I Won the Ellery Adams’ September 2020 Giveaway + My Review of the First Two Books in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series

So two years ago, (I wasn’t kidding when I said I was behind on my posts), I won the Ellery Adams giveaway. You know me and free, I just can’t resist.

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I ended up winning a copy of Solve it With Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Gripping Casebook of Stories.

I loved the Solve It book as I have always been a huge fan of Encyclopedia Brown and other mini mysteries. As I’m also a giant Sherlock Holmes fan, it was just perfect for me and I was so happy to have won it!

I also enjoyed Sherlock Holmes: A Gripping Casebook of Stories; which has the first Sherlock Holmes book (A Study in Scarlet) and fourteen other cases. Loved it!

Mystery, you say?

Ellery Adams also give me a cute I Love Mr. Darcy Bag, which you might have spotted I some other posts. It has popped up in several photos.

She also included a copy of her book, The Whispered Word (Secret, Book, & Scone Society #2).

We decided to read it for my book club, and of course as we read that one, we ended up reading the first book in the series.

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society (The Secret, Book, & Scone Society #1) by Ellery Adams

Nora Pennington has a terrible secret, and equally terrible burn scars. She moved to Miracle Springs, North Caroline to get away from it all and start her life anew. She runs a little bookshop called Miracle Books where people can come and receive bibliotherapy; books to help with whatever sadness, depression, anxiety, or other issues they are facing.

“She held up her hands. “This won’t be like a traditional counseling session where we sit down and you talk for a long period of time. You won’t need to go into detail with me. I only need a broad brushstroke—a brief glimpse into the heart of your pain. That way, I can select the right books. After that, you can start reading your way to a fresh start this evening.”

-The Secret, Book, & Scone Society (The Secret, Book, & Scone Society #1) by Ellery Adams

A businessman comes to town who is very upset and Nora recommends him getting a comfort scone from the bakery while she gathers a stack of books to help him overcomes his troubles. Before he can make his appointment with her he is found dead on the railroad tracks.

The man made a real impression on Nora and she starts investigating; being joined by three other women-Hester Winthrop, owner of the Gingerbread House bakery; Estella Sadler, owner of Magnolia Salon and Spa; and June Dixon, Miracle Springs Thermal Pools employee. None of these women want any friends, but they find themselves growing closer together and creating their own little book club, sharing their secrets along with their hopes and dreams. As they investigate into a development scheme, things turn to more troubling than they originally thought with one of the book club members getting arrested. Will the ladies be able to discover the truth and save their friend? Or will things turn deadly.

All those in our book club really enjoyed the book and the way that Adams incorporated all these twists and turns in the mystery. We also loved the characters, each of them were very unique but also very real; reminding you of people you know or people you have met.

As this was an indie author, our group had a few questions and reached out to her. She very kindly responded to them.

Me: Hello, my book club is reading your first book and we had a couple questions for you: Where did you get the idea of the comfort scone? Had someone ever made that for you? And the different secrets the ladies have, how did you come up with them? Did you know people who had experienced similar traumas? Was there anyone you knew that had suffered burns?

Adams: I witnessed a terrible burn incident at a county fair about a year before I started writing this book. She was a beautiful young woman and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. After that, I did lots of research on burn victims.

Adams: As for the womens’ pasts, I knew women with similar secrets. I was in a Bible study group with about 30 women for years and the women were of all ages and backgrounds. I heard all kinds of stories during that time but never repeat anything exactly out of respect for them.

Adams: The comfort scone just popped in my head 😊

Me: We loved the comfort scone and all those scenes. What about the bibliotherapy? Is that something you did or someone did for you?

Adams: I feel like all book lovers do it—we offer certain books to certain people, knowing they’re a good match. I’ve done that for years, but like Nora, I’m not trained in the practice and haven’t had a session myself.

Me: Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions. 😊

The Whispered Word (The Secret, Book, & Scone Society #2) by Ellery Adams

In book two, Nora and the woman have formed a strong bond and are ready to handle anything…that is until an injured, emaciated woman shows up in the bookstore. The woman want to help this “Abilene Tyler”, but it’s hard when they know so little about her and she’s not sharing anything. To further complicate things a woman all disliked turns up dead, presumed suicide; however Nora feels it is murder. And even though the woman was unpleasant in life, Nora still plains to honor her.

The ladies are not sure if they can trust the new sheriff, and end up on the case, although when it turns out that Abilene might have a connection to the murder, will their group grow closer or split apart?

Hmm…

And if that wasn’t enough on the ladies’ plate, a new business rolled into town that seems too good to be true. Many of their friends and neighbors are falling victim to the scheme and these ladies are doing all they can to stop them.

Will the ladies be able to handle this mystery as well? Or will this be their final case?

