Tag Archives: M.C. Beaton

12 (hours) to 2012 mini readathon

31st December 2011

I have exactly 8 minutes to get myself in some comfy pants and my new fuzzy slippers, beverage in hand and choose a book. If you’re at all interested, join Tasha, Becky, and I for our mini readathon today.

Preparations

I went to the library last night and grabbed some books, so I could have even more reading options. In my stacks, I have the newest Diana Gabaldon, the newest M.C. Beaton, and older M.C. Beaton, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton because both my mom and Matt of Guy’s Moleskine Notebook loved this one. I also have The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice. In my personal stack, I have The Woman in White, Murder on the Orient Express, The City of Ember, The Imperfectionists, and The Street Sweeper.

However, I’m going to kick this readathon off with an audiobook, so I can make my veggie chili (the Bear Creek bag is just what I use for the starter) and my roasted red pepper walnut dip. I love audiobooks for this very reason. I’m reading! But I’m not. ๐Ÿ™‚ I read for much too long this morning to be able to run to the grocery store until just now. I’ve also got my two favorite bubblies: Freixenet sparkling wine and Canada Dry ginger ale. I’ll update this post throughout the day.

Happy reading!

UPDATE – 3rd hour: I am still listening to my audiobook, The House of Silk. Long story, but I thought the book was finished when I first listened a few weeks ago, but the audio was messed up. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I’ve taken down most of Christmas, cooked chili and eaten – all while listening. I have 2 hours left on it, but I’m getting sleepy, so I might switch to a book book.

UPDATE – 4th hour: Only an hour left on The House of Silk. Just made some roasted red pepper walnut dip with little toasties. Yum. Sustenance.

UPDATE – 5th hour: Have finished The House of Silk and half of a Charlain Harris Lily Bard mystery called Shakespeare’s Champion. Have a bit of a headache, so I’m heading into the kitchen for some water and Tylenol. ๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: 6th hour: Reading Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris and about to head to my bff’s house for dinner and fireworks. No worries. Only a short break.

UPDATE: 8th hour: Home again and snuggled in a robe my bff gave me for Christmas. Of course, I had to turn the air on to enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Champagne has been opened.

UPDATE: 9th and 10th hours: Still reading Lily Bard mystery and listening to the fireworks outside. Maddie is curled up next to me. We’re both enjoying the readathon.

UPDATE: 11th hour: I finished my last book of 2011: Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris. Next up, I’m trying to decide between Rachmann’s The Imperfectionists or The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan. Decisions, decisions…

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wishing you all love, joy, and peace in the new year.

#fridayreads take me away

15th April 2011

 

#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. Want to know more? Read the original post where I explain why you should join in with what you read on the weekend. Want to write your own post? *Steal* my button. Have your own #fridayreads take me away post? Link up below! Happy reading.

This will probably be a familiar theme, but until classes are over and the last grade is assigned, this picky girl is going to be a basket case. Too much to do, too little time (though look for a post next week about teaching Persepolis and what I’ve learned). I’m trying to remember that I don’t absolutely have to have grades back to students within a week (they want them the day after they’ve turned in an assignment) and that I should try and have some sort of life for the last 12 days I am 29. That’s right folks. Only one more #fridayreads take me away post before I’m the big three-oh. So, where were we? Oh yeah.

This week I’m recommending you read… (drumroll please)


M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Any book really. I had never really read a “cozy” mystery until this past fall, but my mom really enjoys them. I picked up the first Agatha Raisin when it was cool and rainy outside and haven’t looked back. They’re light fare, that’s for sure, but who wants more than that on a Friday afternoon? Not me. Agatha is middle aged, divorced, and a bit bored. She has bought a house in Carsley, a small hamlet where the ladies, however friendly, call one another by surnames only and tea is mandatory (though often deadly). Agatha is also in the habit of poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and too often that ends up in a hairy, hilarious situation.

The other great aspect of the Agatha Raisin series is that, unlike some series, there is really no need to read them in order. They are short, not too sweet, but definitely fun. Agatha’s antics tickle the back of the neck of this feminist, but I quickly get over it and just enjoy the ride in the lazy little town Agatha has made home.

