A Review of Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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*Broken Monsters* is not your run of the mill, average, ordinary read. It becomes a mind warping, engrossing read that’s full of suspense and unimaginable horrors in all different shapes and styles. The title itself leaves the reader to question if whether everyone in some way or another is broken, and if perhaps deep down we are all monsters. Broken Monsters focuses on a handful of characters that find themselves joined together thanks to a serial killer that leaves disturbing signatures of when it comes to their work.

The reader is introduced to Detective Versado, the investigating officer in the Detroit Monster case, her teenage daughter Layla, a freelance journalist Jonno who is desperate for his breakthrough piece, and Thomas Keen a man familiar with the streets and all of its natural horrors.

I dreamed I was a dream of a dream

In a serial killer’s mind the perception of a dream, well let’s just say… The Dream… is for others a nightmare. In a serial killer’s outlook destruction of life is art, and taking lives is setting a person free. To reform and redesign is the nature of the Dream. The Dream guides the serial killer to help him make his victims become what they always dreamed. Yes… it all sounds so bizarre and hard to wrap your head around, but that is what Broken Monsters is. The book is bizarre and twisted and unnatural but you cannot stop reading. It pulls you in and much like Night Film by Marisha Pessl you find yourself questioning as you read what is ‘reality’ and what is delusion, hallucination, fear, and imagination.

…evidence of the dreaming everywhere. There is a world beneath the world that is rich and tangled with meaning.

Beukes leaves her reader fascinated and left questioning… is this how the mind of a serial killer works? It seems like the Dream itself is left to the reader’s imagination because the purpose of the Dream is never truly explained. All we know is that the Dream wants to make your wishes come true. Wishes and dreams where a little boy is cut in half and given new legs of a deer so that he may perhaps become a fawn, a sculptor becomes her own work of art, and a cop is reborn into a phoenix rising.

The end of everything

The visuals are disturbing and visceral. One in particular left me questioning any future choices of tattoos. Not all of the horrors are part of the Dream. Not every horror is so much a fantasy, a dream in Broken Monsters. There is the reality of other horrors of the struggling homeless, or the interactions of Layla and her friend Cas as they play vigilante against a pedophile.  No matter what shape the monster takes in this book, there are plenty that haunt Broken Monsters as shades and spooks of the night. If anything Broken Monsters helped me reconfirm that horror comes in all shapes and forms, and doesn’t always have to do with blood and guts. Sometimes it comes in the shape of despair, the feeling of loneliness, the drive of desire and need. The Dream understands and wants everyone to know what it understands… that there are doors to be open.

…and their seeing will be horror and glory and wonder and it will pierce the skin of the world, collapse dimensions, and open the doors and the work will breathe and dance in his shoes and the dream will be able to escape.

Escape, freedom, transformation. Horror, glory, wonder. All these words describe the nature of Broken Monsters so well. It is not what is to be expected, but coming from Lauren Beukes, maybe we shouldn’t expect anything less. Even the interaction of the serial killer and Jonno is something transfixing and cinematic it leaves the reader drawn in to the possibility of the Dream and what it stands for. Killing to make someone become what they wanted to be. Isn’t what we always wanted deep down? To become what we always wanted? Obtain our dreams. It is human nature after all… and maybe being human is what breathes life into a monster within, what makes it all cracked and broken.

The book leaves the reader thinking. I don’t believe it is Beukes intention to make human nature seem so bleak and hopeless, and make us believe we are damaged and all deranged deep down. The characters that defend themselves against the serial killer and the Dream do come together as a unified front to help each other. That in itself should prove that no matter how flawed any one is, there is always the opportunity to rise above it all. Like a phoenix.

Better have a happy ending…

And that’s not such a bad thing… even if the Dream is still alive… but that’s a story for another time…

Yes. It was all real. It lives in me now. If you’ve seen it, there’s a splinter of it in you too. We can change the world. You just have to open the door.

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Interview with Mary Weber- Author of *Storm Siren*/ Giveaway of “Storm Siren”

Enter to win a copy of Storm Siren, by clicking the cover image below of the book (to access the Rafflecopter app)!!

