I am still sick, dear reader. I am in the middle of what I hope is my exile period. Middle Exile is a lot like Middle Earth - treacherous. So, to distract myself, let me continue this set of reviews!
First, my dear fumies, to the books! You know why? Because I love books. Seriously. I love them. I carried my nook with me, but I have a backlog of terrific paper books waiting to be read, so I dragged two of them along with me, and managed to finish one of each. Each was a great read, and waaaay better than anything I could get on TV. FN1.
Melissa Marr's Carnival of Souls. This is the first book in the series, and it is a quick read. It is the first book I purchased full price for my Nook, and the first book I've finished on my shiny new digital device. FN2. FN3. It's also the first book I've read by Marr, despite having met her in person. And let me tell you this: Melissa Marr is unassailably cool. Seriously. She is intimidatingly cool. I've met a lot of smart, funny, charming authors, but Melissa Marr is one of those people who you meet and think, “Holy crap, I want to be you when I grow up.”
Meeting Marr was enough to push me toward her books, but following her on twitter and occasionally perusing her LJ sent her to the top of my list of AUTHORS TO READ, number one with a cold iron bullet. Why? You know how, sometimes, you don't need to meet someone in person to tell that they are good people, that you can just kind of tell, that the goodness flows out of them? Marr is like that. She's a good heart wrapped in black leather. That's the kind of person I want writing books teenage girls read; someone they can respect as being badass and who also sets a great example for a life well-lived.
Okay, enough fangirling. On to Marr's books! I have the first book in wildly successful Wicked Lovely series on my bookshelf, but I started Carnival of Souls because I knew if I loved the WL books, I wouldn't be able to stop until I read them all, and there are a lot of other books I already own that deserve my attention. So I started with Carnival of Souls:
In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.Carnival of Souls is fast paced and engaging, and I enjoy Marr's wordsmithery. The world is lush and real, detailed enough to keep your imagination engaged without overdoing it. One of the most interesting things, though, is the switching POV, which makes the book feel accessible to the part of me who will always be a stubborn, head-strong, heart-led fifteen year-old as well as the grown-up woman I am (and have simultaneously always been). I had to grow up fast, and as a grown-up, I remain there, teetering in that balance of fifteen-going-on-forty, with my better angels and better judgment winning now more than losing, but always feeling the tug toward the other side all the same. This book is told from the perspective of characters who reflect, in turn, that tension – innocent and inexperienced, world weary and heart-hardened, cynical and suspicious – and yet, all the same, loving. Each of them, so loving in their own way, loving and willful and doing their best for themselves and those they care for with the hands they've been dealt in life. I can't wait for the next book, and I highly recommend this one to any of you looking for a quick and intriguing read.
All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
Finale. I have been following the adventures of Nora, Patch, Vee, and, yes, even Marcie, since they first hit the page, and I put off reading this book in part because it came out very close to the last book in my beloved Beautiful Creatures series from the talented duo of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and honestly? I wasn't willing to give up both of these wonderful worlds right on top of one another. FN4.
Also, when I am invested in a world the way I am invested in Fitzpatrick's Hush. Hush, I'm always a little nervous about being disappointed. I can't help it. As a reader and as a writer, I want them to all be as good as the first hit that drags me into a whole new world. Some truly great series that I leapt into take missteps here and there over the course of the books that can be hard to overlook. FN5. So when I tell you this series is tightly written from the first to the last, I mean it. Fast, interesting, more turns than a prima ballerina with something to prove, Finale holds up to the rest of the series, and then turns it up to eleven.
