Tea Time at Reverie: Teasenz’s Ali Shan Milky Oolong Tea


Awwww, we’re down to our final Teasenz sample! I’ve really enjoyed trying this Chinese vendor’s selections over the past year. Each has been of superb quality, to the point that I know I’ll be a customer in the future. ;)

So, what have I saved for last from Teasenz? Ali Shan Milky Oolong. (Yes, the name does sound strange if you’ve never heard of it before.) This particular kind of tea is grown only in Taiwan, in the country’s Ali Shan Mountain region. According to Teasenz, the area’s soil conditions and the production methods used for these leaves bring out a unique milk flavor and creaminess. Read on to find out how these qualities manifest once Ali Shan Milky Oolong is brewed.

The Basics

Teasenz Ali Shan Milky Oolong 1

Photo courtesy of Teasenz

Teasenz’s Description: Intense creamy taste with floral undertone. A one-of-a-kind tea from Taiwan with a fantastically creamy flavor resulting from its unique roasting process. Our Ali Shan Milky Oolong offers you great depth of flavor that lasts into even the fifth brew.”

Ingredients: Ali Shan oolong tea leaves

Steeping Instructions: Use 1 teaspoon of dry leaves for every 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit / 100 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 minutes.

Multiple Brews?: Yes, about 5 brews

Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf

Caffeine Level: Medium

The Experience

Teasenz Ali Shan Milky Oolong 2

Photo courtesy of Teasenz

Ali Shan Milky Oolong is one of those teas that, as soon as you open the packet, you notice both the leaves and the scent right away. The leaves are tightly curled and bright green, a mixture of light and dark shades. They’re not much different from a typical oolong, and they’re very pretty.

As for Ali Shan’s fragrance, it’s neither overpowering nor pungent, but it lilts out of the packet to welcome you. I definitely smell the “milkiness,” along with sweet, floral, and fruity notes. In fact, it reminds me a bit of melon. It’s also the kind of aroma you can actually taste as well as smell. So, before I brew this oolong, I already have a good idea of what flavors to expect.

Teasenz’s recommended brew time for Ali Shan Milky Oolong surprised me at first. First steeps for oolongs are usually shorter than 3 minutes. I follow the instructions, though; and the resulting brew is a light golden yellow, maybe closer to lemon, with the earlier bouquet of sweet, floral, and milky scents. I take a sip, then another one – and each is like liquid satin. This cup is subtly sweet, with orchid and pear flavors enhanced by the creamy mouthfeel. Delicate, spring-like, and slightly luxurious.

I make two more cups with this first batch of leaves. Steep #2 (4 minutes) gives off the same floral perfume, though it’s lighter than Steep #1’s. It’s still satiny smooth, with predominantly sweet and orchid flavors. The orchid presence remains with Steep #3 (5 minutes). However, the lovely texture and the sweet and fruity notes have faded, leaving me with a lightly floral oolong that’s still delectable.

This, of course, leaves me curious to know how Ali Shan Milky Oolong develops with shorter brews. In goes a fresh teaspoon of leaves, and I brew a new cup for 45 seconds. Wow! This isn’t sickly sweet, but much sweeter than I was expecting. I taste hints of apples and pears (reminding me of Tea From Taiwan’s Wu Ling Oolong), and traces of milk and butter. There’s also a subtle current of creaminess as the liquid moves over my tongue.

Subsequent brews of 1 minute, 90 seconds, and so on maintain the floral and fruity flavors and accentuate the smooth, subtle milkiness. Each steep also becomes a little less sweet. I prefer these shorter brews over the longer ones that were instructed – but honestly, I’ve enjoyed every cup of Ali Shan Milky Oolong, regardless of the brew time.

The Aftertaste

Don’t let the adjective “milky” deter you from trying Teasenz’s Ali Shan Milky Oolong. This floral Taiwanese jewel is bright in flavor and creamy in texture without being too heavy in body. The shorter steeps are a little sweet for my liking oolong-wise, but they’re still quite good. If you like Wu Ling and Hua Gang Oolongs, or are looking for light oolongs with a fruity or floral profile, this Ali Shan is a good place to start.

