{Book & A Cuppa} Wednesday’s Book & Tea

It’s Wednesday! The middle of the week! What better way to celebrate than with a book and a cup of tea? OK, maybe I celebrate every day with a book and a cup of tea! I thought it would be fun to try and have a day a week, though, where I share with you what I’m reading and what’s in my teacup!

Today I’m drinking a delicious blend, Coconut Calypso!

Coconut Calypso

When I first opened up this bag of Steeped Tea white tea, I was a little taken aback because the smell was quite overwhelming. I figured that the tea itself might taste way too strong for me — and for other people who like coconut but don’t want their tea to taste like they’re drinking it out of a coconut shell. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It’s very subtle and smooth, with a very nice light aroma of coconut.

The nice thing, too, is that it’s a white tea, so I can steep it 3 times! Sadly, I made a carafe using up all of my steeps, but that just means I get to enjoy it all morning, right?

The Summoning And Coconut Calypso

Now, onto today’s book! I had just finished my Kenneth Oppel book yesterday, so it was time to start another one! I knew I wanted something spooky, since Halloween is well on its way, so I started Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan.

mary the summoning

Here’s the synopsis:

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

Spooky, right? I remember when I was younger, my friends and I would try and “summon” Bloody Mary and I would always, always get so freaked out! I mean, I love ghost stories, but the idea of being all by yourself in a bathroom with a candle in the dark staring into a mirror waiting for a ghost to appear is so scary!

I’m not too far into this one yet, only about 10%, but I’ve heard really good things, so I hope it’s a gooder!

Have you read The Summoning? What’s in your tea cup this morning? 

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Horror Shorts #ReadAThon Week

Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year. In previous years, I made October the month of scary movies, but with my new little guy, I really don’t want to put on a horror movie to watch in the background during the day and who can stay up at night when they’re old and caring for their child? I know, I know, I’m a grandma.

This year I knew I couldn’t let Halloween pass without some horror in my life, so I thought I’d pick up a book or something … until I came across Flavorwire’s list of the 50 Scariest Short Stories of All Time (thanks to Quirk Books for sharing!). What better way to get some delicious horror into my life at this time of year than with a short story! Perfect for someone who doesn’t have huge chunks of time to read.

I thought I’d make even more fun of it and have a whole WEEK dedicated to reading some horror short stories — and thought maybe I’d invite my readers to join me!

Short Story Read-A-Thon

This week I’m hoping to get through at least 10 of the stories. Some of these I can listen to, or listen through YouTube, which works for me. The original Flavorwire list had 50 stories but I picked out the ones where they included a link to the story (since I’m cheap like that and like things easy!) … and out of those ones I picked out the ones that looked the most interesting. Hopefully I can get two a day done and be good and spooked by the end of the week!

Care to join me? Why not sign up at the link below:

Here are my choices of stories I’m going to try and read:

  1. The Infamous Bengal Ming by Rajesh Paranesweran (Listen HERE)
  2. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman (Read HERE)
  3. The Veldt by Ray Bradbury (Read HERE)
  4. The Other Place by Mary Gaitskill (Read HERE)
  5. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates (Read HERE)
  6. The Signal Man by Charles Dickens (Read HERE)
  7. The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs (Read HERE)
  8. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe (Read HERE)
  9. The Road Virus Heads North by Stephen King (Read HERE)
  10. Casting the Runes by M. R. James (Read HERE)
  11. The Dunwich Horror by H. P. Lovecraft (Read HERE)
  12. Out of Skin by Emily Carroll (Read HERE)
  13. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Read HERE)
  14. The Green Ribbon by Alvin Schwartz (Read HERE)
  15. Miriam by Truman Capote (Read HERE)
  16. Dial Tone by Benjamin Percy (Read HERE)
  17. Le Horla by Guy de Maupassant (Read HERE)
  18. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (Read HERE)
  19. The Landlady by Roald Dahl (Read HERE)
  20. The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell (Read HERE)
  21. Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken (Read HERE)
  22. The Babysitter by Robert Coover (Read HERE)

All of these are from the Flavorwire article, PLUS I think I have a few of my own somewhere to read, including the short that Neil Gaiman released last year!

If you have any recommendations of really good horror short stories, be sure to comment below!

Are you going to join me in my week of horror short stories? 

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Musician Turned Author Turned Queen of the World {A Love Letter to Amanda Palmer}

When I decided to write a blog post about a favourite (and new to me!) musician, I wondered what I should call it. Surely a post wouldn’t be enough … maybe a gush? A love letter? Regardless, I knew that when it comes to books and music and all things beautiful, one name comes to mind these days.

Amanda Palmer.

Or, should I say, Amanda Fucking Palmer.

I’ve been a piano player for years and I remember people always saying that they loved The Dresden Dolls and that I should too because Amanda plays the piano in it. I always told people yeah, I’ve heard of them, but no I don’t listen to them. I figured they were a Tori Amos rip off and just never gave them another thought.

Then Ben Folds happened.

I kind of love Ben Folds, and have for years and years. I remember sitting in front of our tiny television waiting for Tori Amos to come on the Glastonbury Music Festival. This was back when TV was live and I waited and waited for her to come on. As I was waiting, Ben Folds Five came on the TV. They played The Last Polka and I fell completely in love with them. So naturally I listen to everything Ben says.

So when Ben said, “Listen to Amanda Palmer!” I had to listen to him. This was her album produced by Ben, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I listened to it over and over again and liked some of the songs on it and onto the shelf it went. Then I heard about Theatre is Evil. Actually, I heard about this album for QUITE some time and just never listened to it. Then I put it on my computer and had it going in the background and all was good until Trout Heart Replica came on and I had to stop what I was doing and turn up the music. I listened to that song over and over again. Then I realized that I had to listen to the whole album.

My love for Amanda EXPLODED at that point. I listened to Theatre is Evil on repeat in the car — and still do, MONTHS after first really listening to it — and immediately bought all of The Dresden Doll albums. Fell COMPLETELY in love with it all.

I knew that Amanda was married to Neil Gaiman (my bookish true love) and had to look up everything on YouTube that they’ve done live. I listen to them signing and reading together on their album, An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I sing Amanda’s songs to the boy. He sings along in the car.

It’s ridiculous, this love, I tell you.

Now she’s written a book.

theartofasking_image

I’ve watched Amanda’s TED Talk on YouTube many, many times and it was when I signed up to be a tea consultant that I really watched it. It was all so true and real that it made me cry watching it. We never ask anymore. We think we can do it all ourselves. We think people will just say no. But there is no harm in asking — and sometimes that asking can lead to a yes.

Amanda’s book, The Art of Asking, comes out next month and I’m super excited to read it. I’m still working my way through everything she’s ever done — her music, her videos, her art, her writing. She writes amazing blog posts, posts avidly on Twitter and Facebook, and she’s not afraid to get personal. Being a musician, I have a great respect for her because she is all about SHARING her music for free.

If you’re looking for one new author to read this year, read Amanda. If you’re looking for some amazing music, listen to Amanda. If you want to have your heart fall to pieces and cry your eyes out, just watch the following video. I promise there will be not one dry eye in the house and it’s because of the beauty, the honesty, and the sadness of it all.

SO happy to have found such an amazing artist and I hope that she keeps creating beauty for many years to come.

Have you listened to Amanda Palmer? The Dresden Dolls? Are you planning on reading The Art of Asking? 

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