I also have to say, I admire Fitzpatrick's writing style. It is not easy to decide your love interest talks like a 30's noir detective/50's street tough a la “Rebel Without A Cause”/“The Maltese Falcon”/Keanu Reeves in Paula Abdul's James Dean homage video, and then stick with that style and make it work in a modern day teen romance. FN6. At first, even I'll admit it was a little, well, weird. But the longer I knew the characters, the more I loved it! Patch was everything James Hurley in Twin Peaks should have been, and wasn't. FN7. And it just...works! Then by the end (mild spoiler alert!), when Nora starts to talk a little like some dame who just walked into his office and will turn his whole world on its head? I cheered inside! Nora was changed by her experiences in the book, right down to picking up some of the lingo. When I finished the last page, I literally hugged the book, eyes full of tears. And those tears? They were made of awesome. If you've already devoured Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games or Beautiful Creatures or Ally Condie's Matched, or are living each day on pins and needles for the final book in Veronica Roth's Divergent series like I am, pick these up to fill the void. I really think you'll like them.
And for those of you still reading who are ready to shout, “get to the damned perfume already!,” I'm getting there.
For now, I'll will simply say this: there's nothing like a good bath, and if that bath smells delightful, so much the better. So before I'll get to the perfume, I'm going to talk a little about bath and body products.
Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery, who sent me some bath salts when I ordered her delightful perfume Fir-Ever Young. I haven't used bath salts in ages, dear reader, not since before they became a weird code name for some street drug and my husband started insisting I call them something else. But I was stuck in a hotel room, feeling like gum scraped from a shoe, with a tub I did not have to clean myself, so I thought – yeah, this seems like a good time for bath salts.
The bath salts I used were the lovely Terrain, which is described as follows:
A rich blend, grounded in frankincense and sparkling with citrus and geranium, with therapeutic properties of relaxation, anti-anxiety, and stress relief. Perfect for a bath after work or before bed to ease you into sleep.Relaxation? Anti-anxiety? Stress relief? Sounded right up my plague-ridden alley.
Huzzah for bath salts! It smelled so good up in there, yo! And yet, Terrain was not overwhelmingly scented, which was good because my nose was all sneezy when it wasn't stopped up. The scent was gentle and relaxing, the salts dissolved beautifully (I didn't give them enough time before I got in, but that one's on me), and the whole experience was soothing and decadent. The best part was it wasn't one of those bath product experiences that left me feeling like, “Okay, that was nice and all, but now I need a shower to actually get clean.” It was more like that feeling you have after a facial, where whatever is left on your skin feels like it is supposed to be there. You skin is happier and healthier for the experience, not covered in soap film. I give Terrain a sold two thumbs up. And for only $26 for 17 ounces, I think I might add them to my “makes an excellent gift” list.
Aftelier Perfumes. I swear, every time I try something Mandy Aftel has created, I feel like the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman, asking in a mixture of wonder and frustration: “Where does [s]he get all those wonderful toys?”
Because I am not going to lie. I saw the label on this one, and even though I picked it out, I had my doubts. I gave myself a bath and follow-up application of Pear, Fir, and Coffee, then settled into my plague bed to read. I dropped the book almost immediately.
Crisp fruit and Fall woods with an earthy back note. Our body oil & hair elixir is in a nourishing non-greasy base of moisturizing jojoba oil and fractionated coconut oil. This lightweight formula absorbs easily, immediately moisturizing, softening, and conditioning. Damp hair is the most vulnerable to frizz: our oil won't weigh hair down and seals the cuticle to prevents moisture from creating frizz. It leaves a veil of fragrance on your skin or in your hair that mixes beautifully with your own chemistry.It was bliss, I tell you! Pure bliss. What crazy brain puts those three scents together and thinks, “Yes, that is exactly how someone will want to smell her hair to smell when it billows in the wind?” A mad genius, that's who. And a little bit goes a long way with this–because hey, it's an oil–but it was the best body oil experience I've had.
Also, because it's an oil, it keeps going! It lasts a long and lovely time, and makes a nice, subtle scent accent or alternative to a traditional perfume. The price point is great, too - 105ml for only $50! I will definitely be buying some more for myself, and I highly recommend it for any scent lover in your life. It was just...it was beautiful. There's no other word.
