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Rachel Hyland Posts

READING THE TBR, DAY 222: Cremas, Christmas Cookies, and Crooks (2017) by Harper Lin

After a whole book in which no one died at all, Francesca the Possible Serial Killer is back in action when a despised drama teacher is murdered at the local high school. The story is a pretty good one, full of juicy gossip and so much tension between Fran and the increasingly fed up Mike, who is furious that she keeps doubting his arrests of guilty citizens and then running around town investigating on her own.

The fact that she keeps proving him wrong just makes it worse.

At this point, it feels like the next murder in this series is going to be Fran’s, and Mike is going to be the prime suspect.


TBR DAY 222: Cremas, Christmas Cookies, and Crooks (Cape Bay Cafe #6) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
KEEP: I’ll pass it on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 221: Americanos, Apple Pies, and Art Thieves (2017) by Harper Lin

At last, a murder-free mystery in Cape Bay! Instead, it’s a robbery of precious art, as a total asshole of a modern artist disdainfully gives a show in the small town for flimsy reasons. Fran solves all, of course. (Sorry, Mike the Disgruntled Cop. Be better at your job and Fran won’t have to get so involved!)

More important than the mystery this time out is the doings at the cafe, because apparently Thanksgiving — which fast approaches in this world — is apple pie season at Antonia’s, and the apple pie sounds so delectable that is all I can really think about now, hours after finishing this book.

In fact, I’m going to go eat some now.


TBR DAY 221: Americanos, Apple Pies, and Art Thieves (Cape Bay Cafe #5) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
KEEP: I’ll pass it on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 220: Lattes, Ladyfingers, and Lies (2016) by Harper Lin

This is a pretty twisty turny installment in this light-as-a-latte mystery series, though it is getting to be a bit unbelievable that this tiny town should have so much crime, not to mention homicide.

Are we sure Fran isn’t the murderer here? Because it seems like she might be the murderer. All this death only started after she returned to town, after all.

Here, a jewellery story clerk is killed, presumably in the course of a robbery in which a huge and valuable diamond ring is stolen, and while Fran tries to stay out of it, excited for her forthcoming trip to Italy with boyfriend Matt, she naturally gets drawn into the web of deceit and awful people that surround the mystery.

A quick note on secondary characters — Fran’s employee Sammy’s burgeoning relationship with the handsome new cop in town, Ryan, is very cute.


TBR DAY 220: Lattes, Ladyfingers, and Lies (Cape Bay Cafe #4) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
KEEP: I’ll pass it on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 219: Margaritas, Marzipan, and Murder (2015) by Harper Lin

There’s been yet another death in quiet Cape Bay, but this one is ruled a suicide by local cop Mike Stanton, Fran’s high school friend who is getting increasingly frustrated with her insistence on getting involved with his cases.

Fran ignores Mike’s orders to stay out of it, convinced that the victim did not commit suicide — who buys souvenirs and then kills themselves? she reasons — and uncovers various secrets around town, endangering herself in the process. She gets it all wrong for a while, but comes to figure it all out in the end. The dude was murdered!

Poor Mike.  


TBR DAY 219: Margaritas, Marzipan, and Murder (Cape Bay Cafe #3) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
KEEP: I’ll pass it on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 218: Tea, Tiramasu and Tough Guys (2015) by Harper Lin

Before the events of the previous Cape Bay Cafe novel there had not been a murder in this idyllic tourist coastal town forever. But here is a second one in the space of a month, this one outside a local gym, with the gym’s buff owner the prime suspect.

But Todd — of course that is his name — was our amateur sleuth Fran’s high school crush, so naturally she is determined to help clear his name, even as Matty, childhood friend and current love interest, is determined to prove his guilt.

Unlike the last one, I definitely figured out the culprit and motive long before Fran in this one, but I still enjoyed watching her figure it out. And I liked how we got so much information about tea in this book, as Fran added it to the cafe’s menu.

I like tea. 


TBR DAY 218: Tea, Tiramisu and Tough Guys (Cape Bay Cafe #2) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
KEEP: I’ll pass it on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 217: Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse (2015) by Harper Lin

Returning from Manhattan to her small Massachusetts home town to run her family’s cafe after her mother’s death, Francesca Amaro — Fran — is embroiled in the mystery of her elderly neighbour’s death, and embarks on a romance with said neighbour’s son.

It’s all very improbable, but boy did I enjoy this fast and easy read. I did not even come close to working out the killer — because I don’t think I was given enough information to do so — but from the bright and breezy atmosphere to the gentle childhood friends-to-lovers romance to the secondary characters that populate this sweet little town, this book was as delicious as the food served at Antonia’s Italian Cafe sounded.

I have eight of these books in my possession. EIGHT. And I can’t wait to delve into the next one.


TBR DAY 217: Cappuccinos, Cupcakes and a Corpse (Cape Bay Cafe #1) by Harper Lin
GENRE: Mystery, Cosy Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year.  
PURCHASED FROM: Given to me by Alice, a fellow cosy mystery fan.
KEEP: I’ll probably pass it on, too.

READING THE TBR, DAY 216: An Easy Death (2018) by Charlaine Harris

I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Charlaine Harris. For a long time — a decade, really — I was devoted to her Sookie Stackhouse stories, eschewing the television version entirely because it diverged far too much from the prosaic-meets-fantastical first person narration she gave her main character (Sookie was always painstakingly describing her household chores before heading off to meet with vampires and almost die again and again). I also enjoyed her necromancing, and step-sibling romancing, Harper Connolly books, and even the muddle that was Midnight Crossroads, with its array of supernatural creatures with SECRETS, people. SO MANY SECRETS.

