Admitting Defeat with Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium #1)

by Lauren Oliver

Released: January 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 441
Source: Purchased

Synopsis: Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

Lauren Oliver’s writing style is incredible. It’s beautiful. It’s poetic. I want to read it out loud so I can hear it. It leaves a hole in my chest, but in a good way. I remember thinking that when I read Before I Fall, and if you haven’t read that book, I definitely recommend it. So, when I picked up a copy of Delirium, I couldn’t wait to read it. It started out promising. I devoured the first eight chapters. And then, everything came to a screeching stop. Don’t get me wrong– Lauren Oliver’s writing style is still impeccable in this book. It was just…boring.

The last time I felt this bored reading a book was when I read the Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. That was another book that started out promising but then bored me to tears a few chapters in. I kept reading because so many people praised Cassandra Claire, and I wanted to find out why for myself. Yes, there was a chapter or two at the end that piqued my interest, but upon finishing the novel I just resented the whole experience. I wasn’t prepared to let that happen again.

Not to mention, I couldn’t buy in to the premise of love as the demise of a society. Or the scapegoat, at least. It made as much sense to me as the idea that different personality types lead to the demise of a society. Just no. With the exception of the Hunger Games, I haven’t read a dystopian novel and loved it, so I’m starting to think the dystopian genre really isn’t a good niche for me after all.

I don’t often admit defeat. Especially when it comes to books that I own! I typically see not reading or not finishing books I own as a waste of money, but today I’ve decided that my time is more valuable than my money.

There is no start rating for Delirium (not to be confused with a zero-star rating). I didn’t finish it, so I don’t think I can rate it fairly.

Teaview: Pass Me the Cup, Darjeeling

Giddapahar muscatel black tea Golden Tips TeaWhen I drink black tea, I often compare it to drinking coffee or red wine or even beer. It’s bold and usually full-bodied. It’s rich and astringent and malty. It’s the kind of tea I drink on cold, overcast days because it warms me up and keeps me extra alert. But then, Giddapahar Muscatel from Golden Tips Tea takes everything I knew about black tea and flips it on its head.

The scent of dried tea leaves is sweet– the kind of sweetness you might find in a (semi-dry) white wine, although I didn’t think this sweetness carried over in the flavor. It had a brightness and fruity (read: grape-like) aroma to match, and sometimes, I thought the aftertaste was a little tart.  The aroma of this tea lingered too, just the way I like it– unlike some of the other teas I’ve tried from Golden Tips Tea (Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea). I did find this tea to be pretty astringent though, but it wasn’t offensive to my taste buds.

Of the teas I’ve sampled from Golden Tips Tea, Giddapahar Muscatel is my favorite so far. The aroma and flavor are powerful and interesting, and the tea stands up to multiple steeps (although, I’m not sure I could get a third cup out of the leaves). I only wish I had some rock sugar to sweeten my experience.

Sample of Giddapahar Muscatel provided by Golden Tips Tea in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Weekend Review: Where I Admit I Just Don’t Feel Like Reading Right Now

Yes, it’s true. Ever since I finished These Broken Stars, I haven’t felt like reading, and this is why:

  1.  I’m busy entertaining family and friends. For once in my life. When Jon and I moved in together, I didn’t think about inviting people over because I’m a bit of a homebody, who keeps to herself. But, I know Jon has been really excited about our new place, so he’s been inviting all the people over. I expected this place to be a sanctuary, but socializing here has been a positive experience too. It motivates me to do weekend chores and try out new recipes. I mean, I made crock pot pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches. With homemade BBQ sauce. Let me say that again with emphasis– Homemade BBQ Sauce. What an accomplishment! Plus, sometimes they bring us presents, like these house plants Jon’s dad brought us. It seems like his family members are plant-loving people, and they have green thumbs, so I felt like these house plants were a test. So far they are still alive, which is a miracle since I have no idea what I’m doing. Also, we have a cat.Fargo and the house plants
  2. I spent a weekend catching up with an old pal. I haven’t seen Bianca since high school, which was almost ten years ago. But, she came to Michigan recently, and when I heard the news, I couldn’t pass up this rare occasion that we were in the same state. I didn’t even hesitate to steal a day with her even though that meant driving to and navigating Detroit proper to get to her.

