Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Journey Home

512I3CEv+hL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (260×260)Title: The Journey Home

Author & Illustrator: Emma Levey

Publisher: Sky Pony Press, March 2017

Pages: 32

Genre: picture book (ages 3-6)

Obtained: from publisher in exchange for an honest review

     This is the second book in the Hattie Peck series.  In Hattie Peck, since Hattie is not able to lay her own eggs, she travels the world looking for abandoned eggs (not all bird eggs) and hatches them.  The Journey Home continues the story of Hattie Peck.  She has raised all these diverse children and it is time for them to "leave the nest".  She goes on a journey to return them home.  At the end, she is alone for the first time for their collective birthday and all the children surprise her by returning home with a gift for her.
     I just love the illustrations in this book.  They are all bright colors, cheerful, and busy.  The animals are adorable.  These are pictures that families can look at again and again, talking about the details.
     The story is heartwarming and teaches about diversity, family, adoption, and love.  There are some difficult words for those that are 3 to 6 years old (examples: elements, chaotic, hatchling), but the writing is not complicated and is brief.  A parent can easily explain any new words in this book to children without them getting overwhelmed, making a good opportunity to teach new vocabulary.
     The Journey Home can be read alone, but I recommend reading both touching stories to your child.


Company: Joy's Teaspoon                                 

Tea: Mahalo

Obtained: purchased

     Joy's Teaspoon, located in Las Vegas, Nevada offers over 70 loose leaf teas and brewing accessories.  The company is involved in the green initiative and does its part in making sure workers involved in the production of their teas are paid fairly and have access to things such as medical care and education.
     I purchased the Top Teas Sampler Pack.  It came in a nice box that could easily be gift wrapped.  There were 10 small, good quality tins inside.  Each tin makes at least 2 cups of tea.
    The Mahalo tea is a green tea blended with pineapple cubes, mango cubes, flavoring, safflower, and sunflower blossoms.  The leaves in my tin were long and green.  There were some smaller red and yellow leaves mixed in along with small chunks of fruit.  The scent of the leaves was of sweet tropical fruit.  I put one teaspoon of leaves in my tea pot and poured 8 ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  I let this steep for 2 minutes.  The liquid was a pretty yellow and the scent was almost nonexistent, but I could detect a very faint tropical fruit aroma.  I was surprised at this because the scent of the leaves had been so strong.  The light taste was a delicious blend of tropical fruit and green tea with the pineapple standing out.  There was a very pleasant mild sweetness to it.
     This is a smooth, refreshing tea.  The website states this is an excellent thirst quencher in hot summer months.  I bet it is!  This is definitely one to try if you are looking for something tropical.    

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Eye of Nefertiti

5132SfmBaML._SY346_.jpg (230×346)Title: The Eye of Nefertiti

Author: Maria Luisa Lang

Publisher: Maria Luisa Lang, 2016 (self-published)

Pages: 203

Genre: fantasy

Obtained: from author in exchange for an honest review

Summary: Wrappa-Hamen, a time-traveling cat from ancient Egypt who has been given the abilities to talk and walk upright like humans, continues his adventures.  This cat first began to relay his adventures and how he got his gifts in The Pharoah's Cat.  In this new book, Wrappa-Hamen must help Nefertiti to end her immortality.

Thoughts: This is a fun book for those looking for a light, humorous read.  The writing style is simple and straight forward.  The story is told at a great pace.  It is very easy to follow even though there is time travel and the settings are frequently changing.  The reader is able to picture the settings because of the great descriptions.  Even though this is not a deep book, family and love are themes throughout the story.
     Wrappa-Hamen, the narrator, is a fantastic character.  He is charming and funny, and through her writing, the author never lets the reader forget that Wrappa-Hamen is a cat. The other characters don't compare to Wrappa-Hamen, but they are still developed and likeable.
     The reader weaves ancient Egypt and Nefertiti throughout this story.  I kept thinking it would be great if the author did a short nonfiction book to go along with her fiction story - kind of like in the Magic Tree House series, but for adults.  I wanted to know more about these topics as I read, especially about Nefertiti.       This would be a terrific book for any cat lover, or anyone that would like to follow the grand, humorous adventures of an Egyptian cat that frequently gets himself into trouble.  Even though the book is the second written about Wrappa- Hamen, the author gives enough back information so that the book can be read alone.



