GRIND by Edward Vukovic @RutegerJones Australian setting for a #coffee themed book.

GrindGrind by Edward Vukovic
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grind is a contemporary piece of literature set in Melbourne, Australia and follows five different characters towards an end when it is revealed how they are all connected. Throughout the story coffee is a common thread linking them all. The book is primarily written in first person from multiple points of view.

Ziva is Eastern European, with a gift of sight, she reads the signs left by the dregs in strong Turkish cups of coffee. She has come to Australia, following her brother and his wife, but she struggles to make friends and fit in.

Isaac owns a bar, he mourns the loss of his wife who died several years ago, he owns a dog he names Dante and he writes poetry.

Simon is a struggling estate agent, when he’s late for work one day a colleague takes the call about a property he’s been trying to sell for ages and makes the deal. His day gets worse when he finds the others in the office have also stolen his supply of precious coffee and it tips him over the edge, sending him on a dangerous drinking spree.

Michel is a mysterious homeless man with a shocking past and one he tries to escape, fearing violence from the bosses he stole from, he hopes his new life will keep them away, instead his past deeds return in an innocent form to haunt him.

Danielle is a schoolgirl who brushes the lives of all the other characters as they meet her one by one at a traffic light crossing.

This book takes a bit of getting into, especially as there is no indication which character each new chapter is about. The first person narrative is not necessarily the fault, but perhaps helpful chapter headings with just the character’s name would ease the reading experience. As it is, each new chapter takes a bit of time to work out who is talking and it interrupted the flow of the story for me.

The good thing is that there is plenty of rich writing to indulge in and the coffee theme is fun and well done. I particularly enjoyed Ziva’s coffee cup readings. Harder for me was the teasing out of the characters, it took a long while to understand that there were several characters and that the story had changed to someone new, meaning I had to re-read sections. We got to know the characters from their background story build ups but not from any striking dialogue or minds-eye visualisation.

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Book Description

“Ziva’s love of coffee is double-edged. Throughout her life, she gives her talent freely to those desperate for a glimpse into destiny’s promise. Predicting the future with chilling accuracy, she understands the cost and has sworn never to divine her own truth. Having fled the economic aftershocks of the Balkan war, she struggles adjusting to her new life and clings to the remnants of her past, until she meets Isaac. Against her better judgement, Ziva ‘reads’ for herself and what she sees will change her life irrevocably.

Told from the perspective of multiple characters, Grind follows the plight of Ziva, an ordinary immigrant with an extraordinary gift, and highlights the impact we have on each other through the interconnectedness of chance encounters.”

About the author

Edward Vukovic

Edward Vukovic is a Melbourne-based writer and novelist. He has work published across numerous publications including The Journal, The Adviser, The Roar and Shoot Farken. When he’s not writing about his poor parenting skills or fantasy football you will most likely find him hurling instructions at the television, steadfast in his belief that the players of whatever sport he’s watching at the time are actually listening to his ranting.

Edward is married to his wonderful and talented wife Vesna and is a proud, if sometimes bewildered, father to his amazing son Oliver.

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe @ScreamingMagpie #coffee #bookreview

Today’s team review comes from Suraya, find her at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Suraya chose to read and review From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

Review for

From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe

By Robert Leigh


Here’s a fact about coffee. Starbucks sells 3,861,778,846 cups per year. Consider all the other companies that sell coffee and that is an extraordinary amount of coffee circulating in the world economy. Here are a couple more statistics. Finland tops the coffee consumption chart at 9.6 kg per capita per year and Americans average almost one cup a day, slightly less than New Zealand.

So if you, like me, drink coffee and have never given much thought to the journey it has made from plantation to your cup this is the book for you and shame on you (and me) for taking such an important commodity for granted.

Robert Leigh, author of From Lime Street to Yigacheffe is subtitled, ‘a true story of sorts’.