**Only those living in the USA are eligible to enter the contest to win a copy of “Storm Siren”**

The amazingly talented writer of Storm Siren was gracious enough to take time of her busy schedule to respond to my questions and queries. Just by her responses alone you can tell she is as much an amazing person as a writer. Thank you again for the opportunity to interview you, Mary Weber, I appreciate this and your talented story weaving. I hope the readers of A Bibliophile’s Reverie enjoy the interview! Till next time!

For A Bibliophile’s Reverie

1.) Who inspired you to start writing? Thank you for having me!! And my parents inspired me to start writing! Growing up, I spent many an evening on my dad’s lap while he read Tolkien, Lewis, and every other fantasy author to us. Sometimes my mom would sit in and listen – other times she’d be in the other room writing her own books. Also…the Twilight series may have motivated me as well. ;0)
2.) Is there any particular book or author that influenced you in any way growing up or as an adult? When I was ten, a teacher gave me a copy of The Secret Garden (because the main character’s name was Mary and she and I might’ve had the whole “quite contrary” thing in common, ha!). I still have that book and it’s one of my most cherished. As I got older, I encountered the books of Stephen Lawhead, Baroness Orczy, and of course J.K. Rowling, and they pretty much rocked my world. Now as a writer, I’m still heavily influenced by those authors as well as Marissa Meyer (her heroines rock!), Tahereh Mafi (her prose – gah!), and Maggie Stiefvater (can I just BE her?).
3.) The characters in *Storm Siren* are so colorful and diverse. Was there anyone you had in mind when creating them? *laughs* Well, I’m pretty certain Lady Adora might be my alter ego. (My husband agrees with this, ahem.) Nym has hints of my sister (whom I ADORE) probably more than anyone else. As far as the rest, I live in a wonderfully colorful and diverse community, so the characters are bits and pieces of the beautiful people I know.
4.) Can you give the readers any clues about what we can anticipate in the future for Nym, Eogan, and the Kingdom of Faelen? Okay, do I confess this here or no? Um…Nym’s future is going to get a bit darker for a bit in book 2. (Don’t hate me!!) However, she’ll spend much of it in the Bron kingdom, which I think will be fun. And Eogan is…well…(*walks off whistling*)
5.) What do you hope your readers take away when they finish *Storm Siren*? Ooh good question! Hmm. I think those who’ve read it to the end will probably understand when I say I hope they take away my peace offering. Ahem. ;0)
6.) What inspired you to write *Storm Siren?* Admittedly, STORM SIREN is totally might be my obsessive ode to all things Last Airbender, Joan of Arc, and superheroes. :0) Along with that, it was inspired by the teen girls I work with – by their passion and amazing hearts as well as the struggles they face, especially regarding self-image and cultural-imposed expectations.
7.) What are you working on right now? What is your next project? Ooh yes! I’m currently hashing over the plot for book 3! And let me tell you – the wraiths are being completely unruly. Sigh.
8.) Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? If I could, I’d hug all your faces for being so AMAZING. Gah! I adore you!!! Also, on a more helpful note (and to quote William Goldman) – never start a land war in Asia. Cuz reasons.

Thank you for having me!!!!!!!

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Review of “F,” by: Daniel Kehlman

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Novel Released Today: August 26, 2014, from Patheon/ Knopf Publishing Services

    Ever since the nineteen-fifties or sometime around there, philosophy has practically been bogged down in existential vexations: questions and intellectual extrapolations surrounding the meaning of human existence and consciousness in a century that has been bursting with the revolutionary psychological ideas of Freud, or the scientific theories of Einstein. Both formulated easily recognized, momentous theories, which have throw our cozy, stable, dryly linear perception of the world into disarray. And in the disarray, the existentialists have been wracking their brains over what defines “reality,” when our minds, in of themselves, are never completely stable, but are sometimes mired in problems like cognitive dissonance, or some severe psychological condition- like anxiety,post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia- that are chiefly to blame for our more unstable perception of the world. These are the things that profoundly interest and obsess writers, during the post-modern literary era, which continue this obsession over trying to figure out the abstruse conundrums of the meaning of life, the reason or origin of consciousness. If we are living in a purposeless vacuum of space with non-celestial, planetary bodies, and organic and inorganic matter that just exists self-evidently, then what is the purpose of our lives, if there is any meaning in our lives that is, especially if our mind-set of reality is both subjectively dependent on the conscious viewer (with their own neuroses). Plainly put, the existential novel, either containing or not containing pastiche (a story that  is really combination of elements from traditional, more orthodox styles of storytelling), is very much the novel that is not always centered around a cast of characters, and a clear novel structure, but it takes up the styles set by the modernist writers, and tries harder to take these things to the next artistic level of sorts.

