Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hey, guys! Today, I have the utmost pleasure in bringing you a guest post from the author of one of my favorite new series. The EVERY series focuses on Rachel Watts and James Mycroft and their Sherlockian-type adventures. This series is written by the immensely talented Ellie Marney, who also happens to be a native of Australia. I'll say it again: I've never met (or read!) an Aussie I didn't like, and Ellie is no exception.

In Every Breath, tea is mentioned -- and consumed! -- a lot. I like tea quite a bit, even hot tea, though it's not really all that favored in my neck of the woods. No, in the South, we drink the sweetest iced tea we can get our hands on. Anyway, because tea was so noteworthy in this novel, I asked Ellie to explore the tea-drinking custom as it relates to Every Breath. And she did us one better...she even provides us a demonstration! But first, a little about the book everyone's been talking about these past few weeks:

By Ellie Marney
In stores now!!!

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Order Every Breath:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Fishpond | The Book Depository

Here's the blurb:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right--and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den--literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again...

‘I can hear [Mycroft] banging around in the kitchen.  He’ll be boiling a saucepan full of water with five extra-strong teabags, then fishing out the teabags and dumping in about half a can of condensed milk before pouring the whole mess into a giant thermos that stands ready on the kitchen bench…’

Tea, glorious tea!

Now you might think that the example I quoted, about Mycroft’s tea-making habits, is a bit unusual – and you’d be right.  Most people here in Australia don’t make tea like that.  We usually stick to the English tradition and make tea the more conventional way.

But what’s the conventional way?  Because Jen told me that in North America, tea isn’t usually drunk hot.  She said that if you want a hot drink, you have a coffee, and you drink your tea iced, and very sweet…which seems practically sacrilegious to me!  It’s certainly not the way I would make it, and definitely not the way that Rachel and Mycroft prepare tea in Every Breath.

I have to confess I was a bit staggered to discover that the manuscript for Every Breath actually refers to tea – in its various permutations – 44 times.  That’s a heck of a lot of tea.  And most of the time it’s used as a way for the characters to chill out, or release some tension.  The act of tea-drinking calms Rachel down after discovering a dead body (p35), while talking seriously with her brother (p214), and while discussing clues with an informant (p181).  It’s also a useful distraction for both Rachel and Mycroft, when conversation gets too personal (p23, p167, p208), and in other situations, apparently just for the hell of it.

So what is this strange tea-drinking ritual?  Well, it’s sort of up to the individual.  Mycroft might be English-born, but that doesn’t stop him from making weird tea.  But here’s the standard way of making tea, in the Australian manner:

  1. Fill a kettle with enough fresh water to make a cup for yourself (and a detective friend, if one is on hand).  Make sure you don’t use old water – reboiled water tastes stale.
  2. Grab a mug and stick a teabag in it – Lipton’s or Bushell’s, if you really want to do it Australian-style.  Or if you prefer (and you want to go fancy) get a teapot and add one teaspoon of loose leaf black tea (or Early Grey, or English Breakfast, or Lapsong Suchong, or some other special sort) for every cup you plan to make.
  3. Pour freshly boiled water over the teabag in the mug, or the leaf tea in the pot.  Let the tea steep – in other words, stand around for a few minutes and let the leaves infuse into the hot water.
  4. Pour from the teapot into your cup (use a tea strainer, so you don’t get lots of manky tea-leaves floating in your drink), or remove the teabag from your mug.  Then add fresh milk, if you like white tea.  There’s no point leaving the teabag in after you add milk – once the milk is in, the tea leaves stop infusing.  I see people do that all the time though (philistines!).  Milk removes some of the astringent, tannin flavour of the tea, and some people prefer their tea black.
  5. Add sugar if you fancy – usually one teaspoon is enough, but if you have a sweet tooth…
  6. Sip slowly (it’s hot!  Or it should be if it’s any good) and enjoy!

So that’s how you do it!  Australians inherited their tea-drinking tendencies from the English (the colonial power who first dropped in…and stayed), and we’ve never really let it go.  Even out in the bush, when you’re cooking over a campfire, you can drink billy tea – which is loose tea or teabags boiled with water in a billy (like a little metal pot with a suspended handle), sometimes with a handful of gum leaves added in to give it a really outback flavour.

