Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fallen - Lauren Kate

Fallen
by Lauren Kate
(2009)

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

Yep, I've just read *another* fallen angel book.  Seems to be my thing these days, huh?  I've been aware of this series for about a year now, since a coworker had read the first three books and fell in love with them.  (The fourth/final book just came out last week.)  She'd offered her copies to me many times, insisting that "You just have to read them!  I know you'll love them!"  At the time though, I blew it off because the idea of angels seemed to be the current cheesy replacement for vampires.  Ha, yeah, so look at me now . . . reading angel books left and right!

Having just recently read the Hush, Hush series, I couldn't help but wonder how similar these books were going to be.  I was so happy to see that Fallen was something completely different.  It didn't take me long at all to be sucked into this story.  It was an easy read, well paced without relying on the dreaded 'tension building' stall tactics.  Everything seemed to have a point, and I liked that.  Towards the end though, some of those annoying tendencies started to pop up more, and I admit the last fifty pages or so were dragging for me.

Seventeen year old Luce is sent to reform school after a crime she remembers little about.  She's immediately drawn to fellow student Daniel but he wants nothing to do with her at first, and then sends a whole lot of mixed signals after that.  Luce starts having weird dreams about him, weird feelings like she knows him from somewhere.  She's drawn to him, and can't understand why he's nice to her and nearly kissing her one minute, and turning a cold shoulder to her the next.

Send in Cam, another classmate who is charming and handsome and totally into Luce . . . and she doesn't know what to think.  Why does she keep obsessing over Daniel when Cam is right there, everything she wants Daniel to be?

One funny thing I kept mixing up in my thoughts while reading this is that Daniel is blond and Cam is dark haired.  Since I prefer dark hair and dark eyes over blond any day, my mind kept seeing Daniel as the dark one and Cam as the blond one.  Going one step farther, I kept seeing Cam as the guy who plays Jake in The Secret Circle . . .

I never really did form a clear picture of Daniel in my head.  Booooo, I know.

Anyway!  I fell in love with Daniel.  Finally, a main guy character that isn't an arrogant ass.  Daniel is so much more like Edward Cullen than he is like Patch or Scott (Hush, Hush), or Finn or Loki (troll series), or even Phoenix (Embrace).  Daniel is ancient, but again is locked in a teenage body.  His simple caring touches do more for his hotness than tons of sappy dialogue or acts of macho anger ever could.  His story is so sad . . . to keep being brought together with Luce throughout the ages, in many different lives, only to have to lose her time and time again.  I heard the song A Thousand Years, the song from Breaking Dawn, while reading this book and I was bawling my eyes out because it seems to almost fit Daniel and Luce better than Edward and Bella.  It was so heartbreaking to learn about his story, and so hauntingly sad that she has led many lives but doesn't know any of this.  She does start to learn details towards the end of the book, but even so, I think his side of the story is so much more tragic because he remembers everything, but she sort of just starts from a blank slate each time.

I was sooooo loving all of this and then, of course, it had to be ruined by the usual angel wars, the good angels/bad angels, and the fact that Luce is highly sought after by them all.  *sigh*  Yes, I know there has to be some drama, some form of crisis and conflict to make their relationship hard fought and tragic but really?  Can't we come up with something new?  Or can't we focus more on that sad relationship?  Daniel had one simple statement early on when trying to explain to Luce . . . "I don't know how to stop it [her dying].  I don't know what to do."  That just broke my heart.  He's had all this time to find an answer, a loophole, a solution, and in all this time he still can't find one.  His defeated admission of "I don't know what to do," just killed me.  So why can't we have more of THAT?

But no.  For reasons this book doesn't quite explain, there are many more angels interested in Luce than just Daniel.  She is now the key to something and needs to be whisked away and protected at all costs.  I *don't* like when it comes down to this.  Didn't like it in Twilight, didn't like it in Hush, Hush, didn't like it in the troll series, and was sooooo disappointed to find it again in this one.  This is only the first book of this series though, so hopefully things will shift to something else in coming books.  And it didn't ruin this book for me, because it wasn't the main thing going on.  These boring revelations didn't pop up until closer to the end, and that's probably why it started to drag for me.  

And I really didn't like or understand that little turn of events in the epilogue.  All the more reason to dive right into the next book, huh?

Overall, I really liked this book but didn't love it as much as I thought I would early on.  I definitely like it more than Hush, Hush because the characters aren't so snotty and the story is a lot less complicated.  I shouldn't even compare the two, I know, but sometimes you just can't help it.  I'm glad I've finally given in and read this book.

Have YOU read Fallen, by Lauren Kate?  What did you think?  I'd love to discuss it with someone, anyone!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Moeggenborg Sugar Bush - June Haul

When I rediscovered the joys of Moeggenborg Sugar Bush's goat milk soap recently, I knew I'd be placing an order for more eventually.  Then Mary had to go and tempt me on Facebook by showing the new style tarts she was making . . . I couldn't hold off any longer.

