July 5, 2014

Is it eau de toilette?

Image source: Shutterstock

Going through a real tea kick at the moment.  Since I've been reading, or should I say re-reading, some of the books in the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Childs I've felt compelled to try some of the different types of tea that Drayton and Theodosia seem obsessed with.  Feeling a tad cautious, I decided to try something simple and not too fussy, so a couple of weeks ago I bought a small box each of Earl Grey, Darjeeling and Assam teas.  That night I tried the Earl Grey ... yuck! {seriously, it tasted like mouldy flowers}.  After I took that first sip of tea the song Earl Grey by Enda Kenny popped into my mind...

July 2, 2014

Review: Cast in Shadow

Cast in Shadow
Chronicles of Elantra, Book 1
Michelle Sagara

Published: 2005

Harlequin LUNA, paperback, 309p.
ISBN: 0-733-57274-X

Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin.… Since then, she’s learned to read, she’s learned to fight and she’s become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and the immortal Barrani, she’s made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth. But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging. Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can’t trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers — powers that no other human has. Her task is simple — find the killer, stop the murders…and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies! Something is stirring again…

With the release of the 10th book in the series, CAST IN FLAMES, due for release on July 29, 2014, I thought it appropriate to review the book that started it all...

Private Kaylin Neya is a damaged soul who we first meet just before she attacks the man she holds responsible for the pain from her former life in the fiefs.  Corporal Severn Handred is also tormented by past choices, and despite enduring Kaylin's rage, he is determined to once again risk her hate to save her from a killer from their past.

This story is so enthralling and sucks you in as you follow Kaylin and her painful journey as she revisits the past she thought she'd finally escaped.  Sagara's world building is delightful and so well done that you don't even question why a dragon has mood eyes, or that a Leontine is in charge of office.  Aerians?  Sure, them too.  The use of mythologies that were specifically adapted for this series was so well done and very convincing that you almost have to stop yourself from checking the encyclopaedia for the definition of being a 'chosen' one.

With bursts of humor and action, Sagara seems to have a knack for knowing just when to pull back and tug at your heartstrings, then have you laughing 30 seconds late.  The first book in the Chronicle of Elantra series, I would recommend Cast in Shadow to anyone who loves a great story sprinkled with images out of mythology, love and forgiveness.

Review: Oolong Dead

Oonlong Dead
A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 10
Laura Childs

Published: March, 2010 (pbk)

Berkley Prime Crime, mass market, 307p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-233339-9

While riding her horse in a race through the South Carolina Lowcountry, Theodosia Browning finds her arch nemesis, Abby Davis, dead. What’s more, the victim’s brother is Theodosia’s old flame. Who’d have guessed they’d be reunited through cold-blooded murder? Theodosia’s investigation takes her from the Lowcountry thicket to the backstage maze of a darkened theater where a maestro of murder waits for the next cue. All proving that when it comes to high drama, Theodosia can give Verdi a run for his money.

I do enjoy a good cosy mystery, and A Tea Shop Mystery series is right up at the top of my list.  This book sees death touch a little closer to home as a tumble from a horse leaves Theo stumbling across the body of her ex-boyfriend Jory's sister, Abby.  The investigation itself seemed to fly all over the place.  Some clues were seemed so insignificant, yet had a huge part in unmasking the killer.  It wasn't until Theo put it together at the end that I realised who the murderer was, and why they'd killed Abby.  In that respect it was a good mystery, but I like it when I have a rough idea much earlier on and get to see if I'm right ;-D

Of course, Jory Davis comes rushing back to Charleston - and back into Theo's life - and I have to say, he's annoying and clingy.  Even though his sister is dead, he seems to try and get his own way in regards to Theo.  For a lawyer, this behaviour comes across and quite juvenile. At least Theo has Parker waiting in the wings ... that is until he gets a tad jealous and assumes that Theo is stepping out on him to have a fling with Jory.  On the whole, Parker seems more mature, but he does have his flaws.  I find him to be a better match for Theo, but something in their relationship seems to be lacking.