    How does any of the aforementioned stuff, relate in any way, to Daniel Kehlman’s cerebral, sometimes purposely disjointed novel, enigmatically titled     One of the more fascinating characters in this novel, Eric, the fraudulent ponzi schemer (stockbroker of sorts), suffers greatly from a tumultuous, chaotic mind; his thoughts are always churning so much that his narrative flow of thoughts is never clear, and it is fragmentary to the point where time and place (default orthodox markers for a classic novel structure with an authorial narrator) seem to vanish entirely. We are left with his own neurotic preoccupation, with his murderous ideals, almost as if to reflect an obsessive-compulsive personality, or schizophrenic mind, where action and thought, two things that are more seamlessly bridged in tighter, more stabler minds, seems to come apart for Eric. As such, the reader must pay attention to a certain repetition of certain words just to be aware of where Eric is in the story, in a certain scene, and if there is even any tangible pattern or coherence to all his chaotic thoughts. This section, for me, wonderfully reminded me of some of the most challenging sections of William Faulkner’s The Sound and Fury, especially the perspective of the one college-aged boy, who is set on committing suicide while spending a semester at Harvard (or was the school Stanford?). His thoughts were often just as inscrutable, if read too fast, and the reader didn’t take the time to slowly put together everything 

    And, the whirlwind of thoughts continues with Martin’s perspective, who happens to be a priest who knows that his religious ceremonies are served as subterfuge (known only as such to him) to a group of devout Catholics, who may not be aware of Martin’s own marked doubts in religion. For someone like myself who is agnostic, Martin’s section made a lot of sense to me, especially his feelings that his duplicitous method of feigned belief for the followers, and the  deeply-entrenched doubts in his mind  compounding this, shows the psychological challenge (and even impossibility)of doubtless, unflinching religious belief in a post-modern world or sphere. One of the other monks at his church, says, that one’s faith goes beyond the limits of reason, and do not necessitate the same kind of notional belief, held by scientists or logicians. Yet, Martin cannot make sense of this logical paradox, between belief understood as faith in some forms of religion and the belief that demands evidence and corroboration of knowledge, etc. While Martin’s religious faith gives the otherwise wandering, even reclusive, socially unfit person he is a stable, even revered vocation (among some people), he still feels, constantly, on-edge and out-of-sorts, when either serving in the confessional booth or at the pulpit. He feels like a fraud, or an inauthentic person for having such thoughts in his mind.

     Beyond these two perspectives, this multifaceted, and really multidimensional, literary novel really demands the reader this very difficult question for all of us: What about us, and  the true paradoxical nature of our own psyches, is really authentic, and how much of ourselves, as represented by  our  visible, daily actions, in the everyday world is inauthentic?  We are going further, psychologically-speaking, than Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, in the sense that the ideas of the subconscious are now filtering even more into our conscious minds, and are becoming more ever-present in post-modern literature for that reason. While being difficult and sometimes not-so enjoyable of a read, as it is convoluted and even glacially-paced at times, Daniel Kehlman’s  F:a novel is still a deep, probing psychoanalytic, existential novel that deserves to be read, and pondered.   Remarkably,the sub-textual layers are such vast in number that this novel is bound to keep readers, prepared for a intellectually-stimulating read, focused on figuring out all the various puzzling levels of meaning of this novel, as though this novel were a literary Rubik’s cube.

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Lestat Book Coven Newsletter-8/21/14

**Read the entire post to find out more details on how you can win a genuine signed, first-edition hardcover edition of The Vampire Lestat!!**

 

 

NEWS ABOUT Coven of the Articulate: A Scholarly Compendium of Anne Rice’s novels. (Click the hyperlinked text, to read more information about essay submission guidelines and the ultimate deadline for all essays!!)

** All Essays are now due on November 13, 2014.  The anticipated date of publications, through any site where ebooks are made available, will be anywhere between January-February 2014.

