About Abbie Lu

I love to read, write, and drink coffee. They are the bread and butter of my soul. I really enjoy discussing books, poetry, and the like. Another huge passion of mine is dancing, and for fun I am an avid volleyball player. I live in the NW and I am a hybrid city/country lover. I enjoy spending time hiking through our beautiful Oregon forests, and riding horses at the family farm. I also equally enjoy strolling the downtown waterfront with a latte, gazing the city lights, and/or sipping a Café con leche at my favorite Cuban eatery. Contact me if you would like me to review any products related to: Books, Poetry, and/or Coffee!

Spring Fling!

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Today is the first day of Spring and it is in full swing! The sun is shining bright and I am ready to get back into gear.
Here is What I’ve Been Sipping on this Spring:

Proof of Heaven
by Dr. Eben Alexander

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
This is a story that would be remarkable no matter who it happened to, but the unique and intriguing circumstances make it all the more enchanting. A highly trained and respected neurosurgeon contracts (mysteriously) an extremely rare brain disease, has an extensive and scientifically unexplained near death experience, and then miraculously makes a statistically impossible full recovery.
That it happened to Dr. Even Alexander makes it revolutionary. This is even truer of this new edition, in which he expands upon the lessons he learned from his experience, adding new insights and guidance for a world more in need of them than ever. Reading this book inspires a whole new way at looking at life and one’s self; that is both comforting and enthralling.

Playing with Fire
by Tess Gerritsen

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
I bought this book completely on a whim, because while purchasing it for a friend I read the first page and instantly knew it was my cuppa tea. This musically inspired thriller was also a romantic historical fiction.
It had an air of antique ambiance that I was quickly and completely absorbed in. To my surprise it also happened to take place in pre-WW2 Italy, did she write this just for me!

This book is deeply personal to the author and her musical background, which added an intimacy to the reading experience that was wonderful. The story also inspired/compelled her to compose a peace of music “Incendio” that has been performed by international violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.
One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

Here is a new go to favorite of mine I tried on my trip

Book Bean: Green Tea Lemonade

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Add some old school charm to your afternoon tea! Make some iced green tea and add a splash of homemade or prepared lemonade for a lightly sweet twist. Serve with lemon slices and mint leaves. Find a place under a tree or on a porch swing to lose yourself in a book while sipping this crisp and refreshing drink, and enjoy the added benefit of a healthy boost of energy!

Papillon
by Henri Charrière

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com
A young man called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious Devil’s Island, a place from which no one has ever escaped .
His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexander Dumas

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Dumas’ classic novel of wrongful imprisonment, adventure and revenge. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

I love Dumas’ storytelling; he is romantic, witty, and poetic, and yet the way he can spin an intriguing adventure cannot be matched! This story (as is customary to his writing) has it all.

I’ve also been trying this new coffee out, and it is fantastic

BookBean: Seabrook Blend
by Grounds for Change

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A perfect match for my current nautical reading selections! Full-bodied, rich, and so deliciously smooth; with noticeable notes of hazelnut and caramel that are a pleasant delight. Each cup is interesting and full of flavor and culture, a perfect blend.

So what have you been reading/sipping? Do share!

Mochas and Musketeers

Flamboyant heroes, adventure, riveting duels, and of course romance.

Alexandre Dumas and his swashbuckling Musketeers have fascinated for ages!

To honor Dumas on his birthday July 24th 1855, I wanted to share his many works featuring the most beloved comrades The Musketeers.

Here are the D’Artagnan Romances:

The Three MusketeersAn adventurous tale of the young man d’Artagnan. Leaving home to travel to Paris, d’Artagnan wishes to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He is not one of the musketeers of the title but befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis (inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all.”) This motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan, has become a most well known and loved signet. This a historical fiction full of memorable adventure and characters.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com 
Book Bean: Un café
A coffee, plain and simple, but not as we would have in the U.S. Order “Un Café”  and you will get a small cup of plain strong espresso.

Twenty Years Later
Two decades have passed since the musketeers triumphed over Cardinal Richelieu and Milady. Time has weakened their resolve, and dispersed their loyalties. However, treason and stratagem still cry out for justice: civil war endangers the throne of France, while in England Cromwell threatens to send Charles I to the scaffold. Dumas brings his immortal quartet out of retirement to cross swords with time, the malevolence of men, and the forces of history. But their greatest test is a titanic struggle with the son of Milady, who wears the face of Evil.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com 

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Book Bean: Chocolat l’ancienne
Rich and decadent melted dark chocolate poured into cups, and served alongside it’s own separate dish of fresh whipped cream. So thick and creamy, I’ll have mine with Un café  please!

Ten Years Later: The Vicomte de Brabelonne
In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled “The Vicomte de Bragelonne”, “Louise de la Valliere”, and “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Each of these volumes is roughly the length of the original
The Three Musketeers.

Here they are in Three Volumes:

The Vicomte de Bragelonne
It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile.

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Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean:
 Cafè latte au Chocolat
Espresso with steamed milk and drizzled with
chocolate on top.


The Musketeers are now in their late 50’s.
They are still vital characters but they are no longer young men looking for any excuse to duel with the Cardinal’s Guard. From this point on, there is a lot less sword play and campaigning (Sorry Swashbuckler fans.)

The focus of the story now shifts to the intrigues of Louis XIV court.
Lousise de la Valliere
Devoted in large part to romantic events at the court of France’s King Louis XIV. It is filled with behind-the-scenes intrigue, the novel brings the aging Musketeers and d’Artagnan out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France.

Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Chocolat chaud
Otherwise known as good old Hot Cocoa 🙂

The Man in The Iron Mask
Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille

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Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Cafè au Lait
A coffee with hot milk added (In comparison to the Itallian caff
è latte.) In the U.S.  a café au lait is a drink of strong drip coffee or French pressed coffee, to which steamed milk is added.

