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.

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.

They are calling to me…

So with the Regency Marketplace, I love their stuff and 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.

So with the giveaway, 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.)

So, I love receiving mail!

And I was so happy to see this package, it 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!!!!!

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 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 have never been super interested in epistolary books or books written in diary format. There are a few I have enjoyed, but that format isn’t really my taste. 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 and how reading and the 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, extremely tasty, and Asian…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-she finds herself at odds with her father again, but closer to her sister as they try to solve a mystery about a book her mother keeps talking about. 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

 

 

Prude & Prejudice

Prude & Prejudice by Francine Carroll

So any of you Kindle, Nook, or other E-Reader?

Yes, I do.

Well there is a fantastic site that you can get ebooks from. They range from being free to being low cost-and have every genre you can think of.

The site is called BookBub and I suggest you check it out today. I mean who doesn’t love free stuff?

But free books can either be good:

And some are horrible.

This is one of the horrible ones.

Our main character is supposed to be based on Elizabeth Bennet but is gifted with the name Prudence Higginbottom.

That is the name the author came up with? Did she put a blindfold on and pull out random Scrabble tiles?

Anyway, Prudence prefers Prue as she hates her full name.  Besides being bullied about that she also had to contend with being overweight growing up.

She has since then lost the weight, gone off to university, and successfully operates a farm to fork organic café with her family. Her family consists of her quiet father, outlandish mother, and three sisters. Of the sisters I’m not entirely who is who as they change the names (Alice, Mary, & Cate), but I’m pretty sure that Cate is Jane. I don’t know why they have to complicate things for us readers.

So Prue and her mother have been fighting over the organic farming for years, (Prue’s mom thought it was a horrible idea) but it looks like Prue’s plan is really going to pay off. An organic food distribution company is moving to the area and will need someone to provide food for the workers during lunch and catered events. Mrs. Higginbottom works hard to become their choice.

Prue ends up getting there later and is stuck with a jacket XXXL jacket. She bemoans this fate as she feels it makes her look fat.

Hmm…

Now I had a problem with that plot point. If someone wears something that is that much bigger than them, as Prue is a medium; it shouldn’t make her look fat but as if she is wearing the wrong size. The author uses it as an important plot device, but it makes no sense.

As she is moving things around and doing her duties as a caterer, she overhears the company owners-the handsome Charles Bradley (Charles Bingley) and William Darling (Mr. Darcy). Charles tell William he should help the caterer girl, Prue, but William says no she looks big enough to handle her tray on her own and makes fun of the name Prudence Higginbottom.

She becomes so upset over what he said that she starts talking smack about him. She also overhears another conversation and thinks he is talking about immigration, continuing her bad-mouthing to everyone.

She also looks up William Darling online and finds a report by a Georgina Wickham (George Wickham) on CheatingDirtyB*******.com and believes it.

Anyone can put anything on the internet. Why would you believe it?

Then the author is against free speech, as when Mrs. Higginbottom shares her beliefs and right to speak her mind:

“What kind of world do we live in where people can’t express their opinions in their own homes? Its political correctness gone mad, that’s what it is.”

Everyone acts like she is crazy and shouldn’t be talking. Like that’s not right. I know this takes place in England and maybe people feel different there, but I’m an American and I believe that people should have the right to whatever their opinion or view is. I may not agree with it, I may not like it, I may think it rude, crude, stupid, etc-but I still think you have the right to express yourself-especially in your own home. I mean I think this book is pretty stupid, boring, and a waste of time-but Carroll had a right to write it, just as I have a right to review and share what I think.

Later Mr. Bennet Mr. Higginbottom says this, which makes no sense:

“My dear,’ cut in Mr Higginbottom, ‘If you read anything besides gossip magazines, you might realize that the history of the human race is the history of immigration. People have always moved around the globe extensively and the kind of national pride you express is a very recent thing, which in my opinion is exploited by politician’s and shock jocks for their own nefarious ends.”

Ugh, haven’t you ever heard of WWI or WWII, both of which involved a lot of national pride. I mean I know England was involved with both of them.

Seriously

So then Prue gets drunk one night at the bar and gets super angry at William Darling, yelling and screaming at him. Cate has to take her home, and then after realizing that she messed up a great contract, Prue has to swallow her pride and go apologize to Darling.

Meh.

Now one of the big reasons why I love Jane Austen is the complexity of the characters, the amazing wit, and the way she can tell an interesting story without having to resort to silly ploys. This book was nothing like that as it was boring and the language dull. No wit, Prue was annoying, and Darling was a shadow of a character.

Anyways they have a party-Mrs. Higginbottom makes a fool of herself, Cate is embarrassed, Prue and Darling talk everything out, Darling was talking about farming not immigration and he aplogizes for his earlier comments,they are married, blah, blah blah.

Blah, blah

Yes, I found this book to be incredibly boring, too easily “sewn” up at the end, and more as a vehicle to discuss Carroll’s views rather than remaking Pride and Prejudice.

Ugh.

In my opinion, I would just pass this one on by.

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

Prom & Prejudice

psychPromjulietshawn

Prom.

