November Reading Diary

In honour of Halloween I spent October reading gothic novels. In November I was back to my usual mixed bag which comprised magical realism, fantasy, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and a quirky translated Japanese novel.

 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

“She was so Southern that she cried tears that came straight from the Mississippi, and she always smelled faintly of cottonwood and peaches.”

After a month of dark books I wanted something light and fluffy. I picked this because it was mentioned in a list of books that feel like my comfort TV show, Gilmore Girls. It does have that cosy vibe but the plot is actually similar to that of the film Practical Magic (I haven’t read the Alice Hoffman book). Reclusive Claire Waverley lives in a big Queen Anne house in a small Southern town. The apple tree in the back garden wants people to eat its fruit so they can see the biggest event in their future and her aunt Evanelle is compelled to give things to people that it then turns out they will need. Claire is a caterer and uses the edible flowers and herbs she grows to create the effects her clients ask for: love, prosperity etc. She has a settled life until a new neighbour moves in next door and her rebellious sister Sydney turns up after 10 years away, fleeing an abusive relationship. It’s a nice, easy read with romance and a touch of magic. I read ii in a day and a half. 3.5/5

 

Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 1) by Patrick Rothffuss

“You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”

i just don’t get it. This is one of the most loved – and most talked about- series in the fantasy world. A whopping 68% of the ratings on Goodreads are 5 stars. Name of the Wind was released in 2007 and is the first instalment in a trilogy, the last book of which still hasn’t been released. I read the first book to see what all the fuss is about. The tale involves our protagonist, Kvothe, telling the story of his life to The Chronicler. He runs an inn under an assumed name but he was once a famous hero that people still tell tall tales about. Name of the Wind covers his childhood up to the age of around 16. I liked the initial set up: Kvothe grows up in a travelling performing company however his parents and the rest of the troupe are murdered by what were believed to be mythical figures, The Chandrian. From this point, he is determined to track them down and gain revenge. To do this he decides to learn Arcanism at The University. However, we spend many years and many pages following his survival on the city streets. This was readable but I just wanted it to hurry up and get to The University where he’d start learning magic. Even when he got there, it was still slow paced and only mildly interesting. Much is said of the beautiful writing and while it is well written, it wasn’t particularly lyrical and not very atmospheric. I don’t mind a slow paced novel but this just felt meandering. I could have coped better with that if I loved the world but it didn’t grab me either. 3.25/5

 

Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

“She wanted to do things without having to worry what others thought.
She simply lived for her freedom.”

This is a fairly short Japanese novel set entirely in a cafe in Tokyo. If you sit in a certain seat, you can return to a time in the past, and you can come back, as long as you come back before the coffee gets cold. The other catch is that while you can see and speak to people in the past, it doesn’t change anything in the future. We follow four people as they sit in the chair including a woman who goes back to the day her boyfriend broke up with her and another woman who relives the very last time she would get to speak to her sister. It’s a simple, whimsical stale rather than time-travelling sci-fi. It’s an allegory for how changing your perspective on the past can improve things immeasurably in the present. 3.25/5

 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”

There was a buzz about this novel when it was released earlier in the year. In the 1950s, twins Desiree and Stella are growing up in Mallard, Louisiana, a small town where everyone is classed as ‘black’ but have such light skin they could be mistaken for white. Sick of feeling trapped and cleaning for a rich white family outside town, at the age of 16 the twins run away to New Orleans. After about a year, Stella leaves her sister behind for good to start a new, privileged life ‘passing’ as a white woman. At age 30, Desiree returns to Mallard with her dark skinned daughter Jude, who is bullied by the light skinned children and looked down upon by the adults. Like her mother and the aunt she’s never met, she can’t wait to leave and never come back. Stella also has a daughter, Kennedy, who has no idea of her mother’s secret and her own heritage. We then follow Desiree, Stella, Jude and Kennedy through their lives to the 1990s. It’s a book about racism and colouirsm but it’s also a well written story about two generations of women: trying to fulfill their hopes and dreams. It has an average rating on Goodreads of 4.29 but I struggle with books based around extended family relationships. I admired the prose and I was drawn in by the ‘passing’ plot, but it didn’t grip me in the way it did others. I felt like we skimmed over all four lives in a series of snapshots. I would have liked it to go deeper and concentrate on one or two all the way through, particularly Stella and the passing plot. Do investigate further if you like the sound of it though. It’s much lauded. 3.5/5

 

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

“People don’t like to be corrected about things like that. That was one of things Mr Peterson always told me. He said that correcting people’s grammar in the middle of a conversation made me sound like a Major Prick.”