Company: Eastern Shore Tea Company                                           

Tea: Vanilla 

Obtained: gift


     When I looked at the website for Eastern Shore Tea Company, I was pleasantly surprised to discover they have many different tea flavors that I'd like to try.  The company puts their tea in reusable muslin tea bags which are made of oxygen whitened non-bleached paper.  The tea bags are all individually wrapped in foil, keeping them fresh.  The tea bags do not have tags, string, or staples.  They are eco-friendly and can be microwaved.  All their teas are pesticide and gluten free.  Their decaffeinated teas are done so naturally.
     My vanilla tea came in a "ribbon bag".  The bag was pretty (as seen in the picture above) and of good quality.  I thought it was a beautiful gift.  Inside were 20 individually wrapped tea bags.  The foil wraps were good quality and also very pretty.  The scent of the tea bag was of black tea and sweet vanilla.  I put the tea bag in my cup and poured 8 ounces of water that had been boiled over the tea.  I let this steep for 5 minutes.  The liquid was a dark reddish brown.  The scent of the liquid was of sweet vanilla and black tea.  The taste was of bold, strong black tea and sweet vanilla.  The feel was smooth.  There was no astringency to this tea.
     I thought this was a delicious blend.  It would make a wonderful dessert tea or a sweet, calorie- free treat anytime.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Beastly Bones

26173411._UY200_.jpg (200×200)Title: Beastly Bones

Author: William Ritter

Narrator: Nicola Barber

Publisher: Recorded Books, 2015

Format: 6 compact discs 

Genre: mystery, fantasy, paranormal

Obtained: library

Summary: It is 1892 in New Fiddleham, New England.  Abigail Rook and her employer, R. F. Jacoby are very busy with their paranormal investigations. They are asked to investigate a cat that has turned into a fish.  The next day the owner of the "cat" is found murdered.  In Gad's Valley, where Charlie Cane, a friend of Rook and Jacoby, is a policeman, there are more strange occurrences.  These include the theft of a dinosaur bone, and another mysterious death.  Charlie asks Rook and Jacoby for some help in figuring out what is happening.

Thoughts:  This is the second book in the Jacoby series.  I just loved the first book and I thought the second was just as good, if not better.  This book had the same terrific characters as the first with some additions.  The author creates wonderful, lovable characters that he brings to life through the pages.  Both his major and minor characters are distinct and quirky and the reader feels like they are there with them.  The author also has created a magical world that he brings to life, complete with all sorts of supernatural beings.  As I read the book, I couldn't wait to see what being I would discover next.  What this author does with his world and characters is similar to J. K. Rowling.  How they come up with characters and settings, and make them seem real is amazing to me!
     There were more subplots in this book than the first in the series, making the book more layered, which held my interest even more than in the first book.  Although I figured out the major mystery quickly, this was okay, because there was so much else going on, and of course, just experiencing the characters and the world was enjoyable.
    The author's writing style is light and humorous.  The writing is easy to follow and keeps the reader engaged and entertained throughout.  I love how the author brings folklore and myths into the stories.  The author makes sure to wrap everything up at the end, and lets the reader know what is to come next in Ghostly Echoes, the third in the Jacoby series.
     The narrator is excellent.  She helps bring the characters to life, adding to their personalities.  She speaks clearly and reads at a great pace.  She reads with emotion.
     This is a fun, enjoyable series.  You don't have to be a mystery lover to enjoy this series.  The characters, settings, and supernatural beings are what makes these books so enjoyable.  I recommend this book for middle school to adult readers.


