Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watched - A Love Song For Bobby Long

A Love Song For Bobby Long
2004
Rated R
120 minutes

'After her mother's death, moody teenage lone wolf Purslane Will (Scarlett Johansson) returns to New Orleans to reclaim her childhood home. But she's shocked to discover that two of her mother's friends have been squatting there for years. In an effort to coexist with Bobby Long (John Travolta), an ex-literature professor, and his protégé, Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht), Purslane ultimately learns how intertwined they actually are.'

I only Netflixed this movie because I want to see all of Gabriel Macht's movies.  I went into this thinking it would just be fun drooling and swooning over him, and not really caring about the movie.  Whoa.  I never expected to freakin' love this movie.

I loved this movie.

And Gabriel Macht was only a small part of the reason in the end.  Holy crap, this story just sucked me in and by the end had me bawling.  There is one scene near the end that had me absolutely sobbing.  You know that sort of hiccuping gasping sobbing?  Yeah, that was me.

This is one of those relationship movies.  There is no fast action, no gun fight, no bloodgutsgore.  No aliens, superheroes, or catastophic events.  It's the story of some people living struggling lives.  At first I was a little 'Bleah,' because I'm not a huge fan of John Travolta, and because the setting is this sort of dirty, poor, hopeless people not really doing anything to help themselves.  Scarlett Johansson's character brings about slow and subtle changes when she appears on the scene and shakes things up.  Eventually you see there is still good and hope in these people.  You see that even though maybe people are looking down on them and casting them aside, they've made a family of themselves.  The Christmas scene had me crying, all these people with seemingly nothing to offer and nothing going for them, but finding such joy in the simple act of spending the day together.

Not everything is explained in this story, and this is one time that it works.  How did these unemployed alcoholics get the money they spent on their booze (and very little else)?  What exactly did happen to Lorraine?  Did Bobby lie about his condition after he'd seen the doctors?  Did Pursy and Lawson get together in the end?  And while we do get an eventual explanation of what happened years ago to Bobby and Lawson (from a teary Gabriel Macht, awww), there is just so much more of that story you want to know but never find out.  And it's all ok in the way this movie is done.  It's been five days since I've seen it and I still can't get it out of my head.

And yes, I loved Gabriel in this.  When he eats the last pickle and mixes his booze with the pickle juice to drink it . . . eeuw!  And his face . . . LOL  Or later when he's trying to get sober for Pursy, and he's all shakey and snippy and dark circles under his eyes . . . aww.  In a weird way, there is a bit of Harvey Specter (Gabriel's character in the show Suits) in this Lawson character.  You could say well yeah, it's the same actor, but I think it's more of a personality trait the characters share.  Although the walk must be all Gabriel.  I thought that sort of head-bobble swagger was a Harvey Specter thing, but I noticed Lawson had it too.  lol

But anyway, yeah, this movie caught me off guard and I loved it.  Have you seen it?  You should!


Read - Dark Witch

Dark Witch
by Nora Roberts
2013
342 pages

'With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland.

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
'

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

 I wanted this book so bad when it came out last fall but because my birthday and Christmas were coming, I didn't buy it, and hoped I would get it as a gift.  It was pretty funny when I got TWO copies of it for Christmas!  But ohhhhh was a disappointment this book was.

Ok, I've never read a Nora Roberts book and had no clue what to expect.  I've always sort of assumed her books are the cheesy, dime-a-dozen romance types that I don't bother with.  When I saw this was about witches, I was like 'Hmmm, is she venturing into darker worlds?' and was really curious.  And that cover is gorgeous!  The book also has 'deckle' edges, where it looks like they're sort of torn and uneven, giving it an old-time feel.

The first 30-something pages of the book goes back to the year 1263, where the original Dark Witch battles the evil Cabhan and sort of sets the stage for what this book is about.  I struggled just to get through these first pages because I hated the writing style.  Once it got into the present day, things seemed easier to tolerate but it was always there, the annoying writing style.  I tried to keep in mind that some of the phrasing was because these were Irish people in Ireland but even so, who talks like what she had these people saying?? 

There wasn't much to the story either.  There are six main characters.  Well, Iona is the *main* character but the other five are always involved in the story.  Even with their constant presence, I never felt a connection with any of them.  You never really get to know them.  Iona comes across as an air-headed slut and the man she's hot for, the 'moody and brooding' Boyle, just comes across as an arrogant, snotty . . . stupid, even . . . ass. 

Things are never explained in this book.  You just keep being reminded that these people have been preparing their whole lives for this impending battle with Cabhan, but you never learn what started this battle even way back in the 1200s, or why he's still trying to battle them.  The group has all these meetings and planning sessions, and it often talks about how complicated and dangerous this will be, but there are never any details.  And then this huge, end of the world battle takes place and is over in about ten seconds, after they break a vial of something and chant a spell three times.  What???  Everything about the witchcraft seems very weak and skimmed over.

