Monthly Archives: May 2018
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.
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
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
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
Should I read the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia? Can you recommend which Murakami novel I should try next?
By Val the Cookie Queen from APJ
As some of you may have read in my last post, I recently spent a few hours with Nathalie Vinciguerra Founder and CEO of Anima Vinci Perfumes, formerly the Creative Fragrance Director of Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan. One could say she knows her stuff. Inside out.
It was The Candy Perfume Boy that first brought Anima Vinci to my attention, and to be with both him and Nathalie in London, to sniff through the line was a privilege and a great pleasure. Both of their enthusiasm and love for the brand was infectious.
There are five fragrances in the initial Anima Vinci collection.
Wood of Life by Michel Roudnitska
Bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, mint, blue ginger, ylang ylang, rose, petitgrain, cinnamon, cloves, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, piri piri, palo santo, leather note, musk, vanilla.
Mellow, woody, smooth, soothing, quiet, but that is not to say unnoticeable. This perfume contains the material “piri piri“ seldom, if ever used before in a fragrance. The South Americans have drunk it as a tea for centuries, as a means of entering a dream like state, and for creating a calming and sedating effect. Perhaps this is what induces the feeling of tranquillity in Wood of Life. A distinctive and elegant fragrance.
Lime Spirit by Christiano Provenzano
Bergamot, orange, citrus fusion, mandarin, black pepper, neroli, ginger, lavender, hedione, pink pepper, cardamom, pepperwood fusion, amber, cedarwood, moss, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, tonka, leather, benzoin, musk.
Opening with a stimulating and restoring burst of citrus, reminiscent of a cross between an Opal Fruit and Rose´s Lime Cordial, it is pure pleasure. Diving into the heart we find a multitude of colourful spices, enhancing the revitalizing effect of the citrus opening. Unlike the cologne you might be tricked into thinking it is, it all rests on a bed of leather, tonka, amber… Lime and leather? Absolutely.
Jasmine Yang by Thomas Fontaine
Mandarin, yuzu, pink pepper, solar flowers, water jasmine, frangipani, ylang ylang. sandalwood, ambergris, patchouli, vanilla, white musk.
This is my most worn of the five as I have a bottle in my collection. It is a white floral, but think more along the lines of a white floral for yoga and meditation. It dos not scream. The jasmine cossets your skin, sweetening your emotions, relaxing your mood. Jasmine blossom is offered to the Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu faith. Opening with a mandarin and pink pepper flash, the jasmine is there from the start, enhanced in the heart with ylang-ylang and frangipani. It rests on sandalwood, ambergris, patchouli …… and is utterly delectable.
Oud Delight by Christian Provenzano
Bergamot, lemon. cinnamon, clove, ginger, saffron, coriander seed, ylang ylang, rose, olibanum, sandalwood, oud, patchouli, tonka, labdanum, vetiver, musk, amber.
As Nathalie introduced me to the Oud Delight, she commented that no collection is complete without an oud fragrance. Oud is no longer a phase, it will remain. Oud Delight opens with a strengthening bergamot and citrus accord, before smoothly going into a spicy heart, the oud apparent, but not overpowering. It is anchored into the base along with sandalwood, labdanum, amber …..Tranquil.
Rose Prana by Randa Hamami
Violets leaves, verbena, pink pepper, Centifolia rose, oak moss, woody accord, vetiver, patchouli, white musk.
It was The Candy Perfume Boy saying that Rose Prana was one of the most gorgeous roses ever that sparked my interest and the subsequent meeting of Nathalie. I love rose, but only have a couple in my collection. Rose Prana is absolutely ravishing. Rose: Sensual, love, enlightenment, calming, nourishing, rejuvenating, stimulating, restoring. Rose Prana is clear, sweet and with light notes of honey. Divine. I crave a bottle of this.
All beautifully constructed, modernistic perfumes. An absolute joy.
Anima Vinci offer a perfect discovery set. 5 x 1.5 mls, and it includes a stack of scent strips and a very informative leaflet. You also receive a fifteen pound voucher to redeem if you choose to purchase a bottle. The discovery set is ten pounds plus postage.
For more details and a lot more information on the Anima Vinci house, go check them out here.
With great thanks to Nathalie for the fantastic day that we had together, for the black cab ride, excellent tea and sunstroke.
I went into the new Miller Harris store at Westfield London recently to try the pair of fragrances launched in January this year which were inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel Tender is the Night.
Miller Harris gave a passage from the classic novel to two perfumers and asked them to interpret it in scent as they wished.
Here is the text: –
“…She walked on, between kaleidoscopic peonies massed in pink clouds, black and brown tulips and fragile mauve stemmed roses, transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window – until, as if the scherzo of colour could reach no further intensity, it broke off suddenly in mid-air.”
It was clear from the packaging alone that the perfumes were very different and I discovered it mirrors their contrasting characters. I kept muddling up the names because Scherzo is very tender, while Tender is very striking.
Scherzo (by Mathieu Nardin)
Top: Tangerine and Davana
Heart: Olibanum, Narcissus, Pittosporum and Dark Rose
Base: Patchouli, Vanilla, Oudh and Sweet Note
I had to look up what ‘scherzo’ means. It’s a musical term for a composition that is light and playful in character. Now I understand why this feel-good fragrance is named as it is.
The opening of Scherzo is the best part for me. I love a tangerine note and the juicy, fruity opening is fantastic. I would have really liked to get those heart notes of narcissus olibanum (incense), pittosporum (Mock Orange) and dark rose, but after 10 minutes it has morphed into a fluffy vanilla. I don’t pick up on the oud.
Scherzo takes its inspiration from the ‘pink clouds’ and ‘sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window’. The SA said they only had two bottles left and I can well imagine it pleasing a wide range of people.
