Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: Enola Holmes Mysteries #4

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

by Nancy Springer

A mystery that is not Nancy Drew? I bet you're shocked! Found this at the local library used book sale and had to pick it up. Who could resist Sherlock Holmes' little sister? If she is half as good as her older brother...Let's find out.


Confession - we haven't read the previous three books in the series. Did it matter? Not at all. Okay, I'm sure I was missing some background information, but Enola gave basic pieces while thinking about the case. Great action and Enola is brilliant!


I really liked the story, but the disguises have me confused...most outfits from the Victorian and Edwardian eras were not easy to put on and take off, yet Enola is able to change her appearance in a matter of minutes. 


I really liked this story and Enola as a main character and detective. You do have to suspend a bit of reality when you read this though. I can't imagine a 14-year old girl being able to move so easily about a city. I could be wrong.


Action, adventure, mystery, intrigue...what's not to love. The story flowed well and I learned a few new words. 


I totally agree with Haley and Lanie. 
Some parts of the story were hard to believe. But as we are Harry Potter fans... Enola is a brilliant detective; however, she is shortsighted when it comes to her brothers. Yes, Mycroft may want to see her make a good match, but Sherlock...I think he knows his sister would not be happy in a conventional home. He lets her slip away more than she understands.


The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (Enola Holmes 4)The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan by Nancy Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan. Not a mega fan because I haven't read absolutely everything in the cannon and I'm not exceedingly fond of other authors using Sherlock in their work, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of me. As is the case here.

In this series (yes, series - I'll get to that in a minute) we meet Sherlock's and Mycroft's younger sister, Enola. She is fourteen but her brothers are already worried about her making a good match so her future is secure. Enola is independent, intelligent, industrious, brave, calculating, educated, well read, and a master of disguise. The last is amazing considering the fashions of the time, especially women's fashions.

Once again, I find myself reading out of order because the publisher couldn't be bothered to put a number on the cover or spine. This is book 4. Luckily the story is not dependent upon the previous adventures, so I was not lost. In other series, one wouldn't be so lucky.

The story unfolds like the pink fan in the title. We meet the victim or client in a ladies lavatory in London and from there action and adventure ensue. Enola works on her case and tries (not always successfully) to avoid her older brothers.

This was a fun read. The story is told from Enola's point of view with great vocabulary (are you familiar with the word "salubrious") as well as interesting near cursing (i.e. there was no cursing). From my description above and, if you are familiar with Sherlock, you'd figure Enola is rather precocious. It is good to have a dictionary nearby.

The reader can learn a lot from this story. The vocabulary...coded messages to solve...and the language of flowers...all very interesting.

Why didn't I give this five stars? First, Nancy Springer tried very hard to use the language and writing style one would find in the late 1800s with a modern twist and sometimes it seemed as if she was trying too hard. Or that Enola was trying too hard to be an adult when she was only 14. Second, Sherlock. Enola bumped into Sherlock two times during the story. Both time she was concerned that he would find out where she was living and try to take her back to Mycroft. It bothered me that she did not know her brother knew exactly where he could locate her and was letting her be as well as placating Mycroft in "trying" to find her. Plus Mycroft would have known what Sherlock was up to as well.

I really liked this book and if I were to happen upon other Enola Holmes mysteries I'd be happy to read them.

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Time to get hopping!
Have you visited any book blogs? Have you found anything interesting?

Happy reading!


Tea Review: Lost Pines Part 1

Yaupon (YO-pawn) Tea Revisited

Kaya'aton'my's Research

This is really cool! The yaupon tea Melody found at the Ocracoke Preservation Society can be traced back to Native American purifying ceremonies. Some would travel up to 200 miles to gather the leaves they needed. 
Check it out. Archeologists found traces of caffeine on pottery in the southwest. This type of holly tree is the only caffeine producing plant native to North America.  Looks like it is popular in the southern states but can also be found along the eastern and western seaboards as well as the in the Gulf states. 
Pyewacket, this is really cool stuff! I can't wait to try the Lost Pines Yaupon tea now.

