Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ebb & Flow: December

The highs and lows of the month.


Perfume:
Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Perfume Oil:
Arcana Cake Lust

Lotion:
Cosmic Cleanse ScentSations Apparitions in the Garden

Soap:
Arcana Queen Crossbones

Scrub:
Handmade in Florida Lavender Ice

Bath Bomb:
Ariana Victoria Rose Frost Bite

Candle:
Bath & Body Works Cinnamon and Clove Buds

Lip Balm:
Blood Moon Botanica Peppermint Lip Balm

Eating:
Way too much crap.

Drinking:
Not enough water.

Watching:
The Great British Baking Show

Reading:
The Nightworld by Jack Blaine

Dreading:
This last college course.

Awaiting:
My new bird feeder to arrive so I can fill it up and watch all my cute feathered friends like a creeper from the sliding glass doors. We have two woodpeckers, a handful of titmice, a few cardinals, one robin, one black and white warbler and dozens of finches in the tree. Oh! And two dove. <3

Hit:
Benefit Boi-ing Brighterning Concealer (great for under eyes)

Miss:
Caudalie Resveratrol Lift- Eye Lifting Balm (did nothing)

Low:
Sickness throughout the home. Hopefully we can all ring in the New Year healthy.

High:
Spending the holidays with my girls and husband. Christmas Day was slow and chill and lovely. 

How was your December? Any highs or lows? Favorite books or shows? 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017


2017. Wow. You know how we all have those years that pack a whollop? I think 2017 was that year for me. There were scares and heartache, career changes and new paths to ponder but also beautiful memories born and sweet morsels to roll around in the mouth along with the bitter. The path is never really straight and that is quite alright. 


Each year I like to reflect on some of my very favorite aromas that have run across my nose and this year will be no different. If you have read previous years' reminisces, you may notice some repeats but there are sure to be new ones sprinkled in there as well.


Best Books I Read in 2017:
Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker was probably my favorite book this year. The characters lived and breathed in my mind and heart and the NYC landscape flourished under my feet and fingertips. 
Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling hit home with me this year as well. It was dark and humorous and has me itching to read more from Rowling. 

Best Series I Read in 2017:
Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series that starts with Magic Bites was my favorite new series read this year, hands down. I love how fast paced, quirky and hilarious the characters are, I simply fell head over heels for Kate and Curran. If you think a post apocalyptic spin on futuristic Atlanta in the hands of vampires, werewolves and other mystical magical creatures would suit your escapism leanings, please check it out!



Favorite Potters in 2017:
This could easily be called the Year of the Pottery, for 2017 brought with it a renewed passion for all things handcrafted. Collecting hand thrown mugs has been a joyous experience, adding a touch of sentimentality to my morning coffee and afternoon tea routines.

Potters I had the pleasure of purchasing from this year include:
Made by Anisa Pottery- planter
Elan Pottery- fairy houses
Hand to Earth Ceramics- mugs, cups and planters
Pitch Pine Pottery- mugs, tea cups and planters
Scrimshaw Pottery- mug
Scumugs- planter
Single Tooth Stoneware- mug
Swell Ceramics- mug


Favorite Silversmiths in 2017:
Expanding my jewelry collection has been occurring for some time now thanks to a group I am in on Facebook but I do love purchasing directly from the artists themselves as well. There are many silversmiths I frequent for pieces, each with their own style, but here is list of my very favorites:

Appaloosa
Ariana Victoria Rose
Arrok
Candice Vostrejs
Dida Metals
Gather and Flow
Laurel and Lime
Luna's Locket
Marta Oms
Moss Root Jewellery
Sam Ryde
The Cave Lady


Favorite Wax Scents of 2017:
10. Lasting Scent Candles Summer Bonfire
9. Candy Panda Wonderful Christmastime
8. Handmade in Florida Eastern Oudh
7. Super Tarts Hades
6. MoonaLisa The Rumpkin
5. Vintage Chic Scents Cookie Baking at Mom's/Edelweiss combination
4. Handmade in Florida's Meditate
3. Candles From the Keeping Room's Peppermint and Cypress
2. Ten Digit Creations Wicked Lovely
1. Beezy's Marshmallow Fireside