Tender (by Bertrand Duchaufour)
Top: Pink Pepper, Aldehydes, Green Hyacinth Note and Cinnamon
Heart: Black Tulip, Leather, Saffron, Geranium, Cyclamen, Incense and Turkish Rose
Base: Amber, Cedarwood, Myrrh Absolute, Patchouli, Frankincense, Vanilla Absolute, Storax, Sandalwood and Musk
If Scherzo is more mainstream in appeal, then Tender is more niche. Where Scherzo seems to focus on the word “fragile”, Tender seems to take its lead from the word “intensity”. It picks up on the kiedoscope of peonies, black tulips and mauve roses in the passage. Its character is as introverted and stealthily seductive as Scherzo is buoyant and innocent.
The first chapter of the perfume is the scent of a bed of green hyacinths; deep and heady in the shade. This combines with the black tulip accord and rose in the heart to create a dark floral aroma which is uncommonly gorgeous.
This gradually slides into the familiar Duchaufour base of musky woods spiked with incense. It’s not as strident as it can be, but it’s still not something I’ve ever enjoyed in his work. All the same, I still favour Tender over Scherzo because I’m not much of a vanilla fan and up until the base, I find it quietly intoxicating.
Are you attracted to perfumes inspired by literature? Which of this pair of fragrances is more your style?
Sandra reviewed Niral by Neela Vermeire Creations last week and generously offered to post a sample to one lucky commenter.
I did a draw via random.org and the winner is:
Please email me at abotttledrose at gmail dot com with your postal address, which I will pass on to Sandra.
Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies invited me to join her and pals for an April trip to Paris a while ago. I thought I had better give it a miss considering I had booked a big holdaiy for July. Then last Wednesday I had one of those “life is short” moments and got on to fellow frag fanatic Lisa, to see if I could travel with her for the weekend. (Look out for her write-up on I Scent You A Day).
On Friday we boarded the Eurostar at St. Pancras.
On arrival at the Gare du Nord, we headed straight for the Metro.
Lisa was staying at a hotel in the Latin Quarter while I was sleeping on the sofabed at Portia’s Airbnb, conveniently located in Les Halles. Before we met the others we found time to visit a huge French pharmacy. These places are full of amazing skincare that is often cheaper than back home. My usual Nuxe lip balm costs £9.50 but I got a couple here for 6.99 euro each.
When I arrived at the apartment, Scott was sorting through his precious scent strips from their trip to The Osmotheque the day before. He kindly let me sniff the recreated Iris Gris.
That evening we walked past the amazing Pompidou Centre on our way to dinner in the very cool Marais district.
The next morning we had croissants by the pond in the Tuileries gardens. Portia harassed the ducks and we messed about in front of The Louvre.
Then we made our way to the Jardin du Palais-Royal to meet up with the others (14 in total) for a 10am appointment at Serge Lutens.
After an introduction about Serge Lutens – the man himself – the staff passed around paper strips dipped into each of the twelve fragrances in turn. With strips in hand, they then read some corresponding background information about them.
The bell jars included Santal de Mysore (spiced), Miel de Bois (happily urine-free), Iris Silver Mist (bliss), Borneo 1834 (yum), Cuir Mauresque (greasy leather – in a good way), Chene (great), Un Bois Sepia (ugh), Fumerie Turque (very popular with the room), La Myrrhe (classy) and Rose de Nuit (own it).
Afterwards, we were able to request others. I asked to try Une Voix Noire (which I thought I might buy) and De Profundis on skin along with Iris Silver Mist.
Une Voix Noire turned out to be a transparent, almost honeyed, white floral. It was rather lovely but because it wasn’t the smoky gardenia I’d expected, it threw me. I reckoned it was too much of a risk to purchase on the spot (I need a decant first).
The one I decided to buy was Iris Silver Mist because I’m trash for iris and it isn’t as carrot-y or metallic as it used to be. When I thanked one of the SAs on my way downstairs and told her I was buying ISM, she told me it was currently available as a 30ml travel atomiser with a 30ml refill. At 120 euro for a total of 60ml (which I can spray!) compared to 190 euro for the 75ml bell jar, this was a result.
Just about everyone came away with something. In Portia’s case, three somethings – La Myrrhe, Chene and Chypre Rouge.
Below left is the box and then below right is the black travel atomiser full of ISM, with the refill alongside it. I’ve worn it every day since and adore it. Anna-Maria bought the same and accidentally but brilliantly renamed it Irish Silver Mist 🙂
After lunch, we stopped off at Dior on our way to Jovoy. None of the swath of new perfumes in La Collection grabbed me but it’s great they do 40ml bottles now. Apparently Mitzah is released as a limited run each year, but only available in Paris.
Jovoy is a large store stocking a lot of luxury niche brands. I tried Niral by Neela Vermeire Creations and a couple of the fragrances by Anatole Lebreton. I wanted to love Grimoire because of its wonderful name but sadly, did not. (You can read about my visit to the new London branch here).
A few of us wanted to visit the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre so we left the others to it.
That tiny baby – bottom right – squealed and scared Portia out of her skin. Hahaha.
Before heading back to the apartment we made a visit to Divine Perfumes. Apparently L’Homme Sage went down well.
We spent the evening at a very nice restaurant where I tried my first oyster.
This fantastic group of perfume people made me feel included even though I was piggybacking on their trip at the last minute.
Lisa and I headed for the Eurostar home the next morning so it was essentially only one full day in Paris but wow, what a day.
Huge thanks to everyone involved for making it so special.
By Val the Cookie Queen from APJ
A Day with The Candy Perfume Boy, BlondesWunder and Kimball Shirley, cartoonist extraordinaire.