juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I was lying down and petting Gillian, curled up by the window at the foot of my bed, and there was this lovely, spicy scent. Then I realized that we were right by my bookself, which is where I put the last BPAL scent I wore, a month or two ago: Inez (golden amber, vanilla musk, myrrh, cedar, carnation, and red sandalwood). Needless to say, I now have a spicy, honeyed scent. I haven't worn many scents lately; I go through phases with it, as all things. But the time away makes me more receptive when I return; I'm not tuning out the tendrils of scent, but rather keep catching them, that sweetness, that resinous base and dryness. I usually wear Morocco when it's warm and Inez when it's cold, as both are resinous carnations but Morocco is a lighter, thinner scent and Inez has a marshmallow thickness, more bodied and palpable, which can be cloying. But today, unseasonably warm but still spring, it suits.

I hate summer, I hate sun and heat, but I also try to live in each season as it comes—I like to be cold in the winter rather than blasting the heat, I consume media during the seasons in which they're set; as a result, the seasons develop atmospheres, associations, identities. I've gotten good at summer: fostering crossbreezes, turning off my computer tower, savoring the brief dark respite of night; summer and I have grown intimate. I don't look forward to it coming, but I'm so keenly aware of what it is that these warm days have a strange since of nostalgia. I can't convince my brain that knowing and not-quite-having something isn't necessarily the same as missing it!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
CHAOTIC (GC, RPG)
A whirling mélange of multicolored musks with wasabi, rooibos, heliotrope, and mastic
Review. )
Verdict: I find myself reaching for Chaotic far more than I expect. It's too unusual to be called understated, but it has an unassuming smoothness that belies surprising warmth and distinction. I admire it more than I love it, but sometimes it's the perfect thing to wear, and I'm glad for my decant.


CRYPT QUEEN (LE, Black Phoenix Trading Post)
As sweet as death, as deep as the grave: pomegranate, raspberry, gardenia, plum, and rose with patchouli, black pepper, rose musk, and a hint of blood accord.
Review. )
Verdict: Queen of Clubs wowed me with its wearable rose and dark, dirty fruits; Crypt Queen is in many ways similar, but never passes from "good" to "great"—whatever magic marks QoC, it isn't here. And that's fine! It's a beautifully realized scent on the whole, dark and round and complex, but I'm not in love and don't need to keep my decant.


L'ESSENCE DE LA PASSION (LE, Trading Post: Lupercalia 2012: The Eros Inquisition)
Red musk, carnation, myrrh, and honey.
Review. )
Verdict: Carnation is my beloved, so I'm sad to see this one fade; red musk amps on me, so La Passion reads a bit like every other red musk blend. Nonetheless this is lovely: the notes are beautiful in concert, and the scent is a warm red beauty. I'll keep my decant, but don't need more.


L'ESSENCE DE LA FOLIE (LE, Trading Post: Lupercalia 2012: The Eros Inquisition)
Pink pepper, black pepper, clove, myrrh, dark chocolate, labdanum, and Daemonorops draco.
Review. )
Verdict: While not actively unpleasant, this is far from my style; I washed it off. I wasn't expecting such a sweet scent; as it is, it's full-bodied and tolerable despite my avid dislike of everything it stands for, but, no, I don't need to keep my decant.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
UMBRA (GC, Bewitching Brews)
East African black patchouli, cedarwood, vetiver and a dribble of cinnamon.
Review. )
Verdict: I'd half expect a blend like this to have some sort of booziness or sweetness to give it counterpoint or punch, but Umbra's beauty is that it lacks that; instead, it's a pure smooth worn-wood darkness—the cinnamon gives it color and interest, but the scent on the whole could almost make you think it was understated, a background note, which belies its well-blended depth. It doesn't stand out, and I doubt I'll remember to reach for it frequently, but it's an accomplished not-quite-a-background scent that I'll be happy to have around. I'll keep my imp.


SNAKE CHARMER RESURRECTED (LE, Carnival Noire)
Sensual, sibilant, sexual and hypnotic: Arabian musk and exotic spices slinking through Egyptian amber, enticing vanilla, and a serpentine blend of black plum, labdanum, ambrette, benzoin and black coconut.
Review. )
Verdict: Considering my tumultuous relationship with Snake Oil, I'm pleasantly surprised how much I like Snake Charmer (Resurrected); it's not love, but this is what I'd always hoped Snake Oil would be, in spirit if not in every letter, and so I appreciate and will keep my decant.


THE RED QUEEN (GC, The Mad Tea Party)
Deep mahogany and rich, velvety woods lacquered with sweet, black-red cherries and currant.
Review. )
Verdict: Like but not love, enough to keep the imp but not half enough for a bottle. I imagine aging will do good things to this scent, maintaining an even better balance of wood to fruit, but honestly I'm surprised to like this so much as it is: I find that red fruits are often only a theoretical desire, but these are unique and well-balanced, and quite lovely.


BESS (GC, Bewitching Brews)
This is our modernization of a 17th-century perfume blend favored by British aristocracy: rosemary, orange flower, grape spirit, five rose variants, lemon peel, and mint.
Review. )
Verdict: Nicer than I anticipated, but not at all my style. A sweet, cool fruity floral, Bess is unusual and I suppose palatable, but I washed it off and will trade away my imp.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
A WONDERFUL LIGHT (LE, Yule: Little Match Girl 2011)
Three radiant ambers with honey, linden blossom, bourbon vanilla, and orange zest.
Review. )
Verdict: A Wonderful Light is reminiscent of Khrysee, but drier and more pristine than Khyrsee's fleshy amber; it's also reminiscent of a white chocolate Gelt, sweet and powdery and dry. It's perfectly pleasant but doesn't move me—the scent texture is too dry, and it's a little too sweet for my taste, and I don't need to own it.


THE MOON GAZED ON MY MIDNIGHT LABOURS (LE, Yule: Frankenstein 2001)
Moroccan musk, black opium poppy, clove, and orris root.
Review. )
Verdict: I'm not head over heels, but I am solidly won over. The Moon Gazed on My Midnight Labours is what I would expect from the notes, dark and warm and spicy; it doesn't try to play nice by offering up any sort of sweetness (even though musk is usually sweet on my skin), but is gorgeous in its own right. I expect it will age well, too. I'll hold on to my decant, but I don't think I need a bottle.


