Heading Down Under

I can’t quite believe it, but on Friday I will be flying to Australia for 3 weeks. I’ve never visited the country before but have wanted to for a while, largely because I’m fortunate to have made so many great friends through perfume that happen to live in Sydney. Not least of these is the big-hearted bundle of fabulousness that is Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies.

 

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I’m going at this particular time to attend Portia’s wedding, now that Australia has marriage equality. I’m sick with excitement at the thought of getting to hang out with my pals and see the sights. Portia is generously taking me travelling so I’ll get to see the Whitsunday Islands and The Great Barrier Reef as well as Uluru where our mate Tina G has put together some wonderful plans for the three of us. I’ll also be staying with another ex-perfume blogger who I can’t wait to see again.

Normal service will resume on 6th August with a Mood Scent 4 post. I appreciate your patience in the meantime!

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Perfume has brought me so much, it’s quite extraordinary and I’m truly grateful.

 

 

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That Was the Week That Was: Tunnels, Penalties and the Return of Australian Perfume Junkies

By Val the Cookie Queen of Australian Perfume Junkies

 

I took a short vacation with my husband, aka Nofearkris, last week. Probably not a vacation as you might know it. We went to Lake Garda in Italy, a well known biking Mecca. We took top class electric bikes with us, and if you have never ridden one you have no idea of what you are missing. Allow me to share my first day with you.

 

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After a traffic-free five hour drive down from Salzburg to Riva del Gardo, we settled into our very nice room with an amazing view. So far, so good. We decided to go out for a ride. Chris had been biking in the area several times before and was ready to show me the trails. He said it would be an easy ride. FFS. He has been saying that for 25 years and I believe him every time. So we took a straight up the mountain 6km ride on a dirt and gravel trail. Fine. I loved it.

 

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As we reached the end of the trail, we took a right turn and carried up the road for several kilometers until we realized that maybe it was the wrong way to where we (read Chris) wanted to go. I was pretty wasted suddenly, lack of food and a lot of energy used in the uphill. Turned around and headed back to the original goal, Lake Ledro. I live at a bloody lake, and we were staying on a lake and I really did not care about seeing another lake.

Nevertheless, we rode on and eventually reached the destination. After refueling on spaghetti and Coke, headed back down towards Riva. The sky was a black as coal and we decided to take the asphalt road back, and not go back down the 6km. I was having a good time at this point I must add, feeling great from the food. The euphoria was short lived.

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We suddenly came to a tunnel, and headed straight into it. Shit. The tunnel was 6000m long, bikes NOT allowed in the tunnels and a 500 Euro fine if caught. Luckily we did not know about the fine at this point. I was shit scared and pedalling my bloody arse off. No lights on the bikes, and no light in front of me, nor behind me, Cars flying by beeping and flashing us. Awesome. I hit 42km on my bike, so desperate to get out. Chris, biking behind me at this point, said he had never seen my legs going so fast. Eventually – a light at the end of the tunnel.

As we came out it had started to rain, but to our great joy we saw another tunnel in front of us. Face palm. This one was only 1000 meters, and we knew it came down into Riva. I flew on when suddenly my sunglasses case fell out of my bum-bag which I had stupidly not done up correctly. My hero husband braked immediately and went back and got them. Sheesh.

 

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We were spewed out of the tunnel into a torrential downpour, thunder and lightening, and huge hailstones bouncing off of my helmet. We biked through water 30cm deep in places. Soaked and sodden, but absolutely elated that I had survived this easy ride, we finally arrived back at the hotel.

 

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After dinner we retreated to the hotel and settled in for the second half of the England – Columbia game. I love football and fly the England flag whenever they play, despite the heartbreak it inevitably brings. Thought it was in the bag until the Columbian coke and coffee boys put one in the net in injury time. 1-1. Then there was extra time, followed by the dreaded penalty shootout. My phone going like mad from friends and family. I was more scared than I had been in the tunnel. I hid in the bathroom, door ajar, looking through my fingers. England won the shootout and I nearly had a stroke. Vacation,
day one, was over. I was beginning to unwind.

