Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#17)

At the time of my writing this, I’ve read eight books since my last Books and Beverages post. So it would seem as though I have been too busy reading to actually sit down and write my thoughts about what I’ve read. However, eight books seems a little daunting for me to write all at once so this post will contain only four. The remaining four will appear in #18 next week.

Books

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

25667918This was a really short read, but it packed a lot into a small package and its message is certainly relevant in this political climate. Binti is the first of her people, the Himba, to be accepted into the galaxy’s most prestigious university, Oomza Univeristy. Going there means that she will have to leave her family, culture, and everything she’s ever known behind. But on her way there, the ship carrying her and other students is attacked by an alien race called the Meduse, who hold a grudge against the university. Binti must learn to get along with the Meduse in order to make it to the university alive.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

26596236This takes place after the events in The Heroes of Olympus series. Zeus has punished Apollo for his role in the near-destruction of the world and the disappearance of the Oracle of Delphi. Apollo finds himself as a mortal teenage boy without a shred of his godly powers or good looks. A young demi god named Meg finds him and claims his service. Together, they go to Camp Half-Blood to figure out how to restore the Oracle of Delphi. Apollo soon finds out that the disappearance of the Oracle is part of an even worse problem, and Meg may be able to help him fix it. I’d recommend this book if you like anything by Rick Riordan and if you’re into Greek mythology.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

18112981This is one of those books that’s hard to read before you see the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the movie follows the book pretty closely. A wealthy old man who’s fond of dinosaurs decides to open an amusement park featuring real dinosaurs brought back via genetic engineering. The park is about to open, and he calls in a mathematician and two archaeologists to critique the park. He also invites his grandchildren because the target audience of this park is children. They’ve taken precautions to ensure the dinosaurs can’t breed or survive off the island where the park is located. But they can’t plan for everything. All hell breaks loose when the park’s power shuts off and the dinosaurs are no longer contained by the electric fences. If you like dinosaurs, the movie, or suspense, then this is the book for you!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

16793Wall is a town named for its large wall separating it from Faerie. Every nine years, the town opens the gate in the wall for a festival where all manner of creatures from Faerie come to sell their goods and services. When young Tristran Thorne spots a star fall beyond the wall, he promises to retrieve it to win the heart of Victoria, the most beautiful girl in Wall. Tristran soon finds out that nothing is what he expected in Faerie, not even a fallen star. And fallen stars are coveted by more than just him. This is another pretty quick read and a coming-of-age story that I enjoyed.

Beverages

Berry Prickly Pear Frappuccino

Starbucks keeps coming out with new Frappuccinos and I keep trying them and getting disappointed. It seems I haven’t learned, or perhaps I’m just very hopeful that the next one will actually be good. Anyway, I tried the new berry prickly pear one and frankly, it just tasted like milk blended with ice and some fruity swirl added in there to give it some flavor, but not enough. If there was a better milk to fruit ratio, it’d have been much better, but then I suppose that would make it a smoothie.

Cranberry Orange Juice

When my roommate moved out, she left behind a can of orange juice concentrate and a partially used bottle of cranberry juice. So I made a fruit juice combination with them and it turned out great. It’s a good way to get your daily dose of vitamins and sugar! Or if you’re not into vitamins, you can turn it into a Madras cocktail by adding vodka. Or turn it into a punch by adding more sugar some Sprite or 7UP!

 

 

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#16)

Since the previous B&B, I’ve started two series, finished another, and continued another. I had a good mix of sci-fi, fantasy, mystery/thriller, and humor. I read about female computer hackers, female assassins, and teaching Neanderthals how to play Scrabble. All the while I enjoyed a secret Frappuccino and discovered a new favorite tea.

Books

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

24390078I read this as an e-book and let me begin by saying that you should definitely read a physical copy instead. This is the first book of The Illuminae Files, and by “files” that means each chapter in the book is some sort of record or email or transcribed audio file of the events. It’s quite different and rather refreshing, but some of the files have small font that my e-book could only enlarge so much. I think I missed out on some of the experience of this book, which is why I advise a physical copy.

