Friday, October 20, 2017

The Accident

51vrl+vOAkL._SY346_.jpg (217×346)Title: The Accident

Author: Glen Ebisch

Publisher: Williams & Whiting, 2017

Pages: 274

Genre: mystery

Obtained: from author in exchange for an honest review








Summary: Karen Walker, an ex-homicide detective who has been recovering from an automobile accident, is asked to investigate the disappearance of her old friend's sister, Justine, from the family's summer home on the coast of Maine.

Thoughts: This book was a simple mystery, nothing deep or thought provoking, but definitely entertaining.  I didn't see it as a classic "whodunit" mystery because I was asking myself what happened rather than who did it since it was not clear if Justine disappeared on her own or foul play was involved.  I liked this change of thinking from the usual mystery books.

The writer tells the story in a clear, organized, easy to follow way.  He writes at a steady pace.  I looked forward to reading this book each day, but could easily put it down between chapters.  The characters were developed and the protagonist was likeable.  I loved the setting which was described in enough detail to picture.

This is a great beach book or vacation read.  It is one of those enjoyable mysteries where not much else is happening but the mystery.  Would I read another mystery by this author?  Absolutely.



                                                               


Company: Adagio Teas

Tea: green rooibos blueberry

Obtained: purchased









I came across Adagio Teas while surfing the web.  I was immediately sucked in by their wide variety of tea samplers and teas along with their reasonable prices.  They definitely have something for everyone!  I ordered three samplers.  My order arrived quickly with no problems and I even got some extra samples to try, which made me happy.

The first box I opened was the Green Rooibos Sampler.  I was excited about this because I had never tried green rooibus tea, only red.  Both green and red rooibos come from the same plant.  The difference is that green rooibos is specially treated to prevent oxidation, while red rooibos is oxidized.  Both are caffeine free.  The sample contained four teas (green rooibos, green rooibos bonita, green rooibos blueberry, and green rooibos key west) which is said to make about 40 cups of tea.  The samples came in resealable bags which were in a nice box. The bags were labeled with ingredients and steeping instructions.

I probably should have tried the green rooibos with nothing else added first, but I went with green rooibos blueberry because I was reading a book set in Maine.  The ingredients listed were green roobos tea, blueberries, natural berry flavor, raspberry leaves, rose hips, hibiscus flowers, cranberries, and blue cornflowers.  I cut open the bag to find a pretty tea consisting of needle-like leaves of brown hues with bright blue flower petals and dark brown berries mixed in.  The scent was of berries.  The bag was not easy to reseal, but I did manage to get it sealed on the third attempt.

I put 2 teaspoons of leaves in my tea ball, poured 12 ounces of boiling water over it and let it steep for 5 minutes.  The dark yellow liquid had a slight warm berry scent that reminded me of blueberry pie.  The taste was of sweet berries and flowers with the blueberries standing out.  The aftertaste was of blueberries too.   The taste was light and smooth, not rich like blueberry pie, but the taste was reminiscent of it.  I recommend this one to those that love sweet blueberries.
















Monday, October 16, 2017

Guest Post by author Andrew Joyce

61wdR34A1JL._SY346_.jpg (217×346)What you are about to read is a true story. It’s from my book, Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups, a collection of short stories that are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. My hitching adventures are true. The Danny narratives are also true, but written from a perspective different from mine. The fiction stories are a jumble of genres.

There are a whole lotta stories in the book—700 pages worth. Enough to keep you reading for the foreseeable future.

Here’s one of my hitching adventures. By the way, in the hitching tales, I use my real name, Billy Doyle—Andrew Joyce being my pen name.

John, Kris, and Me

It was 1968; I was eighteen-years- old, and I was hitchhiking from Miami to New York. I had gotten off the beaten track, so to speak. I should have stayed on US 301 (this was before the Interstate Highway System), but instead found myself just south of Memphis, hoping to catch a ride into Nashville by noon and then catch a long haul out of that city.

It was early morning. The traffic was light, and I wasn’t having much luck when, suddenly, a black Mustang screeched to a halt, and the guy driving leaned over and said through the open passenger-side window, “I’m headin’ to Nashville, that do you any good?”

Of course I said, “Yes,” and jumped in.

