Craig DiLouie is my new hero.

Rating

Book 57 Suffer the Children Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

AlchemicMuse’s Fall 2014 Scents

24 Aug

Finally, finally, it is time for fall perfume lines to start coming out. Fall is my favorite time of year: the changing leaves, sweater weather, bright sunshine and cool breeze. Apple cider and pumpkins and Halloween. All things cozy and creepy fit into fall’s domain, so of course it’s my jam. And it also signals the end of my least-favorite season (summer-hot, so hot, and fruity perfume. no love for summer).

AlchemicMuse was one of the first indie perfume companies I got into, so I have a few of their fall releases from the tail end of last year. But of course I had to round out the set, because I have a nagging completionalist streak and/or I am a perfume shopaholic.

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Countrycide (sweet, earthy autumn leaves with top notes green fig, bergamot, golden hay, and dried flowers masks a darkened heart of musky clover, caramelized benzoin, beeswax, and black vanilla absolute. At the center is a corrupted foundation of bitter almond, tonka bean, gaiacwood and sandalwood): This is possibly the longest list of scent notes I’ve seen. Scratch that, BPAL’s got to have a scent with one twice as long. But really! It’s intimidating. Yet Countrycide is a sweet, light, airy scent: it’s leaves on fall air. That’s the only way I can describe it. I have had this for ages and I think it might have been my first AM purchase. I use it for layering constantly, whenever I want a scent to have a little extra “oomph” or mystery. On its own, it makes me smell like I rolled in a pile of leaves. Delicious.

Phantasm (aged roses and white lilies shrouded in an ethereal mist of cool earth, wet stone, and faint incense with a lingering base of soft, smoky musk): I love rose blends, but it tends to be a really dominant note on my skin. And here it amps like crazy: it’s almost all rose, with hints of musk and a faintly wet backdrop. I was kind of expecting a “graveyard rose” type of blend but this is more of an… antique rose sort of smell? Not old lady, but like old money rose. A rich lady’s rose. I feel so very fancy wearing it.

Samhain (blood orange rests atop a heart of roasted walnuts, brown sugar, and hazelnut java fused with black anise seed, earthy patchouli, and black vanilla winding down to a rich musk base): Strong, deep, chewy roasted walnuts are the first and boldest scent in the mix. It’s a very cozy “fall” smell, reminiscent of those autumn coffee blends. Not, like, a pumpkin spice latte or anything. Just strong spiced coffee and a walnut danish. That’s what I imagine I’m eating when I put this on.

ZomBee (sickly-sweet honey and warm beeswax over a layer of aged patchouli, crushed clove, and darkened vanilla pods): Patchouli and honey! Honey can be a hit-or-miss note for a lot of people and I’ve definitely had honey from companies that has that cat-pee vibe, but thankfully AlchemicMuse’s stays true to life on me. This is super sweet but also earthy and kind of devious. Like the cute little kid in a horror movie you just know is going to kill everyone.

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Bad Wolf (freshly-picked berries and sweet cream fused with a shady forest brew of mahogany, apple wood, and blood cedar to round out the darker, more sensuous base of patchouli, tonka bean, oakmoss, and vanilla bourbon): Berries, my nemesis, meet cream, my true love. I was hoping the long list of other notes, all of which I love, would drown out the fruit… but this is, indeed, a berry-heavy blend. Which is probably awesome if you like berries. The cream makes it almost candy-sweet, and the earthy background notes are lovely. But I really, really hate berries. Sob.

Bloodlust (dragon’s blood resin, heady incense, and iron distilled patchouli saturated with blood orange and thickened with amber and myrrh): This is like walking into a head shop on Halloween. Incense, incense, and more incense with thick resin and hints of citrus and spice. This was my free sample, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t like it much… but it’s so fun! Very seasonal, and somehow it doesn’t come off “Christmas” smelling.

Bonfire (crisp fall air, mulled cider, burning maple leaves, and a crackling bonfire): I was expecting this to be a bit like Sugar & Spite’s Grimoire, but it’s all apple cider! Well, not *all*-there is a distinct smokey background, so you get that “sitting around the fire drinking cider” kind of feel. It’s a cozy blend, and probably the most traditionally “autumn” one in this lineup.