I ordered a few different things but it was still a small order.  So when I opened the rather large shipping box and saw this basket in there, I was like 'Ohhhhh, Mary . . . what did you do?'  She has been generous with extra little treats before.  I couldn't wait to see what was in here!

First, there is always a thank you/business card, and this time Mary joked about my tart addiction.  I'm not as close to that 12-step program as most of the YouTube scent lovers I've seen!  LOL

As my other posts have mentioned, Moeggenborg Sugar Bush is so much more than handcrafted soap and tarts.  They are maple syrup producers (syrup farmers?!) and you'll find maple something or other in many of there products.  They have a pantry section on their website and when I noticed in my latest browsing that they had custom blend coffee, I knew I had to get some for hubby.  And it's Maple Nut flavor!  I don't drink coffee but I love the smell of it.  Hubby loves to drink it, so it all works out.

This half pound bag of whole bean coffee sells for $6.50 on the website.  It smells divine!  (Hubby hasn't actually tried it yet though, since we just received it yesterday.)

Next, I peeked into that basket and found this.  Oh, how I laughed.  Yep, she loaded me up.
This was ALL tucked into that little basket.  Thank you, Mary!!!

Country Roads - 'Luscious berry blend of strawberries, mountain berries, raspberries, peaches, plums, tangerines and ripe figs. The heart blends fresh lilacs, blue violets, hyacinth, sweet pine and woody cedar. The base is oak moss, musk, vanilla, woody vetiver. To us it brings to mind a walk down our country road in the spring and fall.'  I only ordered one bar of soap this time.  (Still trying to get my stash worked down . . . )  Hubby says he gets a sort of grape note when he smells this one, but I tend to pick up more of the slightly spicy, woody, musky notes.  There is a sweetness under it all, making it a complex and unique scent.  I think men would like this scent, but I think it's still unisex.  I had no idea what to expect when I ordered it, but I like it.

This 4.3 oz. bar sells for $4.00 on the website.

And this is the little baby that made me order.  This is one of Mary's new mini bundt cake tarts, and how awesomely cute is that?!  Hubby thought it was cool that it even has the 'glaze' drizzled over it.  And of course, it is their signature Maple Syrup Festival scent - 'This is our own blend of maple scents named in honor of the Shepherd Maple Syrup festival. It is sweet and mapley and makes your mouth water.'  Ohhhh my gawd, I love this scent.  I've had it before and I will order it again.  I don't know just what is all in this custom blend but is definitely maple, first and foremost.  There almost seems to be a soft, spicy note, maybe cinnamon ... ?  I don't know, but I love this one.


Primitive Pear - 'A sophisticated blend of bergamot, pear nectar and ripe, orchard apples is enhanced by heady garden florals of jasmine, lily, rose, pear blossoms, and gardenia, intertwined with precious woods and vanilla.'  I wasn't sure what to expect from this scent either but I chose it just to try something different.  It is indeed a pear scent, which is good because I love pears but don't know that I've ever had a pear scent in tarts.  There are also subtle notes of perfumey floral, and then there is very slight sort of spicy note again.  This is quite nice, and quite different.

Blueberry Cobbler - 'The aroma of a freshly baked blueberry cobbler. Top notes of juicy tart blueberries with orange zests, middle notes of butter cake, and base notes of vanilla and almond.'  I ordered this one for two reasons.  First, everyone in the YouTube scent lovers community is talking about blueberry scents lately.  Second, because my sister loves the Blueberry Muffin tarts from Walmart but can't find them anymore, so I wondered if this would be something close.  It's not.  This one is nothing like I'd expected.  I'm really hoping it's different when it melts because I'm not getting very much from the cold scent.  I don't get any of the bakery notes at all, no butter or cake or vanilla.  I'm not even really getting any blueberry from the cold throw either.  The little scent I get is sort of a bright soapy scent, or maybe a fruit flavored bubble gum.  It's not the warm, bakery scent I'd thought it would be.

These mini bundt cake tarts are so cute!  They're bigger than I'd expected.  I will cut them in fourths and melt one chunk at a time.  They weigh 2.8 oz. and sell for $2.50 on the website.  That's a darn good price!  And the way they are packaged makes them perfect for gift giving.  I can't wait to see if Mary does some Christmas colored/scented ones.  I'd even like to see some black/orange Halloween ones.  Fun!

And then there are the extras she tossed in.  I was giggling like a kid as I pulled each thing out of the basket.  On the left is one of the 'itty bitty bars' that used to be available in the shop.  These were one ounce sample bars of soap, made to look just like the full sized bars, and packaged so cute.  This one is in Fairy Tales scent - 'a light, fresh fruity yet floral blend with notes of night blooming jasmine, musk, and a touch of vanilla.'  I don't want to tear the packaging open, but I've had this scent before and know that it is a light, pretty scent.