It was definitely more an account of a trip to Ethiopia to follow the coffee trail than fiction so I would say it is a true story rather than one ‘of sorts’. It read more like a travelogue with commentary about the social story behind coffee’s journey from plantation to cup. He may have qualified his story in order to duck around some of his social and political commentary. There was not much political comment but there was a considerable amount about social conditions in Ethiopia.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with Robert and his host through Ethiopia to the coffee plantations and processing factories. What really amazed me was the amount of work done by hand, not mechanised. He is somewhat dismayed by the young people working long days at this gruelling, mind numbing, processing work.

At some point in the process, each seed is graded by hand. Yes, Robert very early in his account points out that what we call beans are in fact ‘seeds’.

One of the things about this book that I thoroughly enjoyed were the descriptions of the Ethiopian landscape, the people’s social life and even that they operate to a calendar with 13 months in the year.

It was a journey into a way of life where rich and poor sit side by side.

This quote captures that: “The dark may have dampened detail, but the juxtaposition of rich and poor was still clear – the single light hanging above the corrugated door of the shanty, the shanty drowned in the light of the hotel or the apartment block looming above.” (108)

Our daily cups of coffee make many people wealthy. However, if we go to the source there is a lot we could do to improve the lot of the grower who feeds our addiction.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable insight into the life of the coffee seed.

4.5 stars

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by @ScreamingMagpie #Coffee #Bookreview

Today’s second team review comes from Terry, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry chose to read and review From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh


From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

4 out of 5 stars

In November 2013, Robert Leigh travelled to Ethiopia with a brief to write a paper on the country’s coffee industry.  Leigh takes us on a 6000km journey from Lime Street Station in Liverpool to Addis Ababa, through the Rift Valley and on to the southern region of Yirgacheffe.

Not having been anywhere much myself, I love to read travel memoirs about faraway places and lifestyles so different to my own. I found Robert Leigh’s descriptions of life in Ethiopia fascinating, and the workings of the coffee industry out there equally so, though the system by which the farmers are forced to sell their produce is an absolute scandal; however, I am reviewing this book, not the industry – that was Leigh’s job! His portrayal of characters he meets, his driver, Sammi, the charming Endale and other incidental ones added colour to the account. What I liked about this book was the observations about the life of the ordinary people out there; it was a real education.

Although I read the book avidly because the subject matter interested me so much, I found the writing rather flat at times with the inclusion of mundane detail that did not add to the story. How the author came about getting the job was a sensible start, but every detail of his checking through customs, ordering a cup of coffee, etc, was finely described. I never knew what John, the guide throughout the trip, was actually like, because his reported conversation was so information heavy. Having said this, though, I felt Leigh got into his stride in the second half of the book, when it becomes looser, more ‘real’ and more amusing.

Despite my slight reservations, I’d recommend this book if you have any interest in the subject; it taught me a lot. My only other disappointment came when I told my husband about it; he’s a coffee snob – whoops, sorry, I mean a coffee connoisseur – and, when I began to (proudly) relate what I had learned he said, “Oh yeah, Yirgacheffe, there’s some in the cupboard.” He even knew all about the difference between the dark and light roast. Oh well!

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A Place In The World by Cinda MacKinnon

A Place in the WorldA Place in the World by Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Place in the World is set in Colombia and begins in 1971. Alicia Carvallo is the 22 year old wife of Jorge. They live on a coffee finca which is like a farm or plantation. The moment I read the description of the finca being in a cloud forest I began falling in love with the beauties described. The flaura and fauna were so well written that you could almost hear the birds calling and feel the moisture on the leaves.

The finca is known as Las Nubes, there is no mains electric, no piped water, no telephone, and the roads are often just tracks. The couple moved to the finca when they got married and we learn all about coffee growing as Alicia discovers the wonders around her. She takes notes and sketches and years later her notes show rare and undiscovered species of life.

They live a simple life, they have Carmen to cook and keep house for them and locals help pick the coffee during harvest, the cloud forest is ideal as it provides a constant growing season for the coffee. There are hardships too; a road accident, bandits and the Charimpo volcano which erupts covering the ground in ash and burning the coffee plants with acid rain. But through all this the author fills you with the Colombian people, their way of life and how they accept outsiders.