Very weak is how I'd describe this whole book.  I actually quit reading it three times, and finally just soldiered through to the end just to get it off my mind.  This is the first book in a trilogy but I have no desire to read the others . . . or anything by Nora Roberts for that matter.  What a huge bummer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Melting Fairy - February Box

It's Melting Fairy time again!  This is the third box they've had, and the last of my complimentary subscription.  This one had some shipping troubles again, as did the first month (December), and I finally got it on Feb. 18.  There was one freebie in this month's box.  (The first month had two, the second month had none.)  There was a nice handwritten note on the back of the info card again, and she mentioned something curious which has me wondering again just who The Melting Fairy is.  Is she a brand new vendor?  Is she someone we might already be familiar with?  The mystery continues . . .

But let's just get to my scents for this month!

(These are cold sniff thoughts only, since I haven't melted any of these yet.)

Buttercream Cupcake - 'Sweet and creamy cupcake scent with notes of vanilla and maple, topped with sweet and sugary whipped cream topping.'
Smells soooo good!  Although I don't think I'd ever recognize the maple AS maple, I think it's really lending something to the overall scent, an extra bit of depth and sweetness.  There is something almost berry-like in this scent.
Birthday Cake - 'A sweet and buttery birthday cake strong on the vanilla notes.'
Another really yummy cake scent.  This is sweet but not as sweet as the cupcake one.  There is a bit more warmth and bakery in this one.
Creme Brûlée - 'Rich and creamy burnt sugar scent with french coffee undertones.'
When I first pulled this out of the box, I hadn't remembered picking it and thought there was a mistake.  Looking over the scent list though, and seeing this was one of the new choices for the month, yeah I guess I probably did pick it.  And I probably picked it because of the coffee factor.  I seem to be going through a cake and coffee phase lately.  This is pretty good on cold sniff, the coffee note is there but not too bitter or overpowering.  There is a deep, creamy sweetness with it, like caramel.

Carrot Cake - 'A creamy and buttery carrot cake scent with added notes of coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and spices.'
I mainly picked this because of my cake phase, and she several cake options in her new scent additions for the month.  This reminds me of fall, would be a good fall melt.  There is a warmth, just a hint of spice, and the softly sweet notes from the carrot cake.  Not at all like the typical, sweet, bright birthday cake type scents, this is more of a muffin-bakery type.
Lemon Meringue Pie - 'Fresh lemon custard is blended with pie crust and topped with creamy whipped vanilla meringue. The perfect combination of sweet and tart!'
You know I love lemon scents, right?  LOL!  This one is deeeee-lish!  This is the one that was scenting the box when I opened it.  It's an awesome bakery-lemon, not the sharp 'cleaner' type lemon.  There is creaminess from the custard and/or meringue, and just a hint of crust.  Love this one.
Valentine's Day Fluff Brulee - 'A blend of Pink in Blue Sugar with smokey Creme Brulee and sweet marshmallows.'
This is the surprise, custom blend of the month, and as always, it comes in chunk form.  I don't see Pink or Blue Sugar on the scent list (yet) but I do know both are popular scents in the body fragrance world.  The scent is quite light on this right now.  I think I detect a bit of the Creme Brulee, and maybe a tiny hint of Pink Sugar along with something maybe slightly masculine.  This will be interesting if the scent strengthens when warmed.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding - 'Creamy banana pudding is mixed with vanilla wafers and topped with fresh, creamy meringue topping!'
This was my extra freebie and it made me chuckle a bit because there has been some discussion about banana scents recently here on my blog.  Another yummy one here.  My very first thought was that this smells like banana-candy, like everyone always mentions the Runts candies.  There is a bit more depth than just a simple candy scent though.
For those who don't know, The Melting Fairy is a new monthly subscription box of wax tarts.  They are still in their beta test phase and I was contacted to see if I'd like to try the program through a 3-month complimentary subscription, but they are taking subscriptions already.  For $14.50 a month (shipping included) you get to pick five scents from their growing scent list, and you will 2 oz. of wax in each of those scents.  You will also receive a 2 oz. chunk tart in the house blend scent of the month.  That one is a surprise until you open your box and see what you got, and I do believe the chunk scent is the same in all boxes.  They add new scents to their list each month, although I don't see last month's blend on this month's list.  There are also surveys to do on the website, to help give feedback.  And from I've seen, they are indeed paying attention to that feedback.
This was the third and final box of my complimentary subscription.  Will I continue with a paid subscription?  I'm really undecided at this point.  The tarts themselves have been fine.  But there have been some inconsistencies and a lack of communication that bother me.
How about you?  Have you tried The Melting Fairy?  How has your experience been?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Absolutely Fabulous Cake

Absolutely Fabulous Cake - 'Rich, moist white cake with hints of silky, white chocolate and sweet cream; shredded, toasted coconut coated with sweet vanilla nestled inside. This fabulous creation is topped with luscious mounds of rich sweet butter cream frosting.' 

This is not the kind of sweet birthday cake type scent that I love.  This one is much less sweet and I suspected there was chocolate or something going on in there.  Sure enough, the scent description includes white chocolate.  I'm not really a fan of chocolate scents in home fragrance.  The toasted coconut also adds to the 'dry' feel of this scent.  It's not a fruity, tropical kind of coconut note.  No, it's more the toasted part of it that you get.  This was just sort of a bleah scent, and it was light.

