Sunday, June 24, 2018

Chess is A Game of Death

I've always been a fan of chess, although I'm rather a bad player. I love the feeling of trying to outwit your opponent with one move, all the while wondering about their moves and how far they've thought it through. The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig gripped me from beginning to end with its deadly tale of all things chess. I'm so glad I located it in a used bookstore - sometimes, one can find the most wonderful of literary gems in used bookstores. As a side note - I always wonder if the person who previously owned the book enjoyed it as much as I did, or if they read several pages then decided that it was too much (or too little) for them.

The story is thus: a distinguished business man named Frisch was found murdered in a garden in Vienna. The only clue to the murder is a chessboard made of sewn together rags with buttons used as pieces. Seems like a "locked room" mystery, right? Wrong. From there, the tale unfolds as we sit with Frisch and an acquaintance on a train from Munich to Vienna and watch them play their usual game of chess. At one point, a young man named Mayer enters their car area and proceeds to watch them play. When Frisch begins to converse with the young man in an abrupt manner, we learn that Mayer used to be a rising star within the chess world. And that, my dear readers, is when the literary sh*t hits the fan.

Revenge - ah, what a lovely subject to read and write about in a fictional setting. If the subject of the revenge was a deceitful bastard, then we can take some measure of satisfaction that they got their just reward. This novel does that so well yet with a tragic tale behind it. Mayer informs Frisch of a teacher he once had, an older eccentric man by the name of Tabori, and how that man initiated him into the world of chess. We then learn about the background of the eccentric teacher and how his life was less than stellar, yet chess proved to be a way out for him. . . . until he met his nemesis in the form of a young German man. This young German wanted to not only beat the young Tabori but to also defeat him - Tabori was a Jew. Fast forward to the time of WWII, when many Jews were in fear for their lives in Europe - Tabori and his family were sent to one of the camps. He witnessed horrific things within the camps yet the worst (and most mysterious) came in the form of a summons to visit a Nazi officer in his office. . . .

That's all I'm going to say about this book. When the ending comes, you will probably do what I did and talk it out for five minutes. I truly hope that people will give this book a chance and read it - it's worth losing an afternoon. This book also reignited my love for chess, although I'll just stick with a simple game against my computer. I would never want to play a game in which the stakes were the ones in this book.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tea Review - Mandela by NYA TEA

I had the pleasure of meeting Kai Oredugba of NYA TEA at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas last week and I have to say - he is one cool dude. I then turned my attention to their teas and instantly fell in love with many of them, one of them being DUBA The Mandela. This rooibos blend smelled divine and I knew I had to have some; thankfully, Kai gave me a sample of  the blend. I told him that I wanted to marry the blend and asked if that was crazy to say. He said no. While preparing it today, I could instantly smell orange and cloves as the hot water came in contact with it. When I finally tried my first cup, I was completely blown away by the simple yet complex taste. This rooibos blend is the BEST I've ever tried - a smashing blend of rooibos, orange peel, clove, cardamom, coconut, pink pepper, and flavour. The tea blend before preparation smells heady, exotic, and full of fruit flavour. The taste of the tea is fruity with a hint of a caramel like aftertaste. All of the ingredients blend so well that it comes at you all at once without being overpowering, almost like in layers that you don't even know are there. The mouth feel is inviting, cozy, and year long satisfaction. Since rooibos has no caffeine, you can enjoy this blend all day. You don't need to add any kind of sweetener to this blend - just prepare and enjoy. I look forward to ordering more of their teas - these guys know what they're doing when it comes to tea!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tea Review - Twinings New Zealand Breakfast Blend

Leave it to me to order a tea straight from New Zealand.

As much as I do enjoy several teas from Twinings, I had no idea that they created a blend just for the country of New Zealand. When I did locate it, however, I immediately whipped out my credit card and placed my order, all the while wondering if I would actually receive it. After weeks of patiently waiting, my box arrived and several hours later, I had my first cup of Twinings New Zealand Breakfast - much thanks to Products from New Zealand!

Don't let the name fool you - this tea can be enjoyed all day long without worrying if the caffeine will keep you awake. I enjoyed this tea two hours before bed and when I did go to sleep, there were no caffeinated problems. This tea is subtle and delicious with every sip and thank goodness I ordered an 80 bag box - I've been drinking at least a bag or two every day. The tea has a smoky start, much like a Lapsang Souchong, then finishes with a bit of Earl Grey, leaving your palate refreshed and quite happy. The tea "rolls" well with a soft mouthfeel - no harshness in the mouth or in your stomach. If you add honey to the tea, it only gets better as honey enhances a tea's flavour (IMHO). Although I do enjoy drinking it with honey, this tea is quite good by itself. This tea also goes well with Biscoff cookies!

If you order this tea through Products from New Zealand, be advised that it will take between 8 to 20 business days before it reaches you, unless if you live in New Zealand or nearby. If you enjoy a good hardy tea that can be consumed all hours of the day, New Zealand Breakfast is the one for you!

Side Note:

I'm six day away from attending my first World Tea Expo - two days of networking with other tea companies, enjoying panels regarding tea, and being around other tea lovers and enthusiasts. I never thought I would ever go, yet next week that dream will become a reality. I am going to write several blog posts regarding my experience there  - who knows what that will lead to?

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