Some of us loved it,

Some of us hated it.

Whether we planned for it

Or ignored it,

it is something that every person in public school in the United States encounters in their lifetime.

It’s true.

For me, I enjoyed prom. I tried to spend as little money as possible on everything and did extremely well. I had a beautiful blue gown, cost $2.50 at a thrift store sale, $8 to get it dry cleaned.

Oh yeah!

My shoes? Beautiful silver heels, extremely comfortable, and free-with the purchase of a bracelet for $8 (Kohl’s cash buy something $8-10, get something $8-10 free).

I like it.

Make-up? Free, my sister did it.

Yep!

Hair? Only $16 as I knew a hairstylist.

Limo? Free, my friend’s date father owned a limousine rental.

Sweet!

Dinner? Free, my friend had coupon that covered everything.

Awesome!

The most expensive thing? $25 tickets. So a total of $59.50, not bad.

But we don’t want to just hear about my experience. Oh no, this is a book review post:

Promandprejudice

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

**Contains Spoilers**

Yes, if we go through prom, why not the Austen characters? (Or at least Pride & Prejudice Austen characters.)

promaustenmodernday

In Eulberg’s book Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Caroline, Mr. Darcy, Charlotte, Mr. Collins, and Mr. Bingley all get an opportunity to go to prom.

Why not?

This book came out when I was a young adult and I just happened on to it accidentally, started reading and LOVED it! In fact I think it is one of the best modern adaptions.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet is a scholarship student at the elite prep school, Longbourn. She was recruited for her musical talent, as she is an accomplished piano player.

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Sadly, piano playing is the only nice thing about being there at the school. Everyone treats her horribly as they want her to “know her place.” They dump drinks on her, call her names, give her the wrong room when she asks for directions, etc.

HateYou

She does have two friends in the school, one is a fellow scholarship student, Charlotte, and the other is the incredibly nice Jane.

So Lizzie has just returned from Hoboken, New Jersey to the school from winter break. While she is thinking about the spring concert and her studies; every other girl at Longbourn and every boy at Pemberley (school for boys) have only one thing on the brain: prom.

To not have a date would be the biggest faux pas; so all are prepping and conniving to have the best date.

While Jane is excited for prom, she is also thrilled that Charles Bingley will be returning from England where he spent the previous semester. Before he left the two had been heading toward something, and spent the whole summer emailing and writing; so Jane is eager to see if they  will become more.

 At the welcome back dance Lizzie is pleased to meet Charles as he is extremely nice and appears to be perfect for her friend Jane. Unfortunately, his twin sister Caroline is a real jerk.

Charles also brought his best friend Will Darcy, who is attractive and seems like a good guy, that is until he finds out Elizabeth is a scholarship student and just takes off, major diss.

What a jerk

Later she overhears him saying how he spent a year in London to try and get away from those kinds of people.

Ugh

Elizabeth tries to leave, but is stopped by Colin Williams (Mr. Collins) the only other person nice to her and the most boring person she has ever met.

Blah, blah

Oh, Mr. Collins:

While her way at school is paid, she still needs money to fund everything else and works at the local coffee shop as a barista. She runs into Darcy there, but the fate is sealed. She is not going to like him for anything.

Charles invites Jane and Lizzie to come with him, Caroline, and Darcy as they are headed to Vermont to ski. Lizzie agrees to support Jane although she has no clue about skiing. She decides to just wait inside playing the steinway (piano), doing homework, and sipping hot tea.

The next day everyone heads out to the slopes while Lizzie decides to head to the bookstore to pick up a book for school. Darcy offers her a ride, but Lizzie doesn’t want help. She finally agrees and the two talk on the drive. Darcy doesn’t get why she is being so snobby and down about school, while Lizzie lets everything out about how people are treating her.

That night things go a bit sour as Charles is taking Jane out and Lizzie is to be stuck at the house with her two favorite people, Caroline and Darcy.

Those guys

Darcy isn’t so bad, but Elizabeth Lizzie has to be there while Caroline tries to impress him. She starts with commenting on his email writing, then doing yoga moves, etc. The conversation moves to involve only Lizzie and Darcy, but Caroline doesn’t like that.

They all return to school, and in Lizzie’s case work, and things are back to normal. However, Lizzie meets George “Wick” Wickham who is handsome, charming, and hates Longbourn and Pemberley as much as she does. Wick tells her that Darcy and he became very good friends, but when Darcy’s father was paying too close attention to him Darcy got jealous and had him kicked out.

Charles is having a party and invites all kinds of people. Jane and Lizzie are going of course, and because Jane is going, her sister Lydia squeezes her way in. Jane’s father recently lost his job and that has downgraded her status at the school. It doesn’t help that Lydia is all kids of crazy and embarrassing and can’t stop about prom or boys.

If only she followed this advice.

Wick was supposed to come to the party but changed his mind, leaving Lizzie sad and upset as she wanted to spend the time with him. However, Darcy pays quite a bit attention to her and even asks her to dance.