Vanilla Oak (bergamot, camphor, cassia root lead to a heart of smoky vanilla-tobacco and warm spice grounded with aged oak, soft amber, and frankincense): I was expecting a more masculine scent, but the vanilla in this is warm and feminine. It does lean unisex, but it’s so much softer and danity than I was assuming! I guess I was expecting something along the lines of TF’s Tobacco Vanille or SS Cedar Magus, but this is kind of a girlie version of those. Warm wood and sweet vanilla with hints of bergamot and resin. Really lovely!

Wicked (english ivy, forest berries, and bergamot refined with and enchanting forest brew of tenacious greens and precious woods): I have had a sample of this for… oh, probably 6 months. Perhaps longer. The berry note has terrified me, because fruit = no bueno in my book. And I was scared it would turn out like Bad Wold. I am really sorry I neglected it for so long because it essentially smells like a forest! Tall pine trees, crunchy leaves, the sharp snap of vines. It’s a very unisex blend and I could see this working SO well on a guy. Sadly, my boyfriend refuses to be a test subject because he knows there’s no turning back once he opens that door.

*note: Wicked is not in the picture because I may or may not be a spazz who dropped it under the bed*

Overall, I think this is a really diverse fall lineup. A little something for everyone! Like crisp outdoor scents? Candy-sweet Halloween treats? More traditional cider blends? Fruity ones? Or resinous autumn treats? Yup, there’s probably a blend for you here. Unless you like pumpkin… but for that they have Lovecraft, part of the regular lineup and also my absolute favorite of their perfumes (and also my favorite pumpkin scent!).

All of these scents are available as perfume oil, soap, lotion and more right here.

A Brief Sugar & Spite Halloween 2014 Review

23 Aug

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I have very fond memories associated with Sugar & Spite. Their Valentine scent introduced me to what is now a passionate love of leather scents, and my first experience with gourmand blends was with their delicious Brewster. I was really looking forward to their fall line this year since, well, dark & eerie is kind of their thing but when it went up I was only able to spring for one scent. That didn’t stop them from going all out on the packaging. I mean seriously, it’s amazing.

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I took this in the dark with my ipod, apologies for the worst photo quality ever

I know, right? Wax seal on the perfume, beautiful business cards that are basically mini art prints, a handmarked sample, and a toffee lollipop. Sugar & Spite is serious about Halloween guys.

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The lolipop was salted toffee. SO GOOD.

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Packaging on the full-sized perfume. Reminds me of fancy lipstick!

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Grimoire (ancient dusty spices, fire, smoke, charred wood, and turned earth): Every scent in this blend called out to me. Fire? Smoke? Wood? Earth? That’s right, this is a dirt blend. And oh, is it dirty. The turned earth hits you first, and it actually might be the best dirt note I’ve come across. And I’m kind of an expert. Smoke and ash waft in after, heating up slowly on the skin. I was a bit worried that “dusty spices” would equal cinnamon but oh man this is ALL CLOVE. This is, like, me in a bottle. I am SO IN LOVE. Also, the bottle has a little dropper in it. It’s so precious.

Diabolique (orange blossoms dripping with sticky black honey, warm gingerbread, 3 vanillas, tea leaves and aloeswood): This is the scent I put in my cart and took out 3 times before I placed my order. Either they are psychic or, you know, there’s only like 3 other scents it could have been so it was like a 25% chance. This is the opposite of Grimoire: creamy, sweet, comforting. All gingerbread and vanilla and tea, the treat after the trick. These two layer together really fabulously, which I found out accidentally (because I am a clutz).

So basically, it’s fall and I love fall scents and I love Sugar & Spite. Grimoire is my jam. I feel like I should buy a million bottles… but I also want to try out the other scents. And grab some Bone Daddy soap. And, like, a million lip balms. I really might have a problem.

Electricity So Fine & Other Violets

22 Aug

I am a huge fan of purple florals. Iris, hydrangea, hyacinth. And, of course, violet: the crown jewel of purple flowers. So when I saw it listed as a note in the new Darling Clandestine fragrance, I jumped on the pre-orders. I’ve had mixed success with DC blends: some I adore to the extent that my love affair with them is kind of unhealthy (Pyrotechnic and Don Gato, my true loves), but most of the others I’ve had mixed success with. Her scents are very complicated and they tend to get a bit muddled on my skin. But I mean, violets and that label. How I could I resist?

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And look, I got a little shark friend in the mail!

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Bonus FULL SIZED CANDY. BLUE RASPBERRY. And a cute canvas bag! I need all of these things, obviously.