Company: French Creek Tea Company
P.O. Box 5021, Custer, SD 57730
phone: 605-673-5383

Tea: Mountain Berry

Obtained: sample from company

     Mountain Berry Tea from the French Creek Tea Company is a blend of black teas flavored with huckleberry, blackberry, and vanilla.  The sample was in a resealable zip lock bag that was of good quality, pleasing to the eye, and most importantly, kept the leaves fresh.  The leaves were mostly dark black and of all shapes and sizes with some whitish leaves mixed in.  The scent of the leaves was of sweet berries and vanilla.
     I measured 2 teaspoons of leaves, put them into my teapot, and poured 12 ounces of water over the leaves.  I let this steep for 4 minutes.  The liquid was a beautiful dark orange.  The scent was of vanilla, black tea, and berries.  The taste was a delicious blend of tea, berries, and vanilla.  Blending is a major strength of this company's teas.  There was no sourness or bitterness to this tea at all.  I find that with most berry flavored teas, there is a sour taste after swallowing. This is not the case with this one.  This tea was extremely refreshing and went down quickly.   Annie's Blend, from this company, was my favorite berry blend, but I may like this one even more.  It is a hard call.  I highly recommend this if you like berries and vanilla.
     The French Creek Tea Company does not have online ordering at this time, so I have included their contact information above.  Their teas are available throughout South Dakota and I saw on their facebook page that it is now being served in Colorado.  Click here to see where you can go to purchase some of this wonderful tea.    

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lucy Loves Sherman

51-FrsTj-5L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (260×260)Title: Lucy Loves Sherman

Author: Catherine Bailey

Illustrator: Meg Walters

Published: Sky Pony Press, March 2017

Pages: 32

Genre: picture book (ages 3-6)

Obtained: from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary: Lucy discovers Sherman in the tank at Flotsam's Fish Market, and instantly loves him.  When she discovers he is being sold to be eaten, she knows she must save him.

Thoughts: Most kids love watching the lobsters move about in the tank at the fish market or grocery store and are surprised and sometimes disturbed when they realize they are being sold to be eaten.  Such is the case for Lucy in this story which "was inspired by true stories of adults and children who saved oversized lobsters from their fate on a plate".  The story, even though discussing life and death of a "friend", is told in a humorous, light way which makes for a feel good story.  The book consists mostly of short, simple sentences.  Most of the words children have heard before, but some less common words such as "antennae", "camouflaged", and "delicacy", are present so that children can learn some new words.
     The illustrator does an excellent job of bringing the story to life and has a talent of expressing emotions through her artwork.  A child could look at the pictures and understand most of the story without being able to read.  This is a great book for children learning about emotions and those that like to look through picture books on their own.
     I love picture books where children can learn a whole assortment of things.  This story teaches kids about taking action, persistence, and that kids can make a difference.  It also teaches that some animals make fine pets, but others do not.  On the last page is information about lobsters with vocabulary words related to this crustacean.  The author and illustrator have some free down loadable activities on their websites that go along with Lucy Loves Sherman.  A cute book!

"If you love something, set it free.  It will come back if it's meant to be."


Company: French Creek Tea Company
325 Mt. Rushmore Road, Custer, SD 57730

Phone: 695-673-5383


Tea: Up and At 'Em

Obtained: sample from company

     The French Creek Tea Company blends tea in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Their tea is not available to order online at this time, but I have included their contact information above.  French Creek tea can be found in shops throughout South Dakota including  Annie's Emporium.
     French Creek tea is packaged in black resealable pouches.  The pouches are good quality and sophisticated looking.  They keep the tea fresh.
     "Up and At 'Em" is a blend of Ceylon and Indian black teas.  The thin, brown and black leaves in my pouch were all lengths.  The scent of the leaves had a fresh hay scent.  I added 2 teaspoons of leaves to my teapot and poured 12 ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  I let this steep for 3 minutes.  The scent was earthy.  The color of the liquid was reddish brown.  There were a few tea leaves on the bottom of the cup.  The taste was full-bodied, robust and bold.  There was a very slight astrigency to the finish.
     Up and At 'Em is a great name for this wonderfully bold tea. I could tell the caffeine content is high.  This is a good tea for those that like milk in their tea and maybe even a little sweetener.  It is also good without.  Definitely a great breakfast tea!

*The first time I brewed this tea, I did so for 4 minutes.  It just tasted overbrewed to me, so I did it over reviewing the 3 minute brew.