Archive for September, 2009

The Lost Symbol – Book Review


by Dan Brown

ISBN:  9780593054277

Published: 2009

Robert Langdon returns with another mystery to solve in The Lost Symbol.  His Sunday is disrupted by an urgent request from his dear friend, Peter Solomon, to fill in for an absent guest speaker at a Smithsonian Gala event that evening.  Peter, in his usual style, pulls out all stops, private jet and limousine, to get Robert to the Gala with no inconvenience.  Robert, however, is very inconvenienced when he arrives at the Capital Building to find no Gala event and no Peter Solomon waiting for him.  What he does find is a personal and gruesome ‘invitation’ to discover an ancient portal hidden in Washington DC .  If he does not accept the ‘invitation’ then his friend will die.

With the help of Peter Solomon’s sister Katherine and a few high ranking members of the Masonic Order, Robert has no choice but to do as the kidnapper demands and solve the riddles pointing to the location of the portal.

Dan Brown has created another nail-biting adventure for Robert Langdon and I was loathe to have to put it down for even the smallest domestic duty.  I can fully understand why his books cause such a sensation.  He mentions alchemy many times in this book and I believe, he, is an alchemist of sorts, with the way he seamlessly blends fact with fiction.  Choosing delicious, documented, legends and mysteries to solve, he weaves his magic and leaves you questioning what NOT to believe.  This is why his books are such a success.  It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in a Dan Brown book.  He always leaves me desperate to research what parts of the story are fact.

Dan Brown, again, chooses to set his story within an exclusive organisation.  The Lost Symbol involves primarily, the Freemasons but also includes The Invisible College, the Office of Security, the Smithsonian Museum Support Centre and the Institute of Noetic Sciences.  You experience a sensation of descending or being immersed in these societies.  The science, theories, legends, artifacts, and rituals he offers up, are, like in his previous novels, great fonder for dinner party debates.

The fact, &/or fiction (you be the judge) he writes, is so facinating that I advise reading it in a quiet place where you can give it your full attention.  I don’t think The Lost Symbol has knocked off Angels and Demons or DaVinci Code as my favourites but I believe it is on a par with his other novels.  I found that I predicted results fairly early in the book but it didn’t take away from the ending because the explanations were fantastic and a surprise.

I loved The Lost Symbol and confidently recommend adding it to your bookshelf.

Posted on 23 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Reviews, Thriller. 1 Comment.

The Matters at Mansfield – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1847-3

There are some people you should never invite to a party. Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) and Mr and Mrs Darcy because scandel follows them and someone always turns up dead.  At least Miss Marple had the decency to look for her corpes in the newspaper.

Mr and Mrs Darcy are attending a ball the at the Fitzwilliams with Lady Catherine, Anne de Burgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Lady Catherine is determined to find a suitably rich and titled match for her daughter Anne.  Anne, however has a different idea and has everyone scrambling when she elopes.  The drama unfolds at Mansfield Park and we get a glimpse of characters from Jane Austen’s classic.  Unfortunately we get only a glimpse and I was sad we didn’t see more of them.

It’s a great series and this book just as good as the others.

Posted on 15 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 5 Comments.

The Darcys and the Bingleys – Book Review


by Marsha Altman

ISBN-13: 9781402213489

Published: 2008

Ms Altman, I bow down to your wit, humour and superior story-telling skills.  The Darcys and the Bingleys was wonderful.

I regularly laughed out loud and was loathe to have to put the book down to keep my family fed and watered.

What a romp this book is, love and a fair amount of lust, (she says excitedly), mysteries, attempted murders, sword fights and rotten scoundrels.

The book contains all our favourite characters from Pride and Prejudice and begins just before Darcy and Bingley are to marry the beautiful Bennet sisters, Elizabeth and Jane.

Bingley is nervous about the wedding night and goes to Darcy for advice.  Here enters ‘the book’ the famous Kama Sutra, that I’m sure still resides in many a secret hideyhole in master bedrooms all over the world.  The Bennet sisters are horrified by the ‘responsibilities of a wife’ imparted to them by their mother on the eve of their wedding.  However, the sisters soon learn that being a responsible wife with loving and ‘educated’ husbands is not at all horrible.

Not surprisingly, the sisters are soon pregnant and the families start to expand. They have been great friends but becoming brothers has encouraged Darcy and Bingley to be competitive and occupy themselves by trying to best the other in anything. The voice of calm and reason comes to the brothers from an unexpected yet delightful source – one of my favourite characters – Mr Bennet.

A distraction does come in the form of a suitor for Caroline Bingley.  Charles asked Darcy to form an opinion of him as he himself does not trust the man.  Darcy also feels that something is amiss with the northerner Lord Kincaid, so he and the family are duty bound to discover who he is.