In the middle are some pink grubby tarts in Raspberry Jasmine Spice scent.  I don't see a description anywhere on the site.  I was quite intrigued when I saw this.  Wow, this is an interesting scent.  At first it seems you do get the raspberry note but then you immediately think 'No, wait, it's spicy,' and then you question whether it was the fruit or the floral that you were smelling in the first place.  This would make an excellent soap scent!

Finally, on the right are some grubby tarts in Cider Mill scent - 'Apples, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Brown Sugar.'   I've been avoiding fall scents even though they are starting to pop up all over the handmade community.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I loooooooove the scents that come with it.  I don't want to rush into it before it's here.  Ah, but here it comes with this freebie!  I was tempted to throw it in the back of my little tart cupboard and not even sniff it.  LOL!  While cider scents are not really my favorites of fall, they do still kickstart all the fall feelings when I smell them.  This one does that.  A little heavier on the spices and sugar than on the apple, it is an awesome scent . . . and I've only allowed myself a couple quick sniffs for the sake of this post.  *quickly repackages and throws that sucker to the back of the stash*

The basket itself is just as cute as anything in this order.  It's about 7 in. by 4 in. and could be used for any number of things.  I thought I might put it on my kitchen table as a napkin holder, sitting right next to the Moeggenborg candle that's already there . . . but Minion has decided this basket is perfect for gnawing on, and I'm sure he'd be on the table to chomp on it whenever we're not looking.  So now I don't know what to do with it.  Perhaps it will go up on top of the kitchen cupboards just like one of my other Moeggenborg goodies.  Mary, you're doing a fine job decorating my kitchen!!  :)

But anyway, another fun order from Moeggenborg Sugar Bush.  If you haven't checked out their website, I really think you should.  They have such a variety of things, and the handcrafted goat milk soap is fantastic! 
Minion approved!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tarts Blurb

While at Walmart this morning I noticed several new tarts from Scentsationals.  The packaging and style reminded me of the Mother's Day line so at first I thought these were geared towards Father's Day, but I think they might just be a sort of summer theme.  I did not buy any because I'd just received my order from The Bathing Garden the other day, but I did smell each one and scribble down a list to share.

  • Maid Up - It said something about smelling like your mother cleaned up after you even when she didn't, and there was a picture of a girl holding cleaning supplies, so I suppose it's meant to smell clean and fresh.  Nothing in particular came to mind when I sniffed it.
  • Chillaxin' - A typical eucalyptus and mint blend that was nice, and would be good for me now as I battle a horrible summer cold.
  • Date Nite - Said something about exotic spices and frankincense.  I actually kinda like this one, which was surprising because I haven't been thrilled with other frankincense scents.
  • Seriously - A mandarin and tangerine blend that has a sort of effervescent nip to it.
  • Hangin' Out - Plum, blackberry, wild currant blend that didn't do much for me.  Seemed a bit weak and blah, but I was also in a bit of a hurry.
  • Happy Hour - Coconut, pinapple, and sugared berry mix . . . and I *loved* this one!  Very sweet and tropical.
  • Cookie Fix - The description said it was vanilla and butter and a shot of chocolate milk.  I liked this one because it was like sweet, warm cookies.  I didn't notice any chocolate specifically.  Just a yummy bakery scent.
And then there was one from the regular Scentsationals line but it was one I haven't seen there before.  It was called Mountain Twilight and the description was something about a cool breeze over pine and aspen.

I really wanted to buy Happy Hour and Cookie Fix but I talked myself out of it because, like I said, I just got that other order a few days ago. I have gone crazy on tarts before, and probably will again when the fall and holiday scents start coming out, but in general I'm trying to keep my stash small and reasonable.  I actually find it uncomfortable at times to watch the endless haul videos from some of the YouTube scent lovers.  Seriously, some of these people have YEARS worth of tarts and keep buying more and more and more.  And they tend to get more in one order than the size of my entire stash!  It's crazy!  So I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about wanting to buy those two this morning, but I just couldn't do it.

Since I mentioned those Bathing Garden tarts, I wanted to also mention that I was horribly disappointed in the Blackberry Jam & Lemon Curd one I'd been so anxious to try.  I melted it this morning, and smelled NOTHING.  I thought maybe I'd notice it when I came back into the house after being gone shopping, as had happened with the ones from my previous order, but nope.  Nothing.  Even sniffing the cold wax after that first melt, I couldn't smell anything.  So, in a near panic that my first impression of this shop was true after all, I've popped a different scent into my other warmer and am greatly relieved to find that this one is plenty strong.  *phew*  Even so, if there is another failure from this bunch, I think I might be done with The Bathing Garden.  I soooooo wanted to love this shop, and I made that second order slightly against my better judgement, so we'll see.

