Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Title: Stories of Elders: What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology that You Don't

Author: Veronica Kirin

Publisher: Identity Publications, 2018

Pages: 309

Genre: nonfiction

Obtained: from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: The author traveled across the United States, interviewing people born before 1945, focusing on technology and how it has changed our way of life.

Thoughts: For a nonfiction book, this was an easy, quick read.  The author is an organized writer who writes at a reading level appropriate for teens and up.  She divides her chapters into subjects and uses the material she gathered through her interviews in somewhat of a discussion format, using many quotes from interesting people that draws the reader in.

The book was thought provoking, and personally, really made me look at how much has changed over the last 100 years.  I am one of the 20% of Americans who do not have a smart phone, and it got me wondering how far I'd be behind in another 10 years if I don't get one.  I enjoy a great feeling of security carrying around my cell phone, but if I had a smart phone, I, like most, would be constantly checking my emails, texts, and looking up information instead of paying attention to what is going on around me.  And is it becoming NECESSARY to have one?  Maybe.  This question was not discussed in the book, but this is where my thoughts led me after reading this book.

The book looks at how things have changed over about the last 100 years in the areas of communication, war, politics, rights, transportation, energy, amenities, work, medicine, relationships, food, money, poverty, safety, community, generational proximity, family, child development, religion, and integrity.  It covers a wide range of topics and I think, in a small amount of space. The author chose well what she put in and left out so that she wrote enough without the book becoming monotonous.  Although the book covers things most of us know, I did learn some new things, for example, how the credit card developed into what we use today- something I have never thought about.

This would make an excellent book club book, especially for intergenerational clubs.  It would give the opportunity to share some personal experiences and really get to know each other.  If you are looking for a nonfiction book, I highly recommend this one to young adults and up.


Company: Davids Tea             

Tea: North African Mint

Obtained: free sample with order

Today I sampled North African Mint tea from Davids Tea.  The ingredients were green tea, ginger, peppermint, cardamom, licorice root, fennel, clove, and black pepper.  This tea has a low caffeine content and the spices in it are supposed to be good for digestion.  The leaves were all shapes, sizes, and colors, and so were the seeds that were mixed in.  The scent of the leaves was of peppermint.  I poured 16 ounces of water that had been boiled over 2 1/2 teaspoons of leaves and let this sit for 3 minutes.  The liquid was a dark yellow with a very slight scent of mint.  When taking a sip, the peppermint taste was there, but the spices were also present, and the aftertaste was this peppery / minty experience- you could feel as well as taste it.  The result was a delicious blend.  This was a calming tea that helped to settle my stomach.  After reading the ingredients I was a little doubtful that these herbs and spices would complement each other, but I love how they tasted together!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Title: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Author: Leslie Connor

Narrators: Michael Crouch and Kathleen McInerney

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2016

Format: 8 compact discs, 9 1/2 hours

Genre: middle school fiction

Obtained: library

Synopsis: Perry T. Cook has spent his life growing up in the Blue River Co-Ed Correctional Facility.  Although a nontraditional upbringing, Perry has had a great life with a "family" that loves him.  When the new district attorney finds out about the arrangement of letting Perry's incarcerated mother raise him in jail, he acts swiftly to have Perry removed and put into a foster home.  Will Perry be reunited with his mother?

Thoughts: I just loved this book!  My eleven year old son and I listened to this book in the car as we drove to places we needed to be.  It is one of the books nominated for the Massachusetts Children's Book Award sponsored by Salem State University.  If my son reads, has read to him, or listens to at least 5 books on this list, he can vote for the winner in March.  Logan, my eleven year old son, liked this book too, but it was a bit above his comprehension level.  As we talked about the book, I noticed he sometimes didn't quite understand parts of it, but he got enough out of it to enjoy the story.  This book is recommended for grades 5 through 8, but I think this is a great book for the whole family.  I am always looking for audiobooks for family trips and this is a fantastic one, especially if you have older kids.

The reader gets to know the characters in this story on a personal level and I felt like they were real people.  The complex characters was the biggest, of the many strengths of this book.  The story was captivating and unique.  The setting was new and interesting, especially for a middle school book.  I felt like I was right there with the characters.  I could picture the story happening in my head.  The narrators were terrific and read at just the right pace and with emotion, and made the story very easy to follow.

The author gently discusses some heavy topics including incarcerated parents and foster homes.  She focuses on hope and perserverence when things aren't looking too good, and shows that it is okay to get support when you need it.  She uses Big Ed to give excellent advice on how to handle tough times.  The author conveys what community is and talks about laws and trials on a level kids can understand.  She expresses that everything isn't black and white nor good or bad, but there is always something in the middle.  Most importantly, she shows that there are many different types of families and just how important it is to have one.

I highly recommend this book!


