Mug Shot by Carolyn Fardig

This 2nd book in the Java Jive series entertained me way more than I expected. Though the first one had been okay, I thought the characters and world felt more familiar and comfortable in this one…and I really liked the unexpected twists.

Mug Shot

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman sets out to clear her friend of murder charges by finding the real killer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Where We Find Our Heroine
I’m going to try really hard not to spoil anything here. We met Juliet in the first book, Death Before Decaf. In this one, she’s still running the coffee shop, still besties with Pete, still enemies with Pete’s girlfriend, Cecilia. She’s also sort of dating Cecilia’s brother, Stan, though she’s not terribly impressed with him, nor is anyone else, including his family.


Too Nice to Be a Murderer
Weird things start happening with Cecilia’s family, and there’s a good deal of distrust placed on Stan. But when Cecilia is murdered (not really a spoiler since its in the Goodreads synopsis) and it looks like Pete did it, Juliet needs to do her own sleuthing to find out what’s going on. She’ll stop at nothing to prove her best friend is innocent, even if that means getting other people in trouble and ignoring the advice of Ryder, the guy she’s allowing back in her life after he lied to her in the previous book.

Love Triangle
This book isn’t necessarily a romance, but a mystery with romantic elements. There’s still the weird thing between Pete and Juliet that hovers around the line of friendship and something else. Yet when Juliet sparks things with Ryder, those feelings are genuine too. I enjoy this kind of thing in a mystery novel, and I like wondering who she’s going to end up with. For the record, I was Team Pete in the first one, but I may have switched my allegiance.

love triangle

There were a lot of funny moments in this book and there were a couple good surprises. I liked that with regards to the key players and characters, the author wasn’t afraid to work outside of the framework a little bit. For instance, Cecilia wasn’t really a front and center character, but she seemed important enough that I was legit surprised when she was the murder victim.

The Romance Factor
The romance isn’t strong, but I felt it was more present in this one than the first. Juliet flashes back to some feelings about Pete, but the sweetest parts were between her and Ryder. I’m so conflicted, because I don’t know who I want her to end up with. There’s a touch of angst, but again, the romance takes backstage to the mystery. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Besides a few mentions of getting it on with Ryder and the revelation of some sex toys at one point, there’s not a whole lot of steam in this one. 2/5

Final Thoughts
This was a fun story that kept me engaged. The first one definitely set a foundation that made this one stronger. Though mysteries aren’t my first choice, I hope the author has more planned in this series, because Juliet is growing on me and I want more of her and her weird little life.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

At the time I’m writing this, it’s been about 3 days since I finished this book and I’m still feeling the feels. I told my husband when I finished that I needed a cigarette after that one (I’m not even a regular smoker). It was so good! It’s a Beauty and the Beast tale, but it’s different from the recent contemporary ones I’ve read, as the characters are fae instead of billionaires. Still counts.


One-Sentence Synopsis
After killing a fae, a young girl is forced to give her life to them to meet the requirements of a treaty signed after the war between fae and humans, but she’s allowed instead to live out the rest of her days with one of them in his castle. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page

Reluctant Tribute
Feyre feels very Katniss Everdeen, right down to her skill with a bow and arrow. In fact, the whole book has characeristics of other stories, like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and random other fairy tales. But to compare this book to those ones isn’t fair. For me, this one blew them out of the water with regards to both quality and entertainment value.

Feyre is a strong but flawed character. She dreams of a better life for her and her family. She’s self sacrificing, but she’s also exasperated with them (rightly so). She’s young, but at the start of the book it’s known that she engages in an affair with a local boy. Also, she doesn’t know how to read, which I thought was an interesting trait to give to a main character.

Enter the Beast
After she kills the wolf, her family is “visited” by a wolflike creature who demands that Feyre either give her life in exchange for the fae one she took or come spend the rest of her days living in the fae world, a place dangerous to humans. The wolf is a shapeshifting fae of importance named Tamlin who offers her safety at his home where he and everyone under his rule have been cursed to wear masks they can’t remove.


Setting the Scene
I loved the world building. Some of the creatures were familiar, but others were new to me. There is range of good fae to evil fae, and there are some who don’t seem to fall into either category. The descriptions were rich and added to the emotion and feel of the story.

Supporting Cast
Besides Feyre and Tamlin, there is a great cast of characters, some featured more than others, and almost all of them, even the minor ones, are multi-dimensional with history and back story. As for the villain of the piece, she is probably one of the most heinous villains I’ve ever read. Her story even gives you reason to empathize with her, but that reason gets lost to the fact that she’s completely sadistic.



Dark & Darker
Many of the scenes were really gruesome. It doesn’t contain a lot of standard horror gore, but descriptions were powerful and disturbing. The author, Sarah J. Maas, has a knack for not going overboard with descriptions, and yet giving me everything I need to watch this whole thing play out like a movie in my mind.

The Romance Factor
I’m already biased because of the whole BatB thing, but the romance was amazing. Tamlin and Feyre get off to a rocky start, but Tamlin treats her well and as Feyre develops and comes to terms with no longer being with her family, she starts to see the good in Tamlin and finds herself falling in love with him. There are subtle but powerful hints to how Tamlin feels from the start, like his slight jealousy when Feyre accompanies his emissary on hunts and how he worries when she puts herself into danger. 5/5

The Steam Factor
While not overly descriptive, the sensual buildup of the romance makes the steam that much stronger, and when Tamlin and Feyre do become intimate, it’s highly erotic. However, not to give too much away, but there is another source of sensuality and sexiness that becomes a major source of conflict. Two words love triangle. Hot. 5/5


Final Thoughts
I laughed and I cried…basically my feels were all over the place and I loved it. If you like romantic fantasy and don’t mind a few reminders of other less than stellar books, I highly recommend this one. My only complaint is that I have to wait until May for the second in the series to come out. Sadness.

Book Review: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

This poor book. It had been on my list to read for awhile, but I kept shifting it back in favor of books that would be published sooner. Finally I committed to reading it, and though it was originally described to me as a cozy mystery, which isn’t usually my thing, it ended up being a cute, fun read.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
After a coffee shop worker is murdered, the woman hired to save the shop from closing and the owner, her long time best friend, set out to find the killer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
There were a lot of funny moments in this book, some of them absolutely absurd, including a funeral scene that was straight out of some hardcore redneck reality TV show. The widow of the murder victim was fairly trashy, and I couldn’t help picturing her as Jennifer Coolidge (who I love, but who would play that part perfectly).


I enjoyed Juliet, who seems self aware of most of her downfalls, yet secure enough in herself to continue chasing a mystery even when she gets in over her head. My problem with other cozies I’ve read has been that the heroine annoys me, but that wasn’t the case in this book.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The people in cozy mysteries never know what’s going on, and in this case, I felt like they had failed to read a news article since…ever. During the course of the story, there are very obvious identity theft signs, and yet no one seems to pick up on these. I couldn’t tell if they were really clueless or just being snarkily obtuse.

The Romance Factor
It’s hard to classify this as a romance when the heroine is sleeping with a guy other than the one you want her to be with. I know other readers were all about the mysterious guy of the love triangle, but I was rooting for her to hook up with Pete, her bestie, who she obviously had feelings for. In both cases, there were subtle hints of romance, but it definitely took second place to the mystery aspect of the novel. 2/5

The Steam Factor
Sexy times were talked about, but for the most part, this was all closed door. 1/5

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Final Thoughts
There is definitely paved way for another book in this series, and I can honestly say that I’m not entirely sure how things are going to pan out for Juliet with regards to her love life. This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.