It’s a sci-fi novel which takes place in the year 2575. The main characters, Kady and Ezra, have recently broken off their relationship and are not on the best of terms when a megacorporation attacks their planet. They flee with the other survivors on ships, but soon a deadly virus begins mutating and turning passengers into zombie-like creatures. Then the AI controlling the ship starts to go haywire. Kady starts hacking through the ships’ databases to figure out what’s going on and realizes that Ezra might be able to shed some light on things.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

6892870This is the final book of Millenium, and it starts off pretty much immediately after the events of the previous book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. It’s hard to say much without spoiling anything, so I’ll stick mostly to what’s on the book jacket. This novel delves more into the government conspiracy as journalist Mikael Blomkvist continues to dig into Lisbeth Salander’s past. As soon as Lisbeth gets released from the hospital, she’ll be expected to go on trial for three murders she didn’t commit. And she’ll also need to go on trial as a witness for the things Mikael discovered. We learn more about this mysterious man Zala and the conspiracy surrounding him. There is plenty of suspense that will keep you flipping pages.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

23599075It had been awhile since I’d read fantasy, and so I went out in search of a fantasy novel on my to-read list. Several weren’t available to check out on e-book from the library, but Throne of Glass was. It definitely satisfied my fantasy craving. Celaena Sardothien is slaving away in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes when the Crown Prince Dorian comes to fetch her. He offers her freedom, but she must come with him to participate in a competition to become the king’s royal assassin. If she wins, she’ll serve a few years of service after which she will be freed. During the months-long competition, the prince starts showing an interest in her and so does her trainer, Chaol, who is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend. But soon, Celaena has other problems – competitors start showing up dead. Celaena starts investigating, trying to figure out who the killer is, only to learn a dark secret and realize her true destiny.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

6064941This semester has been really tough, and a bit of humor helped to lift my spirits. This is the second book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it was just as absurd and full of improbable events as the first. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian, and Marvin the depressed android are on their way to Milliways, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, when they’re attacked by the Vogons. They escape and Zaphod finds himself on a search for a man named Zarniwoop, who insists they must find the ruler of the universe. Well, Zaphod isn’t interested in the ruler of the universe, but rather in finding something to eat, and so they escape from Zarniwoop and go to the nearest restaurant. After their meal, Zaphod decides he wants a new spaceship, so they steal one from the parking lot. You can bet that some more absurd adventures ensue after that, but I think that’s all I can say without giving too much away.

Beverages

Twix Frappuccino

While everyone freaks out about the Unicorn Frappuccino, I decided to try a secret menu item – the Twix Frappuccino. You probably guessed it’s inspired by the candy bar. It’s a caramel Frappuccino with hazelnut syrup, java chips, caramel drizzle down the sides and topped with whipped cream and more caramel sauce and mocha sauce on top. It’s not too sweet, nor does it taste like sour milk. (And the best part is you don’t have to worry if it’s made with unicorn blood!)

Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Tea

This is some good tea, man. It reminds me a lot of the Pike Place Market Spice tea, but the Good Earth tea is caffeine free. And every tea bag tag has a little inspirational quote on it, which is cute! Basically, it tastes just as its name suggests, it’s sweet, not bitter, and it’s got some spice in it that smells wonderful!

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#15)

Here are the books I’ve read and the beverages I’ve sipped while reading them over the past few months. A couple of them are continuations of series, and one is a self-help book. The beverages this month happen to be herbal teas, which I imagine I’ll still be drinking until the snow melts in April.

Books

18966806Morning Star by Pierce Brown

If you haven’t read the Red Rising trilogy yet, you’re missing out on some great stuff. Brown does a fantastic job combining space exploration and sci-fi with dystopia and action. And the best part is that the books don’t lose quality the further you get in the series. Morning Star offers more world-building and we get to see what life is like for some of the other colors besides Red and Gold. There is plenty of action and the pace doesn’t slow down for too long a time. Just like the previous two books, this one has several twists. Ofttimes, the reader doesn’t even know what the characters are planning, which adds suspense and mystery. Basically, it’s got a little bit of everything, including romance.

6662976Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

I read this book mostly because it was lying around the house and I needed something to read while I waited for my books on hold to arrive at the library. I have seen a few episodes of the Suze Orman Show, and in the book, she reminds us of some of her big dos and don’ts. Given that, there are some points Orman brings up in the book that I don’t think I’ve heard a lot on her show. I thought she had some interesting things to say about managing money and I think they’re good things to ponder over. You probably won’t agree with everything she says (I know I didn’t) but it’s good to see other ways of doing things nonetheless.

