Monthly Archives: January 2018

Books I’ve Been Reading Lately – October 17 to January 18

Do you set reading goals in the New Year? I thought about doing it but decided against it. I don’t think finally finishing Sapiens counts. I’m going to continue to make an effort to read consistently and fairly broadly and try not feel guilty about indulging my love of fantasy.

Here’s what I got through over the last few months.

 

All the Harry Potter books by J K Rowling

Encouraged by a couple of friends, I finally read the seven Harry Potter books. I had thought it was pointless as I didn’t get to read them as a child (being too old) and disliked the first film. However, hardly a week goes by without some reference to Harry Potter.  I enjoyed the first few books but got properly hooked about midway through the third. From there on in, they just got better and better as the kids grow up and the plots get darker and more complex.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is nothing short of brilliant. If you’re a fan but haven’t checked it out already, J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website is well worth a look. You can get sorted into your Hogwarts House and find out your Patronus. I dearly wanted the Sorting Hat to place me in Ravenclaw with the other dreamers – and it did!

 

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Christmas Past by Jodi Taylor

Another Christmas short story from the St. Mary’s Chronicles. What a treat. I especially enjoyed this one because it continues on from the last book in the series about a lovable bunch of time-travelling historians, rather than being a complete standalone. It amazes me how Jodi Taylor manages to mix humour in with dark themes so effortlessly. This quick read involves a journey back to Dickensian London to brighten the wretched lives of two young chimney sweeps on Christmas Eve.

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book has recently been made into a film by Steven Spielberg. It’s set in a dystopian near-future where people spend most of their time plugged into a virtual reality programme called the OASIS. In his Will, its creator states his multi-billion fortune will go to the first person who completes a quest within that virtual universe. He was obsessed with the books, comics, films and most of all, videogames, that he grew up with in the 1980s and the “Easter Egg hunt” is based on knowledge of the pop culture of the time. Therefore if you don’t remember the 80s, the constant references are likely to become tedious. The nostalgia the writer obviously feels for that era is half the pleasure of the book.  Being a child of the 80s myself and a fan of fantasy novels, I loved it.

 

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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Well this was a big mistake for the beginning of January. What a wretched tale of the cruel mistreatment of children and the horrors of the workhouse. Thank goodness Dickens brought awareness to this issue in the 19th Century but I did not need to read about it during a depressing start to the year. I picked it because after Ready Player One I wanted to swing back into the past. I have a weird tendency after finishing a book to want to read something that’s the polar opposite. I’d only read A Christmas Carol so wanted to try more Dickens and thought this one would be accessible. It wasn’t a difficult read and there was some justice and salvation, but overall the grimness didn’t make it worth my while.

 

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

I found this via self-improvement writer, Mark Manson’s recommendations of the 5 Best Books for Anxiety and Depression.

For those of us worrying we are not “winning at life”, self-compassion is the answer. You read a lot about self-care but fostering a kind, compassionate attitude to yourself is what really makes the difference. It can interupt the habit of regretting the past, beating yourself up in the present and fearing the future. People tend to pour scorn on self-help books but I have come across a handful that have totally shifted my perspective and changed my life for the better: this is one of them.

 

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Please share what you’ve been reading lately in the comments!

 

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Three Neroli Fragrances To Brighten Winter

I’ve been looking for a nice neroli perfume for ages. Both orange blossom and neroli are derived from orange blossom flowers but the methods of extraction differ and this results in markedly different scents. Orange blossom absolute is thicker, sweeter and more floral while neroli essential oil is tarter, greener and brighter.

After sharing my wish to find a good neroli fragrance, my mate Esperanza of L’Esperessence very kindly sent me a selection of samples from her home in Holland. They were the perfect antidote to the grey skies and mood that accompanies January in London.

 

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Grand Neroli, Atelier Cologne

Notes: Neroli, Lemon, Sicilian Bergamot, Petitgrain, Galbanum, Moss, Birch Leaf, Musk, White Amber and Vanilla.