Besides, I'm dying to place a huge order from Kim's Tarts.  LOL!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bathing Garden - Tarts

After my first order from The Bathing Garden (back in May) I was a bit leery at first.  It had seemed like the scent throw was iffy at best, or like it started out strong but seemed to fade fast, even before one tea light had burned out.  But then I noticed after having left my house for something and returning hours later, hours after the tart had been done melting, that the whole darn house was pleasantly scented with that tart I'd been skeptical about.  I'd also noticed that the scent throw seemed to be stronger after I'd let the tarts sit in my little tart cupboard for a while, when I had thought I didn't like them and wasn't going to use them again.  Perhaps, like soap, tarts get better as they cure?

So anyway, I'd been debating ordering more and then when I decided to go for it, her shop was closed due to an injury.  Doh!  When I heard through the YouTube scent lovers grapevine that her shop was open again I raced over and placed an order.

Everything about this shop is just so pretty and girly, from the business card, to the handwritten thank you note, to the tarts themselves.  There are also soaps and scrubs available, and while I have not tried them yet, they look just as nice as everything else.  I've also heard many times that she does a lot of her own custom blends, which is another huge selling point for me.

The single pack of clamshell style tarts sells for $3.50, but you can order a 5, 10, or 20 pack and they will come out to a price of $3.00 instead.  You also get a free gift with every order.  Since there are SO many scents I want to try, I went ahead and got the 5-pack deal this time.  I chose four scents and then sent her a message asking her to surprise me with the fifth one.

Shipping took a bit longer because she's working slower due to that injury, and I'm sure she's swamped with orders judging from the increasing popularity of this shop among the video and blog reviews I've seen.  My order arrived this morning and I was super excited to see TWO free packs!  Thank you, Shannon!!


Blackberry Jam & Lemon Curd - 'Tart and ripe blackberries layered with delicious London lemon curd!'  I've seen this one numerous times in YouTube haul/review videos, and I just had to see what all the fuss was about.  All of her tarts are decorated on top, and the clamshell packaging is filled to the brim.  (This particular one is 3.1 oz. of wax.)  Now, it's true that tarts don't need to be fancied up because they just melt down to liquid anyway, but it's always nice to get something fun.  And it doesn't hurt that this one is Minnesota Vikings colors.  Woot!

Anyway, this is a fabulous scent!  I see why everyone is buying it!  Bright and fruity and fun, there is lemon like the Lemonhead candies and there is a slightly warmer sweetness of the blackberries.  Oh, this will be such a nice one to melt on these summer days.

Sea of Tears - 'This pretty tart begins with fresh air, sea salt, ocean mist and aquatic florals. Green notes and beachy musks round it out. Refreshing and beautiful!'  This is one I'd noticed while browsing her shop and just had to have because I seem to be drawn to 'wet' scents lately . . . like rain or ocean scents.  Ty had gotten me that sea salt/drift wood tart for Mother's Day, and more recently I bought that Garden Rain candle.  This one sounded like it would fit right in that group.  And it does.  I don't even know how to describe it any better than the description already does.  I just have to hope you know what I mean when I say 'wet' scents.  I mean, it is slightly floral and very pretty, but it reminds me more of being outside, of rain, of wet flower gardens, than it does of perfume or plain ol' flowers.  And that little white paper rose in the corner is too dang cute.

London Mist - 'Fresh ozony water notes, blend with white lilies, mandarin, grapefruit, and clementine. Middle notes of jasmine, orchid and rose; with musky base notes of white musk and sandalwood.'  Another one of that 'wet' variety, this one is more fruity and sweet than watery or ozone-y.  I do get hints of the orange-citrus, and slight hints of the musk, blended well with everything else, but I don't specifically notice the sandalwood.  A nice scent, but not as 'wet' as I'd been hoping.

Sparkle & Spice - 'A mild woodsy base leads to oatmeal, nutmeg, caramel, cinnamon, sugar, and somehow it has an effervescent quality to it as well.'   I've been trying to avoid warm, spicy, foodie scents until closer to fall but this one caught my eye.  I couldn't even imagine what this would smell like so I just had to get it and see.  And wow . . . !?  I don't even know where to begin.  The first thing I notice is that effervescent quality as mentioned in the description.  I think the wood notes creep up first behind that bubbliness, and the spices swirl around it all.  But even with all of that going on, there is a sweetness to it.  And it smells familiar.  While wracking my brain, the first thing that came to mind was paint.  LOL!  I don't know why, but it does sort of remind me of paint in a weird way.  Then I realized nooooo, it smells like the cola and root beer flavors in Bottle Caps candy!  But then when I smell it again it seems different.  Oh my, this one will be interesting to melt!