Grade: 9 / 10

Recommended For:

  • Tea Drinkers Who: Like oolong teas
  • Time of Day and Year: Spring afternoons and evenings
  • Possible Book Pairings: Ali Shan Milky Oolong reminds me of gentle, compassionate characters who learn courage as part of their stories. Try this with Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or Naomi Novik’s Uprooted.

You can purchase Ali Shan Milky Oolong Tea directly from Teasenz here.

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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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Brother by Ania Ahlborn

Indiebound/Barnes & Nobles/Amazon


From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

Review written by: Jessica C.

A complimentary review copy was offered, in exchange for an honest review.

Ever since Seed I have been fascinated and drawn to Ania Ahlborn’s work. Each and every book that I have read by her has played out like a movie. The imagery paints a gruesome, twisted story all in print while seeming to come to life before the reader’s eyes. This is the magic that Ahlborn controls. This is the masterpiece that is her raw talent as a writer.

While I have not been one to read her writings in chronological order of new book after new book, she has never failed me in being impressed with her tales of horror. Brother is no exception to this rule. The cover is simple but lures the reader. A simple padlocked door. What could rest behind it?

The story itself is that of the Morrow family. The family is one brought to be killers by a mother haunted by her own past. However, while Mama’s story would be enough to intrigue it is Michael that is our main character. Michael is not a Morrow by blood only by name. The reader’s discover that Michael was actually kidnapped as a present to replace the family dog. Yes, in this family a new brother seems the best replacement for the favorite pet.

In this family the norm is to find the girls and women no one cares about and will not be missed and kill them. To some of them it is sport, to some a hunt, to the rest it is only what you have to do as part of the family. Michael is the good son that fits in without enjoying the kill. He provides for the family by hunting wildlife to keep the family fed, and after a fresh kill by the family he’s the one responsible to clean up the mess.

It’s your typical family life. Right? Not so much. Still it is Michael’s life and he accepts it… that is until he goes on a visit to a record store with his brother Rebel. This is where the story takes it’s twists and turns and down spirals. This is where things go crazy… well more so then a family hunting forgotten girls. Once Alice comes into the story it all changes for Michael. It leaves Michael wishing for something more, something new. If only Michael knew that sometimes getting what you want is really not the best thing.

It is up to our readers out there to decide if they want to find out what happens next. Pick up a copy of Brother and take a stroll down a darker path. Who knows where it may lead. For me this is just another Ahlborn book in my collection that did not fail to impress. The end in itself was the closure so unexpected and yet needed. For the readers out there, pick up the book and give it a try and after that back track or move forward and read Ahlborn’s past and current work. It’s a dark adventure but it’s a good one. Until next time, happy reading!

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Quirk Book’s Hilary Clinton Presidential Playset Blog Tour

Indiebound/Quirk Books/Amazon/Barnes & Nobles

Going on sale this Tuesday 11/17, Quirk Book’s Hilary Clinton Presidential Playset includes the following:

“t may not be an election year, but you can cast your vote early with the Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset! This fold-out book features replicas of the Oval Office and other White House locations, plus perforated paper dolls of Hillary Clinton and all of her political pals and adversaries. Be HRC’s chief of staff as she takes questions at the press podium, hashes out tough negotiations in the Situation Room, or even consults with the ghost of Abe Lincoln. Complete with a pop-up cast of characters and accouterments (Bill comes with a lawn mower to keep him busy), this fun and feminist-friendly playset is perfect for Hillary fans young and old..”   (Taken from Quirk Book’s Product Detail Page)

Here is a somewhat irreverent, off-beat example of the variety of fun things you can do with this interesting new title.

Scott Walker lingers every election, so he made a deal with Nancy Reagan to trade bodies, effectively making Scott Walker incorporeal and Nancy Reagan slightly more corporeal. Oprah Winfrey is preparing for her special interview with newly elected, first female president Hilary Clinton, who is completely nonchalant about the proceedings, given that her victory was clear from the outset of the 2016 election.