For those that have been out of the loop in terms of news about Coven of the Articulate, you should know that this is an all-new scholarly compendium, being published just in time for Lestat’s much awaited return. Thus far, I have received three wonderfully comprehensive essays, pertaining to Anne Rice’s works, and the  writers of those articles will be hearing word back from me soon, about whether or not their essay will be included in this new volume.

Right now, you are more than welcome to begin working on your own essay, as long as you follow the guidelines as list on the separate blog link I linked above to! This is yet another brazen attempt for me to further encourage more intellectual discourse about Anne Rice’s underappreciated literary masterpieces (not under-appreciated by fans, but the more pretentious members of academia).

If you have any questions about Coven of the Articulate, send any inquiries,questions and suggestions to narniafanatic(at)gmail(dot) com.


HEAR THE FIRST CHAPTER OF PRINCE LESTAT READ ALOUD, BY YOUR ESTEEMED COVEN LEADER!

After finishing the first chapter excerpt for the first, I had nothing but effusive words about the text. The same familiar fluidity of prose, and impeccable degree of detail and philosophical sophistication suffuses the text. It is easily some of Anne Rice’s best writing yet, thus far in her long writing career, and it definitely has made the long, seemingly interminable wait for Prince Lestat, many degrees more unbearable

The book is slated to  be released October 28th, 2014, and has been honorably put on embargo, to ensure that the secret of the very enigmatic, wonderful plot remains unspoiled, non-tampered till that most auspicious, exciting day comes before us…

Dare to click the book cover below, to pre-order your copy, because this is a book you will not want to miss, if you view yourself as a serious fan of the Vampire Lestat…


   **Since some people may subjectively find my reading voice to be either cacophonous or annoying (finding someone’s voice to be unpleasurable or unseemly is subjective), you may decide to read the first chapter excerpt of Prince Lestat yourself.

**Random House recently released these new editions of the first three novels of the Vampire Chronicles, with the first chapter included in them. Click the corresponding images to be taken to the Amazon Product Page, for each of them, for more information on how to attain one for yourself!!**

BIG MOVIE NEWS; Lestat has spoken!

This piece is the most pivotal quote from the article, published on the website Joblo, and you can read the rest by clicking the hyper-linked text below:

“Universal has acquired the rights to Anne Rice’s anthology of novels, “The Vampire Chronicles”. The deal is for every book in the series including the ones that have already been adapted (the awful QUEEN OF THE DAMNED too). Imagine’s Brian Grazer will produce with Imagine Entertainment alongside Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who seem to want to own everything these days.”

So, what does this mean for fans of the Vampire Lestat? Well, it means that we will hopefully be seeing a film adaptation of Anne Rice’s sophisticated vampire novels, sometime in the next four or five years, that is an adaptation that is faithfully rendered and  has fidelity to the text.

In other news….

At Thrillerfest this past summer, I had the wonderful, very much unforgettable opportunity to interview Anne Rice (and, I do not need to elaborate on her writing credentials; you know who she is). Thanks to both Anne Rice and her wonderful assistant Becket for making this interview a very enjoyable, stress-free experience.

For me, this was a remarkable opportunity, since in many humble respects, I am just a passionate book blogger, who has been mainly writing rather in-depth posts about Anne Rice’s books for nearly four years and counting. It is not the group itself that allowed this opportunity to happen. Incidentally, this interview came mostly about because of the unwavering support of all 900 (approaching 1000) or so remarkable members of the Lestat Book Coven over at the Facebook Group Page.

I posted the two parts below, and I know there is some continuity issues between the end of Part 1 into Part 2. Due to some inevitable technical glitches, the transition between both parts seems kind of abrupt.  Enjoy it, nonetheless, and thanks again to everyone that enthusiastically has joined in our coven discussions, for all the various individuals that produced such thoughtful questions, finally to Anne Rice and her assistant Becket for making this entire thing possible!!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Procure your copy now, for our upcoming discussion!

Don’t let the coven start without you!

.  I’ll always be posting Facebook post updates about each post either on Anne Rice’s Facebook Fan page, the  Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group page, and the mailing list for the Lestat Book Coven (embedded hyperlink will take you to page to sign up for this)Our next live chat will be August 24, 2014 at 2pm. Eastern via Google Hangout on Air, and we will be discussing the character of Nicolas in-depth; his life, legacy, and tragedy (Is he “the doppelganger voice,” as referred to with dramatic tension on the first chapter of Prince Lestat?)

