Take time for Harry Potter? Always.

Amidst the anxious excitement over plans for upcoming trips, continual vendor haul posts and countless exhilarating store openings, a gentle reminder was needed. A reminder to myself that what feeds the soul, truly feeds my soul, is immaterial. It cannot be bought, nor won, can neither be checked off a list, nor added to a planner agenda. In fact, it’s difficult to capture at all in writing and photos. What fills my soul is connection; to friends, to family, community, and (introvert that I am) even to beloved characters from books and movies held so dear. Perhaps the universe provided the opportunity to reconnect without me even realizing it was needed. However manifested…I am grateful.

Reconnecting with community occurred last weekend at our high school’s musical (which happened to be High School Musical). My husband is a teacher, but outside of Speech and Debate related functions, I’m not in touch with many local families. It was nice to reminisce about how these teenagers have grown and to catch up with a few former coworkers. I tend to forget too easily about the community ties that exist and have sustained through the years, especially in the smallish town where we live. I left feeling somewhat abashed for too often residing in my own world, but also touched, and with a renewed esteem for many fellow community members.


Connecting with a friend and revisiting a beloved fandom came by an invitation, of sorts, to Hogwarts. My good friend got us tickets to the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Film Concert series performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.


I hadn’t heard of these CineConcerts before which blend live music and visual media. But if my love for the world of Harry Potter and classical music wasn’t enough reason to attend, then the rare occasion of getting dolled up to enjoy a lovely dinner and night out with a friend certainly was.

The concert format featured the orchestra playing live, all of the music that was recorded in the film, while the movie was projected with dialogue and subtitles onto a gigantic screen. The conductor had a flat screen on his podium which flashed varying lights in conjunction to the climactic movie moments. The music was heart-stirring. I especially enjoyed watching the frenzied Quidditch match performance, and of course had chills during John Williams’ Hedwig’s Theme.


If you’ve ever attended a viewing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show“, in which crowd participation is expected, and raucous, this was, in comparison, a tamer experience. One can’t sing along to instrumentals but there was quite a bit of cheering and a few choice comments from the sold out audience. Most vocal reactions were to the first screen appearances of fan favorites, Hagrid and Snape, with hearty cheering, and some booing as the Hogwarts houses were announced. The crowd in my section was conspicuously hipster, with clouds of patchouli scents wafting all around. It made me smile however, to see many gray-haired fans alongside young ones wrapped in their Hufflepuff scarves.

Speaking of Hogwarts houses, have I ever mentioned that I’m a Slytherin? Of course, my librarian side is Ravenclaw and back when I took the Pottermore beta test, that’s the House I was sorted into. I don’t consider it to be the definitive test since everyone knows that when you answer intelligence to what you value most, you’ll be Ravenclaw.

Many years ago, I took the comprehensive 100 question quiz in which I must have attempted to skew my answers to Ravenclaw, causing my true nature to come out, hence Slytherin. Ah well, if it is so, there are a handful of soulful Slytherins too plus my husband and many friends are Hufflepuff, so they keep me in check.

As much as I would love to indulge in the merry merchandise of all things HP, its just not feasible. I daydream over the International translations of the books, but what I currently own are an incomplete set of library cast-offs. The illustrated editions are exceedingly gorgeous, so I plan to keep requesting those as presents.

Here sits my humble Harry Potter shelf.20170326_191237.jpgAll of the items were gifted except the darling character bookmarks from Happy Hello Co. I’m too much of a bookmark geek to pass those up. The framed quote was made by a student and the stick-like wand is a real stick, fashioned and painted into a wand presented to me by my nephew when he was nine.

The Funko Pops were stocking stuffers and though I want a few more, I must be selective due to space. My husband knew Harry with Hedwig and Fred Weasley were musts!

The Half-Blood Prince is pulled out because that’s the book I’m currently into from the series. I started it a while ago, but that’s a story for another day.

Any HP collectors out there with beloved items to share? Strong opinions on which Funkos I should get next? Would you attend a CineConcert? Apparently they tackle a wide range, from Star Trek to It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m looking forward to attending another in this series sometime. Until then it’s good to know the fandom continues to change and grow.


