Perdita by Hilary Scharper Blog Feature Part 2-Review &Literary Tea Recommendation


Amazon/Barnes & Nobles/ Kobo/Goodreads

     Addendum to review: “I don’t know why, but this was a somewhat hard review to write.  I am reading over it for the fourth or fifth time, and just feeling like it still doesn’t sufficiently describe my complicated feelings about this book. Maybe because I was slightly ambivalent about some of the subplots that didn’t seem to connect well w/ other larger plot lines. I was left confused sometimes.. The part of the novel I did really love was the rural, lakeside Canadian setting, reading about Marged Brice’s daily life in this rural town.(which reminded fondly of the early 90’s “Avonlea” series and even a little bit of “Lark Rise to Candelford, two favorite tv shows of mine). I love reading about normal people in an everyday town, who all have their own little foibles.

I loved Mr. McTavish, the bird watcher, who made it his scholarly pursuit to study birds. George and Allan, of the Stewart family, were also very interesting. Then Marged Brice felt like the shrewd, complex narration voice, who was a lot like Laura from “Lark Rise to Candelford. I definitely recommend reading the book, the prose is superb/poetic, without being long-winded. I also really enjoyed reading it, for the most part. This is one of those reviews where it’s so hard to articulate just what didn’t work/why.

     I hope that this review attests to the fact that all the books I’ve managed to read from Sourcebook’s Landmark have been adeptly, smartly written to such a high level that I feel I can easily write reviews of the content itself, and the effectiveness of the way certain subplots were resolved, rather than just focusing on the smaller things like the quality of the writing/flow of sentences, etc.

I feel like Perdita will be one of those books that may take two read throughs to maybe completely grasp- a testament to the quality of this piece. So I am learning that as a reader I can never make any final, restricted judgments of the quality of a piece, especially when I feel such a diverse range of feelings about it.

If you get a chance to read this, please email me some of your thoughts  at narniafanatic@gmail.com on the ending, because I keep pondering it, as I write this “Addendum.” It’s hard to articulate how I feel about how the modern-day narrative,and past story told through MArged Brice’s diary entries, along w/ the allusions to Greek mythology, all connect thematically.”

Main Review:

Perdita is a lesser known character from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, which I have never read or really had any familiarity whatsoever with any of its characters till settling down to read Hilary Scharper’s enrapturing, thoughtful, strangely alluring ghostly, gothic mystery tale. The basic premise of the story involves Garth, a History Professor, with a troubling past wherein the supposed love of his life, whom he wasn’t really convinced he was in love with was killed in an automobile accident. This tragic note at the beginning of the story underscores a much deeper, poignant story that slowly envelops the story, through the form of diary entries, written by a woman named Marged Brice, who is almost obdurately convinced, without a shadow of doubt or hint of duplicity, that she is 134 years old.

Being a history professor, the main character serves as our representative skeptic, our figurative Scully so-to-say, who expresses the same credulity that we have when Marged Brice first dubiously speaks those doubtful words to the story’s main perspective, but not main character, who merely serves as an inquisitive, earnest listener and investigator, much like ourselves. While his story is still lightly developed, I never felt that it was ever really a dominant feature in this story, as it is the mystery of the enigmatic women name Marged Brice, who believes that she is 134 years old, whose story is vicariously experienced as Garth reads from the diary that she lends to him, which is what really allows the main story arc to take center-stage.

It is at this point where the more poignant story begins, and we are introduced to a wide range of endearing, vibrant characters, who all live in a lakeside town in a rural section of Cananda, between the major metropolitan areas of Toronto and Montreal This is where we begin to see things from the strangely nature-focused world of nineteen year old Marged Brice’s perspective, where she befriends one distinguished man that studies birds for a living and finds herself falling deeply in love with a painter with a  yearning to depict the natural world around him through mesmerizing, unconventionally-abstract paintings. At points, the story does sometimes have trouble holding the reader’s interest, especially when the portraits of the various characters that comprise the cast of the town’s denizens, are sometimes overlooked, in favor of a digression of the plot into a confusing, slightly contrived Gothic subplot, involving weird phantasmagorical visions of a young-girl in peril. Then we are given some rather long-winded glimpses, at one point in the story, to a terribly inexplicable deterioration of Marged Brice’s health into something that could be either construed as depression, or a severe illness of sorts. Perhaps due to less knowledge about certain medical or psychological conditions, in particular, Marged would have naturally lacked the words to describe the condition in a more modern way.

Nonetheless, these scenes sometimes are written too cryptically/confusedly to the point of feeling slightly abstruse to the reader, versus being meaningful or purposeful, when compared to the aforementioned character drama, involving Marged Brice and others she grew alongside with in her lake-side community. These scenes reminded me fondly of an early nineties television series called Avonlea, which was a deep character drama that never sagged with an over-the-top cloying feeling, much like the deftly-handled character drama we deal with in this novel. When you have supernatural elements, or things that defy the logic of the more mundane plot-line, you need the supernatural tale to strongly compliment the story, but I just felt like these scenes detracted from the more fascinating, riveting smaller stories we get throughout Marged Brice’s dairy entries, where she writes about the different little episodic dramas that make up her daily life.

Basically,I found the supernatural elements of the novel to be terribly lacking due to this anemic, slightly contrived development as if they could only exist incongruously with the more satisfying insights that Hilary Scharper makes into the relationships Marged Brice has with the various people of her community and beyond (when she meets the dour, though strangely affable Dr. Reid and the intimidatingly robust, commanding Dr. Stone during her winter trip in Toronto). It is these character-focused scenes, harkening to the same deep, diverse personalities that are a fundamental part of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing,  which are the strongest element of this novel.

Whenever the novel attempts to dabble into a terribly confusing supernatural plot-line (with a few confounding elements of disarranged metaphysical elements), it becomes emotionally cold to me, as a reader, whereas scenes discreetly describing Marged Brice’s complex romantic feelings she has for George, a famous painter, through powerfully subtle, languid scenes of their various encounters throughout the novel tend to be the strongest asset of Hilary Scharper’s writing. Ironically, the book features an acerbic art critic later in the story, who describes some of George’s paintings as being terribly confused in their interpreted meaning, whereas some of his art is staggering in its perfect artful reflection of specific areas of nature. It is the latter that best defines the strongest elements of the story- the deliberately drawn out conversations with the many well-constructed characters in Marged Brice’s world, along with the complicated, mature romance story that accompanies these smaller character vignettes, contained within Marged Brice’s diaries.

