Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The First Taste: Amaretto Biscotti

As promised I have finally had my first tasting and I am happy to report that it was a success.

For my first tasting I chose the Amaretto Biscotti from Birch Fine Tea. The reason I chose this to be my first is primarily that it was one of the two caffeine free teas that were in my box this month. It is usually after my day job that I film these videos and I wasn't wanting to drink an entire cup of caffeine loaded tea and then try to go to bed an hour later.

I was also in the mood for something sweet. If you could smell this tea (and I am going to recommend you do, but like your own...not mine) you would know that this tea's aroma blankets you in sweetness. 

I picked Hubert the Elephant as my infuser and impatiently waited for my tea to steep. While I wasn't thrilled that the infuser didn't work as well as I'd hoped, releasing bits of the tea particles into my mug to float around, I will probably continue to use them. What can I say, I am sucker for all things adorable.

You can watch my full tasting experience here.

I loved the Amaretto Biscotti and ultimately rated it a 4 out of 5 on the Sipsby site. This rating is more to make my monthly boxes more catered to my liking versus giving a serious rating. However, another way to look at it is while I enjoyed this tea, I know I have liked others more and while I wouldn't mind getting similar types of tea I want to expand a little further out.

Now as for the book pairing.

It was hard to drink this tea out of my Alice in Wonderland mug and not think of England and it's hard for me to think of England and not think of Jane Austen. It was a pretty easy to follow along the path that lead me to selecting Pride and Prejudice.

It was just something in the semi-sweet, I need to be wearing a white lace dress and gloves, feeling that the tea was throwing at me. 

I thought of Elizabeth Bennet, how despite her being fierce and head strong that she would also enjoy a nice warm sweetened cup of tea now and then. Proving that you can be a bad ass female and still enjoy the girly things that life has to offer.

It brought me back to the world of one of my favorite stories. I will certainly go there each time a brew up a cup.

Amaretto Biscotti and Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dreams Through the Rain

I've been up high in my office building glancing out each window I pass waiting for the clouds to open up and shed the tears they are trying so desperately to hold back. It doesn't rain a whole lot in my city so when it does it's like receiving a gift from a long lost friend.

I wish it rained more.

Rain makes me dream of a time in the hopefully near future where I won't have to wait for the rain to fall from a tall office building; glancing out windows in offices that aren't even mine. Instead I'll be in my writer's office facing a window all my own looking up at those swollen clouds waiting for the moment that my world will be once again be wiped clean.

Another thing that days like today bring to my life is the overwhelming urge to write. It's instinct, it's nature, it's...just who I am.

And here is where I have to apologize for not getting the schedule for this blog 100% down just yet. The logistics surrounding my day-t0-day life are much more complicated than I initially gave it credit for. For someone who has this need to write, you'd think I would be able to manage a blog on a fairly regular schedule.

I'll admit this has always been my problem in getting a decent blog off the ground as it were. Not to mention that depending on my mood, my feelings, or perhaps what someone has said or done during the day, I can simply gravitate toward one of my other projects, which also takes my time away.

And here is where, to make up for not producing a taste test video or a book review as of today, I have decided to let you in on the other projects that are currently vying for my time.

First and foremost is my novel. This painstaking passion project that I am almost two years into. It is my ultimate. Since I was a child I have written stories and I feel in a way that it has all culminated to this, my first completed novel.

I have a title, but you don't get to know it yet (unless of course you follow my twitter, though it could have changed since then). The first draft is almost complete and I am trying to give this project the time it deserves as this will be my gateway into the realm of authorship and writing full-time. This is the dream.

Aside from this, I just recently started a writing project with my very best friend. It was an idea hatched like many of my ideas are born, through silly whimsy and witty banter between to kindred souls.

Hint Hint
I'm not sure what the final project will ultimately be, frankly it could end up being any number of things. The good news is for this one I am not alone and when it is called for I can pass the buck as it were. I truly can't wait to see where this will take me and I am so honored and excited to have my best friend by my side for the entire trip.

After all of that we come back to this, my blog. A little thing that means a great deal to me. It has become the outlet that I didn't realize I needed and I am most anxious that it continue without much delay or interruption.

That being said I have decided to give myself a deadline. I hope to film my first taste by the end of this week and have it up by this weekend. As of now, my goal will be to simply film whenever I have a spare moment. I have four teas to taste and partner with a book and I am bound and determined to see it through.

Next Book Review: The World According to Garp by John Irving

Yogi Green Tea Blueberry Quote of the Day:
"Live righteously and love everyone; you will build up around you an aura of light and love."

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sipsby March Teas

The moment has come and not soon enough! That's right, my March box from Sipsby has arrived. This stupendous arrival was joined by another terrific delivery; that of my book from Thriftbooks.com, The World According to Garp by John Irving.