More details about this live chat, and contest details can be found by clicking “More” below, if you’re reading this from the main home page for my blog.

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Maria V. Snyder Wednesdays: Review of “Storm Glass”

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       After two weeks without any Maria V. Snyder-centric posts on this blog, the much-anticipated retrospective reviews of her books returns in fine form and flourish with the first entry of the Glass Trilogy, with the intrepid, often ruthlessly defiant Opal. Antithetically, I would say that Opal is more daring and ambitious than Yelena, whereas Yelena is more compliant with the political machinations of the Sitian oligarchical structure. Throughout the Study Trilogy, we always got small glimpses into the turbulent political world of the Sitian political structure, but Yelena never seems to question them too much, even though her Soulfinder abilities proved to be just as divisive as an issue as Opal’s glass magic. The tone of Storm Glass is immediately very different and even a tad bit cynical, as Opal struggles with issues of trust in a world, where many different forces or groups wish to utilize her glass-making abilities for very different, ulterior reasons.  This makes Storm Glass immediately a novel that is just as interesting, if not more intriguing, for readers of the Study Trilogy, who loved the political intrigue of the Study series, and have long sought to see more ambiguities with the policies of the Sitian oligarchy.

    More importantly though, the journey of self-discovery and agency for Opal is uniquely its own, and not at all derivative of Yelena’s own growth. While Yelena’s journey consisted of rediscovering family and uncovering her cultural origins, the journey of Opal is how to function, as someone with subversive powers, in a world that she wishes to be more of a obedient, less dissonant part of, but she is unable to be part of that world. There are more parties that could deceive her, then even Yelena, as the full extent of her powers and the implications of those powers, which Opal happens to have, prove to be much more polarizing than soulfinder abilities. Both their abilities serve to represent the metaphor of power and responsibility-an underpinned message throughout both the Study and Glass series- except, Maria V. Snyder often takes this tale of feminine power and potential much father in respects to the distinctive connotations of that type of journey for women.

    On Amazon and Goodreads,the Glass Trilogy remains a very controversial series, all due to the questionable ramifications of Opal’s relationship with one of the series most complex characters: Devlen. Re-reading the series, I was very engrossed by any scenes with both Opal and Devlen, as Maria V. Snyder does an admirably courageous job delving into the dynamics between a character that has been abused, by this troubled character, in the past, and explores the fairly provocative potential for them to have some kind of developing relationship. Many feminists will read these pages, in a shallow, not-so circumspect way, and view their interaction and developing relationship, as something that might ethically sully the ethical intent of Maria V. Snyder’s writing. We have to look at this novel, in the context of skillful psychological experimentation. In many ways, the glassmaking analogy, which carries many different metaphors for the trials and conflicts for the character of Opal, seems to mirror the way Devlen and Opal’s relationship undergoes many different types of challenges that can set-back their relationship, and cause the reader to reflect on what truly defines us as humans; is it our magical abilities, or our choices?

   While this series may be read superficially, and ostensibly seem like your average Young-Adult adventure story with the obligatory love triangle thrown in for dramatic effect, Storm Glass  has a much deeper intention, for it really is a rich study of identity and psychoanalysis of what truly defines us. It is about power and responsibility; it is a story of carving out your own journey, while also exploring the societal and political boundaries that sometimes greatly alter the trajectory of our own journey of self-discovery. Storm Glass is a novel with political intrigue, fluid action sequences, and many interesting scattered subplots that all congeal together in a beautiful, mesmerizing glass piece, which will cause us to reflect on our own place in our lives, and ponder our friendships and alliances in a much deeper way.