Lost Pines Light Roast Yaupon Tea

Kaya, Melody, both

Melody, would you give me a hand today?
Sure. What are we doing?
Reviewing Lost Pines yaupon tea.
Neat. Looks like we have a choice to make.
Yeah. Should we try light roast or dark?
I'm thinking light first. What do you think?
Sounds good. Hey, this look interesting.
Yeah? Let me take a  peek. 
Hmmm, the crushed leaf pieces are bigger than regular black and green tea leaves.
One of the many ways to brew this tea is in a coffee maker. It's good we have one that never sees real coffee.
Absolutely! The leftover coffee tannins would spoil the water and the tea.
Yeah. Okay, we have water and a filter in the basket.
I'll add 2 scant tablespoons* of leaves. Now we wait.
The website says you can also brew or steep this tea using a tea ball or infuser, French press, in a sauce pot, reusable Keurig, percolator, with the sun, or just cold in the fridge.
That's cool.
(tea maker finishes dripping)
It looks really good. A lot darker than I had expected. Smells nice too. Kind of sweet and a little grassy, but not too much. And something else...
(takes a sip) Oh, nice. I really like it plain. Warm, outdoorsy.
Outdoorsy? (sips) I see what you mean. It kind of tastes like a forest. Reminds me of a campfire without the smokiness.
How shall we try it next?
Let's see...the package suggests with lemon or cinnamon or "your favorite sweetener" or a splash of milk.
Cool. I've prepared three cups. One has lemon. Another has sugar in the raw and milk. The other is honey and cinnamon.

I'm not fond of unsweetened with lemon.
No, the lemon is a little overpowering. I bet it would be good in iced tea.

Honey and Cinnamon
Very nice.

Sugar and Milk
This is good. Creamy. Interesting color.
Yeah, it is. I like this a lot.

I have an idea! Let's mix the cinnamon one with the milk one.
Great idea!
Wow! This is really good. As soothing as hot chocolate.
This combination is the winner in my book.
I think I like it plain best.
Tea purists will say yaupon is not really tea since it is not from the regular tea plant.
But it brews, smells, looks, and tastes like a very nice tea blend.
We like it!

* Our scant tablespoons were about 3/4 for one and 1/2 for the other which translates roughly to 4 teaspoons. 1 teaspoon per cup, which is a bit heavy for this tea. We were told 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup and wanted to see how it would turn out strong.

Xyra's Notes

  • Tea Time with Melody Q received samples of Lost Pines light and dark roast yaupon tea in exchange for an honest review. The above review is comprised of our own words and opinions. Seriously, if we didn't like it we'd say so.
  • Using the coffee maker was awesome! I have a small 4 cup one that I use only for tea or tea water. With it I was able to get three good steepings from what Kaya and Melody prepared. The fourth was pretty weak, but still drinkable.
  • Whatever was left after filling my travel mug with hot was put aside to drink later as plain iced tea. Good, might try next with a bit of lemon.
  • Our brews were a lot more green than the photos on Lost Pines website. A neat dark green that looked dark brown.
  • My favorite way to prepare this was with sugar in the raw or honey, milk, and a dash of cinnamon. Fabulous flavor. Creamy and bold. The cinnamon mutes the grassy undertones. I suggest adding the cinnamon to the leaves before steeping so you don't get cinnamon sludge at the bottom of your cup.
  • Amusing note about adding milk...as I noted, our brewing resulted in a green brown drink. With the milk (2% milk) it changed to an interesting light teal shade (photo below) that reminded me of the leek soup Bridget makes in Bridget Jones' Diary. Made me laugh. The tea is much better tasting than her soup (judging by her friends' faces).
  • The flavor of this blend was different than the yaupon tea found on Ocracoke Island. However, that can be attributed to differences in soil, water, weather, and other environmental conditions. Like the difference in tomatoes grown in a hothouse vs. your home garden.
(Don't let the color fool you, this tastes great!)