 

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I wore Hermès throughout, one must retain one´s style.

 

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We stopped in Val di Sole, Italy, on the way home to watch the UCI World Cup Downhill MTB 2018 qualification runs. Chris asked me to bike up to the start at the top of the course. Hahahahahaha. Nope. I stayed down and watched at the finish line and drank coffee and ate salami sandwiches.

 

 

Australian Perfume Junkies is back up and running. I will slip back into my first and third Tuesday slots there and look forward to the challenge of keeping things fresh! I am ever thankful to Tara and A Bottled Rose for giving me a home whilst APJ got things sorted out. However, the exciting news is I am gonna stay with A Bottled Rose too; going in a somewhat different direction with a “Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen“ monthly post.

 

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Biking Bussis
CQ

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Cedre Sambac by Hermes

When a gaggle of us from around the globe met up for bunch in London ahead of the Art and Olfaction Awards, a highlight was that Val the Cookie Queen shared with us the PR set of five recent Hermessence creations by their in-house perfumer, Christine Nagel.

Read Val’s ravishing review of the two Essences de Parfums here.

 

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I tried Musc Pallida, Myrrhe Eglantine and Cedre Sambac on skin. I didn’t smear enough of the beautiful iris oil, so it was Cedre Sambac that I fell for that day. I was still breathing it in with a sigh at 10pm that night as we sat chatting in the bar of The Tabernacle.

Fast forward a couple of months and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The only jasmine perfume I owned was a 10ml travel spray of Superstitious by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums, which I only find suitable for special occasions because it’s so bold and glamorous. I had a gap in my collection for an everyday jasmine that would be lovely in the summer.

Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume mentioned that there was someone on a Facebook  group who was selling the travel sprays individually (officially only available in a set of three). I contacted him on impulse and a few days later, the 15ml bottle arrived.

 

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These five new releases were inspired by the Middle East. however this is Christine Nagel and Hermes we’re talking about so there are no clanking clichés. The theme is executed with a light hand and style to spare.

I normally avoid perfumes with spice or at the very least, approach them with caution, but the soft spice in Cedre Sambac is what makes it so unique and addictive. The creamy, spiced cedar is much more like malleable Indian sandalwood.

While I said I had room for an easy-to-wear jasmine in my collection, the name Cedre Sambac is pertinent here – this is a cedar base richly embellished with climbing jasmine. This is probably in large part why it suits me so well. Time and time again, I’ve found jasmine soliflores to be too indolic, too clean or too loud. I also tend to find straight-up florals rather dull. Cedre Sambac keeps me on my toes and glued to my wrist. The jasmine used is absolutely exquisite and doubtless high quality. It’s warm and silky as opposed to fresh and blousy.

I’m always banging on about how I’m drawn to contrast in perfumery and I find this marriage of strength and gentleness incredibly attractive. The composition is so expertly blended that the two are inextricably wrapped around each other in a tight embrace.

It may be an Eau de Toilette but Cedre Sambac lasts well on me at a low volume and becomes the most seductive of skin scents after a few hours.

There is a sensual, mildly animalic facet that I only pick up clearly when I get close. I like that this touch of filth is kept intimate and not on display to the whole world. It’s much sexier that way. I believe it’s this dirty little secret tucked into the folds of its cascading rosettes that elevates Cedre Sambac from pleasingly pretty to utterly beguiling.

 

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Have you tried any of the five new Hermessences? If not, do any appeal?

 

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Serge Lutens Wax Samples Winner

In last week’s review of Iris Silver Mist I offered to giveaway the large number of wax samples I was given at the Serge Lutens store in Paris.

 

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The winner of the random draw is:

 

fragoom

 

Congratulations fragoom! Please email me at abottledrose at gmail dotcom with your postal address.

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered.

