Friday, July 25, 2014

Read - Her

Her
by Harriet Lane
2015**
246 pages

'You don't remember her --- but she remembers you.

On the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common.  Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence is fading fast.  Nina --- sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control --- seems to have all the answers.

It's easy to see why Emma is drawn to Nina.  But what does Nina see in her?

A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma's life.  Soon, it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma --- something that just might destroy her.'

** I won an advance copy of this book on Goodreads, but I think it might have already been released (self published maybe?) earlier this year.  The copy I have says it's being released Jan. 1, 2015.

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This was a quick read and I quite enjoyed that after the beastly books I've read recently.  It kept a quick pace, almost too quick sometimes.  The story does go back and forth from Emma's point of view to Nina's, and it's written in that style where it's like you're reading exactly as the characters see and think right as they see it and think it.  (Is there a name for that style?)  Several events are pretty much repeated, so we experience it from both points of view, and I've read some comments about that being annoying but I didn't see it that way because you do get two different views of the same events.

Although Nina is the evil one in this story, I had a hard time liking the character of Emma.  She seemed rather whiny and floundering at times, an ongoing pity party, when there didn't really seem to be any reason for it.  She seemed to always come off as 'My life is soooo hard and you can't do one little thing to help me?' when she was the one making it hard on herself.  So it was easy to see how Nina weaseled her way into Emma's life.

I was glued to this story.  As you read, you're constantly trying to figure out the connection.  You're always trying to find the clues.  You're trying to fit those pieces of the puzzle together, and then wondering if those pieces are even the clues you're meant to find.  There are mentions of things along the way and you're like 'Did one sleep with the others husband?' or 'Ooh, are they half sisters?' or 'Did one maybe kill a family member of the other?'  It very much reminded me of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle in the way Nina was the only one who knew what was going on, and was easing her way into Emma's life by being all nicey nicey and perfect, a life saver in many situations, when actually Nina was creating or instigating several of those situations to begin with.  And all along the reader becomes more and more impatient, wondering just what the heck that past connection was. The mystery continues to build all the way through the book, until the last twenty pages or so.  By then you're seeing how close to the end you're getting and you're quite frantic.  LOL

Even when the connection is finally revealed, it's done in an almost casual way.  You're kinda left wondering if that was it, or if more details are still to come.  Then you see there are only about 5-10 pages left and now you're wondering what could possibly happen as a result in so little time.  Well, let me tell you, this book pushes the climax right to the end and then leaves you on a huge cliffhanger.  Holy crap.  I seriously looked at the back cover, and re-examined the first 'legal stuff' pages, frantically trying to figure out if there is sequel coming out, or if maybe my advance copy was somehow incomplete.  It totally leaves your brain screaming "WHAT HAPPENS?!?!"

I love that it ended with the reader left to make up their own mind how things turned out, but there is still a part that *needs* to know what the author intended to happen.  For me though, looking back on the book after ending on that high drama note, there was a feeling of disappointment.  Once I knew what the connection was, I was kinda like 'Really?  All of this because of that?'  In some ways, what happened back then seems so minor.  Then I started wondering about all the unanswered questions.  What was Nina hoping to gain by her actions?  Obviously in her mind it was paybacks, a form of punishment, but what was she hoping to accomplish?  Especially since Emma didn't even have a clue?  Is there really any punishment when one doesn't know they're being punished?

Although I do think the actual connection these women share, what drives Nina's actions, was weak, I still think this was a great book.  I liked that it was short and quick, and that it (hopefully) won't be part of a long drawn out series.  I liked that so much of the story is left up to the reader to interpret, but I also wish I knew a bit more about how the author saw it.  Overall though, well worth the read, and it won't take you long to do it.  So glad I was given the chance to read this!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Natters - Moving Out?

So it looks like my older son Ty will be moving out soon.  He talked about it a while ago, maybe two years ago, but I don't remember what kept him from doing it at that time.  Back then we'd talked a bit about all the things he'd need for a a place of his own and it was kinda funny naming off some things that you'd probably never really think about until you needed them and didn't have them.  One thing was scissors.  He was shocked when I mentioned it, said he'd have never thought to buy something as simple as scissors.

Well he's talking again about moving out and tomorrow is actually going to look at an apartment.  And once again I've started making a mental list of things to shop for.  He thinks I'm a dork for being so excited about this shopping.  I told him it IS exciting, not only for him, but for me because when hubby and I got together we had no money and everything was pretty much  very well worn hand-me-downs.  I'm excited that he'll be able to have a fabulous looking Christmas tree now, since Minion doesn't let us have one here any more.  I'm excited that he'll be living in town and able to have high speed internet, because our boonies country internet sucks big ballz.  And being excited about shopping for supposedly piddly and boring things keeps from crying over the fact that my firstborn is finally leaving home.