We also all really liked this book as we saw the characters continue to grow and trust each other from the previous one. I really enjoyed that the characters wanted to help this stranger, as they could see she was in need of it, but at the same time were still cautious. I read another book, Patterns in the Sand (A Seaside Knitters Mystery #2) by Sally Goldenbaum, where something similar happened and I did not care for it at all. In Patterns in the Sand all the women instantly trust this stranger found in the shop and defend her innocence because she is a “talented artist”. This was super annoying as a reader. I think Adams did it better by having the women want to help, they could see she fled a troubling situation, but were also hesitant as they don’t know her or anything about her past.

We also loved the solution to the mystery, one we all did not see coming at all. I read so many mysteries, but this solution was right in front of my face and I was completely blind to it. Very well written.

If you enjoy mysteries and are a book lover, you should definitely give her books a read.

For more giveaway reviews, go to I Won the Tea and Me Blog & Harts of America Giveaway

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more mysteries, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Northanger Abbey

I Won the Tea and Me Blog & Harts of America Giveaway

So two years ago, (I wasn’t kidding when I said I was behind on my posts), I won the Tea and Me Blog & Harts of America giveaway. You know me and free, I just can’t resist.

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I ended up winning a bag of Pacific Spearmint and Sleepynight Extra Strength Tea

Harts of America is such a cute company. When you open the package of your tea, each bag of loose leaf has a cute little postcard, which not only discusses the ingredients of the tea but has a little romantic meet-cute that has been shared by fans of the tea. So romantic and sweet!

Soooo cute!!!!

I tried the Pacific Spearmint right away, but even through it was delicious, something in the ingredients activated my allergies and I couldn’t continue to drink it. I believe I am allergic to spearmint as I love mint it never seems to bother me.

However, my niece absolutely adored it and I ended up giving the tea to her.

Pacific spearmint tea and Anne of green gables
Pacific Spearmint Tea and Anne of Green Gables

Now the Sleepytime tea, that was a different story. I have suffered from insomnia for years and nothing has helped. I can’t take most medications as I’m really sensitive to them and always experience the side effects. I have tried all kinds of different teas, habits, etc.; but nothing has helped. The only thing that has worked is this amazing tea! Every time I am struggling with sleep, I drink it and it helps.

Because I love this Sleepytime Extra Strength tea I have shared it with friends and family, converting one of my friends into becoming a serious customer of Harts of America. She recently shared a Chamomile Mint she had just ordered and it was delicious.

Sleepynight Extra Strength Tea

This company has absolutely wonderful tea and I highly I recommend it. Every order has free shipping, it’s reasonably priced (on average $4-$5 a bag), and they have a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated tea.

And again, if you too have any issues sleeping or troubles with insomnia i cannot stress enough to check out Extra Strength Sleepytime Tea. You won’t be sorry!

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the BookNookMajorieMaeShop Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Spill the Tea: Tea Bar and Fusion Café Review

A few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking: which books would best suit these teas? After all, nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious cup of tea.

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I review new teas. 🙂

Let’s spill the tea.

Tea #1: Pacific Spearmint

Pacific Spearmint was cool and relaxing. Spearmint is known to help with fevers and digestive disorders, and if I hadn’t been allergic to it, I definitely would have drank more of it.

As this tea is from the Northwest, I tried to find a book to match. One I enjoy reading and find to be equally enjoyable and a relaxing reread. I decided to pair it with Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The story of Redeeming Love, is a retelling of an Old Testament book of the Bible, Hosea, but in this depiction follows a Gold Rush Era prostitute, her farmer husband, and the redeeming love God gives to all sinners. Angel has been a prostitute for as long as she can remember, hoping for the one day she can make enough to have a life where she is in charge. Michael Hosea is a Christian farmer who is baffled when God tells him Angel is the woman he should marry. After convincing her to marry him, their marriage life is not the smoothest journey as Angel has never been shown true kindness, affection, love, or caring; and Michael tries to discover a way to show it to her. Other obstacles come in their way such as doubt, jealousy, insecurity, fear, etc. before this book reaches its powerful conclusion.

This was first given to me by a friend, and I really enjoy this book and while there are serious events and traumas in it, reading it always relaxes me as I enjoy the journey to a fitting conclusion. The other reason why I pair these together, is the steadfast, relaxed, collected, and mostly even-tempered (occasionally he gets riled up) character of Michael is similar to the coolness of the spearmint.

A film of this book was just released in theaters, but I strongly recommend reading the book as all my favorite scenes and moment are not in the film.

For more on Francine Rivers, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

Tea #2: Sleepynight Extra Strength Tea

As this tea is for one who is having restless nights, I thought no better book would be suited than The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey.