There were some funny moments in Oolong Dead, but my favourite is when Theo gets to meet Jory's surprise on-again-off-again fiance who has flown down to Charleston to be with Jory.  Beth is the total opposite of Theo in just about every way.  Loud, ditzy, flirty and a good-time gal.  I think Jory's got his just dessert much to the amusement of Theo.  My other favourite moment was when Theo claps eyes on the inside of Hazelhurst.

All in all, Oolong dead is a great book. I've already ordered The Silver Needle (to be reviewed in the near future).  When you read the Tea Shop Mystery books, don't be surprised if you get the sudden desire to pour a hot cup of tea in your finest teacup, and munch on some deliciously gooey finger food while you catch up with Theo and the gang.

July 1, 2014

Did I mention it's cold?

Hi there, my lovelies. I may have metioned it a time or two over the last few days, that it's getting cold.  Today I really mean it... I'M COLD!  As I sit here typing, I have a hot water bottle snuggly sitting on my lap, some woolly wrist warmers keeping my wrist warm (obviously), layered long sleeve shirts, a beanie, track pants (uh, sweat pants in America?) and warm woolly socks with Ugg boots on.  If I could, I'd be rugged up in my thick blanket as well.

There's a hot water bottle underneath all the blankets as well!
Last night I took a photo of my cat snuggling up to my hot water bottle - she also snuck under the blankets some time during the night! - just to show you I'm not kidding.  And to add insult to injury, it's toasty warm outside in the sun.  (Whoever designed these units needed to run his designs by his mum to make sure it would work in 'real life' and not just on the page as the living rooms share the internal wall!)  Anyhow, I'm off to enjoy a hot lunch and try to find a sunny spot to read.  Fingers crossed I thaw out soon ;-D

Review: Steeped in Evil

Steeped in Evil
A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 15
Laura Childs

Published: Feb, 2014

Wheeler Publishing, LT HC, 406p.
ISBN: 978-1-4104-6402-6

Theodosia Browning has never considered herself a wine connoisseur - tea has always been her forte.  But that doesn't nean she's going to pass up an ivitation to a wine tasting party at the Knighthall Winery.  A sweet evening takes on a bitter aftertaste when a dead body is discovered in a wine barrel.  The sone of proprietor Jordan Knight has been murdered.  Dissatisfied with the police investigation, Knight turns to Theo for help.  She's heard through the grapevine that there are family and business problems at Knighthall.  They say in vino veritas, but everyone at the winery seems to be lying through their teeth.

How does Theo keep getting pulled in to these messes?  After all these murder investigations that she's done either because of her own curiosity, or because people have asked her to, she should know by now that it's not good for her health to stick her nose into other people's business...  But if Theo said 'No!', then what kind of story would we have, eh?

I picked this book up from my local library yesterday (hence the Large Type) and found that once I got home I couldn't resist visiting with Theo and the gang.  There is just something so inviting about her Tea Shop and Hazelhurst cottage.  As usual, the run through of the recipes that Haley gives everyone sound delicious and have you drooling from the first course {I've still to make one of the recipes from the book, but I'll get there eventually!} and since I love Miss Dimple, I'm so glad she's made a return in this book.  Now I know that everyone seems to be going a little Downton Abbey crazy at the moment - and references to it keep popping up all over the place - but it seemed just right to host a Downton Abbey inspired tea at a Tea Shop.  If not here, where?  Of course I have yet to indulge in the series (yes, I know. Simmer down, I'm waiting for the boxed set) but it's moments like these that can really make a book.