Wax Haul-Sassy Girl Aroma

20170322_131342I had a plan, a wax purchasing plan whereby, I was only going to order from one larger and one smaller vendor each month. Fulfilling my desire for irresistible restocks while not going overboard, and allowing me to save extra spending money for my New York City trip in June without feeling deprived.

It started off swimmingly with my spring The Bathing Garden order promptly on March 1st and my fave smaller vendor House of Phoebe restocking mid-month. Then this happened. I was lounging one morning wondering what to do with my Saturdays now that speech season is over, when I caught wind of a Sassy Girl Aroma restock through fellow IG accounts. SGA is a vendor I’ve wanted to order from and whose wax I’d been gifted, but the scent list is of the overwhelming variety and I hadn’t looked up any blends. Telling myself there’s no harm in ‘just perusing’, I remembered reading of her shaving cream scents and used the shop search function to find one. A few choices were sold out just five minutes after the restocking, but when I found a loaf in Blue Sugar Shaving Cream, my wax plan was a distant memory.

Second only to shaving cream is my love of Pink Sugar types. I purchased 2 bakery chunk bags between 9-9.5 oz. based on weight, costing $9.95 each.

Pink Sugar/Serene Waters/Rainforest Sugarcane


Fragrance: I can say without shame that I’ve deeply sniffed the contents of this bag for over 5 full minutes. One of the most satisfying and interesting fragrances that’s come across my nose. I believe PS/RFS is a popular SGA blend, but I’m not sure if it originated with this shop or elsewhere.

The initial note bursting forth in all it’s spring glory is the wild mint of the Serene Waters, the last note my palate registers is the fresh lime. Everything in between? Lush, dripping rain-soaked vegetation. Exotic blooms, green palm leaves swaying in a warm breeze, dewy water lilies floating in sun-dappled pools; suggesting a dreamy aquatic botanical garden.

This refreshing initial fragrance dissolves into the cotton candy, lemon drops, caramel and raspberry jam sweetness of its Pink Sugar base. The playful pink sugar lingers and envelops the room.

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I’m remarkably taken with this distinctive green sea scent that isn’t grassy, but juicy and succulent.

Performance: medium strength for 4 hours before fading to light. SGA fans recommend curing the wax for a while before enjoying, which I will do, but couldn’t wait to try one of each blend first.

Pink Sugar/Lavender Mist


Fragrance: Lavender Mist description- calming and clean, smooth with a touch of morning dew and sweet apple blossom, slightly herbal European floral.

I wouldn’t describe this lavender as very herbal in nature. I found it sweet and silky soft. The misty element really makes this a special house blend, soothing and romantic. When swirled with fluffy pink sugar, it’s bound to transmit me into sweet dreams.


Performance: light-medium but with a two room radius, a perfectly performing background fragrance.

Blue Sugar Shaving Cream  One large 16-17 oz. loaf was $18.75


My shaving cream adoration is probably well known by now, but I love it best when mixed with other fresh aromas.

Fragrance: combined with Blue Sugar, it may be a perfect match for the tangy, almost mouthwatering zestiness of the crisp bergamot and clean amber talcum of this barbershop blend.

The warmth and resinous woods of the spicy Blue Sugar enhance the already rich manly shaving cream, elevating it to a doubly divine scent. I may have to get my husband some of this Blue Sugar cologne, it’s a sexy beast.

Performance: medium-strong throw.


Just look at those wax chunks, no skimping whatsoever.*

I will note the texture seemed crumblier than others I’ve tried. That and the amount of chunkage made it a tricky wax cutting job. Numerous chunks got in the way of even slicing, causing the overpour to break apart when cutting through. I probably should have microwaved it for a few seconds, but I’ll have to consider this before purchasing another chunk-filled loaf. For now, I just threw the broken bits back into the sealed bag, it would be a crime to waste a single crumb.