In this adaptation of 1001 Arabian Nights, Shahrayar was betrayed by his wife and after he executed her he decides to never love or trust a woman again. Shahrayar decrees that he will marry once a month for one night only, executing his brides in the morning so they cannot betray him. If a maiden volunteers for the first month, all those who come after her will merely be imprisoned. Shahrazad, the daughter of the vizier and a famous storyteller, volunteers and comes up with a plan to try and turn Shahrazad’s heart. Every night she tells a story, but doesn’t end it, continuing the next night. But while her plan is a success at first, the family of Shahrayar’s deceased wife continue to plot to bring their destruction. Will Shahrazad save Shahrayar, or will she run out of time?

I really loved the way the characters are in this and the stories they kept, although I wish there was a few more stories in this. Something that is different about this retelling is Dokay wrote Shahrazad as blind, which I thought was interesting and helped tell this particular version of the story better. One scene I really liked is when Shahrayar is upset that Shahrazad came to be his first wife as he doesn’t want to kill a blind woman and she basically sasses him, politely, about why it should matter as he is going to kill the first wife anyway. He immediately starts feeling bad about himself. Haha.

And just how Shahrazad puts the king to sleep, this Sleepynight Extra Strength tea will help you fall asleep.

I Won the BookNookMajorieMaeShop Giveaway

So I am behind in quite a few things I’ve been meaning to post on…

From Clueless

I have a list but I just get distracted. For instance, last year BookNookMajorieMaeShop ran this giveaway last year and I haven’t posted on it yet.

Oh well…

So as you know, when I see giveaways-I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it’s diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it. And as I loooove The Wizard of Oz, I just had to have it.

I ended up winning the fourth bookmark in the post. I thought this was cute, and of course as I upcycle items, I loved that this Wizard of Oz was getting a second life.

And of course I had to give it a little photo shoot:

 

 

This was adorable and I’m definitely eyeing a few things in her store. If interested, go check out her store.

For more giveaway reviews, go to I Won the Kumi Crochet and Tea India Giveaway

For more on The Wizard of Oz, go to Literary Tea Parties

For more bookish posts, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

I Won the Two Sisters Tea Giveaway

So if you have been following me for a while, you know how I feel about free things.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

So I just cannot resist a giveaway-anytime I see one I have to enter it.

I can’t stop myself.

So a while back I entered the Two Sisters Tea and Tea and Me giveaway. I received my tea at the beginning of October, but because I was in the midst of Horrorfest VIII I didn’t get a chance to review it.

I won one bag of tea and had my choices of Original Hibiscus Iced Tea, Hibiscus Iced Tea with Cardamom, Hibiscus Iced Tea with Cinnamon, and Hibiscus Iced Tea with Dried Pineapple. You know me and making decisions…

Which way…?

So I told them to send whichever, and I waited for it to arrive.

I received the Original Hibiscus Iced Tea which contains 3 family sized teabags of whole hibiscus flowers, each makes 80 fl oz./2.3 liters.

The Two Sisters of Two Sisters Tea are Jennifer Michelle and Claudia Maria. The sisters grew up drinking Rosa de Jamaica, or Jamaican Rose, tea in Guatemala. After moving to America, it was hard getting it, so the two created their own company to share the amazing health benefits of Jamaican Rose Iced Tea and bring it into every home.

So when I opened the iced tea, there were these giant tea bags. I felt a little unsure how much to do, but on the back of the package it gives clear directions on how much water and sugar are needed.

And then I made it and just had to wait…

It was pretty good, not what I usually drink, but I enjoyed it. It was extremely refreshing as well.

A friend of mine saw it and loves hibiscus tea so I sent some off with her and she loved it as well.

My friend is actually Elizabeth.

So if Hibiscus Iced Tea is your thing, you should definitely check them out!

For more giveaways, go to I Won the Regency Marketplace Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Green Tea Frappuccino

For more on the Tea and Me blog, go to I Tried Tea & Me’s Tea Infused Facial Cubes

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes better together than a good book and a delicious tea. I decided to repeat it with the teas I won in the Regency Marketplace Giveaway. Since that went so well, I think it will just be my new thing. After all:

 

Original Hibiscus Iced Tea

So something set in Latin America, involving sisters-the first book that popped in my head and stayed in it was:

In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

I first came upon on this book when I read How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and Before We Were Free; both part of a recommended reading list. I enjoyed Alvarez’s style of writing and was intrigued by her account of living under the dictatorship Rafael Trujillo-something that she experienced along with having her father be a part of the resistance movement. At the time I was reading it I knew extremely little about this time in history-but her words hooked me and caused me to research about it.

I must find out more.

Out of all the books, the story In the Time of Butterflies was the one that really stuck with me. It tells a fictional account of the four Mirabal Sisters, known as Las Mariposas (Butterflies)-Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dedé- who take a stand against their dictator and fought to save their country and their people.

“We cannot allow our children to grow up in this corrupt and tyrannical regime. We have to fight against it, and I am willing to give up everything, even my life if necessary.” -Patria Mirabal

Alvarez took an already amazing story and brought the sisters and their bravery, freedom, and all they did and stood for back to life again.