Yet the ending of the story, without spoiling any potential readers, is still a sobering, beautiful portrait of the multifarious elements of our lives that diverge and converge at different times, in way where certain events can unlock other events, as though everything is connected. You cannot help but be reminded vaguely of that powerful line from David Mitchell’s masterfully written novel Cloud Atlas, about one single drop of water,amongst other drops of water, in the metaphoric wide ocean of life can cause a massive paradigm shift in the way things unfold in life. The way our relationships are shaped, on a daily basis, through our various interactions, do accumulate over time,  producing great, unprecedented results in the wide body of water of civilization or life itself.

Even if the ghost story itself within Perdita never feels quite as satisfying as the engrossing character drama of the novel, the novel as a whole still will most certainly resonate with you at some point in the midst of reading it. It is something that shot chills down my spine, like a ghostly vapor was snaking its way down my spine. Additionally, the novel, as a whole, is definitely another strong representation of the top-notch writing quality represented in most of the Sourcebook Landmark books. Even if I subjectively found certain things lacking, at least to my eyes, it is still very strongly written and has great pacing/an innovative narrative structure. If you are looking for a novel that is a pastiche of certain stylized traditional gothic suspense elements combined with a strong character-focused story, you may want to check out Perdita.

Literary Tea Recommendation: Integritea Relax Tea, or Tranquil Perdita Tea 
IMG_1748

IMG_1761

To accompany your tranquil, invigorating read of Hilary Scharper’s Perdita, I recommend Integritea‘s Relax Blend, which contains hibiscus, notes of various berries, chamomile, etc., making it something which will calmly lull you into the right comfortably soporific state of mind needed to allow your overactive mind to be absorbed in Hilary Scharper’s poetic prose.

The tea itself uncannily tastes much like you’d imagine the climate of that region of Cananda, where Marged Brice lived in a lighthouse with her aunt,uncle, father, and sickly mother. It is essentially a soothing, flowery chamomile, with strident notes of berry and sharp hibiscus tea that is also emblematic of range of chaotic emotions, which the artist that Marged Brice falls in love with, projects onto his art. He is always futilely seeking forbearance, in desperation, when he is painting things like a copse of various trees that almost form a church, and resemble a very sacrosanct environment, in which the dream of the potential relationship he might have with Marged Brice were possible, or that the calamity and torment of his past could be pacified, just by recreating this peaceful, thought-provoking scene through art.

Doesn’t drinking anxiety-reducing tea blends, like Integritea‘s Relax blend, while reading something sobering/engrossing like Perdita, have that same ability to help us have a moment, where the frenetic lives that we have in the busy world amidst us is suspended, and we can then spend much needed time,  peacefully pondering dreams and fantasies that have the capacity to fullfill some empty hole in ourselves?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dani Hoots’ Review of Alice in Zombieland by Showalter

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Amazon/Barnes&Noble

Published by: Harlequin Teen

Review by: Dani Hoots

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter follows Ali as she has been dropped into the world of zombies. Her father never let her or her sister out at night, was an alcoholic, and swore he could see zombies. Although she loved her father, she couldn’t help to sometimes wish he could be normal for once. She didn’t believe in the zombies that he could see. Then one day, Ali’s sister had a ballet recital she wanted to perform in and Ali begged her father to let them go.

That was the day everything changed.

Zombies attacked their car and Ali lost all of her family as their car crashed and the zombies ate her family. Ali thought she was going insane as she was taken in by her grandparents, but every once in a while she swore she saw something move outside her window at night. She finds others, who are known as the bad boys of the school because they are always bruised up and fail their classes, who can see the zombie and decide she must join them and take down these zombies once and for all.

I am not a fan of zombie stories, they just never appealed to me, but this story was quite original and interesting. The zombies aren’t just the flesh eating zombies like you see everywhere, but actually spirits that are trapped on the earth that eat your spirit flesh. I find this to be a lot more spooky because that means most people can’t see them until they are attacked!

I found most of the characters enjoyable, but found sometimes the fights between some of the girls were a little much. That could have just been me, although if I think back more in my experience in public schools, I guess it wasn’t too exaggerated…

Cole, the boy our main character falls for, is quite the dreamy bad boy that in reality just wants to see Ali safe. He tries to push her away at first, but the more time they spend together, the closer they get (as always :) )

All in all, this novel was very well written, original, with a cool Alice in Wonderland twist! Who can’t refuse an Alice in Wonderland theme in a story???

I give this novel a 4.8/5, just because some of the school girl fight scenes could have been a bit better and more real. It was a great novel and I recommend it to anyone who likes zombie novels, ghosts, or Alice in Wonderland.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Perdita Blog Tour Feature Part 1: Hilary Scharper Interview

 

9781492602446

Perdita

By Hilary Scharper

Sourcebooks Landmark

January 20, 2015

$16.99 Trade Paperback

“Stunning… richly complex and unpredictable.” —Historical Novel Review

Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it weren’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death. It’s life that’s much more mysterious…

Buy Perdita by Hilary Scharper: Amazon | B&N | BAM |!ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author

Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Author Website | Goodreads

Excerpt

MARGED BRICE

Cape Prius—1897

July 3

Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance….

“The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly.

I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon….

The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water.

Then—“There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline.

And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore.

“Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.

Giveaway

3 signed copies of Perdita by Hilary Scharper (open December 15, 2014 – February 7, 2015)

**Be sure to click the hyperlink above, in order to be redirected to the Rafflecopter page, where you may enter to potentially win one of three signed copies of Perdita by: Hilary Scharper


Interview with Perdita’s talented writer, Hilary Scharper

(1). Yes, this is a rather generic question, but I’ll try framing it in a more unique way (if that is even remotely possible). What inspired the idea for this story? 

HS: Inspiration is a wonderful word, and I think there were several sources of literary inspiration for the novel. One was certainly Greek mythology. (I’ve always been fascinated by it.) I’m also very partial to Shakespeare and take great delight in how he incorporated mythological characters and meanings into his plays. I was particularly intrigued by the character of “Perdita” in his The Winter’s Tale.