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Electricity So Fine (artemisia absinthum and mosses and blackest tea and port wine, splashed with an electric sizzle of sparkling violets): This smells at first like moss soaked in wine. Strong, very strong, almost too much. It’s kind of masculine, definitely a unisex blend! The drydown is almost instantaneous, with the alcoholic headiness vanishing into soft violets. Not the scent of candied violets or violet gum, but soft violets in a field that have been a bit crushed. This is a wet, wet scent, but the name “Electricity” fits it so well. Like many of her blends, this is hard to describe. Wet, crackling: like a summertime high school romance. Seriously, that is what this makes me feel like. Hot weather and small towns and first crushes.

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I got another violet scent (this time from Alkemia) only a day before this one so I thought hey, might as well compare and contrast!

Wild Swans at Coole (sweet flag, orris root, fen violet, wild autumn orchids, blue moor-grass, blackthorn wood, drying ferns, dried sedge grasses soaked in dew, and veils of mist parting over lake water): This is another wet violet blend, but this is a damp, misty floral. Reeds in a pond, fresh violets, cool water, the beginning of rain. Dipping your toes into chilly water, the sharp snap of fern stems. Electricity So Fine is a “warm” violet scent and this is a “cool” one, if that makes sense. They actually contrast perfectly, which was not something I noticed in the notes when ordering them!

While we are talking violets, I thought I’d mention a few of my other favorites. There is, of course, Bouquet de Marechale (violet and bergamot, and a bewitching light touch of bay) from Possets’ current summer collection, and my favorite violet scent: Saturnalia (violets and vetiver), a discontinued blend from Black Phoenix Alchemy.

That’s right, all my favorite violet scents are limited! Because Wild Swans is part of Alkemia’s fall lineup, and it seems like Electricity So Fine is also a seasonal blend. At least I have full bottles of 3 of the 4 of them… and the competionist in me of course wants to get a bottle of Bouquet so it’s an even 4.

What are your favorite violet scents?

52 Book Challenge: Incarnate by Ramsey Campbell

19 Aug

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{No spoilers. I promise.}

Incarnate is a slow-burn horror. A long, drawn-out book with several disjointed plotlines that only start to come together halfway through. At first, it does not even seem like a horror novel. The first chapter takes place 11 years before the rest of the book: several prophetic dreamers are brought together for an experiment, and something goes horribly wrong. Their dreams turn sick. But we do not find out what really happened for a long time, only that it has something to do with dreaming. We don’t even get any horror elements until quite some time… or so you think.

This is the kind of horror that creeps up on you. The kind of terror that’s been under the surface the whole time, bending reality and making you question what you are reading in the same way the characters do. The kind of lead-in-the-stomach feeling where you know what is going to happen but you’re begging the book no, no, let’s stop now. It is horror that ranks among Ghost Story, which is the highest praise I can give. And when you finish this book, it doesn’t stop.

I finished Incarnate 2 days ago. Since then, I have had one very vivid dream each night. The first night, I dream I am standing at a corner in SoHo, next to a restaurant I have walked past dozens of times but have never gone into. I am under a tree, but something is wrong with it. Instead of leaves it has sawblades and knifes, swaying softly in the wind.

A man is next to me, holding a sheet of smoked glass. The glass is odd: it looks… fake, like it does not belong here. He holds it up, placing it between two of the sawblade-leaves, and pleads for me to look through it. When I do, it’s not branches and sky behind it. it’s an ocean, a bay near a massive and strange city. In the foreground is a boat, prow sinking into the water as the rest of it slowly burns. There is screaming in the city. I can’t hear it but I can feel it. The colors are all wrong.

I have to go to the other world, the man tells me. It’s right next door to ours. I have to help. But I know if I go, I’m never coming back. The other world wants ours, it wants to devour it whole.

The second night I dream that I am in a finale episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The cast of The Office is here. They’ve caught some strange, contagious plague and have been put under quarantine. The illness is spreading: not to other people, but to the hospital. One by one all the lights go out.

Dwight is covered in sores that weep black fluid. He’s throwing up the heads of baby dolls. Their hands start peeking through his skin. Michael has a sword jutting out of his hand that he’s used to kill Holly, whose hair turned to water before she died. Pam is crying rivers of blood. No one can do anything to save them because they aren’t sick with a flu or a virus: they’re sick with reality.