PUMPKIN MASALA ROOIBOS (LE, Yule 2011)
Rooibos tea with red ginger, green cardamom, fennel, peppercorns, almond, and licorice, sweetened with coconut sugar and jaggery.
Review. )
Verdict: Pumpkin Masala Roobios is effective as a non-sweet, non-traditional spicy pumpkin—herbs and unusual spices over a savory pumpkin base. But the spices always seem a little off and unpleasant to my nose, and I just find nothing to like here, none of the warmth I was expecting, nothing palatable in the blend. I'll trade away my decant.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
THE GOROBBLE (LE, Pickman Gallery: Seeking the Seekim I)
A scent redolent of the crusty exterior of burnt marshmallows.
Review. )
Verdict: The Gorobble has more smoke than I expected, but I can rearrange my expectations to accommodate it—but even when I do, it doesn't quite work for me. The marshmallow beneath isn't quite convincing, and the contrast between fluffy sweetness and burnt exterior isn't as dynamic as I want. It's not bad, but I keep retesting and waiting for the scent to win my heart, and it's just not happening. One for the swaps.


AL-SHARIAN (GC, Excolo)
His scent is fiery, bright and thick with sweet sinfulness: clove, peach and orange with cinnamon, patchouli and dark incense notes.
A frimp from the lab.
Review. )
Verdict: I want the cloves, patchouli, and incense to stick around. They're what makes the scent a success—the contrast they give to the bright fruits is tried and true but no less brilliant for that, and the incense gives a unique and exotic edge. But those notes die off, and what they leave behind is just cinnamon over fruit; it's vivid but lacks depth, and is too bright and fruity for my tastes. All in all this isn't a keeper, however promising its initial stages.


BROWN JENKINS (GC, A Picnic in Arkham)
A small, furry, sharp-toothed scent that will nuzzle you curiously in the black hours before dawn: dusty white sandalwood and orris root, dry coconut husk, creeping musk, and the residue of ceremonial incense.
A frimp from the Lab, but one that's been on my wishlist.
Review. )
Verdict: I get almost nothing in the way of musk or incense, but I want them there—I think they'd provide welcome balance and darkness to the scent, and lean it back towards animalic instead of vegetative. What I get from Brown Jenkin instead is only okay—I like it, but not nearly as much as I want to. I'll hang onto my imp for now and hope that aging brings out those other notes and improves the scent.


BAGHDAD (GC, Wanderlust)
Amber, saffron and bergamot with mandarin, nutmeg, Bulgar rose, musk and sandalwood.
Review. )
Verdict: Blame my skin, which almost always amps rose to terrifying levels. What Baghdad is until that happens is only okay, but I honestly can't judge the true nature of this scent. This is one for the swaps.


THIRTEEN (WHITE LABEL) (LE)
In our paean to all the mysteries surrounding this enigmatic number, there are thirteen lucky and unlucky components, including white chocolate, tangerine, currant, mandarin, white tea and iris.
An old, dried-out empty; I don't know how representative it is of the true oil.
Review. )
Verdict: Nothing to write home about, but then I'm not a fan of white chocolate or predominant fruits. This is a light, bright, colorful sort of scent; the initial sweetness is a bit oppressive, but without it the scent is just straightforward, if pleasant, bright fruits. It's not to my taste, and not something I need to seek out in any quantity.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
BLUEBEARD (GC, Diabolus)
A scent swirling with dark rage, unbridled jealousy, and murderous intent. Violet, lavender, white musk and vetiver.
Review. )
Verdict: Well done, surprisingly subtle, unique, but not my style—Bluebeard doesn't capture my imagination or my heart. It was nice to try, and now it's destined for swaps.


LES FLEURS du MAL (GC, Ars Moriendi)
The scents of the blossoms of darkness, condensed into one perfume. Features a rose base, softened with lilac and wisteria.
Review. )
Verdict: Rose is one of my death notes and predominant florals aren't my style, so of course this doesn't work. The other notes keep the rose from attaining screaming levels on my skin, but this is still all rose all the time. One for the swaps.


MILK CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM (LE, Lupercalia 2009: Box of Chocolates)
Gift from [livejournal.com profile] sisterite.
Review. )
Verdict: I hate milk chocolate and dislike frosting, so even at its best it's unlikely that Milk Chocolate Buttercream would have worked for me. Post-drydown, the scent is pretty accurate—but personal taste aside, it doesn't quite have the luscious indulgent quality I'd expect; the chocolate leans powdery, the butter can be stale, I have no idea where the cherry comes from, but most of all it doesn't have a handmade, high-quality buttercream feel. This is a one for the swaps, in the hope that it'll work better on someone else.


THE DEATH OF AUTUMN (LE, Halloween 2007)
Dark amber, dead leaves, khus, saffron, bitter clove, chrysanthemum, camellia, galangal, and a drop of oud.
Review. )
Verdict: The Death of Autumn goes on as a thing of beauty, a dark walk in an autumn forest, resinous and organic, smoky and spicy—but it loses itself along the way. The golden heat it develops is lovely, but not as dark and bold as its earlier stages; the resinous sweetness it has near the end is pretty traditional BPAL, dark and palatable, but familiar. Its not a bad scent on the whole, but I'm sad to see it morph. Still I think I'll keep it, and try to adjust my expectations to enjoy the bulk of the scent rather than mourning the loss of its drydown.


ELF (LE, RPG)
Pale golden musk, honeycomb, amber, parma violet, hawthorne bark, aspen leaf, forest lily, life everlasting, white moss, and a hint of wild berry.
A fairy giveaway from [livejournal.com profile] crystal_star_ss.
Review. )
Verdict: My skin loves berry a little too much, and that may be what sours Elf for me. It's too vibrant, too red, overshadowing the other notes and deviating from the inspiration. Regardless, this scent isn't my style. I'll pass along my imp.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
AUTUMN CIDER (LE, Halloweenie 2011)
Fermented apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, lemon zest, butterscotch liquor, and orange slices.
Review. )
Verdict: Autumn Cider is just what it says on the tin, but it's a little too light and simple for me—I wish I got the spices. It and Fearful Pleasure are different scents, but there's a family resemblance and I prefer Fearful Pleasure's darkness, so I'll stick with that.


SONNET D'AUTOMNE (LE, Halloweenie 2011)
Tenebrous Love: a shivering white musk with vanilla-infused white cocoa, amber incense, and dead, dry leaves.
Review. )
Verdict: This is one to retest, to see if the cloying end note shows up each time. I'll be disappointed if it does, because Sonnet d'Autome is otherwise beautiful. It's the sort of unique scent I look for from BPAL: miles from a traditional perfume, evocative, unusual, but wearable.