Perdita means “the lost one” and, in my novel, she also represents the possibility of “being found” (and thus of “being reconciled.”) In Shakespeare’s play, Perdita is a child who is “lost” owing to the blind and cruel jealousy of her father. Yet she is also “found” through loving acts of rescue, forgiveness and ultimately self-realization. In order to lose and find “a Perdita,” then, one must first become aware of who or what is lost (including the possibility of being lost yourself).

Ulltimately this is the problem for my character, Garth Hellyer.He is a jaded professor and a longevity researcher who thinks that it is the 134-year-old and abandoned Marged Brice who is the “lost one.” Marged, however, is wisely aware that Garth is also a “lost one”—and therefore also “a Perdita” (although he doesn’t recognize this at first.) This is why Marged insists that Garth stick with the question he asks her at their first meeting: who is Perdita?

So the novel is inspired by a figure from both Greek mythology and a Shakepearean play.  Perdita is a mythological character, but she is also a symbolic category inviting us to explore what is “lost”and potentially “to-be-found” in our own lives.

(“Perdita” by A. F. Sandys, public domain.)

(“Perdita” by A. F. Sandys, public domain.)

More about mythology and Perdita: http://perditanovel.com/mythology-and-perdita/

(2) The love for the picturesque sea of the Canadian shores, along with the lighthouse, really dredged up fond memories of the television drama series, from the early nineties Avonlea. Was this perhaps some small homage to L.M. Montgomery, or is it just nostalgic thinking on my part?

HS: A number of “Perdita” readers have made reference to the beautiful prose and evocative style of Anne of Green Gables. (In fact, one fan referred to the novel as the “love-child” of Charles Dickens and L. M. Montgomery—much to my delight!) Although Montgomery was not explicitly in my mind as I wrote the novel, I think there are certainly some parallels: for example, the characters of Anne and Marged certainly share a deep and unusual love for trees!

Needless to say, I am very pleased and humbly honored to have my work connected to Avonlea. Interestingly, both the setting for Perdita and Avonlea is a world defined by a large body of beautiful, wild and unpredictable water….

Perdita

Author Hilary Scharper at Georgian Bay.

(3). Did you do any research into the interesting history of those that have lived a long time for this novel? What about longevity, long life, makes this such a recurrent theme in our legends, myths, tall tales?

I did quite a bit of research on “longevity” and became fascinated by our own cultural obession with it. Longevity and mortality are closely related, and this might partially explain why it draws so much attention. I also became intrigued by the whole “dating game” that goes on in longevity research: that is, how can age be proven? Age-related documentation (birth certificates, census data, etc.) is of fairly recent vintage and covers most of us, but there are still people around who cannot establish their age beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A few days ago, USA Today posted a wonderful story about several “still-living” persons who were born in the 1800s. All five are women and the eldest (127 years old) cannot “prove” her age. But why should she have to? She knows how old she is!

I laughed out loud when I read it, because this is exactly the dynamic that the 134-year-old Marged Brice faces in my novel….

(4). As a writer of historical fiction/drama, how do you straddle the line between being historically pure, in a sense, and creating some fictional elements to both create a story/enliven it?

HS: This is always very tricky!

Your word “straddle” is exactly right. In “Perdita” I aspire to create a convincing and well-reseached voice from “the past,” but I also want to include a compelling supernatural or paranormal element.

There’s one literary genre that unabashedly celebrates a skilfull “tumbling” of writing genres: it’s the “gothic.” (For me, it’s especially late 19th-century gothic.) Given that Nature plays such a central role in my novel (in both historical and supernatural ways), I decided to coin a new literary genre: the Eco-Gothic. It is meant to reflect the “straddle” you describe above. “Perdita” is certainly historical, but it is “enlivened” by the paranormal and reflects the gothic aesthetic of “mixing” genres. As a result—apologies in advance for a bad pun!—the results are literarily (not literally) mixed.

For more on the Eco-Gothic: http://perditanovel.com/the-eco-gothic-2/

Thank you so much for answering the above questions!! I absolutely loved the novel, and the beautiful imagery/emotions it has evoked for me (especially the visual of George’s beautiful tree paintings!).

HS:Thank you for your questions! They were a pleasure to answer and I am thrilled that you enjoyed the novel! (Believe it or not, I’ve had several people ask me where they can see George’s “Sylvan Chapel.” And could I post a copy of it to my website…?)

Coming this Friday: The second part of this special, extensive feature for Sourcebook Landmark’s enrapturing, ghostly-engaging “Eco-Gothic” novel Perdita will be comprised of a thorough review, along with a Literary Tea Recommendationspecially prepared in our tea-kitchen (located right in the midst of the large library that makes up a Bibliophile’s Reverie!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Countdown to “Shadow Study:”Maria V. Snyder Fan Questions and Answers!

Click the above cover image, for the forthcoming new novel in the new Study Sequel Series- Soulfinder Trilogy- mysteriously titled Shadow Study!!

Since I re-read Sea Glass a number of months ago, I cannot recall any significant details of the plot, so I will instead be moving forward with a thorough examination of Spy Glass instead next Wednesday. In the intervening weeks until the release of Shadow Study in late February, I will be discussing three of Maria V. Snyder’s novels- Inside Out, Outside In, and Spy Glass- beginning next week.

All throughout these next few Maria V. Snyder Wednesday blog features, there may even be a special giveaway for those that are following these posts on a weekly basis. I have no inkling about just what the contest will involve, but it will most likely involve a Rafflecopter app. of sorts, and winner will be chosen at random. More details about this hypothetical giveaway to appear on a future Maria V. Snyder/Countdown to Shadow Study blog post.

Having been a fan of Maria V. Snyder’s novel for almost six years, I cannot wait to share in the excitement, which will be ushered it right around the time of the advent of Shadow Study’s release (For those wanting to know the exact release date, it will be released February 24,2015!). One of the upcoming features for this virtual blog countdown will be continued examinations of all the remaining books in the Maria V. Snyder library of book releases. Since I have neglected to do a detailed examination of Sea Glass, I will be commenting on certain subplots and elements of Sea Glass, when discussing Spy Glass next week, so there will definitely be ample discussion of Sea Glass, when being discussed alongside Spy Glass.