Company: Plum Deluxe

Tea: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dessert Tea

Obtained: sample with tea of the month club

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dessert Tea from Plum Deluxe is caffeine free.  The ingredients are green rooibus, cinnamon chips, blackberry leaf, ginger root, fennel seeds, and vanilla essences.  The small leaves in my sample package were all shades of browns and creams and were mixed with chunks and seeds of similar colors.  The leaves smelled like an oatmeal cookie fresh out of the oven.  I poured a cup of water that had been boiled over a teaspoon of leaves and let this sit for four minutes.  The liquid was a yellowish or orange brown, depending on how the light hit it.  The scent was of an oatmeal cookie, but not as strong of a scent as the leaves.  The taste was a combination of sweet and spice.  At first the taste was of a snicker doodle- a very sweet cinnamon taste, but after swallowing the liquid there was a peppery taste, which I believe came from the combination of fennel seeds and ginger.  This is not a tea I would normally choose to drink.  I usually don't like sweet tea or vanilla, but the peppery finish just added something extra here that made this one enjoyable.  This was a wonderful afternoon treat!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Emissary

Title: The Emissary (The One Great Year Series #1)

Author: Tamara Veitch & Rene DeFazio

Publisher: Waterside Press, 2018

Genre: fantasy

Pages: 201

Obtained: advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Marcus and Theron have been chosen to be eternal Emissaries.  They make the commitment to protect the secrets of their civilization and attempt to lead humankind to enlightenment through numerous reincarnations.  They are separated soon after they are bound to this obligation. Will they be reunited?

Thoughts: This is a hard book to review because when I was finished with it, I felt like I had just finished the introduction to a story, not a whole book.  There were some engrossing parts, and some where I found my mind wandering.  The characters were interesting.  The reader did not get to know them as much as I would have liked, but they were developed.  The authors did a great job describing the settings and beings of the worlds they created. 

I would say don't read this unless you plan to read the whole One Great Year Series because it was kind of disappointing where this book left off.  It felt like the main story was just about to begin.  My feeling was not that I couldn't wait to read the next piece of the story.  It was like I was ready to start the actual story.  It reminded me of when Stephen King's The Green Mile was released in six parts, except that I was prepared for that so I knew what to expect, which made it was okay.  This was not.


Company: Davids Tea

Tea: Budda's Blend

Obtained: purchased

The leaves of Budda's Blend from Davids Tea have the scent of peaches.  The blend is made up of long black leaves with some jasmine pearls and lighter leaves mixed in.  The ingredients listed are white tea, green tea, jasmine pearls, white hibiscus blossoms, and natural and artificial flavouring. 

I put about two and a half teaspoons of leaves into my tea maker and poured sixteen ounces of water that had been boiled, and then cooled slightly, over the leaves.  I let this steep for one minute.  The liquid was yellow and had a light scent of jasmine and fruit.  The taste was a floral and fruit blend.  This is a light, delicate tea- something I would drink to relax.  The tea does have a medium caffeine content, so I don't recommend drinking it before bed.  This is a great one to try if you like jasmine and peaches.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Last Mile

Title: The Last Mile (Memory Man #2)

Author: David Baldacci

Narrator: Kyf Brewer & Orlagh Cassidy

Publisher: Hachette Audio, 2016

Format: 10 compact discs, approximately 12 hours

Genre: mystery, thriller

Obtained: borrowed from friend

Synopsis: Melvin Mars was convicted of killing his parents and his execution is hours away.  At the last minute, Mars' execution is put on hold because someone else has confessed to the murder.  Can Amos Decker find out the truth?  Did Mars kill his parents, or was it someone else?

Thoughts: I hate it when a series of books has a change in the narrator.  It really makes it hard to reconnect with the main character.  It just doesn't seem like it is the same person as in the previous book because of the change in voice, but also in the way the narrator portrays the character.  This happens with the other characters as well.  I think this is the first book I listened to that I was glad of the change.  I had no problems with the narrator of the first book in The Memory Man series, but in this second audio book, Kyf Brewer presented the main character, Amos Decker, as lighter (not as serious), which really made me like Decker more.  It did take awhile to get used to the new voice and slight personality change, but I did fairly quickly.

I enjoyed this story more than the first Amos Decker book, Memory Man.  It had many of the same characters, but added Melvin Mars who was likeable and was an interesting "friend" for Decker. The writing was good, although some parts were just not believable, and the story moved along at a good pace.  It was entertaining, drew me in, and held me there until the end because there was so much going on. 

I would recommend reading these books in order.  The first book has Amos Decker's history in it which is very important to this second story.  The reader would not be lost, but would understand the "whys" better.


Company: Plum Deluxe

Tea: Apple Cinnamon Warmth Black Tea

Obtained: sample with tea of the month club order

Today I tried Apple Cinnamon Warmth Black Tea from Plum Deluxe.  This is a black tea, so it does contain caffeine.  The ingredients are black tea, cinnamon chips, apple pieces, orange blossoms, and apple / cinnamon essences.  The tea looked like a combination of black tea leaves of all shapes and sizes and some chunks of apple.  It had a deep, warm scent of cinnamon and apples.  I poured 8 ounces of water over about a teaspoon of the tea and let this steep for 3 minutes.  The orange- brown liquid had the same scent as the leaves.  The taste was of a rich apple cake with cinnamon.  This would make a wonderful replacement for dessert, or a treat when in need of something warm and comforting.  It would also go great with scones, muffins, or coffee cake.