I thought it would be fun to get some help from anyone who is reading this.  What are some things you need to buy for your first apartment?  It can be the obvious things, or it can be things you discovered you needed and never thought of when you first moved out.  You can break it down by room or just natter off an endless list.  You can list things in the comments, or email me (dke [at] centurytel [dot] net), or make this like a tag and answer on your blog with a link here.

If it helps, Ty is 23, very much single, and works in a machine shop.  He's a quiet homebody who likes playing videos games and watching dvds.  He's not at all a cook . . . but hopefully will start to learn some basics.  Not a coffee drinker.  He won't have pets.

So put your thinking caps on and help us out.  =)

Haul - Kim's Tarts

As we creep closer and closer to fall, I'd been thinking about what fall and winter scents I wanted, and who I wanted to get them from.  It was looking like I was going to have several small orders scattered around at different vendors but then I decided to just go off the beaten path and do one big order from Kim's Tarts.  This is a vendor that has probably fallen off the radar for most people in the wax community.  Some newer wax fans might not even know of Kim's.  Several years ago though, she was one of the popular vendors.

These days I think people scoff at Kim's Tarts because cheap and rather generic.  There is no colorful branding, no fancy packaging or labeling, no beautiful colored chunks or custom blends.  Heck, the bags probably aren't even considered 'proper' anymore in this latest wax community panic.
The tarts are plain, sometimes even have that sunken in middle that some feel is a ripoff.  No glitter or cutesy embellishments here.  What you do get is affordable, strongly scented wax from a site that's always open, and a quick turnaround time.  (A 3-pack of scallop tarts is $1.50.  Each tart is .8-1.0 oz, which is the same as two clamshell cubes.)

I decided to just place a large order here, knowing I'd get it fast enough to still be able to place a couple small orders elsewhere for a few other known favorites if I found these lacking.



So let's see what I got!

That first pic in this post is the whole order, minus two scents she will send later when those oils come.  This pic above is just the fall scents.  Heh, shouldn't surprise you at all that there are so many.  Fall IS the best time of the year and has the best scents!  For now, I will just list the scents with the description from the Kim's Tarts site, and maybe a quick thought here and there.  Individual pics and more in depth thoughts will come later as I melt each one.

Fall Scents
 - Country Bumpkin - 'A wonderful complex blend of apples, candied yams, marshmallows, sweet cream butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, crushed cinnamon bark and fresh cloves.'  First discovered this scent in soap, years ago, and it was my absolute fave for a while.

- Sugar Corn Pudding - 'This fragrance is very unique. This is one of my favorites! AWESOME scent!'  Not much of a scent description.  Took a chance on this one because I've liked the scent from other vendors but have not had it often.  Smells sort of cornbread-y at the moment.

- Trick or Treats - 'Trick or treat fragrance begins with top notes of pumpkin, persimmon, and apple; followed by middle notes of blueberries, elderberries, currants, orange and cinnamon; and well rounded with base notes of sugar cane and vanilla.'  Another I took a chance on, because I've had mixed results with other vendors.

- Caramel Apple - 'The scent of a big red juicy apple dipped in warm, buttery caramel.'  Gotta have this scent in the fall!  Slightly more apple than caramel in this one.

- Pumpkin Crunch Pie - 'A super rich and strong pumpkin loaded with caramel, brown sugar, whipped creme, french vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon and hints of maple sugar.'  Spicy pumpkin with some hints of sweet creaminess.

- Mulled Cider - 'A fabulous spiced scent!'  I'm not a huge cider scent fan but I think I grabbed this in an 'Oh why not' type decision since I was ordering pretty much anything and everything fall scented.  Quite spicy but not really apple-y.  Seems there are other fruits in here.

- Fall Harvest - 'Sweet orange gets crisp accents to create a bright opening for this warm nostalgic scent. Green apple is warmed with spiced cinnamon and balanced with vanilla musk and golden amber.'  Oooh, interesting.  Sort of a typical darkly spicy fall mix, if you have any idea what that means.

- Spiced Pumpkin Pie - 'A traditional pumpkin pie with hints of clove, nutmeg, and vanilla.'

- Spiced Cranberry - 'The base note is cranberry.  The different spices to give it a heavy, rich, spicy attitude!'  So good!  Not as spicy as it sounds.

- Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin (B&BW Type) - 'A fabulous blend of spicy pumpkin purée with sweet butter and vanilla cream. Hints of apple, strawberry, cranberry, cinnamon, pumpkin and clove with tiny floral tones and precious musk. All the sweet and spicy fragrances of fall come together in this unique scent.'  Hmm, I don't know.  A little brighter and perfume-ier than I'd imagined.

- Grannie's Homemade Apple Butter - 'Very spicy apple with a warm buttery background!'  

- Pumpkin Cheesecake - 'A totally fabulous and spicy blend of pumpkin, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, rich maple and sweet creamy butter.'  Spicy pumpkin.  Not much of a cheesecake note, at least not on cold sniff.

- Autumn Wreath - 'A cheerful fall welcome with the spicy warmth of autumn leaves, cinnamon apples, nutmeg and clove.'  Another of those typical darkly spicy fall mixes.  I find I quite like this type this year.  Well, at least as of today.  lol

- Pumpkin Bread - 'A warm and scrumptious blend of spicy pumpkin pie filling blended in a sweet bread with creamy vanilla, butter, spices and pralines.'  Spicy pumpkin at the moment.

- Apple Jack Peel - 'Delicious fresh apple aroma with spicy notes of cinnamon and clove. A Claire Burke duplication.'  Another scent I first discovered back in my soap days, and it quickly became a fall favorite, although this one seems more like a basic apple cider scent than the Apple Jack & Peel types I remember.

- Leaves (B&BW Type) - 'Rich Autumn notes of Fresh ground cinnamon generously sprinkled over tasty dried apple peel. Allspice, fresh clove bud, and drips of Vermont maple complete this festive aroma.'  Took a chance on this one too because I seem to remember being iffy on Leaves types from other vendors.  Another one of those typical fall mixes.

- Cranberry/Orange - 'This is a great blend of cranberry spice and orange.'   Had to get this after we all went crazy about it during our RG muffin club prep.  LOL

- Pumpkin Cornbread - 'Sweet pumpkin is blended with cornmeal and ground clove and cinnamon in this warm fall bread, straight from the oven.'  On cold sniff at least, this might be my favorite of the pumpkins I got.  Seems to have the deepest, fullest pumpkin-bakery type scent.

- Pumpkin Marshmallow - 'A fabulous Fall treat! Cardamom, cinnamon, marshmallow, cooked pumpkin, madagascar vanilla, buttermilk, caramel-glaze, and a hint of graham cracker.'  Took a chance on this too because more than one vendor's marshmallow scent has been incredibly nasty.  The mention of graham cracker in this one has me thinking it's a different type of scent blend though.  Smells pretty good on cold sniff but I do get a teeny hint of that nasty note.  Fingers crossed for this one.

- Cinnamon Apple - 'The aroma of a red juicy machintosh apple, sprinkled with fresh ground cinnamon sticks.'   This is one she will be sending later.

This is the winter scents part of my order.  A much smaller bunch, huh?  Actually there are two that were in the fall scent pic that should have been in here.  They will be included in this list.  I'm a bit more hesitant when it comes to winter scents.  I do like having hints of a Christmas tree note but I find most strong pine/evergreen scents to be too much for my liking.  I usually stick to mint, eggnog, gingerbread scents for winter, so some of these are going to be really taking chances for me.

Winter Scents
- Gingerbread Applesauce - 'Fresh baked gingerbread and warm apple sauce. Apple cider, sweet cinnamon, hints of nutmeg, clove and ginger.'  Very weird on cold sniff.  Not spicy at all.  Sort of a watery weird scent.

- Buttery Gingerbread - 'A yummy spiced gingerbread with rich butter notes; tiny hints of maple and nut with vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg!'  A bit light right now, seems like a typical gingerbread.

- Perfect Holiday Spice - 'The perfect blend of red cinnamon, spiced orange peel, sweet vanilla cream and the special warmth of the Christmas spirit.'  I like!  A spiced orange scent.

- Aspen Winter - 'A festive combination of bay leaf, fresh pine, red cinnamon and warm winter woodsy notes combined with hints of holiday fruits.'  This is one of those I'm not sure about.  Definitely one of those outdoorsy type scents, very piney and woodsy, with a hint of sweet.

- Glistening Snow - 'A wonderful holiday oil bursting with fresh Bayberry with undertones of cinnamon, clove and peppermint!'  This is apparently a Glade dupe and I've had it from another vendor.  I like it.  Not overly minty.

- Snickerdoodle - 'The fresh baked aroma of French vanilla with a touch of cinnamon sticks, gingerbread, and maple syrup.'  I suppose this isn't really a holiday scent but what the heck, spicy bakery?  Why not.  Just get a simple spiced cookie scent at the moment.