Read this book. I promise, it is worth the slow burn. But you might not be entirely the same afterwards.

Rating

Book 95 Incarnate

Lipstick Rating5 Full

Solstice Scents’ Summer 2014 Collection

18 Aug

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I got my package of Solstice Scents’ full sampler for their summer collection as I was heading out the door on Friday afternoon. Out to a place with… no internet! Yes, such horrors exist. Well, not horrors, because it’s actually pretty awesome to step away from the digital world and hang out in nice country air. And I’d get a full weekend to test out all the scents! Plus I could take nice outdoor pictures of the vials! Which… yes, I forgot to do. But look, I saw a zebra! Did you know they like to roll around on the ground? They totally do. It’s adorable.

Anyway, onward with the reviews.

Coquina (Sandalwood, Orange Blossom, Clementine EO, Beach Sand, Plumeria Absolute, Coconut, Ginger EO & A Splash of Sea-spray): This is the only scent I purchased “blind” in full size, because I am on a clementine kick at the moment. This reminds me of a less bitter Chrysalis–lighter on the citrus than I expected but with that edge that orange blossom gives, and full of soft tropical flowers. Whatever scents they used for “sand” and “sea spray” temper this nicely, and it’s not an in-your-face floral but very soft and lovely.

Hand of Darkness (Oceanic Accord, Rain Accord, Woods Blend, Black Pitch, Buddha Wood, Lime, Coriander, Tarragon, Amber): I wanted to love this, I really did. It came out intensely resinous and powdery on my skin, with amber and black pitch overpowering everything else. The description sounds so lovely, ahh! But I was a bit hesitant on this anyway, since their coriander note reads as straight-up cumin on me. Which is less than appetizing in a perfume.

Heat of the Night (Vanilla, Mango, Coconut, Orange, Sandalwood, Amber, Orange Blossom, Edge of the Night Base): The vanilla in this is luscious and strong, adding warmth to the bold tropical fruity notes. I am normally not a tropical fruit kind of person but I can almost get behind the mango and coconut in this blend. I love their Edge of the Night base and it really works well here… just not well enough for me to want a full size. I’m so biased against summer scents, too much fruit!

High Desert (Desert Sage, Ceremonial White Sage, Sandalwood, Mitti, Cacti, Indian Tobacco, Prickly Pear Cactus, Hay, Smoke, Labdanum, etc.): Sawdust and pine sap. Very, very strong sawdust. Overwhelming sawdust, like you just walked into a workshop. After that fades a bit I get molasses and sage.

High Noon (Worn Holster Leather, Tobacco, Whiskey, Woods, Sand, Gun-Smoke, Musk & Soft Ladies’ Perfume): Is it just me, or is having two perfumes in a small collection that both start with “High” kind of confusing? I like High Noon a lot more than High Desert. It’s mostly leather, sap (from where? a mystery) and alcohol on me with a hint of musk. Softer than expected, it’s a combination I would assume to have a lot of throw but it stuck very close to the skin.

Old Havana (Tobacco, Woods, Spices, Sea Mist, Lime): Tobacco, leather, citrus, cedar. I swear I get something like cedar or sap in almost all of the masculine summer scents. They are all very resin-y. Like a forest floor, if a forest floor happened to stumble into a bar and get a bit tipsy. Which actually sounds awesome, but does not play out well on my skin.

Sirocco (Moroccan Spices, Sandalwood, Hot Baked Earth, Myrrh Resin, Precious Saffron Threads & Oud): Licorice, licorice, and more licorice. Maybe some incense and sandalwood, along with YEAH THAT WOULD BE MORE LICORICE. Anise, too. I hate licorice. This was a scrubber for me. But if you like the licorice/anise family man oh man do I have the scent for you.

Sun-Warmed Honey (Honey, Apricot, Strawberry, Chamomile, Kunzea, Ginger, Orange Blossom): After a long road of “oh god none of these are ever going to work on me” we come to this beauty. Warm, cozy, STRONG honey infused with orange. It’s candy-sweet, and I get a really powerful mango note that could be the apricot or strawberry. A fruity blend I like?! Yup. It’s soothing and comforting, like curling up with a mug of sugared-up tea.

