The Oncoming Storm

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Tea of the Day: The Oncoming Storm by Dryad Tea

Description: Dark and full of bold flavor and a deep thoughtfulness. There is a promise of a storm on the horizon with this tea

Dry tea smells berry-sweet but with a rich zing

Liquor is a dark red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells sharper than the dry, a bit like damp earth, but still sweet.

The tea has a sweetness to it, but it is not timid, the flavor fills the whole mouth and lingers after it’s swallowed. I could easily just drink it without sugar, but I added a bit just to see. That little bit of sugar really made the berry flavor pop and also allows you to really taste the earthiness you can smell. Quite possibly my new favorite tea

Tea Rating: 5/5


Book Review: A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage.

Back of the book blurb:

From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.
Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

The Review:

I picked this book up because the cover caught my eye, as covers are meant to do. I brought it home with me because the premise seemed interesting, a take on history I had not previously considered. Plus, two of the six beverages (coffee and tea) I drink daily so I knew I’d enjoy at least a third of the book.

I was right, and also wrong.

Rather than just enjoying a third of the book, I enjoyed the whole thing. Honestly, my only complaint is that when it gets to the modern era, its facts are from 2004 or earlier. This is not a failing of the author; the version I read was published in 2006. The book so thoroughly caught my attention, though, that I found myself wondering if the trend of influence has continued since that point, and what might have changed.

Because this book is not a fiction novel, not much can be said about the plot or characters. However, it is not dry or boring by any means. It frames the history of the world in a way that is more relatable than your “normal” history book. It’s something like Connections by James Burke, albeit more focused.

One thing to note, though: this book will make you thirsty for whatever beverage you’re reading about!

Book Rating: 5/5

Bigfoot

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Tea of the Day: Bigfoot: A blend by Ariel Taylor with Adagio Teas

Description: Wooly limbs among a thicket of berries–rooibos berry with Pu-erh hazelberry and rooibos almond.

Dry tea smells strongly of berries followed by a earthier, richer smell.

Liquor is a lovely deep red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells like berries and chocolate, with a nutty flavor to it.

Tea Tastes first of berries, followed by a richer, nuttier flavor. Sugar is not needed but does not hurt; it simply changes the dynamic of the flavors, making the berry flavor and nut flavors stronger and slightly more blended.

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


Book Review: Wicked deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole

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Back of the book blurb: This seductive paranormal series continues with a brutal Highland werewolf and an exquisite young witch, adversaries with a blood vendetta between them.
Her breathless kiss haunts him…
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.
His slow, hot touch is irresistible…
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.
No deed is too wicked for her seduction…
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

The review: 

What I didn’t like: Not a whole lot, actually. Of course, I could complain about the somewhat formulaic nature of the book (the couple is thrown together, they have conflict, they resolve it, they’re in love) but there are two things that stay that particular complaint: the story isn’t quite that simple and the characters are just too interesting

What I did like: Everything. I feel like as the series goes on, the underlying story that ties everything together gets more and more interesting, and that lends a complexity to each book’s story that you wouldn’t expect from a romance series. Plus, as the story gets more complex the characters also seem to get more relatable. This novel had a slower burn on the romance aspect of the story, for very good reasons, and it was absolutely worth the wait. Plus, I accidentally read about half of it twice due to misplacing the book and its bookmark, but I found that having read it before took nothing away from it. So far in the series, this and the previous one are my favorites and I will very likely be reading them again.

Book Rating: 5/5. If you haven’t started this series yet (and you like romance), get on it!

Tolstoy’s Samovar

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Tea of the Day: Tolstoy’s Samovar by the London Tea Room

Description: Our tribute to Russian tea, named after our favourite Russian author. Caravans would transport tea on the long journey from Russia to China, and the smoke from the nightly campfires would infuse into the tea, giving it a distinct smokey flavor reminiscent of a mild Lapsang Souchong.

The dry tea smells savory and smokey, something like lapsang souchong. There is a hint of green tea smell, and looking in the blend you can see tightly furled green leaves, like with gunpowder tea.

Liquor is a deep amber in the cup.

Steeped tea smells smokey like the dry, but slightly sweeter

Te tastes smokey with sharp-sweet aftertaste without sugar. Adding sugar makes it oddly astringent, but if you add milk the tea becomes much less harsh. It’s a savory interesting tea that does best either black or with milk and sugar, which is not something I see very often.

Tea Rating: 3.5/5


Today, helping out my lovely fellow blogger by doing a guest review.

The Book: High Summons by Eli Celata

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Back of the book blurb: “Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.”