Scott Walker lingers every election, so he made a deal with Nancy Reagan to trade bodies, effectively making Scott Walker incorporeal and Nancy Reagan slightly more corporeal.
Oprah Winfrey is preparing for her special interview with newly elected, first female president Hilary Clinton, who is completely nonchalant about the proceedings, given that her victory was clear from the outset of the 2016 election.

Do you have a different caption for the picture above? One winner will be chosen at random to win a Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children audiobook from my own collection (somehow I have two copies).

**Contest ends Friday November 21st at 11:59pm. Eastern standard time. Leave a comment below, and as long as you’re a resident of the US (due to shipping-related costs), you will be entered for a chance to win an audiobook.

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Dani Hoots’ Review of Meditations in Wonderland by Anna Patrick

Meditations in Wonderland by Anna Patrick

Indiebound/Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Kobo/

Published by River Grove Books

Review by Dani Hoots
The reviewer received a complimentary review copy, in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Meditations in Wonderland by Anna Patrick follows Elizabeth who struggles looking herself in the mirror, not wanting to see the darkness in her soul. She takes ‘recreations drugs’ to deal with the anxiety, a blue pill and orange pill depending on how bad it is. Her boyfriend since high school doesn’t know this and she tries to just see the light in his eyes as her reflection. They get in a fight about her anxiety and when she goes to meditate and falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. There, she must find Alice and face the consequences of hiding from one’s self.

This is an interesting take on finding one’s self. As she goes through Wonderland, she finds out different things about herself. There were still some things that were unanswered, like why her boyfriend has a raven tattoo. It sounded like she did something to him or did something that caused him pain, but I’m not sure as to what that was. It was also unclear why she couldn’t look at herself in the mirror in the first place, and how she came upon the pills with her friend that her boyfriend knows nothing about.

The scenery of Wonderland was quite entertaining, playing off the original story but Patrick added her own little twists to it. I loved the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter was quite interesting as a character and was my favorite out of all of them (although, he always is). Patrick also did a good job with the characters of the original story and twisting them into her own creation. I wished we got to see even more characters, but those that were there were still quite interesting.

For the ending, I wished it it ended a few pages early. I don’t want to give it away, but I just felt it could have ended a little bit earlier to get more of a dramatic effect. With the stuff that was added, I didn’t really have much interest in and felt like it didn’t really draw to a close with it.

All in all, I give this novel a 4/5, as it captured my attention, as any Wonderland book should, and I was left wanting to fall down the rabbit hole myself. I wished I knew a little more about the main characters, but they were still very interesting.

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Tea Time at Reverie: Golden Tips Tea’s Assam Enigma Black Tea

Golden Tips logo

Time for another new vendor! Golden Tips Tea was kind enough to send a generous package of samples for future Tea Times. This family business in India sells single-origin, unflavored teas from some of the country’s finest tea regions. Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, and even the neighboring country of Nepal are represented. I’m excited to finally dive into their offerings, and I hope you are, too!

And with the fall days growing shorter and chillier, it’s the ideal time to break out a new black tea. Assam Enigma catches my eye first from the Golden Tips stash. This blend of summer-picked black tea leaves is said to carry the strong, malty flavors that Assam teas are famous for, with a few surprises. (Plus, doesn’t the word “enigma” in the name entice you into trying it?) So, let’s get brewing.

The Basics

Photo courtesy of Golden Tips Tea

Photo courtesy of Golden Tips Tea

Golden Tips’ Description: “An exquisite black tea hand-blended by our expert in-house blenders with premium second flush teas sourced from some of the most sought-after plantations in Assam. The visually delightful tea laden with tips will win over your tastebuds with its smooth caramelised taste and sensations of honey. The robust tea is deliciously malty with slight woodiness and scents of ripe fruit. An excellent tea with a rich, complex character, and our best-selling Assam tea last season. You just can’t miss this.”

