Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Warm Hearts Relaunch 3 - Jana Denardo

Now here's an extra treat - today we've got Jana Denardo, author of recently-released Kept Tears.  I happened to pick this up while gearing up for the relaunch (there's a special place in my heart for 'Burgh stories!), and I really enjoyed it.  I don't often go for urban fantasy (or much fantasy other than the original classics of the genre) but this one was so relatable I never really felt like an "outsider" to the story.  It was really very sensible, real fantasy - which makes sense for a Pittsburgh setting, we do sensible pretty well... with a nice undercurrent of mystery - and left me wanting more, in quite a good way.

Ok, enough of my gushing.  Let's hear from Jana.

When I started Kept Tears I knew from the earliest moments where it would be set, even before I knew Rhys would be fae (I always knew Aaron would be a disabled veteran). For me, setting is pretty important. I travel a lot and I’ve lived all over. I like to put my travels into my stories. My short story Haunted in the Two Tickets to Paradise anthology was based on my travels in Victoria on Vancouver Island and Crisis in Faith, my Vampires in Vegas story is set in a city I find fascinating and over the top. For Kept Tears, I decided on Pittsburgh, PA, and it’s a natural for me. Not only is it an iconic city in its own right, but, like Aaron, I grew up within twenty-five miles from down town.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On Tea - Yorkshire Tea (by Taylor's of Harrogate)

Here's another everyday "proper brew" to get us off to a solid start.

Taylor’s of Harrogate are a very good tea purveyor.  They ought to be, they’ve got a royal warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales as a supplier of beverages.  Among their teas are quite a number of traditional teas such as Darjeeling, Assam, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Ceylon, and a number of other less common black tea blends.  And then there’s their Yorkshire Tea brand.

Yorkshire is a very nice blend with very smooth taste.  While a good, solid, standard tea, suitable for all occasions, much like PG Tips, it’s quite a lot less… forthright, shall we say.  Yorkshire is a sort of tea that I find more relaxing than exactly “perky.” 

The smooth taste of Yorkshire goes especially well with a basic “rich tea biscuit,” but, like Tips, there’s not much that wouldn’t do well with this tea.  To my taste, Yorkshire would take milk a bit better than the Tips, but again, it doesn’t necessarily need it either.

Basic enough for an everyday tea but nice enough to feel like a “treat” – I give it a 9 of 10. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Tea: PG Tips

Ah, a July Saturday afternoon!  Perfect for a nice cup of tea and sandwiches in a shady spot the patio....  Or bundled up on the couch with a hot mug, more like.  65F and rainy in the middle of July?  Well, better than 95 and so humid you're ready to pass out, one supposes.

Despite the fact that it's a cup of Yorkshire Tea I'm currently snuggled up with, I'm going to start with PG Tips.  We'll get to Yorkshire in a bit.

We’ll start at the beginning, shall we?  PG Tips, a bagged tea in fairly decent little pyramid-shaped bags, is a solid, bog-standard, work-a-day brew.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Personally, I prefer tea as my morning beverage.  Coffee is an afternoon libation/treat/medication for me.  And I don’t often feel like doing anything fancy with breakfast.  Just give me some tea and cereal.  Beyond that, let’s just call it brunch and go out for someone else to serve it.

Anyway, this is where Tips comes in.  I find it to be a better tea than basic Lipton black.  You’ll at least get some tea taste out of Tips.  Don’t have to be too fussy with the water temp but you will want to mind the brew time – too long and it can be a little too bullying to the palate for me.

As for “pairings” – yeah, whatever you want here.  Like I said, I prefer tea with breakfast and any breakfasty stuff works fine: cereal, toast with jelly or cinnamon-sugar, oatmeal, anything.  It’s also fine with any other meal, with a sweet snack (not sure I’d do chips and tea, but that’s me), any sort of biscuit (Jaffa cakes are always nice, but this tea won’t overpower a regular digestive either).  Fine for a splash if milk, if you prefer it, but doesn’t “need” it either.

As teas go, not exactly a stunner, but PG Tips is reliable and versatile.  That counts for quite a lot.  7.5 points out of 10.  Good show.

That's the Tips in easy reach on my tea shelf.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Warm Hearts Relaunch #1 - Brynn Stein

And now for an act of genuine contrition:  the beatifically patient Brynn (who was here before with some gorgeous drawings and whom I visited when Half the World Away was out) was scheduled for this guest spot on on my relaunch and her blog tour waaaaay back on July 7.  And since approximately July 7, my phone, email, ohyaknow life has been, in a word, notgood.  Emails being eaten, no text ability, no bars or Gs.  Not good.  But!  After several chats with obsequious service reps who were much better at speaking English than most native speakers, my carrier is sending me a new phone which (hopefully) won't eat emails, texts, or human flesh.  We'll see.  

Anyway, that's all my windy explanation and a huge "I'm so sorry!" to our lovely Brynn.  And now I'm going to hand this over to her so I don't break it any further.  (On the plus side, we've still made it ahead of the actual release date for her Living Again - so go preorder it now - after you read the blog!)

Blog Tour for Living Again
Stop 1: Jessica Davies

Monday, July 7, 2014

Aliments Tea Series: On Tea

Welcome to the first in my series on tea.  I'm going to start out with background and information about tea in general and then the series will go into reviews of teas and recommendations.  Enjoy!

Read on for History of Tea, Tea Grades, Storage, Brewing, Heat Transfer, and Serving: