Love, Lies and Liquor by M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin #17)

181666

Synopsis

Cotswold detective Agatha Raisin lies to herself, hoping skimpy lingerie will suit her ex’s surprise holiday. He lies to himself, remembering childhood heyday of Snoth-on-Sea as sunny, now a wreck in a cold windy storm. Aggie threatens obnoxious guest Geraldine, later found strangled in Aggie’s lost scarf. Aggie can try drink, but needs all her friends when bodies pile up.

My thoughts:

Agatha Raisin is a grumpy, self-absorbed yet amazing woman. I love that she is not the perfect woman that everybody loves. Instead, people seem almost baffled as to why they find themselves caring for her. Agatha, despite her faults, is also caring and is fiercly devoted to the people she call friends.

Even though Agatha is smart and an independent woman, she forgets all about being independant when her ex-husband comes back to town and invites her on a holiday. Of course, it turns out to be a disaster in many ways. James is an absolute bastard, the holiday destination turns out to be a dump and there is a murder. The plot is fun and had several interesting twists and turns.

The one thing I did not like was Agatha and James relationship. Beaton should have abandoned that specific side-plot at least 7 books ago. James is immature and self-centered and is really horrible to Agatha. It is now just annoying to see how Agatha drops everything to be with James. It was fun the first books but after they got married and then immediately divorced, James should have been written out or at least not used as a love interest anymore.

Overall, I really love the Agatah Raisin mystery books. I’m actually sad that there are only 32 books (yes, I said only).

I gave this book 4/5.

Top Ten Tuesday

In order to motivate myself, and to actually make sure I make at least one blog post per week, I’ve decided to do The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday from the beginning. I know that that particular blog don’t blog anymore, but the lists are still relevant and will be fun to do.

Todays Top Ten Tuesday is childhood favorites.

  1. Harry Potter – read the first book when I was 7 and then grew up with them. Despite the author being a horror, the books still have a special place in my heart.
  2. Twilight – I know, but I loved them as a teenager!
  3. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Absolutely loved those books and plowed through them.
  4. Lord of the Rings – I read these when I was like 12, and it changed my life.
  5. The Belgariad series by David Eddings. I still remember these books pretty well. I read and re-read them so many times!
  6. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. This was the first of Pratchett’s books that I read and from this book I was hooked.
  7. Horse books! I had a subscription to a horsey company that sent out like care packages everymonth. It always had two books in it and I all of them!
  8. At a very early age I actually started reading Harlequin books. My mom had hundreds of Harlquin books and when I finished my books I started reading hers.
  9. All the books by Astrid Lindgren. Being Swedish it was mandatory to read. Thank god I actually liked them 😀
  10. The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison.

To be completely honest, this was super hard and I had to think long and hard on what books I had read during my childhood. Also, exactly what age is “childhood”? Anyway, these are some of the books I loved reading growing up!

The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)
An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, #3)
Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)
To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons, #5)
When He Was Wicked (Bridgertons, #6)
It's in His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7)
On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgertons, #8)

The viscount who loved me – Kate and Anthony’s book.

Anthony Bridgerton is the oldest of the Bridgerton children and the head of the family. After his sisters successful marriage he has now decided to marry as well. He has chosen the perfect bride and all is set. The only problem is his intended bride’s sister, Kate. She does not like Anthony and does everything she can to stop Anthony’s plans.

I really enjoyed this book. The relationship between Anthony and Kate was wonderful to see and so much fun to follow. Kate is such a strong woman and dares to stand up to the bullheaded Anthony. Oh, and Kate’s corgi steals the show!

I give this one 5/5 stars.

An offer from a gentleman – Sophie and Benedict’s book.

Benedict is the second oldest son and he is looking for the perfect girl. During a masked party he meets the girl of his dream. Only problem is that he doesn’t know her name and nobody seems to know her. Sophie is such a wonderful character. Despite facing a lot of adversity in her life, she stands tall and tries to make the best of it. Like Cinderella she manages to have one amazing night at a Bridgerton family party.

There were absolutely times where I wanted to punch Benedict in the face, especially when he kept insisting that Sophie should be his mistress even though she refuses. Sure, he does it because he thinks it’s the only way they can be together but it is still bloody irritating and perpetuates the idea that if a man just tries hard enough he will get his way. A no is no, no matter the circumstance.

I gave this book 4/5

Romancing Mister Bridgerton – Penelope and Colin’s book.

My favourite book in the series. Mostly because I adore both Penelope and Colin. This was actually the book I read first because I needed to know their story. It is in this book that Lady Whistledown is revealed. Colin and Penelope are just perfect for each other and I loved how their relationship developed. It isn’t always love at first sight, sometimes love grows from friendship and this book proves it.