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Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle  

By Val the Cookie Queen of APJ

A Dislike of  Cinnamon

But there is an exception to every rule. 

After my chai post it was interesting to see both in the comments and in private messages that I was not alone in my extreme dislike of cinnamon.
When I bake I prefer to use allspice or nutmeg or cardamom, cinnamon makes everything taste like Christmas or an apple pie.  Dior, one of the Poisons I think, and Diptyque’s L’Eau both have cinnamon in as far as I remember. I don’t have them here to sniff, but remember hating them. Correct me someone if I am wrong.  My mother didn’t like cinnamon, and always made the most delicious baked rice pudding with nutmeg. 
 
Perhaps my aversion to cinnamon is hereditary.  There again I was brought up my first eight years in the States. That might have done the damage. Americans love cinnamon and they chuck it into and onto  every possible thing. Real or artificial flavoured.Toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum. If you don’t watch out they’ll dump a ton of the stuff onto of your overfoamed coffee.  
Do you know Cinnabons? Cinnamon rolls with half a gallon of cinnamon goop injected into each one. A chilled cardiac arrest.  And then you get the sweet potatoes baked in maple syrup, topped with cinnamon.  
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Perhaps it offers comfort, in which case I dread to imagine how much of the stuff they’re gonna be using these days. Let us move on to perfume. 
 
Musc Ravageur – The Exception
 
I love the Frederic Malle line.  The old ones, the news ones, the reformulated ones.  It is a stunning collections of perfumes.  
Musc Ravageur was the first one that I bought. A thick and spicy vanilla. Created in 2000 by the great Maurice Roucel, also responsible for Iris Silver Mist and Dans Tes Bras.  
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Not a floral note to be seen.  It is an oriental, and not a musk as we know it.  A glittering citrus opening, captured quickly by a rush of cinnamon, clove and vanilla.  I have learned through trial and error that you need to spray a decent whack of Musc Ravageur, to AVOID the cinnamon.  A light spray seems to encourage the cinnamon to hang around way too long.  
It dries down to an amber, sandalwood, patchouli base, wrapped in vanilla. It is kind of stained and slightly grubby. Not for your average American. They have Cinnamon Burst Cheerios.
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My bottle is a good few years old. I understand the newer version is easier to wear. No, I do not know what that means.
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Licentious Bussis
CQ
 
 
 

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Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens – And A Giveaway

Iris Pallida, Galbanum, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Clove, Incense, Vetiver, Labdanum, Musk, Benzoin and White Amber

 

When I visited the Serge Lutens flagship store in Paris back in April, I was talking to a member of our group about how we loved fragrances that evolve on the skin. Then I promptly purchased a perfume that pretty much stays consistent from beginning to end: Iris Silver Mist. It’s a reminder that we don’t always need twists and turns. Sometimes consistency is what we crave.

 

 

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The sleek black atomiser of ISM I bought in Paris

 

I owned a small decant of ISM maybe 5 years ago and wanted to fall in love with it quite badly. Howver, it was a bit too metallic; as if a cold knife were pressed against my skin. Like a lot of the Lutens fragrances, it appears to have been reformulated since then. It is not only less metallic, but less reminiscent of freshly dug carrots. For once, reformulation had worked in my favour to make Iris Silver Mist considerably more wearable.

While it may not be as evocative of orange vegetables as it used to be, it is still satisfyingly rooty. I love this about it because when I’m in the mood for iris, I want it in all its raspy, rootsy glory.

Released in 1994, I’d forgotten that this Paris Exclusive was composed by Maurice Roucel and not Christopher Sheldrake.

ISM

 

It’s not worth spending much time pondering the notes list. This is such a cohesive composition it’s hard to unpick and really, why would you? It’s all about that spectacular overdose of orris. Everything else is merely there to enhance and complement that striking effect.