- Vanilla Snowflake - 'A delectable blend of creamy vanilla and winter mint with a light coconut kiss that brings back memories of making angels in winter's first snowfall.'  I know this is a dupe for something but I don't know if it's Yankee or B&BW or what.  I had it from another vendor last year.  A super yummy sugar cookie type scent.  I don't get any mint note in this.

- White Christmas - 'A brisk fresh-air scent of evergreen garland and berries.'  Another one I took a chance on.  You know how some fall blends are all that 'darkly spice mix'?  Well then you might also know what I mean when I say that some winter scents are that 'typical fresh outdoorsy blend.'  This is very much like Aspen Winter.

- Christmas Splendor - 'Wonderful Christmas combination of apples, oak, balsam, fir, and pine, with a background of cinnamon and clove.'  This is more like one of those craft-stores-at-holiday-time mixes, like scented pine cones.

- Peppermint Cake Bites - 'Rich, moist white cake blended with hints of peppermint candy canes.'  Strong on the peppermint right now.  Almost seems like a slight chocolate note somewhere in there.

- Christmas Tree - 'Begins with top notes of pine and fresh lime; with middle notes of cardamom and pepper with a base note of Scotch pine.'  Even though I can only tolerate pine scents in small doses, I have to have it during Christmastime.  The lime adds a slight juicy hint to this scent but it is still a typical 'Christmas tree' loveliness.

- Mistletoe Magic - 'Balsam, holly and mistletoe with a blend of holiday spice to add some Christmas magic!'  Light right now.  Typical craft store-holiday scent, but not as spicy as the other one.

- Tis The Season - 'A healthy dose of holly and berries! This is a different twist - a little spice and a little balsam have been added to this wonderful holiday [scent]!'  Another craft store-holiday type, this one more spicy and more piney.

- Christmas Wish (Yankee Type) - 'A unique blend of hints of lemon, orange, cedar wood and pine all nestled in a warm, rich vanilla cookie base. It reminds me of a kitchen filled with freshly baked sugar cookies surrounded by pine and pine cones scented in a fireplace.'  Interesting!  First impression is that it's a bakery scent but then you quickly go back and find hints of the pine and wood.

- Santa's Whiskers - 'A fun blend of balsam, fir, and pine with warm vanilla sugar cookies.'  Stronger on the evergreen notes than the previous one.

- Christmas Eve (Yankee Type) - 'Traditional holiday scents of a warm hearth, sugared plums, and candied fruits.'  Hmm, another of those scented pine cones - craft store - holiday blends.


- Hansel & Gretel's House - 'Vanilla frosting, cinnamon sticks, toasted graham crackers and juicy raisins.'  This is the other one Kim will be sending later.  This is an old favorite of mine, whoever I order it from.


                                 There were also three freebies with my order.  Thank you , Kim!
- Monkey Farts - 'Rich, perfectly ripened bananas mixed with crisp apples and rich creamy caramel with crunchy toffee added for an extra kick!

- Fruit Loops - 'Top notes of lemon rinds, lime, and grapefruit; middle notes of lemongrass, lily, and verbena; and base notes of vanilla sugar.'  Thought this one was funny because we'd just been talking about Fruit Loops scents recently here on the blog.


- Downey (Lavender Vanilla) - 'A well-rounded combination of fresh lavender, fresh vanilla beans, with orange zests and patchouli.



And that is my monster order!  I realize another reason I don't like placing large orders . . . I don't like how long it takes to blog about them!  *sigh*


Anyway, as mentioned above, 3-pk scallop tarts from Kim's cost $1.50 a pack.  I placed my order on July 5, and received the package on July 23.  While that is a bit over the TAT suggested on the website it is still a bajillion times better than the new norm of four, five, six months.  And I used a coupon code to get free shipping.

Have you started ordering your fall and winter scents?  When do you actually start melting your fall scents?  When do you stop melting your winter scents?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Melted - Beezy Tarts / Watermelon Cake

Watermelon Cake - 'Yummy cake with a hint of watermelon.
What says summer like watermelon?  And since I seemed to be grabbing all the cake scents in the limited Beezy stock when I ordered, watermelon cake seemed perfect.  This was a nice sweet cake scent, with an addition helping of sweetness from the light watermelon note.  This was more of a bright and fun cake scent, instead of some of the warmer, cozy cake scents you'll find.  At times it even seemed almost like strawberry instead of watermelon.
I melted half of this scent shot in my tea light warmer was bummed to find this was a much lighter scent than previous Beezy tarts that I've melted.  It was still a healthy medium strength scent, but was noticeably lighter than the banana and orange-caramel ones I recently had.  A bit of a bummer there but still a great scent.