The banter between Colin and Penelope is perfect and it is so much fun to read. I also love Colin’s relationship with his siblings and how it is used in the book. I can’t really say more about this book because I don’t want to spoil it.

I gave this book 5/5.

To Sir Phillip, with love – Eloise and Phillip’s book.

We are finally back to one of the Bridgerton sisters! The brothers are lovely but the sisters are awesome. Eloise is pretty much the middle child and she acts like it. She is clever and want’s more from life than just being a pretty wife. When her cousin dies she begins to write to her cousins widower, Phillip. They both enjoy their friendship and eventually Eloise decide to visit and accept a proposition from Phillip.

This book is in the same vein as Jane Eyre. Phillip is just as dumb as Mr Rochester, but doesn’t have wife hidden in the attic, but Eloise is more feisty than Jane. I will say that I at time found the plot rushed and actually didn’t always root for Eloise and Phillip to get together. This because they weren’t always communicating in a good way, and instead of being fun it just became super annoying.

I gave this 3/5.

When he was wicked – Francesca and Michael’s book

Francesca Bridgerton was happily married and loving her life. But it all changes when her husband dies and she ends up a widow. Her husband’s cousin is now the new earl of Stirling and she has to figure out what to do with herself. Michael was fine with his cousin being the earl as this meant he could go on living his life the way he wanted. The only thing he resented his cousin for was marrying Francesca, the women he loves. After his cousins death, Michael finally has a chance to make Francesca his. But it is not that easy…

I liked this book. Both Francesca and Michael were enjoyable characters. Their relationship was allowed to slowly grow and was built on them being friends first of all. It would have been even better if Michael hadn’t pined for Francesca from the start as it somewhat felt dubious. But it worked out nicely in the end.

I gave this book 4/5.

It’s in his kiss – Hyacinth and Gareth’s book.

Hyacinth is pretty darn awesome. I love that Quinn’s heroines are clever and resourceful. There is never unnecessary female drama either, most women support each other and if they don’t there is no real pettiness going on between them. Hyacinth is super smart, very stubborn and speaks her mind. Her and Gareth cross paths and do not get on at all from the start. However, they do work very well together and the bickering between them is super fun.

I gave this book 4/5

On the way to the wedding – Gregory and Lucy’s book.

This is the last book in the series and follows the youngest brother Gregory. Gregory believes in true love, how can he not after watching all his siblings fall in love and live happily ever after. He finally meets the perfect girl; Hermione, and falls in love from the moment he sees here. The only problem is that she is not interested in him at all. In fact, she is in love with someone else. Thankfully, Hermione’s best friend Lucy, comes to Gregory’s rescue. The pair comes up with a plan to make Hermione fall for Gregory. During the process, Lucy falls for Gregory and Gregory start to see Lucy as something more than Hermione’s best friend.

This was a really fun book and reminds you a little bit of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights dream or Twelfth Night.

I gave this book 5/5.

Overall, the Bridgerton books are fun and a quick read. Do not expect historical accuracy or super complicated plots. But if you are looking for fun writing, great characters and a happy ending, these are the books for you.

Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon by M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin #16)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Agatha Raisin, recent divorcée, hates adultery cases and pompous Robert Smedley, but needs work. Unfortunately Mabel appears the perfect young wife, a pretty church volunteer. Agatha stumbles across dead missing teen Jessica, and investigates free for publicity. When Smedley dies from poison, Mabel hires Agatha, who brings in old friends, new hires, and finds the killers.

My thoughts: Agatha Raisin is a know it all, and a woman I would probably hate dealing with in real life. But in book form I absolutely love her. I love the fact that she isn’t perfect and that she actually more often than not make people around her dislike her.

M.C. Beaton writes in a way that is very engaging. I can totally imagine that these characters are real and that Beaton has just written down what they do in everyday life.

This is the 16th book about Agatha Raisin that I have read, and also the 16th in the series. One might think that Beaton would run out of ideas but no. All books have an original murder plot (maybe not original if you read a lot of crime but I don’t) and new characters are always introduced that continues to make the book engaging and entertaining.

The murder in this book was very clever and despite figuring out who the murderer was during the first half I found the story riveting. It also had several red herrings that almost had me convinced I had the wrong person.

There is an array of supporting characters and several sub-plots that have carried throughout the books. Agatha’s on and off relationships with the cheap lord Charles Fraith and her once husband James Lacey, her sort of friendship with Roy Silver, her actual friendship with the vicars wife Mrs Bloxby and any other recurring characters makes the books so much fun. It also brings you a feeling of actually knowing all of these people.