   When reviewing Sea Glass next week, I will be exploring Opal’s treacherous journey of balancing her power, ambition, with the power struggle she is faced with between many different embattled political forces. I will also further be exploring the ethical ramifications of Opal’s relationship with Devlen, which will inevitably bring us to the differences between Opal’s relationship with Kade- the powerful, endearing stormdancer- and Devlen-the sincere, though deeply troubled rascal. Rather than seeing these relationships as being a shallow use of love triangles (which they are not), I will analyze how Maria V. Snyder skillfully uses the love triangle, as a way to reflect Opal’s own interaction with her family and friends in the series. Her familial and romantic relationships jointly prove pivotal in the series, as much as her own tenacious efforts to try to understand her own identity, from the angle of someone that has magical powers, or someone that has a strong, obstinate nature to do right for others, even when they feel that they themselves are monstrous, in a sense (Opal often worries that she has the capacity to be evil, with the powers that she has, and this darker side of her ambitions are explored further in Sea Glass.)

Bibliophile Tea Corner: Sitian Tea Blend Recipe

Ingredients for tea blend:
2 chamomile tea bags
1 peppermint tea bag
Dash of Ground Cloves (Theobrama)
Drop of Vanilla Extract
Drop of Almond Extract

   

     For tea junkies (like myself), I included a special Sitian tea recipe (ingredients listed above for your convenience). It is a blend that tries to include certain spices that are commonplace in the world of Maria V. Snyder’s books. The crushed cloves in the tea are meant to represent Theobrama,the Sitian herb that opens magician’s minds to magical influence and manipulation, from other magicians, who had that magical potential to read other people’s thoughts (and retool some of their thoughts and intentions, much like Opal does to some characters in Magic Study). 

   Here is the recipe, which also includes almond and vanilla extract, which are meant to make people think of the powerful Sandseed horses, and these extracts- much like the peppermint and chamomile teas- are meant to help subdue your thoughts into a storyweaver trance, as you think about the interconnection and interrelation of all the events that have transpired in your life. It is a pensive, trance-ridden, almost psychedelic bibliophile tea blend, which might make you fearful of the revelations that come from seeing the story patterns of your life become unfolded, through the trance that this tea blend will set upon your mind.

   Next week, I will have stormdancer tea, which will be very different, in taste, from the Sitian tea listed above!
 

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Tea Time at Reverie: Tazo®’s China Green Tips Green Tea

Tazo China Green Tips

So far at Tea Time, we’ve covered three different teas flavored with floral, fruit, or herbal notes. Today we’re going back to basics. I’ve been craving green teas recently, and one of the choices in my current supply stash is Tazo®’s China Green Tips Green Tea. According to Tazo®’s website, this tea is made from spring-harvested Mao Feng leaves grown exclusively at 3,000 feet in the mountains of southeast China. That tranquil image, as well as the lure of green tea’s many health benefits, made China Green Tips an easy pick for our next Tea Time review.

The Basics

Tazo®’s Description:Linger in the pure, steam-fired broth of this first-flush green tea thinking clear, peaceful thoughts. Like watching mist rise off a thermal spring, hidden behind a wooden glen and only accessible by trampoline.”

Ingredients: Spring-harvested green tea leaves

Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea or 1 bag per 8oz of water. Heat water to just under boiling (175 degrees Fahrenheit / 79 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 minutes.

Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Bagged, either in full-leaf satchels (at select Starbucks locations only) or finely-ground tea in filter bags (retail stores)

The Experience

Most green teas are known for their vegetal aroma. Tazo®’s China Green Tips meets this expectation. The first waves of fragrance from the bag remind me of freshly cut grass and running barefoot through the backyard. Raw, clean, and pastoral, but not particularly distinctive. Brewing this tea doesn’t enhance the aroma further, yet the playful, warm gold color persuades you to dive in nonetheless.

Taste-wise, China Green Tips proves that what you smell is often what you taste. It glows with a medium body and a pleasant grassiness that’s typical of green tea without being too strong. The smooth, zen-like finish may be what I like most about this tea, though. It’s almost purifying, as if each sip draws out the toxins from your body. If one wanted to taste the lush, mist-shrouded Wuyi Mountains or the calm intoning of a bamboo flute, this cup may be your gateway.

That said, China Green Tips is relatively plain. It lacks the complexities or undertones that other unadulterated green teas have. (By “unadulterated,” I mean without any additional ingredients.) My guess is the Mao Feng leaf used here isn’t one of the most savory types to come out of China. Some tea drinkers may not mind this, but I have a hunch that the more seasoned tea enthusiasts would opt for something more sophisticated.