I melted this 1+ oz. bunny tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had light-medium scent for the first hour or so, then a lighter version for a while after then until I turned it off about three hours in.  Not a bad scent, just a rather boring scent.

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Ultimate Bear Claw

Ultimate Bear Claw - 'Our yummy bear mix claw enhanced with sweet sugar cookies, sweet bakery donuts, cakes and breads..all iced with a sweet vanilla icing.' 

I don't know why I always think Bear Claw is going to be a wonderful cinnamon roll scent.  This is not the first time it's happened.  I think I also know now that I'm not a fan of Bear Claw scents.  This one was very doughy.  There was some sweetness, like maybe the vanilla icing note, and on cold sniff it wasn't too bad, but once it was melted the doughy notes came through strongest.  I didn't hate this, but on the other hand, I did turn the warmer off after only a couple hours so I could move on to something I'd like more.

I melted this 1+ oz. bunny tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had strong scent and throw.  This would have been fabulous if I'd liked this particular scent.  As mentioned, I turned the warmer off after only about two hours because I just wasn't enjoying this scent.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Serendipity Birthday Cake

Serendipity Birthday Cake - 'Our fabulous Serendipity mixed with our ever so yummy Birthday Cake, a hint of marshmallow, a little ice cream.' 

I really liked this one!  I had Serendipity Birthday Cake from another vendor recently and it was mainly just the Serendipity scent but this CFTKR version had a nice healthy dose of the birthday cake part of it, and that made it so much better.  That sweet coconut-cherry scent was definitely there, but all of the cake notes softened it and made it a bit warmer and creamier, made it more tolerable.  This was just super yummy, and perfect for my mood in these late days of winter, sort of sweet and perky, sort of warm and bakery.  Yum!

I melted this 1+ oz. bunny tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had good strong scent and throw but not to the point of overpowering.  It did settle down closer to a medium scent after a couple hours but the throw was still amazing, and the scent continued at that level for many more hours.

I would absolutely order this scent again.

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Vanilla Shake

Vanilla Shake - 'Spun sugar and vanilla are perfectly combined in this nostalgic scent. Butter cream amplifies the soda fountain tones and adds richness to the base of the fragrance.'

This was a really full bodied, creamy vanilla scent with a bit of lighter sweetness from the sugar notes.  It really did remind me of ice cream, of a big yummy shake.  Unfortunately it didn't last long.

I melted this 1+ oz. bunny tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had deliciously strong scent right off the bat, but it faded down to a light-medium within the first hour, and down to barely there by three hours.

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Sugar Milk Coffee Latte

Sugar Milk Coffee Latte - 'A wonderful blend of sugar milk, our strongest coffee, cream and a little sugar makes this a wonderful new blend.'
 
I'm usually ok with most coffee scents but I ended up not being very fond of this one.  It started off as a nice strong coffee scent with some softer, sweeter notes from the milk.  Then it just got sort of weird.  Hubby thought it smelled like popcorn, and while I don't agree with popcorn specifically, there was something sort of salty and odd about it.  This was not a horrible scent . . . we did let it go most of the evening . . . but it was not a favorite by any means and is not something I would choose to order again.
 
I melted this entire 1 oz. tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had strong scent and throw for the first hour or so, then settled down to a more medium level.

Watched - Accused At 17

Accused At 17
2010
Rated TV-14
90 minutes

'A teenager is accused of murdering a classmate and claims that she was framed by her best friend. Her mother must try to find the truth.'

Sometimes you just gotta love the cheesy Lifetime movies.  This was one of those times for me.  I'd seen bits of this movie here and there but had never seen it from start to finish.  One bored evening recently, I was flipping through channels and happened to catch this right from the beginning so I decided to finally watch the whole thing.

Bianca is the main girl.  She misses a big party because she's stuck having dinner with her mother and her mother's boyfriend.  The next morning Bianca hears from her friends Fallyn and Sarah that her boyfriend cheated on her at the party last night.  The girl he cheated with was Dory, a snotty popular girl.  Bianca is hurt and angry, and her friends encourage her to do something about it, so she calls her boyfriend and leaves a very angry message yelling at him and somewhat threatening him and Dory.  The friends suggest that's not quite enough, and that they should really teach Dory a lesson.  Bianca agrees because she's tired of being the good girl that everyone walks all over.  Fallyn and Sarah convince Dory to go with them to a collage frat party, but really they take her to a secluded place where Bianca is waiting to tell her off.  Things don't go as planned after that and Dory ends up dead.

Bianca is, of course, the prime suspect.  She swears her innocence but when her friends don't support her, things don't look good for her.  Bianca's mother to the rescue!  Yeah, there is some pretty weak acting (the two detectives were the worst!) and things happen a little too quick and smooth, but there is a rather clever story among all that cheesiness.  And it's really kinda sad actually, when you think about it.  If Bianca's drunk and horny boyfriend would have just kept it in his pants, none of this would have happened.  All through the movie the boyfriend is a really annoying and ugly piece of crap.  He's supposed to be this moody or brooding hot guy, and he's really just this mopey 'poor little me' whiner who just keeps pouting "Tell Bianca I'm sorry."  What?  What about the dead girl?  What about being charged with murder?  What about everything else that happens?  And all you have to contribute is a pathetic "Tell Bianca I'm sorry."???