Those are the four scents that *I* picked.  These next three were all a surprise to me.  One would be whatever she picked as the last of my 5-pack, and the other two are freebies.  Let's take a look . . .


Cheshire Cat - 'Lemon meringue is topped with vanilla and raspberry icing.'  There is a whole line of Alice In Wonderland inspired scents in this shop.  This is a very pretty layered style, white-pink swirls on top and a pastel yellow on the bottom.  The scent is equally pretty.  There is something similar to effervescence when you first sniff this one, but maybe that's actually the meringue part of it all.  You get the brightness of the lemon and the sweetness of the raspberry, and then the whole mix is softened and warmed a bit by the vanilla.  A verrrry nice scent, and once again it pays to be surprised with something you might not have picked yourself.

Tropical Jello - 'Apple, pineapple, papaya, apricot, guava, orange, and passion fruit. Fruity and refreshing!'  Look at those little flip-flops!  How cute is that?  Ty says this one reminds him of Air Heads taffy candy.  I agree it is very candy-like.  It's extremely sugary sweet, and if I had to try and pick out any of the fruit notes I think I can detect pineapple and apple the most.  I don't know about this one.  It might be headache-inducingly sweet, but dorky Ty seems to really like it.

Cucumber Patch - I can't find this one in her shop so I don't have a scent description, but what I get from this one is definitely cucumber but with something else that sort of puts it into that 'wet' category I was talking about earlier in this post.  There is a greenery type note, or maybe soft hints of musk or possibly even mint.  This is a very nice scent, and again, something I probably wouldn't have picked turns out to be quite lovely after all.

All of these scents are very strong just on cold throw, so my hopes are high that these will be fine.  Even so, I'll let them sit for a few more days just to be sure they're good and ready.  I think we'll enjoy all of these, and there are still sooooo many more in this shop that I want to try.  I can't wait until closer to fall when I'll start picking the warmer, spicier, foodier, holiday scents!  I think I might try a soap and a scrub next time too.

Have YOU tried any tarts from The Bathing Garden?

Ascend - Amanda Hocking

Ascend - A Trylle Novel (Volume 3)
by Amanda Hocking
(2011)

Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself. If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe. But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?

The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end.

Everything has been leading to this moment. The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.


Read my thoughts on book one - Switched - HERE.
Read my thoughts on book two - Torn - HERE.

This is the third and final book in the troll series that I've found I love to hate.   Surprisingly, I found myself actually liking this one.  HUH????  I know!  I still think the writing leaves much to be desired, and I still didn't give a crap about the trolls or the impending war or any of that, but I found myself intrigued by mystery of which guy she would end up with.

Back in the first book we got to know Finn fairly early on.  Of course Wendy and Finn fell madly in love, but things kept them apart.  Finn was dark and handsome with an incredible sense of duty, and it seemed so obvious throughout the first two books that they would overcome the problems in the end and live happily ever after.

We met Tove in the first book and got to know him better in the second book.  He and Wendy end up in an arranged marriage, something that is 'best for the kingdom.'  While they are friends and do care about each other, neither has romantic feelings for the other.  In fact, Finn secretly mentions to Wendy that Tove is gay.  As the second book goes on, and then through much of the third book, there is no more mention of this and I started to wonder if we'd find out that Tove was not gay after all, that he was just  . . . awkward . . . and that he and Wendy would come to be ok together.

And then there is Loki, who we met in the second book and had been around ever since.  He was from a rival tribe and spent a good chunk of his time in the story as a prisoner, untrusted and hated by Wendy's people.  But as Finn continued to pull away, Loki kept pressing forward to fill his spot.

Tove had pretty much become my favorite character of the whole dang series, and even though I didn't like Wendy much, I was still hoping that somehow those two would end up staying together.  I had liked Finn early on by the third book I was mad at him, much like Wendy was.  He would come around and try to have these meaningful moments with her, but then would always remind her of his duty and how they couldn't be together and would leave her again.  On the other hand, I had not liked Loki in the beginning but had come to like him by the end, even though I thought he was rather pushy with his over-sappiness.

SPOILERS AHEAD . . . 

I was a little disappointed when Tove finally admitted to Wendy that he was gay.  I did laugh a bit when HE was the one to call for an end to their marriage.  I'd thought that Little Miss Perfect Wendy would be the one to offer her gag-me heartfelt explanation of why the marriage was a mistake and Tove would come away knocked down once again.  But nope, HE was the one to bring it up to her.  You go, Tove!!!  Even so, it was confusing, and another example of the crap writing, in the end when there had been so many hints about Tove and another character, and yet in the happily ever after wrap-up of things it was very vaguely mentioned that he 'had met someone.'

