Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #5 - The History of Playing Cards


We had some friends over this past Saturday night to play cards and hang out and chat, something I've always liked to do! I've grown up playing card games but never really thought too much about where playing cards came from. So here's a little bit of history on them, by far not everything, but probably more than you ever really wanted to know! ;)

1. Theories on the origination of playing cards varies, but many believe that they began in China in the 10th century AD, with paper domino cards.

2. It is likely that the precursor of modern cards arrived in Europe from the Mamelukes of Egypt in the late 1300s, by which time they had already assumed a form very close to that in use today. In particular, the Mameluke deck contained 52 cards comprising four "suits": polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups. Each suit contained ten "spot" cards (cards identified by the number of suit symbols or "pips" they show) and three "court" cards named malik (King), nā'ib malik (Viceroy or Deputy King), and thānī nā'ib (Second or Under-Deputy). The Mameluke court cards showed abstract designs not depicting persons (at least not in any surviving specimens) though they did bear the names of military officers.

3. Europeans began mass production in the 14th century with the invention of woodcuts. Before this time most were probably hand painted and something only the very rich could afford.

4. The Master of the Playing Cards was the first major master in the history of printmaking. He was a German (or conceivably Swiss) engraver, and probably also a painter, active in southwestern Germany from the 1430s to the 1450s, who has been called "the first personality in the history of engraving."[1] Various attempts to identify him have not been generally accepted, so he remains known only through his 106 engravings, which include the set of playing cards in five suits from which he takes his name. Most of the set survives in unique impressions, most of which are in the print rooms at Dresden and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

5. From the 1400s to around the 19th century, people experimented with the look of their cards. In the Renaissance, when art was popular, artists began to paint the backs of the cards with pictures, whereas they were previously blank. This idea of putting pictures on the back of cards came from Tarot cards.

6. France gave us the suits of spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts, and the use of simple shapes and flat colors helped facilitate manufacture. French cards soon flooded the market and were exported in all directions.

7. In the 1500’s the court cards of the Parisian deck were named after historical/mythical figures: the king of hearts represented Charlemagne, the king of Diamonds was Julius Caesar, the king of clubs was Alexander the Great and the king of spades was King David from the Bible, along with many others (even Lancelot perhaps as the Knave (Jack) of Clubs!)

8. Americans began making their own cards around 1800, and made these refinements: double-headed court cards (to avoid the nuisance of turning the figure upright), varnished surfaces (for durability and smoothness in shuffling), indexes (the identifying marks placed in the cards’ borders or corners), and rounded corners (which avoid the wear that card players inflict on square corners).

9. The Joker card began around 1870 (also in America) as the highest card in the game Eucre. As the game was sometimes called Juker, the card evolved into the Joker, and by 1880 was depicting clownish, impish or jester-like characters.

10. Popular legend holds that the composition of a deck of cards has religious, metaphysical, or astronomical significance: typical numerological elements of the explanation are that the four suits represent the four seasons, the 13 cards per suit are the 13 phases of the lunar cycle, black and red are for day and night, the 52 cards of the deck (joker excluded) symbolizes the number of weeks in a year, and finally, if the value of each card is added up — and 1 is added, which is generally explained away as being for a single joker — the result is 365, the number of days in a year. If the other joker is also added, that makes 366 days, the amount of days in a leap year. The context for these stories is sometimes given to suggest that the interpretation is a joke, generally being the purported explanation given by someone caught with a deck of cards in order to suggest that their intended purpose was not gambling

11. The Ace of Spades served a famous purpose in the war in Vietnam. In February, 1966, two lieutenants of Company "C," Second Battalion, 35th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, wrote The United States Playing Card Company and requested decks containing nothing but the "Bicycle" Ace of Spades. The cards were useful in psychological warfare. The Viet Cong were very superstitious and highly frightened by this Ace. The French previously had occupied Indo-China, and in French fortunetelling with cards, the Spades predicted death and suffering. The Viet Cong even regarded lady liberty as a goddess of death. USPC shipped thousands of the requested decks gratis to our troops in Vietnam. These decks were housed in plain white tuckcases, inscribed "Bicycle Secret Weapon." The cards were deliberately scattered in the jungle and in hostile villages during raids. The very sight of the "Bicycle" Ace was said to cause many Viet Cong to flee. (At least that’s one popular opinion, another article I read said they did more for troop morale than they actually frightened the enemy!)