As he’s accelerating, he’s looking straight ahead, not saying anything, which is kinda strange but not unusual when you’re hitching. So I said nothing and stared out the windshield at the fast approaching skyline of Memphis. Then it hit me. I know this guy; I should have tumbled from the voice.

At that time in my life, I was not into different types of music; I liked rock n’ roll. Since then my taste in music has matured to encompass all types. But even though this guy wasn’t a rocker, I knew him and his music. A couple of his songs had crossed over and were played on the top forty stations.

The driver was intent on what he was doing, but I think he caught me looking at him out of the corner of his eye. I noticed he had a firm grip on the steering wheel, his knuckles were white. After a few minutes, he turned to me, saying, “Howdy, my name’s John.” At the same time, he raised his right hand from the wheel and stuck it out in my direction.

We shook hands, and I said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cash. My name is Billy.”

Once John and I shook hands, he became more talkative. Hell, he became downright verbose. He told me about his hitchhiking adventures and asked me about mine. We were three hours out of Nashville and I don’t think there was another quiet moment for the whole three hours. We talked about life, women, and we even got into a metaphysical discussion. He told me about his army days and the time he was arrested in Texas. Just to keep even, I told him stuff that had happened to me while on the road. We didn’t talk about his music or anything like that. I’d been around enough to know that coming off as a gushing fan would have been a major turn-off for him. And besides, at the time, I was not a fan, gushing or otherwise. But by the time we hit Nashville, I was becoming a fan … of the man if not his music.

As we neared Nashville, he told me he’d just gotten married a few months back and was dying to see his wife. “I’ve been gone two days and it feels like two years,” he informed me. Then he said, “It’s about dinner time; why not stop in and get something to eat and then hit the road. June’s a great cook.”

Dinner is what country folk call lunch.

I accepted his kind offer, and we got off the highway and headed for his home, which was only a few blocks away. When we got to his house and as we were pulling into the driveway, he said, “Looks like June is out somewhere, but don’t worry, we’ll rustle somethin’ up.”

I told him not to bother, that I could cadge a meal down the line. He looked at me, shook his head, and in that deep voice, he asked me if I had any money. Of course, I didn’t and I told him so. He told me that he’d been on the road and hungry, and that if I didn’t get my butt in the house pronto, he’d drag me inside.

So in we went, and we walked right back to the kitchen. John told me to sit at the table as he opened the refrigerator and looked around for a moment before saying, “Ah ha! It’s still here.” And he pulled out a platter with a ham on it. I mean a real ham, bone and all! He also came up with a jar of mustard and a hunk of cheese. As he started to slice the ham, he told me where the bread and plates were kept and asked me to get them.

When the sandwiches were made—two of them—he asked me if I’d like a beer.

“Yes, please.”

So there I am, sitting in the kitchen of a man I’d met only a few hours before, and I’ve got two thick ham and cheese sandwiches and a can of beer in front of me. Not a bad score and the day was still young!

I asked him if he was going to eat, and he said beer would do him fine.

We’re sittin’ at the kitchen table, shooting the shit, when the doorbell rings. John gets up, but before he leaves, he takes a long swig of beer. “Be right back,” he says. A few minutes later, he comes back into the kitchen with this guy.

“Billy, I want you to meet a friend of mine. This here is Kris.”

I had my mouth filled with ham sandwich, so I mumbled a hello. He waved and smiled, “Glad to meet ya, Billy.”

John asked Kris, “How about a sandwich and a beer?”

“Just a beer, please. It’s my lunch hour, and I’ve got to get back to work. But I have a new song I’d like you to hear and see what you think of it.”

By now, I’d eaten my two sandwiches, and I had nothing to add to the conversation, so I figured I’d just finish my beer and get the hell out of there. But before I could say my thanks and hit the road, John leaves the room and returns a moment later with a guitar.

Prior to my going any further, I’ve got to lay the scene out for you. We’re sitting at a round kitchen table. To my left is John and directly opposite me is this guy, Kris Kristofferson (before he was famous). John and I were hitting our beers and watching Kris tune the guitar. Then he picked at the strings and started to sing. I don’t remember what the song was. I wasn’t really paying attention. In my mind, I was rehearsing my good-bye speech to John.

