Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: M.C. Beaton: Busy Body

Busy Body:  An Agatha Raisin Mystery
Author:  M.C. Beaton

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Oct 12 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312387016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312387013
From Amazon Canada: 
Agatha Raisin has always been ambivalent about holiday cheer, but her cozy little village of Carsely has long prided itself on its Christmas festivities. But this year Mr. John Sunday, a selfimportant officer with the Health and Safety Board, has ruled that the traditional tree on top of the church is a public menace; that lampposts are unsafe for hanging illuminations; that May Dimwoody’s homemade toys are dangerous for children… Things have reached such a desperate pass that the Carsely Ladies’ Society joins forces with the ladies in the neighboring village of Odley Cruesis to try to put a stop to Mr. Sunday’s meddling—only to find that someone has literally put a stop to him with a kitchen knife.

Agatha’s detective agency is on the case, but when a man has made as many enemies as John Sunday, it’s hard to know where to start…

I love Agatha!!! Fun Fun Fun!!!  What is there not to love about a man-crazy, slightly overweight, chain smoking lovable middle aged woman!  Throw in her own detective agency along with it's cast of sleuths and the Cotswold setting and you have the ingredients for a delightful romp in the UK.  Both James and Charles put in appearances as usual...just enough to drive her crazy!  A little bit of a Christmas bent just to make it timely for a Christmas read.  Keep the Agatha Raisin adventures coming M.C. Beaton!!!

Busy Body was a library book.

2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge

Sign up here:


I have signed up for the 2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge at Debbie's Book Bag.  Here are the instructions from her site:

I want everyone to have a lot of fun with this one! So the rules won't be too complicated.

Sign Up:

~To Sign up for the challenge you must make a post on your blog announcing your participation in the challenge, your level of participation and link back to this sign up page.
~You then must use the URL of that post to sign up through the Mr. Linky provided below.
~Please post the 2011 Cozy Mystery Challenge Button on your side bar so that others can link back to Debbie's Book Bag, if they want to sign up.

Other Details:

~The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.
~ There will be three levels of participation to choose from:

Amateur Detective: Read 1-5 Cozy Mystery's
Private-Eye: Read 6-10 Cozy Mystery's
GumShoe: Read 11 or more Cozy Mystery's

~ You do NOT need to list your cozy mysteries ahead of time, you can add them as you go. If you do choose to list them up front, feel free to change them as you need to.
~ You can sign up any time during the year!
~ Books that have been read before January 1st 2011 will not count for this challenge.
~ Cross-overs from other challenges are accepted.
~ At the beginning of each month I will make a post for you link your reviews to.


~Every person who signs up for the challenge and links at least 5 cozy mystery reviews within the challenge period will be entered to win a prize at the end of the challenge.
~The prize will be a complete cozy mystery series from your favorite cozy author!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mystery and Suspence Challenge 2011


I am attempting to sign up for this reading challenge but as I am new to blogging I still am trying to figure out how to put the button on my sidebar. Hopefully someone will help me figure it out!

These are the rules:

Sign Up

* To sign up you MUST make a post on your blog about participating in the challenge - you then use the URL of the post to sign up to the challenge by adding it to Mr Linky below. DO NOT just add your blog URL - this will be deleted. Also please be aware that unless you show you are joining the challenge with a participation post your ARC will not be sent.

* You must add the button to your sidebar - make sure that it links back to this post so others can join the challenge if they wish. Easiest way to do this is to copy and paste the code displayed above!

To Claim ARC

* Courtesy of publisher SIMON & SCHUSTER UK, ALL participants of this challenge will receive a free ARC of 'The Survivor' by Sean Slater to start you off on your challenge! Once you have made your participation post and signed up for the challenge, email me with your full name, address, post URL and your entry number from the participants list below (so I can verify) and I will pass on your details.

Other Details

* Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011

* Rules: To read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)

* You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

* You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.

* At the beginning of Jan 2011, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews. There will be a monthly prize too courtesy of the lovely Simon & Schuster - you must be signed up to the challenge and add the link to your review to be entered into the monthly prize draw.

Now, there are many different sub-genres of mystery and suspense - you can choose from the numerous sub-genres, from cosy mysteries such as Agatha Christie to the more hard-boiled kind like V I Warshawski by Sara Paretsky, or romantic suspense written by the likes of Linda Howard, forensic crime such as those written by Kathy Reichs and even paranormal/supernatural suspense such as Kelley Armstrong. I'm sure this challenge will have something for everyone! :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review - The Templar Salvation

  • Author: Raymond Khoury
  • Hardcover: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (Oct 19 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951849
  • Description (from Good Reads)

At last, the book more than a million fans are waiting for: the sequel to The Last Templar.

