Posted in Historical, Loved It, Mystery, Uncategorized

Jane and the Waterloo Map

Author:     Stephanie Barron

Genre:      Mystery, cozy

Rating:    L

Synopsis

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

 

Opinion

It’s been far too long since Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas was published.  For those of you who don’t read a lot of Austen, one of her books, Emma was dedicated to the Prince Regent, a man Austen was known to dislike.  The beginning of this book explores how Jane ended up dedicating her book to this royal.  In this book we are introduced to the character James Stanier Clarke, who bears a passing resemblance to Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (though by this point in the timeline, this book has already been published.) There were some interesting character developments in this book.  For starters, Jane seems to have replaced Lord Harold Trowbridge with her regard for Mr. Raphael West (who was introduced in the last book).  It’s really not surprising.  Both men possessed formidable intellects.  In addition, both men were secret agents.  Also, Jane’s niece Fanny plays a part in the investigation.  It seems as though Jane might actually have a real sidekick.  Although Jane was close to her sister, Cassandra wasn’t the sort to have the adventures with Jane.

The Waterloo Map.  I was really hoping that there was such an item that was lost in the antiquities of time.  Alas, it is not so!!!  But what a thought, that Napoleon might have concealed a treasure in Russia during his retreat.

I’m beginning to get a little bit sad with regards to this series.  About 4 of Jane’s novels have been published.  So that means we are getting nearer to her death, and nearer to the end of this series.

With regards to this book, I decided to read it quite slowly and savor it, particularly as it will be a while before the next book comes out. I did not figure out who dunnit until the very end.  I was pretty shocked actually.

This was a great read.  I loved it!

Posted in Liked It, Mystery

The Moonstone Legacy:  The Age of Aquarius

Author: Tony Wild and Diane  de Gunzburg
Genre: Mystery
Rating: LI
Synopsis:

In a sacred caved high in the mountains of northern India, a white-haired hermit sits cross-legeed, and signs his final testament: “George Abercrombie, 1874…”. In present-day England, fourteen years old Lizzy Abercrombie’s mother dies in a tragic accident on the full moon. But was it really an accident? LIzzy discovers that her death may be linked to a mysterious family curse. Determined to solve the mystery, her quest takes her from the doomed Anglo-Indian mansion on the Yorkshire moors to India where she uncovers the terrible truth about her ancestor and a stole inheritance. But her discoveis put her in mortal danger from a ruthless enemy.  

Opinion:  This was the last book of the trilogy.  This part of the book details the actions Lizzie takes to deal with the Moonstone once and for all.  She seems to succeed, but with the Moonstone, you never know what the next adventure will be.  

The second and third books seemed like they belonged together.  The first one, I dunno, seemed more like a set up for the other books.  Although this book was a decent read, it was my least favorite of the three books.  I really liked the first one the best.

Posted in Loved It, Mystery

Malice at the Palace

 

Author:     Rhys Bowen

Genre:       Mystery

Rating:       L

Synopsis:
From the New York Times betselling author of Queen of Hearts comes another mystery for “fans of P.G. Wodehouse looking for laughs mingled with some amateur sleuthing.” (Publishers Weekly) Lady Georgiana Rannoch won’t deny that being thirty-fifth in line for the British throne has its advantages. Unfortunately, money isn’t one of them. And sometimes making ends meet requires her to investigate a little royal wrongdoing. While my beau Darcy is off on a mysterious mission, I am once again caught between my high birth and empty purse. I am therefore relieved to receive a new assignment from the Queen—especially one that includes lodging. The King’s youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and I shall be her companion at the supposedly haunted Kensington Palace. My duties are simple: help Marina acclimate to English life, show her the best of London and, above all, dispel any rumors about George’s libertine history. Perhaps that last bit isn’t so simple. George is known for his many affairs with women as well as men—including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But things truly get complicated when I search the Palace for a supposed ghost only to encounter an actual dead person: a society beauty said to have been one of Prince George’s mistresses. Nothing spoils a royal wedding more than murder, and the Queen wants the whole matter hushed. But as the investigation unfolds—and Darcy, as always, turns up in the most unlikely of places—the investigation brings us precariously close to the prince himself.

