January 22, 2012

The Reading Files - A cup of tea for me

This week I was in a mood for some mysteries. Not the kind of mysteries that involve finding strange things in the back of the fridge though. Those mysteries might keep you guessing, alright, but I'm referring to mysteries best enjoyed with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket. Open fire optional.

Death By Darjeeling (Laura Childs)
#1 A Tea Shop Mystery
Source: bought used
Genre: Mystery

Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and Southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in hirtory - any mystery ...
It's tea for two hundred or so at the annual historic homes garden Party. And Theodosia, as event caterer, is busy serving steaming teas and blackberry scones while guests sing her praises. But the sweet smell of success turns to suspense when an esteemed guest is found dead - his hand clutching an empty teacup. All eyes are on Theo ... who is now trying desperately to save her reputation and track down the real killer. If only she can make sense of it all - before someone else takes their last sip ...

Title & Cover: All the greenery slays the actual scene ... I usually adore covers of mysteries, yet this one doesn't make it on my list of favorites.
Story: Man drops dead after drinking poisoned tea which makes the tea shop owner Theodosia venture out to find the killer. Nicely spruced up with lots of tea talk!
Narrative: There is something quaint in the writing style, though in parts it's also a bit cumbersome in its descriptions.
Characters: Theo is an ok female lead, though admittedly my favorites are Detective Tidwell, and Earl Grey, the dog.
Thoughts: As enjoyable as it was for me, this cozy mystery won't get your heart-rate up all that much. If you love light reads, soaking in the atmosphere of the setting, this one's for you. If this sounds too unexciting, and you're not into tea either, you might want to pass on this one.

Shades Of Earl Grey (Laura Childs)
#3 A Tea Shop Mystery
Source: bought used
Genre: Mystery

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is finally invited to a social event that she doesn't have to cater - but there's more than champagne bubbling ...
Theo is mingling with the cream of Charleston society at the engagement soiree of the season. But as they eagerly await the dazzling new young couple's arrival, the groom meets with a freak accident. The exquisite wedding ring - a family heirloom from the crown of Marie Antoinette - is mysteriously missing. Theodosia suspects that trouble is brewing. But when she goes to the authorities, they treat her like she's been reading tea leaves - and that's the surest way to put Theodosia's kettle on the boil ...

Title & Cover: Lovely cover and really fits the story too!
Story: A cat burglar is on the prowl leaving a corpse in its wake. Once again Theodosia sets out to find out whodunit. Obviously with lots of tea talk and a handful of recipes to boot!
Narrative: Again there's something wonderfully quaint, maybe even old-fashioned about the writing, though compared to the first in the series, this one is a whole lot more smoothly written.
Characters: Three books into the series and the characters are certainly a lot more well rounded. Needless to say, Tidwell is developing into my fav character!
Thoughts: Like the first book, wholesome like a good cup of tea!

Latte Trouble (Cleo Coyle)
#3 Coffeehouse Mystery
Source: bought used
Genre: Mystery

As manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse, Clare Cosi can steam a fantastically foamy cappuccino and press a perfect pot of Jamaica Blue Mountain. But suddenly she finds herself dealing with a mystery that's just too hot to handle ...
To Clare Cosi's surprise, this fall's hottest fashion trend is anything caffeinated - because designer Lottie Harmon, a loyal coffeehouse customer, has just created an ingenious collection of coffee-inspired fashion accessories. so naturally Lottie chooses the Village Blend as the perfect backdrop for fall Fashion Week insiders to view her new line of "Java Jewelry".
When barista Tucker unwittingly serves a poisonous latte to a prominent figure on the fashion scene, Clare suspects that the real target may have been Lottie. Now she must protect her thriving business from negative publicity, Lottie from any further danger, and Tucker from murder charges - even if it means jolting the fashion world with some shocking secrets ...

Title & Cover: What's with those legs and pointy shoes!? Can't help myself, it's a strange cover!
Story: A latte kills the wrong person and the person who was supposed to die isn't at all what she seems. Add a pretty twisted murder mystery!
Narrative: Very fresh and contemporary, especially compared to the previously read Tea Shop Mysteries.
Characters: Definitely an interesting cast with just the right chemistry!
Thoughts: I'm more of a tea person, alright, but the plot itself was pretty good for a mystery. Those who love a whole lot of coffee jargon will probably love the book just for that.

All The Money In The World (Laura Vanderkam)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Lifestyle / Finances

A contrarian guide to using your money to create the life you want.
In her last book, 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam showed that when we really consider how we spend our time, it turns out we have more than we realize. Now she proves that the same is true for money. No matter how much we earn, there are smarter ways to apply every dollar toward the things that matter most.
For example, the average couple spends $5,000 on engagement and wedding rings, with little thought to resisting peer pressure. But what if they decide to spend $300 on rings and apply the rest to future date nights, weekend getaways, babysitters, and thinking-of-you bouquets? What would give more satisfaction in the long run?
Drawing on the true stories of individuals and families who've reached financial fulfillment, Vanderkam argues that perhaps money can buy happiness, if we spend it wisely.

Title & Cover: George Washington with a smile ... I would have thought that picking the president from the $100 bill would have been more fitting though!
Story: Contemplating getting, spending, and sharing the main premise is that you can buy happiness, though it's not necessarily things that make you happy.
Narrative: Smoothly and quite entertainingly written, yet there's also a lot of statistics and fluff which I found distracting.
Characters: Folks who one day decided they'd rather spend their money on this instead of that.
Thoughts: Admittedly I like the underlying idea, though to be perfectly honest, an essay would have been sufficient to communicate the essence of the whole book.

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