Like with Stash’s Vanilla Nut Creme Decaf Black Tea, I experimented with China Green Tips by brewing in the filter bags and in my loose-leaf teamaker (by cutting the filter bags and pouring the leaves into the teamaker). I can’t say I noticed much of a difference either way, probably because the leaves are so finely chopped. The full-leaf satchels might release more flavor – then again, how much more flavor could you milk from a basic green tea?

Be careful with how long you brew China Green Tips, by the way. This tea easily becomes bitter and astringent if steeped any longer than the recommended 3 minutes. Stick to Tazo®’s instructions to get the mellow crispness that defines this drink.

The Aftertaste

Personally, I like Tazo®’s China Green Tips. Its simplicity and freshness makes me feel more healthy when I drink it. That alone convinces me to keep investing in this beverage for now. However, without any unique qualities to set it apart from more complex green tea varieties, China Green Tips is far from being a top-notch choice. If you prefer unflavored teas or simply want a cleansing brew, you may want to try this one. But if you’re looking for a cup with character, China Green Tips’ modest infusion might not satisfy you.

Grade: 7.75 / 10

Recommended For:

  • Tea Drinkers Who: Like green or non-flavored teas
  • Time of Day and Year: Spring or summer afternoons
  • Possible Book Pairings: Beach reads, short story collections (Alethea Black’s I Knew You’d Be Lovely), spirituality / self-help books (Allan G. Hunter’s The Path of Synchronicity or Gratitude and Beyond: Five Insights for a Fulfilled Life), or novels where wisdom or nature play central roles (Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle, for fantasy fans)

You can purchase China Green Tips Green Tea at select grocery stores that sell Tazo® Tea or at select Starbucks coffee shops.

*       *      *

In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

If you’re a tea seller and would like to have one of your products reviewed here, please visit the Contributors page for contact information.

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Review of ‘Storm Siren’ by Mary Weber



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Then I see my eyes. Standing out like sea sirens- clear, salty, ice blue. I don’t even look good enough to be a slave. I look like a curse.

Storm Siren is the tale of the slave girl, Nym, who believes herself cursed. Nymia is a slave in the war torn lands of Faelen waiting on the auction block for her fifteenth sale when she is purchased by the exquisitely insane Adora. Adora upon discovering that Nymia is an Elemental, a Storm Siren, gives her an option… save the war torn lands of Faelen by using her powers, or die.

Thus begins Nymia’s adventure and training as an elemental. It is within the courts of Adora that Nymia befriends Breck and Colin, the latter also being an elemental. Both Colin and Nymia are trained by Eogan to become weapons of war, Colin as a Terrene and Nymia as a Storm Siren. As everyone around Nymia views her ability as a gift and a talent, Nymia struggles within herself to see in the mirror more than a monster and a cursed woman

Storm Siren is a novel filled with politics, adventure, bizarre parties, colorful characters, and romance. The novel is illustrated so beautifully in the tale of a woman so beautiful and strong who struggles internally every moment with her own strength and self. Storm Siren is not your average, run of the mill fantasy story. Written within the story is the revelation of a young girl dealing with everyday insecurities of self and appearance. Nymia is a character that so many can relate to and come to appreciate for with reading Nymia’s story the reader can find strength within themselves.

Nymia’s story in Storm Siren of her gift and curse helps the reader realize that differences are beautiful and there is truly a strength within. Weber’s development of Storm Siren helps the reader realize and appreciate that it is a wonderful thing to be different, and differences are nothing to be ashamed of.

A heart surrender. Almost painful in its approach, beckoning tears to my eyes as it renders my defenses nonexistent.

Storm Siren is a captivating, lovely story with a powerful, beautiful message. The book ends with an unexpected cliffhanger that leaves me eager for the next chapter in Nymia’s story. Those that search for strength, magic, love, and struggles both internal and external in their stories will appreciate Storm Siren. After all it is not just a story of a Storm Siren, but a story that when you peel away the layers the reader can find themselves. It is as if Nymia was a reflection staring back, encouraging the reader to embrace the differences and love who they are.

I eagerly await the second book in the Storm Siren series, especially with such a bold cliff hanger that left my jaw dropping and wishing the next book was out now. Well done, Mary Weber, well done indeed.  You have me hooked.

I told you that you couldn’t save them both

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