 

And speaking of lazy….all I plan on reading today is this:

Isn’t that the most beautiful cover? Maybe it’s simply that I am craving all that energy the cover talks about, but when I got home from a really horrible day Thursday, this cover made me want to break into song and dance, run through the grass barefoot and drink lemonade. I need some “me” time, and I can’t promise I won’t be in a pedicure chair when I flip through this – cover to cover.

So…whaddya think? Doesn’t reading while having a pedi sound like the best kind of #fridayreads take me away? What will you be doing/reading to ease the stress of the week?

jenn aka the picky girl

It's a mystery! edition 2

20th January 2011

2011, my fellow readers and bloggers, has sucked. Yes, I realize it’s only Day 19, but from Day 1, spent at the ER with my Dad, it has sucked. Then there was Week 1 with Dad in the hospital, and work literally being the most insane. Ugh. Not to say there haven’t been a few good moments. I’m grateful I am employed. I am grateful my Dad is *mostly* ok and on a regimen to strengthen his heart for surgery. All in all, my daily mantra has become “Get glad in the same pants you got mad in” because it can always be worse, and I know it.

How does this relate to mysteries? Mysteries are, to me, like therapy. I hibernate with mysteries. There is some healing property in them, as you may be able to discern looking at the sidebar. Yep, every read in 2011 has been a mystery. So how were they? Let me tell you:

Dead Politician’s Society by Spano*

Funny, quirky, a little bit naughty and not a lot nice. This debut is about a young-ish policewoman, Clare, who is eager to prove herself as an undercover cop. She bristles around her handler and isn’t the most perceptive cop, so she gets in trouble. A lot. Like, murders happen with her in the same room. However, she isn’t grating. Here’s the deal: a politician gets killed, and an organization, The Society for Political Utopia, not only takes responsibility but also writes the local newspaper an obituary, explaining why. As the murders continue, everyone is a suspect, local university students who follow cult-like after their leader; the professor himself, who thinks he’s a maverick but who is, in reality, a stereotype, sleeping with his students; the mayor’s wife who has lived, as a lesbian, separately from him for years. All the while, the killer messages Annabel, a reporter for the local paper who wants to stay close to the story, but the story may come just a little too close. There were a few moments where I had to really suspend my disbelief, but all in all, this was a fun read.

*Read on my mom’s Kindle when Coffee and a Book Chick advertised Robin Spano was offering her ebook for a limited time at $1.99.

Deadly Dance by M.C. Beaton

Love from Hell by M.C. Beaton


The Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton


I read this trio quickly and enjoyed every minute. Agatha Raisin is a middle-aged former publicist-turned-detective who is quite a bit vain and helplessly dependent on the idea of love, specifically when it comes to James Lacey, a man who, in all appearances, seems to want nothing to do with her. In The Terrible Tourist, Agatha chases after James to Cyprus, where all sorts of hijinks occur. Agatha meets an odd group of tourists while on a boating trip. She is alone, and there are two other trios, each a married couple and an older gentlemen. One group appears to be old money, while the other is a bit crass. The nouveau riche woman is murdered, and Agatha is in constant danger of being murdered. She is also in danger of leaving Cyprus broken hearted. In Love from Hell, Agatha and James are married, cannot abide one another, and argue constantly. That is, until James disappears, and a woman (with whom he has been sleeping) is found murdered. Agatha must, with the help of her friends, clear James’s name and determine whether or not she has any love left for her husband.

The Deadly Dance is the first novel where Agatha sets up her agency. The local constabulary isn’t happy with her amateurish investigations, but she quickly proves herself with the help of her ever-growing staff. The agency gets its first big “case” and what initially appears to be a horrible mistake, turns into a case bigger than Agatha bargained for. With the help of her friend/lover Charles, she must track down a fiendish, cold-blooded killer.

Death of a Village by M.C. Beaton

If I had to choose, I would most likely pick Hamish Macbeth over Agatha Raisin. The novels still have quite a bit of charm, but the stories don’t jump around like the Agatha Raisin series. In this episode, Hamish Macbeth decides to take a trip to ease his discontent. He drives to the hamlet of Stoyre, but the small village does not restore Macbeth the way he would wish. Instead, he finds a village somewhat different than what he remembers. The villagers are not welcoming; in fact, a fire destroys the home of the only outsider in Stoyre. Macbeth tries to investigate but is stopped at every turn by closemouthed, fearful villagers. Macbeth must make a chink in the village’s armor and figure out what the crime is with the help of reporter Elspeth and an elderly couple – Mrs. Docherty and Mr. Jefferson.