The Review:

What I didn’t like: First off, this is not a stand-alone novel. This is not usually a problem for me as I often enjoy reading about the same characters or the same world for several books, but certain aspects of how High Summons was written made it a little off-putting. The novel felt a bit rushed like we’re asked to care about the main character (also the narrator) before we really get a chance to know him. I also felt that a couple of the supporting characters did not get developed until near the end of the book, which is a bit of a disservice to some interesting characters. These two things make it so I was left with a feeling like if I want to get a good sense of the people I kinda have to immediately jump into the next book.
What I did like: Though the book jumps somewhat jarringly right into the nitty-gritty of things, I did like the pace of the book. The author was quite descriptive but wove those descriptions into the story so that things flowed pretty smoothly. I would also like to go visit Rochester (where the story is set) just to see if I could identify any of the places from the book. This was also a take on magic and demons that I have not read before, which immediately makes this novel stand out and it was explained in such a way that made it clear but not dull. The supporting characters are interesting, even for the small amount of time spent on them.My favorite character who is not the narrator gets introduced near the end of the story but his introduction makes him really stand out. I also appreciate the setting being very modern, with his mentor even doing most things (such as getting around town) in a very normal way.  I am inclined to keep reading the series to find out more about the narrator’s friends at least as much as I’m interested in his story!
Final verdict: 3.5, rounded up to 4, because I really feel like this was a good series start but the story would have benefited from being a bit longer if only to give full justice to all the characters.

 

Dover Demon

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Tea of the Day: Dover Demon Tea created by Ariel Taylor with Adagio Teas

Description: Something strange wandering around in the moonlight—moonlight earl gray, cream decaf orange with orange peels

Dry tea smells delicious, dark and sweet with a lovely citrus undertone

Liquor is a lovely chestnut brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells similar to the dry, just richer. If steeped too long, the tea will become astringent. The tea is sweet and rich and adding sugar brings out the citrus flavor

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


Book Review: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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Book blurb:

“She could save the world—or destroy it.
Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophecy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…”

The Review: All in all, a good book. Took me a bit to read it because at some points her self-doubt was too real for me. Also, the persistent feeling of not quite knowing what was actually going on was intense. This added to the story, but it was not a book I could read before bed. I appreciate that though there is a romance aspect in the book it’s not the whole point of the story; the book is more about a young girl trying to find her place in a world gone mad. The ending left me feeling sad but also wanting to continue the story so good job on that, I suppose

Book Rating: 4/5

Samurai Chai Mate

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Tea of the Day: Samurai Chai Mate by Teavanna

Description:the way of the warrior is strength, skill, fairness, mercy, power, energy and balance. Our chai embodies this spirit with an invigorating green mate and green rooibos blend. Cinnamon, anise and cardamom blend with papaya, pineapple, orange and lemongrass- a combination to face every new day samurai-style.

Dry tea smells spicy like you would expect from a chai, but sweeter

Liquor is a light golden color in the cup

Steeped tea smells sweeter and not as strongly chai as it smells. It’s tasty, but not quite as strong as I was looking for when I opened the package. Goes really well with cinnamon toast, though!

Tea Rating: 4/5


Today, a review of Two Heirs by Peter Kenson done as a favor to a fellow blogger friend of mine.

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Back of the book blurb

“Two royal heirs from different racial and cultural backgrounds. One is a visionary leader of an outcast race, determined to unite his people and reclaim their ancestral homeland. The other was long thought dead after the royal family was massacred during a planetary invasion. The recent evidence that the heir still lives, threatens to disrupt the smooth running of the Empire.

David Held, a top agent in the Imperial service, is sent to find and protect the missing heir from agents of the occupying forces, desperate to consolidate their hold on the conquered planet and prevent the heir returning.

The trouble is the Empire (nearly) always fights by the rules. To avoid technological contamination of a less advanced society, Held is denied his usual array of hi-tech equipment and even has his memories altered to fit the local environment. Faced with an enemy unconstrained by such ideological considerations, he has one hand tied behind his back.

As the fates of the two young heirs become increasingly intertwined, can the race to find the one, help to fulfill the ambitions of the other? Or will both be destroyed by a ruthless enemy who has no qualms about bringing advanced warfare to a pre-industrial society?”

The review 

What I didn’t like: The book synopsis/blurb is misleading; most of the book is about David Held leading an army and helping a group of displaced people reclaim their homeland in a very traditional fantasy epic kind of way. There are science fiction portions, but not nearly as many as the synopsis would lead you to believe. Similarly, most of the book is more directly about David rather than the two heirs of the title. I personally found that when the author switches between the two different groups (one with each heir), there isn’t any obvious indication that you’ve switched groups until a character name is mentioned to be slightly jarring. Finally, occasionally the writing feels a little dry, almost clinical, with some commas here and there in odd places (a personal preference, but one I felt worth mentioning).

