Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tempest in a Teapot

51Vo0mK8H8L._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (310×499)Title: Tempest in a Teapot

Author: Amanda Cooper

Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2014

Pages: 294

Genre: mystery

Obtained: purchased

Summary: After her upscale New York City restaurant closes, Sophie Taylor returns to a small town in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York to her Nana's tea house.  When her old friend Cissy Peterson's future mother- in-law is murdered by poisoning at Cissy's grandmother's tea house, Sophie is determined to find out who committed this heinous crime.

Thoughts: This was the first of three books in the Teapot Collector Mystery series.  I just loved the cover which definitely portrayed a cozy mystery with lots of tea, food, teapots, and cats, which is exactly what was inside.  I loved the setting- the beautiful Victorian tea house of a teapot collector.

There were many characters, some developed much better than others.  The back stories of the characters were interesting and helped with character development, but those that didn't have a back story could have been developed more.  I liked how the author had Sophie, the protagonist, returning to the town that she hadn't lived in for years because the reader found out information about the suspects along with Sophie.  I did not like that Sophie's character didn't always seem consistent.  At the beginning she seemed well mannered, but then when she really got into her investigation, she became pushy and rude.  Since the story took place in a small town, in which the residents had been around for many years, there were plenty of motives to murder.

The writing style of the author was organized and clear, although repetitive in giving particulars to the point that it became a bit annoying at times.  I lost count of how many times the author reminded the reader that there was just one cupcake on the plate that was not red velvet.  The writing was descriptive, but I didn't feel like I was there.  I could picture the characters as I read, though.  The pace was slow, but I did not feel that it dragged.

I really enjoyed this book, mostly because of the setting and tea theme, but it was a good whodunit as well.


At the end of this book was a recipe for these delicious Cranberry Pecan Yogurt Scones.  I already had all of the ingredients, except for the pecans.  The directions were easy to follow.    The ingredients were easy to mix, especially with the pastry blender that I received as a Christmas gift.

The pre-baked scones were easy to cut- no sticking.  The process went smoothly and the final product was a huge success.  The scones were not extremely dry, like some.  They were about as moist as I would like a scone to be.  The cranberries and pecans made a scrumptious blend.  The recipe made eight good sized scones.  Although I had them for breakfast, they would be wonderful with tea anytime of the day.  What a great added bonus to this book!


I purchased Tempest in a Teapot from Mystery on Main Street, a small, independent bookstore in Brattleboro, Vermont.  This is a wonderful bookstore for mystery lovers.  It is quiet and neat and had all types of mystery books imaginable, along with other mystery themed items.  Even though it is not a huge bookstore, there is plenty of room to browse comfortably and there is a pleasant sitting area.  The proprietor is friendly, not pushy at all, and is willing to help customers find any book even if it is not in the store or a mystery book.  If you're in southern Vermont I highly recommend this store!


Monday, July 17, 2017

A Love Story

51ARRt5j1OL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (333×499)Title: A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me 

Author: Samantha Ryan Chandler

Publisher: Crossbooks, 2011

Genre: nonfiction, Christian, memoir

Pages: 130

Obtained: from author in exchange for an honest review

Summary: Samantha Ryan Chandler looks back at her life, thus far, and explores how God was present through both the good and bad times, guiding her along the way.

Thoughts: The author wrote this story to herself looking for God in her darkest moments, the most strenuous time being the process of her divorce from a rich and powerful man in which she lost just about everything including her children.  It is a short, quick read that could be a great inspiration or provider of hope to someone going through hard times, especially divorce, or someone struggling with their faith.  It also could act as encouragement to reflect on one's own life or simply provide food for thought.  The author's faith and courage shines throughout the book.

What I like most about this book is that the author writes about her difficult life in a light and, at times, humorous way, but still is able to show the hard times, pain, and suffering she went through.  Although the book is insightful, it is unorganized and jumps around quite a bit, especially at the end where I felt like the author found she wanted to add some things, so just stuck them at the end, rather than weave them into her story where they made sense.  She does state this book was not written in the traditional way, for someone to read, but rather, written to herself which explains how the book is arranged.  Nevertheless, it has been published for others to read and I believe it would be a much better read if it was more organized.


Company: French Creek Tea Company
P. O. Box 5021, Custer, SD 57730

Tea: Emerald Dreams

Obtained: from owners

Emerald Dreams, a "blend of green teas flavored with vanilla and assorted fruits", is produced by the French Creek Tea Company in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  The tea is packaged in a simple, yet sophisticated looking, good quality, resealable bag which keeps the leaves fresh.