Melted - Beezy Tarts / Banana Walnut Cake

Banana Walnut Cake - 'A true banana walnut cake. You can almost taste the brown sugar, fresh bananas, and freshly crushed walnuts.'


Another yum-tastic scent from Beezy.  At first I just kept thinking this was a really nice banana nut bread scent but when I would stop and focus a bit more, the cake note was indeed there.  This was a warm, comforting bakery scent.  The banana was there right away but it was not candy-like, and was not a summery fruity type scent.  The warm sweetness of the brown sugar mixed with the cake note, and the touch of nuttiness made this such a nice homey scent.  There even seemed to be just the teeniest hint of spice every once in a while.

I melted half of this scent shot in my tea light warmer and had nice strong scent.

Read - City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire
by Cassandra Clare
2014
725 pages

'Shadowhunters and demons square off for the final showdown in the spellbinding, seductive conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?
'

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the sixth and final book in the Mortal Instrument series, and ohhhh what a journey it's been.  I'd had sort of a love/hate relationship with the series.  I was definitely looking forward to the end, to reading this book, to see how things would be wrapped up.  I was not thrilled to see that this was a beast of a book, over 700 pages long.  I couldn't decide if that was good because there was a lot of story to tell, or bad because it was going to be dragged out with filler or side stories that didn't need to be added at this point.  Turns out it was a bit of both.

I'm a bit surprised at how much I liked this book.  It wasn't to the point of me loving it and not being able to put it down, but it was an improvement over how I felt about some of the others.  The author seemed to reel things back in and keep on track better this time.  The previous book seemed to venture so far out into more and more side stories, and into such farfetched plot lines that I had a huge fear this finale was going to be some completely horrid over the top mess.  What a pleasant surprise that it wasn't!

There were some things that didn't seem to really need to be there, like pretty much the whole werewolf storyline.  I realize she had to wrap up their part of the story but it just seemed weak and pointless.  I found myself skimming over a lot of that.  Also skimmed over some of the longer descriptive parts or the longer sappy parts.  At 725 pages, you get tired of reading and want to get to the end!  And the author did spend quite a chunk of this book setting up her next series, which I was a bit bummed about.  This book could have been a more manageable size without so much time laying the foundation for a new series.  (I'm not sure yet if I'll even read that series.)

I think things fit together nicely in this book.  There was the occasional 'Really?' *eye roll* moment along the way but overall I think most things kept on track and all roads led to the final battle.  I was glad to see that even that big climax was quite well done, quite tame actually.  Let's face it, we all knew Sebastian was going to die and that Clary would save the world.  It was just a matter of how.

And then the emotions came.  The last 100 pages or so . . . wow . . . I think I was in some form of sniffling or sobbing all the way to the end.  This was all the tying up loose ends, wrapping up story lines.  There were reunions, and coming to terms with things, and separations.  Alec and Magnus clinging to each other when it looked like their only hope was for Magnus to sacrifice himself.  Jocelyn crying as a cleansed Sebastian died.  Clary finally allowing herself to cry for everything.  And Simon.  O - M - G, how cruel is Cassandra Clare to do that to Simon and all who loved him?  That was heartbreaking, yet strangely awesome, somehow harder to deal with than death.  Although I'm somewhat happy with how his story eventually ended, it seemed like a muddy middle ground.  I was hoping it would have ended with just a glimmer of recognition, or maybe him being able to see Clary, Izzy, and Magnus standing there when they were glamoured.  Ya know?  End it with the reader wondering.

I was hugely disappointed that we still don't know what the deal is with Church, the cat?!

In the end, I think this was probably one of the better books in the series.  I'm both sad and relieved to see it end.  And I tell ya, it really makes me want to go back and watch the City of Bones movie again!

Have you read this book/series?  What did you think?  Will you read the next series?

Melted - Beezy Tarts / Orange Caramel Cake

Orange Caramel Cake - 'White cake with a dash of orange oil, covered in sweet whipped buttercream, drizzled with caramel sauce.

LOVED this one.  There was a definite, delicious cake note in this, maybe more like a pound cake in that it was not overly sweet.  The caramel note enhanced that cake note, both warmed and sweetened it.  And then the bit of orange brightened it all up a bit.  The orange was never really distinct enough on its own, but did lend itself nicely to the scent overall.  Ohhh, this was good.

I melted half of this scent shot in my tea light warmer and had nice strong scent with decent throw.

If I ever order from Beezy again, I hope this is available!