When Kris was done, we all three sat there looking at one another. I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my opinion Kris sought. Kris didn’t say anything because he was waiting for John to say something, which he finally did.

“It’s not bad. But I don’t know if it’s for me.”

I’ve got to hand it to Kris; he smiled broadly and said, “That’s okay. I just wanted you to hear it and get your thoughts.” Then he lifted his beer and said, “Prosit.” That was my cue to leave. I stood and told John I had to hit the road. He said he’d drive me back to the highway, but I told him not to bother, he had company, and besides, it was only a few blocks away. Kris said if I could wait a few minutes, he’d drop me off at the highway on his way back to work. I declined his offer. I didn’t want to wait around. I had a full stomach and New York City was calling to me. I said my good-byes and walked out the front door, retrieved my case from the Mustang and headed off for further adventures.

Just one last thing: When I got to New York and opened my case, there was Benjamin Franklin staring up at me from on top of my clothes. John must have put the C-note in there when he went to let Kris in.


61UYtgjxb0L._UX250_.jpg (250×188)Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn't return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors' Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen's Book Reviews.


Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.


                                                                          

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.
Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.
Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”



Friday, October 13, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10

61-su2ULM5L._AA300_.jpg (300×300)Title: The Woman in Cabin 10

Author: Ruth Ware

Narrator: Imogen Church

Format: 9 compact discs, 11 hours

Genre: mystery, thriller

Obtained: library





Summary: Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist who is assigned to write about a week on a luxury cruise on the North Sea.  When a masked man breaks into her apartment right before her voyage, she is traumatized, but still makes it onto the ship.  When Lo is woken up by a noise in the cabin next door, she believes the woman in cabin 10 has been thrown overboard.  The problem is that cabin 10 did not have any occupants and no one is missing from the ship, so nobody believes Lo's story.  Did Lo imagine this nightmare?  She knows the woman in cabin 10 exists.  How can she get others to believe her story?

Thoughts: This was a clever mystery / thriller with so many components of what makes a good book for me.  I really enjoyed the feel of this novel- scary, claustrophobic, and somewhat creepy.  The author did a great job of putting the story into the reader's mind.  I could both picture and feel what was going on.  The plot was a good one that kept me guessing most of the time.  The author is a skillful mystery writer.   She included believable red herrings.  She was also able to sneak clues in without making them scream "clue!".  Many authors just cannot do this.  It was a detailed story with so much going on and many questions to be answered.  I kept asking myself- Are things really as they appear?

I had some issues with the characters.  A couple of the characters were just not convincing at times to me.  One of the things that bothered me a lot was that the main character, Lo, went through some strenuous physical experiences and it was not plausible to me that she could have endured all of this.   She was like the energizer bunny.  She just kept going, and going, and going, no matter what happened to her.  I also just could not connect with Lo and didn't like her.  This did not spoil the story for me, but it might for some.  If you read The Girl on the Train, the experience of reading about Lo was similar to reading about Rachel.

The narrator did a really good job with this novel.  Her reading had great expression and she read clearly and at a good pace.  I didn't always know who was speaking just by listening to the voice, but it was clear when paying attention to the story.  I never got lost or confused.

This was one of those books that has to be read or listened to carefully so you don't miss anything. I liked this about it too.  The climax was a bit odd.  The rest of the book was detailed and drawn out and the climax was very quick.  Although I felt like some details were left out at the end, I was happy with how everything came together.  I didn't have any unanswered questions, just wanted to know more information.

Even though I wasn't totally pleased with the characters, all in all this was a great mystery / thriller.  Read it if the characters aren't the most important aspect of a novel to you.  If the characters are the most important- skip this one. This would make an excellent novel for a book discussion.  I can see readers both loving it and hating it. I'm sure some readers will miss some of the important details because of the author's writing style, and some will pick up each one resulting in an interesting and lively discussion.




                                                                     




Company: The Whistling Kettle

Tea: English Breakfast

Obtained: purchased










The Whistling Tea Kettle is an online tea store and retailer in New York. They have a tea room and cafe in both Troy and Ballston Spa, New York.  I love the story of how they came about which can be read by going to their website. They have a large variety of loose leaf teas along with tea ware and even some coffee.