 

 

 

 

I have a fondness for stories about misfit young men and fell hard for Alex. At age 11 he is hit by a meteorite which leaves him with epilepsy. Aside from this, he is a geeky boy with an eccentric mother who runs a New Age shop in their little village near Glastonbury, Somerset. He’s bullied at school and has no friends until he meets elderly American local resident, Mr Peterson. The ex-Vietnam Vet introduces Alex to Kurt Vonnegut who starts up a book club devoted to the author. All is well until Mr Peterson is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This is not a spoiler because the book opens with Alex, age 17, being arrested returning to England from Switzerland with Mr Peterson’s ashes and a large bag of pot. There are books that makes me smile inwardly but this book made me laugh out loud several times and cry once. It’s also very British in the way it depicts daily life on a micro level, which I enjoyed a lot. 4/5

 

How was your reading in November? 

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Mood Scent 4: Gifting 2020

Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Gifting 2020. The end of the year signals all kinds of gifting. Loads of the major religions have giving events, work places, sporting groups and friend groups all join in and it can become a bloody expensive and time consuming nightmare. This year has been a tough slog for a lot of us (me included, especially financially) and within my friend circle it’s been proposed that we keep the gifting to an absolute minimum. COOL! So I have been scouring the web and stores for some excellent deals, discounted beauties and a couple of lavish, over the top bits and bobs.

Can’t wait to read about your favourite Gifting 2020 in the comments too.

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Gifting 2020

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CQ. 2020.

By Val the Cookie Queen

PNEUMA. Is an Ancient Greek word for “breath”, and in a religious context for “spirit” or “soul”.  

Well the year started off pretty much like any other.  Until it wasn’t. 

We will start with perfumes since this is what unites most of us who read A Bottled Rose.  Scent of the first hard lockdown  was Neela Vermiere´s Mohur EdP and the Extrait.  Perfume of the second, Strangelove’s fallintostars EdP.  (Waiting for the oil to arrive in the post as this goes to press.)

What did I buy this year?  Chanel Le Lion.  IUNX Eau Blanche, and a couple of 20ml refills for IUNX Talc.  Hiram Green Vivacious.  Strangelove’s fallintostars EdP and the oil.  I still plan to get Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese before the end of the year, as there is twenty per cent off here until the 31st of December.  

My tunes of the year.  Tool – Pneuma (2019)  John Grant – GMF (2013)

I have been taking cold showers for years, except they were never really that cold, I just turned them down from hot.  But for the last few months I go the full Wim Hof, and turn them down to freezing.  It has completely changed my morning routine.  It cleanses the mind, as it is impossible to think of anything at all as your body reacts to the cold.  I am up to about 60 seconds.  Cannot recommend it highly enough.  (And please don’t say you can’t do it, I mean starting with 15 seconds?  Puhleeeese.)

It takes me ages to finish a book these days.  Either because I have the attention span of a piece of wallpaper or because I seem to have at least five books at a time on the go.  But Tara recommended Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens so what choice did I have?  I read it through totally captivated, even cancelling a training session to keep reading.  I loved it and really found myself buried in a book for the first time in a long while.  Great stuff.   

I have been doing the live radio show Baking Bad with the Cookie Queen for a couple of years now, and although nervous before each show, am no longer scared spitless of making mistakes.  That is not to say that I won’t, but at least I kind of know my way around the equipment now.  I have a show on New Year’s Day 2021, 18:00 – 20:00 CET.  I cannot imagine that anyone will be too busy, apart from recovering from a hangover maybe, so tune in!!  The livestream link is always in my Instagram. @armadilloscookiequeen. 