When I opened the bag, there was a strong, sweet fruity scent. The long, green leaves were mixed with chunks of fruit.  I measured one teaspoon of leaves into my tea ball, placed it in my cup, and poured 6 ounces of water that had been boiled and then slightly cooled into the cup.  I let this steep for 2 minutes.

The pale yellow liquid had a slight sweet vanilla scent.  The delicate, sweet taste was a vanilla and fruit blend with a vanilla aftertaste.  This was a sweet treat and would be great when craving something sugary, but not wanting the calories.  I am not a vanilla lover but the flavor was light and not overpowering so I enjoyed this tea.  I believe fans of vanilla would really enjoy this tea since the vanilla flavor lingers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Murder, She Wrote Trouble at High Tide

517NOgGxIuL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (310×499)Title: Murder, She Wrote: Trouble at High Tide (#37)

Author: Donald Bain

Publisher: Obsidian, 2012

Pages: 276

Genre: mystery

Obtained: gift

Summary: Jessica Fletcher has accepted an invitation from Judge Thomas Betterton to vacation in one of his cottages located on the same private beach as his family mansion in Bermuda.  After a dinner party at the mansion, Jessica finds the body of one of the guests on the beach.  Is this murder tied into the copycat Jack the Ripper killings that have been happening in Bermuda, or was this murder more personal?

Thoughts: I have always loved the Murder, She Wrote television series, especially the episodes set in Cabot Cove, Maine.  I have been hesitant to read the books because I was afraid that Jessica Fletcher, and the other characters that I love from Cabot Cove, would not be depicted in the same way as in the television series.  I got this book as a gift from my sister-in-law who knows how much I delight in the show.  The book did not disappoint.  It could have been one of the television episodes.  Jessica was depicted in the same way.  The mystery was more detailed than on television, but very similar.  Although the setting was Bermuda, and not Cabot Cove, and the Cabot Cove characters were not in Bermuda, it didn't matter.  I felt like I was on vacation with Jessica at the beach, one of my favorite places to be.
     The author did a great job with descriptions.  I could picture the places, people, and the action.  The many characters were distinctive.  I did not get them mixed up and could picture each one.  The writing style was organized and the author kept the story moving.  The mystery was a good one.  Although I guessed whodunit, it was just that- a guess.  I was not completely sure I was right until the culprit was caught in the end.  There were believable red herrings and twists thrown in throughout the book.  I really liked that Jessica did not know her host too well and did not know the other family members and friends of the family at all.  This way the reader learned about the characters right along with Jessica.
     This book would be a great read while on vacation or at the beach.  I read it on a camping trip myself.  It was a fun, entertaining read that was light and cozy- great for relaxing!  I will definitely read more Murder, She Wrote mysteries.


Company: French Creek Tea Company
P. O. Box 5021, Custer, SD 57730

Tea: Silverheels

Obtained: from owners

     Silverheels is a "blend of Mutan white and green teas flavored with pear".  Mutan white tea is made from the leaves of the da bai bush mixed with buds from the shui hsien tea plant.  When I opened the resealable, good quality bag, I immediately received a sweet fruity scent with a somewhat earthy scent in the background.  The leaves were a potpourri of brown, green, silver, and yellow leaves of all shapes and sizes mixed with brown fruit chunks.  I measured two teaspoons of leaves into my teapot and poured 12 ounces of water that had been boiled and cooled slightly over the leaves.  I let this steep for two minutes.  The pale yellow liquid had a sweet fruity scent.  The light taste was smooth, yet crisp. It was sweet with no sourness or astringency.  It had a pleasant pear aftertaste.  This was a delectable tea!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Anne of Avonlea

51GR-vs2w5L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (260×216)Title: Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables #2)

Author: L. M. Montgomery

Narrator: Tara Ward

Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC, 2017 (originally published in 1909)

Format: 8 discs, 9 hours and 20 minutes

Genre: classic, young adult

                                                                                           Obtained: library

Summary: Anne Shirley is growing up.  She is now 16 and is about to start her job as the Avonlea school teacher.  This book tells of Anne's life over the 2 years that she teaches and at the end closes this chapter of her life, getting the reader ready for the next.

Thoughts: I joined the Anne Read Along hosted by Greenish Book Shelf and Death by Tsundoku because I had read Anne of Green Gables recently and really enjoyed it.  Since I haven't heard much about the other books in the Anne series, I figured they would not be even close to as good as the first in the series, but was curious.  Well, I enjoyed Anne of Avonlea just as much as Anne of Green Gables.