8115818The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This book started out really slow. It didn’t pick up until about a third of the way through. But once the action got rolling, it was great! Basically, Lisbeth Salander has been connected to three murders and the police believe she is their prime suspect and also a dangerous lunatic. However, Mikael  Blomkvist can’t believe that she would murder anyone without a good reason, and knows she isn’t a madman. That starts Blomkvist on his own investigation, along with the fact that one of the murders is connected to Millennium magazine. A mystery man named Zala might be the key to the whole thing, but there are no records of him. The second installment of the Millenium series delves more into Salander’s life and background, and there is plenty of action and mystery once things start going.

Beverages

Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Tea

I love when holiday teas come out! This was a flavor I had never seen before, but it sounded good enough so I thought I’d give it a try. It tastes the same as the name, although I might argue there’s more vanilla in it. The box says it’s got cranberry and vanilla flavor along with rooibos, hibiscus, and cinnamon. I wish they had it year-round!

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

When I saw this in the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer circular, I knew I needed it. Unfortunately, they were all out the day I went, but they would have more in stock on Friday–Black Friday. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s isn’t insane on Black Friday, so I was able to get some. Taken from the box, it’s “a blend of cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile, roasted chicory, orange peel, and apple flavor.” Basically, a steaming hot cup of fall-flavored goodness. I hope they have it next year!

Bonus Blog · Books and Beverages

More Gadgets for Your Books and Beverages!

I did another gadget post like this one over a year ago, and in that time I’ve discovered a few more awesome things that I think book and beverage lovers will enjoy as much as I do.

Tea and Books Mug

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I found this mug from the Etsy shop, Lenny Mud. They also have a website. It looks like this mug isn’t available anymore, but they do have another really cute reading mug.

This mug is perfect for Books and Beverages and I had to have it. There are so many cute details included on the mug like it’s an actual book. The handle looks like pages and the opposite side looks like a spine. It’s so adorable!

Electric Kettle / Hot Pot

gbb2

When I’m too lazy to venture to the kitchen, or when I don’t want to wake everyone up with a kettle whistling, my electric kettle comes to the rescue. When I was living in the dorms I also used it to cook box mac and cheese and soup, so it’s really a versatile little device.

Amazon has a similar one here. (Gotta love Amazon!)

Kindle

I bought myself a Kindle before I went to Japan. I thought I would never use an e-reader, but I’m really glad I got my Kindle. It was so handy to have on the long airplane rides to and from Japan, and it was also great on the trains. It’s really lightweight and I could check out e-books from the library so that I didn’t have to buy or bring any books on the trip. My Kindle isn’t backlit, so it was a good thing I had my handy dandy reading light.

Additionally, since I moved I don’t have access to as nice of a library system, but I can still get e-books from it. Although nothing beats a physical book with pages, the Kindle sure has its advantages.

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#14)

It’s been a struggle finding time to read lately, so here’s my latest three books for you to read about and maybe read for yourself. Let me know what you thought of any of these books if you’ve read any of them!

Books

2767793The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

This is the third and final book of the Mistborn series, and I have to say I really didn’t like the way it ended. At the beginning of each chapter was an excerpt as if from someone’s diary, and we don’t find out who until the end of the book, although it’s pretty easy to guess well before then. Each excerpt explains something about how the different magics involving metals works. This was what I liked least because I couldn’t get over the feeling that they were spoilers. The characters weren’t learning about these things themselves, but rather the reader was being blatantly told. It really spoiled any mystery and resulted in way too much dramatic irony. The first two-thirds of the book were pretty slow going, but it did get pretty exciting toward the end. I found the end of this series to be a bit of a disappointment, but maybe you’ll think differently.

1358350Empire: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Howe

I had to read a few chapters of this book for a history class, but it’s so short I figured I’d just read the whole thing. If you want to learn a little bit more about imperialism, especially European imperialism, without being overwhelmed, this is probably a good book to read. I found it to be enlightening in some ways and I learned a few things, so it was worth it.