Despite the lockdowns two new Indigo stores opened this year, which upped the number of stores I supply to fifteen.  And although it has not killed me yet, it still might.  They are shut at the moment though and apart from deliveries will remain shut until at least the middle of January, so I have no money, but a bit of a break.   Highlight of the year was getting my backside out of Austria and making it into Switzerland for a few days to visit really good friends.  Sure sitting on a train for eight hours with a mask on was not a much fun as other things I have done, but it is what it is.   

I downloaded the Calm App, probably along with several million others!  Lying in bed at night and listening to stories, or practicing breathing techniques is just brilliant. Not that I am highly strung or anything.  LMAO.  

I have mentioned it before but it bears repeating.  I am so thankful for the technology that allows us not just to keep in touch with people, but to build up new friendships.  We live in incredible times, and in a world of great beauty.  Gratitude and optimism. 

What a ride this year has been.  Have a peaceful festive season, and may we all arrive in 2021 safely and ready for The Pandemic Part II.  (Not to be confused with The Omen Part II)

“Pneuma, reach out and beyond, wake up remember, we are born of one breath, one word, we are all one spark, eyes full of wonder.”  PNEUMA. TOOL.   

CQ

 

 

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Premium Skincare Mini Reviews

I dealt with the first lockdown in no small part by indulging my love of skincare. I bought both the Caroline Hirons Spring and Summer Kits with savings on the contents of  55%. I probably purchased enough skincare for several faces and still have plenty to see me into 2021. No regrets though. I got a chance to try some products I’ve wanted for ages and it was an excellent distraction. Here are my brief thoughts on some of them.

 

Peptide K8 Power Cream by Kate Somerville £127

Previously known as Deep Tissue Repair, Caroline Hirons has said she’d like to be buried with a tub of this. At £127, I waited 7 years to give it a go at a hefty discount. It’s supposedly a lot more than a moisturiser; essentially a serum strength ‘power cream’. Now, I’m not good with creams that have a heavy artificial fragrance and this has a strong citrusy scent. It’s not unpleasant but it feels odd to me to be putting perfume on my face. It’s listed as ‘Parfum’ on the ingredients list rather than it being the aroma of the natural materials. It certainly feels nice on the skin and I use it on non-tretinoin nights. However, I don’t think it’s quite what it’s cracked up to be. The ingredients just don’t seem to back it up. Would not repurchase at that price.

Protini Polypeptide Cream by Drunk Elephant £57

Unlike Peptide K8 this moisturiser really does have a stellar ingredients list with 9 signal peptides. The cream is a water-gel but it feels richer than this suggests. A little goes a long way. I would consider repurchasing because I want peptides in my routine for their collagen boosting properties and I like that I can do this in the moisturiser step rather than add another serum. It also has the genius push dispenser in the top so you don’t have to put your finger in it.

The Skin Recovery Blend by de Mamiel £95

Now this really does feel luxurious. I don’t know if it would appeal to everyone but I love the slightly chocolately, aromatic scent which comes largely from Blue Tansy essential oil. This also helps give it its stunning blue colour. This is a pressed serum which turns to oil with the heat from your fingertips. I find it very relaxing to apply and it soothes my sensitised skin which can get irritated from tret use. I like to take my time to apply it on a Sunday when I’m having a self-care spa day. If I had the money to splurge I’d repurchase in a heartbeat but can’t justify buying it largely for the sensorial experience.

Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser by Kate Somerville £32

This is a cult cleanser and in no small part because of the fragrance. I imagine for most people it’s love or hate. Those who love it find it positively swoon-inducing while those who dislike it compare it to the smell of baby vomit. I’m somewhere inbetween. I don’t particularly like it but I don’t hate it. It’s a sweet, creamy aroma that’s a little almond-y. I don’t mind fragrance in my cleanser because it’s not the skin for long. It cleanses well, needing only a pea-sized amount for the whole face, neck and chest. I wouldn’t use it to remove make-up though. Not a repeat buy.

