Bookish Product Reviews: Stormteas from Adagio Teas

Book Product Reviews

I’ve been looking to start this portion of my blog and finally have the chance to do so with some of my more recent bookish purchases. The first review I have is for the fandom tea blend Stormteas from Adagio Teas based off of Cora Carmack’s newest novel, Roar. I actually created these blends myself and it was a fun process to figure out what flavors I thought would match the different storms mentioned in the books, as well as the artwork for the tins. Some of the storms are pretty destructive, but I didn’t want the teas to taste horrible. In all, it’s a pretty solid set blend. It is $24 for the set of 6 ($4/ea) or you can purchase single samplers of each for $5.
Purchase the teas here.

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img_3727Skyfire Affinity

Teas: White Tangerine, Rooibos Lemon Cloud, Snowbud, accented w/ Safflower.
Steep Instructions: 190* for 4 minutes
Caffeine Level: Low
My Rating: Even though this tea has low caffeine, the citrus really energizes you. There’s a bit of a fizzy feeling from the taste, but it’s not carbonated – it’s a very light tea. I like that it has a yellowish color to it for lightning.

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Twister Affinity

Teas: Chocolate Chai, Vanilla Green, Cinnamon, accented w/ Cocoa Nibs.
Steep Instructions: 205* for 3 minutes
Caffeine Level: High
My Rating: Fun thing about this tea is that it started steeping in a greenish color then turned into this darker brown. Smells chocolatey and earthy. This one I didn’t want to make super harsh, but it’s definitely got a spicy kick to it due to the cinnamon and chai.

img_3734Thunderstorm Affinity

Teas: Earl Grey Bravo, Ginger, Peach, accented w/ Cornflowers
Steep Instructions: 212* for 3 minutes
Caffeine Level: High
My Rating: the aroma of this one is quite strong in the leaves, yet mellows once steeped. I suggest adding honey to this one to really bring out the peach and ginger or the earl grey will overpower. Reminds me of summer thunderstorms in the south.

 

img_3742Firestorm Affinity

Teas: Gunpowder, Spiced Apple Chai, Blood Orange, accented w/ hibiscus
Steep Instructions: 205* for 4 minutes
Caffeine Level: Moderate
My Rating: I’m so glad the red came out in this tea (thank you hibiscus flowers). Firestorm is spicy, but the apple/orange flavors blend to create this cozy/warm taste…much like a fireside.

 

img_3757Snowstorm Affinity

Teas: Candy Cane, Vanilla, Cream, accented w/ Candy Canes
Steep Instructions: 212* for 3 minutes
Caffeine Level: High
My Rating: I’m only rating this as okay since I’m just not a personal fan of minty teas. I did enjoy it paired with a chocolate biscotti with some cream and honey. From the tin, the peppermint is rather strong, but when steeped it definitely is more subdued. I’d probably drink this tea if I was feeling under the weather since peppermint is good for upset stomachs 🙂

img_3758-1Fog Affinity

Teas: Snowbud, Decaf Earl Grey, Cream, accented w/ Lavender
Steep Instructions: 205* for 3 minutes
Caffeine Level: Moderate
My Rating: This blend definitely lives up to the way fog works in Roar – tastes mellow and calming, yet there’s a fuzzy/hazy feeling it gives. Pretty solid brew and even with the caffeine count in it, it would be a decent night drink.

If you end up purchasing these teas for yourself or as a gift, please come back to let me know what you think about them and be sure to give them a review on Adagio. If you would like a $5 off your first purchase on the site, drop a comment too so I can send you a gift certificate.
Happy Steeping!

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Review: Ensnared by Rita Stradling

ensnared-cover-rita-stradlingTitle: Ensnared

Author: Rita Stradling

Published: Expected December 18, 2017

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Science Fiction, Retelling

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Kindle eBook, 380 pages

Source: NetGalley

Recommended For: Those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast with a futuristic/ science fiction twist

Goodreads Rating: 3.51

My Rating:✰✰✰

This was one of the first books that caught my eye when I had signed up for an account on NetGalley, it was definitely a cover buy. Though the second thing that had sold me on the story was that it was a futuristic retelling of Beauty and the Beast – which, as you can tell, is one of my favorite stories. I didn’t go in to reading the book with any expectations, but wanted to see who it would shape and mold the BatB story to this new genre. I’d honestly say that if I hadn’t been told that it was a retelling, it could probably stand on it’s own since a lot of the original was swapped in some way.

**Spoilers ahead**

Some of the differences I noted that were flipped were:

  • Plain, average girl VS. a brainy beauty.
  • Good-looking friend, who may have had an interest in Alainn VS. good-looking, hyper-masculine character fawning over said girl.
  • Cybernetic monkeys who stayed their form VS. magical, spell-bound household items who turned back into people.
  • Killer robot named Rose/Rosette who tries to “fix” humanity VS. magical rose that ticked down the remaining “humanity” in the Beast.
  • Scarred man, trying to understand human connections because he was deprived of them VS. man who had human connection, but lacked the empathy that mattered.