So, thanks, Mandy. You deserve ever ounce of praise lovingly heaped at your feet.
And on that happy note, dear reader, I am going to bed now. Or perhaps I will take a bath first....eyes bathroom door longingly.... yes. Just a short one...before....I....
Tune in tomorrow when I tell you what pretty scents perfumed what has got to have been the sweetest smelling plague den in history.
FN1. Keep in mind that I didn't have the CW. The hotel TV didn't carry it. For realsies. I almost wept. You know how many times I've been TWO WEEKS behind on The Vampires Diaries since it started airing? Let me tell you – NEVER. That's right. NEVER. I've basically had to avoid the entire internet to avoid spoilers, so the first thing I'm doing when I get home is locking myself in the bedroom with HuluPlus.
FN2. Oh, and did I mention I scoured the whole of the vast and treacherous series of tubes for the appropriate bling for my amazing book innovation? I didn't? Well, let me tell you – THERE WILL BE PHOTOS. Oh, yes. There will be photos. Just as soon as I get home to the pile of packages...waiting there....for me....
FN3. ...being locked in a hotel room with nothing but the same six movies on cable for company really lends itself to vast and deep online shopping. Seriously. That was probably the most dangerous part of the entire experience. No one to talk to. Too sick to really work or write or honestly, even read a lot of the time. My glazed eyes and illness-clouded mind were good for two things – hitting the “Last” button on the remote in a diligent effort to avoid commericals, and surfing the internet for things to buy. I think I did pretty well reigning myself in, all things considering. A little perfume...some shiny new tech-related toys...a whole crap load of stickers.... I could go on, but for the sake of my own pride, I won't.
Beautiful Creatures movie release was basically on top of me before I finally started Finale? Yep. Completely on purpose. Also, I am psyched for the movie. Do you hear me, dear reader? I am so in fangirlish love with Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes and their world that I will probably see it twice in the first two weeks it is out. It has EVERTHING I LOVE – magick, love, betrayal, large family in-squabbling, secrets and intrigue, magick, southern accents, gothic architecture, Florence + the Machine on the soundtrack – and did I mention magick? *Heartsandsparklesexplosion*
And the best part? I will be in Seattle, with two of my best YA-loving friends, Becca and LillieMae, who have both read and loved BC, for the release weekend! I'm not going to lie to you – there may be costumes. Or t-shirts. Or hair dye. Or theme jewelry. Or alloftheabove. CASTER GIRLS WEEKEND FTW! <squeals with teenage delight>
Whew! Okay. I'm better now.
FN5. *Cough, Cough* Anita Blake books, Southern Vampire Diaries, *Cough*. As for YA, I'm looking at you, Lauren Kate. I love and still recommend the Fallen series, but now I always do so with the caveat that 1. the third book feels strangely off, and does not hold up to the rest of the series. (The first book is one of my all time favorite YA series kick-off books); 2. the antagonist, at the very end, comes across as a weird stand-in for someone in Kate's life she had drama with, and those issues would have been better resolved with a therapist than in the book; 3. I was so sure the story was going another direction, a dastardly and OMFG so clever direction, I was a little disappointed it didn't go down like I'd expected. (Typical writer – heavy with the critique.) All that said, the last few pages? One of my favorite series ends ever. Truly. So I still say unto you, dear reader – read those books. Even though they're uneven in the middle, the end is worth getting to. Made me want to start all over again from the beginning.
Wow, I am seriously digressive today. I'm blaming it all on the medication.
FN6. Anyone remember the name of the song in question? First one to comment with a link to a youtube video is going to get a pretty package...
FN7. Seriously, that story arc with the black widow? Are you kidding me? Weakest part of the entire Twin Peaks series. In my head, I always think of that arc as “That time David Lynch got bored and decided to try out the plot points for Lost Highway he was already noodling around with.”
In the interest of full disclosure, the bath salts and body oil samples above were provided by the respective perfumers.