DeliKate Recovery Cream by Kate Somerville £69

This soothing cream is intended to ‘put the fire out’. When the skin on my neck became red and scaly in April, this really did calm it down. It’s unscented and pretty solid, more like a balm. I think it’s a good product to have in your stash for when your skin flares up. I would repurchase as it’s not something you need to use regularly. There is also a serum and a cleanser in the DeliKate range.

Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate by NIOD £43

You only a get a small 15ml bottle for your money but I literally only need one drop for each eye. It’s like water so absorbs super fast. I like it a lot but the pipette drives me nuts. I managed to knock the bottle over and lost a fair amount of the contents because they’re so runny. Won’t rebuy because of the packaging.

Super C30 by Medik8 £44

Vitamin C is a must for my morning routine but this 30% Vitamin C serum was too strong for me. It smells like swimming pools and quickly irritated my skin to the point where it stung when applied. Definitely not a repeat purchase.

C-Tetra by Medik8 £35

I got this less intense Vitamin C serum from Medik8 in the Summer Kit and it’s a hit. It smells like oranges, has a lightweight consistency and is non-irritating. It is also a 100% stable formula which means unlike most Vitamin C serums, you don’t have to worry about it degrading over time. Would re-buy, despite the dropper.

Stress Rescue Super Serum by Dr Dennis Gross £75

I found this to be a pleasant calming serum, with a nice milky texture that seemed to melt into the skin. I really liked its natural ginger scent too but I’ll stick to DeliKate for a de-stressor.

Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel by Dr Dennis Gross £89

You get two sachets per application of this product (pack of 30), one contains a ‘wipe’ with a trio of exfoliating acids, while the second is infused with actives which act as your serum step. People love these but I was unimpressed. For one thing, I don’t like having to wait 2 minutes as instructed between the acid step and the serum step. I also prefer specific serums targeted at my individual needs. It may be convenient for people on the go but I think it’s a faff as well as pricey.

Liquid ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville £50

I thought this acid exfoliant might be too powerful but it’s turned out to be the best one I’ve tried. It tingles slightly but doesn’t sting and I can actually see the difference to my skin. It looks noticeably smoother and brighter. It’s a bit too drying for regular use in the winter but I would consider repurchasing in warmer weather, although I do like exfoliating masks.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any pricier skincare favourites?

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Gothic Reading Diary – October 2020

In which I read all the Gothic historical fiction while drinking lapsang souchong with M&S dark chocolate ginger biscuits beside a flickering Fornasetti candle.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower


“Later she will whisper that she will never want any other man again. Such is the drug which, dewed on the eyelids, makes yesterday inconsequential, and tomorrow certain, and today golden”


This 18th century historical fiction isn’t Gothic but it does have a dark, fantastical element. Mr Hancock, a  middle aged merchant with a good heart, suddenly becomes the owner of a mermaid. This causes a sensation in London society and sees him come into contact with  infamous Madam, Mrs Chappell. One of her ex ‘protégés’, Angelica Neal, makes quite an impression on Hancock and their fates become entwined.

One of the major factors of an engrossing historical novel is the attention to detail and there is so much here it brings the era vividly to life.
The contrast between Hancock’s modest home in Deptford with the debauchery that goes on in Mrs Chappell’s mansion in St. James, is striking.

Angelica Neal is a frivolous and vain young  woman who faces penury after recently losing her protector. Half way through the book I feared she’d made the steady Hancock become as foolish as her but the change she undergoes thanks to him is a quite something and I warmed to her immensely. The mermaid of the title is only really featured at the start and the end of the book but I liked the fact it was malevolent rather than romanticised. 4.5/5

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

“A fast didn’t go fast; it was the slowest thing there was. Fast meant a door shut fast, firmly. A fastness, a fortress. To fast was to hold fast to emptiness, to say no and no and no again.”



Emma Donoghue is the author of the bestseller Room which was adapted for the big screen. This is a Gothic story set in rural Ireland in the 1850s. At the beginning it reminded me of the fabulous Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield. Both centre on a mystery surrounding young girls who villagers believe to be miraculous in some way. In The Wonder young Anna is said to have not eaten for four months. An English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale is hired to watch over to her to prove the veracity or otherwise of the family’s claim.
For about the first two thirds it’s pretty slow paced with Lib, the Nurse, determined to uncover a fraud and expressing to the reader deep prejudices held against the Irish which were prevalent in England at the time. She’s also appalled at what she sees as the superstitious nature of Catholicism, as it is clear devout Anna’s condition is somehow linked to religion. Lib is severe but we learn more of her backstory as time goes on. I thought it might be a gentle, possibly magical, tale but in the latter section of the book it gets very dark indeed as more and more disturbing  revelations are made. The ending had me gripped as I had guessed some of what was going on but had no idea of the final twists and turns. 4/5

 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

“Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother, but the rest of the time there was none. This story is about one of those other times.”
 
I’ve been saving this to read in October and fully expected it to be a nailed on 5 star read. It is a 2006 bestselling novel inspired by eighteenth century Gothic fiction: Jane Eyre in particular is referenced throughout. An extremely bookish young women (who is carrying her own pain) is invited to write the biography of the reknowned reclusive author Vida Winter. Her history – which spans the late 19th and early 20th centuries – is a tale of twisted familial relationships and dark secrets with a mystery at its heart.

This is a love letter to storytelling and the solace of books. There are unlikely occurrences/situations throughout but I appreciate this is in keeping with the Gothic classics. Still, it was a tad over the top for me at times. 4.25/5

 

More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran

And besides, when you lose skin elasticity, you also lose the amount of fucks you give. Perhaps that’s why the skin is so loose now – from all my fucks leaving.

 

I had a couple of credits to use up on Audible and thought this would give me a break from all the historical drama. I read Moran’s first memoir How To Be A Woman about ten years ago. This follow- up deals with middle-age. The first half made me think it wasn’t for me as it deals with day-to-day family life. Then the second half hits you with her daughter’s eating disorder. My eyes welled up as I heard about how her 13 year-old girl stopped eating and tried to kill herself. The worry and helplessness of it must have been unbearabe. She also talks about how she uses yoga to deal with her anxiety instead of drink, how she now has botox despite decrying it as anti-feminist in the first book and why the ‘hag life’ of the older woman is a joy. 3.5.5

 

 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“The world might indeed be a cursed circle; the snake swallowed its tail and there could be no end, only an eternal ruination and endless devouring.”

 

I was excited to read a Gothic tale set in the 1950s somewhere other than Europe. Not to mention that cover!
Strong-willed Noemi is sent to rural Mexico to check on her recently married cousin Catalina, after her father receives a worrying letter from her. She arrives to find the Doyles house, High Place, more of a decaying relic than a home and her cousin seems to be losing her mind. Catalina says the family are poisoning her and there are ghosts in the walls.

The house seems to have a life of its own and it’s clear something is behind the strange rules and behaviour of the household. There must be silence at meals, windows are to remain closed and she’s not allowed to leave without a chaperone. Noemi soon starts to have vivid nightmares and begins sleep-walking.

Three quarters of the way in, what’s really happening in the house and family is revealed. At this point it becomes a supernatural horror which really isn’t my thing. The family are all English so I didn’t get the Mexican folklore I was hoping for either. On top of that, the writing is a step down from the other novels. A disappointment overall. (Note: scenes of sexual assault) 2.75/5

 

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hestor Fox

“Yet at the same time I want to untether my heart, toss it up into the sky and let it take wing. There’s a wildness here that, if nothing else, holds promise, possibility. Who needs society? What has it ever done for us?”

I really wanted a less stressful Gothic read and thought this would be one. Happily it started out like a spooky Sense and Sensibility. A family with three daughters move to the New England countryside leaving behind a scandal in Boston. Here they they called upon by two charming and handsome young men who form attachments with the two older girls. Catherine is beautiful but calculating while Lydia is introverted and possesses a sensitivity shared by the youngest daughter, Emmeline. In their new home, Lydia sees a pale woman gliding across the garden at night and words of warning appear on her fogged up mirror. Then something horrible happens and a sickening secret is revealed. So much for Gothic-lite! However, from there enters Lydia’s cad of an ex-fiance and the tension is ratcheted up. It continues to read like a Gothic novel penned by Jane Austen and I really enjoyed this style. While I didn’t care for the romances in the other books, I did become invested in the one here. 4.25/5

 

This was an enlightening reading month. I found that I prefer classic-style Gothic fiction – from Jane Eyre to Rebecca – as opposed to the modern versions which seem to lean more towards horror. I want spooky, atmospheric reads rather than incest and ‘body horror’.