But there was so much more that stood out as unique to the story without the connection to BatB. I was happy to see that there was a backstory to the motivations in the main character, Alainn. I wish there had been more to the backstory of Lorccan because there were events in the story that didn’t seem too fleshed out and I needed to know more. It was also refreshing to see how Artificial Intelligence was portrayed in the book – each AI had their own personalities and it didn’t seem out-of-place in the story. This retelling had bits and pieces of the original but did a fantastic job (even if later on) fitting it into a complex, scientific setting.

But I have certain feelings about the book and some things that I need to know more. Such as:

  • They did a great job of making things scientific, but why wasn’t there more backstory on why Lorccan was holed up in his tower because of an auto-immune disease. At the end of the book, it seemed like the doctors at the hospitals thought he was making things up…did his parents just make him “think” he could die at any point because they were controlling/manipulative or did he REALLY have an issue.
  • What did Alainn’s father fraud-wise to get him into so much trouble? Even though he had a gambling problem, it didn’t seem like he didn’t deliver the goods.
  • The romance between Alainn and Lorccan – even though Alainn was “sent there” to be a test for Lorccan’s physical relationship with Shelly, he was under the impression she was a robot. What are the social implications of a human and robot having “relations” in this world? She literally becomes the one thing he clings on to and doesn’t care if she’s real or not and that just sits weird with me. Also, how in the world did he not KNOW she was a human. Being around robots all the time, he really believed whatever she said?!
  • The character names. Seriously…you have normal names like Colby, Terry, Shelly, etc. and the two main characters have the most complicated names ever. Alainn and Lorccan? Just because it is science fiction, doesn’t mean that the main characters have to have “unique” names to make them stand out.

In all, I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t WOW me like others I’ve read so far – the kind of WOW that causes a book hangover. I would recommend it to others based on interests or if they made specific requests on a recommendation.

*I received an eBook ARC of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest opinion/review. I thank the author for the opportunity to be able to do so.*

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caravalTitle: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Published: January 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA/NA, Fiction
Series Information: Caraval #1
Format: Hardcover, 407 pages
Source: February Owlcrate – Run Away With The Circus
Recommended For: Those who loved Night Circus and also enjoy darker themes in storytelling, a la Hunger Games (a bit).
Goodreads Rating: 4.11
My Rating:✰✰✰✰✰

I have seen this book so much on Instagram that I almost bought it before I had received my Owlcrate box, but I had a bit of a feeling that it might have been included due to the theme. A lot of reviews I had seen had mentioned that people who loved Night Circus would really enjoy this story, and even with seeing that (and my love-hate relationship with the aforementioned book) I went in a little skeptical as to how much I might like the story. I had read a couple of pages to get a feel for the story before settling into my reading room to really delve in and what I had read really piqued my interests to see what would happen.
I want to touch on the uniqueness of the pages in this book – There were gorgeous page illustrations for each day of the Caraval games, which you don’t see too often in books. Also, which I’m totally working to get my hands on, is that the UK versions of the books have different images embossed into the hardcovers under the dust jacket with symbols from the game (top hat, rose, clock, dress, and tent). I think that’s a clever way to market the book as buyers scramble to get the design they really want, which I hear the clock was the most popular. The handwritten notes that sprinkle the beginning and end of the book are a wonderful touch that really pulls you into the world.

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Seriously, I need to get my hands on one of the UK editions!

Caraval was honestly a pleasant surprise to read. Looking at my Bookout app, I pretty much would have read it in a day and that’s not something I typically do. This book was also a little on the dark side of what you encounter with YA books – I could say that there are instances where there could be a little bit of a trigger warning on some of the actions that took place in the book, abuse and emotional manipulation being the two that I can think of easily. I was a bit shocked to read of the abuse that the Dragna sisters endured, but I am in no way saying that it shouldn’t be in a book because what happens to them happens to tons of women (and men) in the world today and we can’t shelter everyone from it. The rest of the story is full of danger, heartbreak, and lots of deception…even in the midst of what seems to be a fantastic, magical island.
There was a moment in the beginning where I really thought that one of the characters was the mysterious Legend, which was half-confirmed, then turned out to be someone completely different! There were a lot of twists that kept you guessing where the story would lead you next – I haven’t been this engaged in a story that involved a game since Hunger Games.

Have you read Caraval yet? If you haven’t, I HIGHLY recommend this book as your next read. I’m now anxiously awaiting the release of book two since the ending was a bit of a cliff-hanger.