Tea is drunk in mugs, generally, or in nice china cups, or if you’re far from civilisation, in tin pannikins.  You can have it with a bikkie (biscuit) or if you want to do it ‘proper’, you can cook damper (which is a kind of bread cooked on the coals of a campfire) and eat damper with butter and golden syrup while you drink your tea (yum!).  And tea is appropriate for almost every occasion – everyone loves a good cuppa!

If you really want the low-down on how to make tea Mycroft-fashion, then check this out - I also made a little home video to show you (you also get some rather embarrassing glimpses into my home and workspace – excuse the mess!):

Anyway, however you prepare it or drink it, I hope you’re enjoying a good cup of tea (or the hot beverage of your choice), and taking the time to curl up with a good book – if that happens to be Every Breath, then even better!  Jen, thanks for having me over to visit at The Starry-Eyed Revue, and have a good week!

Xx Ellie

About the author:

Ellie Marney was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about kid’s literature at libraries and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go.

Ellie’s short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Breath is her first novel for young adults.

Find Ellie:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Thank you so much, Ellie, for stopping by and sharing your special affinity for tea with us! I loved the tour of your workspace, too! And don't worry about the mess...as Albert Einstein said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" :D

Be sure to check out the rest of the Every Breath Blog Tour:

Shelly at Raindrops and Pages
Jo Ann at Journey of a Bookseller
Lisa at Bookish Broads
Jen at The Starry-Eyed Revue (review)
Shilpa at Sukasa Reads
Kristina at Book Club Sisters
Mandy C. at Forever Young Adult (Part 1)
Lauren at Love is not a triangle
Priyanka at Priyanka Reads
Rachel at The Reader’s Den
Mandy C. at Forever Young Adult (Part 2)
Michelle at Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
Christina at The Paperback Princesses
Shanika at Nick’s Book Blog
Yash at The Book Wars (Part 1)
Ann at Ann Towell
Dani at Refracted Light
Danielle at Love at First Page
Kat at Cuddlebuggery
Yash at The Book Wars (Part 2)

You guys absolutely have to check out this book. You can find my review here if you need further convincing, but this novel is just about perfect: quirky, funny, captivating, and perfect for fans of Sherlock and/or mystery-solving teens.

Title: This Night So Dark
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound, book #1.5
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source: freebie
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Don’t miss the breathtaking short story that connects the first two novels in the Starbound trilogy, These Broken Stars and This Shattered World.

Tarver still has nightmares about the night, six months before the Icarus crash, when he rescued a group of civilian researchers being held hostage by brutal mercenaries. Now Tarver and Lilac must reconcile his memories of that fateful night with the truth that they uncovered on a mysterious planet after the Icarus crashed.

Includes a bonus preview chapter from This Shattered World!

More Tarver! And that's really all you need to know. :)

Just kidding. Sort of. The thing is, I tried to get Tarver to divulge the details on his hero status several times in our interview last year, but he was more than a little hesitant. That's probably because in this awesome FREE short story, he finally explains the true nature of the mission that led to his being on the Icarus in the first place. This story is a bridge between These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, and it really foreshadows what we can expect from the sequel.

Also, I really enjoyed the manner in which Tarver's version of things comes to light. In much the same way that These Broken Stars was an interrogation, with snippets of the actual conversation interspersed into the story between chapters, This Night So Dark is basically Tarver relaying the cause of his nightmares -- that fateful mission all those months ago -- to Lilac. Bits of their conversation are placed between chapters as they reflect on what they've each realized and what it means. And in the meantime, I got a Tarver/Lilac feelsplosion! =)

After reading this novella, I am just that much more excited to get to my copy of These Broken Stars. I think I've put it off long enough now. I can't wait to meet the new characters -- and see a bit more of Tarver and Lilac, not gonna lie -- and see how they all fit into the scheme of things. This Night So Dark is a must-read if you've already read These Broken Stars and you plan to continue the series. And you really have no reason not to read it since it's absolutely free!

GIF it to me straight:

About the Authors:

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! This Shattered World will be available in North America in December 2014.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =) We're game.

This week's topic is the Top New Series I Want To Start (new..let's say within the last year or two).

