Is Coffee a Mystery?

I've fallen behind with posting book reviews, so now I'm going to try my best to catch up before Thanksgiving... before Christmas... before New Year... before... Before sometime, but it's a mystery (and so are the books I'm reviewing here). A friend suggested I should retire before the mountain of incomplete reviews completely swamps me. She might be right. Anyway, the deaths and sorrow in these tales aren't caused by book reviews or mountains, but by people and the various trials of life. I loved reading them. I'm just sorry it's taken me so long to post my reviews. (Blame birthdays. Blame old age. Blame dry rot... Just don't blame the coffee. I need coffee!)

First is the book whose author visited my blog yesterday (at The Valley by Brandon Daily is a haunting tale of Appalachia, told through the eyes of vivid characters, and glimpsed through the mist and fog of years and tears. Slow, languid, haunting and beautiful, it's one to enjoy with some rich elegant complex four-star coffee.

Love In A Time Of Apartheid by Frederic Hunter is another literary masterpiece deserving elegant, complex, four-star coffee. Set in South Africa in the eponymous time of apartheid, it brings two very disparate characters together and reveals the cracks, not just in the system, but also in the lives of rich and poor, powerful and weak, young and old. It's a love story, oddly, but the romance is fueled with time and place, people and hope. Enjoy!

S. R. Nair's A Perfect Murder and Other Stories invites readers to India to explore a world of people and relationships, colored by dreams of the States, respect for the past, and hope for the future. Sometimes dark, sometimes curious, sometimes delightfully amusing, these complex stories deserve more complex four-star coffee.

Madison's Song by Christine Amsden is set in the States, but in that slightly skewed part of the States where magic and monsters are real. The characters and relationships feel very real as the story follows a young woman who never thinks highly enough of herself, struggling to cope with family rejection and betrayal, the wounds of love, and the possibility that gifts just might carry God-given responsibilities. It's a wonderful story, complex and powerful, and you don't need to have read the whole series to enjoy it (though I do recommend the series). Fill your mug with some complex four-star coffee and start reading.

J. B. Hawker's Cozy Campfire Shorts combines familiar teen horror themes with an amusing sense of mystery and sweetly surprising romance into a collection of interlinked short stories. It's a truly fun read. Enjoy with some bright, lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Deadly Catch by E. Michael Helms is a well-plotted mystery with a perfect sense for character, dialog and place, a cool beginning to a series perhaps. A combat veteran fishes a dead body out of the water when he goes out on a rented boat. Meanwhile his life is unmoored from his past. But this military man's not too haunted, too wounded, too confident or too dark. And this novel is one to enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.

Finally, Raven Black by Ann Cleeves is the first in her Shetland series - a collection that I've been glued to on TV and that my husband bought for my birthday. It's a book series with plenty to offers fans of mystery, of authentic out-of-the-way places, of police procedurals, of the Shetland Isles, and of TV. The characters feel just as real, but there are enough differences to make the story fresh and new when revisited on the printed page. I love these books! Enjoy with elegant, complex four-star coffees!


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