I was surprised how well the writer did (considering the crap of everything else) in the big confrontation between Finn and Wendy.  By that point I really didn't care for Finn at all anymore and it was obvious where he would end up.  When Wendy laid it out for him, why they couldn't be together, and he still couldn't see the problem . . . even though HE had been saying they couldn't be together all along . . . I was glad she got mad and threw it all back in his face.  And when he finally did realize and admit the problems, it didn't help his case at all.  It wasn't enough to make me think 'Aw, Finn, you poor misunderstood hot guy.'  No, it just made me want to see him leave that much faster.

So it should have been no surprise that Wendy ended up with Loki.  I guess maybe I'd still thought that weakness of the general story would have a last minute realization that Finn and Wendy DID love each other madly and want to work it out.  But nope, Loki had hung in there and been everything Wendy needed, and she did end up with him.  I'm ok with that, even though it did take me quite a while to warm up to Loki.

As for the book in general, I still thought the storytelling was weak and a lot of the wording was horrible, just as in the first two books.  But there was improvement.  It makes me wonder how her books since then have been, even though I have no interest in reading them.  One hugely annoying thing in this one was the dialogue.  Stupid things like Wendy saying to her brother "Will you accompany me?" to the library.  Or things like "There is much to do and so little time to do it," or "I have great need of rest," or whatever.  Really?  Who freakin' talks that way?

And then there were the generally weak things like how they'd plotted and planned and fretted for days (if not weeks) about how to defend themselves against the evil Vittra tribe.  They'd gathered other trolls to help them.  They'd arranged these hugely important training sessions and whatnot.  And then, spur of the moment, changed all the plans, marched into the rival palace within hours, and defeated the king within minutes . . . ending a centuries old war just like that.  Huh, wow.  Maybe Wendy needs to lead her tribe of trolls into the Middle East or something.  Alright, alright, I know it's a book for teens and it's a romantic fantasy so there is no need for all the nasitness of war and reality.  But still . . .

So in the end, no one is laughing more than me at the fact that I hated the first book so much but still felt the need to read the rest of the series.  And no one is more surprised that I actually kinda *liked* this final book!  AND I am curious to see if movies will be made, as I've read online there might be.  But really, overall, I still think this series leaves much to be desired as far as a good read goes.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mainstays (Walmart) 3-wick Candle

I've heard a couple YouTube scent lovers say that the Mainstays brand 3-wick candles found at Walmart are surprisingly good.  I decided to check them out yesterday.  Amazingly affordable, these 11.5 oz. candles are only $3.25!  There were maybe ten scents or so, mostly fruits and florals.  I almost got the Black Cherry but then decided to go with this . . . Garden Rain.  Described as 'that just-rained smell, with hints of white rose, apple blossom and water lily,' there really is a sort of 'rain' note to this.  It is floral but there is a sweetness, and a sort of ocean or ozone hint, sort of fresh and clean too.

We were pleasantly surprised with how strong the scent throw was from this candle!  One of the reasons I prefer tarts is that candles are usually too weak for my liking.  You also don't have to deal with tunneling or making sure you've burned the candle long enough or any of the other hassles that can come with candles.  This one burned perfectly.  We were amazed how quickly a flawless, even wax pool formed.  Maybe one of the downfalls might be that it burns TOO fast.  We're not sure yet.  But within an hour there was this lovely pool across the whole four inch surface.  It quickly scented not only our large living room, but most of the downstairs of our house.  Awesome!  We let it burn all evening without any problems.
As you can see, it burned smooth and clear, barely any residue on the sides and no soot around the edges.  I will absolutely be getting more of these candles in other scents!  At only $3.25 each, you'd be crazy not to at least give one a try.  I'm really hoping they come out with seasonal scents.  Ooooh, I'm excited now!

(This post is only referring to the 3-wick style candles, not the Mainstays brand in general.  I don't remember trying any of the other styles or sizes that are available, so I don't know how good or bad those are.)

Have YOU tried these Mainstays 3-wick candles from Walmart?  What did you think?  I'd love to hear!

Rediscovering Moeggenborg Sugar Bush

I have ordered from Moeggenborg Sugar Bush a few times, but it's been in forcing myself to work through my current stash of soap that I've rediscovered how much I enjoy their soap.  This particular bar is over a year old and is the Honey, Oats & Milk soap.  Ahhh, yes, my traditional favorite.  I don't know what happened to my original picture from back when I received it so I snapped a quick pic the other day after using this and remembering why I love the Moeggenborg shop.

This is a goat milk soap, and it does contain honey and ground oatmeal, but it's the fragrance oil scent of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey that I love so much.  It's sweet, and so comforting and 'homey.'

Even though this particular bar has been sitting for over a year, it still looks just as gorgeous as the day I received it, still smells just as wonderful, and it probably works BETTER than if I'd have used it right away back then.  This thing explodes into a long lasting, rich, luxurious lather.  You know I love lather!!  I think the oatmeal could be a bit more finely ground but it wasn't too horrible.  My skin feels soft and hydrated without a greasy feeling residue.  I just love it.