The deliciously handsome Max Scofield spends more time with us in this book.  Like all Theo's previous beau's, Jory and Parker, he is less than impressed with Theo's need to delve into her dark little addiction of solving murders.  However he does seem to be more mature and less inclined to have jealous turns which is a blessing as Jory and Parker drove me potty.  I was surprised at the back seat that Det. Tidwell took this time.  He only makes a few appearances, but as always he is a presence you can't ignore.  Thankfully Delaine has more of a supporting role.  I know people love her, but she just annoys the heck out of me.  Her very pushy nature combined with her instant simpering (?) behaviour as soon as a cute man comes into the picture is quite tiresome.  However, because she is such a pushover for pets I'll let it slide.  She can't be all that bad if Earl Grey likes her, can she?

As to the murder and investigation - I really should address that, huh - I found that I disliked the right people from pretty much the get go.  The identity of our murderer came as no surprise to me, only the reason for it was.  I don't know why I this person caught my attention so early on, but I just had a 'feeling' about them.  Sometimes this works, sometimes I'm waaay off.  {It's so hard to talk about the identity of the murderer and NOT give away their identity!}  In this investigation Theo seems to be having more difficulty in locating not only the reason for the murder, but any clue as to who could have shot our victim.  With secrets being kept by everyone, Theo's in for a tough time.

Anyway, in the end it comes down to whether or not I enjoyed this book.  Happily I did, and even though the series does faulte times, I would recommend this series to anyone who loves a good cosy mystery, or a great cup of tea.

Found Book Three!

Yesterday I hit the local shopping centre to try and find the first book in K.J. Taylor's Fallen Moon Trilogy - The Dark Griffin.  I love the artwork on the covers, but unfortunately Book Depository only has the new covers available (boring).  So when I found book 3 in the cheap bin at my local Collins Bookstore I was thrilled {yiippppeeee!} so I asked the lady behind the counter if they had seen book 1.  Sadly they hadn't gotten a copy of Dark Griffin in the palette load, but she'd check the computer to see if it was still available.  Great!  So as I waited I browsed the shelves.  Turns out that I could get my hands on a copy... for the full price of $22.95!  WTF?!

Seriously, why are books in Australia so bloody expensive when compared to America and England?  No wonder most people are buying their books online from overseas retailers, because even with P&H (or if it's free) you pay less than half the price as you would in Australia! {sorry, rant over ;-D } So after that price shock, I'm going to spend today combing the online retailers looking for a better deal.  I need to go make a strong cup of tea just thinking about it.

PS - just before posting this I was searching for Dark Griffin and happened to check Fishpond.  Couldn't believe the price they wanted originally for the paperback.  I nearly fainted!

 now I really need a drink ;-D

June 29, 2014

Review: Concealed in Death

Concealed in Death
In Death, Book 38
J.D. Robb

Published: 27 February, 2014

Piatkus, Trade, 416p.
ISBN: 9780749959401 

In a decrepit and long-empty New York building, a man begins the demolition process by swinging a sledgehammer into a wall. When the dust clears, he finds two skeletons wrapped in plastic behind it.

The man is Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s billionaire husband, Roarke, and he summons her immediately. His latest real estate project is going to be on hold for a while, because by the time Eve and her crew are finished searching the premises, there are twelve murders to be solved….

After a little digging reveals that the place housed a makeshift shelter for troubled and homeless teenagers back in the mid-2040s, Eve tracks down the people who worked there. Between their recollections and the brilliant work of the force’s new forensic anthropologist, Eve begins to put names and faces to the skeletal remains. They are all girls. A tattooed tough teenager who dealt in illegal drugs. The runaway daughter of a pair of well-to-do doctors. They all had their stories. And they all lost their chance for a better life.

Everyone has something to hide. And when Eve discovers a stunning connection between the victims and someone she knows, she is even more driven to reveal the secrets of the place that was called The Sanctuary—and to find the evil concealed in one human heart.

I can't believe this review was still stuck in my draft folder.  Even though it's more than overdue, better late than never - right?  So here goes nothing, and I hope you enjoy my very late review of Concealed in Death (CiD).