What I did like: Everything else. The setting was interesting, with nods to classics like Lord of the Rings and the legend of Arthur, but different enough to not feel like a re-hash. The battle scenes are detailed enough to be clearly visualized but not to the point that it’s graphic. The characters are engaging and it’s easy to care about what happens to them. David Held is the most developed character and I very much want to know more about him. I also like that Seb is left something of a mystery. It leaves readers wanting to read a sequel without the jarring aspect of a cliff-hanger. I also very much enjoyed the science fiction aspects were woven into the fantasy setting.

Overall, this is a book I would read again and recommend to friends.

Book Rating: 4/5.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Dancong Aria

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Tea of the Day: Dancong Aria by Adagio tea

Description: Dancong oolongs are a rare variety from Phoenix Mountain in Guangdong province, China. Our Dancong Aria (Mi Lan Xiang) exudes a perfumy aroma of orchids and almonds. Smooth and refined texture with flavors of fresh apricot, peach pit and honey. Incredibly long finish.

Dry tea smells earthy and astringent, almost like a Pu Erh rather than an oolong.

Liquor is a lovely dark golden color in the cup

Steeped tea has a similar dark earthy smell but with less of a bite. Has an almost smokey flavor without any sugar, with a floral aftertaste. Adding sugar brings that floral flavor forward, and the whole tea fills the mouth, rich and smooth.

Tea Rating: 4/5


Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Book blurb: “Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.”

The Review: This book started off a little slow for me, although that might have been because I had read an excerpt of the book from a few chapters into  previously to actually picking it up. There are two distinct voices in the novel which I think of as The Exposition and The Narrator. The Exposition is told in the third person, setting the stage for the telling of the story and introducing the storyteller himself, as well as the people he is telling his story to. The Narrator is written in first-person and is Kvothe telling his story. Both are well written, but I personally vastly prefer The Narrator.

The Narrator speaks with descriptive, emotional and compelling prose. I say “speaks” rather than writes because the pull of the story is so strong and smooth that it is almost like not reading at all. The novel is around 700 pages long and I finished it in about two days. The words practically beg to be read aloud; this is one book I’d actually love to find an audio narration for.

Another thing that gives this book a special place in my heart is that although the bulk of the story is Kvothe speaking about himself, the other characters in the story do not suffer for it. It’s not Kvothe moving in a world of paper people; it’s Kvothe growing, changing and interaction with real people who don’t always do what he wants or expects.

I highly recommend the book and the series. One important thing to note: The Name of the Wind does not get to why he is called Kingkiller, despite the way the book teaser reads.

Book Rating: 5/5

 

 

English Rose

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Tea of the Day: Downtown Abbey English Rose tea by The Republic of Tea

Description: This vibrant, ruby-red infusion of rose, raspberry and hibiscus has fruity, floral notes and a touch of sweetness. Inspired by traditional British desserts, this caffeine-free, luscious tea is perfect as an afternoon treat. Enjoy hot or cooled over a tall glass of ice.

Dry tea smells strong and fruity-sweet

Liquor is a lovely pink color in the cup

Steeped tea smells like a raspberry-based desert. The tea is pleasant and sweet by itself, with a nice mix of floral and fruity flavors. Personally would not add sugar because I think that the flavors would get smothered by sugar.

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


Today’s post: book review of No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

Cover:

norestforthewicked

Back of the book blurb: Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever Kaderin encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she’s unable to complete a kill.

And when the prize of a legendary month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when Kaderin is forced to choose between the vampire she’s falling for and reuniting her family, how can she live without either?

The review: First off, this book starts off with a bang…literally. It sets the pace for the entire book: intense, fast moving, and engrossing. That being said, the lustiness of the novel does not take away from the characters actually feeling like real people. There is conflict, both external and internal and a conclusion you’d expect, but with enough twists and turns that you’re never quite sure how on earth they’re going to get there. Plus, you get to see a few of the characters from the first Immortals After Dark series (review here), further developing the world and the people in it. I also feel like the principle characters of this installment are more relatable than the two in the first.

Book Rating: 5/5 would read again

 

Favorite witty quote: “Kaderin didn’t believe, as a whole, the nymphs were more beautiful than the Valkyrie, but everything about them screamed, “Easy lay! When you don’t want to work for it!” And curiously, many males found that more appealing than the Valkyrie’s “Do it and die, simian”.”