Ingredients: Second-flush Assam black tea leaves

Steeping Instructions: Use 1 teaspoon per 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit / 100 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

Multiple Brews?: No

Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf

Caffeine Level: High

The Experience

Photo courtesy of Golden Tips Tea

Photo courtesy of Golden Tips Tea

When I first open the Assam Enigma packet, the first thing I notice is… TIPS! Not as many golden tips as in Yezi Tea’s Yi Fu Chun Black Tea, but enough to make me squeal in joy. (Yes, tea reviewers do squeal over tips. *wink*) It’s maybe a 1:3 ratio of golden tips to typical black leaves, all of which are wiry, delicate wisps that collectively smell like…

Well, Assam Enigma smells like a typical Assam black tea – and then again, it doesn’t. It’s malty yet starchy, maybe a bit like molasses or sweet potatoes. There’s also a pervasion of autumn, an inhalation of fallen leaves, damp earth, and burnt wood. Familiar yet different, in an interesting way.

For my first cup of Assam Enigma, I decide to test the short end of its brewing range. At 3 minutes, the auburn-colored liquid gives off a dark, complex aroma that hints of sweet potatoes, plums, autumn woods, and molasses. If you’re getting the impression that Assam Enigma is a strong black tea – you’re correct. It’s brisk and robust, with a malty undertone swimming through the dominant sweet potato and dark brown sugar flavors. An unexpected granulated texture leaves a dry, gritty feeling on my tongue.

Hmmmm. As much as I like the flavor profile, Cup #1 of Assam Enigma is a little pungent for me. But let’s keep going.

Cup #2, which brews for 4 minutes, comes out darker brown in color and smelling malty and starchy, like the dry leaves. The full-bodied infusion still tastes of sweet potatoes and molasses, with an added coffee presence. The texture isn’t as coarse now, but a bitter aftertaste creeps in that sort of spoils the savoring. This bitterness only builds with Cup #3 (about 5 minutes), adding an unfriendly dose of tannins to the already-bold brew.

Despite my feelings about the later brews, I’m curious how Assam Enigma takes to milk and sugar. So, I make a fresh 3-minute brew and add a splash of milk and a pinch of light brown sugar. This smooths the rough mouthfeel while mellowing the flavor profile. The end result loses part of what makes Assam Enigma unique from other Assam black teas, but it’s also less harsh going down.

The Aftertaste

I’m not sure what to think of Assam Enigma from Golden Tips Tea. Its full-bodied, mature blend of dark, subtly sweet, and earthy flavors is warm and inviting, and unique compared to other Assam black teas. Yet its rough texture and bitter aftertaste make it less pleasant to enjoy. Fans of more stalwart black teas probably won’t mind these traits, though; and the competitive price along is a good reason to try it. As for me, I’d be willing to sample Assam Enigma again if future batches are a little less acrid.

Grade: 7.5 / 10

Recommended For:

  • Tea Drinkers Who: Like black teas
  • Time of Day and Year: Fall and winter mornings, with or after breakfast
  • Possible Book Pairings: Assam Enigma would make a fitting companion with George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice Saga (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, etc.). The strong flavor profile and coarse texture pairs well with the fantasy series’ gritty, violent atmosphere and characters who are morally ambiguous instead of purely good or evil.

You can purchase Assam Enigma Black Tea directly from Golden Tips here.

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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 Mark Segal’s “And Then I Danced-Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality”

unnamed (2)

Akashic Books/Indiebound/Amazon/Barnes & Nobles/

Synopsis, Taken from Akashic Books:

On December 11, 1973, Mark Segal disrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News when he sat on the desk directly between the camera and news anchor Walter Cronkite, yelling, “Gays protest CBS prejudice!” He was wrestled to the studio floor by the stagehands on live national television, thus ending LGBT invisibility. But this one victory left many more battles to fight, and creativity was required to find a way to challenge stereotypes surrounding the LGBT community. Mark Segal’s job, as he saw it, was to show the nation who gay people are: our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.
Because of activists like Mark Segal, whose life work is dramatically detailed in this poignant and important memoir, today there are openly LGBT people working in the White House and throughout corporate America. An entire community of gay world citizens is now finding the voice that they need to become visible.