Moeggenborg Sugar Bush cold process goat milk soaps weigh at least 4 oz. and sell for $4.00.  Soap maker Mary used to have 'bitty bars' available, 1+ oz. sample soaps for $1.50, and she used to have the occasional cupcake soap too but I don't see any at the moment.

This is not just a soap shop though. Oh no! One of my other favorite things about this place is that Mary also makes tarts.  While there is not as big of a selection as regular tart shops, there is enough variety that I usually have no problem finding a scent I'll like.  You get a 6-pack of these 'grubby' tarts for $3.50.  And if you prefer candles, there are plenty of those to choose from too.  We had a carrot cake scented candle burning just the other day.

And there are so many other fun things on Moeggenborg website . . . from soaps and bath fizzies, to tarts and candles, to 'prim' lighting and pantry items (mixes, coffee, fudge!) and even customized knitted Christmas stockings!  They also have an Etsy shop, but I do believe the personal website is more fully stocked.

Although my soap stash is not quite as small as I'd have liked it before I started ordering again, I think I might break my own rule and order a few things from Moeggenborg Sugar Bush.  If you're not familiar with this shop, I really do think you should give them a try.

*pauses while you browse the shop*

Well, what were some new favorites that YOU found?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cravebox


 I think monthly subscription boxes are fun.  Back when I was a kid, the hot thing among all the moms was something that I think was called the S.A.V.E. box.  It was always filled with kitchen gadgets and food/drink things to try.  I'd forgotten all about this in my adult years, until last year when I learned about Birchbox on YouTube, and then found out about other boxes.  When my brain finally recalled those old S.A.V.E. boxes I tried to find them online, see if they were still in business.  Sadly, it appears they are not.

Anyway, I did try Birchbox for a few months but decided it wasn't for me.  While it was fun to receive that box of goodies each month, it is a beauty box and while I thought it would be a fun way to start playing around with such products, the fact is I've gone this long without wearing makeup and I just couldn't even get myself started trying these things.

Then I tried Eco-Emi, which has a broader range of products (food, skincare, candles, makeup, etc.) and is all eco-friendly.  While I did use more of these products, it again became a situation where I thought it would be more fun if they were things I'd actually buy again, or at least be able to find again.  So I cancelled that one too after only a couple months.

And then I heard about Cravebox.  This one had just recently started and was still in beta testing, but this was the one I knew I had to get in on.  They had things like color Bic markers, Downey wrinkle release spray, snack bars, drink mixes . . . things you can find anywhere and will most likely use.  Yessss!  I got onto the waiting list right away.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited, waited, waited.  Those who had kept close tabs on things during the wait had been told to email a certain address and get bumped up to the 'first group' that would be notifiied when more spots opened up.  I did this.  And the wait continued.  Then finally, all of the impatient people on that waiting list were informed that Cravebox would soon be opening up more subscription spots.  Woot!  We were told that on whatever date (something in late April) we'd receive an email and from there we would be able to register on the website and then in the days after that something like 500 people would be chosen.  Response was overwhelming so they said they would extend registration a day and add more spots.  And then . . . I got email notification that I was not one of the lucky new subscribers.  Huh???

I was pissed.

I went to the Cravebox Facebook page and found other people angry like I was.  The common feeling was, why did we all jump through hoops and sit on the list for months only to have the same odds of getting in as someone who signed up two minutes before the deadline?  I was pissed, as I said, and I voiced my opinion on their page along with everyone else.  Then I sort of kicked the whole Cravebox idea to the curb in an angry huff.

A week or two goes by and one day I get an email letting me know 'You're in!'  Whaaaaa . . . ?  Sure enough, it is from Cravebox,  Apparently they'd added even more subscription spots and this time I'd gotten one.  My excitement was back and I raced over to their website to properly register an account.  They said on their Facebook page that the boxes would be going out in the next few days, and I received a shipping notice on May 30.  Woohoo!!  Then my box sat in a town just over an hour away for 3 days, then went to Chicago, then back to Madison, then to another town less than an hour away, where it sat another day before FINALLY being delivered this morning.  Why it went on such a journey, I don't know, but I was so excited when the mailman finally dropped it off!

When I first opened the box I found the pink Cravebox paper you see in the first picture.  Under that I found what you see in this second picture.  There is the usual card of information about the products in the box, and then there are some extra little papers specific to some of the products. 

This was among those extra papers, a sample of Lipton Tea & Honey drink mix, in Mango Pineapple flavor.  I actually had another one of these recently from signing up for it on the Lipton Facebook page.  It tastes pretty good, so it was fun to see another one.