Favorite Soap Scents of 2017:
5. La Petitie Ferme Amber and Sandalwood
4. Arcana Queen Crossbones
3. Wylde Ivy Raven
2. FuturePrimitive Cordwainer
1. Handmade in Florida Spa Time


Favorite Artisan Perfumes of 2017:
The following perfumes I enjoyed and purchased full bottle of this year.
5. Wylde Ivy Autumn Twilight
4. Wylde Ivy Autumn Day of the Sugar Skull
3. Andy Tauer Attar
2. Solstice Scents Vanilla Pipe Tobacco
1. Sonoma Scent Studio Ambre Noir

Other Full Bottles I Added to My Collection in 2017:
1. Chanel Coromandel
2. Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles
3. Serge Lutens L'Orpheline


Favorite Perfume Oils of 2017:
12. Sixteen92 Hellebore
11. Arcana Mars Exalted: Courage
10. Nui Cobalt Designs Ominous Orchard
9. Arcana Cake Lust
8. Nocturne Alchemy Tibetan Crystalline
7. Nocturne Alchemy Cardamom Chai Sandalwood
6. Arcana Bonfires at Dusk
5. Arcana Undead Gentleman
4. Nocturne Alchemy Black Vanilla Custard
3. Arcana This is Not Canada
2. Nocturne Alchemy Icons II Copal
1. Arcana Filthy Viking



Favorite Indie Bath and Body Care of 2017:
6. ArtiSun and Handcrafted Honey Bee natural deodorants 
5. Blood Moon Botanica Coconut Silk body cream
4. FuturePrimitive Milk Bath Tea in The Gloaming
3. Kings Road Apothecary Deep Wods Body Oil
2. Indie Beautique Dark Mermaid Fizzing Bath Salts
1. Cosmic Cleanse ScentSations Infused Miracle Budders (Hoochie's Palace scent)


Favorite Candles of 2017:
5. Atelier Vanille Insensee
4. Bath & Body Works Baby It's Cold Outside, Fireside Candle
3. Chi Candles Old Books and New Books
2. Jean-Michel Basquiat Perfumed Candle
1. Timberwick Ember Glow



Top Five Wax Vendors of 2017:

Not in any order because that would be too much for me to deliberate upon... but these are the top vendors I returned to again and again this year.

Candles From the Keeping Room: Carol's tarts are consistently amazing in both scent choices and throw, as well as shelf life. I melted some Balsam and Citrus tarts that were easily 3 years old this Christmas and the throw was phenomenal. Carol is great about announcing restocks and I know I can place an order about once every other month. Candles From The Keeping Room easily makes up about 1/3 of my wax stash and I am certainly fine with that. Some favorites: Apple Dumpling, Pumpkin Firewood, Peppermint and Cypress, Plumberry Spice, Fresh Picked Strawberry, Mulled Wine, Ultimate Sugar Cookie, White Cedar Forest and Merlin's Forest. 

Handmade in Florida: Zahida's foray into wax has proven to be successful. I enjoy the scent blendings, the throw and presentation. Her new pre-order system leaves time for browsing and the mystery bags offer quite nice surprises. Some of my favorite scents include: Meditation, Lavender Ice, Lavender Ritual, Eastern Oudh, Sensual Suede, Coconut Curry, Cosmic Caramel and Tea for Two.

Vintage Chic Scents: This is the first time Kirby's wax has made a top 5 for me. But this year really opened my eyes to how fabulous some of her offerings have become. I used to have terrible luck with throw years and years ago, but now I am very much enjoying Kirby's vanilla heavy bakery and peppermint scents with relish. Some favorites: Pink Twinkling Lights, Cookie Baking at Mom's/Edelweiss, Central Park Snow Globe, Cookie Monster in Salem and It's A Wonderful Life/Cookie Baking at Mom's. 

Sniff My Tarts: I still quite enjoy the frenetic bliss that is compiling a huge custom blended order twice a year. I believe the ladies are set to open up shop here soon. Some of my favorite blends this year are Candy Cane/Marshmallow/Lord of Misrule, Peppermint/Peppermint Swizzle Sticks/Pink Sugar, Sandalwood/Marshmallow Fireside, Pine Forest/Marshmallow Fireside, Dragon's Blood/Butterscotch Candy/Cinnamon Sticks. 