_______________________________________________________

Each of these is a great read, and I could certainly recommend them for light reading. What about you? Any mysteries lately? What have you been reading?

happy reading – jenn aka picky girl

P.S. If you want to know about the two Winspear’s I read, stay tuned. I plan to write full reviews of each because they were fantastic!

It's a mystery!

2nd December 2010

Actually, it’s three mysteries. I did quite a bit of reading last weekend, and I decided to do three short reviews as opposed to individual ones. In fact, I may bring this back regularly since I tend to read them often. If you’ve read any good mysteries lately and want to link up, leave your link in comments, and I’ll include it here.

Every now and again I just get on a kick where all I want to read are mysteries, so bear with me. It usually happens toward the end of a semester when my brain feels fried from grading essay after essay. So, in no particular order, here’s the low down:

Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton – a Hamish Macbeth mystery

I’ve heard quite a bit about M.C. Beaton, both from bloggers and from my mom, who loves Agatha Raisin. Even though cozy mysteries aren’t usually what I like, I thought it might be a nice switch. What a pleasant surprise, then, to find quite a nice combination of hardened detective and charming Lochdubh in this book. This isn’t the first book in the series, but I definitely didn’t feel as though I was left out in any way. Hamish Macbeth is the underdog. His superiors don’t really like his methods, but his methods seem to solve a lot of cases. In this book, Macbeth is seeking out a writer of petty but poisonous letters. Everyone seems to have gotten one, and Macbeth is afraid pretty soon someone will take matters into her own hands. Of course, he’s right, and pretty soon there are swinging corpses showing up and startling the otherwise quiet village. Throw in an outsider looking for an adventure and following Macbeth in an effort to make her friend (and Macbeth’s former girlfriend) jealous, a nosy reporter, and a vindictive headmistress of a local school, and the writing is on the wall: Murder most foul, as Miss Marple would say (not to totally mix my cozy mysteries).

Mr. Dixon Disappears by Ian Sansom – A Mobile Library Mystery

Ah, I had such high hopes for this book. A mobile librarian who is a bit of a deadbeat? A mobile librarian who is a bit of a deadbeat who also runs into crime? Sign me up. Israel Armstrong is that librarian, and the story opens with him setting up a mobile exhibit about a local legend – Dixon and Pickering’s, a department store. As he is setting up, though, the store is robbed, and the owner, Mr. Dixon, disappears (see! that’s where the title come from). The local police don’t trust Armstrong, who is an outsider in this Irish village and has a very funny name for an Englishman. He is arrested, and mayhem ensues. The setup is all very nice, and the humor is great. My biggest problem with this mystery? It couldn’t decide whether or not it was cozy or hardboiled. One instant, Israel is dressing in disguise and trying to decipher the local dialect, the next, he is dropping the C word (very bad) and pissing me off. Eh. I may try another, and I certainly don’t hope to dissuade you. It just didn’t make me an instant fan.

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate by M.C. Beaton

Don’t be fooled. Beaton may be the same author of this series and the Hamish Macbeth series, but they are definitely distinct series. I enjoyed them both, even though the cozy mystery is not usually my cup of tea. Agatha’s husband has left her for the monastery – except he never makes it to the monastery. Her pride is just a bit hurt until the new curate, a devilishly handsome younger man, asks her to dinner. However, shortly after their dinner (and a goodnight kiss), Tristan the curate, is found murdered. Agatha and her handsome mystery writer friend take on the investigation themselves, traveling to and from London with several near misses, red herrings, all while a cold-blooded murderer is on the loose. The murders are actually quite vicious, which I didn’t expect for a cozy mystery, and the ending was satisfying. What more can you ask for?

I do hope you’ve enjoyed these short reviews. As I mentioned before, if you’ve reviewed any of these or possibly other mysteries, let’s link up! Anyone else feel like winter is perfect cozy mystery weather? If so, what’s on your list?