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review 2016-07-07 10:01
Grace Sees Red (Manor House Mystery, #7)
Grace Sees Red - Julie Hyzy

I always enjoy July Hyzy's writing and Grace Sees Red wasn't an exception, even if the mystery plot relied completely on the "friend in peril" trope.

 

The mystery in this one is the murder of an old cantankerous goat of a man at a very posh assisted living facility in a neighbouring town.  We learn about Grace's assistant's long-standing secret about where she spends her weekends at the same time we learn she's the number one suspect in the murder.    The basis for suspicion felt a bit weak to me from the start, and I've always thought Frances needed her ears boxed - the author takes cranky a bit too far to be loveable - but otherwise I love the characters, so it was easy enough to overlook.  I didn't figure out who the real bad guy was though, and I count that as a win.

 

Hyzy never goes the expected route with romantic interests so Grace is still a free agent and we are introduced to a new possible romance, one that has potential to be interesting.  So even though it looks from the last line of the book that we're going to be recycling a previous plot (the sister - she's back!), I'm still firmly on board for book 8.

 

(This book qualifies for the Book published in June, July or August of 2016 in Summer Book Bingo.)

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review 2016-01-11 11:24
Foreign Éclairs (White House Chef Mysteries, #9)
Foreign Éclairs - Julie Hyzy

The bad news is that this is the last book in what is a very, very well written cozy series.  There aren't enough good cozy series left out there and the loss of one is disappointing.  

 

The good news is that this was the author's decision and as such, this book is written with no loose ends and for that I am thankful.  It's bad enough to lose a good series, but for it to end abruptly, with stories half-told, is an insult on top of injury.

 

Hyzy doesn't own the copyright on this series or the characters, so while the story brings us to a good place for a series end, it's also left in an interesting place that allows for someone (Hyzy, one hopes, after obtaining copyright on what is arguably her own work) to someday bring Ollie and Gav back into the thick of things where they belong.

 

The plot is action packed, fast paced - almost a cozy thriller.  It's got a bit of an out-there plot like a thriller too, but it works within the confines of the world Hyzy has created from the first.  This isn't really a mystery at all; we always know who the perpetrators are and what they want; it's just a matter of what the solution will ultimately cost our MC.  The final part of the roller coaster plot was gripping and left me with a bit of an adrenaline rush.

 

Thank you, Julie Hyzy, for 9 wonderful adventures with Ollie. I'm gonna miss her and Gav, although I'll revisit them often in my re-reads.

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text 2016-01-08 06:56
TBR Thursday - January 8
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
Foreign Éclairs - Julie Hyzy
Copy Cap Murder - Jenn McKinlay
Daisies For Innocence - Bailey Cattrell
Sweet Pepper Hero - J.J. Cook
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris - Graham Robb
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks
The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure - John Lloyd,John Mitchinson
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs - Brian Switek

So I bought a few books this week.

 

I actually have 11, but I didn't want to create two posts, so I left off Essential Oils for a Clean and Healthy Home by Kasey Schwartz since I've already gone through it, noted which things to try first and reviewed it.

 

The first two are Folio editions of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  They match, although the cover images look different.  I'm feeling a Jane Austen re-read coming on soon.

 

New cozies arrived today:

Foreign Éclairs - Julie Hyzy:  I'm sad about this one.  I've just read a post from the author that this will be the last in this series.  She created it on a write-for-hire contract and over time she's begun to have a lot of struggles with the company who owns the copyright, so she's hanging up Oliie's whisks. I love this series and it's one of the few that I can say that about anymore.

 

Copy Cap Murder - Jenn McKinlay:  We'll see.

 

Daisies For Innocence - Bailey Cattrell:  A new one by an author whose work I've enjoyed in the past.

 

Sweet Pepper Hero - J.J. Cook:  Another one I'm sort of sad about.  Although maybe for no reason.  This is written by a husband/wife team and the wife half, Joyce Lavene, passed away this year.  It remains to be seen whether the series will continue.  I've had issues with earlier books, but I've had such a crush on the ghost in the book (in a non-creepy kind of way), Eric, that I find I can forgive a lot.

 

I usually do a cozy cull each year to whittle down the list of series I follow, but I think this year is going to be particularly brutal, as I've come to realise I'm reading a lot of books that don't really ring my bell; I used to do it willingly because buying online, it was hard to justify taking my chances on a new genre/subject I might not like.  Now thanks to BookLikes friends, I don't have to worry about running out of the good stuff; my stacks overfloweth with the good stuff.  I need to get some ALL of the crap cozies out of here and just keep the ones that are actually worth reading.

 

The last four were impulse/browsing purchases made at my local bookstore while MT was spending a gift voucher he got for Christmas (how does that work?  *I'm* the bookaholic and *he* gets the gift card?!?).

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb.  It just sounded good.

 

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks has actually been on my "Maybe" shelf forever.  Saw it and bought it.

 

The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd: This promises to be amusing.  Hopefully the flap isn't lying.

 

My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek:  Because who doesn't love dinosaurs?  And I've always been bitter about science renaming the Brontosaurus.  Ranks right up there with demoting Pluto.

 

Total books bought this week:  11

Total books read this week:  7

Total physical TBR: 188

 

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review 2015-07-30 07:32
Grace Cries Uncle (Manor House Mystery, #6)
Grace Cries Uncle - Julie Hyzy

I like Julie Hyzy's writing style, although I enjoy her White House Chef mystery more than this one.  They're definitely cozies but the characters are allowed to have some depth of personality and I appreciate that after a never ending stream of often two-dimensional MCs.

 

This depth of character is what got this book it's fourth star.  Grace has been estranged from her sister since she took off with Grace's fiancé and never really got along with her before that.  Now her sister's back and needs a place to stay.  Cozy mystery cliché says the sisters have deep-felt, meaningful conversations, band together to solve the mystery and bury the hatchet once and for all to live in sisterly harmony.  Which is a complete and utter load of crap and thankfully the author doesn't try to make the reader swallow it.  I know that in a perfect world, siblings love and respect each other but the reality is they often don't.  Grace doesn't sugarcoat anything with her sister and the ending isn't an HEA poster for sibling love, either.  This spot of realism elevated the read, in my opinion.  

 

The mystery was good, but I guessed the ending pretty early on.  You win some, you lose some.

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text 2015-07-10 05:57
TBR Thursday - July 9
A Study in Death - Anna Lee Huber
The Royal Assassin - Kate Parker
Grace Cries Uncle - Julie Hyzy
A Batter of Life and Death - Ellie Alexander
Sense of Deception - Victoria Laurie

In the last 12 months I've been incredibly lucky that I've been able to travel overseas twice for extended holidays, both of which were so fun I read little to none each day, which is rather a new experience for me.  

 

I mention this because I have to confess: my TBR pile is starting to freak me out just a little bit.

 

The first trip, taken last July, I read only 2-3 books but came home with over 40 new ones (Friends of the Library sales, how I love thee).  The trip I just returned from, I read one book and came home with/to 19.  And of course, there's been loads of acquisitions in the intervening months; months where I bought more than I've read.

 

I'm not only failing to maintain, but I'm rapidly losing ground in a way that is making my TBR piles resemble kudzu.

 

This week, the 5 listed above arrived and I've read 2.  A Study in Death arrived today and I'm so excited about that one I'll knock it off easily in the next day or so, but still... kudzu.

 

Not, admittedly, so freaked out that I'm going to do anything crazy, like buy fewer books. Let's not be rash.

 

 

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