Lasting Scent Candles: Pam still churns out some of the creamiest and sweetest blends out there, all these years later. Her Aroma Mists have really become some of my favorite things, but her wax is great too. Some standouts for me: Summer Bonfire, Spooky Apparitions, Sweet Embers, Cast A Spell, Sinful, Vanilla Waffle Cone, Candyland Dreamin', Holiday Hearth, Cobweb Cookies, Bliss. 


Other favorites I enjoyed but maybe did not see as much business as I would like for one reason or other include:
Candy Panda, Beezy, The Bathing Garden, Ten Digit Creations, Sugar & Spice, Super Tarts, Book Scents, Bohemienne Life.


2017 was another fragrant year of blogging. I look forward to enjoying my perfume and wax collections. I may add a few more here and there but on the whole I am going to strive to use what I have and savor it day by day. I hope to continue to blog on a semi-regular schedule and wallow in the more aromatic aspects of life. I still have one more class to take and a few odds and ends to wrap up in obtaining my re-certification for teaching. The school year is half over and that amazes me. January will be touch and go but should mellow by spring. I do have my new bird watching hobby to bring me some peace and calm. 

A new bucket list and reading challenge will come forth in January. How was your 2017? Any favorites? What vendors brought you back for more time and again? Any new perfumes or soaps to love? 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ariana Victoria Rose: Winter Bath Bombs


Ariana Victoria Rose released some more of her hidden ring bath bombs a little bit ago and I picked up two. I have blogged these in past, I want to say around August. I mentioned before about how I am totally not into the cosmetic jewelry, kinda cheap and tacky looking, hidden jewelry candles and bath bombs but these totally don't count because the rings are handmade from precious metals and stones and the bath bombs are handmade as well with nourishing butters and oils. I chose two in size 10 for $30 each. They always come in a beautifully packed and decorated box which is perfect for gift giving. 


The bath bombs were scented in Frost Bite this go 'round and smelled like fruity woods and soft snow. No minty leanings but it still manages to smell cool and sweet. The coconut oil makes it almost feel like a bath melt but there is still plenty of fizzing action. I like that the shimmer was kept to a minimum in this bath bomb. 


Inside the bath bomb in a tiny plastic cup and lid that hold the sterling silver handmade ring inside. The rings range in value from $10-$100 and can vary in size up to a half size. For example, the sized 10 can be from 10 to 10 1/2. Though I do find her rings to run on the small side. One ring fits my ring finger which is a solid size 9. 


I totally lucked out and got one of the rings I was eyeing most...


... this gorgeous faceted moonstone! Look at that blue flash in the lower right half of the stone. Yummy!


This more simple, yet lovely ring has a stone that flashes clear, aqua, green and sometimes purple depending on the angle and light. Not sure what it is but I like it. It feels like a delicate fairy ring when I wear it. This one fits my ring finger nicely. 

I am thrilled once again with my AVR purchase. My sister actually bought me one of her raincloud necklaces which I will feature in the new year. 

Were you a fan of mystery items when you were younger? Would you splurge on a $30 bath bomb in the hopes of scoring a gorgeous ring? Obviously I am one of those. I enjoy the thrill of the unknown like that sometimes. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Day Gifts


This Christmas brought a bunch of whimsy to my home. My mother-in-law asked what I wanted for Christmas this year and I sent her some links to Pottery Barn for various ornaments and I thrilled to have them! These first two are cute little diorama ornaments with a vintage feel. It is hard to tell but they both have twinkle fairy lights in them. 



I also received two felt, decidedly bookish, mice. 



A cat wearing antlers arrived to dwell in our tree as well. 


Adam had all sorts of fun things waiting on me under the tree like these glass chimes, which sound amazing, and this gnome holding a solar powered lantern. His name is Norbert. He is bookish too. I hope all these books foreshadow much reading to come in the new year. 



Santa filled my stocking with a wonderful assortment of beauty, teas, gum, chocolate and knickknacks. 


The Dida Metals two stone ring and the Arrok sparrow earrings were some of my very favorite surprises. 

What items were waiting for you under the tree? 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from the Johnsons to you!
We work early and saw Santa came! One child is sorting her Pokemon while the other is hovering in her Poppy onesie about the house. It was a morning of new razors for Adam and a gnome holding a solar powered lantern for me, lots of hugs and twinkling eyes. <3
I hope your Christmas is brimming with love and sweetness. May your morning coffee be delicious and your evening Christmas nosh be filling. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Melting Basket 113: Merry Christmas!