I enjoyed the role of Peter an American prospector who came in and out of their lives, plus the outside influences on their lives; the coffee trade at the mercy of politics, the weather and the market. We heard that as soon as the market price rose the Colombian government increased taxes on coffee forcing small farmers to make decisions for their families which led to them growing drugs to keep them out of debt, this encouraged the drug cartels to be even more powerful.

This book took me to a new world, that I’d never given much thought to and I really enjoyed it.

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Cinda will be our guest here on the blog tomorrow, do come back and read more about her and her book.

My Year of doing good, May 1st

So having managed to complete a couple of weeks of doing good deeds. I head in to May. For those of you who are bamboozled by this post, it all started when I read a book called “A Year of Doing Good” by Judith O’Reilly. It inspired me to start my own attempt to do a good deed a day for the year. Here is a link to my post about her book I’ll be posting my weekly reports on my challenge on Sunday’s, it feels like an appropriate day.

A Year of Doing Good: One Woman, One New Year's Resolution, 365 Good Deeds. by Judith O'Reilly

May 1st – Whilst visiting my Mother I helped her sort out a few snags on her computer. Blogged about the May edition of Fleet Life where I have a monthly page of book reviews, 5 authors got a free promotion for their books today! I know it made at least one of them have an unexpected smile on their face! Made a date to meet up with some of my anti-natal group (No! I don’t have something to tell you!) We’ve been friends now for over 16 years!

May 2nd – After the busy April A to Z Challenge, today I returned with a guest author interview on the blog, Donna Childree, got her moment of fame today. Made lots of new friends during the challenge who I now regularly keep in touch with over the net. Sent a good friend an e-mail to keep in touch.

May 3rd – Instead of procrastinating I actually loaded up my car with filled bags and boxes for the charity shop and delivered them today. Part of me felt relieved that I’d done my good deed, the rest of me squirmed in anguish at my haste to throw things out, what if I need it? Posted another guest author interview, today Melda Beaty got a chance to shine. Signed up for several more blogs in a post AtoZ Challenge day of reflection.

May 4th – With the weekend upon us I didn’t know where I would find the chance to do my good deed today, but I found 2! Firstly I remembered to take a large bag of dead batteries with me when I went out so that I could dispose of them at the supermarket in the special collection unit. (This should mean that they don’t go into landfill waste) Then there was the opportunity to make a donation to the RSPCA who were collecting just outside of the store.

Good deeds

May 5th – Wrote a letter to a friend whom I haven’t caught up with for a while, and visited new friends on the blogging scene.

May 6th – Bank Holiday Monday, and I struggled to find a good deed today. The only things that count are spending an hour with my Mum and popping another coin in to my slowly filling jam jar. Some how it didn’t feel enough.

May 7th – Today I wrote a 5* review of a book called “The Doctor’s Deceit” It’s written by Kathy Steinemann and she’d asked me to review it. It is a sequel to her book “Vanguard of Hope” which started from a set of diaries. The  review was based on what I read and I thought the book was very well written. It deals with rape and sexual abuse victims in America in the 1800’s and also tackles racial abuse. The Sapphire Brigade are a secret society who try to help the victims and deliver justice.  After I’d written the review Kathy told me that she is going to keep writing these books to help support other victims. Her third book is going to involve letters from victims in today’s world which she hopes to incorporate into her book, thus giving them a place to vent their feelings. I’m glad I gave Kathy this review and hope that it will help raise awareness for her books and her cause.

May 8th – Baked cakes to take round to have with coffee at a friend’s house. Still visiting several bloggers everyday and leaving comments.

May 9th – Picked up litter at the park. (realised I often pick up litter without giving it much thought )Posted a book cover release post for an author and a book review for another.

May 10th – Spent the evening getting frozen to the bone, whilst watching my son’s cricket match. Was able to help clear everything away at the end as my good deed today. (Amazing how many people suddenly have something better to do when clearing up need doing!)

May 11th – Made a donation whilst I was out to a charity helping injured troops with prosthetic limbs and high spec wheelchairs.