Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review Break

I am starting a certificate program in Health Coaching in a few days with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, so I will be taking a break from blogging about books and tea.  I hope that once I get into a routine, I will be able to have the time to return to posting once a week. 

I will continue to enjoy reading and tea during my hiatus, and hope that you all do too.  Right now I am reading The Keeper of the Crows by Kyle Alexander Romines.  It is, so far, a terrific horror / mystery set in Gray Hollow, a small farming town in Kentucky. It has some pretty good characters.

If you follow me by email, Facebook, or Bloglovin', you will receive notification of any posts and updates on this blog.  Thanks so much for reading!



Monday, April 29, 2019

Justice Gone

Title: Justice Gone

Author: N. Lombardi, Jr.

Publisher: Roundfire Books, 2018

Pages: 322

Genre: legal thriller, mystery

Obtained: from author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: After Donald Darfield's best friend, who fought alongside him in the Iraqi War, is killed by the police, someone murders the three policeman that had been involved.  Donald is arrested for the crime.  Can Donald's legal team and counselors win the court battle?

Thoughts: This was a good book.  I liked that it involved some heavy topics- how veterans are treated, the way the homeless are regarded, and police brutality.  The mystery was a good one and I was surprised at who committed the murders in the end.  The characters were developed and the writing style was organized and clear, which made the story easy to read.  The story moved at a good pace and I wanted to keep reading, but I wouldn't say I felt much suspense.  The settings were described, not in a way that I felt like I was there, but just fine if the reader is all about the mystery and courtroom showdown.

If you like a good mystery or legal thriller try this one.  Just be aware there are some bloody descriptions and bad language, and many of the vets have disturbing flash backs. PTSD is a major topic in this book.


This morning, I enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey Creme tea.  I purchased this canister from Art of Tea.  The ingredients were organic and biodynamic Sri Lankan black tea, organic cornflowers, organic oil of bergamot, and natural flavors. The leaves consisted of medium sized twisted black leaves with some long, purple flower petals mixed in.  The scent of the leaves was of very strong bergamot. I put one teaspoon of leaves into my tea ball and poured eight ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  I let this steep for three minutes.  The brown liquid had a much milder scent of vanilla.  The tea had a rich, robust taste that is balanced by citrus, vanilla and bergamot flavors.  This is a tea I drink often, mostly in the morning.  It has a medium caffeine content.  If you like earl grey tea, this is definitely one to try. Don't be fooled by the scent of the leaves or the liquid.  The taste is a wonderful blend. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Stranger Diaries

Title: The Stranger Diaries

Author: Elly Griffiths

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

Pages: 337

Genre: mystery

Obtained: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: One of Clare Cassidy's colleagues is found murdered.  Who did it? Is the answer in Clare's diary?

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great mystery that kept me guessing.  I liked the writer's style and how she organized the book.  She jumped between narrators and showed some of the same occurrences from different perspectives.  It was repetitive at times, but didn't drag the story down because it was interesting to discover what each character thought about what was going on.  Also, the author did not overlap everything- just enough.  She wove in a short story by the writer who Clare, the main character, was writing a book about which added to the creepy feel of the setting.  The focus was on the mysteries (there was more than one), not gore and horror.  The setting of a private high school, part of which included an old building called Holland House, that had mysteries of its own, was a fantastic place for this story to unfold.  The characters were developed and interesting and there was even a dog, Herbert, who I would also consider a character.  I need to check out other books written by this author.  She has written two series that I have not tried yet.

I recommend this book to mystery lovers, dog lovers, and diary lovers. 


Today I enjoyed a delicious cup of Royal Garden tea from my tea of the month club by Plum Deluxe.  This is a black tea and peach blend that I have been enjoying hot, but will be making it iced as well, when the weather warms. I highly recommend this Tea of the Month Club.  It is a wonderful Mother's Day gift for tea lovers.  There are two options.  I get the one ounce of tea per month which is just enough for me, but there is an option to get one ounce each of two different teas per month as well.  Also, you get a one cup sample of another tea and discounts, offers, and free shipping on purchases.  I also enjoy the weekly email that arrives in my inbox each Sunday morning (the perfect time) with news from Plum Deluxe and a special thought to ponder for the week.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Doldrums

Title: The Doldrums

Author: Nicholas Gannon

Narrator: Bronson Pinchot

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2015

Format: 5 compact discs, 6.25 hours

Genre: juvenile fiction

Obtained: library

Synopsis: Archer B. Helmsley longs for adventure.  It must be in his blood since his grandparents were famous explorers who got lost on an iceberg.  Will Archer have his adventure?

Thoughts: My son and I listened to this audio book in the car.  We both really liked the narrator who did a wonderful job bringing this story to life, but while looking at the author's website I discovered some of the illustrations, which the author created himself, and I feel like we missed out. They are fantastic!  Also, the author has written and illustrated a second book, The Doldrums and the Hemsleys,  and the illustrations in that book are also beautiful.  I especially like the ones in the second book because I love snow and part of the story takes place in a blizzard.

The writing style is humorous and whimsical, which adds another level of entertainment.  The characters have great personalities with details that make them come to life to a point- more like cartoon characters than living people. The settings, of which some are quite eccentric, are brought to life by particulars the author provides.

The Doldrums is a story about friendship, family, and adventure.  It shows how you can have an adventure anywhere, even just in your own backyard.  This may be the one disappointment for the reader.  If reading the book to experience a grand Antarctic adventure, the reader is let down because this never happens. There is a different kind of adventure, so expectations may not be met. Sorry if this is a spoiler.