So glad you stopped. Best wishes,


Note: Tea Time with Melody Q is not affiliated with American Girl or Lost Pines Yaupon Tea. As stated above, we did receive samples of the tea in exchange for an honest review. The above tasting review is comprised of our own thoughts and opinions and words. Links are provided for educational and informative purposes. No purchase is required or suggested to enjoy the post. Should you be inspired to learn more or to try it for yourself, the links will help point you in the right direction.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mini Big Adventure #2

Pyewacket Finds a Treasure

Meep me-up me-up me-up
What is it Pyewacket? Have you found something?
Mew (purrs)
That's a pretty pink cup and saucer. Look at the nice gold spoon too!
Mmmm (purrs)
The bow looks lovely on you.
(purrs) Meep
No, there's nothing in it. Sorry, girl.
Let's go find you some water. But we'll use this cup in the near future.

Does our find look familiar? We have a set just like this from June 2014. Last time Felicity and Rebecca found the treasure on top of a "mountain." Now we have a matching pair. Yay!

This pink demitasse cup, saucer, and spoon are from The Queen's Treasures. It was a favor with purchase at their Neighborhood Toy Store event the other weekend.  See the wrapped favor here.

So glad you stopped! Come again soon!

Spotlight On...Allie D's Blog Design

Blog Design Help

If you are just starting out and want to look unique or want to revise your current blog look and don't know where to start, check out Allie's Blog Designs.

Click through the tabs to get help choosing colors, designs, templates, custom designs. Or browse her posts for more information.


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Queen's Treasures 2015 C

Road Trip with Friends

Destination: The Queen's Treasures

Home Again!

Haley, Kaya, Kirsten, Lanie, Melody, 2 or more

Hi! We're home!
Are Nonna, Lady T, Etta, and Kyoko coming inside?
Did you have fun?
What did you bring home?
Is that a cat?
Yes, that's Pyewacket. No, they had to get home - company coming for dinner; maybe next time. I have a lot to show you.
Too bad.
(giggles) Looks like rascal and Meatloaf are checking out Pye...?
Yeah, Pyewacket.
Licorice too.
It's quiet; that's a good sign.
(bag rustling) Here's one for you...and you...and you...and...you. Of course, we're really sharing all of these.
Yeah. Yeah.
Oooo! Neat! Love, love, love! Nice!
And one new purse!
Wow! This is a great collection.
You did a great job choosing for us.
The Queen's Treasures has a large selection of shoes! It was so hard to decide. I pulled the first 5 that caught my eye then saw the bunny slippers and purse. 
I'm looking forward to wearing these.

Who do you think wears which shoes first?

Shhh! These are Gifts

I had to show you the rest of what we got during our visit. Don't tell the others; they are Christmas presents for Kaya, Melody, and Kirsten. The silver dress is for Melody. She kept telling me to check it out, so I know she really likes it.
The Dr. Jane Goodall outfit is for Kirsten. The sweater matches her hair ribbons.

This blanket and coat are for Kaya to use with Butterbrandy.
Okay, (giggles) the pizza is for all of us.  Friday night is pizza night at our house. 
This page of The Queen's Treasures catalog shows the new Little House on the Prairie sets. 
This page shows the Dr. Jane Goodall sets that will be available soon. You can see Etta and Kyoko checking out the set on Living a Doll's Life and Mommy's Doll Club.
These are all the awsom pets
When you add one of these to your collection, 10% goes to AWSOM, the Animal Welfare Society of Monroe - a non-profit, no-kill shelter. Cool, right!? 
[Xyra note: The pets are not articulated, so Pyewacket will always be standing. She is sturdy and well made.]

Thank you for sharing this road trip with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

See you again soon!


Note: Tea Time with Melody Q is not affiliated with American Girl or The Queen's Treasures. We visited the store and received permission to do a photo shoot and post about our visit. All items featured in this post were purchased for our collection. All links provided are for educational and informative purposes. No purchase is required to enjoy the post. Should you be inspired the links help make your shopping (window or otherwise) easier.