If this was a book, I'd love to read it.

And while looking up info for this post, I found out there is another Lifetime movie called Stalked At 17.  WOOT!  I am totally setting the DVR for that one!!

Watched - We're The Millers

We're The Millers
2013
Rated R
110 minutes

'A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.'

I didn't have much interest in this movie at first because I thought it was just another over the top raunchy 'humor' type movie.  A friend of mine insisted I should watch it though, that it wasn't really that bad.  Hubby and I watched it the other day and I was pleasantly surprised!  Sure, there was some raunchy humor but it wasn't just nonstop shock value nastiness like some 'comedies' these days can be.

David is pot dealer who gets robbed by street thugs.  He loses all the money he owes his boss/supplier and in order to repay the debt, the debt wants him to simply go to Mexico and bring back "a smidge and a half" of pot.  David doesn't have a choice, he has to do it, so he's trying to figure out the best way to do this without getting caught.  He figures if he has a very normal, geeky touristy looking family it will draw the least amount of attention.  His boss has arranged for this huge RV, so David thinks it's going to be a piece of cake.  He convinces three acquaintances to help.  The first is Kenny, this big hearted but really dorky teenager who lives in his apartment building.  Kenny's mom is always gone, shacking up with boyfriends and whatnot, and Kenny is so eager for acceptance that he agrees to pose as David's son.  They get next get Casey to join them.  She is a teenage homeless/runaway girl who Kenny sort of has a crush on.  It's while he's trying to save her from the thugs that are harassing her that David tries to save *him* and ends up having his money stolen in the first place.  Casey agrees to pose as David's son when he agrees to pay her a chunk of money from what he'll be earning.  And then there is Rose, David's neighbor in the apartment building, a stripper who has just quit her job and gotten evicted.  At the last minute she decides to take him up on his offer of money to pose as his wife for this trip.

Of course what they think is going to be a simple job with a big payoff turns out to be anything but.  There are some predictable mishaps and adventures but it stays funny.  When they keep meeting other geeky touristy families, and keep running into one family in particular, things just get more and more complicated.  And hilarious.  How do you explain your baby...which was really a bundle of pot...getting run over by a truck?  How do you explain kissing your 'mother' and 'sister' while your 'dad' takes pictures?  How does your past as a stripper get you out of being killed by Mexican drug lords?  The spider bite?  The total dumbass boyfriend of the moment at the carnival..."knowwutahmsayin?"??  LOL

Perhaps the funniest part of all actually came during the credits while the outtakes were playing.  In the movie there is a scene in the RV where David turns on the radio and Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls is playing and the rest of the family is all 'Ooohh, I love this song!'  Dorky Kenny even does the middle rap part.  But in the outtakes, in that scene, the theme song from Friends is what plays and it's SO DANG FUNNY because Jennifer Aniston is there and wasn't expecting it.  So. Freakin'. Funny!  My hubby didn't get the connection or why it was funny, but I had tears rolling, gasping for air, laughing so hard.

So anyway, yeah, this was actually a fun movie to watch.  Some raunch humor, yeah, but nothing near like some of the other movies that are out there these days.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Sugar Cookie Dough

Sugar Cookie Bread Dough - 'Fresh baked sweet bread with a blend of cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg, topped with sweet buttermilk sauce and mixed in chunks of sugar cookie dough.'
 
I wasn't fond of this scent.  This was one of the the freebies in my recent samplers order, and while the label only says Sugar Cookie Dough, the only thing I could find on the website says Sugar Cookie Bread Dough.  I'm guessing they're the same though.  On cold sniff this seemed like more of a sugar cookie scent.  Warmed though, it's definitely a bread scent, and it fell a little too close to the zucchini bread type scents for my comfort.  There was a salty doughy-ness to this that I just didn't care for.  I didn't hate it, did let it go all evening, but it is not something I would ever order.
 
I melted this 1+ oz. tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had medium-strong scent, with decent throw.  When I turned it off after about four hours it still had plenty of scent left in it.
 
This just wasn't for me.

Melted - Candles From The Keeping Room / Strawberry Dew

Strawberry Dew- 'A soda with a jolt of summer freshness, this classic lemon/lime fizzy pop that we have taken to a new level and laced in sweet strawberries.'
 
While I was quite curious about this when I first got it in my Coffee & Drinks Sampler, it's turned out to be one of those scents that is just a little to sweet for me.  The fizzy note is not nearly as strong once this is melted as it was in the cold scent, but it's still sort of a heady effervescence that was just a bit too much for me.  I did get a bit of the strawberry note but it wasn't enough to lend any sort of body to this scent overall.
 
I felt so bad about melting this cute little bunny!  I didn't like the idea of chopping him in half either though, so I melted the whole tart (about 1.4 oz. or so) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer.  There was strong scent and throw for the first hour, but then it faded down to only a light scent for a while, and was a barely there background scent after only a couple hours.
 
If you like the really bright and sweet scents, you'll probably like this.