Wax from the Holly Jolly basket of yore I would happily repurchase the following scents: LSC Christmas Tea, Cranberry Citrus Balsam, Magical Mistletoe and Holiday Hearth, Candy Panda Wonderful Christmastime, CFTKR Spiced Cranberry, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Balsam & Citrus, Christmas Cabin, Mulled Wine and Plumberry Spice. And that pretty much means the whole darn basket. 

The Bathing Garden- Mr. Cratchit's Cider
The Bathing Garden-Winter Woodland
The Bathing Garden-Plum Ballet
CFTKR- Spiced Orange
CFTKR- Balsam and Citrus
Lasting Scent Candles- Sparkling Wonderland
MooScents- Winter Hearth
MooScents- Kris Kringle 
Vintage Chic Scents- Fezziwig's Christmas Party

The last VCS scent is from my most recent order and will be featured soon. I am currently suffering an upper respiratory infection and my sniffer is not accurate at the moment so any descriptions will have to wait. But if you would like me to review any of these warmed, just holler. 


I cannot believe Christmas is here already. I am going to miss our tree and all the pretty lights. Normally I am quite ok to take everything down and start with a fresh slate. But for once I don't feel like I got to wallow in the festivities like I normally do. I am going to spend the next three days soaking in the season, starting today. 

I had a small giveaway on Instagram and wanted to have one on here too. 


Julia at Arcana Wildcraft donated the entire proceeds from this scent a little boy named Loki. I picked up this bottle to giveaway to a reader. I have not sniffed it (you know... just in case I fall in love and cannot bear to part with it) so it is brand spanking new. 

Loki II- Notes: All of the scents of an irrepressible 8 year old. Grass stains, dirt, blackberry candy, raspberry candy and a hint of white musk. ($25)

If you would like to win this bottle, please comment below with your favorite thing to eat during the holiday. Mine is either the pralines I make every year or the Magic Fudge I make from the back of the Marshmallow Fluff jar. Egg nog. Sugar cookies. Hot cocoa. Those too. 

This year I am making some Pralines and Cream Coffee Cake and I bought the ingredients to tackle cinnamon rolls using yeast and a Tiramisu Yule Log with meringue mushrooms. Wish me luck! And I wish you luck too. The giveaway will close on Christmas night and one winner will be randomly drawn. 

Merry Christmas! See you Monday morning! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Bucket List Wrap-Up


This year's bucket list was comprised of 30 items and I managed to experience 22 of them. 

Some things I accomplished or checked off this year:
- A reading challenge
- NYC
- Some weight loss
- Tent camping
- Build a terrarium
- Give coffee to someone as a random act of kindess
- A mountain necklace
- Make a meal and deliver it to a grandparent
- Atelier candle
- Make bath salts
- Add Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles to my perfume collection
- Bookshelf
- Add Solstice Scents Vanilla Pipe Tobacco to my perfume collection
- Drink more tea
- Get an oxblood lipstick/lip gloss (NARS)
- Climb a mountain (Clingman's Dome)
- Plant herbs 
- Enroll Scarlette back in gynmastics
- Watch Casablanca

I may still get around to making cinnamon rolls with yeast for Christmas, homemade marshmallows and my first ever Yule Log. So I am counting them in order to make sure I make them.

I didn't get around to sewing my Lord of the Rings quilt, yet again. But maybe that is a task for a more mellow year. I also was not able to surprise Adam with a weekend getaway or drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (we were sooooo close!) but I am not counting these as loses, simply things to be done in the future.

Did you set any goals or choose things you wanted to try out or make? Were you able to accomplish any of them? 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Arcana Wildcraft: Winter Layering Perfumes

The following scents were gifted from Julia at Arcana. All reviews are my own thoughts.


Julia stocked her eBay store with the most epic Yule and winter releases and buckwildness ensued. I ordered several from her new Yule creations and several from some past Yule scents she scrounged up from around her shop. Those will be featured later in the month. This line of winter layering perfume oils, however, was a gift and I cannot wait to show them to you. These can be worn on their own or paired up with other scents.