Tenebrous Mist (Soft Musks, White Amber, Sea Spray, Sandalwood, Bay Rum, Tea Leaves & Wood Smoke): My hopes were highest for this blend… because of the name, I will fully admit. It’s just so mysterious. And thankfully, it lives up! Kind of. I mean, in comparison to a trail of defeats, Tenebrous Mist was a real winner. Soft, ephemeral, aquatic. Not too salty, lightly musky, like fresh rain. But very, very soft. Almost faint, faded in a few hours. Then again, it is mist!

Tropical Moon (Coconut, Tuberose, Tahitian Gardenia, Lime Essential Oil & Pink Lotus Attar): Sharp, sharp white floral at first. Like gardenia with a knife-blade edge, followed by… hay. I swear, this collection. So confusing. Coconut and tuberose come in all creamy at the end, playing nice after that surprise opening. This is a intriguing blend, one I didn’t even consider putting on the “possible full size” list but I ended up very fond of.

I adore Solstice. Their spring collection was divine, I love their general catalog scents, I need full sizes of pretty much their entire fall and winter lineups, but summer? I was shocked at how it played out! One after another, they all ended up strange on my skin. In every way, summer is not my season.

Thankfully, my initial assumptions were right and Coquina is a scent I’m happy to have in full size, and I’m considering Tenebrous Mist and Sun-Warmed Honey.

52 Book Challenge: Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

15 Aug

authority

{Proceed with caution, light spoilers all up in this bitch}

So the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, left me very conflicted. There were some things about it I loved to pieces–rich, vivid descriptions of a strange landscape, creeping horror, Lovecraftian madness, and all kinds of bizarre happenings. But there was no structure, no backstory, and no character building.

But I really did like Annihilation, and this book has a bunny on the cover, so I gave it a shot. And oh man, am I glad I did! This is a direct sequel, picking up only a bit after the events at the end of Annihilation, but the perspective is completely different. This time we are inside the Southern Reach, the government organization that controls exploration of the mysterious Area X.

Authority has everything that Annihilation lacked: tons of history on Area X, richly drawn characters, a strict sense of plot structure, and a tightly wound narrative. The entire course of the book takes place over perhaps a week? And Authority lacks what Annihilation has: the actual meat of Area X, descriptions of what they are studying, and of course the true experiences of parties sent into it. Separately they are both lacking, but as a pair… they are perfect. They fit together like puzzle pieces. It’s rather brilliant, and while I would have preferred one book that did all of these things (which VanderMeer is certainly capable of), I understand why they were separated like this.

Funnily enough, you could probably read these two in whatever order. Reading Annihilation first gives you advanced knowledge of a twist that is revealed at the end, but I think reading Authority before Annihilation would be just as good. In fact, I kind of wish I could erase them both from my memory so I could read them the other way as well. However the third book, Acceptance (which is coming out in the fall!), will definitely involve both main characters so you need to read both books before diving into the finale. Well, you should read them both anyway if you have even the vaguest interest in scifi, horror, speculative fiction, new weird, or strange literature. Or rabbits. Lots of rabbits.

And check out this awesome bonus art for Annihilation!

Rating

Book 69 Authority (on its own)

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

Authority & Annihilation in tandem

Lipstick Rating5 Full

Possets’ Sicilian Seduction

14 Aug

I’ve done a lot of debating about my favorite indie perfume company. I love Black Phoenix Alchemy’s cleverness, the whimsy of Haus of Gloi, Conjure Oil’s conceptual endeavors, and Solstice Scents’ ability to capture the essence of an emotion. But in terms of consistency, I’m a Possets girl all the way. I have yet to try a single scent from them that I dislike, and most end up in the “oh god I need this forever and ever” pile. So of course their summer line, Sicilian Seduction, was calling to me. Even though I really am not a fan of summer scents in general. But I ordered, like, a third of what they were offering. And considering how big their collections are, it was a substantial haul. I got bottles (full or half-size) of the following:

Acanthus (clove notes are combined with a grey musk, a foundation of pink damascena rose otto and a good portion of sandalwood): This is my rose. The rose scent of my dreams. Soft, lovely pink blossoms–not powdery or old-lady-ish–undercut by rich, smokey clove and a hint of rich sandalwood. I feel like I’ve found my holy grail rose scent. Floral but deep and sensual.

Cannoli (deep fried tubes of the lightest crust filled with sweetened ricotta cheese): I do not like chocolate scents but thankfully this is a chocolate chip-free cannoli–all crunchy crust and rich cream. It’s kind of a hard scent to describe: rich, sweet, very gourmand and kind of conceptual. It doesn’t so much smell like a cannoli as it smells like… eating a cannoli, if that makes sense.