12. Different countries use different suits than what we commonly see, in Italy the suits are batons, swords, cups and coins, and in Central Europe some countries use hearts, bells, leaves and acorns. There are also decks with different numbers of cards than 52, depending on the game.

13. The popular card game Solitaire makes it earliest appearance in writing in about 1783 where it is described in a German book of games. It is widely believed, but not true, that Napoleon played solitaire during his exile. In the 1980s, personal computers made solitaire more popular than ever. Since players don't need to shuffle and deal the cards for each and every hand, game play has become more enjoyable. In addition, the ability to start a new game with only the click of a mouse has brought forward the addictive quality of these games. There are more than 100 distinctly individual solitaire games, with that number reaching more than 1,000 when you consider minor variations.

Disclaimer: This Thursday Thirteen on playing cards was merely to satisfy my own curiosity and is in no way claiming to be correct in all statements! In fact, I pretty much copied straight from the following sources, which may or may not be the way of it! But it all sounds good and plausible, huh? ;) Thanks for stopping by!

Wikipedia on Playing Cards
Library/Thinkquest History of Playing Cards
US Playing Card - A brief History
Newts Cards - Ace of Spades
US Playing Card - History
Just Solitaire

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book: The Bastard Prince (Heirs of Saint Camber #3) - Katherine Kurtz, and a recommendation on where to start!


I actually finished this one about a week ago, but needed to think on it awhile. I wanted to “review” it, but wonder if many people that might read this blog would be completely lost as this particular book really requires having read a lot of the ones before it to be able to completely experience it. I’ll give a short little blurb here about The Bastard Prince in particular, and then a little more about the Deryni in general, with my recommendation on where to start!

The Bastard Prince is the third in the Heirs of Saint Camber series, and tells the story of Rhys Michael Haldane’s attempt at freeing the Haldane line from the great lords of Gwenydd who have served as the regents for his two brothers before him. It is a story of sacrifice, and of a young man forced to play a very dangerous game of deception, in constant fear of the safety of his loved ones, and under the threat of losing his own life. To say much more is to give away the story of this one, so I’ll move on to talk about the Deryni series as a whole.

While the Deryni books are found in the Fantasy section, to me they read much more like historical fiction, I’m going to say of medieval England/Scotland/Ireland-esque areas, and not being a historian I can’t really say if any parts of the story are reflective of actual historical events, but the feel is there. Add to this the conflict of some individuals with magical abilities (the Deryni) in a time period of rigid religious beliefs and policies, and you can guess where much of the plot lines center, the persecution of a people by those who fear their powers.

The sympathies of the stories are obviously on the side of the Deryni, who even with their considerable powers are often forced into hiding and fighting for their lives. In many cases they are a deeply religious people, making their persecution from that quarter all the more heartbreaking for them, and much of their magic involves religious ritual. There are differing opinions on the order to read the books in, I actually started with The Bishop’s Heir, not knowing it was the first of the second trilogy centered around Kelson Haldane, the latest Haldane King. I first read this in junior high, and that’s been a few years now, so I can’t remember if I had trouble picking up the story elements that had gone before, but it hooked me, and I’ve read just about all of them now (I still need to read the King Kelson’s Bride, and the new trilogy about Morgan). My own suggestion would be to read them in this order:

Deryni
1. Deryni Rising (1970)
2. Deryni Checkmate (1972)
3. High Deryni (1973)

King Kelson
1. The Bishop's Heir (1984)
2. The King's Justice (1985)
3. The Quest for Saint Camber (1986)
4. King Kelson's Bride (1997)

Camber of Culdi
1. Camber of Culdi (1976)
2. Saint Camber (1978)
3. Camber the Heretic (1981)

Heirs of Saint Camber
1. The Harrowing of Gwynedd (1989)
2. King Javan's Year (1992)
3. The Bastard Prince (1994)

Deryni (2)
1. In the King's Service (2003)
2. The Childe Morgan (2006)
3. No title yet ???