Iris Silver Mist is likely to cause the uninitiated to take a step back. It’s unearthed bulbs, freezing fog, green shoots, rich soil, purple violets and even a crisp ream of paper. The dusting of powder serves to soften its edges somewhat and gives it a silky feel. However, it is still most definitely a statement fragrance rather than a pretty perfume.

On me, it swathes the skin so closely, others’ reactions are not of any concern.

ISM is as much an atmosphere as a scent. It’s introspective and wistful but it is also rarefied and mysterious. Has a name ever fitted a pefume more perfectly? I doubt it. You inhabit it the way you might inhabit an otherworldly mist at dusk.

It doesn’t need to mutate. It just has to be.

I find it more soothing than sombre, though I lean towards the melancholy so maybe I simply feel at home. Lately my nerves have been on edge and Iris Silver Mist has been s supremely calming influence, grounding and pacifying me. It’s a beautiful, ethereal filter through which to view the world.

 

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When people ask me what my favourite perfume is, I now have an answer: Iris Silver Mist.

A Giveaway

When I bought my atomiser the SA at Serge Lutens gave me what I think must be close to a complete set of wax samples. If you’d like them, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do a draw next week and announce the winner on Thursday 28th June.

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POST WORKOUT SPICED CHAI

By Val the Cookie Queen of APJ

 
I have a fairly tough workout regime twice a week at the moment.  There are of course a host of post-workout drinks and shakes to chose from, most of them bordering on the unpleasant, at least taste-wise.  I am usually ready to pass out at the end of my program and want something that has a hit and kicks in immediately.  Which is why I started to make and take my own post workout drink.  Simple as that.  It literally brings me back to life, believe me.  
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There is no correct recipe for chai masala or spiced chai.  You can use cloves, star anise and cinnamon but I don’t care for so many spices all at once, and I actively dislike cinnamon in a drink.  And in perfume.  Yuck.
 
Cookie Queen´S CHAI – this makes about a liter
Ingredients:
Fresh ginger. About two inches of root, grated
8 Green cardamom pods
20 Black peppercorns
5 Tea bags or loose black tea.  (I use bog standard PG Tips bags)
A good 250mls of milk
Sugar to taste
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Crush the cardamom pods and black pepper in a pestle and mortar, or whatever you have to hand to do the job.

 

 

Grate the ginger.
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Put about a liter of cold water into a pan.  Chuck in the crushed cardamom and pepper and bring to the boil.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, more if you want.  It will smell divine, and might make you sneeze.
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Throw in the grated ginger root. Keep it simmering for another 10 minutes. 
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Add the milk.
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Bring it to the boil, watching it so that it doesn´t boil over your stovetop, but hopefully you have used a big enough pan!
Throw in the teabags.  Let it simmer until you have a good deep tan colour, probably about three minutes.  
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You will then need to pour it through a decent sized strainer over another saucepan or a bowl and strain the whole lot, pushing down on all the stuff to get every last bit of goodness out.
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Sugar to taste.  This chai needs to be really sweet, you can decide yourself though.
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Sip slowly and enjoy the immediate kick.
 
Deadlift Bussis
CQ
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Mood Scent 4: Scents of Place

 

It’s Mood Scent time again! Today, Megan, Sam and I are picking perfumes that remind or connect us with the place we live or have lived in the past. There are so many fragrances and entire brands devoted to geographical locations, but there are also perfumes that evoke a particular area for other reasons. It’s a personal resonance and I’m looking forward to reading which fragrances my blogging pals based in Wales and France have chosen to represent their home. Hopefully Esperanza will be up to joining us for our next post in August.

 

Mood scent purple

 

 

London by Gallivant Perfumes

Cucumber, Rose de Mai absolute, Leather

I’ve lived in the capital my whole life so I’ve chosen two perfumes that represent it. This city of mine is a quirky one and Gallivant have made a perfume to match. London is a light, rosy leather with a twist – an aquatic top note that you might not expect to work but somehow does. It captures the eccentric side of the city where everyone is free to express themselves in whatever way they choose. It’s one of the things I am most proud of about my hometown. This unique perfume was a finalist in the 2018 Art and Olfaction Awards for good reason.