Purchase a copy for yourself here: Caraval

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Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

acomaf-cover1Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA/NA, Fiction
Series Information: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Recommended For: Readers who loved/liked ACOTAR who want to go deeper into the world of Prythian that was set up in book one and the threats to the mortal and faerie lands that loom even closer
Goodreads Rating: 4.74
My Rating:✰✰✰✰✰

It is not very often that a second book in a series really outshines the first. More often I’ve seen this happen in movies (hello, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), but not as often in books. I think A Court of Mist and Fury was what most readers expected out of A Court of Thorns and Roses, but from comparing the two works I don’t think it would have been as strong of a story if it was the other way around. I was blown away by the rich detail and elaboration of the world of Prythian in ACOMAF. It picks up right where ACOTAR ends, which helps with seamless storytelling, with a little bit of a refresher through the first few chapters as to what has happened and what is going to happen. I tried…I tried to dislike Rhysand with all my being, but that man moved up to Book Boyfriend of the Year (or forever, a title which had been held by Peeta of Hunger Games and Jacob of Twilight). There was so much that was explained! I learned more about the other courts of Prythian and their alliances with one another, found my new best friends (the Inner Circle), discovered my ultimate OTPs, and more. I finally connected to Feyre in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school (this is an emotional situation that I’m still working through and almost felt like I was getting a part of myself back that I had lost). But chapters 54/55, the chapters EVERYONE talks about…I had a feeling there was some connection when I read Feyre talk about the night skies she painted was somehow related to the Night Court…absolutely beautiful, breathtaking, and I cried like a baby.
I really wish those who may have some iffy feelings about ACOTAR to really come back and read ACOMAF – I’m honestly curious if their thoughts changed. I’m going to keep this review somewhat shorter than others because there is so much that happens of Feyre’s journey to discover her new Faerie self and helping to destroy the King of Hybern that I just don’t want to spoil anything!

Did you feel that A Court of Mist and Fury was better than A Court of Thorns and Roses?
I cannot wait until A Court of Wings and Ruin is released on May 2nd!
Purchase a copy for yourself here: A Court of Mist and Fury

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

77493_originalTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published May 5, 2015)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA/NA, Fiction
Series Information: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Recommended For: Readers who go for the typical fantasy YA who want to push the limits of the push the limits of the genre with a sprinkling of fairytale re-tellings.
Goodreads Rating: 4.30
My Rating:✰✰✰✰✰

A Court of Thorns and Roses was probably the most recommended book to me – along the lines of the fervor that Harry Potter and Twilight fans encompass. I tried not to do any digging into the plot of the story and was told to stay FAR AWAY from Tumblr until I read both ACOTAR and A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF, book two). Heeding the advice of others, I dove in. I started this book a few months back, but stopped when work really picked up for me – with that came a lot of stress and thusly, I retreated back into the fantasy world of my bookshelf. The one thing I had heard tossed around about ACOTAR was that it was a Beauty and the Beast re-telling of sorts, that obviously was one of the main reasons I picked up the book.
I was pretty thrilled to be sucked into a new book series, one that I wanted to know more about the characters and their lands. Seriously, any free time I had available was filled with reading this and ACOMAF – now I’m on a book hangover waiting until May for A Court of Wings and Ruin. I feel like a lot of people who read this expected all of the faerie realms to be fleshed out and every detail about the characters revealed in book one. I think it did a pretty decent job of setting up the main character, Feyre, and how we moved into why she was brought to the faerie realms. It does have hints of a Beauty and the Beast retelling when you learn about the Spring Court’s high-lord, Tamlin, and his shapeshifting abilities, but I feel there is a bit of a Cinderella tone as well. Feyre had a life where she was considered rich, then her family hit hard times and she did a lot of the work for the family. Enter Tamlin who brings her back to riches and you’ve got a bit of a Cinderella story. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a few more steamy passages in this book – when you pick up a YA novel you don’t expect to come across passages like that, but they were well written without going into a lot of explicit detail (like the early days of smut I was sorta into). A beautiful romance blossomed between Feyre and Tamlin, and I sailed away on my newest character ship.* At this point I need to add that I’m going to try not to bring my thoughts in from ACOMAF because my world was turned upside down on what I thought my ships were and because I read both books so close together * There was consistent action presented with the oppression of Amarantha and trying to hide Feyre from other faeries in the lands of Prythian, whether from opposing courts or just downright evil creatures. Then there’s Rhysand (Rhys)… good lord, I had this inner feeling I was going to be into him (I have a thing for dark, tortured, brooding guys and he reminded me of a character from an RP I used to write with friends in HS), but I told myself that he was bad and it was Feyre x Tamlin all the way.
I need to also add that I did feel that Feyre was a lot like a lot of other YA heroines from some of my favorite books, but I guess that’s something that is almost expected in the genre. She was strong, yet at the same time she was weak. I didn’t necessarily relate to her (or anyone) in this book and while that is typically the driving force of my interest in a book (relating in some way is key), it was more of the interest in the story, world, and crisis that really hooked me.