Complimentary copy of book given, in exchange for an honest review.

In lieu of the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing gay marriage, I thought this memoir written by Mark Segal, a very prominent, well-known figure/advocate for LGBT rights in Philadelphia,PA, would be a very pertinent title to review for readers of this blog. I love memoirs for their ability to vividly tell the story of an individual’s life, mainly through their eyes. This permits all of us the opportunity to do as Elizabeth Bishop often encouraged, which is to learn the ability to envisage life through another’s eyes, their particular hardships, and the defining perseverance they used to endeavor to succeed in overcoming a litany of different challenges thrown in their direction. For the LGBT community, the fight for rights, in some ways, saw its most visible impetus during the Stonewall riots, which the writer of this memoir Mark Segal was involved with and provides a unique perspective of his experience during this and many other important events in the latter half of the twentieth century..

Interestingly, the memoir is broken up into individual vignettes, which tell different unique stories in his life that are ripe with humorous moments, and of course, more poignant and even tragic moments. For the most part, these stories are mostly engaging, though the main problem I had with some of them was that they sometimes didn’t form a completely cohesive whole, when read together. Meaning in parts, they were fairly entertaining, but there was almost a sense of discontinuity between these stories. Also, I really wished more time was spent on describing his childhood, growing up in a Jewish family within Philaldelphia; I thought there was a lot of potential to really give us a more substantial, insightful look at his upbringing within a city that I am familiar with.It would certainly have given readers, perhaps even more insight into the characteristics of Mark that really infused him with the characteristics of being a political activist. I’m one of those memoir readers that always really enjoy the gradual chronological story of a person’s life that has a more unified theme. And this lacked that unified feeling I most appreciate in memoirs.

Nonetheless, the work is still something I feel contributes a powerful portrait of the sheer integrity and strength of this one man, who has managed to overcome the different setbacks in his life with remarkable courageousness. From the standpoint of serving as a primary historical source, it was an excellent historical recollection of sorts, as Mark really details many iconic events that happened within the seventies/eighties, as he become more increasingly involved with the lengthy fight for the rights of LGBT individuals. It goes through the raw tragedy of the AIDs epidemic in a very somber, respectful manner, and we learn first-hand just how much the LGBT community, at around the time of the outbreak, not only faced the fear of contracting the disease, but more important, faced the dispiriting stigma they faced from society as a whole; some of whom felt the disease itself was some kinda of karmic fate for identifying as something they saw as unfit and unnatural to their society. It made it that much harder for these individuals to find solace from their community as a whole, who instead, sometimes ostracized them. And to think how far we’ve gone is pretty astonishing for anyone reading history, the twentieth century was a very unprecedented century for social change.

These portions of Mark Segal’s riveting story were the heart and soul of this novel, aside from the many sequences detailing the Stonewall Riots in earlier parts of the story. They both were the most interesting portions to me, which shed a lot of light on the political turmoil of the time, and in that sense, this novel is a fairly interesting, mostly well-written memoir I think any reader interested in this part of history will greatly enjoy. It certainly helps readers better understand just how fraught with anxiety and uncertainty this period was for the LGBT community, specifically, but of course, the sixties to the seventies were an unparalleled time for great social progressiveness, in general.