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No regrets for this detour from the plan. Finding three amazing affordably priced new blends was well worth it. I hope that SGA’s growing popularity doesn’t result in continual stress-filled competitive restocks. It would be nice to have an accessible vendor with this level of quality.

Windy City Wicks- Disney Duo


I couldn’t resist a short Beauty and the Beast related post as I haven’t been this excited for a fandom movie in I don’t even know how long. As much as I’d have liked to attend on opening weekend, there’s some schedule coordination involved amongst my family, but we plan to see it soon. Belle’s story was an overlooked Disney fairy-tale when I was growing up, my favorite was always Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, however, I appreciate Belle’s princess origins much more as an adult. I saw the touring stage production last year and am enthralled by the music and characters’ tragic stories. Not to mention the stellar cast featured in the film; Emma, Dan and Ewan, be still my British-loving heart.

Not a true Disney World devotee, preferring Universal Studios instead, I usually skip past wax vendors who feature all the Disney scent tie-ins. I don’t know what the inside of the Grand Floridian hotel smells like, nor have I had a Dole pineapple whip, I would certainly try one, though.

Windy City Candle Wicks is one such vendor that specializes in Disney themed goods. In anticipation of the BatB movie release, I was gifted some cute merch including melts from this shop which I saved for this weekend.

Main Street Confectionery- Take a walk down Main Street USA at Walt Disney World and stop in the Confectionery, you are sure to be greeted with the delightful aroma of sugar, vanilla and cotton candy.

This was actually my niece’s clamshell, but she didn’t care for the scent so she passed it along to me. (She has a discerning taste which seems to only allow vanilla, strawberry and pumpkin.)


As I’ve turned into a pink sugar disciple in all it’s forms lately, I happily warmed this up. Strangely, the overriding aroma is a too tart chalky scent. Very much like crushed up baby aspirin and bubble gum. Once warmed awhile the sticky top notes dissipate into a tolerable fruitiness, but without the light sweet spun sugar presence; these strawberries have gone sour.

One cube gave a medium-strong throw, but I soon changed it out. I do appreciate the note the vendor provides stating her wax performs well in Scentsy warmers. I find so few soy brands that do. These are 3 oz. soy wax for $ 4.oo ea.

Be Our Guest-Straight off the dessert menu at Disney’s “Be our Guest” restaurant comes the strawberry cream cheese cupcake. With scents of vanilla sponge cake, strawberry mousse filling and cream cheese icing.

Fruity and bakery are not my favored melts, yet this smells delicious on cold. Swirls of strawberry cream layered on a base of delectable moist, fluffy yellow cake. The cream cheese icing is not sour, providing a richly glazed finish.

Light to medium strength, I added a second cube, enjoying this scent more than the notes gave me reason to predict. It’s not an authentic berry nor a fresh from the oven homemade cake note, however, it’s a decent stand-in. And what I presume a Disney World cupcake might taste like. This melt is currently sold out online, but available in candles.

Fitting for a Beauty and the Beast inspired fragrance, by melting these, I’m reminded that you can’t always judge a scent by its outward description and appearance.

Any favorite Disney fragrances of yours, real or inspired? Which hero/heroine do you admire most?




Spring scents & suds

The irony of posting about spring scents today is not lost on me as my area sits blanketed under a half foot of snow that’s been falling since Monday night. It looks more like winter around here than all of January and February put together. Still, what better time to daydream of throwing the windows open and letting in the scents of spring?

I had a request to review recent Bath and Body Works‘ soap purchases that I may or may not have needed. This is my first gentle foaming hand soap review, here goes:

Beautiful Blue Skies– Dewy blossoms, a kiss of citrus & sheer driftwood. Most unique of the bunch that smells sweeter when opening the bottle than it does in use. A pleasing mix of citrus is the forward scent softened by a rain-kissed floral, my kind of bouquet. I detect lemony notes and possibly orange blossom.

While not alcohol fumed, or soapy smelling at all, this scent doesn’t linger on the hands after use except for the gentlest citrus kiss.