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Wood Sage & Sea Salt by Jo Malone

Ambrette Seed, Sea Salt, Sage, Red Algae and Grapefruit

While I might not be naturally drawn to Jo Malone’s clean and tasteful output, this 2014 release made an impression on me for its evocation of the British coastline. It was composed by Christina Nagel who is doing a stellar job over at Hermes after taking over from Jean-Clause Ellena. It represents in scent a windswept shore rather than the more familiar tropical beach fragrance. Wood Sage & Sea Salt starts with citrus moving through light woods with gentle greenery and ending with a salty/sweet amber in the vein of Eau de Merveilles. It’s successful in bringing to mind the flashes of sunshine and salty breeze I used to get when visiting a British seaside town out of season with my family as a child.

 

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Vaara by Penhaligon’s

Quince, Rosewater, Carrot Seed, Coriander Seed, Saffron, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose Oil, Freesia, Indian Magnolia, Peony, Iris, Honey, White Musk, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Benzoin Resin, Tonka Bean

I can’t write about London without taking into the account the multicultural mix that I am a product of. My mother came to Britian in the 1950s with the rest of her Angl0-Indian family from Bangalore. They moved into a house in Willesden and when she married my English father, they bought a house in west London. I’ve grown up in a mixed race family and still live in this terrifically diverse city. I therefore have to include a perfume that reflects this and I happen to own and love Vaara. Penhaligon’s is a quintessentially English brand that have created a Western perfume inspired by India. It’s a light, sunny Anglo-Indian rose fragrance with gorgeous splashes of quince, saffron and carrot seed.

vaara by penhaligon's bottle

 

Dryad by Papillon Perfumes

Narcissus. Oakmoss. Jonquil. Cedrat. Galbanum. Benzoin. Vetiver.

Moving out of the city into the British countryside is a joy and I love it whenever I get a chance to trample through a forest or woodland. What’s great about Dryad is that it is more than a literal interpretation of the ancient forest in Southern England that inspired it. It starts out with a galbanum note that is a photoreal expression of being immersed in the lush vegetation of this green and pleasant land.  However it is embedded in a magnificently complex chypre with a base of oakmoss and oriental leanings which give it a glorious antique feel.

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Have a look at the Scents of Place from my partners at Megan In Sainte Maxime and I Scent You A Day.

 

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Is there a perfume that you associate with your part of the world?

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ELEGANCE, POISE AND POLISH: HERMÈS ESSENCE DE PARFUMS 2018

By Val the Cookie Queen (from APJ)
 
”Using oils is highly sensuous.  I wanted to have people putting it on their finger and applying it skin-on-skin.’’ – Christine Nagel, Hermes perfumer
 
Hermès have introduced Cardamusc and Musc Pallida, two 20ml essences de parfum, into their exclusive Hermessence collection, available only in the Hermès stores.  The parfum essence is carried by the lightest of oils and melts into the skin as though it was never there, leaving behind the most elegant and divine smell.  
The essences wrap their threads around you, the warmth of the skin magnifying the qualities of the materials Nagel has used. Both are absolutely stunning.
 

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7.5ml press samples 

Cardamusc Essence de Parfum
 
Exactly as the name suggests, it opens with an overdose of a rich, fragrant, very green cardamom which softens when the musks warm up on the skin, each layer slowly revealing itself. As it develops, the cardamom remains anchored by a very beautiful sweet vetiver, never losing the sensuality that the musks bring to the creation. Divine.
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Musc Pallida Essence de Parfum
 
Opening with iris, it soon becomes a musky, powdery, peppery, and violet  (violet the flower) tinged iris. Musc Pallida oozes elegance and tranquility, and at the same time, remains scintillating, transpiring through the skin.  Drop dead gorgeous.
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The two essences stand alone as perfumes, seductively scenting the skin for hours (they are pure parfum strength). Liquid gold. Layering them with the three new Hermessence EdTs brings the idea of a perfumed skin to a whole new level. 
The Essences de Parfum are expensive.  Sometimes life is.
 