My reasoning for this is that honestly I like the books of Kelson more than Camber, and that may just be because I read them first. I believe Katherine Kurtz herself suggests to read them in the order they were published. Basically by the time of Kelson, Camber had become regarded as a controversial saint with quite a mind of his own, and he appears periodically throughout the stories long after his death, so it’s kind of fun to read them with him being a mystery figure, and THEN go back and read his story in Camber of Culdi. Definitely read Heirs of Saint Camber AFTER Camber of Culdi.

I think these speak to me because I like historical fiction and fantasy and those feelings mesh very nicely in these books.





I also highly recommend Kurtz’s Adept series, a different feel, modern day, but still centered on individuals with supernatural abilities, and heavily into ritual magic:

Adept (with Deborah Turner Harris)
1. The Adept (1991)
2. The Lodge of the Lynx (1992)
3. The Templar Treasure (1993)
4. Dagger Magic (1995)
5. Death of an Adept (1996)

In my opinion, these were kind of precursors to some popular series today, like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and others of similar style, and I think that fans of the magical/paranormal/mystery combination would enjoy them. I know I did!

You can check out Katherine Kurtz’ home page HERE where there is more and better information on the Deryni than I could possibly give. ;)

My listings above came from the Katherine Kurtz page of Fantasticfiction.com, one of my favorite resources!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #4 - The American Southwest or My Honeymoon

TT gave us a theme this time, and since this was something I had considered doing already, I decided now was as good a time as any! Since last week was my anniversary, I’ve decided to talk about the places we went on our honeymoon! It was a wonderful trip, and I’d really like to go back to these places and take my Mom, because I know she’d enjoy it!

1. We started off by driving down to Carlsbad, New Mexico where we spent a couple of days to go through Carlsbad Caverns. The Cavern is extensive and there are different tours of varying degrees of difficulty, in addition to the large self tour that is open all the time. If you are interested in caves, you should try to get here, you can easily spend several days if you wanted to do more than one tour, and you HAVE to stay for the bat flight in the evening! It was quite a site!
These pictures are a bit fuzzy because of the lighting. The first one is a look out across the vast room of the self-guided tour, and really doesn’t do the view justice. The next are just a few of the structures you can see, and by far not the most spectacular! We also saw several of the painted ponies, kind of like the cow parade, so I'll post the pictures of the ones we ran into, the fire pony is my favorite!



2. We made our way north next, and HAD to stop at Rosewell, New Mexico, just to say we’d been there, and to stock up on alien stuff! Check out the International UFO Museum and Research Center to fulfill all your alien needs! You can even take the virtual tour on the website, I think they show just about everything! The last pic is of my husband next to his ride to his home planet... (hey, he's the one that claims to be the alien!)



3. On the way to Albuquerque we drove through the Valley of Fires We didn't actually stop along the way, in fact didn't even know what it was, except for a sign. It seems to be a big black lava field that has since been broken up over time. I'd like to check it out next time we're out that way, it was kind of eerie!

4. Outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico we stopped at Petroglyphs National Monument and toured Bosa Negra Canyon.



5. Once in Albuquerque we visited the BioPark, which is a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden all connected to each other. This was a nice trio of attractions. The most memorable thing for me was the children’s garden, with a big topiary dragon out front, and giant veggies and bugs (and a spider!) and such behind a castle wall that makes you feel like you’re down on the level of an insect, pretty fun! That's me leaning on the potato, because who wouldn't love a giant baked potato?!



Also in Albuquerque they had a nice natural history museum, with a good dinosaur display! It was a bigger place than it looked! They even had their own version of painted ponies, painted pterosaurs (ok, I don't remember what they were actually called, but it sounded good!)



6. Chaco Canyon was an especial favorite of mine, as it was a place we'd talked about in my college anthropology classes, but that I never thought I would actually visit! They are like cliff dwellings, only on the ground, and much larger. Out in the middle of nowhere pretty much, but to me, well worth it! There are several larger sites all in the same area, the last picture is what one of the more well known of them would have looked like in it's own time period. Look at how all the stones are fit together! AMAZING! (yes, I'm an Anthropology geek, it seriously was a major experience for me, I cried...)