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Review of Tess Gerritsen’s “Playing With Fire”

Indiebound/Barnes & Nobles/Amazon/Books-A-Million

Synopsis, Taken From IndieBound:

A gripping standalone thriller by the “New York Times” bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series
In a shadowy antiques shop in Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell happens upon a curious piece of music the “Incendio” waltz and is immediately entranced by its unusual composition. Full of passion, torment, and chilling beauty, and seemingly unknown to the world, the waltz, its mournful minor key, its feverish arpeggios, appear to dance with a strange life of their own. Julia is determined to master the complex work and make its melody heard.
Back home in Boston, from the moment Julia’s bow moves across the strings, drawing the waltz’s fiery notes into the air, something strange is stirred and Julia’s world comes under threat. The music has a terrifying and inexplicable effect on her young daughter, who seems violently transformed. Convinced that the hypnotic strains of “Incendio” are weaving a malevolent spell, Julia sets out to discover the man and the meaning behind the score.
Her quest beckons Julia to the ancient city of Venice, where she uncovers a dark, decades-old secret involving a dangerously powerful family that will stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.


A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me, in exchange for an honest review.
Known mainly for her Rizzoli and Isles series of thriller novels, Tess Gerritsen’s newest thriller fiction novel Playing with Fire dabbles more into the historical fiction terrain, while still retaining signature elements of her thriller writing. These assets include the ability to write clearly with measured depth that never detracts whatsoever from the progression of the plot. Meaning, the story never gets stuck into the quagmire of tedious exposition. From the outset of the novel, Tess Gerritsen, with her usual flair for slowly building up mystery and deep conflict, has a story that immediately ensnares the reader’s attention. Moreover, the historical elements of the story never feel tacked-on, or contrived, by any means.

The plot itself is fairly unique, and shrouded in mystery. Right from the beginning, we’re swept up into the tumultuous drama of Julia Ansdell’s life, where she discovers a piece of music, which she intuitively feels that she needs to own. After paying an exorbitant fee for the rare piece of music, she returns home to play it for the first time. With clean, fluid descriptions, the scene unravels into chaos, which overwhelms the story with a sense of dread and apprehension, just to the right degree to keep readers engaged fully in the unfurling of the story itself.

Bringing in a story about the Italian Jewish community, right around the time of WWII, in a very seamless manner ,the story throws many wonderful re-directions and reversals of within the forward momentum of the story, that only keeps the reader suspended in state of unabated tension that Tess Gerritsen manages to dexterously throw in much needed nuance into all areas of the story, relying fully on her medical expertise (as she formerly worked as a surgeon before taking up full-time novel writing) and deft eye for research throughout to keep readers engaged fully in the plot at all times.

Her sparse, though detailed writing, is the mark of a very talented novelist, and Playing with Fire allows Tess Gerritsen to utilize her best skills at writing, in order to tell a surprisingly poignant story about the particular hardships the Jewish community in certain areas of Italy faced, during the darkest, most disillusioning moments of World War II, when the Nazis were occupying many territories within Europe. The story uses dramatic irony to build our own ongoing tension, since we know what is bound to happen to many Jews during this time,so we implore them silently while reading, to move far away from Europe, to hopefully avoid the miserable fate of being taken to one of the many concentration camps that existed during this time.

While being a deeply memorable and enthralling story, there were a few snags, and that consists of the question of whether the ending was a bit too far-fetched and perhaps easy, for a story that build up the promise in the minds of readers for maybe a more surprising, innovative ending. Without spoiling the specifics, it just seemed that a certain revelation in the plot felt a little underwhelming and dubious, considering the experiences this character faced throughout the story. In some ways, a very different outcome may have been more interesting, though this ending did tie things up between both the past/present stories very neatly, perhaps a little too neatly in my opinion.

Nonetheless, the story regales you with a somber story about the plight of the Jewish community in Italy during the time of WWII, along with providing some commentary on the psychological connection that we have with music, which weaves itself throughout the parts of the story taking place in either the past or present with a very different pair of characters. Yet their same struggle is reciprocated, that of finding music to be a mysterious sublimation of their subconscious anxieties. Music always seems to be the nonverbal expression of manifesting those emotions that are indefinite and elusive with words, but feel symmetrical and perhaps deeply understood through the more abstracted mode of musical expression. Regardless of a few disappointments, Tess Gerritsen’s Playing with Fire is another strongly-written new novel from a very talented, reliably good writer of suspence or thriller fiction.

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