I just might have to set aside Ballad to read this
Within the box were four different, but equally excitable teas that I just cannot wait to have my taste buds melt into. They were all preciously wrapped and the smell that came wafting up to meet me when I opened the box was, in a word, delectable. I'm not even joking. I sniffed each of those bad boys.

Don't sniff your screen, it's not the same
See the unboxing for yourself.

In case anyone is interested here are the teas in all their up close glory.

I just had to show you this
As for the rest of my night I will drink some of me Yogi Detox tea before crawling into bed to read some more.

Coming soon, my first tasting and book pairing.

Enjoy your life!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Lament - The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

It's fitting that I should start my book reviews with a story involving urban fantasy, but perhaps not so fitting is that it disappointed me.

I would like to first say that this book was recommended to me due to the fact that I enjoyed Holly Black's Ironside Series. That was a false assumption and I hate myself for not just buying the first book in this series, but the second book as well. Review of that one coming shortly after this one.

We have Deirdre, a human teenage girl who runs into a human teenage boy named Luke. Everything seems to happen right away and not much sense is made in the madness. We learn that Deirdre has powers and the extent of those powers are never fully explained. It does, however, make a convenient plot device throughout the book. Faerie dust ex machina.

We then learn that there are some creatures after her, one of them Luke himself, but after hanging out with her for less than twenty-four hours he decides he is going to defy orders and not kill her. Ah yes, the downfall of all YA fantasy, insta-love. It's gross, it's unrealistic, and it has to be stopped!

Don't get me wrong I love love and a well written relationship in a YA novel can be incredible. However, when you constantly have the female protagonist fall for the mysterious guy who might be secretly bad for her, but it's not a secret because he keeps telling her he's bad for her, then it can't be anything other than awful.

Moving on, we quickly learn that Luke is an assassin for the Faerie Queen and when he disobeys his orders she punishes him by sending mental pain that makes him crumble into the fetal position. And we know this because we see it happen exactly once.

Now, why does the Faerie Queen have beef with Deirdre? Well turns out that human Deirdre can take the throne from Queen Deirdre (yes they have the same name, apparently there is a reason that I totally did not fully catch because it was something else that didn't make sense). She is able to do this due to her Freak powers, because she is a Freak and between her and her Best Friend James they will start a Freaks Fan Club and call it the Freakometers.

I wish I had the patience to go back and count all the times the word freak is used in this book, but I don't so I won't.

Yes, I almost forgot the BFF. The third cog of the YA romance triangle that is required in every book in this genre. James, sweet, understanding, cute, lovable, friend-zoned James. He gets Deirdre, like really gets her. He always answers her calls and knows the right thing to say. Honestly the way this kid was written I was so confused why Deirdre hadn't jumped on that yet.

GOOD POINT: We now come to the first good point in this book. Trust me there aren't many so enjoy this. We never ever have the awkward "I'm sorry, but I love the mysterious guy and it doesn't matter that we've always been together, but your still my best friend" moment. I thank you for this author. To be fair it was mainly because James is unconscious for a fourth of the book, but I still say it counts.

There are other faerie characters involved, Eleanor, Aodhan (or Freckled Freak as Deirdre lovingly calls him), Brendan, Una...I think that is all of them. They play parts, they do things, the plot moves forward. Honestly, they do kind of become relevant at the end.

Anyway, the Queen has Luke's soul and in a fit of rage kidnaps James and Luke in the hopes to lure Deidre out. Now mind you, she is still just human who only a few days ago discovered these powers, which include, but are not limited to Telekinesis, mind reading, playing the harp really freaking great, etc. She still does not have control of them and yet it was necessary to set an elaborate trap that brings Deirdre face to face with the Queen.

Luke's soul is a dove by the way

GOOD POINT: Time for the second good point for this book. The entire time Deirdre is forced to be on her own and figure out how to get James and Luke back; it was the best part of the book. Reading it, I wished that James and Luke didn't even exist. This is the part where the minimal research the author did into faerie lore shined through. We also got to see the only character development had by the protagonist. I actually started to enjoy the book, but then the boys came back.

James is on the brink of death and Luke is acting weird because the Queen wants him to love her, but he's rejecting her for Deirdre. It's a mess. Some Faerie that Deirdre just happen to save moments before shows up and stalls the battle between her and the Queen. Deirdre then name drops which is HUGE in Faerie lore and it is basically brushed aside as if it means nothing. How dare you! *Shakes fist*

Deirdre says that the Queen subjects don't love her and is proved correct when the Queen gets a bit full of herself and her entire court devours her. Seriously, they just rip her to shreds, it was pretty awesome.

Now the canon set by the author dictates that Deirdre should be the new Queen, but for some reason Eleanor is chosen instead, but everyone seems okay with this. Eleanor promises not to kill Deirdre and she and Luke just go, "Sounds good." Luke gets back his soul, but there's the whole thing that once it's returned he'll grow old super quick and die.