Opinion:  I really liked the fact that this story really starts to progress the series.  I mean from the standpoint of character development.  One thing I will say about the previous books is that the characters really didn’t seem to change much.  Well, this book is completely different.  Georgie’s older brother changes in that he makes it more clear that Georgie has a home with him.  Belinda changes because she gets herself into an interesting predicament for a woman during that time; and there will be repurcussions for quite some time.  Then there is Georgie’s mother who finally takes note of the fact that her daughter is penniless and tells her to ask if she ever needs anything.  (I personally think she should just give her daughter an allowance, but that’s me).  Lastly there is Georgie and Darcy.  They’ve been playing the we-are-engaged-but-some-times-it’s-not-so-clear dance for ages.  It’s finally nice to see some closure to that.  There was an interesting supernatural element to the story that has not been present in the previous books.  What I particularly liked was the fact that most of the story took place at Kensington Palace where Prince William and Duchess Kate have the 1A apartment.  The mystery didn’t take place in that particular apartment though.  

Another great read by the author.  I cannot wait to see what she does with Darcy and Georgie in the next book.  

Posted in Advanced Review, Mystery, Rated S

The Moonstone Legacy- part 1

Author: Tony Wild and Diane de Gunzburg The Moonstone Legacy

Rating: S

Genre: Mystery

I finally got this book. I despaired that I’d ever get to read it. This book is a continuation of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The last line of that book is who can say what the next adventure of the Moonstone will be? If you recall from Collin’s book, the Moonstone was cursed. Anyway who possessed it had great tragedy befall them on the night of a fully moon.

The story begins with Lizzy Abercrombie holding her mother while she is dying. Lizzy’s father is the younger of a pair of twins. As a result, Lizzy has grown up rather poor while her twin cousins Samuel and Samantha have had everything. One day Lizzy overhears her uncle and father discussing the family curse. A curse that occurs on a full moon. Lizzy starts looking into the curse.

Later on, Lizzy sees her uncle visiting a person he claims he does not remember. Unfortunately her uncle spots her. So he decides to send her to the private boarding school Sam and Samantha attend. There Lizzy meets the son of a well known Indian movie director. She tells her new friend about the family curse. During the holiday, Lizzy ends up being invited to India by her new friend. She takes the opportunity to find out more about the Moonstone and her ancestor George Abercrombie.

But Lizzy is in danger, although she does not realize it at the time. It turns out that she’s not the only person looking for the Moonstone, although she is the only person looking for it for altruistic reasons. I’m not going to tell you more of the plot except to say that Lizzie partially succeeds in her mission. This is the first book in this trilogy.

This was an excellent book. There was more than one mystery in this story. The other one is more of a subplot. I have a feeling that it will become a bigger part of the next book. I liked the fact that there wasn’t much teen angst. I do think it is interesting that even in British teen books there are love triangles. Not that I thought Americans had the corner on the market. But this book is definitely a page turner.

Posted in Loved It, Mystery, Regency

The Suspicion at Sanditon

  

Author:     Carrie Bebris

Genre:       Mystery

Rating:      L

Synopsis:

Suspicion at Sanditon, a new adventure in Carrie Bebris’s award-winning Mr.&Mrs. Darcy Mystery series takes Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy to Sanditon, the setting of Jane Austen’s final work. There, accompanied by their friend Miss Charlotte Heywood, they encounter an array of eccentric villagers and visitors. Among Sanditon’s most prominent residents: Lady Denham, a childless, twice-widowed dowager with a fortune to bequeath and a flight of distant relations circling for a place in her will.

