On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

Overview
On What Grounds (Coffeehouse, book 1) by Cleo Coyle

Title: On What Grounds
Author: Cleo Coyle
Series: Coffeehouse Mystery #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Coffee, Cozy mystery
Dates read: 13th – 16th August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Mystery
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: This doesn’t.

Synopsis

Clare Cosi used to manage the historic Village Blend coffeehouse… until she opted for quieter pastures and a more suburban life. But after ten years and a little friendly cajoling from the owner (a fresh pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain was all it took), she’s back tot eh grind, serving coffee and solving crime – one cup at a time…

ON WHAT GROUNDS

With a sprawling rent-free apartment directly above the Village Blend, her cat Java by her side, and plenty of coffeehouse redecorating ideas, Clare is thrilled to return to work. Until she discovers the assistant manager unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Police arrive on the scene to investigate. but when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Case closed. But Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, there are a few things she just can’t get out of her mind… Why was the trash bin in the wrong place? If this wasn’t an accident, is Clare in danger? And… are all detectives this handsome?

Thoughts

I love a good cozy mystery. They’re cute, fun and, although you constantly want to know “whodunnit”, you’re not scared by the end of the tale. Everything gets tied up neatly and whilst there is a little bit of danger, it’s not overwhelming and frightening. The only problem with this cozy mystery? It features coffee. And I’m pregnant, so I can’t drink all of the coffee I want to…

Clare is a fun and unique lead. Rather than being young without much attachment, she’s a middle aged woman about to start her “second life”. She’s divorced, has a grown daughter and all of the trappings and difficulties that go along with that. It provides an added complexity to the story line that is sometimes missing from some of the mysteries that I read. It’s dark and wonderfully twisted. Seriously fun and very difficult to walk away from. I absolutely adored Clare as a lead. She is sassy and has a wealth of past experiences to draw upon.

This is a brilliant start to a new series. One that I can’t wait to fill my shelves with. It is fun and entertaining, filled with slightly eccentric characters and a number of potential love interests. I am really hoping that Clare picks Quinn ultimately, but I also know that Matteo is going to throw more than one spanner in the works for the chances of this budding relationship. Partner in Clare’s tight relationship with her daughter, the constant coffee recipes and just general food mentions… and I don’t recommend reading this on an empty stomach. I do recommend completely diving into this with a nice, big cup of coffee though.

I absolutely adored this story. I loved the slow unveiling of Annabelle’s past and the hints at who could have killed her. There are plenty of red herrings, and a couple of different horrors waiting at the end of the literary rainbow. This was a brilliant cozy mystery and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into more of Clare’s adventures.

<- More Cleo CoyleThrough the Grinder ->

Image source: Fantastic Fiction

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Overview
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves:  Historical fiction, Romance, War
Dates read: 14th – 15th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: He’s about to reach for his camera when he hears the laugh.

Synopsis

‘TRUTH BREAKS THE CHAINS OF SILENCE’

MADRID, 1957

Daniel, young, wealthy and unsure of his place in the world, views the city through the lens of his camera.

Ana, a hotel maid whose family is suffering under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.

Lives and hearts collide as they unite to uncover the hidden darkness within the city.

A darkness that could engulf them all…

Thoughts

This is one of those “holy crap” “wow” “Oh My God” kind of stories. I had no idea if I was going to like this when I first started it… but then I got my teeth hooked in… and… I just can’t even. I pretty much read this whole 500 page book in one sitting. It was just impossible to put down, look away, forget about. And then, like the fool that I am, I finished it late at night and couldn’t sleep. Because. So many thoughts. Too many thoughts.

I think the thing that really threw me about this book was the fact that a lot of the history in this book is only recently coming to light. The fact that an estimated 300,000 babies were taken from their parents and put up for adoption (after telling the parents that they had died) is… unfathomable. And it happened RECENTLY. It’s not a part of history that we can say, oh, that was another time, it happened forever ago. It happened in the past forty-odd years. And it’s only just coming to light and people are only just being bought to task for what they’ve done… it’s… unfathomable. Like, my brain literally cannot grasp this fact.

There is a sweet romance throughout this story. It’s not at the forefront and it’s not as in your face as the actual romances that I read. But it is incredibly sweet. Ana and Daniel are that quintessential falling in love when young romance. That one that sticks with you for the rest of your life. Some of us are lucky and find that we are actually going to spend the rest of our lives with that person. But the others? Well, it’s those stolen moments in time, in this one summer that Ana and Daniel are able to spend together.

This is a brilliant story. It is filled with history and the darker parts of our recent past that need to be bought to light. There is an intense feeling of humanity and intensity throughout that plucks at your heart strings. You can’t stop reading and look away from the pages. There is mystery and horror, all lightened by the love, both romantic and familial that ties all of these amazing characters together.

<- More Ruta SepetysMore war ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So

Overview
Proud by Juno Dawson & various (9781788950602/Paperback) | LoveReading

Title: The Phoenix’s Fault
Author: Cynthia So
In: Proud (Juno Dawson)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chinese mythology, LGBTQI, Romance
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Little Tiger
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: An infinite variety of them, as manifold as human hearts.