French Lavender– a soothing blend of fresh lavender with hints of amber. B&BW’s does lavender well and this is no exception. Smells as realistic as if you’ve crushed lavender buds in your hands. Slightly woody but not overly so, I enjoy the powdery finish from the amber. The longest lasting afterward, it was nice to smell the lavender when lifting my hands to my face 30 minutes later.

Pretty Pink Peony– Blushing peony, jasmine petals & sandalwood. I prefer sweeter peony to headier rose fragrance. This scent carries a strong sugar note in the bottle but has an elegance to it. The most fragrant blooms are present as the lather hits warm water, however, the scent dissipates before the bubbles are down the drain. Wish it lingered a little on the skin.

Cool Coconut Colada– Creamy coconut, lime granita & spun sugar. Yummy! Reminiscent of a frozen Pina Colada, substituting lime rind instead of pineapple. I would love to have this scent in wax, and in a cocktail. Similar to, but not the same as the popsicle label version from last year, due to the addition of lime; perfect for summer. CCC lasted 2nd longest on my skin, with a touch of coconut present a few minutes after.

There was another soap sale this weekend, but I have a little stash going already, so I didn’t partake. I’m still working my way through my Winter bottles, tucking these away for warmer months. My favorite of the festive season scents is hands down VMM:

Very Merry Meringue– Whipped lemon meringue, glazed sugar & a hint of vanilla. Not usually a fan of lemon sugar scents, this one is a perfect balance of sweet cream, tangy crystal citrus and decadent vanilla. It brings me back to a lemon dessert I had in childhood, that I just can’t place. Gorgeous and long lasting fragrance.


Spring first edition scents by Yankee Candle:

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Emerald Isle– Top:Fresh Meadow, Mid:Green Tea, Wood Anemone, Base:Musk. For me, these notes don’t represent Emerald Isle’s warmed fragrance well. It’s bursting with juicy grapefruit and a reedy green leaf, the likes found around marshes more than meadows. There is a crispness from the green tea and a complexity to it. Much more than just a fresh, or fruity scent. I’m happy YC broke away from the grassy Lucky Shamrock they’ve done forever, it gave me a headache.

These melt cups have a fragrance life of approximately 24 hours. This throws medium, with alternating notes present.

Honey Lavender Gelato– Top:Blackberry,   Mid:Lavender, Base:Vanilla Cream, Honey. On first impression, a toothy gelato; on second, sweet lavender; but warmed, very, very berry. Like many, I was freaking over this scent when previewed, but it didn’t deliver anything special.

Essentially, it’s berries and cream. At least blackberry is my jam, of the jammy scents. My tart threw medium-strong. A nice berry variant but I wished for so much more.

(Let me know if anyone wants a review of any of the rest.)

Yankee released a second spring edition a month ago which I haven’t yet purchased from, but I’m excited for one that I sniffed, Black Sand Beach. Now I’m waiting for just the right sale.

Which new spring scents are you falling for? Have you tried the new Paradise soaps collection? Hope you’re all well and warm if in this snow storm.

The Goat Milk Soap store-vendor feature


I never take baths; feel free to exit now Lush lovers. No wait, come back! I did take a bubble bath for this post. I should clarify that I rarely indulge in a relaxing soak. When gifted some bath bombs for Christmas, however, I realized I was long overdue, by about 7 years. What then brought about the planetary array of bath fizzies above?

A friend found these bombs when shopping on a trip to Louisville and included them in a pampering present.


As I looked into the brand, I liked what I saw. From the Goat Milk Soap Store’s Home page: We are a family run and owned farm started in 2014. Thirsty Creek Ranch is home to LaMancha dairy goats, free ranged chickens…Goat Milk Cheeses and numerous farm grown fruits and vegetables. Located in old apple country of the Kansas countryside, we have a small orchard…We offer farm fresh eggs and our own line of Goat Milk Soap, Goat Milk Lotion and Lip Butters.”

They even have a “Meet the Milk” page featuring pics of the goats and their personalities; my favorite’s Peanut. This is the kind of small business it feels good to support. Perusing the online offerings, I discovered a bulk buy deal and as I was in the market for additions to some gifts, it was too good to pass up. I especially enjoyed the amount of variety when ordering.