I recommend reading it with a glass of Two Sisters Tea Rosa de Jamaica.

 

I Won the Regency Marketplace Giveaway

So if you have been following me for a while, you know how I feel about free things.

So I just cannot resist a giveaway-anytime I see one I have to enter it.

They are calling to me…

I have been following  Regency Marketplace on Instagram and love their stuff. When I saw the giveaway I had to enter.

I don’t remember if I was tagged first and then tagged others or if I saw it and then tagged friends, but however it happened, I entered and won.

I won two teas and a tea infuser. Of the teas, I had the option of:

  • English Breakfast Tea Bags
  • Jasmine Green Tea Bags
  • Irish Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea
  • West Indies Citrus

I can have a hard time making choices…(you should see me in restaurants)

Which way should I choose?

So I asked the proprietress to send me any of them and then settled in to wait.

I was a little anxious about when it would come as it has been soooooooo hot here. Like EXTREME heat, 98 to 100s, and I didn’t want it sitting in the mailbox all day.

It took about a week to get to me from Colorado to California, which is really great for a giveaway (others I have won have taken much, much longer.)

The  package was wrapped in a beautiful flowered envelope:

And when I opened it (video on facebook, twitter, and instagram) I saw I had won two Oliver Pluff & Company teas: Jasmine Green and English Breakfast.

So I decided to try them out with my mom and get her opinion as well. I even pulled out my teacups for the special occasion. First came English Breakfast Tea

My mom loved it and thought it was good, even though black teas aren’t her favorite. I LOVED it!

I don’t really drink a lot of English Breakfast Tea as a lot of the ones I have tried in the past have had a strange, acidic aftertaste.

Meh.

But this one was fantastic. I drank two cups, and ended up taking the tea canister to work so I could have it on my break.

The second one was Jasmine Green Tea.

My mom tried this one and really loved it as green tea is something she drinks often. I poured the tea for myself and put some sugar in and drank it, and wowee, boy was that sweet.

The tea was very good and didn’t need any added sugar as it was plenty sweet on its own. I am currently using it to cold brew some iced tea.

The tea infuser was beautiful and so easy to clean! (Those of you who brew loose leaf tea know what I am talking about.) I scooped out the leaves, rinsed it, and it was good to go for another brew. I also love how it has a little cup to set the infuser in and capture extra water/tea and keep it from staining your plates or counter.

So I love what I won in my giveaway, and I know for a fact I will be entering any future ones and will be checking out the store.

For more tea posts, go to Clean Cup! Clean Cup! Move Down, Move Down, Move DOOOWWWNN!!!!!

A few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea. I decided to repeat it with these two teas. After all:

Tea #1: English Breakfast Tea

So like I said, I’m a bit wary/particular with my English Breakfast Tea as in the past I haven’t had the best ones. But I was WOWED by this one. Hmm…so a book that I didn’t think I would like, but just absolutely loved?

I saw this book and was grabbed by the eccentricity of the title. Potato peel pie society? When I saw that it was an epistolary book, I was also a little hesitant as sometime they can be amazing, but they can also be very boring or make you feel like a voyeur. When I read this book, I was WOWED by it. I couldn’t stop reading and enjoyed it so much I made my book club read it. (I promise that I will do a full review soon!)

Juliet is an author in post-WWII London trying to figure out her next book, but having terrible writer’s block. She receives a letter one day from a Dawsey Adams on Guernsey Island who is writing to her as he purchased a used book and it had her name and address in it. The two exchange letters and Juliet learns about life on Guernsey Island during WWII and how reading and their literary society saved them during the German occupation. Soon she is receiving letters from all the literary members and their stories have such an impact on her, she heads to the island to meet them and write about them.

Like the English Breakfast Tea, this book happily surprised me!

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Tea #2 Jasmine Green Tea

So this was harder…this tea was sweeter than I thought it would be, and extremely tasty…after thinking on it I went with

Rachel Snow has never had a good relationship with her father, and when he kicked her out as a teenager-her relationship with her sister suffered as well. Now her mother has dementia and Rachel is declared the power of attorney; not only does she finds herself at odds with her father again, but happily closer to her sister as they try to solve a mystery about a book her mother had. In between the sisters of Snow, the book tells the story of the legendary female samurai, Tomoe Gozen who lead the army in Yoshinaka’s military, along with being his concubine. When Yoshinaka marries a girl from court, Yamabuki, Tomoe resents everything about her. But as the two spend more time together, they grow to become sisters of the Heart; and discover that both hold traits that help each be stronger.

Just like the tea, I didn’t expect the book to be as sweet as it was and enjoyed both.

For more on Sisters of Heart and Snow, check out my sister blog From Print to Screen