Gingerbread- Notes: Luxe golden ginger, gingerbread, warm ginger cookies and delicately piped icing.
In the bottle, a tiny rare crop of wild North American ginger springs up with gnarly roots and the promise of scrumptious zippy spiced baked goods to come from its fibrous flaxen belly. Once pressed into the flesh, that instantly recognizable confection of gingerbread cookies comes to life. These snappy ginger treats tingle the tongue and nose with their fiery tang, their lemony brightness that splinters like shards of sunlight on the palate, yet the pillowy softness of vanilla and cakes assuage some of the heat. As it dries down the cakes disappear (naturally, I mean how long do cakes stay around anyway? Don't they always get gobbled up with gluttonous glee?) and the woody peppery side of ginger takes center stage of the senses. The long drydown reveals a touch of the other spices in the gingerbread, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, the faithful trio of all things baked and delicious. 

I wore this to work the other day and a student came to sit by me and get some help with their assignment and he immediately asked "what smells like gingerbread?" Well son, that would be me. I smell like gingerbread and Merry Christmas. 


Hot Cocoa- Notes: A rich cocoa CO2 infusion melds with finest dark chocolate and a mug full of fluffy white marshmallows.
A satiny dark chocolate truffle holding a treasure of mocha brownie ganache in its womb rises up to tantalize once the lid is unscrewed from the bottle. Valiantly restraining myself from taking a tipple, I battle my hand to move father away from my eager lips and press it down and away toward my wrist. Once the tempting perfume glazes the skin, the boozy and creamy aroma of chocolate liquor and hot cocoa wends its way into memories of past mugs warming small hands and leaving sweetness behind in a frothy arch that straddles the delicious line between the nose and mouth, the tender strip of naked skin where both smell and taste can meet and join and dance together intimately. As it dries, marshmallows rise to bob on the surface of the steaming hot milk chocolate. The vanilla and chocolate are plush and realistic, frothy and whipped. There is nothing artificial or overwrought about this scent. It is pure and simple, the best homemade hot cocoa you could ever crave. I can see it pairing with Gingerbread perfectly.


Trees- Notes: Jammy fir absolute with sugared pine, earthy black spruce, Canadian fir needle and a touch of Atlas cedarwood.
I own quite a few versions of Julia's evergreen perfumes, yet each one manages to smell as different as the rings inside of different trees.  If any of them relay the authentic scent of a Fraser fir Christmas tree in your home, this is it. Sniffing the vial makes my finger tips sticky with sap and palms prickle with the grasp of verdant stubby needles. On the skin, aromatic cedar wafts up like the heart of hope chests and the hearths of quaint cottages. The cedar lifts away to reveal the evergreens lurking beneath. A Yule tree, a Christmas tree, a tree symbolizing the never sleeping beautiful nature brought into the heart of the home. This is exactly how my home smelled when we brought in our North Carolina Fraser fir and set it in a place of reverence to be lavished with baubles and twinkling lights in a rainbow of colors. Decorated with memories and traditions. Tiny hands and wizened hands, maternal hands and innocent hands all lend their work to honor the tree in festive delight. Wearing this scent brings years of that tradition to mind in an instant. 



Fire- Notes: Scorched black tea leaves, with curls wisps of woodsmoke, Arcana's Holy Terror and a splash of hot toddy.
A witch's brew of inky fermented tea leaves and cauldron smoke burbles to the top of the vial to stimulate the nose. The tea leaves and smoke almost suggest nicotine in their intensity, but on the skin this lessens and does not present so strongly. Licking the skin, the perfume's flames hum warmly of ember and blaze and kindle. Minute cinders fly heavenward from the conflagration to join the stars in the sky and from fiery constellations of their own, temporary but just as beautiful. Ruby gold instead of blue silver. The tea and fire simmer together, twining and flickering, one is more evident first then the other.  One burns brighter then in turn goes dim to allow the other to glow. The smoke is thin veil that enhances the flame and turns the fire softly sweet rather than acrid. I think this is the Holy Terror, as I love that scent and can detect just a trace of its smooth incense. As the fire dwindles and the last living coals pulse, the incense of Holy Terror finishes the fire. 