    We went to a night club in the bottom of the Leland Hotel, but like most of Detroit, I think it had hit its prime in a prior decade. It used to be a well-known industrial/goth night club, but these days it only has a handful of patrons– mostly middle-aged closet goths. It actually made me feel kind of sad, but at least the music was good.

    Then we went to American Coney Island (one of the most famous coney island restaurants in Detroit). It was even featured on the Travel Channel once. Coney dogs are kind of a big deal in Michigan, so I was excited to try out some of Michigan’s most famous. The novelty of it was exciting, but I’ve had better coney dogs. For example, if you want a dry sauce coney, you head to a small food cart on Detroit St. in Jackson, Mi called Tommy Dogs. He’s only open in the summer, and if you arrive at noontime for lunch, be prepared to wait a while. If you like your coneys smothered in saucy sauce, might I suggest Zeus’s Coney Island in Lansing? The coney sauce is swell, but the hot dog exceeds expectations. It’s got dat snap!
  3. We got an Xbox One, and I snagged myself a copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Last Saturday, I played for 17 hours straight. Part of me feels embarrassed to admit that, the other part doesn’t really care because the game is just that good. I also have Assassins’s Creed: Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and Destiny. Did I mention this was actually Jon’s birthday present? It was unintentional that I ended up with the most games.
    Dragon Age Inquisition
  4. I think maybe my mind is just exhausted too. Lately, I’ve struggled to focus on the books I try to read. I think about work or how I don’t really want to make spaghetti again, but I don’t want to go to the grocery store either or I think about how I’m excited to cook chicken caprese pasta before realizing I forgot to thaw the chicken, so it looks like it’s a grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup night, except I forgot to set the butter out to soften, so how does a bowl of Waffle Crisp sound?
  5. I kind of just don’t want to read the books I have. Most of them are YA books, which of course I adore. But, I think I’m at that point in my life where I need more diversity because they just don’t satisfy me like they used to. The problem is, I’ve been in this YA niche for well over ten years, and I have no idea where else to look.

Part of me is okay with not reading much lately because having friends over is kind of neat, seeing Bianca was amazing, and OH MY GOSH, DRAGON AGE!!!!! You know? But, I don’t really like ghosting from the blogosphere, which tends to happen when I haven’t finished a book in a long time. How have you been dear readers? Have you done anything out of the ordinary lately?

Tealated for Green Tea

Green Delight Tea from TealatedI don’t remember from where I discovered Tealated tea— I was reading a review on a blog, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t bookmark the website because I owe them a hundred “thank you”s. I signed up for the Tealated newsletter, and I had the opportunity to try two free samples of tea. I chose Green Delight tea and Moroccan Mint. The samples of tea arrived quickly and with a package of tea bags for loose leaf tea, a coupon offering 10% off my first purchase, and a handwritten thank you note from the owner of Tealated. I hadn’t even tried the tea, and I was already impressed by the personal touch from this family owned tea company. Did I mention that a percentage of all sales is donated to water.org?

As much as I love mint tea, I decided to taste the Green Delight tea first. Green Delight tea is a green tea with dried raspberries and pomegranate flavoring. I think there may also be some dried strawberries. The scent of the tea was sumptuous. It smelled AND tasted fresh and fruity and juicy, and there was a perfect balance between the fruity aromas and the green tea. I daydreamed about how this tea would be a perfect ice-cold and slightly sweetened refreshment for summertime afternoons spent reading on my balcony.

The Green Delight tea is Tealated’s best seller, and I understand why. I don’t often crave green tea, but I cannot get Green Delight tea out of my mind.  I think this I will definitely be stocking my cupboard with this tea.

Just My Cup of Tea: a Constellation of Mugs

these broken starsLately, I’ve rambled on about how much I enjoyed These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. What can I say? I’m a sucker for romps in outer space. I’m also a sucker for these mugs that are out of this world. I definitely need to make space for one of these in my cupboard.