DEVIL'S NIGHT (LE, Halloweenie 2011)
This is the scent of autumn night, fires in the distance, with a touch of boozy swoon, playful sugar and thuggish musk.
Review. )
Verdict: I think I would like Devil's Night more if I hadn't expected something a little darker, smokier, and threatening; as it is it's almost too nice, warm and round and treading the line between sexy and playful. But if I look beyond my preconceptions, Devil's Night is pretty nice. The liquid boozy/fruity vibe isn't quite my style, but it's wearable and enticing. I'll hold onto my imp—and hope that with aging I may like it even more.


THE TA-TA (LE, Pickman Gallery: Seeking the Seekim I)
Boiled leather, carnation blossom, coffee absolute, and tobacco.
Review. )
Verdict: Without overselling The Ta-Ta, this is the carnation that I've always wanted, spicy and dark as dried red petals, shadowed and deep, well complimented by other notes without being forced to share the spotlight, and beautiful. It's my holy grail for one of my favorite notes, so I'm glad I tried it despite being dubious about both tobacco and leather, and I see a bottle in my future—yes indeed I do.


SEA OF GLASS (GC, Sin & Salvation)
Upon the Sea of Glass, glowing with the perfection of spiritual union and the radiance of true wisdom, rests the throne of God. A scent of inimitable purity, crystalline grace, and limitless light.
Review. )
Verdict: Sea of Glass is an accomplishment, but hasn't won my heart. It well suits the description, but its fleshy floral fullness—despite evening out and opening up the scent—isn't to my personal taste; I'd prefer a saltier, sharper water. Objectively speaking, however, this is beautifully done.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
PUMPKIN PRINCESS (LE, Halloweenie 2011)
Before the Grand Dame was the Pumpkin Queen, she was a Pumpkin Princess! Bright, sweet pumpkin with vanilla fluff, guava, chocolate-dusted white amber, tiare, red currant, raw honey, and meringue.
Review. )
Verdict: I love Pumpkin Princess upon application—its a warm, welcoming pumpkin scent, but errs towards the raw honey side of the other notes: its sweetness is gentle instead of cloying, and there's something earthy and warm in its golden fruits. But it conforms to expectations more and more as it wears, and I don't love that as much—the glowing golden pumpkin is pretty nice, but the tendency towards perfumeyness isn't my style. All in all a wash-up; I'll keep this around and retest it, but I'm not won over yet.


THE CHANGELING (LE, Pickman Gallery: Torment & Reverie)
Blonde wood, linen swaddling, pumpkin rind, and bourbon vanilla.
Review. )
Verdict: I quite like The Changling for an hour of two, when the pumpkin emerges—the lean towards rind makes it dark, spicy, earthy, unique and quite lovely. But the occasional off note in the background keeps me from falling in love, and bourbon vanilla does its best to run away with the scent. For a few hours it's fine, casting a dark sweet dirty shadow over the scent, but the almost-cloying perfume that it becomes at the tail end of wear is frankly offputting—so much so that I washed it off. Aging may help the notes settle, and I'll hang on to my decant, but this is is more than a miss than a hit for me so far.


A NOCTURNAL REVERIE (LE, Halloweenie 2011)
Violet musk and oudh with black amber, ambergris, agarwood, black currant, dark musk, fig, and lavender incense.
Review. )
Verdict: A Nocturnal Reverie isn't unpleasant, but neither is it winning my heart. I have a fondness for scents which are classifiable by color, and so this helps to scratch a purple itch, but it lacks depth overall and that background hint of candle/soap isn't my style. Aging may help bring out the darker notes that would counterbalance all the color, but on the whole I think this is destined for swaps.


BLOOD MOON 2011 (LE, A Little Lunacy)
A Lunacy inspired by the magnificently morbid fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe: laudanum-stained linen scented by an ink-smeared tobacco musk and phantom bloodstains illuminated by monstrous moonlight.
Review. )
Verdict: Beautifully realized, perfectly to my taste, and also heartbreaking—it hurts to see something so wonderful fade so quickly. Luckily I get enough similarity to The Tell-Tale Heart that I can just turn to that blend instead, but if Blood Moon had more staying power then I would probably want a bottle of it, too.


AMELES POTAMOS (GC, Wanderlust)
The River of Unmindfulness: bittersweet black water swollen with forgotten tears.
Review. )
Verdict: Ameles Potamos is too unique a scent to be called straightforward, but it's exactly what it says on the tin: black waters touched with salt, pure but deep, utterly convincing. I don't know how I like it as a perfume, but I admire it as a concept. For a while now I've wanted a scent that reminds me of crying, and this is a beautiful interpretation of such—so I think I'll keep it around, and scratch that want off my list.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
OBATALA (GC, Excolo)
Obatala's ofrenda is soft, white and pure: milk, coconut meat, shea butter and cool, refreshing water.
Read more... )
Verdict: There's something here that I just can't tolerate—Obatala seems to do all the right things, but it overpowers and intimidates me with an unexpected smothering blanket of opaque, sweet, buttery milk. I've tested this twice now, and each time been surprised at the intensity and strangeness, and been forced to wash it off. This is definitely one for the swaps.


BATTY (LE, Dark Delicacies: Halloween 2011)
Dark and fuzzy, yet also dapper and debonair! If Fred Astaire was a werebat, he'd totally smell like this: dark chocolate, black oudh, tonka absolute, cassia, white oleander, sandalwood, and free-tailed bat musk.
Review. )
Verdict: Disappointed would be putting it mildly. There's a lot of promise in the vial, where I can smell almost all of the notes, but on the skin this is cologne all the way. It's a better cologne than I usually get from BPAL, but still nothing desirable or special. I may try this on fabric, to see if the vial complexity will sustain. But so far, Batty is headed to swaps.


HALLOWEEN: MONTREAL (LE, Pretty Indulgent: Halloween 2011)
Chimney smoke and woodstove fires, and all the classic scents of Halloween – loads of candy, leaves, cold earth, smashed pumpkins left over from Mat Night’s debauchery – are sharp and clear in the frosty air.
Review. )
Verdict: As noted, I prefer the complexity of the scent's earlier stages. But the similarity to Samhain is telling—like Samhain, Montreal evokes human celebration on the edges of late autumn wilds. It's not as well refined a scent, but it still encapsulates a certain autumn experience. I'll be interested to see if it balances a bit better as it ages—the sappy sweetness can be a little heavy for me—but on the whole I quietly adore it.