I am definitely looking forward to continue reading this series and do recommend these books if you enjoy Agatha Christie’s books about Poirot or Ms Marple. This might not have been the most comprehensive review of a book ever, but I do feel that revealing more about the plot would ruin it for you.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Bridgerton #1)

Yes, I was caught by the Bridgerton craze and plowed through all the books in a matter of weeks. Me and my mum spent New Year’s Eve watching the whole series on Netflix.

For those of you that have spent the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 under a rock with no wifi, Bridgerton is a regency period romantic drama, with elegant women, handsome men and a lot of … well you know… tumbling around in bed (not always a bed even). The Netflix series (directed by Shonda Rhimes) is excellent because it cast a very diverse cast in the sense of skin colour, something the book lacks. However, Julia Quinn was a part of the making of the series and most likely approves of this choice of casting. There are of course things to be discussed, and things that weren’t handled well, but the fact that the cast was almost evenly split between black and white (still more white) and both cast as servants and nobility was definitely a fresh breath of air.

But enough of the series, lets get on to the books. Readin the Duke and I, made it very clear as to why the books were adapted to the screen. It is fun, fast paced, has many hilarious characters and shows that love is not always straight forward. Is Daphne and Simon totally over the top sometimes? Absolutely, but it just makes for fun reading.

The Bridgerton family as a whole are just wonderful. They were totally chaotic but you could feel the love they had for each other. This book nicely prepares you and gets you interested in reading more about all the siblings. And has luck has it, all siblings have their own book.

The romance between Daphne and Simon then? It starts as just a business deal between them, the classic fake dating trope. Daphne is this sweet, naive yet not, English rose and Simon is like a more dramatic Mr Darcy. If that is even possible. The romance is well written up until the last 30% of the book (see down below) and was overall enjoyable. Simon and Daphne seemed perfect for each other because they challenged one another and made the other better.

The negative? There is one bit where Daphne uses Simon in a very disgusting way. Essentially, she is raping him. This is written off as sort of sexy and sort of OK since Simon lied to Daphne. Of the two, the rape or the lie, the lie is rather innocent and when you read the book you totally understand why Simon hides the truth from Daphne. Actually, it’s not even a proper lie, he just doesn’t tell her the full story. However, Daphne knows exactly what she is doing and what it will do to Simon. The book was first published in 2000 and back then things like these were seen as women being strong and not in the wrong. Things are slightly better today, but I did find it even more disturbing that they left it in the series and still made it seem like Simon was the bad guy.

As I have read all the other Bridgerton books I will review them all. However, there are 7 more of them. Perhaps I should make it easy on myself and just review the other 7 in one post? What do you think?

Despite only rating this book as a 2/5 I do recommend it. It is funny and enjoyable, but do be aware that it does contain some disturbing themes.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

My thoughts:

This book was so much fun! I honestly enjoyed every single minute of it. It is the typical “enemies-to-lovers” story but it felt really fresh and original. The fact that Alexis incorporated the fascination with celebrities, wether A-list or F-list, made the story really fresh and it fit in well with todays need to be someone. However, Luc is not that interested. He would rather be no-one and not be papped every single time he does something “bad”. What makes the story even better is that Luc isn’t a bad boy at all. We could probably all recognize something from ourselves in him. Personally, I did see myself in his awkwardness, his way of messing up when really trying to be good and his need to prove everyone wrong.

Oliver is despite apperances not the perfecgt person. He might be a perfect boyfriend but not a perfect person. I loved this about the characters. They are portrayed as human beings rather than a stereotype which made the story so much more realistic.

The plot itself was enjoyable and all the subplots added to the story in a good way. Some subplots can sometimes detract from the main story, but not in this book. The relationship between Luc and his parents, between Luc and his friends, and of course the relationship between Oliver and his family gave the story depth and made it really interesting to read.

Overall a super enjoyable story that I would recommend to anyone

5/5 stars.

Reading and blogging – why so hard?

I started this blogging malarchy when I was at university. Back then it was easy. I read at least one book a week and could therefore write at least one review a week. I know work full time as a teacher (yay to all teachers!) and I barely have the energy to read anymore. Yes, it is the energy that is lacking, not the time. I do have plenty of time in the evenings to read. It is only me and my dog, therefore I don’t need to cook, clean and keep time for anybody else.

So why so hard? Why do I struggle to read when I love reading? The answer is simply stress. I am too wired after a day of work that it is difficult for me to settle down with a book. My mind seems to think it is too much effort. Instead I waste my evenings browsing the internet and watching silly videos on youtube. I miss reading.

To sort of combat this lack of reading in my life, I am going to try and breathe life into this blog again. If I set a blogging schedule it might help me to get back to reading regularly. So here goes.