   For now, I wanted to thank everyone that contributed questions for Maria V. Snyder last summer during the initial Maria V. Snyder Wednesday blog feature, where I requested any questions that you had for Maria V. Snyder, who would then answer them in due time! Recently, she has sent me her answers to all your questions, and they are all provided below. I put your names in bold-face font, enabling everyone reading this post who posted a question to easily find their answer from Maria V. Snyder herself!!

(1).Freya Molyneux-Will you ever do more books about Avry and Kerrick? I did hear that more Yelena and Valek books might be coming, which is really exciting

Maria V. Snyder: Right now I don’t have any plans to write more books about Avry and Kerrick. However I won’t say never, I might get a great idea for another book in the future.

(2).Natalie Bejin- When do we get to see the revamp covered (cover) of the first Study trilogy?

Maria V. Snyder: I’m planning on posting them on my author page on Facebook soon. Unfortunately, they won’t be printed on the books until after the others are sold out.

(3). Alice Vellender-When you approach a new book which aspect do you imagine first, the characters, the setting or the storyline? Where does your inspiration come from when choosing character names?

Maria V. Snyder: I always concentrate on the characters first. In my opinion, they are the lifeblood of a story and the setting and storyline will develop from them and their actions. Naming my characters is always a fun part of writing for me. I get ideas for names from a couple baby books I own. I like to match the name’s meaning to the character if I can. For example, Kade means “chief hero” and Yelena means “shining light,” which I thought was a sign of hope for her since she starts out in a very dark place in Poison Study. I also will use names of people I meet or from readers who email me. I wrote an essay about naming characters on my website, here’s a link if you’d like to read it: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/naming.php

(4).Jo Harman: Maria puts her characters through some real emotional trauma but has made them strong enough to handle it. Where does Maria herself draw her emotional strength from and has any of her characters’ story lines really affected her as she writes them?

Maria V. Snyder: I’m not sure where I draw the emotional strength from. My characters have certainly suffered more than me. I think it might be a combination of two things. First, I took acting classes and acted in a number of plays so that helps me to “become” my characters while I’m writing and see the world through their eyes. Also when I was in middle-school (grades 6 to 8) I was the target of bullies and, while it was terrible, I survived and I believe the experience gave me the strength to look at any difficult problems as temporary – something that I have to deal with, but that I know will eventually be solved. It gave me a “never give up” mindset, which is what my protagonists tend to have as well :).

(5).Anna Dokuchaeva: I understand that you write in a created world, but if it were real, what time period would the study books be in?

Maria V. Snyder: I can’t really put a time period to my stories. Some people say they’re “medieval” due to no electricity and no gunpowder or advance technology. However, women were treated like possessions back in the Middle Ages, and I can’t allow that! Also the language is very different and my characters speak with a more modern vernacular. If pushed, I’d say right before the industrial revolution only because of the tech.

(6.)Stephanie Napoli: Will there be anyway to tie in the healers books and the study books together? Cause that’d be cool if both worlds collided.

Maria V. Snyder: It would be cool, but they are two completely different worlds with different magic systems.

(7.)Shannon French:In the Study and Healer series, Yelena and Avry’s romantic journeys are very similar. In the Glass series, Opal’s romantic journey is very different and involves multiple relationships. What made her different for you while writing her story and why was long distance not a problem for Yelena and Avry while it just didn’t work for Opal?

Maria V. Snyder: When I first started writing the Glass books, Opal was a mini clone of Yelena – except for the names, they were exactly the same. I had to exorcise Yelena from my head and develop Opal’s personality. She’s an artist and looks at the world in a different way. Also she had been forced to trick Yelena and even though she shouldn’t have felt guilty, she did and that experience affected her self-esteem. As for her romantic journey, I planned for her and Kade to be together from the start, but Devlen would not go away. He kept showing up and causing problems and then his redemption couldn’t be ignored.

(8.)Jordan Goddard: When I need to come up with new plots, I tend to act them out myself, either by talking out loud or to someone else. What techniques do you use when coming up with new ideas? (PS. All your stories deserve such a great review!)

Maria V. Snyder:I discover the story’s plot as I write. I usually have an idea of the beginning and ending of the story, but how I get to the end is worked out along the way. When I get stuck, I either write down my thoughts in the notebook I keep for each novel (the old fashioned notebook with paper!), or I talk it aloud like you do. If anyone overhears me, I say I’m talking to the cat even if the cat is in another room (he has super hearing ;). PS: Thanks Jordon, you’re so sweet!

(9.) Shannon: After Cahil drops Yelena off after the New Beginning feast she asks him what he meant by “oh my sword”, he said that he would tell her the next time they were fighting. I can not figure out the answer to this, it has driven me crazy for years! Love all of your work!

Maria V. Snyder: LOL you’re not the only one to pick that up! When Cahil says that, he has just made the realization that Yelena’s powers are very strong and she might be a Soulfinder. He doesn’t want to scare her or argue with her about it so he was smart for once and kept his mouth shut :).

(10.) Andrea: I love your books and have all that is in the series. I was wondering if you ever come to book signing in West Virginia?

Maria V. Snyder: I’d love to come to West Virginia and many other states and countries. The problem is always time away from home and opportunity. Most of my events are close to home, but the ones where I travel are because someone or an organization has invited me (and some cover my travel expenses). For example, I’m going to Oklahoma City in May because the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation invited to speak at their annual conference. I tell readers to keep checking my appearances page as I never know when an opportunity arises and I’m invited to someplace new like West Virginia.

Thanks again to everyone that submitted such great questions, and also for Maria V. Snyder for taking the opportunity to answer all the questions that I received here through my blog (or on Maria V. Snyder’s own personal Facebook Fan Page, right underneath the post she graciously shared about this blog feature).