 

17851885I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

This book was a little scary in the sense that something so horrible could happen to a young woman. In case you haven’t heard about Malala, she is an outspoken advocate for women’s education, which the Taliban threatened to take away. The Taliban shot her, but she survived. I learned a lot from this book, especially about Islam and how the Taliban and other terrorist groups have perverted a religion to justify the things they do. If you’re looking to learn more about Malala’s story or looking to learn about a different culture, then you’ll want to read this book.

Beverages

Starbucks’ Chile Mocha

I figured I’d try one of these since it’s a new fall beverage. It wasn’t too spicy for me, but after every sip, a bit of heat hits you, which was really interesting. I think they also sprinkle some cayenne or something on top, but I’m not sure what exactly it was.

Bailey’s Hot Chocolate

I’ve been waiting to have some of this and now I legally can. Just add about a tablespoon of Bailey’s Irish Creme to your hot cocoa and you’re good to go. It’s really not enough to do anything and it adds a nice flavor to the cocoa. Great for those cold days!

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#13)

I would like to apologize for my unexpected month-long hiatus. Although I didn’t publish any posts this month, I at least managed to read three books. If you read last month’s Books and Beverages, then you’ll know I started reading two trilogies. This month, I read the second books of the Red Rising and Mistborn trilogies, along with a stand-alone book.

Books

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

68429The second Mistborn book has a lot going for it. In order to avoid spoilers, I’m not going to delve much into a summary of the book. I will say that I totally saw a major twist coming, and it felt like it took forever for Sanderson to finally reveal it. Also, the first book had a good amount of romantic tension, where the romance in this one kind of fell flat. There was a sad attempt at a love triangle because you know that Vin, the main character, isn’t really interested in the other guy. The other thing that irked me about this book and the previous one is that the main character is dynamic and goes through a change like she’s supposed to, but Sanderson makes it really obvious. Like other characters mention to Vin how much she’s changed and in what way. I think how the character changes should be left up to the reader, and shown instead of told. Anyway, those are my only complaints.

Basically, the main conflict of the book revolves around the aftermath of the first. I know, that’s really vague, but again, I’m trying to avoid spoilers. One solution to the problem is the mysterious Well of Ascension, which is where the Lord Ruler is said to have gotten his power and released the magic of Allomancy. Based on the legends, Vin wonders if she’s the Hero of Ages, who will go to the Well and release the power contained there and not take it for herself as the Lord Ruler did. Throughout all this, the characters are developed more and we learn more about Sazed, Elend, and of course Vin. It’s a really good fantasy read, despite its flaws, and there were several twists I didn’t see coming.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

18966819It’s been a couple years since the events in Red Rising, and Darrow finds that he is rising to a place of power among the Golds. He’s made several enemies along the way, but he’s also made several friends. Everything seems to be going as planned, until something unexpected throws him off course and he becomes the laughing stock of the Golds. He has to regain his respect and puts his trust in his closest friends from the Institute. However, his novel idea of trust over enslavement could risk him exposing his true color.

In this book, we finally get to see more of the solar system and what the Society is like. It is a continuation of the first book’s commentary on race and slavery set in a futuristic dystopian world. There are so many twists and turns in this book, and there were several times I didn’t want to turn the page because it didn’t seem like it could end well. It’s a really well paced and intense book. The romance between Darrow and Mustang becomes more tense as Darrow wants to love her, but doesn’t want to reveal what he truly his, believing it will hurt Mustang. Darrow begins to see the purpose behind taking down the Society and we get to learn more about some of the supporting characters. It’s a really exciting book, and I don’t recommend reading it before bedtime.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

6171892This book follows a girl named Anax as she takes the grueling four-hour Examination to get into the Academy, which runs her utopian society. She has studied for three years the subject of the life of her hero, Adam Forde, and this is the topic of her interview for the Examination. However, she soon begins to realize that the Academy is not what she’s been told and that things were left out of the history she’s studied.

This book is very philosophical and delves into the question of what it means to be human. In some ways, it reminded me a lot of Inception. It also goes into a detailed history, which is the not-so-distant future to us right now. It’s a very interesting read and will get you thinking. It’s also very short, and you can probably read it in one sitting.