Neroli lends itself to the cologne style so you’d expect Atelier Cologne to do a good job with it. Grand Neroli is not quite as zesty as the Heeley but still starts with that lemony tang. It moves from tart, through floral, to green. It’s the most nuanced of the three and I like the way it changes and develops over time. True to the brand’s remit, this is a full- bodied take on a cologne with good lasting power. However I find the musk quite prominent and that’s a deal-breaker for me. It’s a white musk which fades through the day and isn’t headache inducing like some.

 

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Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St Clement’s, Heeley

Notes: Orange. Lemon. Bergamot,  Mandarine, Neroli, Petitgrain, Earl Grey Tea, Ylang Ylang and Vetiver

We used to play a singing game to “Orange and Lemons” at children’s birthday parties when I was little which means this perfume has a very happy association for me.  As is often the case with old English nursery rhymes, the lyrics dating from circa 1740 are pretty grim when you look at them:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead

The fragrance goes on zingy as you’d expect with the presence of lemon but it’s not so bitter as to make me wince. The projection lessens considerably after about 2-3 hours but this is citrus-heavy and citrus accords have limited longevity. However, the lasting power was very good despite the closeness to the skin. The Earl Grey tea accord is a nice idea but wasn’t noticeable to me. St. Clement’s is simple but very cheering and easy to wear. It’s my favourite of the three.

 

 

 

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Neroli, Yves Rocher

Notes: Bigarade (bitter orange), Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Neroli and Musks.

Neroli is part of the Secret d’Essences collection of signature fragrances using quality raw materials. This is really pretty. It has none of the tart lemon of the two previous iterations. This feels more like a perfume than a cologne and you could say it leans more traditionally feminine in style. Neroli has a lovely golden hue with no interruptions. It has just the right balance between sweet and sour.  This is probably because unlike the other two, it contains orange blossom which adds that floral syrupy-ness but also means it’s not a straight-up neroli fragrance. Sadly, its longevity wasn’t great on me but at around £30 for 50ml, you can afford to re-apply during the day.

 

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Have you tried any of these? Do you have any more neroli fragrances to recommend me in the comments?

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Winner of the 2nd Birthday! Giveaway!

Many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway but most of all, for the many lovely comments. Knowing there are people out there reading and enjoying the blog is what it’s all about.

Now, the winner of the samples of Naja and Dryad is:-

 

Stephen!

 

Stephen, please get in touch via abottledrose at gmail dot com with your address.

 

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2nd Birthday Giveaway!

This week marks two years of A Bottled Rose.  To celebrate and to thank you for reading, I’d like to give away hefty spray samples (pictured) of two of my favourite launches of 2017 to one winner.

It’s probably not surprising that both come from indie perfumers, however an honourable mention should be made of Superstitious by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums, of which I own a travel spray. It’s glorious.

The first giveaway sample is from my bottle of Naja by Vero Profumo which is a captivating concoction of citrusy lime blossom dusted with pollen in the top, suede-like osmanthus in the heart and a base of golden blond tobacco. Of course, this is Vero Profumo so there’s a lot more to it than that, including wisps of smoke and a touch of spice. This is an uncommon tobacco perfume with the texture of suede and layer upon layer of contrast. Despite being full-bodied it never feels too much. Naja is a enthralling chiaroscuro. As is her way, Vero takes structure of classical perfumery and twists it in a new and entirely modern direction. You can read my full review of this bewitching shape-shifter by clicking here.

Second comes Dryad by Papillon Perfumes. This wood spirit starts with bright green galbanum, continuing to wend and wind its way through to the heart of the ancient forest. The best part is the vintage-esque drydown reminiscent of old-school oakmoss.  If you do not normally favour green scents or are yet to find one that you really click with, then I recommend you try Dryad. Where many in this genre lack depth and interest, this is a sophisticated chypre fragrance with an oriental slant and no astringency. My full review is here.

 

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To enter, please tell me in the comments what was your favourite new perfume (or fragrant discovery) of 2017. I was going to limit the draw to the UK because it’s so hard to smuggle perfume out of the country but if you’re based abroad and willing to take the risk your prize might not make it to you, please join in the fun.

The giveaway will close on Monday 15th January. The winner will be generated by Random.org and announced on Wednesday 17th January.

Good luck!

 

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