Winner of The Color of Tea

Out of 19 entrants or so, Random.org selected #7, who was Margaret who said, “Pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard pastry) Yum!  I remember eating them in Macau,” when leaving a comment about her favorite pastry or tea for The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe.

There is still time to enter the giveaway for Enchantment by Thaisa Frank.

The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Macau is a former Portuguese colony and is now a special administrative region of China and a hub of gambling and more.  The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is a woman’s journey into a strange land and the time of her life as she trails behind her husband, and their dreams of a new life change drastically.

“Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace, though by now the sand and silt have crept up and almost covered the silk of the ocean in between.  Gobbled up, like most everything in Macau, by Progress.  Progress and gambling.”  (Page 1)

Grace Miller is a woman who has lost her dream and builds another with tea and French pastries.  With the help of Leon, a French chef, Grace learns to make macarons and she opens a cafe, breathing new life into her days.  Although she doesn’t know Portuguese, Cantonese, or Mandarin, she finds the strength to become a businesswoman with little help from her husband, Pete.  She finds a new strength in her situation as she creates new kinds of macarons, serves coffee and tea, and provides a community with a little hope and connection.

“The day after the earthquake Lillian’s is packed to the rafters.  It is so crowded that those who can’t find their own tables join strangers and start to talk.  It is as if the catastrophe has brought out the community-minded side of people.  Conversations are hushed, and customers linger over their coffees.  Children are sent to the corner to play with our basket of toys, mutely constructing castles or ships out of LEGOs; even they must sense the need for regrouping and rebuilding.”  (Page 125)

It is the essence of Tunnicliffe’s novel — rebuilding and regrouping — to create something shiny and new out of the rubble . . . to begin again.  Lillian’s is a cafe born from the ashes of a Portuguese restaurant in a Chinese owned commonwealth by a British woman seeking a foothold in a spiraling out of control life, but what this cafe brings to her and to the community is more than she could have bargained for as cultures are bridged and friends are earned.

Grace is dedicated and strong, but she’s also naive about the cultural differences surrounding her, but those traits together make her more endearing.  Peter tries his best to cope with the loss of their dream, but throws himself more and more into his work when his wife withdraws.  His character is less well drawn, but the novel is told from Grace’s perspective, so that is to be expected.  Gigi, Leon, Celine, Rilla, Marjory, and Yok Lan are secondary characters who are full of life, teaching one another how to have patience with one another and grow.

Tunnicliffe’s debut novel is ripe with sugar and creamy pastry as each new relationship adds to the culinary masterpiece that is The Color of Tea.  It is Grace’s story.  Through her baking she comes alive, and subsequently comes into her own.  Tunnicliffe is talented and makes Macau come alive through food, relationships, and tea — creations that transcend sorrow and class.

About the Author:

Hannah Tunnicliffe was born in New Zealand but is a self-confessed nomad.  After finishing a degree in social sciences, she lived in Australia, England, and Macau.  A career in human resources temporarily put her dream of becoming a writer on the back burner.  The Color of Tea is her first novel.

This is my 58th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge 2012.



If you’d like to win a copy and live in the US or Canada, please leave a comment about your favorite tea or pastry.

Deadline is Aug. 16, 2012, at 11:59PM EST

Mailbox Monday #179

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Alternative Read.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received since vacation the previous couple of weeks:

1. Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank, unsolicited from William Morrow and I will find a new home for.

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

2.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb from Sourcebooks for review in July.

The Darcys get pulled into the Regency craze for Egypt in this romantic and adventurous Pride and Prejudice continuation by bestselling author Amanda Grange and Egyptology expert Jacqueline Webb.

When Elizabeth, Darcy and their lively children go to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth intertwine with the unraveling of a mystery dating back to an ancient Egyptian woman. They find long-hidden treasure, thwart a theft and betrayal by the ever villainous George Wickham, and lay to rest an ancient ghost.

3.  Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax from the publisher and Joan Schulhafer Publicity for review in June.

If you want to win a copy of your own, today is the last day to enter Wendy Wax’s giveaway for one of three advance reader copies of her upcoming OCEAN BEACH, to be sent to the winners prior to the June 26th on sale date. Best of luck to all!! Just go to http://www.writerspace.com/contests/ and scroll down to Wendy’s name!

Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan – until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and the project, together. With a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they’ll weather life’s storms…

4.  The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe from TLC Book Tours in August.

Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace. It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too.

After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

5. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

6. Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

7. Private #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world’s most effective investigation firm–sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private’s investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world–and they always uncover the truth.

8. Flesh by Khanh Ha, which I received from TLC for a book tour in June.

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai’s entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledge his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven a another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author’s writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

What did you receive?