Best of the best in 2017

tea n book quote

I’ve had another wonderful year of reading and managed to finish 120 books.  From the 120 books read 52 of them were from new authors to me, so you can say 2017 was the year of discovering new talent.

It’s always very difficult for a book lover to choose their favourite reads of the year.  I enjoy many books from a wide variety of genres and tend to rate them by my overall enjoyment.  However, I would like to highlight a few that I particularly loved:

The Wild Warriners series by Virginia Heath.  Mills and Boon Historical writer Virginia Heath created a new series for us this year and I completely fell in love with it.  The Warriners are four brothers trying to escape the bad reputation that their late father has left them with.  We have been introduced to two of the brothers to-date and shortly in the new year we will be treated to another instalment from the Warriners.  I would say it’s like a 19th century rural middle England ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’

the-bear-and-the-nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  The Bear and The Nightingale is a grown up version of a fairytale set in Russia dealing with loss, grief, family struggles, forbidden love with a wonderful mystery of mythology and unknown magical creatures.  This book and it’s story would look impressive with a big movie budget bringing all the characters and creatures to life, a blockbuster in the making.

all the good things

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher.  A very moving, insightful story that was full of real life raw emotions, there was no sugar coating around the edges of life’s turbulent at times bumps in the road. A wonderful, inspiring debut that I feel should be read by all that have any involvement with young people. The words from this book will stay with me for a long time.

bamboo heart

Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett.  The author, Ann Bennett, wrote with such passion and honesty. She left no scene without telling the shocking truth of a young man’s struggle to survive in the most terrifying of ordeals. The story sounds quite oppressive but it wasn’t as you were dealing with real people’s emotions and even during times of war love always found a way to bring sunshine and hope to your days.

the woolly hat knitting club

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan.  This was a joy to read.  Poppy Dolan has created the most delightful, charming romcom that leaves you with a wonderful warm cosy feeling.

summer of impossible things

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman.  This novel got me from the start to the finish. I was captivated by this almost other worldly love story. A story of a love between a mother and a daughter; a story of a love that seemed almost impossible to believe but the consequence of never feeling the strength of this love is almost too heart breaking to think about.

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca StonehillThis was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me. A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

walking wounded

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne.  This was such an emotive story that deeply moved me, at one point I had to stop reading due to the tears blurring my vision.  The author takes you on a very emotional journey, one that millions took that had no choice but to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ but behind the smiles lay troubled souls and broken hearts.

teacup border

As many of you will know I love my loose leaf tea and some my favourite blends this year have been:

  • William Wilberforce Blend by The Tea Shop, Hull.  A lovely blend of African black teas.  To find out more details and buy http://teashophull.co.uk/
  • White Bellini by The Tea Experience, UK.  A gentle white tea that’s fruity and refreshing.  To find out more details and buy http://www.teaexperience.co.uk/
  • Cinnamon Bun by Jollybrew Tea.  A festive blend of black tea with a warming taste of cinnamon.  To find out more details and buy https://www.jollybrew.co.uk/
  • Ceylon Decaff by Tea Shirt Tailored Refreshments.  A lovely well-rounded black tea without caffeine.  To find out more details and buy https://tea-shirt.co.uk/
  • Lemongrass and Ginger by Chai Kai Tea Company.  This is a perfect combination to drink at any time of the day but especially comforting when you are suffering with a cold.  To find out more details and buy http://chaikaitea.com/

I’d like to thank you all for the support I’ve received this year sharing the love of reading and books.  Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, healthy 2018.

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Earl Grey Tea Taste Test

Earl Grey header

Earl Grey Tea is my favourite blend of tea and I much prefer it in loose leaf format.  A few fellow tea drinkers and myself have decided to conduct a taste test and have chosen three very good quality blends from independent tea merchants.

Tea One:  Elegant Earl Grey by Jollybrew Tea, can be purchased online here:

https://www.jollybrew.co.uk/products/elegant-earl-grey

Tea Two:  Earl Grey Blue Flower by Suki Tea, can be purchased online here:

https://suki-tea.com/tea/tea-type/black-tea/earl-grey-blue-flower

Tea Three: Earl Grey by Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters and Tea Blenders, can be purchased online here:

https://www.edgcumbes.co.uk/shop/premium-loose-leaf-tea/earl-grey-loose-leaf-100g/

I used three identical cups and the ball type filter and added similar amounts of loose leaf in each cup.Earl Grey filter

I steeped the tea in freshly boiled water for 2-3 minutes.

Earl Grey tea brewing

This was such a difficult taste test as all three are very pleasant Earl Grey blends and I could quite happily drink them all day.

Earl Grey drunk

But one stood out a little more with a gorgeous aroma and stunning taste.

Earl Grey star

My star in this taste test was … Elegant Earl Grey by Jollybrew.  From the gorgeous aroma to the stunning taste I was won over by this quite simply elegant blend.

This is my honest opinion only and I would highly recommend all three of these teas.

Purchasing tea in the post is so simple and there is nothing more pleasing than receiving a lovely box of quality tea in the post.  Why I choose loose leaf: its simple the taste is more cleaner and flavoursome, you have the added benefit of re-steeping leaves, the leaves are whole and not ground to dust like most conventional teabags, you are supporting organic tea farmers, as the leaves are whole the added health benefits of tea are greater and the leaves can literally open up and flourish in front of your eyes.

I’m hoping to do another taste test soon with the likes of Darjeeling, Breakfast Tea, Green Tea and White Tea.