What is your taste in creepy fiction? 

 

 

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strangelove nyc fallintostars edp

 

Strangelove NYC.  Founder: Elizabeth Gaynes.  Creative Director: Helena Christensen.  Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel.  Result: A stunning collection of perfumes. 

fallintostars is the most recent of the five edps and oils in the Strangelove collection.  Oud, jonquil, rosewood, amber, pink peppercorns.  (labdanum and peru balsam?).  

Aurorean:  Belonging to the dawn, or resembling it in its brilliant hue.

 

The edp opens with warm and honeyed oud/ouds.   Unlike the number of perfumers that claim to have used exquisite raw materials,  Laudamiel and Strangelove actually have.  Despite its quite opulent richness, it never becomes heavy, and as it wears it leaves a trail of golden amber.  Animalic, sensual, elegant, divine.  

Completely and utterly addictive.  As perfumistas we hope for, but rarely receive compliments on what we are wearing. Each time I have worn fallintostars someone has asked what it is.   

Offering an alternative to mass perfume, Strangelove are truly niche.  The eau de perfumes are available in bottles 15ml, 50ml, and 100ml.  Sure they are pricey, but you pay for what you get.  Quality has a price.  There are many expensive so called niche perfumes to choose from.  The challenge is to sift the wheat from the tares.  

“And they know just what we do, that we toss and turn at night, they’re waiting to make their moves on us, the stars are out tonight.”   David Bowie. 

CQ

With the exception of the fallintostars oil, I have all of the Strangelove’s in the small oil pots, and the 5 x 2 ml edp sample set.  I bought the 15ml fallintostars recently.  I wear all of them.  I never write about what I do not own and wear.  Just to clarify.  

 

 

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Mood Scent 4: Golden Oldies

Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! We are looking at our Golden Oldies. This month I have tried to steer clear of my favourites and talk about things that I adore but rarely write about. Quite a lot of my fragrances are from days gone by, so you may have read me waffling on about them before. I want to keep this series as fresh and interesting as possible for you, as well as me. Golden Oldies is open to a fair bit of interpretation too. It could be things I remember from my youth or things that go back well before that. It could be a reformulated frag that historically is much more my style or a brand new reformulation of something from decades ago. I’ll try and do a bit of a cross section for you.

Obviously, these choices are subject to change, daily.

Can’t wait to read about your favourite Golden Oldies in the comments too.

As always, totally excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Golden Oldies

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My Perfume Collection – Top 15

Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume recently did a blog post about the re-organisation of her perfume collection in which she set an initial target of selecting 15 perfumes from her stash as a ‘capsule collection’. In the end she managed to cut it down to 20 from 63 which is no mean feat.

In response to Vanessa’s question about her readers’ own capsule collections, I decided to see if I could pick 15 based on just one of her selection methodologies ie. ‘The burning building speed grab method’. I did a quick sweep and managed it without much fuss. I ‘only’ have 27 bottles in total. I included those which are 30ml or larger but also two smaller bottles which are parfum concentration. In short, travel sprays and decants don’t count.

The 27 include 3 back-ups and 3 perfumes I have in both EDT and parfum. After knocking those out it was only a matter of choosing 15 from 21. The Chosen Ones are below in no particular order. I’ve linked to fuller reviews where I have them.

 

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

This oriental chypre is the most ‘me’ of all the perfumes I own. It would be my Desert Island perfume if push came to shove. These days I can’t analyse it more than that. I have a vintage parfum, an old-ish parfum back up and a vintage EDT.

La Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens

Actually this perfume also feels very me (I sense a recurring theme). It is my ideal retro rose/violet. The sensual yet light amber drydown is a bonus. It’s simply a lovely perfume in all its parts.