If you are looking for a book that is whimsical and funny with good characters, check this out.  If you are looking for an Antarctic adventure, look somewhere else.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Last Woman Standing

Title: Last Woman Standing

Author: Amy Gentry

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2019

Pages: 312

Genre:  thriller

Obtained: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Dana Diaz, a stand up comedian, and Amanda Dorn, a computer programmer, meet at a bar and quickly bond over some very serious issues they both have with men.  Amanda thinks they should get revenge.

Thoughts: I loved the setting of this book.  It was fresh and new.  I also thought it was ironic that a book about serious issues was set in the comedy scene.  It almost made it lighter to read even though most of the book was quite disturbing.

I really had trouble feeling for the characters.  I couldn't relate to them and I didn't really care for them.  This took out some of the enjoyment of reading this book.  What made up for this was the author's writing style.  I loved how she started off slow, providing details, and picked up the pace as the story went along and as the suspense started.  I also loved the twists and turns.  The style made me want to come back to see what would happen next.

If you don't mind disturbing topics such as rape, revenge, harassment, and assault, definitely try this one.  If unlikeable characters ruin a story for you, skip it.


 Today I felt like I needed something cold and refreshing and I couldn't find any tea that I wanted iced, so I just had some cucumber water while reading this book.  I like to add cucumbers to water and leave them in there for about four hours or overnight.  The cucumbers give the water a clean taste, and for some reason, the water seems to quench my thirst better and tastes more refreshing.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Rain Reign

Title: Rain Reign

Author: Ann M. Martin

Narrator: Laura Hamilton

Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2014

Format: 4 compact discs, 4 hours and 9 minutes

Genre: middle grade realistic fiction

Obtained: library

Synopsis: Rose Howard's dog Rain Reign gets lost when Rose's father lets the dog out during a hurricane.  Can Rose find her dog?

Thoughts: This was a wonderful book. There is MUCH more to this story than my basic synopsis. It is about a girl and her love for her dog, but it is also about persistence, courage, stepping out of your comfort zone, acceptance, love, and friendship. The story involves Asperger's syndrome, an absent mother, and an alcoholic father. It is told by Rose who loves homonyms, prime numbers and rules- which are all very interesting.  Rose is a lovable character who is different in many ways, but very easy to relate to. The author does a fantastic job showing how people do things for a reason and how sometimes we just have to take the time to get to know someone to understand.

This was a book that played with my emotions. I listened to this story with my eleven year old son.  He was not upset by any of the book even though some of the scenes were disturbing and emotional.  He understood what was happening in the story but didn't get all of the underlying themes and connections that were going on.  This book would probably be better for 13 year olds and above due to some of the content.

The narrator was terrific.  She told the story at a great pace, spoke very clearly, and was extremely easy to follow.

If you like emotional stories with excellent characters try this one- unless homonyms annoy you.


Company: Davids Tea

Tea: Rhubarb Cream Soda

Obtained: purchased

This was a caffeine free herbal tea which was in an ice tea sampler that I purchased.  The ingredients were apple, rose hip shells, mango (mango, sugar), pineapple (pineapple, sugar), hibiscus, red currants, rhubarb, and natural flavouring.  The "leaves" were chunks of fruit and pieces of rose hips.  The scent of the leaves was of fruit. I put my packet of tea into my tea maker and poured 10 ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  I let this steep for 5 minutes.  I poured this over ice.  The liquid was a lovely dark pink.  The scent was of fruit, but also there was a background scent that reminded me of play dough.  The taste was a nice sweet and sour combination, but the taste again reminded me of play dough.  I didn't care for this one at all...

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Evil Winds

Title: Evil Winds (Tradecraft Phase 2)

Author: Michael Shusko

Publisher: self published, 2018

Genre: military thriller

Obtained: from the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Angie Bryant goes to Darfur to do research for a story about the atrocities happening to the people who live there.  With the help of Jason Russo, a medical doctor, she uncovers more than she thought she would.  Will they make it out alive to share their discoveries with the world?

Thoughts:  I had never read a book that took place in this setting and knew very little about this part of the world, so the best part of this story, to me, was learning about Sudan and Chad.  The author did a terrific job showing the reader what it is like in this part of the world.  The plot was good and the writing was organized.  The characters were okay, but I didn't feel like they were real, so that kind of turned me off.  I didn't really care what happened to them, so I didn't get into the story as much as I would have liked to.

If you are interested in reading about other parts of the world and like military thrillers, definitely give this one a try.  If you are all about the characters when it comes to a story, skip this one.


Company: Davids Tea

Tea: Moringa Mermaid

Obtained: purchased

Moringa Mermaid is a caffeine free herbal tea.  The ingredients are melon pieces (melon, sugar, citric acid), apple, carrots, pineapple (pineapple, sugar), moringa, blackberry leaves, rose petals, and natural watermelon and lemon flavouring.  The leaves were beautiful.  They were a light green and there were orange and off white chunks mixed in.  The colors went perfectly with each other and reminded me of spring.  The leaves had a fruity scent.  I purchased the single serving iced tea packets, so I dumped the contents of one packet into my tea maker, poured 10 ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves and let this steep for 4 minutes.  I poured this over ice.  The liquid was a yellowish brown and the scent was a blend of fruit and grass.  The taste was odd- both fruity and vegetal, but overwhelmingly sweet.  I didn't care for this one.