Beverages

Celestial Seasoning’s Tension Tamer Herbal Tea

It’s been a really stressful month, and I like to think that this tea helped, either actually helped, or at least just through the placebo effect. I think just herbal tea in general is useful for de-stressing. Regardless, this tea has a really nice blend of eleuthero, mint, lemongrass, and chamomile, which is supposed to help make you calmer I guess. You may need some while reading Golden Son.

Smoothies

I’ve been making a lot of smoothies because it’s been warm lately. There’s nothing like frozen blended fruit on a hot day, and you can add in anything you want like ground flax seed or protein powder to make it a power smoothie!

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#12)

I read three books this month, including the first books of two trilogies, Mistborn and Red Rising. Coincidently, all the books this month were about oppression. That made for some interesting comparisons to see how different authors handle that theme. I also gave in to social media pressure when it came to beverages this month.

Books

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

68428The world that Sanderson created is a desolate place ruled by an all-powerful tyrant, the Lord Ruler, who claims he’s a god. During the day, ash falls from the sky, and at night the eerie mists covers the land and the stars. There are two classes in their society, the nobility and the skaa (peasants). Most of the nobility are very harsh on their skaa workers to keep them in check to quell any rebellious feelings. The Lord Ruler keeps the nobility in check with his obligators and Inquisitors, and to make sure that they don’t have any bastard children with the skaa. In the nobility bloodline is a power called Allomancy, which allows a person to draw specific powers from different metals. Kelsier, a thief and survivor of the mysterious Pits of Hathsin, is an Allomancer. He gathers a team of other Allomancers and an apprentice and together they plot to overthrow the Lord Ruler, who has been in power for thousands of years.

It’s a really good read, and although it’s long, it’s well paced, so it reads pretty quickly. It has pretty much everything you could want out of an epic fantasy, including world building, epic fight scenes, and magical metal powers that remind me of Magneto.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

15839976In the future, we have outgrown our planet Earth and are in need of a new place to live. Darrow is part of the lowest class, the Reds, in this new society. The Reds are preparing Mars so that future generations will be able to live there. His wife, Eo, has always dreamed of a world where her children don’t have to work under the surface of Mars, mining the resources necessary for habitation. Soon, however, Darrow learns that humans have been living on the surface of Mars for decades and that the Reds have been lied to all along. He wants to fulfill his wife’s dream, so he becomes a part of a plan to infiltrate and bring down the ruling class, the Golds. He gets into the Institution, which is basically the Gold college where they learn how to rule and stuff. There, he is set up to fight his classmates until one comes out on top.

This was a very exciting read, and the class system is a lot more complex than that of Mistborn. However, I would have appreciated more world building in the beginning to learn more about the Reds. Also, the game where the classmates fight each other was an interesting combination of Hunger Games and Percy Jackson, so if you like either of those series, you should pick up a copy of Red Rising.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

16058610It’s the summer of 1963 in Cayuga Springs, Mississippi, and nine-year-old Starla Claudelle is on her best behavior so that her Mamie will let her go to the Fourth of July celebration in town. But, when she punches the neighborhood bully in the nose, she gets put on restriction. She sneaks out to the parade anyway, but gets caught. She runs away, scared that Mamie is going to send her to reform school. Starla meets a black woman who offers to take her to Nashville, where Starla’s mom is trying to make it as a singer. Starla is confident that her mother will want her, and that her daddy will come to live with them too and they’ll be one happy family. However, Starla encounters several bumps on the road and learns about the oppressive segregation going on in the South as she travels with Eula.

This book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird in several ways, but it’s also very different. It’s a coming-of-age story and delves into the dream vs. reality theme.

Beverages

Chai Tea

I don’t know what it was, but I had this craving for chai tea with cream and sugar. I’d only had chai tea once before when I was in Japan, so I had to go out to the store and get me some tea bags. Chai tea is really nice on rainy days. I’ll have to try iced chai tea when the weather’s right.

#PinkDrink

IMG_1270I was skeptical of the pink drink at first, but considering it’s on Starbucks “secret” menu, and not some half-baked seasonal drink idea (Remember the Cherry Blossom Frappuccino?), I figured I’d give it a go. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s not really all that secret. It’s a Starbucks strawberry acai refresher with coconut milk instead of water. It was actually pretty good, and did have that beautiful pink color that Instagram is going nuts over. My one complaint is that my drink was definitely more ice than drink and it was gone in a flash.