    Stay Tuned next Wednesday for a thorough review/discussion of the last book in the Glass Trilogy:Spy Glass!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Review of Greer Macallister’s “The Magician’s Lie” & Tea Recipe


Amazon/Barnes & Nobles/ Kobo/Author’s Website/ Goodreads

SONG RECOMMENDATION FOR BOOK:

Emilie Autumn’s empowering anthem, Fight Like a Girl, the lead single for her most recent album, boasting the same title as the song., fits perfectly with the predominant theme and struggle for Ada, the main character in this story, who later adopts the stage moniker of “The Amazing Arden,” representing two polarized parts of her inner psychological struggle. Much like the duality present in the title of Emilie Autumn’s song Fight Like a Girl, the more patriarchal/conservative  gender view of fight like a girl is more derogatory, while the more empowering sense, embodying a more evolved, mature sense of self/one’s gender identity could see Fight Like a Girl as an assertive, empowering statement. “The Amazing Arden” certainly imbibes unseen power in her stage magician persona.



 
Review:

All thanks to my appreciation of Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea late last year, I have proactive in requesting any Sourcebook Landmark novels of interest I’ve been able to find on Netgalley, and this second book that I have read from this fine imprint has only cemented my new-earned respect for the top-notch quality of their fictional offerings. Released last week, The Magician’s Lie, written by Greer Macallister, immediately captured my attention, as the novel’s front flap boasted that fans of Erin Morgenstern’s energetic, colorful novel The Night Circus (another fantastic novel, I highly recommend!) will certainly enjoy this. In a purely facile way, both novels are similar thematically, in that both involve late 19th century/early 20th century aesthetics details , along with a strong circus/magic theme, except the similarities end  there since they are entirely different types of stories when you really delve deeper into them.

    The Magician’s Lie is primarily, or deceptively, from the beginning of the novel, a suspenseful murder mystery.It seemed arranged, at first glance, much like one, as though it were the scaffolding of an elaborate magic trick that even the most circumspect reader will eventually be caught unawares at many stops during the novel, becoming too caught up or emotionally riveted by Ada’s emotionally-drenched tale. Completely enthralled with her story, the main question of the “murder mystery”  eludes the reader throughout the novel about whether or not the magician killed her husband or not, during her most popular, divisive act of the sawed-man. The novel starts “in media res,” meaning in the middle of the action, so any of her supposed murderous plans are squelched when a police officer, suffering from the pain and uncertainty of a recent gun wound (which doesn’t seem to heal), arrests her and takes her back to the police station. Since he is suffering from an uncertain marriage and already at a moment of emotional weakness, his “arresting” moment  (Get it? arresting moment..) is getting caught up very fast in the moving, poignant, mysterious, and even slightly beguiling story of this wily, resourceful, though sensitive magician woman, who catches the police officer off guard.

And the story feels like a tall tale initially, as though it has all the familiar elements of a fabricated tale, like the one from one of my favorite Tim Burton films Big Fish. Yet it is the emotional core of this tale that carries a certain fragment of slight truthfulness, just enough truthfulness to really get the reader attached to the main character of Ada. She is not one-dimensional strong, as many “strong, boring female characters” tend to be, whenever a unskilled writers contrives to write a “feminist” character Also, these types of untrained writers (inept in the art of subtle writing, for sure) tend to make sure to rob away the human vulnerabilities as well, which is such an essential part of the development of a strong, though interesting female character, who has doubts, foolhardiness, short-shortsightedness at times. Essentially, all those growing pains and their accompanying tragedies in life are integral to a story’s construction, allowing the reader to connect deeply with the main character. In a sense, this type of master character development with not just Ada, but many of the other interesting characters, including another favorite of mine like the lead magician/ educator to Ada, Lady Adelaide, also have their own mysterious depth that unravels throughout the course of Ada’s story.

The struggle of this character was something that made me fervently hope, from the beginning, that she was not a predictably malicious, deceptive female character, like that of a metaphoric viper, who is really use her beguiling features to beguile us into believing that she is innocent, though in reality she carries the burden of guilt. That trickery is really an essential part of the tale, and reveals a very effective handling of Greer Macallister’s ability to effectively balance two different potential dimensions of this character in a seamless way. I’ve called this the art of subtle writing, where the words themselves are subsumed by the powerful imagery, or dynamic/realistic characters of the tale, till any shred of realism that prevents us from getting too invested in the story.

One of the antagonists in the story, Ray, is someone, much like Ada, who appears in the story, as someone you think may be just deeply flawed. He happens to be related to Ada, and they are foils of sorts, in that they both have the same uncanny magical ability of healing.  Without divulging anymore specific story details, the way they view their magic greatly shows, where they diverge as characters, and the underlying sense of the reader’s skepticism over who to ultimately trust lies with Greer Macallister’s ability to grant some level of authorial objectivity to the telling of the tale, even if the past memories of Ada’s life are being told mostly through her perspective, so her deploring views of Ray may be prejudiced, or not entirely true. Of course, certain incidences happen in the telling of her tale that will radically change any skepticism at some point, but for the greater percentage of the story, you will struggle over the authenticity of her story.

While being a beautiful, evocative novel for the most part, the only detractor for me was the tedious, sometimes glacial pacing of the way that events about the subsequent magic shows and their events are told, sometimes without any compelling melodrama or insightful views into the character. The strongest part of the story is the internal drama of the very dynamic, well-shaped character of Ada, who may be one of my favorite female characters in recent memory. It is her depth, her magnetism, yet her raw, unadulterated doubt and hesitation about everything confusing that is plaguing her life, at many points in the story, that really draws the reader to her story. Her character is really a good example of a well-shaped, interesting female character, who is authentically strong, because the author allows all her nuanced weaknesses to emerge onto the page, while she is struggling with trying to shine in the magic act, or trying in vain to deal with being confident with herself enough to be able to healthfully involve herself in a romantic relationship with someone else.

Magically, our reaction to Ada’s tale takes flight, as we grow closer to Ada, and become to fully-realize her as a layered, paradoxical figure, who slowly comes out of the shadows of the darkness of the many doubts and skepticism that both us and police officer hearing her tale project onto the canvas of whatever she tells us. In many ways, the male reader, like myself, has a more interesting role, as we are challenged to look past our own biased patriarchal views that makes us view a capable, strong woman with skepticism, and that she must be some kind of prurient, deceitful viper type woman. But as we let those things vanish and allow that person’s internal depth to open up, we realize our own vulnerabilities as well, as women and men when seated across each other, and talking in depth about different scenarios learn that the supposed “intrinsic differences” become bridged and reflected back to us. Magic, much like gender, is only a mask, a socially-acceptable pretense to hide our scars, our vulnerabilities, our weakness. Instinctively, men are trained to not trust powerful women, and women are trained to see all men sometimes as threatening, because that is what the patriarchal views seem to pervert the most, our ultimate healthy attitudes towards one another. And that is the thing that crystallizes most for me, as a reader (a male reader), who saw this book as much more than something only geared for women.