Melted - Rosegirls / Kaelyn's Scotcheroos

Kaelyn’s Scotcheroos - '(RoseGirls Custom Blend) You’re going to love this cozy blend of smooth and creamy butterscotch melted in a sticky, sweet pool of creamy marshmallow!'

I was given this chunk to try because the previous owner found this scent gross.  I love butterscotch scents!  And this was no exception!  It was a deep, rich, creamy sweetness, on the warm end of the sweet spectrum.  The only downside, and it was small, was that a slightly harsh note was hiding in the background and that came out more and more the longer this was melted.  It didn't ruin the scent, but it definitely changed it by the end of the time I decided this melt was over.

I cut this chunk in half and melted about .7 oz. in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer.  It had medium-strong scent, and lasted over four hours.

Melted - Front Porch Candle Co. / Lemon Cupcake Cream Filled Cake

Lemon Cupcake Cream Filled Cake - [no scent description]

Ohhhh, Front Porch's lemon is one of the best scents out there.  It could probably even make zucchini bread smell good.  Uh, no, on second thought, there is nothing that could make zucchini bread smell good.  But anyway, this was such a yummy scent!  I've had different lemon varieties from Front Porch and I'm pretty sure I've liked them all.  This was a good one too.  The familiar yumminess of the lemon was warmed a bit with the addition of the cake notes, and then a bit of creaminess to blend it all together.  It was a happy bakery scent.

I melted this 1 oz. grubby tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had lovely strong scent with awesome throw.  I don't remember just how long it lasted, but the longer it went the more the bakery notes came through.

I really enjoyed this one.

Melted - Rosegirls / Strawberry Blonde

Strawberry Blonde - 'Best of both worlds - our Marilyn scent blended with our strawberries and cream.
 
That description doesn't tell us much, does it?  Rosegirls is quite private about their scents and blends, so the best I can do is break it down a bit more by telling you the description for Marilyn is 'A fun and flirtatious scent,' and their Strawberries & Cream is described as 'Fresh picked strawberries combined with thick whipped cream.'  Still doesn't tell us much. I will say that the Marilyn part of this is definitely the stronger, and that it's very bright and candy-sweet.  This was almost like a SweeTarts scent, very sugary.  I didn't really notice the strawberries or any type of cream note.  This could have used some warmth from that cream!  I found it way too sugar-powder sweet.

This was a big chunk that I received as part of a gift from a waxy friend.  I'd considered cutting it in half since it was probably over 1 oz. but in the end I just melted the whole thing in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer.  It was a pretty strong scent, not quite overpowering, but just too sweet for me regardless of the strength.  It did last a while though, over five hours and still had scent when I turned it off.  Why would I melt something I don't like for so long?  Because I wasn't home for a good chunk of that time, hehe.

Read - Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
by Ransom Riggs
2014
396 pages

'Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.'


*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

It took me a while to give in and finally read Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, the first book in this series, but once I did I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.  So when this second book came out right as I was finishing the first, I knew I had to read it.  Unfortunately, I didn't like this one nearly as much.  I will admit, towards the end of the first book things started going in a direction that I wasn't as thrilled with as what the rest of the book had been, and this second book goes way off into that direction that I wasn't looking forward to.

Hollow City goes way more into the fantasy side of things.  There are talking animals and whatnot.  It also really gets into the whole time loop thing with so much loop jumping and time hopping that I gave up on trying to keep track of where or when they were time-wise.  It also seemed like it was ignoring or at least bending some of the rules that had been mentioned in the first book in regards to loops.  But I can't say that for sure because it was rather chaotic and maybe it really did still follow the rules as the author imagined them.  *shrugs in confusion*

The group of Peculiar Children that we met in the first book are on the run from the wights and hollows (monsters of the first book) and on a mission to find help for Miss Peregrine, who has become stuck in bird form.  It's quite an epic adventure they end up on.  They meet characters along the way and are helped and sent on the next part of the journey, where they meet more characters and are helped again and are sent on to the next part of the journey.  While it does stick to the main goal of trying to find that desperately needed help for Miss Peregrine, it's also setting up what I'm imagining will be a whole slew of books in this series.  The little group keeps getting split up along the way, but new characters are introduced along the way too.  I can easily see future books reuniting with characters left behind, while traveling around to fight this war they've become a part of.

Where the pictures in the first book were creepy and curious and part of the lure of the book, the pics in the second book are more of a distraction.  They're often disturbing more than anything else, and the author, at times, seems to be trying to fit the story around the pictures instead of having the story first and using pics second.

It was not a horrible story, not at all.  It just went into a more adventure-y action packed type thing than I'd been hoping for.  It doesn't feel like much time is spent getting to know the characters, like things are just happening too fast to ever build on the relationships.  There was a small section near the end of the book that I really did like though, and it was because it put the focus back on the characters and the 'reality' side of things.  Main character Jacob is once again faced with the choice of going home or staying in 'Peculiardom,' but this time the choice is a lot harder and the circumstances are more extreme.