 “It is with these ‘essence de parfum‘ Hermessences where Mme Nagel makes this collection her own.  Both are like nothing else in it.“
Mark Behnke – Colognoisseur
 
I would love a rose and musc in the collection.
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Elegant, poised and polished bussis.
CQ 
 
 
 

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Reading Diary

 

When I occasionally read Young Adult fiction, I stick with fantasy or LBGTQ+. I read one of each last month. Unfortunately there is a lot of dross in YA so I try and be picky. One thing I’ll say about the genre though, is that the books are well paced and usually fun to read. They can be a good choice if you’re in a reading slump.

 

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I really loved the main character of the first instalment of this YA fantasy duology. Lazlo Strange is a librarian who spends all his spare time researching the lost city of Weep. He’s a dreamer with a big heart and we follow him as his life takes a huge twist. It’s a well written tale with fantastic characters, great world-building and a well-paced plot. Looking forward to the release of The Muse of Nightmares in October. 4/5

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I felt like I was cheating a bit by reading a children’s book for my monthly classic. Even though I already knew the story, it was lovely to read it for myself and enjoy the little details, such as how Lucy loves the smell and feel of fur; rubbing her face in it when alone in the wardrobe. The concept is as good as it gets and beautifully realised. 5/5

 

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The Name of the Rose by Emberto Eco

I put this down after only about 60 pages. The writing was so dense I couldn’t get into the flow.  This book is extremely highly rated so clearly the issue is with me. If you think I should persevere please let me know in the comments.  I did like the idea of a Medieval murder mystery set in a monastery.

 

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy 2) by Katherine Arden

I loved the immersive, magical experience of The Bear and the Nightingale and was happy to find that atmosphere continued in the second instalment of the trilogy. The focus of the story moves from the Russian wilderness to the city, but continues to revolve around Vasya, who has been branded a witch by her village. I had loved the rural setting of the first book but there is still a fair amount of that to start with and I was intrigued to read about Medieval Moscow. My only mild criticism of the first instalment was that it was rather slow paced. The Girl in the Tower moves along nicely and the last fifth or so is positively action packed. I’m not quite sure how I will wait until January 2019 for the final part of the story but I’ve already got it on pre-order. 5/5

 

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This YA book has been recently turned into a film re-named Love, Simon. The story follows a 17 year-old boy in Georgia who hasn’t told anyone he’s gay and charts his anonymous online relationship with another closeted boy at his high school, known only as Blue. I wondered if I’d find Simon irritating at the start of the book but I grew to love him. He’s funny and his email exchanges with Blue are as endearing as they are entertaining. I stayed up much later than I should have one night because I was genuinely dying to find out the identity of Blue. I’m rubbish at working out any kind of mystery and true to form, I guessed wrong. I also enjoyed his interactions with his friends and family, who are all great. It doesn’t topple my favourite book in this sub-genre (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe) but it comes close. 4/5

 

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This was my first novel by Murakami and it proved a good place to start (thanks for the tip Ana-Maria). It’s set in Tokyo in 1969 and while I see it described as a love story, it’s MUCH deeper than that.  While the subject matter is tragic, the narrator – 19 year-old Toru Watanabe – is wonderful and the writing is beautiful. It had a spare, melancholy feel and kept reminding me of Catcher in the Rye. I felt validated when one of the characters asks Toru if he’s trying to talk like Holden Caulfield. Ah, Toru. He is such a sensitive, kind soul who wears his heart on his sleeve. This makes him painfully vulnerable but incredibly empathetic. I’m concerned about how I will get on with the magical realism of Murakami’s other novels but I definitely going to give them a try. 5/5

 

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Should I read the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia? Can you recommend which Murakami novel I should try next?

 

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