THE SEEKIM (LE, Pickman Gallery: Seeking the Seekim I)
Cacao absolute, hay, black pepper, patchouli, and incense ash.
Review. )
Verdict: I'm in love. Bless that I get nothing of the lemon others report, because The Seekim is a dream come true on my skin. The notes meld together into a rich dark warmth, more distinctly cocoa than I was expecting but far from foody. I may have to spring for a full bottle, because I think this will age like a dream—and I want to find out.


THE CHANGELING (LE, Pickman Gallery: Torment & Reverie)
Blonde wood, linen swaddling, pumpkin rind, and bourbon vanilla.
Review. )
Verdict: I quite like The Changling for an hour of two, when the pumpkin emerges—the lean towards rind makes it dark, spicy, earthy, unique and quite lovely. But the occasional off note in the background keeps me from falling in love, and bourbon vanilla does its best to run away with the scent. For a few hours it's fine, casting a dark sweet dirty shadow over the scent, but the almost-cloying perfume that it becomes at the tail end of wear is frankly offputting—so much so that I washed it off. Aging may help the notes settle, and I'll hang on to my decant, but this is is more than a miss than a hit for me so far.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
SERAPHIM (GC, Sin & Salvation)
A perfume sacred to the highest of the angelic hosts: calla lily, wisteria, white sandalwood, Damascus rose and frankincense.
Review. )
Verdict: Seraphim isn't to my taste to begin with, but it would never work on me given my skin's enormous ability to amp rose notes. I washed this off and obviously don't need it.


THE TWISTED OAK TREE (LE, Halloweenies: The Haunted House 2007)
Blackened, rotted oak wood blanketed in moss and choked by a cloak of grasping ivy.
A gift from [livejournal.com profile] sisterite.
Review. )
Verdict: For better or worse I get nothing black or rotting here, but that doesn't mean that The Twisted Oak Tree completely abandons its dark inspiration. I wonder if it should, though. The moss-heavy, golden woods final stage of this blend is often gorgeous and comforting while maintaining adhering to its wild, organic origins, but the bitterness that haunts the edges never quite settles out and, frankly, it's disconcerting. An interesting scent, and one I'm glad to have tried; I'll test it again to see if my opinions change, but for now I think this errs just on the wrong side of unwearable. Certainly an intriguing blend, though.


FRENCH LOVE (GC, Bewitching Brews: The Conjure Bag)
A warm, soft, sexual blend. Sweet and alluring. Used to entice new lovers and add an aura of temptation and carnal sin to your environment.
Review. )
Verdict: French Love does just about nothing for me, but then out of the vial I don't get any of the dragon's blood, etc. as reported by others. Nor am I particularly attached to this scent's intended purpose. I washed it off, and won't keep my imp.


DANCE OF DEATH (GC, Ars Moriendi)
A gloriously elegant representation of Lady Death. Dry, bone-white orris, black musk, serpentine patchouli and our murkiest myrrh.
A gift from [livejournal.com profile] sisterite.
Review. )
Verdict: I'm not sure what magic makes Dance of Death so beautiful in the midst of its intense harshness—this isn't an innocuousness, palatable scent, but it is striking, proud, and intensely lovely. It's a disappointment then that it has such a short wear-length, but the fact that the scent is so stable—with a straightforward drydown and no real morphing—may be its saving grace, because it could easily be reapplied. I still prefer scents with more staying power, so I may not reach for this often. But I will keep it around.


JÓLASVEINAR (LE, Yule 2010)
Their scent is a mishmash of snow, dirt, Icelandic moss, marsh felwort, and the smushed petals of buttercups and moorland spotted orchids, with the barest hint of the scent of pilfered Christmas pastries.
Won from [livejournal.com profile] crystal_star_ss
Review. )
Verdict: On one hand, pine is one of my death notes and, while others get it, it doesn't show up on my skin—a welcome reprieve. On the other, all I really get from Jólasveinar is florals. Occasionally they're wintery outdoor florals, and their lean towards masculine/neutral is refreshing, but for the most part they're not particularly interesting or unique, and there's not enough of the other notes—dirt and moss would be particularly welcome—to balance them out. This is a scent for the swap pile.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
MACHU PICCHU (GC, Wanderlust)
Sweet tropical fruits burst through deep, wet rainforest boughs, enormous steamy blossoms, over thin mountaintop breezes, mingled with the soft, rich golden scent of Peruvian amber.
Review. )
Verdict: To my great surprise, I rather like this. Tropicals aren't my style, but this one is—well, not exactly toned down, but smooth, round, shaded. It's a very full scent without being overpowering, its sweetness makes it palatable, and its dark tropics have great individuality. I still don't think it's a scent I would wear, in the end, because however lovely it's still not my style. But it's an interesting one to try. (On the other hand, I also tried this many years ago, as a frimp to my first BPAL order, but didn't review it at the time. If I remember correctly, it was brighter and more generic tropical fruity floral to my untrained nose, and I had no particular love for it.)


GRANDMOTHER OF GHOSTS (GC, Excolo)
Mania, Roman Goddess of the Dead, Matron of Madness, Governess of the Ancestral Spirits, Bestower of Divine Frenzy. Her scent swirls with a high-pitched tumult of laurel, stargazer lily, splintered woods, peony, mandarin and white musk, and is spiked with pale pepper.
Review. )
Verdict: Grandmother of Ghosts is much better than I expected—I'm not a fan of most florals, but the other notes keep the lily dry rather than oppressive, and the scent's pale whiteness is elusive but gently intriguing. Nonetheless, this is far from my style and I find the scent's overall inaccessability (a more more than subtle, a little too ghostly) somewhat offputting. I'll trade this away.


BLOCK BUSTER (GC, Bewitching Brews: Conjure Bag)
Used to open up options in your life, overcome obstacles, and create opportunities. This blend increases your potential for success, inspires creativity and quick thinking, and helps you to be more flexible, adaptable and open to change.
Review. )
Verdict: I didn't have particularly high hopes, but the dry spices in the middle of Block Buster were almost perfect, rich and dry and hot and potent, at its best absolutely divine. I'd be won over, but for the fact that the fruit eventually reemerges—and while cinnamon apple is pleasant, it's too much a change from the pure spices and a little too seasonal; it might work better as a room scent, and I don't particularly want it on my skin. As a result, Block Buster was ultimately a personal disappointment (although it makes me eager for a pure spice blend). But for whatever it's worth, I got a lot of work done the day I tested the scent—more along the lines of overcoming internal procrastination than working around external obstacles, but still a powerful blend for a productive day.