 

These Broken Stars cups1

tea mugs these broken stars

I love the Painting the Universe mug. Which mug catches your eye?

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

these broken stars

These Broke Stars (Starbound #1)

by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Released: December 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 374
Source: Gift from the splendid Kate @ Literary Kate

Synopsis: Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive — alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

This is what I loved about These Broken Stars:

1. Lilac LaRoux. So often are female characters written into un-flexible molds. They are princesses and tomboys and bookworms and the girl next door, but rarely do they cross over. That is not the case for Lilac LaRoux, who has an appreciation for jewel-toned dressed and designer shoes, but can also navigate around printed circuit boards and electrical wiring. Heart-throb Tarver Merendsen may be a hero in the headlines, but Lilac LaRoux is the true hero in this story, driven by her brilliance and bravery.

2. Soft Science Fiction. I love science fiction movies, and I love science fiction video games, but I do not often read science fiction books. It seems silly, but I’m intimidated by science fiction books because I’m afraid that the ideas will fly right over my head. Soft science fiction makes the genre more approachable though. Even though the ideas may be a little more fantasy than fact, the backdrop is fascinating nonetheless.

3. Of all the beautiful descriptions about stars and space, this line about Lilac LaRoux’s father is my favorite: “But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possesses that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?” It’s brief. It’s simple. It’s powerful.

4. This book is equal parts science fiction and romance, but there are no traces of insta-love here. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen come from two different worlds and both are influenced by their pride. They are forced into showing each other their vulnerabilities after the Icarus has fallen, and they only have each other to rely on for survival. Watching the pair grow up and grow together revealed more about the two characters than any cliché love triangle.

5. The mysterious visions. Is it trauma? Is it fantasy? Is it an alien life form? I needed to know what caused Lilac and Tarver to hear voices and see impossible visions. The revelation at the end did not leave me feeling disappointed at all.

This is what I did not like about These Broken Stars:

1. The pacing was slow during parts of the book. I suspected that might be the case with These Broken Stars since a majority of the story takes place on a deserted planet. With the exception of the elements and one wildcat, there are very few external conflicts in this book. This can be okay, but their fight for survival became mundane after a few chapters. What kept my drive to read to the end alive was my love for the characters, the mystery of the abandoned terraformed planet, and the strange visions.

2. I was left with so many unanswered questions about humanity’s role in the universe. They’ve colonized a handful of planets, and wars and rebellions were briefly mentioned, but the authors seemed to gloss over the causes. I wanted to know more, especially what was causing the rebellions.

Overall:

Despite the pacing and the unanswered questions, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner crafted a beautifully written book with intriguing characters and mystery. The end of These Broken Stars filled me with so much wonder that I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of This Shattered World. Even more exciting is the next installment follows two new characters and dives into wars and the rebellions that plague humanity. It’s rare that I want to read beyond book one in a series, which is why I have to give These Broken Stars four stars!

My Rating: Four Star Review

Teaview: Of Insecurities and the Jewel of the Arya Estate

Arya Ruby

Spring officially begins in a few days, but today it seems more like Autumn; its brisk and windy and overcast. I started getting drowsy in the afternoon, so I brewed myself a mug of Arya Ruby Darjeeling tea from Golden Tips Tea for a mid-day pick-me-up. Lately, I’ve managed to sip on teas that seemed to pair perfectly with the weather, and today is no different. Honestly, it’s just dumb luck though. I actually picked up the package of Arya Ruby Darjeeling because according to the Golden Tips Tea website, it’s supposed to have the aroma and flavor of a “bouquet of flowers & an orchard of fruits”. Upon opening the packet, I am greeted with a sweet and fruity scent– luscious is a word that comes to mind. Alas, that all changed once I steeped the tea leaves, because to me Arya Ruby Darjeeling tea tastes like a crackling fire in a fireplace, perhaps the first in Autumn when the temperatures begin to drop. At first, it’s smoky and woody, and after those aromas have mellowed, a sensation of sweetness dances all around my mouth.