Snow- Notes: Layers of gourmand vanilla are shot through with ice crystals, coconut sugar and a tiny teacup of polar eggnog.
Coconut cream lies atop a bed of vanilla custard, fresh from the vial. Drenched on the skin, thick cool coquito is served up Puerto Rican style. This latin version of eggnog flows with churned coconut cream. The coquito leans more and more to its coconut origins and soon instead of sipping an eggnog like beverage I am sitting on a beach in Puerto Rico drinking from the fresh brown shell of a coconut. But just briefly, ever so briefly. Then once again, vanilla and coconut emerge but with a creamy musk diaphaneity like the first tender flurries of early winter. Snow would be dreamy with Fire, as it would mimic a hot brew of sweet black tea and milk. 

These perfumes are brilliant and will be a joy to layer among each other and with my other perfumes to lend a festive flair. They run $23 each or the whole set can be purchased for $110 at Arcana Wildcraft's eBay store here. 

Do you wear holiday scents? Do you have any layering combos you love? 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Redolent Mermaid 2017 Reading Challenge: Final Update


Season's Greetings! The last few pages of 2017 are flipping by terribly fast and this book is almost finished, but before 2018 comes down off the shelf to be cracked open to the first page, I wanted to wrap up my reading challenge. 

1. Re-read a beloved book (or series!- give yourself credit for each one you read).
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling*** Yep. It was time. I have the lovely fully illustrated picture book versions and have not had the time to read them yet, so what better time than the holidays? I just started it but I plan on savoring the experience.



2. Art and literature. Graphic novels, art history, comics, even a doodle or two on a Wreck This Journal, as long as art is involved, count it. 
All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater*** This latest installment in Maggie's repertoire chronicles the Soria saints and the pilgrims who flock to them to get their darkness cast aside. Of course there is always a catch, especially if you are a Soria in need of your own cleansing. I continue to be a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan and her writing becomes more and more polished with each book she pens. It counts as art since Maggie designed the cover and painted the artwork within, not to mention the owl doodle. She is too cool. Highly recommend.  

3. Magic. Witches and wizards, fairy courts or simply a story that enchants you.
Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker *** An enchanting tale of two unlikely friends, who also happen to be somewhat magical, and their journey in the Big Apple during the late 1800's-early 1900's. A story of immigration, love and tragedies. 

4. A book gifted or loaned to you.
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs ** The sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, it picks up where the boat drifts off and follows the mad dash through many loops and time periods to save their headmistress in distress. Not quite sure how I felt about the hero honing his newfound peculiar skill so darn fast or a few other nit picks. But it was good.

5. A book that has been in your TBR pile but overlooked time and again. Read it!
Wool by Hugh Howey*** A dystopian novel set somewhere in southeast America in the far (or near?) future where a whole civilization is confined into an underground silo. I really enjoyed the fast pace and the building of suspense but I did feel a touch disconnected with the characters. Still a good fast paced read and I am looking forward to reading the rest in the series.

6. A library find.
Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan ** This is one my daughter requested I read. It was a fun, fast kid angled book about a girl who's parents pass and years later she runs away with a circus, but not just any circus, a space circus full of Tinkers who are battling the Mandate in an effort to help keep individuality. 

7. A book to learn something from. 
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson ** An interesting dive into the cholera epidemic in London in the mid-1800's. Well written and fascinating given the subject matter. 


8. Cool book cover art that lures you in like bait. (Yes, it is fun to judge a book or wine by its cover).
Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie** A hugely symbolic tale of a European traveler heading east to speak with a Mughal Emperor to weave a tale and work some magic. The story is brimming with gilded imagery and painted with words and ideas that will stick with you but the telling can at times be tedious and overwrought. 

9. A story that takes you to another place and time, real or imagined.
Wormwood by G. P. Taylor * A sci-fi thriller that tracks the coming of the comet Wormwood to London in 1756. The religious overtones are obvious. It just didn't thrill me like I could have. 



10. A book from a favorite author that you haven't gotten around to reading yet.
Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling*** I was prepared to not like this given the bad press and word of mouth I had heard, but taken as its own book, I loved it. It is a darkly humorous tale of small town life and the politics that surround it. There are deep and stony moments of seriousness that touch on hot topics but enough awkward and humor filled moments to keep it from being bleak. I very much enjoyed it.

11. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title.
Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard** A fantasy novel of a kingdom embattled with tyrant neighboring countries who have the heft of dragons on their side and how once dead magic is beginning to bloom again. This book has a sweet love story but it is mostly a fast YA read for when you want some fluff reading. Nothing deep or heavy, just good old fashioned dragons and kingdoms with a kick butt cover art.

12. A memoir.
Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner*** Hemingway seems to have been kinda a dick in his past, especially with women. Granted, I didn't know the man and only have what I have read to go by. This story illuminated some of Ernest's past through the lens of an adoring friend and co-worker who watched from the 
sidelines. 



13. A fluff read. (Easy, fast, or cheesy).
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews *** A story that follows Kate Daniels, a magic and sword wielding heroine of the first book Magic Bites (see #18 below) through Atlanta, Georgia. This time in search of whomever is taking a murderous advantage of the fast approaching magic flare. Good gosh I am loving this series. 

14. A Steinbeck, Hemingway or John D. MacDonald creation or book about one of them or inspired by one of them.
Not Completed. My only fail on this challenge. Maybe next time!

15. A scarlet hued tome.
Poison Apples by Lily Archer * Three (four? sorry it has been a while) high school girls unite to terrorize their new and much hated step-mothers. I could not get on board. It was a fast read but just not fleshed out. The book looked cool though.

16. The next in a series you have read.
Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon *** Can I give 4 stars? Because... Outlander. This is the most recent installment and I savored every moment back with my beloved characters and their adventures. Roger and Bree looking for their son back in 1980ish, Jamie and Claire avoiding the American Revolution as best as they can, Lord John, William, Ian and more. The whole cast was there and alive for me once again. That ending though.... tears, tears, tears.

17. A tale that takes place during a war.
A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin*** A tale set during WWII (possibly) that felt similar to Chronicles of Narnia but still very much its own story of the fairy realm and how it interacts with the mundane world. There is a boy who has to live with his grandmother while the war is on and she shares her secret garden  with him and the mystical puzzle it presents. 

18. Female heroine triumphant. 
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews *** The first in a nice and fat series about Kate Daniels, a tough magically inclined mercenary that fights baddies in a much changed, futuristic Atlanta. This first book tackles a particular brand of baddie looking to eat the women-folk and breed. This series reminds me of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files, which I love. Funny, easy to read and I am already shipping creatures. 

19. A European setting.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro ** A medieval tale that takes place just after King Author has passed away, in the land of the Britons verses the Saxons. A fog has come over the land causing the people to forget. And old couple catches glimpses of their life, and son, before the fog and are determined to find him. A story that deals with the bliss of ignorance verses the pain of knowing. 

20. Female authored.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware *** A fast paced page turner revolving around a journalist who thinks she witnessed a murder and the lengths gone to convince her otherwise. Perfect for poolside or beach summer reading. Thrilling. 

21. Paranormal or supernatural phenomenon.
Green Heart by Alice Hoffman*** This was actually two books in one Green Angel and Green Witch. Both follow the life of a young girl who grows up quickly after the death of her parents and sister and the ways she deals with the grief and pain. 

22. A book to make you belly laugh, guffaw or snort and chuckle along the way.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood** A cute children's series that follows a trio of orphans who have been (probably) raised by wolves and are under the care of a young nanny who loves them in the service of a husband and wife who rather don't. A cute story that made for a light hearted read.


23. A book that will be a movie, you read, then watch. Preferably with friends then you can chat about how much better then book was (unless it was Maze Runner, then the movie was better).
The Orient Express by Agatha Christie*** With all the hubbub of the movie coming out I decided it was time I read the book. I picked this one up at The Strand in NYC and I read it rather quickly. It is a classic "who done it" mystery with some wonderful characters and a nice twist ending. 

24. A book with words in it. That should cover it.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler ** An accounting of the southern belle turned international high society life of Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the many triumphs and tragedies they faced. Slow paced at first, then it gains momentum.

Overall I am thrilled with the progress I made and the books I read. I still have many on my bookshelf to read but that is why I love reading challenges, they keep me motivated to keep reading. I did meet my GoodReads Challenge of 30 books this year and actually passed it and read 40 so far. I may still yet squeeze a few more in before 2018 hits.


I plan on creating another reading challenge for next year. Or maybe I will find one I like instead. Do you set reading goals? Do you plan on trying to read more, less or the same for next year? What one book is a must read that you discovered this year?