Greer Macallister does a great job including a male listener in the story, and other strong, interesting male characters.while also featuring raw,realistic emotional/romantic drama, with hints of suspense, magic, and even a strong  side of tantalizing murder-mystery, to really be the type of versatile read that is all-inclusive of any type of reader. Her book may subtly be making the powerful statement that it is time for readers to stop employing the mental patriarchal-influenced barricade of only reading what is “acceptable” for each gender. This story is for everyone, who dares to open their minds, and listen to anyone they may have a preconceived judgement of, based only on the pretense/preface/pretext of their story. That is only a facile view of the deeper magic and intrigue that lies in story, for those wishing to dig deeper into the story.


Sourcebook Landmark is certainly a publishing house I heartily recommend for readers, who want cathartic, edifying, non-gratuitous, though deep historical dramas that are like really moving BBC dramas!  If their first 2015 novel starts out this strongly with The Magician’s Lie, I am most certainly looking forward to other forthcoming books from this awesome imprint!

MAGICIAN’S LIE TEA RECIPE!

Inspiration Behind the Blend/Concoction: When reading The Magician’s Lie, there was always a surreptitious note of mystique, mystery about the character of Ada, fueling the reader’s skepticism about her motives/the veracity of her story about how she become the noteworthy female magician eventually, and whether we really believe she didn’t really murder her husband. This amount of indecision is something that inspired me to cross coffee with tea, straddling the taste boundaries that conventionally govern these dissimilar beverages, and provide something that either hoodwinks you into believing they’re either tea or coffee, or something entirely different. Maybe, you think the whole duplicitous Magician’s Lie brew is a farce, and contains neither ingredient, but something completely artificial.

The important aspect that I hope this brew evokes is the same level of depth and mystique that I felt, while reading of Ada’s escapades, the tumultuous emotions of her internal psychological life, while grappling with the struggles of coming into her own, as a magician, an assertive woman at the turn-of-the century, learning to trust herself and others!

IMG_1679

IMG_1670

MAIN INGREDIENTS:

(1) 1 teaspoon of Yorkshire Gold Tea
In my self-published novella Nethersphere ( a tale of alchemy, deeper magic, and John Donne poetry), this tea  allusively plays a pivotal role, in helping to induce for the mind to easily discern dimensional boundaries. I love its non-exceedingly tart taste, though it is still pretty bold, in terms of the different ranges of potential strength for the taste of the black tea. It is almost like the whiskey of black teas, which is a great substitute for me personally (since I am a happy non-drinker at this stage in my life, though I never begrudge anyone beer.)


2. One Teaspoon of Organic Chicory Root (recommended vendor: Mountain Rose Herbs) or any chicory root/coffee alternative (sold in the tea/coffee section at Wegmans)

 
H  While I haven’t ordered any chicory root from there just yet, I have an order in the process, and look forward to get yet another high quality item from them (packaged nicely, as well). Even if the shipping is just a tad bit expensive, you at least know that extra expense helps with this small,private business to maintain a wonderful, ethical working environment.

    To effectively prepare this concoction, you will need one mug/one measuring cup, each to mix together a different part of this drink, which will be mixed together, carefully, after the Yorkshire black Tea has steeped for 3-5 minutes in a separate measuring cup (More clear step-by-step, easy-to-read directions provided below!).

Other Important Ingredients (Combine w/ hot water:

For the Chicory Root Brew
- 1 tsp. of chicory root powder
-Dash of Half/Half (Be sure it is unsweetened, regular half/half)
-Dash of Sugar in the Raw, or any high-quality raw cane sugar
-Small 1/2 tsp. of Tea Honey
-Drop of Peppermint Extract

Other ingredients- used after combining the chicory brew/steeped black tea in one mug-
-Dash of Nutmeg
-Dash of Saigon Cinnamon

Directions on how to prepare The Magician’s Lie Tea Brew/Concoction:

1) Steep water,and bring it to a boil, using whatever method you prefer using. Make sure that there is ample water to use for preparing the chicory root brew in one mug, and steeping the English Breakfast/Black Tea in a measuring cup (I recommend Yorkshire Gold Tea!)

2) While the water is coming to a boil, measure out 1 tsp. of Chicory Root Powder, a drop of peppermint extract, dash of Sugar in the Raw/Raw Cane Sugar, and a drop of half/half.   In the other mug (separate from the one containing the chicory root brew), measure out 1 tsp. of loose black tea (be sure to use a filter, so you can easily reuse the tea grounds, for composting purposes /for a second cup of tea), or just use a one conventional tea bag of any black tea your prefer.
Hold off on adding the Tea Honey to the Chicory Root Brew till the water has come to a boil.

3) Once the water has come to a boil, add an appropriate amount of water to the measuring cup, containing the tea. I used a mug, accidentally, when preparing the videos. Fortunately, I had a paper towel underneath. It’s wise to use a measuring cup, for steeping the tea separately, as it will prevent any spills in subsequent steps, which will cause you to needlessly waster cherished Yorkshire Gold Tea.  Anyways, steep the Black tea for three-five minutes in the measuring cup, or longer if you wish it to be even stronger than generally suggested.

4) In the other mug, add a tiny amount of water, just enough to properly mix the ingredients for the chicory root brew into a smooth mixture (not something where extra amounts of chicory are left at the bottom), I would say 1/4 of a cup of water, or less is needed for the chicory root brew. Now, get a 1/2 teaspoon of Tea Honey, and put that spoon with the honey on it, into the concoction, to properly stir the honey into the chicory root brew. By the end, it should be a somewhat blackish, coffee-looking mixture, w/ a lighter brown hue, indicating that you used half/half. Basically, it will look like a conventional cup of coffee, as chicory root oftentimes is used by some as a caffeine-free, herbal coffee alternative.
**Part 1 of the video below, documents this step**

5)After the tea has steeped for the recommended amount of time, carefully pour the tea into the mug, containing the chicory root brew, and stir both of them together, and you should have a deeper, light mahogany beverage, which will smell heavenly. Now, add a dash of Saigon cinnamon and Nutmeg to the top, to give a nice overlay of  nutmeg/cinnamon, that float atop your mixture that will deceive anyone to believe it is either coffee or tea. It depends on what half of the brew they’re keenly focusing on, when tasting.