Kind of like this:

reading by the fire

I debated writing about this tea on my blog. Not because the tea was bad and not because I struggled to conjure up the words to describe my experience, but because of insecurity. Sometimes I feel really insecure about reviewing new teas because my experience seems so different compared to other people’s experiences. How can I perceive woody and smoky aromas from a tea that is supposed to have fruity and floral aromas? Is my sniffer busted? Are my taste buds faulty? Am I just inexperienced, and I cannot taste subtle differences in a tea’s flavor? Perhaps it seems silly, but I’m afraid that a more savvy tea-drinker will stumble upon Books & Tea and tell me that my review for a tea is…wrong. Is that possible– for a review to be wrong?

For any blogger that posts reviews, be it books or tea or whatever, are you ever reluctant to share your thoughts about an experience because you’re afraid someone will tell you you’re wrong or you don’t truly understand it?

Teaview: the Iron Goddess

Iron GOddess

It’s that time of year when Michiganders are blessed with a week of unseasonably warm weather that fills us with false hope that springtime is right around the corner. Sure, it will be 52 degrees on Wednesday, but realistically we still have about two months of cold temperatures and snow left. But, that doesn’t deter us from enjoying this weather while we can, no matter how briefly it sticks around. February’s brutal winter weather has done weird things to us northerners. After nearly a full month of single digit temperatures and wind chills in the negatives, temperatures in the teens and twenties are embraced. Today, it’s sunny and 36 degrees…and we have the back door propped open to enjoy fresh air, chirping birds, and a nice breeze.

Jon and I should probably be out and about, exploring our new hometown, but instead we loafed around, binge-watching Portlandia on Netflix. It’s been a low-energy sort of day, and I felt myself growing drowsy for a nap around noon-time. But, I have so many blogs to catch up on and books to read that a nap was out of the question. I was about to reach for some English Breakfast Tea for a quick kick of caffeine…but that I remembered I had still had some samples of Oolong tea provided to me by Teavivre. I decided to try that even though Oolong tea has low caffeine.

Much like the Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea that I wrote about last month, the Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess” Oolong Tea from Teavivre makes me feel nostalgic for springtime. Upon opening the packet containing tightly rolled Oolong tea leaves, I am greeted with the scent of Michigan’s springtime. It smells like fields of wet grass and wild flowers, and it makes my heart ache for blue skies, warm sunshine, cool breezes, and fields of green, green, green. I could not have picked a more perfect tea for a quiet, almost-springtime afternoon.

Iron Goddess Oolong is forgiving for a distracted steeper like myself. The package suggests brewing between 3-10 minutes, and it supports multiple steeps as well. The first cup I made, I steeped for about 4-5 minutes. The second cup I made, I steeped for about 8-9 minutes. The tea leaves also unfold into full, dark green leaves. When I poured my sample into my tea strainer, it just covered the bottom. After four minutes, the tea had bloomed and expanded and completely filled my tea strainer.

Iron Goddess Oolong Tea from Teavivire The color of the liquid is light yellow, and it smells vegetal. The flavor is more complex though. The first flavor that comes through is a crisp, grassy flavor, something that I associate with green teas. Then there is a sweet floral taste followed by a tart aftertaste that for some reason I associate with pineapple. These flavors are more pronounced during the first steep, and they become more mellow with each preceding steep. This is unlike any other Oolong tea I’ve tried, which have had more earthy aromas.

The Iron Goddess Oolong tea (named as such because the tightly rolled leaves supposedly make the pinging sound of small, iron pellets when you pour the leaves into your cup) is a tea that I would absolutely encourage you to try. Not only does it challenge ones perceptions of Oolong tea (sort of like Adagio’s Oooooh Darjeeling), it is also just a beautiful tea. I will drink it in winter while yearning for springtime, and I will drink it in springtime as a compliment to sunny, Sunday afternoons.

Wanderings(1)

Wednesday Wanderings: Outer Space

While I’d love to visit Cambodia or Antarctica or the whole Appalachian Trail  and see it for myself, it’s not an opportunity I’ve afforded myself. This is one of reasons why I love reading so much– when my pocketbook doesn’t allow it, I can still travel the globe with every turn of the page. This week, I launch myself into outer space with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s These Broken Stars.

