When you ask a person from here where to go for coffee, Nina’s Coffee Cafe (pronounced Ny-na) will always be in their top three suggestions. Every. Time. Named after Nina Clifford who once ran a brothel in the late 1800s-early 1900s in St. Paul and who has become somewhat of a legend, though most is believed to be rumors…but, ya never really know!
It is located in the historic Hill district in St. Paul, about three-ish blocks off Summit Avenue. If ever in St. Paul, cruise Summit Avenue – – it’s where the ‘old’ money lives and the houses are STUNNING! (Sidebar: Several of them give tours or you can book for weddings, parties, etc.)
Nina’s is the perfect place to meet a friend for coffee or a glass of wine, study for your latest exam, meet a colleague for quick sandwich, and on some nights, listen to live music. I have been to Nina’s twice. The first time was just by chance when I was driving around killing time while my son was at a paintball birthday party. (Is anyone else noticing how much more of a social life he has than I do?!) The second time was very intentional. I loved the warm colors, wood floors, archways, floor to ceiling windows, and the wallpaper (I know, sounds strange to ‘love’ wallpaper..but trust me..awesome!!) There is plenty of space both indoors and outdoors while maintaining that coffee shop cozy feel.
The staff is fantastic, very friendly, and quick to offer suggestions when I stood there staring indecisively. After discussing how it’s hot out and how I was in need of something sweet, she made me a caramel latte with a touch of honey. Not going to lie – – best drink ever. It helps I’m slightly obsessed with honey in my coffee. Next time I will add an extra shot of espresso. The coffee did get lost in the sweet. That is not a complaint! Just an observation. I was still very happy.
Once I get all curled up at a corner table, under giant windows, with a delicious coffee I, of course, break out a dark read. Think 1992’s Single White Female and you have the premise of The Sister (sort of), a debut novel by Louise Jensen.
Overall I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone I know who loves that kind of thriller. The first half of this book was difficult for me, mostly due to the protagonist and how naive she was to things happening around her. And for the “feel sorry for me” attitude she had. I’ve read several books where I’ve wanted to reach in and shake some sense into the main character (Mae from The Circle, anyone??) – – this is the same feeling Grace gave me for (according to my Kindle) the first 52% of the book. But then the first twist came, and this is where it started to pick up for me. I became way more invested in Grace and Charlie’s relationship, and the dynamic Anna added to it. Also, I love a good moment when you’re like, “Oh damn…please tell me they did not just think that was a good idea.” Dan delivered this moment for me and completely changed my mind about this book. Dan, Lexie, and Grace’s grandparents were great secondary characters. I loved the grandparents. I think they added the balance this book needed.
Since I prefer my reviews to be spoiler free, I won’t go into details, but the explanation of when Grace is being followed was underwhelming. I felt it could have been developed further. There was this great build and potential once it came out to be something fantastic, but I was mostly left wondering what the point was. That subplot could have been left out altogether and not hurt the story at all. It felt like a filler storyline, and I’m not a huge fan of those.
The second half of this book saved it for me. I think overall it’s a good debut novel. I think it’s worth the read even if you want to shake the main character some! The talent is there with this author so I would imagine each book will get better.
So please, check out Nina’s Coffee Cafe – even if going for the wine or history – – and give this book a shot. We all have to start somewhere and I think this was a solid first book from Louise Jensen!
I was provided an advanced copy of The Sister through NetGalley and Bookouture.
Nina’s Coffee Cafe ✰✰✰✰✰