If the written directions above do not suffice, here are two music-filled videos, documenting two essential steps of the process (geared for visual learners)

Part 1:
Be sure to note that the chicory root brew (being stirred in the video) is in an entirely different mug from the one where the tea is being steeped.

Part 2:

    This is the second part, where I combine the chicory root brew (with the added ingredients) with the steeped Yorkshire Gold Black Tea. 

     The musical accompaniment happens to be another segment of an Emile Autumn song, called “Time for Tea,” which is the second track of her “Fight Like a Girl” album.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Bibliophile’s Film Review:“All I Have is a Voice” Review of “The Normal Heart” (HBO 2014)

    Note from Editor: Beginning today, we have our first Bibliophile’s Film review, from freelancer Jo Vee, who will be occasionally submitting some of her own detailed, cerebral musings and editorials on films she has recently enjoyed.

** Do you wish to submit an article, for potential publication, here on A Bibliophile’s Reverie? Anyone, with even a casual interest in reviewing films, books, music,video games alcoholic beverages, teas, and coffees are free to email me at narniafanatic@gmail.com, with an attached WORD document file of a clean, well-edited copy of their article for consideration.Any writing style is accepted, as long as the content is substantive, thoughtful, and interesting. I am open to publishing angry screeds, rants, as long as they’re well-written. That is the bottom-line regulation for all articles here, as I am enthusiastically open to expressing the wide scope of different writing styles and views that come across in anyone’s writing.

Another requirement is that the articles must be tailored, somewhat to reading and the enjoyment of reading, so the music/video game editorials must be an analysis of their narratives, in addition to gameplay (for video games), or instrutmentals (for music). For music, the narrative could feasibly be the concept behind the album, and an analysis of how well it was told.

Without further ado, here is our first freelancer movie review, from Jo Vee!

“All I Have is a Voice”  Review of “The Normal Heart” (HBO 2014)

Written by: Jo Vee

A HBO television drama adapted from the semi-autobiographical 1985 play by Larry Kramer and directed by Ryan Murphy, it’s difficult to find words that would pinpoint the power of The Normal Heart (2014). “Magnificent” springs first to mind, but glosses uncomfortably over The Normal Heart’s harrowing and raw subject matter. “Emotional” is a tempting choice, but although Kramer’s story is indeed one about love, its core urgency stems from its preoccupation with shocking political and social issues. “Courageous” is perhaps the best choice.

   The Normal Heart centers on the horrifying period when the disease now known as HIV AIDS first reared its ugly head. This film tells the story of Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo), a writer living and working in New York city in the early eighties. As a gay man, he is concerned to see more and more of his friends dying from this mysterious illness. This concern quickly turns to desperation and then to outrage when he learns from Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts) that medical staff are refusing to feed the sick, hospitals are refusing to admit dying men, the mayor is refusing to acknowledge any pleas for help, and that even funding for desperately needed research is being denied. The film follows Weeks’ following struggle to raise awareness, galvanize the government, and get help for the sick and dying and invisible. His activism includes writing, pleading, shouting, phone calls, visiting, gathering, handing out, and writing some more.

Taylor Kitsch as Bruce Niles and Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks.

Taylor Kitsch as Bruce Niles and Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks.

   Having metamorphosed through countless stage productions before its adaptation for the big screen, it must have been a daunting task casting the characters of The Normal Heart. But boy is it cast well. I believe this is perhaps the role of a lifetime from Mark Ruffalo, who gives such a nuanced and powerful performance as Ned Weeks, a character so different to any of his other roles. I think he discovered his rage for this part, and it’s wonderful. Ruffalo still amazingly retains his characteristic gentleness though, and that provides a lovely offset to what would otherwise be a rather relentless film. The most powerful scenes for me are those between Weeks and his mildly homophobic brother Ben (played by Alfred Molina). When Weeks, his eyes shining with desperation and anger, backs away from his brother, hands spread in disbelief, voice breaking with grief and despair, and yells, really yells – to the heavens, to God, to anyone and everyone who all seem to have turned their backs: ““I am trying to understand why nobody gives a shit that WE ARE DYING!”

Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer co-star in 'The Normal Heart'.

Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer co-star in ‘The Normal Heart’.

The part of Felix Turner, a closeted reporter working for the New York times, is played by the beautiful and soulful Matt Bomer. Bomer famously read The Normal Heart as a teenager and the play resonated with him so much that when he heard it was being made into a film, he contacted those involved and asked to audition. “I was happy for any role” he says, “and I was so honored when they chose me to play Felix.” Not wanting to spoil the plot for those who haven’t yet seen it, suffice to say that the role of Felix is a complex, harrowing, jubilant and heart-wrenching one, and Bomer pulls it off magnificentlywith subtlety and integrity.

Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks

Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks

  Other key characters are also superbly cast, and feature many actors who played roles in the stage version also. Taylor Kitsch swaggers as Bruce Niles, Jim Parsons amazes as Tommy Boatwright, Joe Mantello disarms as Mikey Marcus and Alfred Molina captivates as Ben Weeks.

   When Kramer’s original play premiered on Broadway in 1985, Kramer insisted that every programme included two verses of the poem “September 1, 1939” by W. H. Auden. One of the poet’s best known and studied, it gave Kramer’s original play its name:

What mad Nijinsky wrote

About Diaghilev

Is true of the normal heart;

For the error bred in the bone

Of each woman and each man

Craves what it cannot have,

Not universal love

But to be loved alone.