I used the buy 10 regular bombs and receive $5 off discount. At $2.60 per bomb, I got 10 for $21.00. The Goat Milk Soap Store  offers free shipping on orders over $50. This shipped for $8.95 and arrived 2 days after ordering!


The one drawback was the bombs were rolling around the large box without any packing material (I added the crinkle paper for photo purposes). They weren’t any worse from their travel however, as none came broken or dented.

After enduring a recent fractured sacrum flare-up, my tailbone ached for consolation. The Stress Relief bomb was just what my body needed.


As it turned out, our tub valve wasn’t closing properly, possibly due to many years of neglect. A rubber stopper was procured and plugged the drain nicely, but I lost a bit of hot water before I realized the tub wasn’t filling up. Lesson learned, always be prepared with complete working parts before bath photo shoot commences.

Fragrance: Stress Relief is an earthy eucalyptus/spearmint combination. At the risk of being cliché here, when I sunk into the water, the tension truly began melting away. I could tell by sniffing through the wrapper, this scent was an intoxicating herbal brew. Not a cool, bracing eucalyptus, more of a soothing vegetal fragrance.


Performance: Even without prior bath bomb experience, this was a disappointment. I held the orb afloat for a few seconds as the fizzy effect generated, but once I let go it sank and never recaptured the initial effervescence. This photo shows the diminishing bubbles after retrieving it from the bottom of the tub. Apologies for the quality, I had one that showed the saturated color but must have deleted it. Major props to all Lush swirl photographers, because it was not easy.

Once dissolved, the color payoff was a serene aqua hue, providing the look of floating in a tranquil lagoon. And the ingredients turned the water and my skin silky smooth. On a scale of 1 to Lush, I’d rate the color a 3.

But the bubbles are where this fizzer really fizzled. Completely used up in around 40 seconds meant a bit of a letdown. I’m guessing I could have produced more with a little plastic wand and some dish soap. On a scale of 1 to Lush, it ranks a weak 2.*


That mega size there, the sun to my solar system, I got for my niece’s birthday. The XL bombs are supposed to fizz longer. At $5.95, it’s humungous, fruit loop scented and holds a surprise bath toy inside. No word yet on what floaty friend was revealed. I can say that my niece was pretty excited, and said she couldn’t wait to try them. I gifted the birthday cake bomb too, to seal the cool aunt deal.

I’m satisfied with my GMSS products and especially enjoy the variety and fragrances. As for the rest of my order, lavender/rosemary, watermelon and citrus smell enticing. Ultimately, I’m not converted into a ritual bather, yet. Maybe if I had a larger tub.

*Update: The owners of The Goat Milk Soap Store contacted me after posting (and are just the sweetest by the way) to let me know why their bombs don’t float. Due to the amount of cocoa and shea butter used, the specific gravity is heavier than water and will never float. The trade off is a deliciously moisturizing bath, however. They also informed me they chose not to use SLSA chemicals which create the foaming action in Lush bath bombs. I was so grateful for this added information and am always happy when I get feedback from the vendors I feature. That sound level of customer service will keep me coming back.






The Purple Fox Wax pre-order haul


I don’t know an awful lot about this vendor other than the owner, Pontip, has been in business for over a year and expanded from an etsy shop to a website, and that Purple Fox Wax is an extremely popular brand on Instagram. So popular I’ve yet to attempt the Hunger Wax Games restocks that usually occur because from what I can tell, items sell out quickly. I do appreciate that PFW often restocks on Sundays, which is obligation free for me and I appreciate her first preorder opportunity even more.

The early January preorder offered 16 oz. diamond shaped embedded wax loaves at $21.50 and 5 oz. diamond embedded pies at $6.75 in limited scent choices. Pies were my best option because all of the scents were untested to me. Shipping was flat-rate $9.75 and had a 6-8 week TAT. Pontip’s regular rotation typically includes clamshells and gorgeous geometric wax bars.