The Darcys have scarcely settled into their lodgings when Lady Denham unexpectedly invites them to a dinner party. Thirteen guests assemble at Sanditon House-but their hostess never appears. As a violent storm rises, a search for Lady Denham begins. The Darcys, like most of their fellow attendees, speculate that one of her ladyship’s would-be heirs has grown impatient .?.?. until the guests start to vanish one by one.

Does a kidnapper lurk in the centuries-old mansion, or is a still more sinister force at work? As the night grows short, the dwelling’s population grows thin, and tales of Sanditon House’s storied past emerge, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy find themselves leading a desperate effort to discover what has happened to Lady Denham and the missing guests, before they all-perhaps even Elizabeth and Darcy themselves-disappear.

The Regency era’s answer to Nick and Nora Charles, the Darcys once again demonstrate their quick wits and signature wit as they search for the truth-universally acknowledged and otherwise.

Opinion:  Sanditon is the only novel that Jane Austen did not finish.  I have read the attempts of “Another Lady” to finish the novel.  She did an excellent job.  I thought it was quite interesting that Ms. Bebris also paired the same two characters in the original story.  

As for the story.  I really enjoyed it.  At one point, I was scratching my head because so many characters were going missing.  It didn’t occur to me that there was more than one plot afoot in this whole escapade.  One of the culprits, I should have guess based upon what I knew of the original Sanditon novel as well as Sanditon completion.  The other culprit never occurred to me. 

This was definitely an enjoyable read.  

The only question left is what will be the subject of Ms. Bebris’ next novel?  My money is on her writing a mystery about the infamous Lady Susan or perhaps she will tackle Love and Freindship.  I think Lady Susan is more likely as there is a lot more story there.  

Posted in Mystery, Rated LI

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Author:     Stephanie Barron

Genre:     Mystery

Rating:     LI

Synopsis:

Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful murder mystery set over the twelve days of a Regency-Era Christmas party.

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  One of the things that I really liked about this book, is the whole 12 days of Christmas concept.  I mean there is a song, but I really never thought about why there were 12 days of Christmas.  The author does give some background information about the fact that the 12 days of Christmas stems from the pagan feast Saturnalia.  Pagan-ness aside, I think we should totally go back to celebrating 12 days of Christmas.  In this country, at least, all people do is work and more work.  I think we need to get back to the good old days of actually taking time off.  Some of the role playing games sound really fun!

In this book, we got to meet Jane’s curate brother James and his wife Mary who definitely seems (according to the author’s perspective) to be the template for Mary Elliot Musgrove.  We also get to see Jane’s childhood home at Steventon.  From the description given, this wasn’t some little clap-trap house.  I’ve seen a couple of sketches online as to what the house used to look like.  It was quite sizeable!!  It’s too bad the house isn’t in existence now.

Well, the mystery itself was as good as ever.  The author did her usual job.  As usual, solving the mystery involved exploring the characters of the characters.  There were a few riddles that I got a kick out of trying to solve.  I didn’t figure out who had done it.  Not that this is suprising. Another excellent read by Stephanie Barron.

Oh!  you can download a reader’s guide in to creating a Jane Austen Christmas.  I wish I had purchased the book a couple of days before Christmas so that I could have tried some of the ideas.  Ah well!  There is next year!

Posted in Historical, Mystery

The Job

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Author: Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

Genre: Mystery

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

He’s a charming con man and she’s a dedicated FBI agent, and they’re about to drive each other crazy . . . again!

The FBI had one demand when they secretly teamed up Special Agent Kate O’Hare with charming con man Nicolas Fox—bring down the world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons. This time it’s the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what their target looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick Fox has a few tricks up his sleeve to roust this particular Knipschildt chocolate–loving drug lord.

From the streets of Nashville to the back alleys of Lisbon, from the rooftops of Istanbul to the middle of the Thames, Nick and Kate chase their mark. When they find themselves pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard and a Portuguese enforcer who gets advice from a pickled head, they decide it’s time to enlist some special talent—talent like a machete-wielding Somali pirate, a self-absorbed actor, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, and Kate’s father Jake, a retired Special Forces operative. Together they could help make this Fox and O’Hare’s biggest win yet . . . if they survive.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: This was another funny one. The relationship between Nick and Kate is becoming tangled, they are both realizing that they are falling for each other. By the end of it, Kate is starting to cross lines. It was just more good fluffy fun.