SCARECROW (GC, Bewitching Brews)
An agricultural gargoyle. Though he is the Guardian of the Crops and Keeper of the Fields, his visage is stll the stuff of nightmares. The scent of a hot wind blowing through desolate, scorched, barren fields.
A gift from [livejournal.com profile] sisterite.
Review )
Verdict: I don't get the harshness that others get, and thank goodness for that. I'm not overly fond of the scent's various similarities to commercial perfume, but I do like it's late, toned-down stage. This is one to test again (and in large quantities) to finalize my impression. So far I'm intrigued but not quite satisfied, in part because of the similarities to commercial perfume, in part because I wish the scent had the punch of its description—instead it's faint, if more palatable.


THE CATERPILLAR (GC, Mad Tea Party)
Heavy incense notes waft lazily through a mix of carnation, jasmine, bergamot, and neroli over a lush bed of dark mosses, iris blossom, deep patchouli and indolent vetiver.
A gift from [livejournal.com profile] sisterite.
Review. )
Verdict: It's hard to say. Each of the facets works well on my skin, with the occasional exception of the jasmine (as florals aren't my style, and this one goes a little grandma's soap on me). Some, like the carnation, are quite good—carnation likes to get swallowed by other notes on my skin, but here its a rich spicy-sweetness and absolutely fantastic. I'm fond of the heart notes, and they combine well —they're less headshoppy on me than they seem to be on others, and also remarkably smooth and calm despite their tendency towards potency. But I like to know what I'm getting out of a scent, and The Caterpillar never does decide. Its rotation of notes is unusual and surprisingly successful, but I don't know if I'd be able to wear it with any regularity. I'll hang onto my imp and test again.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
THE DORMOUSE (GC, Mad Tea Party)
A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony.
Review. )
Verdict: This isn't at all a scent for me because tea just isn't my thing, but it's fine on someone else. It holds a pleasant balance between being likable and retaining a unique personality, and it's a scent I easily and immediately recognize after just one test. I just don't need any.


DEVIL'S CLAW (GC, Rappaccini's Garden)
A yellow-bright and smoky brown-black scent, horned, pronged and strange.
Review. )
Verdict: This is one of the better vetivers I've ever smelled—it's almost creamy-smooth, thick but mild, never harsh, half sensual and utterly delightful. It's also one of the best orange citruses I've ever tried—they tend to pale out on my skin, but this one is thick, vivid, and satisfying. But the fact that those two aspects never quite merge into a single scent is a disappointment—it feels unbalanced and unfinished. If they did, would I like this? I think so: the dimorphous golden shadow that lingers near the end is beautiful and unique, but too subtle and too long in coming. On the whole, Devils' Claw is more weird than wearable. I find myself unexpectedly pleased by what it tries to do, but what it achieves isn't quite good enough.


SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT (GC, Bewitching Brews)
A paradoxical scent experiment! - tangerine, sugared lime, pink grapefruit, oakmoss, lavender, zdravetz, and chocolate peppermint.
Review. )
Verdict: This is almost as strange and unique as I was expecting, in part because of the contradictory notes, in part because it's a twisted mimic of more traditional scents—but I still feel like I'm missing something. It isn't quite vivid enough to live up to its description, and lacks punch. It also doesn't last long, which adds to the sense of disappointment. Regardless, this just isn't a scent for me.


FIRE OF LOVE (GC, Bewitching Brews: Conjure Bag)
A catalytic, potent love oil used to spark (or rekindle) the flame of desire between lovers.
Review. )
Verdict: I love it—but that's mostly because I love musk and vetiver. In itself, Fire of Love isn't a particularly unique scent—it begins as mostly vetiver, ends as mostly musk, and doesn't have a strong independent identity. But musk in particular is fantastic on my skin, and this is a lovely all-rounder in that category: smooth, warm, barely sweet, cuddly but sensuous, straight up but beautiful musk. It reminds me to wear musk more often, but it isn't a must-have musk in its own right simply because it's not unique. Still, this is the only wearable Conjure Bag that I've ever tried and as such a fantastic surprise and, however, unoriginal, still lovely.


COME TO ME (GC, Bewitching Brews: Conjure Bag)
A phenomenally powerful attractant. Sexual and commanding in the extreme.
Review. )
Verdict: This is more than entirely not my style—it's not a scent I want to wear or to smell or to ever encounter, if I can help it. But for all that, Come to Me is surprisingly pleasant. It has all the hallmarks of a potent, unabashed mixed floral, the sort of thing I'd expect in an air freshener or soap, without the offensive chemical haze that usually comes with them. I never need to wear it again, but it wasn't bad to test.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
SOPHIA (Discontinued, GC: Excolo)
A solemn, deeply profound draught of lavender, soft musks, star jasmine, black rose, delphinium, and gentle spice.
Review. )
Verdict: As I don't think Sophia is supposed to be rose rose rose, and as I've no need of another oil that's just rose rose rose (even if this is a better rose than usual, and piques some casual interest in a well-rounded black rose scent—if such a thing could exist on my skin), this obviously isn't for me. I'll scrub it off and rehome my imp.


NOSTRUM REMEDIUM (GC, Doc Constantine's Pharmacopoeia)
Black tea leaf, invigorating wasabi extract, sweetened by honey.
Review. )
Verdict: Nostrum Remedium is not quite what I was expecting from the description, and (thank goodness) morphs dramatically from vial to skin, but I think I like it. It's unique without being big and bold, warm and spicy while maintaining a sparse cleanliness, and subtle without being tame. I'm glad I had the chance to try it—I think it's a scent that has to be smelled, not described. That said, I don't think it's enough my style that I need it.


BEWITCHED (GC, Bewitching Brews)
Deep, luscious green and berry scents that evoke images of woodland witchcraft and the raw power of nature: blackberry, sage, green tea, wild berries and dark musk.
Review. )
Verdict: It's almost a pity that goes through a perfectly balanced stage before the berry gets too loud, because that balance is divine—powerful but not cloying, unique, vivid, shadowed, and gorgeous. So while Bewitched's final stage is decent and I applaud its impressive longevity, it's a disappointment by comparison. The vivid berry hidden in the briars of the wood is a jewel of a scent; berry with a touch of darkness is too familiar, and not nearly as desirable. I like it well enough, but not half as much as I like what this scent could be and what it briefly is; all said, no, I don't need it.