If you like more action packed, adventure type fantasy, you'll probably still like this book.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Melted - Sugar & Spice Gourmet / Coconut PA GF Mangosteen

I have not yet placed an order of my own from Sugar & Spice Gourmet Soy Candles but I've been lucky enough to try some of their wax through gifts from waxy-bloggy friends.  Apparently there is a custom blend option at the site, and 'ufgatorbugg' was kind enough to share some pieces of brittle in a few blends she made.

This third and final blend is Coconut Pineapple Grapefruit Mangosteen.  I guess those notes are pretty self explanatory, and mangosteen is considered 'sweet and citrusy' for those who don't know.  A lot of pineapple comes through right off the bat, followed closely by the coconut.  I didn't really get too much of the citrusy notes although there is a little something bright going on in there.

I melted these pieces (about 1 oz. worth) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had a lighter medium scent.  This was probably my favorite of the three blends that were shared with me, but it was also the lightest.  Maybe that's why it worked for me?  I'm not ready for strong summer scents in the dead of winter?

Thanks for sharing, 'ufgatorbugg'!

Melted - Sugar & Spice Gourmet / Coconut Waikiki

I have not yet placed an order of my own from Sugar & Spice Gourmet Soy Candles but I've been lucky enough to try some of their wax through gifts from waxy-bloggy friends.  Apparently there is a custom blend option at the site, and 'ufgatorbugg' was kind enough to share some pieces of brittle in a few blends she made.

The second blend I melted was this Coconut Waikiki.  This is probably Creamy Coconut, which is described as being 'like fresh coconut milk,' and Waikiki Shores, which is described as 'a refreshing, exotic blend of tropical pina colada, juicy pineapple slices, sweet pear and mandarin orange with a base of anise.'  I really liked this one but found I couldn't take it for long.  It's quite sweet.  It's very tropical, very coconut-y, and sort of perfume-y in a weird way.  It's not really a juicy-fruity scent, because the coconut sort of 'dries' it out, but there are hints of the pineapple and other things.

I melted all these pieces (about 1 oz. worth) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had medium-strong scent, but found it to be too, I don't know . . . cloying?  I ended up turning the warmer off after only a couple hours.

Thanks for sharing 'ufgatorbugg,' even though it didn't quite agree with me.

Melted - Sugar & Spice Gourmet / Pink Coconut Sun & Sand

I have not yet placed an order of my own from Sugar & Spice Gourmet Soy Candles but I've been lucky enough to try some of their wax through gifts from waxy-bloggy friends.  Apparently there is a custom blend option at the site, and 'ufgatorbugg' was kind enough to share some pieces of brittle in a few blends she made. 

This first one I melted was Pink Coconut Sun & Sand.  I'm guessing the Pink is Pink Sugar, which is uber popular and is described as '. . . playful blend of vanilla and caramel. Notes include Bergamot, Sicilian Orange, Raspberry, Fig Leaves, Lily of the Valley, Licorice, Strawberry, Red Fruit, Cotton Candy, Tonka (Vanilla), Caramel, Musk, Sandalwood, Powder.Sun & Sand is described as 'an ozony, blend of florals and citrus, combining white flowers, bergamot, orange blossoms, ylang ylang, muguet lily, and a light musk base.'  And the coconut is probably, heh, coconut. 

I would normally wait until summer to melt such scents but I'm so sick of our nonstop frigid winter weather that I thought this might be a pick-me-up mood changer.  I'm not familiar with the Sun & Sand scent from Yankee, so I can't say how much of that might coming through but I think the Pink Sugar is pretty strong.  There is an overall coconut note but it's not like it whams you in the face as a coconut scent.  There is some musk and sandalwood action on a subtle level.  I don't really get the florals or sweet juiciness of the fruits.

I melted all of these pieces (about 1 oz. worth) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had strong scent and throw.  It lasted quite a while, over four hours for sure.

Thanks for sharing, 'ufgatorbugg'!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Haul - Candles From the Keeping Room

I hadn't really been looking to place any orders but when my evil enabler waxy friends pointed out one morning that Candles From The Keeping Room would be opening that day, and then used their extreme powers of peer pressure (ok, maybe not), I couldn't help it.  I placed an order.  At least I kept it small!

I ordered a Cakes Sampler because I seem to be going through a cake scent phase lately.  I did not look up any of the scent descriptions before ordering, just saw 'cake' and whipped it into my cart.