But first, a monumental THANK YOU to Kate @ Literary Kate. During the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon event, she actually gifted me a copy of the These Broken Stars e-book. I am incredibly blown away by her generosity! She told me it was one of her favorite books, and even though I’m only a quarter of the way through the book, I can understand why.

outer spaceImages from NASA @ HubbleSite.org

I’m a sucker for star-gazing and day dreaming about living on terraformed planets, and These Broken Stars (rocket)fuels my curiosity about what lies beyond our blue planet. I want to know about earthlings in the future, I want to know why the Icarus is falling, I want to know who lives on the foreign planet, if anyone at all. The dynamics and banter between Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen is just icing on the cake.

I can already tell this is a series that I will want to continue, and that’s kind of a big deal. But even that won’t satiate my desire to read books that let me coast among supernovas and solar systems. What are some of your favorite books that take place in outer space?

OTP: My Favorite Couples

It’s the last day of February, so I wanted to get one more post up to celebrate the month of luuuurve. Love stories can be a hard sell, especially if they contain any of the trends I mentioned in my post about things I love and loathe about romance in books. But, I’m not a curmudgeon all the time. Here are my top of OTPs (one true pairings) of all time:

Amy and Rory from Doctor WhoAmy Pond and Rory Williams

I don’t care if this is an unpopular opinion. The eleventh Doctor is my favorite, and Amy and Rory’s love story is my favorite. Never has a TV show made me feel so many ups-and-downs. Laughing and cheering one episode and sobbing the next. There were a couple of times I didn’t think they were going to make it. Amy was so preoccupied by adventure and Rory was so insecure. But then I saw The Angels Take Manhattan, and I ugly cried because it was an all too perfect ending for Amy and Rory.

Holly Marten and Douglas FargoDr. Holly Marten and Fargo

The best TV show you’ve never watched is called Eureka, and I talk about binge watching the series on Netflix from time to time on Books & Tea. It is my absolute favorite TV show because it balances nerdiness and science fiction and drama and comedy and romance. And it’s perfect. (In fact, I might watch an episode or two after I publish this post). It also has the best theme song. Check it out:

Okay, but this isn’t about my love for the show (not entirely). It’s about my love for my favorite Eureka power couple, Dr. Douglas Fargo (yes, I did name my cat after this character), an accident-prone junior scientist who later becomes head of GD in an alternate universe and Dr. Holly Martin (played by Felicia freaking Day), who is a socially awkward rocket scientist and assists on Eureka’s mission to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Dr. Parrish can suck it!

ron and hermioneRon and Hermione

I don’t care what J.K. Rowling said. And I don’t care that Harper Honey has really sound arguments regarding the Romine Controversy. Ron and Hermione was the first ship I ever cared about.

Tidus and Yuna from FFXTidus and Yuna

There are usually some great love stories in the Final Fantasy games. Cloud and Areith/Tifa/Yuffie or Rinoa and Squall or Selphie and Irvine. The sort of love stories that seem to cross time and space, kind of like Rory and Amy. Yuna and Tidus from Final Fantasy X is my favorite couple, even if they are a little star-crossed. I think that’s what makes it so much more emotional.

jackie and jonJon and Me!

As if I would think of ending this post any other way? A year ago, I never thought I would be where I am today. Even four months ago, when this picture was taken (don’t mind my crazy hair! It was windy), I never thought I would be where I am today. “Blessed” is not a word that is usually apart of my vocabulary, but that’s how I feel with Jon in my life. I get to wake up next to someone who still thinks I’m lovely with sleep in my eyes, and I get to share dinner with someone who thinks my cooking is delicious even though the steak is a little too salty. I feel like we’re constantly encouraging each other to be better people, too. Don’t get me wrong, we accept each others “flaws”, if that’s what you want to call them. But, he brings me out of of my shell and makes me feel less cold, more human.

Who are your OTPs?