I ordered the Breakfast Sampler.  It came quickly and was packaged very nicely.  The box the samples came in was very pleasing to the eye.  There were 6 different breakfast teas in the box.  The website states that the samplers brew 18-36 cups.  I tried the Ancient Forest tea first and loved it.  I got more than 6 cups from the sample which backs up the company's count of around 36 cups per sampler.

Today I tried the English Breakfast tea.  The sample came in a resealable bag that was good quality.  I really like that it had a description of the tea and brewing suggestions right on the bag.  The long black and brown leaves had a subtle woody scent.  I put two teaspoons of leaves into my tea ball and poured twelve ounces of water that had been boiled over it.  I let this brew for four minutes.  The liquid was a dark orange with a very slight earthy scent.  I was surprised at the taste which was slightly vegetal, yet also had a bit of sweetness to it.  It was a very different English Breakfast tea than I am used to.  It was not bold and robust like some, but still had that full body, rich feel.  The website said the caffeine content was "medium", but I could feel it kick in right away.  I added some milk to my second cup since the company stated it was "especially enticing with milk".  I had found the tea to be somewhat comforting, but found it even more comforting with the milk.

I would recommend this as a breakfast tea or pick me up tea for those that like their tea with or without milk.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Retrograde

51zZQf0-+9L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (333×499)Title: Retrograde

Author: Peter Cawdron

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

Pages: 243

Genre: science fiction

Obtained: from publisher in exchange for an honest review














Summary: An international colony has been established on Mars which is made up of four modules- United States, Chinese, Russian, and Eurasian.  The colonists have become somewhat settled, media attention has died down, and they are well into their scientific research and exploration of the planet.  What happens when a world war breaks out on Earth causing the colonists to lose support and leaving them with many questions?  Strange accidents and malfunctions start to happen on Mars.  Who can be trusted?

Thoughts: Peter Cawdron, who I found to be a well-rounded author, made this fictitious story as true to science as he could.  Best of all, he wrote about science and technology in simple terms with explanations I could understand.  I learned about Mars, space travel, starting a colony on another planet, and even a bit about engineering.  The author has an excellent grasp of psychology and has the characters go through some deeply emotional experiences which are believable.  At the same time I could picture myself in the settings right along with the characters.  The style of writing was clear and organized.  The protagonist was well developed and likeable.  There were many other characters, some of which the reader got to know better than others. This book drew me in immediately and I was engaged right through to the last page.

This was a fantastic book- a science fiction book with both psychological thriller and mystery aspects to it.  It was not what I expected, and therefore, full of surprises for me.  The plot was a simple, common one, but done in a fresh way, so it did not seem old at all.    I found myself thinking "what if this really happened?" throughout the book, not just about the main ideas, but about little occurrences.  It is a great science fiction book for those that like to be kept guessing.  I would recommend this book to anyone ages 15 and above, especially science fiction lovers.




                                                                     





Company: Art of Tea

Tea: Aztec Spice

Obtained: gift








Art of Tea is a tea company based in Los Angeles, California.  They have an extensive variety of teas to purchase on their website including both loose leaf and packaged teas.  They have tea ware and a tea of the month club.  I have been ordering tea from this company for quite awhile and have always had a good experience with them.

Today I enjoyed a cup of Aztec Spice, which is a blend of organic pu-erh, organic cinnamon, organic honeybush, organic cocoa nibs, organic safflower, organic chili flakes, chocolate seeds, and natural flavors.  According to the label, it has a medium caffeine content.  This was not my first experience with this tea.  It is one of my favorite fall teas.

The tea came in a cylindrical tin that is good quality and had an excellent seal, keeping the tea fresh.  The tin was easy to open and I immediately got a strong scent of spicy cocoa and cinnamon.  The brown leaves were all shapes and sizes and intermingled with the leaves were brown chunks and seeds and orange flower petals.

I put 2 teaspoons of the tea in my tea ball, put it in my cup and poured 12 ounces of water over it.  I let this steep for 3 minutes.  The orange brown liquid had a faint chocolate cinnamon scent.  The taste was of sweet chocolate and cinnamon but with a spicy chili pepper aftertaste.  This is an exotic, rich tea that is both sweet and spicy.  It really has a kick to it.  This tea is wonderful, especially as a dessert tea.