These are my initial cold sniff thoughts.  I have not melted any of these yet.
  • Serendipity Birthday Cake - 'Our fabulous Serendipity mixed with our ever so yummy Birthday Cake, a hint of marshmallow, a little ice cream.'  I just had this scent from another vendor recently, so I chuckled a bit when I saw it in this sampler because I can only take Serendipity in small doses, few and far between.  This one seems nice though, the cake toning it down.
  • Strawberry White Cake - 'A Candles From The Keeping Room Creation. Our yummy fresh picked Strawberries mixed with our delicious white cake.'  This one could be interesting.  On cold sniff it's very candy-like, almost a smidge perfumey.  I hope the cake comes through more when warmed.
  • Absolutely Fabulous Cake - 'Rich, moist white cake with hints of silky, white chocolate and sweet cream; shredded, toasted coconut coated with sweet vanilla nestled inside. This fabulous creation is topped with luscious mounds of rich sweet butter cream frosting.'  Ohh, this is good.  A very 'warm' cake scent, that toasted part of the coconut really makes itself known.
  • OMG Cake - 'Hints of crushed almond and traces of orange add sweet accents to this dreamy delight. Luscious creamy cake batter is enriched with sweet maple and blended with light spicy tones for the fragrance heart. A finishing base of marshmallow and butter cream completes the treat.'  Mmmmm, might have a favorite here!  It's sweet and bright but warm.  Little teaser hints of maple and orange in there.
  • White Cake - 'This is a wonderful bakery scent...and one of my most popular cake scents...this is strong, a true white cake with a slight hint of cherry.'  Nice, typical cake with noticeable cherry.
  • Raspberry Coconut Cake - I'm confused because on the website there is a Raspberry Coconut Cheesecake but not a regular Raspberry Coconut Cake.  The description for the cheesecake version is 'Our yummy cheesecake, topped with sweet raspberries..then coconut mixed with a sweet cream cheese frosting.'  I do get the raspberry and coconut notes but nothing that seems like cheesecake.
 And how freakin' cute are these bunny shaped tarts?!?!

I also grabbed a Coffees & Drinks Sampler because I loved the Caramel Latte tart I had from CFTKR recently, and I like coffee scents in general.  I was thrilled to find another Caramel Latte in this sampler!

Again, these are initial cold sniff thoughts.
  • Sugar Cookie Latte - 'A wonderful new coffee blend, inspired by my friend Chris...a mix of our strong black coffee whipped in our new sugar cookie.'  Mainly getting the coffee note, but there is something softening it slightly.
  • Caramel Latte - 'A blend of coffee, caramel..and sweet cream.'  Love this scent.  Right now it's stronger on the coffee but I know when I melted that other one the creaminess came through wonderfully.
  • Sugar Milk Coffee Latte - 'A wonderful blend of sugar milk, our strongest coffee, cream and a little sugar makes this a wonderful new blend.'  Again, mainly coffee right now, with a hint of something soft.
  • Vanilla Shake - 'Spun sugar and vanilla are perfectly combined in this nostalgic scent. Butter cream amplifies the soda fountain tones and adds richness to the base of the fragrance.'  A deep, rich, creamy vanilla.  Quite yummy on cold sniff.
  • Strawberry Dew - 'A soda with a jolt of summer freshness, this classic lemon/lime fizzy pop that we have taken to a new level and laced in sweet strawberries.'  I smiled when I pulled this out of the bag, because I am a Mountain Dew addict.  The description sounds more like 7Up though.  The scent definitely has that fizzy note!  And there is a strawberry note lurking behind the initial sweetness.
  • Cream Soda - 'An old fashioned soda shop classic, having all the bubbly notes frothing over the glass with the truly characteristic, caramelized sugar and vanilla cream aroma.'  Even though it's another soda, it does not have the fizzy note.  This is ok, kinda like a really creamy root beer.
The freebies are always the most exciting part of the order because CFTKR is one of THE most generous at including extras.  You can request certain scents but I like it to be a surprise.  I did put 'no florals or zucchini' in the notes section when I placed my order.  So what did I get this time??

Initial cold sniff thoughts again since I have not melted any yet.
  • Sugar Cookie Dough - 'Fresh baked sweet bread with a blend of cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg, topped with sweet buttermilk sauce and mixed in chunks of sugar cookie dough.'  Mostly the sugar cookie scent, just a hint of bread.  It's warm and cozy and makes me think of fall.
  • Strawberry Bread - 'A blend of sweet strawberries, fresh baked sweet bread and toasted nuts with just a touch of cinnamon.'  I'm always leery of bread scents since the horror of zucchini bread.  This doesn't mention zucchini though.  *phew*  There is a definite strawberry note, and some bakery type notes but not really a distinct 'bread' feeling about it.
  • Ultimate Bear Claw - 'Our yummy bear mix claw enhanced with sweet sugar cookies, sweet bakery donuts, cakes and breads..all iced with a sweet vanilla icing.'  LOVE!  Warm, sweet, pastry/bakery heaven.
  • Garfield's Bowl of Cream - I don't see this one listed on the website.  I'm guessing it's supposed to be a sweet cream or sweet milky scent...?  I really need a scent description because that's not what I'm smelling.  It's almost perfumey, with a hint of something else almost herbal or spicy.  Catnip?  LOL  I'm not fond of this one, at least on cold sniff. 
  • Jill's Strawberry Cream Filled Jelly Roll - I don't see this one on the site either but that doesn't surprise me because I think it might be a tribute blend to a member of the wax community who was murdered recently.  This is an interesting scent, a candy type note in among the pastry notes, and almost a hint of fizzy which is really weird.
  • Chestnuts & Brown Sugar - 'A delicious mixture of caramel and rich maple combined with chestnuts in a buttery cream base.'  Love this one.  This is the type of scent that is right up my alley, warm and cozy with a touch of sweetness.
Sampler bags cost $6.95.  Since you can't order single tarts at CFTKR, it's always been one of the reasons I shy away from ordering.  I don't want to commit to bags of a scent I'm not familiar with.  So one day someone mentioned the samplers are a good way to try different scents, and I was like 'Ah-ha!'  While I can't control the specific scents, I can at least get a group of scents of a type I might like.