I know I’m super behind in reading this series, but if you’ve read A Court of Thorns and Roses, what did you think? I’ve seen a more critical reviews from my peers on the book, since reading it, and I wonder if there was too much expectation of it to fit a super unique mold. I think there’s almost this point where you need to step back from what you’ve seen time and time again in the YA Fantasy genre and know that if it works, don’t fix it. I can appreciate how there is a typical trope in the genre, but at the same time look at a work independently.
Purchase a copy for yourself here: A Court of Thorns and Roses

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Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

the-night-circusTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Published: July 3, 2012 by Anchor (first published September 13, 2011)
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, YA
Series Information: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Recommended For: Lovers of theatricality and whimsy who don’t mind a little bit of the unbelievable with a hint of romance.
Goodreads Rating: 4.03
My Rating:✰✰✰

 

 

 

  Oh Night Circus, how we had such a love-hate relationship. I’m not going to lie, this book took me about a week or so to read because I just couldn’t find momentum in the story. This story had come highly recommended from friends and even from my local thrift bookshop, so you can imagine my chagrin when I was almost halfway in and bored to death. Don’t let my boredom be misinterpreted as a distaste for the story – I absolutely loved the detail that went into setting the scenes, the descriptions of the actions taking place, and the intricacies of the characters were really well written, but the plot took FOREVER to manifest and become clear. Which, on that note, I can admire Erin Morgenstern’s writing of the game. I do not know if it was intentional or not, but my own personal frustration with not knowing the details of the game, along with the players in it, really made me think after I had finished the book. I can relate now to the emotion of Celia and Marco about wanting more details so that they knew how to win their eternal challenge. There also is the note of the book chapters bouncing from year to year, sometimes in what I would assume is the “present”, the past (which set up the whole Le Cirque des Rêves), and what put the reader in the future. It’s a subtle nod to the characters of Poppet and Widget and their magical abilities.
Now, I didn’t fully dislike the book – it was about Part III or so when the momentum picked up. Celia and Marco were not in the dark about who their opponents were and their playful game of cat-and-mouse turned more into beautiful collaboration, not to mention their almost tragic romance. I probably read the last 219 pages in a flurry of desperation due to everything else progressing so slowly. I fought back the dull ache of sleep last night, just to hit those last few pages – even with getting into bed at midnight isn’t always ideal when you have work the next morning, but luckily I do not have to be in until 10am 😉 I really enjoyed the bits where it seemed like you, the reader, was at the circus yourself and when you receive the business card for the owner, Bailey, I wonder if you might get an email back if you send one to the address? Hmmmm…

Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think? I’m curious if anyone else picked up on the subtle nuances of the writing that connected to what the characters in the story felt – I feel like it’s this weird “gift” I have when it comes to any form of storytelling (books, movies, tv, etc).

Purchase a copy for yourself here: The Night Circus

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Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse-mythology-coverTitle: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Published: February 7th 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company

Genre: Mythology, Fiction, Short Stories

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: Personal purchase

Recommended For: Mythology and History buffs who want a quicker read of the Poetic Eddas with witty prose.

Goodreads Rating: 4.27

My Rating: ✰✰✰✰✰

 

As someone who loves learning about the history of different cultures, mythology tends to be one of my favorite subjects to read about. For one of my college courses, we had to pick a work not originally written in English to use as a basis for a creative piece, the Poetic Eddas was my choice for the project. Let’s just say that even with the translations on the market, they’re pretty heavy to read through.
This book was on my radar when it was first announced then somehow I lost my list of books-to-read. Thanks to a friend of mine on Facebook, I was quickly reminded and ran over to the bookstore to grab myself a copy. I am currently in the middle of reading Night Circus, but with this being a shorter book I figured I could take a quick break.
Norse Mythology was read in about a day. The short stories contained in the book are quick to digest, even if you’re trying to navigate the correct pronunciation of Norwegian names. The book starts with a refresher on the main Norse pantheon: Odin, Thor, and Loki – these three are always the main focus of the mythology. Even though Gaiman makes a point to explain how these Gods appear in the original myths, I cannot help but imagine their Marvel equivalents from the movies. One character I was happy to read more about was Freya – Gaiman gives her such a sassy spirited character that made me laugh out loud a few times. The stories themselves are fascinating from the creation of the nine worlds and the many races within them to awkward situations (Thor in a wedding dress or Loki birthing Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse) and the end of times, Ragnarök. Also included at the end of the book is an index of the various Gods, Goddesses, and items mentioned throughout the book for quick reference to their stories.

I personally really enjoyed this book and retelling of the Eddas – Gaiman has written a wonderful rendition of these northern tales.

Purchase a copy for yourself here: Norse Mythology

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