Wish me luck and I hope to have some of join me on this journey.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin #1)

I absolutely love cozy murder mysteries whether it is in print or watching them on T.V. I grew up watching Midsomer Murders every summer, a tradition that stands to this day.

However, book versions of cozy murder mysteries are for me usually a hit or a miss. More often a miss. So when I found out that the tv-series Agatha Raisin was based on a book series I wanted to give it a go. And I was not disappointed.

It differs a lot from the series but that just made it more fun to read. The story is pretty straightforward but so much fun to read. This is the synopsis on Goodreads:

Putting all her eggs in one basket, Agatha Raisin gives up her successful PR firm, sells her London flat, and samples a taste of early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. Bored, lonely and used to getting her way, she enters a local baking contest: Surely a blue ribbon for the best quiche will make her the toast of the town. But her recipe for social advancement sours when Judge Cummings-Browne not only snubs her entry–but falls over dead! After her quiche’s secret ingredient turns out to be poison, she must reveal the unsavory truth…

Agatha has never baked a thing in her life! In fact, she bought her entry ready-made from an upper crust London quicherie. Grating on the nerves of several Carsely residents, she is soon receiving sinister notes. Has her cheating and meddling landed her in hot water, or are the threats related to the suspicious death? It may mean the difference between egg on her face and a coroner’s tag on her toe… 

And the story is just as hilarious as it sounds. I absolutely loved it and then quickly ordered as many books from the series that I could afford (about 20 of them ;P)

If you are looking for a fun cozy murder mystery to read then you should definitely give this a chance!

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz (Alex and Eliza #1)

When I read this book I was in the middle of fangirling over Hamilton. I was listening to the music over and over, and absolutely loved it. So when this book came out I just had to get it. As soon as I got it I read it, but for some reason I haven’t reviewed it (it’s been two years, I have no good excuse).

Even though it was ages ago since I read it, I can still pretty much remember all of it. That should give you an idea of how much I loved this book.

The book is centered around the time that Alexander and Eliza first met and how their relationship developed. It is written from Eliza’s point of view and therefore we get to spend a lot of time with her family. Despite being intrigued by Alexander from the moment she meets him, the relationship between them takes some time to actually take flight. This did not really matter as it allowed the characters to grow and you got to know who they are without each other before seeing how they are with each other (are you still with me? That was one hell of a sentence!)

The book was very well written and I really liked de la Cruz’s take on the love story of Alex and Eliza. Lin-Manuel Miranda made it popular thanks to Hamilton, but de la Cruz definitely gave it more of a body and story. If you are a massive Hamilton fan then do be aware that this is not a re-telling of the musical, it is a take on how the lives of the actual real life persons might have looked like. I doubt it’s a 100 percent historcally acurate, but it is still a lovely story.

“And at last, the lonely young man who belonged to no one finally belonged to someone, forever, and the practical girl who would not settle for less than a love story for the ages found the lifelong romance she had yearned for all her life.” 
― Melissa de la Cruz, Alex and Eliza

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday

This weeks TTT is Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With .

This was actually a difficult one. I rarely read a book and go “oh, I would love to be friends with these characters!”, but I will give this a go.

  1. Dexter J. Daley from Hell & High Water. Just because he is pretty crazy and always seems to have a great time. I think everytime you would spend time with him you would be drawn into some weird shennaningans.
  2. Hazel Wong from Murder Most Unladylike. Because she just seems really nice and she likes to read books. I think I would enjoy spending time with her.
  3. Nina from The Little Shop of Happy Ever After. Being best friend with somebody who has an intense passion for books would be quite amazing. She also seems really fun.
  4. Sam Vimes from the Discworld series. Mostly because we could be grumpy and sarcastic together. We could also marvel at others stupidity.
  5. Daisy Wells from Murder Most Unladylike. I would like to be friends with her because I would very likely be dragged inte mysteries, but I might end up slapping her several times.
  6. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (do I really need to specify this?). She would be great to have around. Level-headed, smart and kind. Seems like she is extremely loyal to her friends and does her best to help them without doing everything for them (like things they can do themselves).
  7. Rhy Maresh from the Shades of Magic series. Because I love him.
  8. Arlen Zachary from The Harmatia Cycle books. Because he needs a hug and I want to give him one! My poor little baby.
  9. Rufus Merle from The Harmatica Cycle. He also needs a hug. And rest. Just a break overall. He is also a little shithead and we would get along so well.
  10. Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld series. She is a long suffering witch who just tries to make sure that people don’t kill themselves from sheer stupidity. I sometimes feel like this with my students. The two of us could sit together, drink tea (or whiskey) and just share stories of the stupid things people do.

I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT THIS TOOK ME TWO HOURS TO WRITE. I mean, I was watching an Eddie Izzard stand-up show but still.