Vaara by Penhaligons

While I love rose paired with violet I also love it paired with saffron. If I could justify the cost, I’d trade Vaara for the infinitely more chic riff on this pairing trimmed with suede, Galop d’Hermes.

Naja by Vero Profumo

This is my most loved of Vero’s exquisite collection and a reminder of the unique and inspiring woman herself. The sparkling lime over blond tobacco is autumnal bliss.

Miss Dior by Dior

The vintage parfum is something I can wear when nothing else feels right. It’s not a skin scent but I feel so at home in it it feels like a second skin to me. I also have the EDT as do for the next fragrance on the list.

Chanel No.19

Again the vintage parfum is sublime. Galbanum can be astringent and off-putting but here it’s green nectar paired with powdery iris. No.19 has strength and elegance in bucketloads.

Nuxe Prodigieux Le Parfum

I’d take this as I feel the need to have a beachy/tropical perfume but I’d much rather exchange it for swoon-worthy Frangipani by Ormond Jayne which I only own a travel spray of.

 

 

Dryad by Papillon Perfumes

If Vent Vert and Vol de Nuit had a baby maybe it would smell something like Dryad. I’m drawn more and more to the centring power of green perfumes and this one gives me all those ancient woodland vibes.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

The iris to end them all. Rooty, chilly and evocative. A rare example of a reformulation improving on the original in MHO. It’s more wearable now, sans the aroma of metallic carrots.

Passage d’Enfer by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Instead of calming me, incense perfumes are often so strident they overwhelm me. Of course Olivia Giacobetti would compose one that is as smooth as it is enigmatic. The combination of woody resins and waxy littles works every time. I have a back up.

Cuir de Lancome

I also have a back up of this sadly discontinued gem. The saffron studded smoky suede has not been surpassed by another leather for me.

Fleur de Oranger by L’Artisan Parfumeur

This is summer sunshine in a bottle. The perfect orange blossom which makes me smile just to spray it.

Eau de Rochas by Rochas

I got this cheapie in a swap meet-up and it’s my favourite cologne. The combination of tart lime and raspy patchouli is uncommonly beautiful in an Eau.

Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne

I adore atmospheric books set in dark forests and this perfume captures that feeling in a scent.

Diorella by Dior

Coming full circle, this was one of the very first perfumes I fell for in a big way when I fell down the fragrant rabbit-hole. The old formulation is a glorious fruity chypre with tender spring florals. I feel very nostalgic about it and enjoy it hugely still.

What do you make of my list? Any there any that would make a similar list of your own?

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Mood Scent 4: Made For Me

Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Made For Me. Sometimes you smell a fragrance and it is everything you dreamed a perfume could be. Suddenly there is life before and life after discovery. Fortunately for regular people this is the end of their search and they find a signature scent. As a perfumista though this may (hopefully) happen many times. I’m one of the lucky ones and it does happen fairly regularly around here. So I’ve picked a few that exploded in my life over time, some are still available, some not, all changed me because I found a new fragrance that felt perfectly Made For Me. Some of these I talk about a lot, of course I do, they’re Made For Me!

Obviously, these choices are subject to change, daily.

Can’t wait to read about your favourite Made For Me perfumes in the comments too.

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Made For Me

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August/September Reading Diary

When the calendar ticked over to September I had to restrain myself from binging all the atmospheric dark/magical books I’d been saving for autumn. I’ve read one (which is featured below) but the rest I’m keeping for when it’s a bit colder. As with perfume, it turns out my book choices are seasonal. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

“Kneeling before me, he lays his head on my lap and says, ‘I’m going to ruin you.”

I bought this book for Our Bonkers Vanessa when it was first released with quite a stir at the start of lockdown. Its narrator is Vanessa, who is thirty-two at the height of the Me Too movement. Her old schoolteacher has been accused of sexual abuse and the present day plot is interspersed with the story of how, at fifteen, she was groomed by the same teacher. Back then she was an extremely promising student who had gained a scholarship to a private boarding school In the present, she’s working as a hotel concierge and getting through the days in a haze of drink and drugs. She is desperately clinging on to the idea that the ‘relationship’ she had with fortysomething Strane was a romance and not what we see in the re-telling – serious abuse.