But given that I hated the ending she gave to the Sookie saga, and in fact had been souring on that series long before it at last came to an end after the ill-fated Book 13, I wasn’t too sure I’d ever embark on another series with her ever again. But then this landed in my “Recommendations for You” panel on Amazon (that algorithm knows me so well; too well; better than anyone actually alive, possibly), and of course I had to buy it. Because it was Charlaine Harris and a gun-toting badass in the lawless lands of an alternate America, and how could I resist?

I’m so glad I didn’t.

Down Texoma way, at just nineteen, “Gunnie” Lizbeth Rose is a dependable and determined hired gun, trusted to get travellers to where they are going across the bandit-plagued expanses of nothingness between New America, the Holy Russian Empire and the various other divisions that make up the landmass once known as the USA. After a particularly lethal run in with some desperadoes, Lizbeth finds herself without a crew, and so agrees to take some Grigoris — Russian magicians, like with real magic and all, because of Rasputin — across the land to seek out the one man whose blood may help cure the Tsar.

When I tell you that our Gunnie’s own blood might also have some skin in that game, it won’t be much of a surprise, nor will the fact that she and one of the searching magicians get naked together pretty speedily, but what is a surprise is how action packed and well-wrought this adventuresome and perilous tale of survival is, as will the fact that Gunnie’s voice, while eerily similar to Sookie’s (it is uncertain whether Harris can ever give her first person heroine an entirely different one), is nevertheless eminently engaging, even when she is… well, painstakingly describing her household chores before heading off to meet with vampires wizards and almost die again and again. 

For all its similarities to Harris’s biggest success, however, I read this through in one breathless sitting, and will very happily embark upon the sequel as soon as I can get my hands on it. I just hope the story doesn’t drag out over thirteen books and in the end, Gunnie ends up settling down with, like, her neighborhood dry cleaner or something. 

Not again, Harris! Not again.


TBR DAY 216: An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1) by Charlaine Harris
GENRE: Fantasy, Alternate History
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 years.  
KEEP: Yep.

READING THE TBR, DAY 215: Song of Solomon (2004) by Toni Morrison

I’ve always meant to read Toni Morrison. She’s one of the most acclaimed American authors of all time, and is considered an important voice in African American fiction. If not the voice.

For these reasons and more, I wish I liked this book. But I just… didn’t. The story of Macon “Milkman” Dead and his exploration of identity across the middle decades of the twentieth century, it is a lyrical book, a profound book, even, but it is bleak, it is depressing, and it is so full of burgeoning race war that it’s just super upsetting all the way through. 

That’s the whole point, of course.

And I get it.

It’s a work of genius, I know that.

I just didn’t like it.


TBR DAY 215: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
GENRE: Literary Fiction
TIME ON THE TBR: ~15 years.  
KEEP: Probably not.

READING THE TBR, DAY 215: Night Nurse (1972) by Jean Thomas

When I learned that the character of Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson in the Netflix Marvel series — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders — is based partially on the 1970s character Night Nurse, of course I had to find out more about her. After all, Claire was the best thing about most of those series, at least until they tried to make her a martial arts badass, and I loved the idea that so many decades ago Marvel had produced a mini-series based on a nursing professional with zero superpowers.

And Night Nurse — Linda Carter; the character was created before actress Lynda Carter personified Wonder Woman, it should be noted — indeed has no powers, but as the first port of call for superheroes who are injured and who, unsurprisingly, can’t seek help in your average emergency room, she is an important figure in comic land. And, her existence fills a pretty major franchise-wide plot hole, when you think about it.

This 4-issue series mostly revolves around Linda’s dedication to her job, and her jerk of a fiance who tries to make her give up her vocation just to care for him. (Bye, Jerk Fiance!) It’s quaint, and very much a product of its time, especially given our heroine’s Halloween-esque figure-hugging white uniform, but the secondary characters — fellow nurses — up the diversity quota, and the cameos by various injured heroes keeps the adrenaline pumping as Night Nurse is faced with medical emergencies surely outside the scope of her training. 

A Daredevil issue, also featuring Night Nurse, is also bundled into this collection, and that is pretty great, too, especially as it gives a bit more reason as to why Dr. Claire Temple, of comic fame, would have devolved into Nurse Claire Temple on the small screen.

At least Nurse Claire wears scrubs. 


TBR DAY 215: Night Nurse by Jean Thomas; illustrated by Winslow Mortimer and Alex Maleev
GENRE: Comics, Marvel, Medical
PUBLISHED: 1972 (reprint 2015)
TIME ON THE TBR: ~2 years.  
KEEP: Sure.

READING THE TBR, DAY 214: A Prefect’s Uncle (1903) by P. G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse’s second novel, and second school book, brings up a very modern family issue in an old world context. A senior schoolboy at a select boarding school is told that his uncle is coming to visit — but that uncle, it transpires, is a cheeky young thing newly enrolled in the school, several years behind his nephew, as the product of a late marriage. 

Gethryn’s troubles with his uncle, the rapscallion Farnie, are legion, and the book is often hilarious, much funnier than The Pothunters and showing even more of the dexterity with dialogue for which Wodehouse would become justly famous. Of course, I still didn’t get all of it — especially not the callousness of these schoolboys, not to mention the casual violence — but it was a highly enjoyable read, nonetheless.


TBR DAY 214: A Prefect’s Uncle by P. G. Wodehouse
GENRE: Humour, YA
TIME ON THE TBR: 4 years.  
KEEP: Yes.