I listened to the book on cd's.  There was a different narrator for this second book, and it took me awhile to get used to this because the narrators interpreted the characters a bit differently, and of course their voices were different.  I can't say that one narrator was better than another.  Tara Ward read at a great pace, spoke clearly, and brought the characters to life just as Kate Burton did.

The same delightful characters from Anne of Green Gables were present in Anne of Avonlea, but more were added, each original.  Anne is growing up and L. M. Montgomery does an excellent job showing Anne mature, yet keeping her personality intact.  Her wild imagination is there, but toned down a bit.  She continues to get herself into mishaps, but they are age appropriate.  There is more romance and, I believe, more humor in this second book.

L. M. Montgomery's writing style is just beautiful, especially her descriptions.  I love the way she describes people and how she is able to weave descriptions in throughout the novel without stopping the actual story.  I also am amazed at how she writes about such simple everyday occurrences, but is able to make them so entertaining.  The pace is perfect.

The cozy setting of Prince Edward Island remains the same, although the author has the people of Avonlea and Avonlea itself changing over time, which really makes the reader feel like this story is real.  Reading this novel is such a great escape to a simpler time and place!

I really think these should be read in order.  Anne of the Island will be next!


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

Tea: Gilded Lily

Obtained: from owners

Today I sampled Gilded Lily, a blend of white teas flavored with orange, tangerine and marigold.  This tea came in a resealable bag that protected the tea and kept it fresh.  It was a good quality package and pleasing to the eye.  When I opened the bag, the scent was of oranges.  The leaves were long and green and all shapes and sizes.  There were little pieces that looked like small twigs and marigold petals dispersed throughout the leaves. I measured 2 teaspoons of leaves, put them in my teapot and poured 12 ounces of water that had been boiled and then cooled slightly, over the leaves.  I let this steep for 2 minutes.  The liquid was a very pale yellow, almost clear.  There was a faint orange scent to the liquid. This delicate tea had a light, sweet orange taste.  There was no bitterness or sourness at all.  This was a refreshing, yet calming tea that would be great anytime of the day.  After my first cup I couldn't resist making another!

The French Creek Tea Company, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, blends black, white, and green teas.  They also blend tea specifically for iced tea.  There contact information is above.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


51LG5sr-8yL._SY346_.jpg (234×346)Title: Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Authors: short story anthology with 17 different authors

Publisher: Grivante Press, April 2017

Pages: 275

Genre: horror, erotica

Obtained:  from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary: This is a short story anthology of 17 stories each containing the elements of food, horror, humor, and sex.

Thoughts: The best aspect of this anthology was the creativity involved.  No two stories were even close to being alike, and most were unusual.  Almost all were entertaining but in different ways.  Each author's story was well organized.  The amount of description in each varied. None of the characters in any of the stories really stood out.

There was food present in each story.  There was sex present in each story, although  I would not call it "erotica" in most.  There was good humor in some, but many were just plain silly.  The horror was mostly out of disgust, violence, and gore.  There were only a couple of stories that had a creepy feel and I never felt scared or frightened while reading this.  A few of the stories were quite clever and stuck with me.

This is a book for those over 18 years old.  This book wasn't for me, but if you're looking for something different, here it is!  If you like silly, gross horror mixed with sex- you'll love it!


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

Tea: Amber Ice

Obtained: from owners

    The French Creek Tea Company, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota is one of my favorite tea companies.  They have excellent black, green, and white tea blends that are of high quality.  This time around I sampled their iced tea.  Amber Ice is black tea blended specifically for making iced tea.  It is packaged like all their blends in a high quality resealable bag.

Owner, Royia Hrncir, advised me to use the "cold brew" method with these leaves.  I had never tried this before, usually using my iced tea maker or brewing in hot water, then adding ice and/ or cold water. The results of the cold brew method were fantastic!  I put four tablespoons of the black leaves in a half gallon of room temperature water.  I let this steep for about five hours, ran a little through a sieve, and tasted it.  It was good, but I thought if I added ice to it, the flavor would be too weak.  So, I left it to brew overnight- a total of about fifteen hours, before filtering it.  I added ice.  The result was a simple, delicious, refreshing, smooth, amber colored iced tea- no cloudiness or bitterness.  Although it really didn't need it, a slice of fresh lemon would have been a nice added touch.  This is the perfect drink for a hot summer day.