Indeed, speaking in a recent interview, The Normal Heart’s director Ryan Murphy quoted a line from Auden’s poem as the message at the heart of the film: “We must love one another or die.” In Ned Week’s New York, young men in the recently liberated gay community began dropping like flies and no-one knew why. No-one knew the problem, how it was spreading, where it came from, how to treat it, nothing. And here’s the crux of it: no-one outside of the gay community was interested in finding out. The mayor and the government both turned a blind eye to this “gay cancer” for more than three years, by which time several thousand people had lost their lives. In a political climate characterized by stigma and ostracism, the disease raged like a “real life horror story” to quote actor Jim Parsons who plays Tommy in the film. Auden’s lines here again resonate:

Uncertain and afraid

As the clever hopes expire

Of a low dishonest decade:

Waves of anger and fear

Circulate over the bright

And darkened lands of the earth,

Obsessing our private lives;

The unmentionable odour of death

Offends the September night.

Make no mistake, the film portrays Weeks as an ordinary middle-aged gay man, scholarly and insecure, but he is a man who refused to sit back and watch, who came to the conclusion that;

All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie.

  I thoroughly recommend this film. Have a box of tissues handy, and get your political head on, for this is not a shallow movie. It is a joyous and moving story about love, loss, and unbelievable courage. It is a film which dregs up the homophobia that existed in the late eighties, where, in the face of a terrifying epidemic in which the ostracized minority were dying, some began asking Auden’s ultimate question: Who can speak for the dumb? So perhaps “courageous” is the most fitting word to describe this drama. Kramer’s original script was courageous, a beacon of truth in a time still haunted by stigma, HBO’s televised film is courageous in its adaption of the play’s incendiary subject matter; the actors are courageous in taking on such heavy and complex roles, and the characters themselves are perhaps the most courageous of all. The Normal Heart tells the story of those people brave enough to stand up in the face of hostile and prejudiced apathy, and demand to be counted as human beings.

   Tomorrow, be sure to check out my review of Sourcebook’s historical fiction novel The Magcian’s Lie, along with a new tantalizing tea recipe!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tea Time At Reverie: Tea From Taiwan’s Hua Gang Oolong Tea

Tea From Taiwan logo

I’m still combing through the smorgasbord of oolong samples I’ve received since over the past few months. Today’s pick is Hua Gang Oolong, courtesy of Tea From Taiwan. Hua Gang is harvested on Mount Li (Pear Mountain), one of Taiwan’s most prized tea regions and located in the country’s Jade Mountains range. The plantation’s high altitudes (about 2400 meters, or roughly 1.5 miles) and cool, humid climate is said to be ideal for growing oolongs. So, how does Hua Gang tickle the senses of sight, smell, and taste? Let’s open the packet and find out!

The Basics

Tea From Taiwan Hua Gang Oolong closeup

Photo courtesy of Tea From Taiwan

 

Tea From Taiwan’s Description: “…. [A] tea with full, robust flavor and long-lasting aftertaste. The brewed tea has an exquisite aroma and brews to an appealing amber liquor. The leaves can be re-brewed many times while maintaining a full flavor.”

Ingredients: Hua Gang oolong tea leaves

Steeping Instructions: Use 1 teaspoon per 8 oz of water. Heat water to just below boiling (195 degrees Fahrenheit / 90 degrees Celsius) and steep for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 30 seconds for each subsequent brew.

Multiple Brews?: Yes, about 5 to 8 times

Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf

Caffeine Level: Medium

The Experience

Hua Gang looks like a typical oolong. When dry, the dark green leaves are furled into misshapen pellets with black and bright green streaks. The difference, however, lies in Hua Gang’s fragrance. In fact, it doesn’t smell like much. Maybe a hint of grass and orchid, but that’s about it. Normally oolongs have a more resonant floral or plant aroma, so the lack of one here shocked me a little. But I’m not worried. Experience has taught me not to judge a tea before drinking it.

For my first cup of Hua Gang, I followed the instructions above, steeping the leaves for about 30 seconds. The infusion comes out pale yellow with a slight green tinge. I’d almost describe it as a dull yet pretty chartreuse. Unusual for an oolong, but the first steep always colors differently than the later ones. I inhale to see if there’s an aroma now –and there is! The signature orchid perfume of oolong balances nicely with a vegetal note. Taste-wise, the sip is lightly floral and grassy, with the beginnings of the creaminess that oolongs are also famous for. Mmmmmm, this is a pleasant introduction so far.

Steep #2 sits for about 90 seconds. This time the liquid is corn-colored, a warm medium yellow. The flavor has blossomed into fuller floral and vegetal tones, with hints of spinach and sugar snap peas as well as a smooth, primarily floral aftertaste. It reminds me of a meadow teeming with of wildflowers and freshly grown grass, like the rolling hills I’d find in rural coastal Maine during the spring. At the same time, this steep is more buttery and creamy in texture than the first one. Crisp yet luxurious – there’s a lot going on here, and my tastebuds are grateful for it!

With each subsequent steep of Hua Gang, the fragrance and flavor profile evolves in strength without changing its floral tune. The character starts to weaken after the fifth steep (about 3 minutes, 30 seconds). However, it still makes a decent cup, with the floral overtones lingering in the aftertaste. Some reviewers who’ve covered this tea on other sites have mentioned toasted rice (akin to genmaicha), buttered popcorn, or faint spice as possible flavors. I didn’t pick up on any of these. That’s not to say you won’t if you try it, however.

The Aftertaste

Tea From Taiwan’s Hua Gang Oolong may have found a permanent spot on my tea shelf! It combines a hypnotic orchid scent with buttery indulgence and crisp grassiness, resulting in a soulful infusion with depth and contrast. I don’t know if I would call it “robust” as the vendor does, but it definitely ticks off every checkbox on my oolong wishlist and then some. Other tea reviewers have noted a wider flavor range than what I noticed. However, every tea drinker will experience each tea differently, so I won’t hold that discrepancy against this darling of an oolong.

Grade: 8.5 / 10

Recommended For:

  • Tea Drinkers Who: Like oolong teas
  • Time of Day and Year: Afternoons and evenings in the spring or summer
  • Possible Book Pairings: I know I recommended Alison Goodman’s Eon for a previous Tea Time. However, the YA fantasy’s richly developed, Asian-inspired world and thematic twist on gender equality (with the feminine eventually winning out) couples beautifully with Hua Gang’s complexities.

You can purchase Hua Gang Oolong directly from Tea From Taiwan as a sample packet or in larger quantities.

*       *      *

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.

1 Comment

Filed under teatimeatreverie