Diamond pies:

Black Amber-sweet ozone warmed with Egyptian amber, vanilla musk and sandalwood.


Amber is my comfort scent, making this top of my preorder list. There are powdery rich spicy ambers, which I love, and clearer less musky types, which I also love. Black Amber is the crystal clear kind, it has a sharp top note that sweetens to a light golden essence. The ozonic note is ultra sweet and contains the sheerest floral tone.

My favorite on cold didn’t deliver as I’d hoped when warmed. I started with approx 1 oz, but added more until the scent began to bloom after an hour. I wish the amber, musk and sandalwood were all punched up two notches, but it’s still a unique amber that offers a nice clean choice for any perfume-phobic melters.

Pillow Mint- fresh peppermint and vanilla with a hint of lavender. This was the 3rd most popular preorder scent.


Pure creamy buttermint, just like the soft pillowy pastel after-dinner kind that melts onto your tongue and causes polar puffs of exhalation. Pillow Mint is better in fact, with extra mintiness. The throw became present after 30 minutes and crescendoed for a few hours in which I even faintly smelled it downstairs on our lower level.

There wasn’t any lavender whatsoever upon melting, but it could be present in one of the purple diamond embeds which I haven’t melted yet. I believe I’ll mix it up with some lavender wax to see what kind of combo it makes.

Either with or without more lavender, I’ll be repurchasing this sweetie again.


Dark Matter- midsummer’s night type, blue sugar with hints of peppermint.

Dark and mysterious sounding, I chose DM because I love masculine aromas and I read some rave reviews on Instagram. He is a beaut of a cologne fragrance rather than a beast, but I’ll be setting this pie aside for a giveaway I’m holding in the next few months.


Small gem samples:


Tobacco Spring-tobacco rosemary mint

Similar to an irish spring soap on cold sniff, but not as pungent. I enjoyed this better melted, the blend has crispness without overplaying the sudsy note. A light and refreshing throw with a hint of minty finish, I only wish a smoky tobacco was more pronounced. When sniffed up close, however, I got a mustiness that didn’t lay well, possibly the tobacco leaf. Don’t think I’ll purchase.


For Fox Sake-a Purple Fox fruity blend with cotton candy.

Stop the presses, I have found a fruity berry scent that I love! It could be the spun sugar softness that takes the edge off the berries; bright raspberry and possibly strawberry, if so, one of the only vendor strawberries I’ve enjoyed.

A more natural and juicy from the vine and less candy-like fragrance makes it a winner to me. I think this scent will rock many Purple Fox lover’s worlds.

No word on PFW’s next restock. Pontip might need a break after this epic presale. I’m excited for larger amounts of For Fox Sake and have a few others in mind, so I’ll be watching for one.

Any pre-sale orders coming down the pike for you? I’m scouting one more order this month and just went in on a Rosegirls pre-order today (my first), I do believe I’m ready for some spring scents.

Book challenge update/scent pairings


The most enjoyable book (audio actually) I read last year was The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner. Just announced as the winner of the William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. I recommend it as a modern, if sentimental, coming of age in the south story of friendship.

Unfortunately, The Serpent King was one of two bright spots in a personally horrible literary year. Seeking to reignite my reading fire and elevate my choices this year, I entered the Redolent Mermaid’s reading challenge for 2017.

Off to a shaky start, I juggled 3 books at once, delaying the completion of any of them. You may assume being a library specialist makes me a fast reader, sadly, not so. My powers of concentration aren’t what they used to be, often taking me longer to get through most books than it does many of my patrons. Alas, I waded through a few and am currently on my fourth.

*My reviews are for editorial purposes only, book critic I am obviously not.

20. Female authored-

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, published 2016. Described as “a fever dream” this brief story features a young African-American girl from Tennessee replanted in Brooklyn in the 1970s.


Woodson writes in memories and memory lapses, so that the reader is spinning, shifting through the storyline on unsure footing. Alternating between a punch to the gut softened by splashes of warmth and humanity, the writing is bare, sparse, and spare. Drifting through the protagonist’s broken memories meant I didn’t really experience or understand the supporting characters. Her best friends, brother and father felt like strangers. Real human beings portrayed in the unreality of snippets of memory, I was never pulled into the story.