7. The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest are connected, and I would suggest that if you're going to the Grand Canyon as well, that you see the Painted Desert first, as anything pales in comparison after the Grand Canyon! But Painted Desert, being my first experience at colorfully layered landscape, was beautiful! There were some more petroglyphs too, actually more spectacular in my opinion that Petroglyphs monument. I believe this one was called newspaper rock, and was quite extensive, my picture is only a small portion of the work. The last picture is one of the trees all polished up.



8. Meteor Crater is another out in the middle of nowhere place, but worth stopping in at least once. You can take tours along the rim and there is an observation deck outside, but it is sometimes shut down for very high winds (over/near 100 mph?) that make the walks dangerous. The deck was closed off the day we were there unfortunately.

9. The Grand Canyon... there's not a lot more to say than WOW. It's one of those things that even when you're looking right at it, it's hard to believe it. One of the places you must try to go. I won't say that you have to take a mule tour, I don't think I could do it, but even just looking out across it is worth the visit! The last picture is of the hotel where we ate dinner several times, with a patio area that you can sit and look out across the canyon.



10. Monument Valley is the image that is often shown as the epitome of the American Southwest. I'm pretty sure most people who've seen a western in a desert setting have seen a picture of Monument Valley. We arrived too late in the day to make it to the visitor center, but just the view is amazing!



11. Mesa Verde is probably what most people think of when they hear "cliff dwellings" and I think they've earned that right! You can't get to all of these, although there are some tours you can take, like in Carlsbad, of varying degrees of difficulty, but there is also one you can get to fairly easily by walking along a switchback trail (it's paved though, not too bad at all), the rest you can see from the road, there are stopping points with overlooks and good views. Can you see the ladder/handholds in the last picture? I wouldn't have made it living in these times! (there was also a stairway at Chaco Canyon that was just carved right into the top of a cliff that it looked like you would have had to be Spider Man to stay on! It was an amazing culture!)



My last two places I don't have any handy pictures of them... why? Because the day we were there, the fog was so thick, many people were getting lost because you couldn't see the street signs! So I'll link you to their websites, I've been there many times before, but was frustrated because I really wanted to share them with my husband and couldn't! So, poor guy has been near them, but not seen them! LOL!

12. Pikes Peak I highly recommend taking the cog railway tour, rather than driving this yourself. Save the wear and tear on your car and yourself, and enjoy the ride, instead of being scared to death by it! LOL!

13. Garden of the Gods was probably the most interesting geological park I'd seen before I visited Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and it will always hold a special place in my heart, I fell in love with it the first time I went there, probably I was around 12, and I just can't go to Colorado without going there. I was SOOOOO frustrated that I couldn't share it with hubby on our honeymoon. So we'll have to go back!

Wow, this post took much longer than expected (and caused some panic as I couldn't initially find the honeymoon pictures, but the husband saved the day and found them for me! LOL! Also credit to him for finding the Valley of Fires, because I couldn't remember what it was called!) but was a much needed rewalk through one of the neatest vacations I've been on! Hope you all enjoy, and can make it to some of these magnificent places!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Movie: Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight



While watching the Dragonlance movie, I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry. About 20 minutes in, I really felt like I didn't want to bother with the rest, but I felt compelled to finish it, I guess out of loyalty or something, I don't know! LOL! I hate to say it was BAD exactly, it just wasn't what I had hoped for. It's a weird mix of traditional animation and computer animation that just doesn't really work together. The dragons and draconians are all done in Computer Graphics and actually seem very detailed and interesting, while everything else is in typical Saturday Morning cartoon looking animation. I'm sure this was to set the dragons apart and make them seem amazing, but really all it did for me was make me wonder if they could do the dragons that well, why didn't they do everything else that way? I went into it knowing it was probably going to fall far short of expectations, based on DragonGoddess' opinion, who told me that she now needs to go back and read the books to get the movie out of her head, and I think I may have to do that as well!

I won't tell anyone not to waste your time and rent it (definitely rent it before you buy it) because even knowing DG's opinion, I still had to see for myself, but don't expect too much from it. There were a few things I did like, Keifer Sutherland as Raistlin's voice for example, and I actually thought that Tasslehoff was done fairly well (not that it couldn't ALL have been A LOT better) but he was cute.