April's Picks:

When I saw the subject of this TTT, I got with Jen and told her that there aren't really any new series books coming out right now that I'm dying to read, because I have so many old series books I own and haven't been able to get to. So I'm mixing it up a bit and sharing the series books I so badly wanted to get to, but never started and now they are all out already. I suck. lol.

Jen's Picks:

Since I pretty much read what I want, when I want, I've started all of the new series I want to, with the exception of those coming in 2015. So, I decided to take it back more than a year or two, though some of these have books with installments that have released recently, so maybe they count? Idk...and I don't care...I do what I want. :P

I've heard great things about The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and I'm kind of dying to see what all the fuss is about. I'm a huge fan of Melina Marchetta's contemporary books, so adding her Lumatere Chronicles to my series TBR list is a given. The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima also comes highly recommended and I obviously need more fantasy in my life. And, of course, I've been hiding under a rock for years apparently because I've never read the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. But thanks to Sarah J. Maas's obsessive fangirling over Sabriel and being on a panel with the author at Texas Teen Book Festival, I am now destined for this series' greatness. And I now own a signed copy! Woot! :D

And then there are some series that will be kicking off very soon that I just can't wait to start:

I have one of these for review already and a sample of another, but you can be sure that regardless of how I obtain these books, these series will all be started in 2015. =)

Which newish or upcoming series are you hoping to start soon? :D Be sure to share a link to your TTT post so we can visit!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kiddy Fall Favorite's #1

Monday, October 20, 2014 with 1 comment
Tis the season for Fall reads, and while Jen and I have made a list and are diligently trying to make our way through it, my little girl has a list of favorites we must read this time of year too.

Really what this post is about... I'm backed up on reading. I have no reviews to set up. It's sad really, but that's my life now. Especially this time of year. We are constantly on the go, doing fall activity after fall activity. This picture taken here was at a pumpkin patch hear our house. Old Homestead. It's a tradition to go there every year but we get our pumpkins else where because this place charges out the ass.

Every October we drag out all of Aubrey's Halloween / Fall related books. And we read them over and over through out the month. One that we've had for a long time is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything. This one, I'm not really sure if its meant for this category, but it always ends up in that pile, because the old lady is scared of All The Things (Even though she says she's not). This is what Aubs says. lol


She loves this book, and I think she's got it pretty much memorized by now. So there is very little of it that I actually read to her. 

A new favorite that we recently added to our pile is We Love Fall. We found it at a used book store by Aubrey's dance class. I think she likes this one so much, because the wording is light. It's not too involved, and with her learning to read, she likes things she can try to read herself. We've read this one a million times since we grabbed it. 


Another great find from that bookstore is... It's Pumpkin Time! She really likes this one and I do too. I love it because of the gardening talk. Pretty much it goes through the whole process of growing a pumpkin, and since we've grown them in our garden before, Aubrey was pretty into it. At the end it even has an educational page that shows you illustrations of what the seed looks like as it's starting to grow. Very cool.


So are there any fall favorites your kids love to read? We are constantly adding to our pile of holiday reads and always open to suggestions. We have a ton more that I think I will share with you all, and perhaps I can get Jen and Katie to join in. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stacking The Shelves # 38

Sunday, October 19, 2014 with 3 comments
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is a way to share with everyone all the goodies you've received through out the week. 

Just click the covers to be taken to their goodreads pages. 

For Review


(Thank You Running Press Kids)

Being a gardener, the title Seed screamed at me. Then I read the description and it sounds pretty good. It sounds almost like a cult type situation, and those kinds of books are fascinating to me. Really looking forward to this one. 

That's it for this week, and that's a good thing. I hope you are all having a great Fall. Mine has been so busy, it's insane. We did squeeze in a little hike last Sunday though, and the views were amazing. We probably shouldn't have been hiking in that area with the whole Eric Frein business. You may have seen it on the news, it's been pretty national. He killed a cop and has now been running loose in the Pocono Mountains. I'm amazed they haven't found this guy yet. But he's a survivalist and has been hiding out in the woods. Crazy stuff. 

Well anyway, here is the money shot we got while on our hike and thankfully we survived without running into that nutso sniper. 

So Beautiful. It's was quite a drop from up there, but the view was breathtaking. 

Hope you all have a great week! 

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