Posted in Historical, Loved It, Mystery, Teaser Tuesday

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Teaser:

“Do You Really want to marry Max and live in Germany?”
“Darling, he’s richer than God and the sex is divine.”

Author: Rhys Bowen

Genre: Mystery

Rating: L

Synopsis:

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…

Bluestocking’s Opinion: Boy was I glad to see this book come out!!! I love this series. I’m really enjoying the fact that Georgie is starting to spend more time with her mother. For one thing, it means that her mother actually buys her some new clothes for once. It irritated me to no end that Georgie has had to live a life of essentially poverty while her mother ran around in designer clothing spending more money than one could imagine.

I didn’t guess who the murderer was. I was completely surprised. I really thought the author was going with the spurned lover storyline.

Anyway, this was a great fun read!!!

Posted in Loved It, Mystery

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Author: Mary Higgins Clark

Genre: Mystery

Rating: L

Synopsis:

When Laurie Moran’s husband was brutally murdered, only three-year-old Timmy saw the face of his father’s killer. Five years later his piercing blue eyes still haunt Timmy’s dreams. Laurie is haunted by more—the killer’s threat to her son as he fled the scene: “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn . . .”

Now Laurie is dealing with murder again, this time as the producer of a true-crime, cold-case television show. The series will launch with the twenty-year-old unsolved murder of Betsy Powell. Betsy, a socialite, was found suffocated in her bed after a gala celebrating the graduation of her daughter and three friends. The sensational murder was news nationwide. Reopening the case in its lavish setting and with the cooperation of the surviving guests that night, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when the estranged friends begin filming, it becomes clear each is hiding secrets . . . small and large.

And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too . . .

Bluestocking’s Opinion: There is such a funny story about how I bought this book. First off, I’ve never read anything by Mary Higgins Clark. Yeah, I know!!! I was in Wegmans a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed that they had all of her new books stacked up and people were getting tickets. I thought, “Surely Mary Higgins Clark wouldn’t be coming to a grocery store in NJ!” Sure enough, when I asked the store clerk, I was told that there was a book signing that afternoon.

Here are a few pictures:

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Thankfully it wasn’t too crowded. Ms. Clark was very friendly!!! When it was my turn to get the book signed I asked her what she did when she had writer’s block. Her response was that she would re-write and re-write that section. She said writer’s block usually happens when you’re writing something that is not consistent either with the way the characters behave, etc. She said that if she was having a true block, there were two words that always snapped her out of it. ROYALTY CHECK. That was pretty funny, I thought.

This book reminded me a lot of the mysteries that Carolyn Hart writes. They are very clean reads. I’m not saying that the people in the books are saints, because they aren’t; but rather there is a lack of sex scenes unnecessary foul language. I did not figure out who had done it until the end. If there were clues on which to go, I totally missed them.

Anyway, now I’m off to read more of her books.

Posted in Detective, Liked It, Mystery

The Chase

The Chase

Author: Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Genre: Mystery

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, bestselling authors of The Heist, return in this action-packed, exciting adventure featuring master con artist Nicolas Fox and die-hard FBI agent Kate O’Hare. And this time around, things go from hot to nuclear when government secrets are on the line.

Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Together they’ll go undercover to swindle and catch the world’s most wanted—and untouchable—criminals.

Their newest target is Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must work under the radar—and against the clock—to devise a plan to steal the piece back. Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills of their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie, and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad.

A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: The one thing I love about novels from this pair, is that I’m guaranteed to have a good laugh. These books are for character analysis, it’s just pure fluffy entertainment. I got to say, I really like how lethal Kate is. I wish Stephanie Plum would have a little more of this kind of pluck rather than always needing to be rescued!

This is a great beach read.