'TIS THE VOICE OF THE LOBSTER (GC, Mad Tea Party)
A woody, musky-weird base glooping over with blackberry preserves, a twist of mandarin, strawberry juice, pulverized watermelon, and a handful of smushed gardenia petals.
A frimp from the Lab which I'd not have tried any other way—mixed fruits aren't my thing.
Review. )
Verdict: I generally dislike fruity florals, but 'Tis the Voice of the Lobster is unique enough that I find it surprisingly pleasant and successful. Nonetheless, it's not even remotely my style. I washed it off and won't keep it, but I wouldn't mind smelling it one someone else.


BLACK PEARL (GC, Bewitching Brews)
Evocative of the sea's unplumbed mysteries. Gentle and lovely, but menacing and profound. Coconut, Florentine iris, hazelnut and opalescent white musk.
Review. )
Verdict: I think it bothers me, a little, when a scent is this hard to pin down—I can appreciate the subtlety, but for personal wear I prefer a scent I can grasp on to. On that note, Black Pearl is intriguing and has a surprisingly strong character for something so unusual and subdued, but some of its quietude makes me nervous. It's one I'll have to test again before I know quite what I think of it, but this is a good start and an interesting experiment.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
FLOR DE MUERTO (LE, Halloween 2010)
The orange marigold, or zempasúchitl.
Review. )
Verdict: I want so much to like this, but it isn't all that I had hoped for. Perhaps it's just me and my experience with marigolds, but I had expected a spicier, earthier, different sort of floral—something more like a golden carnation than an autumnal orangeblossom. What I got instead is pleasant, but not quite satisfying, and so faint and brief as to hardly matter. I'll hold on to my bottle to see how it ages, but honestly I'm a bit disappointed.


PUMPKIN LATTE (LE, Halloween 2010)
Espresso, pumpkin syrup, smoky vanilla bean, milk, raw sugar, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Review. )
Verdict: All told, I'm pleased. Pumpkin Latte isn't precisely perfect—perhaps it's too faint, perhaps just the pumpkin is—but it is beautiful, comforting, and pretty much what it says on the tin, in the best possible way. I look forward to seeing how my bottle ages.


POMEGRANATE V (LE, Halloween 2010: The Pomegranate Patch)
Pomegranate, carnation, amber, cardamom, neroli, vetiver, black pepper, and opium tar.
Review. )
Verdict: Pomegranate V reminds me of the dark fruit/carnation combination of Bathsheba (although pom works much better on me than plum) and even more of the dark, subtle fruits in Queen of Clubs. It's a rich indulgent scent, shadowed and secretive but never shy, warm and red, and so beautiful. It's subtlety in boldness, and, well, I'm impressed. Every now and then the pomegranate gets a little out of hand, which is my only compliant—and I think aging will temper it. All in all, I'm thrilled to have a bottle. This is beautiful.


LAWN GNOME (LE, Summer Garden Miniseries)
Red currant, molasses, vanilla cream, moss, and patchouli.
Review )
Verdict: The candy red moments of Lawn Gnome were just a little too sharp and strongly currant for me, but on the whole the various remixes of this scent were enjoyable—unique, vibrant, and pleasant to the nose. But the lack of stability irked me. I like to know what I'm getting out of a scent. Morphers are fine if I know their strange and wild paths, but this skipped all over the place and never settled down. I want to like it, and sometimes do, but I don't think this is one that I'll often reach for.


PHILOLOGUS (LE, Vampires Don't Sleep Alone)
Ancient books, crackled parchment, faded incense, and candle wax.
Review. )
Verdict: I want to like this so badly, and it has some aspects which I could love—but again, that mustiness kills it. I don't get the cologne that others report, and it is pretty similar to the notes and inspiration, but it goes a little bit wrong and I don't know if I can get past that. I'll hold on to my bottle for now, and retest later.

ETA: A year has tamed this scent somewhat: it remains musty in its early stages, but that fades after drydown. What it leaves behind is a sheaf of parchment, a wide and mellow creamy scent, dark but not particularly complex, Lurid Library's broader cousin. I love Lurid Library, but I also like its delicacy, its sense of individual pages being turned; Philologus is similar enough to be redundant, but not as nice. I'll finally trade it away.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I would post a different lolcat, because this is the same one I used last year—but I used it then, and use it now, because it's my favorite. Perhaps it's a tradition now, too? (I still don't even like cake.)

Today's my birthday! I'm 25.

My birthday is, this year, as low key as always—and I prefer it that way. Yesterday I finished rereading To Charles Fort, With Love (my reveiw), which Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) gave me—and it is a perfect gift because I love it more each time I reread it, and now I can stop borrowing the library's copy over and over again in an attempt to pretend it is mine own. (Ironically, my copy is a used library copy.) I started reading one of the four books I bought at Powell's during the Portland trip, which, while not explicitly a birthday gift, fall close enough to the date to feel like one—and I am throughly enjoying this book so far. This morning I caught my dear Bart ([livejournal.com profile] aep) on IM, and the chance to talk to him was a gift in itself. Devon gave me the ultimate edition of The Fifth Element, because I wanted a copy of the film with special features, and were thinking of BPAL for my big birthday present, because the Halloween update is, as always, glorious*—but I'll wait to see what I get from my parents before we make an order. And tonight my parents are taking Devon and me to dinner at Nirvana, one of my favorite local restaurants. It will be a good day.

ETA: And indeed it was—if a bit tiring. We had a lovely dinner with my family, and then went to New Morning Bakery where I had a flourless chocolate and cinnamon torte (interesting and enjoyable, but not quite as dense and flavorful as my preferred Chocolate Sin). My parents gave me a modal body pillow cover, which I'm very grateful to receive, and Travel Fresh Sleep Sack, which will be something of an experiment—I tend to take a modal sheet with me when I travel because I'm a picky little sleeping princess, so this may be an easier alternative. They also gave me some spending money which will probably go to BPAL, and some blue cheese stuffed green olives, which are my current favorite food in the whole wide world. Devon's family also gave me edible indulgences, which is never a bad choice: a chocolate torte to try when I'm not full on a different chocolate torte, some bree, and three varieties of dark chocolate bars (60-90%)—two of which I know I love. The festivities are done now, and I'm full and exhausted and it's time to curl up in quiet with a book—but yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes!

So happy birthday to me!

* For the curious: My tentative BPAL Halloween 2010 order. )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Today Devon and I stopped by the local bakery/café and I had what they call chocolate sin. I've been phoning them and we've been stopping by, but it wasn't until today (after a month of trying) that they finally had it by the slice—it seems they offer it infrequently over the summer, but perhaps that's just coincidence. Chocolate sin is one of my favorite desserts. It is a flourless chocolate torte with whipped cream—flourless chocolate torte is as simple as chocolate, eggs, and butter, and it is everything that cake is not: rich and dense, flavorful and profoundly chocolate; the slightly sweetened whipped cream helps cut the density of both the flavor and texture, and so makes it a bit easier to eat. I am a purest, after all: chocolate needs little dilution, needs no other flavor, but it can be beautifully presented and prepared—this is that. It was amazing. It always is, but this time was particularly perfect.