Synopsis

All those with a phoenix are supposed to present themselves to the Emperor and his dragon. But Chilli Oil and her owner don’t want to do that… they’ve got their heart set on someone else.

Thoughts

There was a great intersection of Chinese mythology in this story. The use of the dragon and phoenix as symbols of marriage and happiness. What I enjoyed most though was the way in which the author was able to use this symbol to show another kind of marriage and happiness.

I desperately was hoping for a happy ending to this story. Considering the collection it was in, I thought it might happen. But, honestly, up until I turned that final page… I just wasn’t sure.

The imagery in this story was brilliantly done. And the way that the mother accepts her daughter… just beautiful. Definitely a short story that I will read again.

<- On the RunAs the Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’… ->

Image source: LoveReading4Kids

Nice Guy Type by Sean Doolittle

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Nice Guy Type
Author: Sean Doolittle
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Ghosts
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Take the next block.”

Synopsis

There’s always the “nice guy type”. Even in death, but, as always seems to happen with the “nice guy”, they’re not always that nice…

Thoughts

Oh wow. There are so many layers of devious and revenge in this story. Which is surprising considering how short this story actually is. And, although I don’t agree with ANY of the characters’ actions… I also kind of understand some of them.

I seriously hate that saying “nice guys finish last”. Mostly because those “nice guys” generally turn out to be… Well, not nice. That is definitely the case in this story… not so nice and most definitely not finishing last.

Although this story involved a whole heap of violence and discomfort… I actually found it slightly sassy. In that humorous, but not outright funny way. I may just be a little sick and twisted though…

<- Undying LoveKross Kill ->

Image source: Amazon

Devourings by Aimee Bender

Overview
Image result for xo orpheus book cover

Title: Devourings
Author: Aimee Bender
In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Mythology
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Same with the worms.

Synopsis

The ogre’s wife was a good woman. She was not an ogre, but she was ugly, by human standards, and she had married the ogre because he was strong and productive, and together they had made six small ogre children. The children all took after their father.

Thoughts

I’ve read the story of the human tricking the ogre into eating his own children a few times. I’d never thought if what it was like for the mother of those children though. Or even what the father felt after he did such a terrible thing…

The way this story turned those ideas and fairy tales on their head was brilliant. There’s also a cake that replenishes itself and a cloak that hides you in plain sight. The woman in this feels… in pain after her children are eaten, but still very much in love with her husband. It gives a whole heap more humanity to the “bad guys” of the original fairy tale.

Going in a pilgrimage of sorts to heal after losing your children is completely understandable. I love how this mother and woman just… takes it in stride and lives and experiences things to let herself heal. There is no hatred and horror, just a way of moving towards a new future.

<- Modern CoyoteLabyrinth ->

Image source: Goodreads

Closing Time by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: Closing Time
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghost stories, Horror
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: It existed solely to take advantage of the licensing laws of the day, which forced all pubs to stop serving drinks at eleven PM, closing time.

Synopsis

It’s closing time at the haunted old pub, the time of reminscing, hauntings and the telling of tall tales.

Thoughts

This had a kind of comfortable ghost feeling. Which I didn’t know was a feeling until I read this. I was expecting something dar more haunting considering the book I found this in… but, instead it was… comfortable.

I think that things from the past haunt all of us. That there is something that everyone remembers (whether correctly or incorrectly) from our pasts that makes us stop and think. This story felt like reminiscing on those moments. Those unanswered questions that we didn’t even know to ask when we were younger.

This story may not be haunting. But it was powerful. We’ve all been there at closing time and it always has that… empty feeling. That feeling of finishes and doors closing that we didn’t know we wanted left open. It’s a bit like saying goodbye to questions from our childhood…

<- The Have-NotsAnna ->

Image source: Amazon

Take Me Home by Inez Kelley

Overview
Take Me Home (Country Roads, #1) by Inez Kelley

Title: Take Me Home
Author: Inez Kelley
Series: Country Roads #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 12th – 15th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Publisher: Carina Press
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Outside his office, phones rang.

Synopsis

Logging manager Matt Shaw is wary when Kayla Edwards, the owner of Mountain Specialty Spices, hires his firm to harvest timber on her Appalachian property. It’s a place he knows better than the back of his calloused hand—it’s his family’s old homestead, lost years ago in a painful foreclosure. He’s hauled himself up from dirt-floor poor since then, and resolves to stay professional… But Kayla’s vivacious beauty makes it hard to focus on his job.

Home. That’s how army-brat-turned-foodie Kayla feels about her new mountain hideaway. What’s more, the hottest lumberjack ever to swing an axe has agreed to manage her timber crop and get the old maple syrup operations back on tap. Matt’s ruggedly sexy ways and passion for the land have her falling hard.

The heat between them grows wild…until Kayla discovers that Matt hasn’t been upfront with her. She feels devastated, and worst of all, used. How can Matt prove it’s her he wants and not her land?