I'm not sorry I watched it, I'm just sorry it wasn't done a little differently. Would I watch a sequel? Oh, probably, again, out of loyalty, and maybe a hope that it would be better! ;)

Book Giveaway: On the Prowl - Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance and Sunny



My first giveaway! A quick note, all my giveaway books will be registered on Bookcrossing, which means that they will have a label on the inside from cover. These are already loved books, so they are not brandspanking new, but they will be in good condition. You do not have to be a Bookcrosser to enter, all I ask is that you do post a journal entry for the book when you receive it, and you can do this anonymously if you like, without becoming a member (though I will be thrilled if you decide to join!). After that, what you do with the book is up to you! Keep it or pass it along! Please leave a comment with an e-mail address on this post to enter. The winner will be chosen at random from all entries on May 1st. Thanks!

On the Prowl is collection of 4 short stories, or maybe better classified as novellas from Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance and Sunny. I was excited to give this one a try, as these were 4 authors I had heard about, and even bought books from, but had not yet tried any of them out. I am not generally a fan of short stories, but I did enjoy these very much, and they actually made me happy to try any of these authors. My favorite two stories were Alpha and Omega, and Mona Lisa Betwining. The other two, Inhuman and Buying Trouble seemed a little less solid, but I still plan to read other books by these authors.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago Pack -- and inspires a power in Anna that she's never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift, too, and it's about to be let loose.

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
In a New York auction house, a Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery redhead mage named Claire. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of Mixed Blood -- part Monere, part human, and destined to be alone. Then she meets a man who could be her salvation -- or her downfall.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Play: Rumors by Neil Simon

As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I are celebrating our 3rd Wedding Anniversary this week, and we decided to do this with dinner and play at our local New Theatre Restaurant. We saw Rumors by Neil Simon, this production starring John Davidson of Hollywood Squares and That's Incredible fame. Wow that's a bad picture that Wikipedia has of him! LOL!

The dinner was wonderful as usual, I love to go this place and always eat far too much!

The play was very humorous, another one of those hectic, everyone going nuts all at the same time type plays that are usually very fun! The basic synopsis is that 4 couples have been invited over to another couple's house to celebrate their 20th Wedding Anniversary (Wiki said 10, the people in the play tonight kept saying 20 *shrug*). When the first couple arrives, they discover the help gone, the wife missing, and the husband upstairs and bloody having shot himself, but with no idea of why any of it has happened. As each subsequent couple appears, the previous couples are trying to decide how much to let them know, and continue to make up wilder and wilder stories as to what has happened and why. Definitely a fertile field for a crazy time!

As I looked over the list of Neil Simon plays, it appears that the only other one I have actually seen (also at the New Theatre Restaurant) was Biloxi Blues, though I have heard of many of the others.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #3 - 13 Levels to YES! or The Power of Positive Thinking

Today is my third wedding anniversary (and my 3rd Thirteen woo!), so we're getting ready to go out to the dinner theater tonight. This is cause for a slimmer 13 than my previous 2, and I'm going to go a bit introspective, hope that's okay. I'm kinda going out on a limb, and am afraid it will be too... I don't know, too blech. :)

Anyone who's known me for a long time knows that I'm not the most positive person ever (understatement) and that I tend to fixate on the negative (you mean there's a positive?) aspects of things. I got so tired of people telling me that I'm the only one that can make myself happy, and that I must enjoy being depressed because I am so much, etc. Then my Dad's favorite one that just sent me through the top every time was "get over it" oh, that one made me really mad! (love you Dad! he meant well lol!)

So now I'm out on my own and married to a wonderful husband who's pretty outgoing and upbeat, and I wonder how in the world and why in the world he puts up with me. Well, maybe some of his personality is rubbing off on me, I don't know. I sure hope so! At any rate, I'm staring at being laid off for the 2nd time in 2 years, and having to go find another job, a terrifying prospect, and until I survived the first time, ranked right up there in my mind with the death of a family member or some other major disaster . I know, I know, but I've been sheltered. I'm not a fan of change. ;) The point is, you can't get stuck at OMG what will I do? You can indulge in that for a little bit, but you have to move on to a plan, even if the steps are tiny. And having done that once, I gained a lot of confidence that I can do it again. So this time when I got the news, I was extremely upset of course, because I'd just found this place that I was doing good and getting along, and bam, out of job again. Now I have something like 6 months to transition my job away and stew about it. But I moved on. I decided I was tired of being depressed, so I just wasn't going to be anymore. And THAT was a major step, and kind of a revelation for me. It's not going to be easy, but I know I'll get through it, and I've decided that I don't want this situation to have that kind of power over me. It's not something I can explain to anyone else either, to help them get there, though I certainly wish I could. I think you just have to hit a wall and refuse to go down.