I had thought the book would show Vanessa coming to terms with the truth. However this is more of an exploration of the dynamics between the predator and the victim. It shows the extreme manipulation that leads to the victim feeling responsible and protective towards their abuser, no matter what it costs them. This was handled incredibly well and I’ve never felt anger towards a character the way I did towards Strane. If you are very plot-driven or not interested in the subject, you may find it slow. 4.25/5

SPOILER

I didn’t get the satisfaction of Vanessa accepting the reality of what he did to her and speaking out. It ends pretty abruptly, as she is just beginning to face what really happened. However, I still found it compelling and didn’t feel cheated in any way. 

The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

“Each of us actually believes that things should be the way we want them, instead of being the natural result of all the forces of creation.”

I read Singer’s The Untethered Soul at a tough time in my life and it really helped. The Surrender Experiment is more of a memoir exemplifying what living by the principles in that book can look like. Singer has a spiritual awakening in 1972 at the age of 22 and lives the rest of his life surrendering to whatever life brings him. We watch as events flow in such a way that the perfect people and opportunities arise at exactly the right time for the next forty years. This involves him inadvertently becoming a tech multimillionaire (though he ploughs the money back into his spiritual  organisation). It is an amazing testament to his dedication to his spiritual path but it is also near impossible to relate to. It’s hard not to feel that he was at least in part, unbelievably lucky and highly predisposed to be able to access a transcendental meditative state. For decades everything falls into place perfectly just by him accepting whatever comes along and not acting on his personal preferences or fears. It’s not until the 2000s that he is tested and even then he never really struggles. Maybe I’m just jealous.  3/5

The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa

“He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world”

This gentle Japanese novel is about a housekeeper who goes to care for an elderly Maths genius whose short-term memory only lasts for eighty minutes. He has notes all over his suit which act as reminders and numbers soothe his anxiety. At first the two of them don’t gel but when her young son starts to come to the house after school, a bond begins to form between the three of them. There was more Maths than I could follow – or wanted to – and a fair bit about baseball. However, overall it’s a short, sweet book about a chosen family. 3/5

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

‘Through the lens of hair texture, Dabiri leads us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism.’

Emma Dabiri is an academic who writes for The Guardian.  This is her first book which focuses on the personal and political aspects  of Black hair. Dabiri is the daughter of a white Irish mother and a Nigerian father. She grew up in Ireland in a time and place with few other Black people. She was implicitly and explicitly made aware that she was unlucky to be mixed race yet not born with the ‘good hair’ that normally comes with. Her mother first took her to England to get her hair relaxed at the age of  12. The harsh chemicals would cause her scalp to burn and scab over but this made her happy because it meant the process had worked. She now embraces her type 4 coils but this book is much more than a memoir. It goes back into the history of hair-styling in Africa, the effect slavery had on hair grooming, the emergence of relaxing in America and modern day cultural appropriation. 

I’ve decided not rate my enjoyment of anti-racism works as it just doesn’t sit right. 

The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker

“On a cloudless night, inky dark, with only a rind of a moon above, the Golem and the Jinni went walking together along the Prince Street rooftops.”

This book had my name written all over it: mythical creatures, a historical setting and lyrical writing. A golem – a woman made of clay using Kabbalistic magic – is adrift in the Jewish quarter of New York City, 1899. At the same time, a djinni made of fire is released from a flask in the Little Syria district across the city. The golem, Chava, is taken in by an understanding rabbi while Ahmad is given a job by a local tinsmith. When their paths cross they recognise that the other is also different from the people around them. They strike up an unlikely friendship, with Ahmad being angry at his confinement to human form while Chava has a strong sense of responsibility towards others (whose needs she can sense).

The characters are beautifully rendered and the atmosphere of NYC at the turn of the 19th century is wonderful. If I had to criticise it, it is slow-paced and the two main characters don’t meet until over a third of the way into the book. However, I was in no rush. It won’t be for everyone but it was just my kind of novel. 4.5/5

Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this autumn?

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