by Cynthia Chow & Tara Lush
This week we have a review of the latest Coffee Lover’s Mystery by Tara Lush along with a fun holiday coffee guest post by Tara that includes some great recipes for holiday coffee. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Live and Let Grind: A Coffee Lover’s Mystery By Tara Lush
Review by Cynthia Chow
Despite an unexpected career turn that forced laid-off journalist to pivot into becoming the owner of her family’s Perkatory coffee shop in Devil’s Beach, Florida, Lana Lewis is thriving. She is dating Police Chief Noah Garcia, works and lives near her best friend Erica, and their innovative flavor twists have perked up business tremendously. The fly in the ointment is neighbor Gus Bailey, who insists on running his leaf blower at the crack of dawn and on weekends. He is the embodiment of the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, except that Gus is surprisingly fit and barely middle-aged. After an unfortunate screaming fight with Erica that ends up him turning and giving them more of a blowout than they would have ever wanted, Erica immediately becomes the primary suspect when Gus is found dead with a tampered leaf blower. Lana’s dormant journalism instincts kick in and have her more than ready to investigate, something Noah not only forbids, he asks the local paper editor to intervene and not assign her the story.
Infuriated and not about to allow her friend to be unjustly railroaded, Lana begins tracking down Gus’s ex-wife and resentful business partners. Lana and Erica strap on skates in an attempt to interrogate Insta-famous roller-skating Honey Bailey, with them later checking out more than just books as they track down Gus’s new librarian girlfriend. The arrival of a barista trainer has Lana juggling business with her checklist of suspects, which seems to be growing longer by the minute. When a poisoning at Perkatory leads to them being temporarily shut down until Noah can complete his investigation, tensions are high and Lana is as determined to solve the mysteries as she is to discover why her boyfriend is so reluctant to introduce him to his family.
This third in the series introduces an abundance of quirky and entertaining characters, along with happenings that could only occur in Florida. Pirate-themed booze cruises, Lana’s father protesting on behalf of monkey rights, roller rink discos, and of course, a death-by-leaf-blower all make this an undeniably Floridian mystery. Lana is conflicted between needing the approval from the men in her life while also wanting to be a very independent, successful (freelance) investigative journalist. Erica gets Lana into as much trouble as she also helps them to get out of, making for fun and surprising adventures. An adorable Shih Tzu, delicious coffee flavorings, and romance that would benefit from some honest conversations make this a must-read for those looking for a cozy mystery that celebrates all of the quirks that make Florida so unique.
It’s Beginning to Look a Latte Like the Holidays, And You Need Caffeine
By Tara Lush
There never seems to be enough time at the holidays, does there? Shopping, baking, cooking, juggling everyone’s schedules, family drama…murder.
Oh wait. No. Not murder. That’s only in my books. I’m the author of the Coffee Lover’s Mystery Series, a Florida-based collection of stories about a woman who is laid off from her job as a journalist and returns home to run her family’s café.
In each book, amateur sleuth/barista Lana Lewis solves a crime and concocts a new and delicious coffee drink for her customers. Since she’s located in hot and humid Florida, many of the drinks are iced and cool. Past drinks include citrus flavors and lavender rosemary notes.
But, what would Lana recommend at the holidays to power through her to-do list?
She’s balancing running a café, checking up on her gossipy father who is a hippie, and being the owner of a willful and adorable Shih Tzu named Stanley. Oh, and she’s dating the police chief. While Lana hasn’t had the opportunity to solve a holiday murder, yet, she would have some recommendations about holiday coffee drinks.
Here they are (all recipes make two substantial coffees, or a few smaller ones):
HOT COFFEE for when “the weather outside is frightful”
Maple Bourbon Latte
• 2 c. strongly brewed coffee
• 2 c. milk of your choice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 cup maple syrup (add more to taste if you like it sweet)
• 1/2 cup nonalcoholic bourbon flavor (I like this brand: https://shop.torani.com/products/bourbon-caramel-syrup)
Add all ingredients to a pan and heat gently. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, if desired. This recipe makes two substantial coffees.
COLD COFFEE for those in warm climates who still want to feel cozy
Easy Iced Peppermint Mocha
• 2 cups cold brew coffee. You can brew your own (see recipe below). I also enjoy the STOK brand, which can be found in grocery stores.
• 4-6 tablespoons chocolate syrup (I’m giving a range because you might prefer it more or less sweet)
• 2 cups milk of choice (I like Oatly oat milk for this, personally)
• 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
• 2 cups ice
• Candy cane
Mix all the ingredients except for the candy cane with either a spoon, a frother, or a blender. Top with whipped cream. You can crush the candy cane as a topping, or use the full cane as a decoration/swizzle stick.
SPIKED COFFEE for when you just need a little something extra
• 2 cups coffee (see brewing directions below)
• 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
• 2 tbs brown sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
• 2 oz Irish whiskey
Add two sprigs of rosemary to the basket with the coffee grounds and brew, setting the other two sprigs aside. In two mugs, divide the brewed coffee, honey, and whiskey. Top with whipped cream and a sprig of fresh rosemary to garnish.
• 1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee
• 1-1/2 cups cold water
• Milk, flavoring and sugar to taste.
Place the coffee and water in a glass jar or pitcher. Stir. Cover the container and let it rest at room temperature for 12 hours. This allows the coffee flavor and oils to mingle. After 12 hours, strain the coffee through a filter, a fine-mesh colander, cheesecloth or sieve. Serve over ice and with your choice of milk, flavoring or sugar. If too strong, dilute with water. Enjoy! (Note: if you double or triple the recipe, the coffee keeps for five days in the fridge).
To enter to win a copy of Live and Let Grind, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “grind,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 17, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new Christmas episode went up this week.
You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.