These two 1 oz. packages of diced dried plums were in the box.  It suggests using these in salads, cereals, yogurt, or favorite baking recipes.  I'll probably try them in some cereal.  There is also a coupon, some recipes, and a survey offer that give coupons for more free Sunsweet products.

Who doesn't love chocolate?  I was happy to see this 2.3 oz. box of Guylian - Artisanal Belgian Chocolate truffles.  I don't know that I've tried this brand, so this will be fun.  There is also a little pamphlet about the company and some of their other products.

I've never heard of this company but this is a 2 oz. jar of Skinterscetion's Intense Repair Cream.  Very cool.  The menfolk of the house have some nasty feet and elbows, but I'm sure it will be me who uses this.

And finally, I was super excited to see this Tree Hut brand shea sugar body scrub in Coconut Lime scent.  This is one of the brands I've looked at several times while shopping but have yet to try.  Now I can!  And this is a full size, 18 oz. jar!

So this is pretty darn good first box for me.  Cravebox is $10 a month, and if you look at what I have, the full sized Tree Hut scrub sells for around $11 and the full sized Intense Repair Cream sells for $17.95.  Right there you've gotten nearly triple your money's worth.  I'm soooo happy I finally got in!  If you're at all interested, I suggest you check out the Cravebox website.  I'm not sure if they still have openings, or when more spots will be available, but it might worth it to get signed up.  Despite my frustrating journey in getting here, I'm happy to finally be member and already can't wait for the next box!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Silence - Becca Fitzpatrick

Silence
by Becca Fitzpatrick
(2011)

When silence is all that's left, can the truth finally be heard?

Nora Grey can't remember the past five months of her life.  After the initial shock of waking up in a cemetery and being told the she has been missing for weeks -- with no one knowing where she was or who she was with -- she tries to get her life back on track.  Go to school, hang out with her best friend, Vee, and dodge her mom's creepy new boyfriend.

But there is this voice in the back of her head, an idea that she can almost reach out and touch.  Visions of angel wings and unearthly creatures that have nothing to do with the life she knows.

And this unshakable feeling that a part of her is missing.

Then Nora crosses paths with a sexy stranger, whom she feels a mesmerizing connection to.  He seems to hold all the answers . . . and her heart.  Every minute she spends with him grows more and more intense until she realizes she could be falling in love.  Again.

*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the third book in the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick.  In the early parts of this book I thought it was fabulous.  Nora was intent on finding out what had happened to her, trying to so hard to bring back those lost memories.  It was so cool when flashes of black seemed to trigger something in her but she had no idea why.  I thought this book was going to be brilliant!  Then it brought Patch back to her too soon for my liking, and all the mystery and confusion seemed to just be tossed aside and the story marched on like nothing had happened.

I will admit, I read this book slower than the other two, read it in choppy little bits and often didn't retain much from the few pages I'd read the day before.  I do wonder if this story would have gone more smoothly for me if I'd been more dedicated in my reading.  Then again, was the story just not grabbing me enough to *want* to keep reading?  I don't know, but I do know that in the end I didn't like this book much.  There is still confusion for me . . . Why couldn't Patch tell her he loved her in the second book but now in this one he's telling her openly and all the time?  How many sides are there in this ongoing battle?  Why is one Nephil ok but another is not?  Why isn't Nora Nephilim if she's a descendant of both Chauncey and Hank?  Are there only a handful of fallen angels and archangels -- because it seems they can always get exactly who they need to talk to exactly when they need it.  How many freakin' angels and/or Nephilim are in this dang town???  And so on.

I got tired of Nora's snotty attitude in everything she said, regardless who she was talking to.  I fell out of love with Patch and don't feel any bond between them.  He's always Mr. Serious Important All-Knowing Guy, and then his warm and caring attempts just seem out of place.  His dramatic statements about how much he loves and needs Nora just made me roll my eyes.  And once again, there is too much going on.  What's going on with Scott?  With Marcie?  With Hank?  Why are the Nephilim banding together?  Who is really the bad guy this time?  Oh Dabria's back too?  Great!  Ugh.  It all seemed so long and drawn out, that things were going to great extremes just to get one stupid teenage human girl.

Again, maybe I'd feel differently if I'd read this quicker and stuck with the story, but it seems that my interest in this series has weakened a bit with each book.  As of this very moment, I have no interest in the fourth (and final) book, which comes out this fall.

And that's a bummer.

Petals Bath Boutique Contest!

Kia, the lady behind Petals Bath Boutique has announced a fabulous contest on her YouTube channel and her Facebook page.  It's super easy to enter, and you could win the grand prize of a medium flat rate shipping box packed full of products, and she will be having mini-giveaways throughout the duration of the contest.  How fun is that?!



If you enter, and you mention me as your referral, I will get extra entries and I will love you forever.  :)