Today I smell of coffee shops and used books, of Lurid Library (the incense-tinged scent of forbidden tomes and the musk-laden remnants of infernal servants) with just a touch of Miskatonic University (the scent of Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls)—perhaps my favorite BPAL layering combination. It's the scent of poring over creamy, old parchment while drinking sweetened coffee, warm and ivory, non-foody but palatable, comforting and comfortable.

Today I am listening to S.J. Tucker's Neptune, from her new album Mischief.



And ah, it is beautiful.

In other words, today is a good day.

In fact, more and more days are so—I seem to be somewhat improved. I'm still a little subdued, a little moody, but this is as normal for me as breathing. I'm still a little incoherent—this particular downturn has been marked by a combined lack of will and lack of ability to deal with words, which has been unusual and unwelcome—but I'm finding it a little easier, day by day, to write and speak, and that I have more and more that I want to say. I'm still distracting myself with media consumption, but without the same sense of desperation. As always I am trying not to get my hopes up, so that if my mood takes another downturn I'm won't be disappointed. But I think it's safe to say that I'm crawling out of this funk. This is welcome.

I've missed a lot of congratulations and sympathies and simple interaction in my silence. If I've been ignoring you, I apologize! Know that I have been reading. There are some of you that I wish were here right now, to share this evening with me. Until then, you're in my thoughts.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
GYPSY (LE, Metamorphosis: The Moths 2010)
Bourbon vanilla, Egyptian musk, tonka, white sugar, and cardamom.
Review. )
Verdict: I wish that the cardamom lasted as long as the other notes, because it's wonderful and Gypsy's middle stage of cardamom/vanilla/sugar is just divine. But as the cardamom fades, so does Gypsy's magic. That spice is what makes the scent wonderful and unique; without it this is just a cousin to Dorian, and I'm not a fan of that scent. But I'll hang on to my decant for now—perhaps aging will make for a richer, more distinctive oil.

ETA: What a difference a year makes. Aged, I no longer see a similarity between Gypsy and Dorian; Gypsy retains its cardamom through to the end, although the sugar now dies off during drydown (so much so that I sometimes want to layer this with a sweet scent). It has more body and longevity, and the spice pricks the nose and is none to shy, but it's still an elusive scent, something savory and gorgeous that flits off the skin and dances through the throw. It's subtle but compelling, and surprisingly addictive. I'm glad to see this age well.


VANILLA 15 (LE, Chaos Theory VI: Recursive Self-Similarity v7)
Review. )
Verdict: This isn't one for me. As in Antique Lace and Regan, I find the vanilla and powdery/dry floral combination is a little stuffy and cloying; the fruity Sweet Tarts aspect doesn't help matters. Vanilla 15 is somewhere between vanilla candle, cheap candy, and grandma's soap, yet stays pretty tame and fades in an hour or three: not desirable, but fairly inoffensive, and still one I'll send away.


AMBER 100 (LE, Chaos Theory VI: Recursive Self-Similarity v5)
Review. )
Verdict: Application is a bitch, because the first stages of this scent are frankly unpleasant. But the drydown is growing on me. Amber 100 is still a bit strange, a little too musty and powdery even for me (and I love powdery ambers) and there's still something a little odd going on in the background. But the resin/spice/brown sugar combo is ... quite nice, actually. I'll have to give this one another go sometime, to see if both my fondness and interpretation of the notes stays stable, but for now I'm pretty pleased.

ETA: Over a year later, and Amber 100's mustiness is gone, taking with it much of the powder. It's savory spice and brown sugar over a resin base now, with almost no morphing except for some heavy, almost sour spice in the vial and during drydown. Stabilization does this scent many favors—it's still quite strange, something of a masculine and distinctly un-foody take on this sort of spice combination, but everything I liked best about the fresh oil is now consistently and perhaps more potently present, savory and rich without being heavy, made palatable by the touch of sweetness, unusual and subtly fantastic.


AMBER 124 (LE, Chaos Theory VI: Recursive Self-Similarity v5)
Reivew. )
Verdict: I'm quite pleased. This isn't a bold scent, and its initial gentle, pure amber might be a bit of a disappointment if I weren't such an amber lover. But it dries down to something gently wonderful: the most palatable sort of golden amber, warm and soft—and, unless I'm mistaken, dusted with a bit of light cocoa. There's beauty in Amber 124's simplicity: it's not complex, but it's lovely and the cocoa (if it is cocoa) gives it just enough depth to hold one's attention. I'm quite enjoying this, and it's a definite keeper.


AMBER 184 (LE, Chaos Theory VI: Recursive Self-Similarity v5)
Review. )
Verdict: Well that was an adventure. This is a little too masculine a scent for me, and I'm not familiar enough with its general category to pretend to dissect its notes. My general impression, however, is mixed. Amber 184 begins poorly and ends quickly and somewhat overbalanced towards sweetness, but there's a middle period where the scent is fairly pleasant: a spicy, herbal, sweetened amber, masculine and warm, unrefined and indistinct perhaps but not bad. Regardless this isn't a keeper, for me—I'll pass it along.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I have a habit of scenting the cloth bookmark of my Moleskines with BPAL. I'm about ten pages way from filling up my 3.5x5.5 pocket ruled notebook (and therefore am in need of another, sometimes soonish—because the size is so convenient to carry, and because I'd like to stockpile a few backups) which I've been using on and off for about two years now. The ribbon was scented with Haunted (soft golden amber darkened with a touch of murky black musk, my amber holy grail), and the scent has lasted these long two years—perhaps because the bookmark is often tucked in the book—a persistent, gentle thread of soft and powdery golden amber.

Its replacement is a 5x8.25 large ruled notebook, which I hope will be easier to write in (my scrawl gets even messier at the bottom of the pocket-sized pages) and hold more text—because I've been chewing through pages these days, since I've started using it to handwrite just about all my drafts. The scent, this time, is Boomslang (Snake Oil with cocoa, teakwood, and rice milk, my most beloved cocoa, my favorite non-skin scent)—in part as a simple celebration of the oil because I now have a backup bottle (from [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) and so can use it with abandon, in part because there are fewer delights as simple, as pure, as ever-welcome, as the dark dark heart of cocoa absolute.