The night ends even worse with nonstop attention from Colin, Lydia doing a bad dance/rockette/cheerleader routine, and her coat getting stolen. Could things get worse?

The next day things get even worse, as Colin asks her to prom and doesn’t want to take no for an answer. He then insults her and says that she will have no one else ask her poverty-stricken patootie (I added that).

When Elizabeth gets home, she is surprised with a new coat. Life seem to be brightening up, but then the dark cloud comes back as Charles just breaks off contact with Jane as “things came up.”

Two weeks pass and no Charles. He just drops off the face of the earth and poor Jane is heartbroken.

Noooo!

To add to that, it turns out that Wick didn’t consider he and Lizzie a couple, but has been dating a wealthy Longbourn girl who’s family has great connections. What a jerk!

But strangely enough, who should come every day to the coffee shop? Mr Darcy. And not only does he see her every day bit he leaves a big tip.

One day as she was walking, she runs into him and his cousin Fitzpatrick, and discovers that he broke up his friend’s relationship as the girl wasn’t right. Lizzie hooks on that it must be Jane and Charles. She is furious!

She tells Darcy her hours and hopes that he will avoid her. It is the opposite as Darcy seens to come more than ever.

And out of nowhere he drops the bomb:

And he asks her to prom. Elizabeth Lizzie’s reaction?

She is furious with him for Jane, Charles, Wick, Longbourn, everything!

She goes to write an email to her New Jersey friends, but finds one from Darcy instead! His letter contains the following:

  1. He’s had scholarship kids in the past try and get things from him-money, connections, social status, etc.-so now he avoids them. He’s sorry to have been so rude to Elizabeth, but that has became his instant reaction.
  2. He wasn’t the one who really pushed Jane and Charles apart, although he didn’t try and have them be together either.
  3. The guy and girl he was talking about? It was Colin who wanted to ask Lizzie out again and Darcy thought it was a bad idea.
  4. He had Wick kicked out of school because of two reasons:
    1. He got Darcy’s young sister, Georgiana drunk to try to get her to have sex with him.
    2. He broke into their house and stole a bunch of things.

Elizabeth realizes that she thought Darcy was the prejudiced and prideful one, but it turns out that she was as well. Because he was rich she thought the worse of him, and because he hurt her pride she was willing to believe anything horrible that was said of him.

They both are.

Things get weirder as it turns out that Wick and Lydia are “together”.

I guess his rich girlfriend didn’t work out.

Lizzie sees this and is horrified as she now knows that Wick is a sexual predator, looking for young, freshmen girls. She goes to Jane and lets everything out. She is just as shocked when she hears it all.

They keep a tight leash on Lydia and argue whether or not to reveal what happened to Darcy’s sister to keep Lydia away from Wickham. They decide to wait as it isn’t their story to tell.

They are both pleasantly surprised when Charles comes with a bouquet and begs Jane’s forgiveness. And as she is so sweet and adorable, she forgives him.

 Midterms end and Lizzie heads home for break, but she gets an even better surprise. Her piano teacher, Mrs. Gardiner, gives her two tickets to see her favorite pianist, Claudia Reynolds.

When Lizzie and her mother go to the concert they are thrilled with the amazing music, and Elizabeth is floored when she discovers that Claudia Reynolds is Darcy’s mother.

She meets Darcy in his own setting and sees all pretense gone. She also meets his adorable sister and sees how cute their little family is.

The have a great time and even make plans for Darcy and Georgiana to visit her in New Jersey. Their fun trip is cut short when Lydia goes missing with Wick and Lizzie and Darcy set out to find her.

Darcy goes through everywhere that Wick would want to stay at and finds the two utterly wasted in a trashed hotel room. He uses his father’s money and influence to remove Wick and settle the bill.

The rest of the break is uneventful and quiet, with no calls from Darcy. It seems that now that she wants him, nothing is heard from him. Don’t you just hate that? When they return to school Charles has a big dinner party for their friends, but Darcy doesn’t sit with Elizabeth Lizzie or talk to her, no matter how hard she tries to get his attention.

Soon Lizzie’s recital comes up and she rocks (figuratively). Afterwards Darcy asks her out, telling her he was waiting as he didn’t want to break her concentration.

Aw!

However, they will not be going to prom but be going out to enjoy their night together.

I loved this book.

Even though they didn’t follow the book exactly I thought Eulberg was able to capture the life of the characters and bring across what Jane wanted.

The only thing I din’t like was Darcy didn’t take her to prom. Come on, you guys could have just dressed casual or not spent a lot of money. I mean seriously.

Totally!

But there is something that really surprised me. I spotted this in the acknowledgements:

“I’d especially like to thank Stephanie Meyer for being so enthusiastic for my writer life and having that conversation about Pride and Prejudice that led me to the idea for this book.

Stephanie Meyer?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Stephanie Meyer who wrote Twilight?

The horror!

I can’t believe I have to thank her for something good!

Well that aside, it is a fantastic book and I recommend it for any Austen fan.

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to For Darkness Shows the Stars

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Perfectea, A Perfect Cup of Tea or Tea for Two

For more on prom, go to Oh What A Night