Today, I broke my glasses. Not a big deal, irritating yes, but it can be taken care of, and don't get me wrong, I'm miffed, but I didn't cry, and that statement right there leads me to what my 13 is about today. When the statement "But I didn't cry" becomes a statement of success in my personal growth, developement, attitude adjustment? Whatever you want to call it! it doesn't seem like a big deal, but to me it's definitely a sign that I've won, if it can't make me cry, because I cry VERY easily!

I even had to laugh when I gave blood for the first time and got my blood type back, B+, it was like a little cosmic reminder to not let it get to you!

I often give myself pep talks in the shower *blush* and I start out from something like, "I just can't do this today" and gradually work up to "It'll be fine, one step at a time, you can do it" and this range of human determination is interesting to me, we're very resilient and dynamic. I have to say that I finally can understand it when people say to me "You're the only one that can make yourself happy" and it is the truth. It's not easy, and it doesn't always work, but you have to try, and if you try, and keep trying, you'll eventually get there. You don't have to go from 0-60 in 5 seconds, take it slow, work your way up, and you'll get there. I've seen a difference in myself, because of trying, and my best advice is to just take it slow, but keep going.

so, without further ado, and thanks for getting through my rambling, here is the 13 levels to Yes that I came up with (in the shower) and yes, I did fit them to the numbers, not the other way around! LOL!

1. I can't.
2. I won't.
3. I shouldn't.
4. I don't know.
5. I'm not sure.
6. I'll think about it.
7. Maybe.
8. It's possible.
9. I'm considering it.
10. It's more than likely
11. I probably will.
12. I really want to.
13. Yes I will, and nothing can stop me!


You don't have to go from 1-13 in one step, most people probably couldn't, but even moving up one number is a win!

Thanks for stopping by (so it wasn't as slim of a 13 as I'd thought)! Hope I wasn't too TMI for ya this time! *blush*

I'm out for the evening now, but I'll catch up with you all tomorrow!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Book: Decaffeinated Corpse (Coffeehouse Mystery #5) by Cleo Coyle


In this fifth installment of the Coffeehouse Mystery series, Matt, Clare’s ex-husband, and their old friend Ric Gostwick are about to unveil a breakthrough coffee plant, an actual botanically decaffeinated bean. Ric was attacked on his way to the Village Blend the night of their tasting, and refuses to go to the police about it, making Clare suspicious (although we know it doesn’t take much to do that!) that something is going on.

Clare and her baristas are amazed at the taste and agree to serve at the official unveiling of the coffee a few days later. Not everything is on the up and up however, as Claire soon discovers as she investigates the situation, getting back in touch with old friend Ellie Lassiter, who was assisting Ric in the development and registering of the new plant.

Detective Mike Quinn is back, and things start heating up a bit between he and Clare, finally!

I’m really enjoying this series, despite the fact that there’s not a cat, ghost or archaeological ruin to be found! ;) Lots of interesting coffee history and facts, fun characters, and some tasty sounding recipes at the back! I highly recommend. They reference past history, but the mystery itself can generally be stand alone in my opinion.

This order thus far is:

1. On What Grounds (2003)
2. Through the Grinder (2004)
3. Latte Trouble (2005)
4. Murder Most Frothy (2006)
5. Decaffeinated Corpse (2007)
6. French Pressed (2008)
7. Espresso Shot (2008)

I’m looking forward to the next ones in the series!

Interesting note: Cleo Coyle is also Alice Alfonsi, and 1/2 of Alice Kimberly, along with Marc Cerasini, who write the Haunted Bookshop series, starting with The Ghost and Mrs. McClure, which I'm looking forward to reading!
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