Somehow, the fact that I have enough content to write a post about Moleskines and BPAL brings me as much joy as the scent of cocoa wafting about me right now.

(Now if only I were well enough to take my lovely cocoa notebook to a coffee shop and get some use of it, but no—I have taken a turn for towards snuffly and stuffy, and I wouldn't be polite company for the world at large. Devon can put up with me instead, while I finish reading a subpar book.)

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
DORIAN (GC, Sin & Salvation)
A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.
Review. )
Verdict: I wish I were able to give a more precise description of this scent, but that escapes me. My inabilities aside, Dorian just doesn't grab me. It's pleasant enough and I wouldn't mind it on someone else, but it isn't to my taste—it leaves me with a distinct "meh" impression, and I wouldn't be drawn to wear it again. I'll give away my bottle.


THE HESPERIDES (GC, Bewitching Brews)
Their perfume is that of sturdy oak bark, dew-kissed leaves, twilight mist and crisp apple.
Review. )
Verdict: A not unpleasant scent, but not quite good. It's distinctive and it fits the notes and name, but to my nose the bright golden apple doesn't mesh well with the fuzzy musk/leaves, and while the combination isn't quite unsettling it is strange—and not in an intriguing way. I'm also not a fan of aquatics, even when well-behaved. In short, not offensive but a little strange, and not something I'll wear again. I'll pass my imp along.


MARY READ (GC, Bewitching Brews)
Salt air, ocean mist, aged patchouli, sarsaparilla, watered-down rum, leather-tinged musk, and a spray of gunpowder.
Review. )
Verdict: I like Mary Read well enough when it's multifaceted, grainy, spicy, gunpowder-and-sea. It's a fascinating, unique scent, although not really a match to my personality—something I'd like to smell on someone else, I think. But the times when the vetiver amps are a bit disappointing—it strips most of the depth and personality from the scent. All in all, one I like but will pass on. It's just not something I'll wear.


SMUT (LE, Lupercalia 2006)
Three swarthy, smutty musks sweetened with sugar and woozy with dark booze notes.
Review. )
Verdict: The Snake Oil family tends to do this to me: despite lovely, tempting descriptions and reviews, they're oddly faint and a little off on my skin, a skin-level hint of crusty vanilla with sundry dark bases. Smut follows the same trend, so the result on me is a simple disappointment—although perhaps not a surprise. Oh well! I'm glad I had a chance to try it, and I'll pass along my decant.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I finished Lost Souls ... yesterday? last night? recently, loving it as much to the end as I did in my passionate accolades halfway through. Nothing was my favorite this time, then Ghost—a change from my passion for Zillah the first go-around.

Picked up a new-to-me book to read and review and had to put it down 35 pages in. London Bridges, Jane Stevenson. Normally I have a rule: to read at least 50, but usually 75 pages of a book before I give up on it. Because it takes me about that long to form an opinion I believe will hold up, and I like to have an opinion before I continue with, or give up on, or even worse give up on and write an "ohgodwhy" review of a book. I just can't make myself do that with this one, because 4 pages in I was groaning and bitching and 30 pages after that was no better. Because this:

"Good evening. Can you fill this prescription, please?"

Jeanene took the piece of paper and studied it conscientiously, nibbling her thumbnail.

"I'll have to check on the computer," she said apologetically. "This is a high dosage, and I'm not sure we keep it in that strength."

"It is very important," said the woman, abruptly.
London Bridges, Jane Stevenson (4) (emphasis added)


This is the type of writing to send me into a rage that begins something like: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." Stephen King and I agree on little but there, oh there, we can agree.

And on the selfsame page:

"There was something else peculiar about it: the prescribing doctor's address was in Fife; and while Jeanene's education had not been big on British geography, Macbeth, she recalled, was the Thane of Fife. So, surely Fife was in Scotland."


The Thane of Fife had a wife indeed and no matter where she is now her name was Lady Macduff because Macduff was the bloody Thane of Fife, seriously. That may be an intended character error rather than an accidental author error but it still bugged me. A lot.

But more to the point:

"Then the Krauts blew it up?" said Edward inelegently.

"It was destroyed by enemy action on December 14, 1940," confirmed Eugenides. Edward's interest quickened. His memorandum was dated September of the same year: good timing on someone's part.

"It must've meant a hell of a lot of sorting out for you," he observed, considering the old man thoughtfully. Seventy? Seventy-five? How old had he been in 1940?

"I was not personally involved at that time, of course," explained Eugenides.
——London Bridges, Jane Stevenson (28) (emphasis added)


Adverbs again; furthermore do you know why we use he said, she said so often in literature? Because it's clean and pure and motherfucking simple, that's why, instead of sounding like you have a pen in one hand and a beleaguered thesaurus in the other. What always boggles me though that these two things can coincide: unnecessarily strong verbs yet still more adverbs than a high school English essay, and neither aspect has half the impact it's intended to have. It's a mess, is what it is. A ripe old mess.

It's when I get to that point that Devon generally has to take the book away from me because he's sick of hearing my dramatic readings. But this time, I reached that point myself. The plot doesn't hold me, the characters are caricatures, but really it's just that the writing is making my brain hurt so bad that no desire even to review this can make me continue with one more page.

So I picked up Kiernan's Threshold instead. It's a reread for me but I never reviewed it, so that's good enough for my goal to alternate read&reviewed with unread&unreviewed. And I am 12 pages in, and in love. I remember the story as clear as daylight, still—it hasn't been too long since I first read it—but that works. The plot, I can see, will unfold differently knowing where it ends, and Kiernan's writing is still fresh because as much as I remember of it, I cannot remember it all, multilayered, sensitive, artistic as it is.

When I sat down and opened up LJ it was just to type one sentence, so here it is:

And it all washes back over her again, the indisputable reality of it, truth that smells like carnations and a shoveful of red cemetery dirt—that they are dead, gone, all of them, and she's as alone at twenty-three as someone who has outlived an entire lifetime of family and friends and lovers.
Threshold, Caitlín R. Kiernan (12)


It is not the book's most beautiful, most important sentence, but still it is better than the trash I'm leaving behind. But the real reason I wanted to share it:

Carnations and a shoveful of red cemetery dirt—if BPAL made this perfume I could die happy. They should make this perfume. I must have this perfume. It would be my beloved Penny Dreadful but drier, spicier, not as sweet. I can't think of two notes better suited than red loam and carnation, two notes I would better love. This book is amazing but now I am in mourning that I cannot slather on that dream scent this very instant.

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