Fun Fact: Two further sequels to the D’Artagnan books — the novels The Son of Porthos (1883) and D’Artagnan Kingmaker (1900) — were written and published after Dumas’s death. D’Artagnan does not appear in the first novel, which, although written by Paul Mahalin, was published under the pen name “Alexandre Dumas” and is still sold as such. The second novel was supposedly based on one of Dumas’ plays (wikipedia)

Have you read any or all of these novels? 
Please share your thoughts.

America in Literature II

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Here continues my list of quintessential American literary works:

PART II of II


The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien
A classic, life-changing meditation on war, memory, imagination, and

the redemptive power of storytelling

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com


Gone With the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell
Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

The Catcher in the Rye
By J.D. Salinger
A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation.
Wikipedia

Rated 4.0 on amazon.com

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com

Moby Dick

By Melville
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com


The Crucible

By Arthur Miller
Based on historical people and real events, Arthur Miller’s play uses the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence unleashed by the rumors of witchcraft as a powerful parable about McCarthyism.

Rated 4.1 on amazon.com


Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau
An essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Of Mice and Men

By John Steinbeck

Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.
Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

The Sound and The Fury
By William Faulkner
The tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

Rated 3.9 on amazon.com

 

America in Literature I

119001003406-originalThere is a plethora of great American literature, I could not create a list of less than 20. However, I focused less on the popularity of a novel/author and more on a variety and depth of “American ” (U.S.) content/concepts and ideas/ideals etc. Literature that focuses on the history, growth, and culture of our nation.
So, I was able to narrow it down…

Here is my list of the top quintessential American literary works:

PART I of II

Common Sense
By Thomas Pain
Paine arrived in America from England in 1774. A friend of Benjamin Franklin, he was a writer of poetry and tracts condemning the slave trade. In 1775, as hostilities between Britain and the colonies intensified, Paine wrote Common Sense to encourage the colonies to break the British exploitative hold and fight for independence. The little booklet of 50 pages was published January 10, 1776 and sold a half-million copies, approximately equal to 75 million copies today.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston

Out of print for almost thirty years due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist. Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


By Mark Twain

One of the most challenged or banned books due to racist language, Twain’s novel can be read as an indictment of unenlightened nineteenth-century thinking or as a heartbreaking coming-of-age novel, but what’s undisputed is the novel’s position as one of the most influential books in American literature.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com10ca59f648094240a32e3146b99bce6c

Book Bean: Iced Huckleberry Hibiscus
Brew some hibiscus tea add honey to taste and chill. Lightly crush a handful of fresh huckleberries (raspberries or marion/black berries are great too). Add berries and ice to a tall glass and pour in chilled tea.

The Scarlet Letter
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
An 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, and is considered to be Hawthorne’s “masterwork”. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

Rated 4.0 on amazon.com

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

By Harriet Beecher Stowe

An anti-slavery novel published in 1852, the novel “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War”, according to Will Kaufman.Wikipedia. Denouncing the institution of slavery in dramatic terms, the incendiary novel quickly draws the reader into the world of slaves and their masters.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

An exemplary novel of the Jazz Age acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. It is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

green-spritzer-051-mbd109404_vertRated 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Fitz SpritzerGreen tea chilled, fresh lime juice, sugar, and club soda. Pour mixture over ice and enjoy your own Green Rickey 😉 Make it fun, add an olive, lime wedges, and/or mint for garnish.


Leaves of Grass

By Walt Whitman

A visionary volume of twelve poems. Showing the influence of a uniquely American form of mysticism known as Transcendentalism, which eschewed the general society and culture of the time, the writing is distinguished by an explosively innovative free verse style and previously unmentionable subject matter.

Rated 4.2 on amazon.com

Beloved

By Toni Morrison

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery,  the novel is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. Set after the American Civil War (1861-1865) this spellbinding novel transforms history into a powerful story as intimate as a lullaby.

Rated 3.9 on amazon.com

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck
A Pulitzer Prize–winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com


Book Bean:
California Frappe
Frappe-1080x631Cut off peel and white pith from 2-3 orange wedges. Bring 1/2 cup of dry red wine, 2 Tsp. of sugar, a grate of orange zest, and 1/2 Tsp. of cinnamon to a simmer, add the orange wedges and simmer for approx. 10 min. mixture should reduce to a syrup, let chill. Pull 2 shots of espresso (or use 4 oz of brewed coffee chilled.) In a blender add ice, coffee, syrup (for an easier option use marmalade 😉 ), and milk (to taste) blend and enjoy!

Stay tuned for PART II July 4th!

While you wait vote for you favorite American Author 

 Share with us about your vote, what do you love about this author, and what makes them “A Great” in American literature?

 

Honoring George Orwell

george-orwell-bbc.jpgEric Arthur Blair better known by his pen name George Orwell, born this day in 1903
was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

Animal Farm

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com


Down and Out in Paris and London

Orwell’s first work — a sensitive and insightful description of the life of the working poor in Paris and the homeless in London. It is still very relevant today, and while aimed at the casual reader, it is of interest to the scholar and activist.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com


“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a match against the powers that be.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Share your thoughts
Have you read Orwell, has he influenced you in any way?

 

The Godfather of Caffeine

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who is celebrated in today’s Google doodle, was the discoverer of caffeine and the first person to isolate quinine, but his contribution to chemistry is often overlooked. Check out this Article by Sam Wong and learn all about the Godfather of Caffeine. While sipping away at your various Café delicacies today, tip your hat to Runge.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2193138-friedlieb-ferdinand-runge-the-godfather-of-caffeine/amp/