Deirdre thinks she has a plan to fix that by using up her gift from the Faerie she saved, but OH NO James is still freaking dying because he was all but forgotten during this weird exchange. So begrudgingly (She's such a good BFF) she asks the Faerie to spare James's life.

So BFF is saved, but oh wait, because Luke is pretty much a Faerie at this point he'll just continue to be a faerie once his soul is returned. No extra work required, it just happens. So now he'll live and they dance the night away because it's the Solstice.

GOOD POINT: The third and final one. The writing was easily readable. I find most books that frustrate me are made even harder by horrible writing. I would have to say this was not the case with Lament. While the story was the worst, the writing was nice.

BAD POINT: I could have done with less vomit.

1.5 Stars out of 5

Read this instead

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Preparing for A Move

This past week my boyfriend and I were told that we are getting our new apartment! Yayz! We are trading my urban box sized apartment for a more suburban, starter family sized place.

There is much excitement and much panicking on my part. We have time, but I have already started packing up stuff.

Namely, all of my books. (Yes, all the ones you saw in my previous post's video)

There it is like a big empty hole in my heart.

That's right they are packed and ready for transport, which won't be happening for another month and half or so.

The downside of this is what I have planned for this blog will have to be put on hold until I am unpacked in my new place and ready to film things. As the books are a key element to what I am trying to accomplish.

I'm saddened by this small detail, but delighted by the prospect of having a new venue in which to film and sample my teas.

(I'm hoping for a killer backdrop of said books and my writing desk.)

In the interim I will still be filming and discussing the teas I receive monthly from Sipsby. I will be doing this by filming the un-boxing each month as well as filming me taste testing the teas.  I can even give my book suggestion as I have always planned on, but I won't be able to show you the book off my actual shelf.

(Good news I got confirmation that my Sipsby box is on its way!)

However, I will make sure that anyone watching/reading my blog will have all the information they need to go out and find the book if they so desire. Again, things should only be this way for a little while. Very soon I will be doing everything I set out to do with this blog.

Another component that I would like to start doing is actual book reviews of the books I am currently reading.

Those posts will be labeled as such, stating that it is a review and the Title and Author of the book. I'm hoping this will also help reduce silence in-between tea tastings.

I have also added my Currently Reading list from Goodreads.com to my blog home page, so if you decide to you can follow along or even go check out some of my other book reviews.

Tomorrow should bring with it a book review and I'm hoping this weekend I will have a box to open for you.

Until then...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Infusers have arrived!

First things first - sorry about the delay. I had to figure out how I wanted to proceed combining video as well as written story, which took longer than I anticipated. Good news, I've figured it out and should be back on schedule!

Second, The freakin' infusers have arrived!

I was so excited and am still very excited about it. They are the cutest and I wish my tea would get here faster!

Below is the video of the reveal. Excuse my little snafu in the beginning. I love sloths, adore them even, but what I meant and what I was truly jazzed for was the Platypus.

As of right now, I have not received my box from Sipsby, but hope to get it sometime this month. If not, I actually have a plan B.

Until then, I wish you magic in your life that only a book and a mug of hot tea can bring.

Friday, March 2, 2018

I Have a Confession to Make

Before I really truly begin, and I mean start drinking all the tea!

I have to say something, to clear the air as it were.

I have obsessions.

I have loves.

I . have . Passions!

I think you see where I am going with this.

Now what does this mean? Nothing really.

I have my preferences like any other human out there on this planet and I fully expect those to be revealed and played against during this endeavor.

I have a deep love for all things green tea.

I'm not talking the store bought green tea that for some reason always comes with ginseng and honey. Yuck!

No, I'm talking about the deliciously brewed stuff and if it's Matcha Green tea, just catch me before I fall over.

Look at me, I'm drinking it right now! Don't mind the Platypus.

I expect that I as I go on my tastes will expand, which is part of the point.

I have a feeling that I will gravitate towards floral and fruit teas and I am here for that. I say I am ready for all new and intense flavors.

Now as far as the books go, be prepared for a lot of pairings with YA fantasy, because that is what I primarily read. This does not mean there isn't some diversity on my book shelf, but I felt I should warn you of this.

I think those of you already fans of YA fantasy will enjoy this more and I hope that those of you who maybe don't read that genre as much, that you find something new out of this. Who knows, maybe something will draw you in. This is what I hope.

So that is it. Infuser is still coming tonight and I will probably do a sort of un-boxing video.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Teas and Trees

Beginnings can be hard, but I am trying to avoid that cliche.

I am here to drink tea and read books, that is all.

I subscribed to Sips by, a tea of the month service if you will. You will watch me open each box and you will watch me drink each tea. From there I will select a book that I have read during my life that I think this tea would go nicely with.

All teas are looking for a book to share a rainy afternoon with, all I'm doing is supporting these relationships.

I'm supposed to receive my first ever tea infusers tomorrow. 

That seems like a good place to start.