Mafia (melon with a lovely neroli, lemon and Mediterranean jasmine, osmanthus, incense, and distant orange groves): I got this just for the melon, but it’s a lovely, complex oriental blend. Floral but not overwhelmingly so with bright bursts of citrus and melon. It’s not a happy floral, even though the notes read like one, but a floral with a bite: the osmanthus and jasmine give it a definite edge.

Vespi (citrus blend of lemon and grapefruit, the zest of a tomato leaf and pepper lounging in the background): This is the only scent I got a full bottle of because it’s pretty much me in perfume notes. And, yup, I adore it. Starbursts of grapefruit backed by nose-clearing pepper and earthy tomato leaf. This is an earthy, garden citrus: dirty and sparkling. If I had to pick one signature scent, this would be seriously close to the top.

FinishedIMG_1897

And these are the decants!

14 Carnations (14 carnations, the scent of earth and surrounding plants, add a bit of fern): I am very on the fence about carnation, but the earth and fern cajoled me into ordering a decant. However, that signature spicy-yet-powdery carnation smell dominates on my skin. It’s not bad, I just… don’t really like carnations. If you do, this is totally the scent for you.

Blood Orange (blood orange, aged patchouli, a tiny dash of Saigon cinnamon, and a backup of a zesty “yellow musk”): I have recently become obsessed with blood orange (and clementine) and ordered this in a heartbeat. But not the blood orange gelato scent, which I am now regretting. At first this is a lovely orange, but once the cinnamon kicks in it really reads as a holiday scent. I mean, it’s a really nice holiday smell, but I was hoping for more of a POW summer orange.

Bouquet de Marechale (violet and bergamot, and a bewitching light touch of bay): I love purple florals, and this delivers in droves. Sweet, candy violets with an undercurrent of tea-like bergamot. The bay adds an herbal flair, so this is a very odd mix of candy and spice cabinet. In, like, a really good way. It reminds me of Saturnalia, one of my absolute (and now discontinued, sob) BPAL blends.

Gelato: Fiore de Latte (cream and a dash of salt, perhaps a bit of tuberose finds its way in here): Do you like cream? Milk? How about those scents in perfume? Imagine the richest, most over-the-top indulgent milky creamy blend. The kind that makes you want to pour the vial straight down your throat. That’s Fiore de Latte, but better. Seriously, this blend is FREAKING AMAZING oh my god. I feel like wearing it is dangerous because I have an overwhelming urge to gnaw my wrists off.

Gelato: Riso des Anges (rice and sugar in ways too sinful to recount): Fiore de Latte minus a little cream with tons of nuts thrown in and a whole lot of sugar. Just as indulgent, just as scrumptious. No one does creamy gourmets like Possets.

Jardin di Principo (olive blossoms, cupped old roses, waxy white magnolia, and a hint of clove mixed with the scent of earth and the scent of water on limestone with moss): This is a soft, dainty rose blend. I expected it to be more of a mixed-floral, but rose amps up like crazy on my skin. The magnolia/earth/water/moss elements mix together into a calm “airy” quality that make this ever so ladylike. The clove is pretty much hidden but I’m kind of happy about that because I was worried this would be too similar to Acanthus.

Sicily (oranges, pepper, lemons, the sea, musk, and passion): This is Vespi’s bad-tempered cousin. Fiery pepper, bright lemon and dominating orange. The aquatic element is deliciously salty. This is not a scent for the weak of heart: it’s bold, bright, and fierce.

Stiletto (sicilian lemon mingles with oakmoss which vamps to galbanum, which flirts with yuzu): Yuzu is my favorite citrus, and it sets this blend apart from the other similar scents in the lineup (Vespi, Sicily, etc). It’s a softer, more even-tempered smell. The oakmoss gives it a cool tone: citrus is usually bright and happy, but Stiletto is rather calming and refreshing.

So, basically, I really freaking loved everything. Except 14 Carnations, which is because… I don’t like carnation but I ordered it anyway. I’m considering ordering full bottles of both Gelato scents, along with full sizes of Acanthus and Cannoli and a backup of Vespi. Overdoing it? Totally. But I haven’t been this head-over-heels in love with a collection since BPAL’s Lupers, which I ended up with 7 bottles from.