With its iconic title and unmistakable cover, Raymond Khoury's million-copy- selling
The Last Templar remains one of the most memorable thriller publications of the last decade. Finally, after four long years, Khoury returns to the world of the Templars with The Templar Salvation, a sequel that's every bit as eye-popping and as gripping as its predecessor. Constantinople, 1203: As the rapacious armies of the Fourth Crusade lay siege to the city, a secretive band of Templars infiltrate the imperial library. Their target: a cache of documents that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Doge of Venice. They escape with three heavy chests, filled with explosive secrets that these men will not live long enough to learn. Vatican City, present day: FBI agent Sean Reilly infiltrates the Pope's massive Vatican Secret Archives of the Inquisition. No one but the Pope's trusted secondi get in-but Reilly has earned the Vatican's trust, a trust he has no choice but to violate. His love, Tess Chaykin, has been kidnapped; the key to her freedom lays in this underground tomb, in the form of a document known as the Fondo Templari, a secret history of the infamous Templars... With his trademark blend of incendiary history and edge-of-your-seat suspense, Raymond Khoury's The Templar Salvation marks a triumphant return to the rich territory that launched his bestselling career.

My Take

I really enjoyed reading The Templar Salvation but I think it is important to read The Last Templar first as this book is definitely a continuation of the first book.  I found the main characters of Tess Chaykin and Sean Reilly to be credible and I enjoyed their partnership.  The villain was a definite threat to the western world.  I found the story to be believable and the pace of the story to be thrilling.  I became fascinated with the locations in Turkey and made me want to visit there which was not something that I had thought of before.  I am looking forward to the third instalment in the series.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - The False Friend

·       Author: Myla Goldberg
·       Hardcover: 272 pages
·       Publisher: Doubleday (Oct 5 2010)
·       Language: English
·       ISBN-10: 0385527217
·        ISBN-13: 978-0385527217

Product Description (from Amazon)

From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two  eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out . . .

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.

My Take


I found this book to be a quick but good read.  I found it rather hard to sympathize with Celia’s dilemma as she doesn’t seem to realize that she was actually a very nasty child...in fact when in partnership with Djuna she was quite the bully!  And in the present day, she is stringing along her long suffering boyfriend Huck. It was a very interesting story though.  I tried to remember back to events in my childhood and my memories are sketchy at best so I can see how hard it is to remember events of your youth correctly. Celia searched for the truth though she has successfully repressed these memories for 20 years.  She confronts her parents and childhood “friends” searching for the truth.  These emotional confrontations provide the backbone of the book as does her increased self-awareness about what type of child she really was. I was pleased with the ending and recommend this book by the acclaimed author of Bee Season, Myla Goldberg.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Last Templar

Book Description (from the author's web site)

Acre, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1291: As the burning city falls to the Sultan's men, a lone galley escapes out to sea, carrying a young Templar knight called Martin of Carmaux, his mentor Aimard of Villiers, and a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master.

The ship never reaches its destination.

Present day, Manhattan: Four masked horsemen, dressed as Templar Knights, emerge from the darkness of Central Park and storm into the Metropolitan Museum, scattering the great and the good of Manhattan society who are there for the gala opening night of an exhibition of Vatican treasures. Caught in the brutal mayhem, desk-bound archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen homes in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic words in Latin as he takes hold of the device with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the urban nightscape of Manhattan.

The FBI's investigation team is led by Sean Reilly, an anti-terrorist specialist as well as a practising Catholic, aided by his longtime partner Nick Aparo and a Vatican envoy, the Monsignor De Angelis. As the horsemen's dead bodies start turning up, and as the importance of the stolen device becomes more and more apparent, Tess becomes more than a witness to the crime. She and Reilly get drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, and of the last surviving Templars' fateful journey from Acre to the pyres of Paris. Tess and Reilly are soon facing the deadly forces battling to recover the lost secret of the Templars, and find themselves propelled into a dangerous adventure which takes them through the cemeteries and sewers of Manhattan, across continents to desolate Turkish mountains and remote Greek islands, through a Mediterranean storm of biblical proportions and into the very heart of the Vatican.

With Tess fuelled by an unswerving commitment to scientific truth, the archaeologist and the FBI agent's nascent relationship comes under intense pressure, as with each disturbing revelation relating to the Templars' long lost legacy, Reilly is plunged deeper into a spiritual and professional conflict which ultimately leaves them with the troubling burden of their shocking discovery.

On one level, The Last Templar is a fast paced contemporary adventure/thriller set in New York and in various settings around the Mediterranean, intercut by five epic chapters set during the closing years of the Crusades in which the last Templar of the title, entrusted with the Order's secret, escapes from the burning city of Acre and struggles to make it back to France. On another level, The Last Templar works as a thought-provoking exploration of religion in today's world, and of historic fact versus faith, particularly regarding the origins of the Catholic Church. Through the investigation into the Templars' history and their mysterious discovery, and though the interplay between Tess - the agnostic, scientific skeptic - and Reilly, who turned to the Church after his father shot himself when Reilly was just a boy, the book presents a spirited look at the early days of the Church and invites the reader to question matters which most of us take at face value. 

I chose to read this book because I won a copy of the second book in the series, The Templar Salvation.  I was not sure that I would really care for book before I started it as I am not usually a fan of novels about the Crusades.  The majority of the novel however takes place in the present time.  I really enjoyed that the initial scenes were located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  I found both of the main characters, Tess Chaykin and Sean Reilly to be completely believable. I really enjoyed the story and I enjoyed the action packed adventure they embarked upon.  It is also a mind provoking book as it explores the basic tenets of Christianity.