Shipping was $8.75, but I don't remember if that's a flat rate or what.

Turnaround time (TAT) was great considering this is one of the more popular vendors.  I ordered on the morning of Jan. 25, and received the package on Feb. 3, so that's only a bit over a week.  I can handle that!

If I continue to have better luck with these in my hot plate warmer than I did in my tea light warmer, I will probably start ordering from CFTKR more often.  Do you have any scent suggestions for me?

Melted - Sweet Fixations / Go Bananas

Go Bananas- 'Fun fragrance with ripened bananas mixed with crisp apples, creamy caramel, and toffee bits.'
 
I've had this one before so I wasn't going to review it again until I went back and read that first review (HERE) and found that my opinion has apparently changed.  This was a really nice banana scent because of the bit of warmth and creaminess from the caramel and toffee.  I didn't notice any specific apple scent.  This is very obviously a banana scent but the caramel and toffee keep it from being overwhelming or too candy-like.  In the other review, the first time I had this, I said there was one odd note that made the overall scent iffy for me.  I did not feel that way at all this time, but I did notice that the longer this melted, the more the sort of saltiness of the caramel and/or toffee came through.

This was only a small sample, about .5 oz maybe, but man did it have strength.  Kinda gets me back to wondering about melting smaller amounts of wax.  Anyway, I melted this little star shaped sample tart in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had strong scent, strong throw, and amazing longevity.  I melted it maybe six hours one day, then it sat cold in the warmer for two days because I don't melt anything on days I work.  In the evening of that second day, hubby turned the warmer on again and this still had nice medium-strong scent.  It stayed on probably four more hours that evening and still had scent when we turned it off again.

My opinion of this one has indeed changed, and I would order this again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Melted - Sea Breeze Scents & Things / Monkey Burps

Monkey Burps - 'The other half of a popular scent. Hello tropics!' 

Not quite sure what to make of that scent description.  I know the popular scent it mentions is Monkey Farts, and that is 'bananas and juicy grapefruit, middle notes of kiwi, juicy bubblegum, and strawberries; and a hint of vanilla' according to one well known fragrance oil supplier.  I don't know if Monkey Burps is just a less offensive name but still the same scent . . . ?  Whatever it means, this was mainly a banana and bubble gum scent, with maybe a hint of the vanilla poking through.  I didn't notice much of anything else.  It's sort of a warm-sweet type scent, not a bright-sweet.  This was interesting.  I think I liked it but . . . 

This was light, as I'm finding most Sea Breeze scents to be.  I melted this whole tart (maybe a bit under 1 oz.) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and only had light scent.  I would get a stronger whiff every once in a while, like if someone was walking by and stirring up the air, but in general it was a very light, background scent.  This might be good for smaller rooms or if you like lighter scents, but it was too light for me.

Melted - Sea Breeze Scents & Things / Strawberry Cheesecake

Strawberry Cheesecake - 'Fresh strawberries and creamy cheesecake with vanilla.'
 
I finally melted this cute little guy that I've had for quite some time.  I'd been finding the Sea Breeze Scents tarts to be too light for my liking so he'd been sitting in my 'destash' basket, but now that I'm using a hot plate warmer I thought I'd give Sea Breeze another try.
This was such a nice, soft, oddly comforting scent.  In my haul post last summer I described it as strawberry milk and I think that still applied when this was melted.  I didn't really get that particular note that, to me, signifies cheesecake . . . that sort of 'sour' note.  And it wasn't creamy like a berries-n-cream type scent would be.  So milk is the next thing that comes to mind for me.  This was like a glass of sweet, slightly creamy, glass of strawberry Nesquik mixed milk.  There is a bit of vanilla in there, adding to the 'milk' part of things.

I melted this entire frog tart (forgot to weigh it, probably a smidge over 1 oz.) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer.  Very early on the scent was almost at medium strength, but it mellowed out fairly quickly to the usual light scent I've been getting from this vendor.  It was barely noticeable, very much a light background scent, but I will say that it lasted seemingly forever.  Even though I could barely smell it, I left it on a good chunk of the day because I was busy doing things throughout the house.  When I finally turned it off last night I could still smell it on its light level.  So once again, while I'm bummed this vendor is too light for me, I think these would be great for smaller rooms or someone who likes lighter scents.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Melted - Daphne's Divine Scents / Serendipity Birthday Cake

Serendipity Birthday Cake - [no scent description]

Another tart that was gifted to me, I mainly got the ever-popular Serendipity scent in this.  (Serendipity is a very sweet blend of coconut and cherry and a few other things.)  I did get a light cake note, and it did seem to keep the potential over-sweetness of the Serendipity in check, so that was nice.  But overall, mainly Serendipity, and that's ok.

I melted one of these square tarts (.7 oz.) in my Glade 20 watt hot plate warmer and had a nice medium-strong scent and throw.  If this had been stronger it might have been just too much sweetness, so a more medium scent worked for this one.

Don't those tarts look like yummy candy bites???  Like sugar coated fruity chews!