The interesting takeaway was that everyone in Woodson’s Brooklyn dreamed of living in better places. If you’re looking for a feel-good read, keep looking. If looking for diverse, LGBT-authored, I lukewarmly recommend it.

21. Paranormal or supernatural-
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, published 2013.
For the purpose of the reading challenge, I put the G+J into the supernatural phenomenon category. Cataloged as Fantasy, a more appropriate description is Folklore, or a sort of Historical/ Fantasy hybrid. Unlike anything I’ve read before, I predict it will be the best book I’ll pick up this year. I dare say the best I’ve read in a decade, but while still feeling the post-read pull on the heartstrings it’s too early to say.
Told through seamless multiple narratives, The Golem and the Jinni is a story about legends, good versus evil, the nature of humanity, whose main characters don’t qualify as human. Set in late 19th century New York City, a tale of lost souls seeking friendship, love, community, freedom and acceptance while navigating two different cultures, Jewish and Syrian.
Reviewer William Schwab said, “a good book answers questions you didn’t know you should ask.” Reading this brought forth so many questions: Can people rise above their nature, or are they destined to fulfill it? Which has greater value, one’s duty or self-determination, safety or freedom? What does it mean to be truly free? What is a purposeful life? Who is worth one’s faith and devotion and at what cost? My personal favorite dilemma these characters struggled with; should great knowledge be sacrificed for happiness? 
Never have I read a story containing so many unforeseen and unpredictable developments that I nonetheless knew was barreling toward it’s inevitable conclusion. This is Wecker’s debut novel, researched and written over 7 years and I hope that she carries on. No encounter was wasted, no character or detail superfluous, not a single word. With visceral imagery and impeccable pacing, even at 484 pages I felt I was leaving the Golem and Jinni’s world too soon. I perceive I’ll continue to live with the memorable Chava and Ahmad, the thoughtful rabbi, solitary Arbeely, good Michael Levy, caring Maryam and the fateful Ice cream Saleh a little while longer though, I’m not ready to give them up.
 At the suggestion of my buddy Sandra, who’s been pairing her challenge reads with nail art, I will tie in fragrances inspired by a few of mine.
The Jinni – a character both “dazzling and dangerous”, fiery and impulsive, is represented by Bright Copper Kettles from Yankee’s My Favorite Things collection. Jinni’s skill at metalsmithing was an integral part of the story and a fitting choice. Cinnamon bark, and spicy clove cast an inviting spell while patchouli and cedarwood radiate the warmth of home.
The Golem -tougher to choose, I rejected a baked bread scent for one elemental and earthy. Silver Birch, with ozone, Siberian pine, clove, eucalyptus and patchouli fit nicely. Leaning masculine, it represents the strong, stoic Golem, with a steady even throw to it as well. The beautiful birch tree label symbolizes all of the nights wandering the parks.
11. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title.
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase published 2016 (audio book)
 A dual narrative flipping between 1960s and present-day Cornwall and the happenings and mishaps occurring at the Alton family’s stately title home. Though a rabbit graces the intriguing book cover, the animals play a minor indirect and unlucky role.
Both premise and character introductions were promising, but the story became disappointing fairly early on. The audio narrator didn’t help as I found myself rolling my eyes at the developing melodrama. Our modern heroine Lorna, initially likeable, came across quite selfish and petulant by the conclusion. The tragic Amber’s flashbacks, though a more stimulating story, began to read like teenage diary entries. There was also a Flowers-In-The-Attic undercurrent happening and if you’ve read it and that’s your thing, then BRH may be for you. I read it as a pre-teen and am not looking for V.C. Andrews read-alikes at this point in life. The revelations and predictable subsequent revelations weren’t worthwhile enough for the rest of the plot. I recommend any of Kate Morton’s novels instead, far better at untangling old family secrets.
Happy Reading friends, send any thoughts and recommendations, I vow to read better in 2017.