Thoughts

This is an incredibly easy read. The kind of simple, happy romance that makes you feel comfortable and content. It’s the perfect story to read on your ereader when you’re working and have to split your concentration a little. Fun, easy and light. The perfect contemporary romance.

I love that the biggest hurdle for this couple was their pasts. Kayla is caught up in a lack of “home” and feeling betrayed when she wants to trust. Matt is caught up on his pride and the tearing apart of his childhood. Its a nice little reminder that we all have ties to the past that can be difficult to move on from. But that sometimes, we need to at least get them in the open if we have any chance at a future.

I know bits about forestry from my own environmental science background, and I liked how Kelley weaved some interesting forestry facts throughout this story. Even though I don’t know anything about this ecological region, I loved the descriptions of the setting and the economic / ecological benefits for sustainable forestry. Then, there’s the creation of maple syrup… something I’d never even thought about. And now want to know SO much more about!!!

This was a great story. It was cute and sweet with just the right amount of heartbreak. There was a beautiful mountainous setting and a good score of secondary cast members. And at its core a gorgeous and sweet romance that will leave you smiling.

<- More Inez KelleyThe Place I Belong ->

Image source: Goodreads

Sunbleached by Nathan Ballingrud

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: Sunbleached
Author: Nathan Ballingrud
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: That’s why it’s so easy for us to seduce.

Synopsis

Josh thinks he has the perfect plan – he’s got a vampire trapped, he’s going to be immortal and he’s going to get rid of his mum’s annoying boyfriend. But, as with all teenage plans, things just don’t quite go to plan.

Thoughts

I always want to yell at the silly children in vampire stories who make a deal with, well, a vampire… I mean, come on! Haven’t you read the stories? Don’t you understand that it NEVER TURNS OUT WELL?!?!?

This story was no different. I spent the whole time metaphoriy banging my head against an imaginary wall… I mean, seriously Josh? You expected any of this to end in any other way? Silly, silly boy…

Alright, even though I was constantly finding Josh frustrating and seriously silly in this… I did also enjoy the story. It was one of those that you knew things would end bad, but you kind of wanted to see HOW they would end badly…

<- Sit the DeadBaby ->

Image source: HarperCollins

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Overview
Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

Title: Honor Among Thieves
Author: Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
Series: The Honors #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Dates read: 9th – 14th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: I already knew – however impossible it was – why Marko Dunajski was here.

Synopsis

Petty criminal Zara Cole was shocked to be recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by a race of sentient alien ships to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to change her life, and when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned to, she feels like she belongs for the first time. But nothing – not her Honors training or her street smarts – could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Thoughts

This book is just so dang good!!! I honestly didn’t want to put it down and found it really hard not to leap for Honor Bound the second I finished this. I have a huge stack of books to read… but man was it still tempting. This was such a phenomenal beginning to a trilogy.

Zara is a fantastic lead. She’s feisty and has a seriously horrible past. And, the part that I found the most attractive? She’s rebellious as all hell. It gives her this fun edge and relatability that made me feel connected almost immediately. It also created a really good coming of age feeling to this story. As the story unfolds, Zara slowly comes into her own and finds her own identity.

I’m still fairly new to the Sci Fi genre as a general. And particularly, fairy new to the stories of sentinent ships in space. They do have a bit of a same same to them. But Cainr and Aguirre are able to add in this extra layer of mystery that is lacking in most of the other similar stories I’ve read. You know that there is a Big Bad out there somewhere… you just don’t know what or whom.

All in all, I absolutely loved this book. It was hard to put down, easy to relate to the characters and filled with twists and unexpected turns. The world building is phenomenal and the relationships help to further support this incredible reality that was created. This book was amazing and completely impossible to put down.

<- More Rachel CaineHonor Bound ->

Image source: Goodreads

Undying Love by Hilary Davidson

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Undying Love
Author: Hilary Davidson
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Ghosts
Dates read: 13th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She lived down the street from us.

Synopsis

He’s got a ferryman trying to take him to the other side. But instead, he wants to find out why there is a knife protruding from his chest. And maybe, just maybe, protect his wife from the same fate.

Thoughts

I kind of guessed that the marriage that takes centre stage in this story wasn’t quite as picturesque as one would hope and imagine. That the murder that takes centre stage probably had something to do with the marriage.  It was not quite what I had expected… but I was still right. Kind of.

I got a pretty serious Ghosts of Christmas feeling from this story. There was just something about starting a story with a man with a giant white beard that made me feel… nostalgic for that great Charles Dickens tale. And it’s always fun to wax nostalgic about things. Alright, it’s all about a murder and there was no Christmas feel to this whatsoever. But it still made me feel somewhat nostalgic.

This really wasn’t quite a romantic story, but I did like the ties that are strong even in death. Even if those ties are kind of what caused your own death… there is still that feeling of consistency even in the horrors that we afflict on one another. It might not be a great story for love, but this was certainly an intriguing one.

<- SliderNice Guy Type ->

Image source: Amazon