I loved this book to bits and am waiting on Plight of the Darcy Brothers to be delivered. Be kind to yourself and read it now… so off you go.

Posted on 6 September '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.

Pride and Prescience – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN- 13: 9780765318435

Published: 2004

This is the first in the ‘A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery’ series, but the second I’ve read.  I read the 3rd book (North by Northanger) first and was hoping that wasn’t like reading the back of a book and with relief it wasn’t.  Although set chronologically, each book, it seems, can stand alone.

This book starts at the joint wedding breakfast of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet.  The couples are a little miffed and the wedding, slightly married, by the sudden announcement of Caroline Bingley’s (Charles’ sister) engagement and intention to marry the following Wednesday.  However, the behaviour is true to form of the sharp tongued, attention seeking sister.  The newly married couples dutifully alter their own plans to accommodate Caroline’s marriage to the charming, rich American, Mr Parrish.

If the family were shocked at the suddenness of Caroline’s engagement, they were more shocked to note the sudden change in behaviour after her marriage.  Her current state of mind is so strange and dangerous to herself and those around her that the family would happily see her return to her normal unpleasant self.

While trying to care for their sister, the Bingleys themselves, start to experience a series of unfortunate events they are lucky to escape from with their lives.  The whole Bingley family appears to be a target for some unknown reason and the Darcys determine to find out who is behind it.

Combine a mystery, madness, a little occult, murder, Austen’s Elizabeth and Mr Darcy (let me catch me breath) and you have a fun book that I read from start to finish in one sitting.

I’m sure Miss Austen would approve.

Posted on 6 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Mr Knightley’s Diary – Book Review


by Amanda Grange

This ‘Diary’ series by Amanda Grange is a real treasure.

To observe Jane Austen’s Emma from Mr Knightley’s point of view is precious.  It presents Mr Knightley in a surprising way, with a little more vulnerability than you might have assumed.  Revealing insecurities that were only alluded to at the end of Emma.

Emma laments being doomed to blindness but this book accuses Mr Knightley of the same fault.

Mr George Knightley’s bachelorhood has always been a topic of conversation amongst the local ladies but he had never been inclined to change his position.  However, recently he has begun to feel his isolation and finds himself envious of those around him happily coupled. There are suitable women within his social circle but cannot imagine any of them being the mistress of Highbury.

His days are spent managing his estate and evenings spent sitting with his much loved neighbours Mr Woodhouse and his daughter Emma.  The Woodhouses and Knightleys were joined by marriage when Mr Knightley’s brother John married Emma’s older sister Isabella and Emma and Mr Knightley are doting aunt and uncle to John and Isabella’s much loved children.

If he finds no mistress of Highbury then Mr Knightley is happy in the knowledge that John’s eldest son will inherit.   He is content to spend his days and nights just as they are.

His pleasant resigned life is shaken with the arrival of a much talked of gentleman, Mr Frank Churchill, son of his good friend Mr Weston.  Mr Weston’s recent marriage to Emma’s governess Miss Taylor has resulted in a visit from Mr Churchill.  It has long been discretely discussed that Mr Churchilll and Miss Woodhouse may make a good match.  On meeting, the pair appear to be very pleased with each other.

Emma Woodhouse considers herself a matchmaker but her maneuvers to promote pairings causes no end of trouble.  Mr Knightley, Emma’s greatest critic, is frustrated by her nonsense and is truly concerned about her lack of sense.  His frustration seems only heightened by the influence of Mr Churchill on Emma.  Shocked by the severity of his reaction to Mr Churchill, Mr Knightley begins to wonder if what he is feeling is really jealousy.

Another great diary from Amanda Grange.  I recommend it to any Austen fan but beware because you are in danger of falling hopelessly in love with these Austen men.

Posted on 6 September '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 3 Comments.

Superior Scribbler Award!


Thank you so much Heather from Gofita’s Pages for awarding me this Superior Scribbler award – I’m thrilled and very happy to pass it on!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I am unhappily restricted to picking just 5 but very happy to pass this award for Superior Scribbling to:

  1. Austenprose
  2. Denise Robbins
  3. Fly High
  4. Stella Matutina
  5. Persnickety Snark

Take a bow.

Posted on 4 September '09 by , under Awards. 4 Comments.

North by Northanger – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN: 0-765-31410-X

Published: 2006

A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery

I think my Austen collection is about to expand again.  I’m delighted by how good so many of the Austen inspired novels are.  Carrie Bebris has done a wonderful job of representing the Austen world.  Add Austen to the pot, throw in some Agatha Christie and you have a great recipe for an entertaining series.

North by Northanger – A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery is set 1 year after Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding.  Elizabeth is still finding her feet as the new mistress of Pemberley.  Elizabeth is feeling unsettled by the lasting  influence of its last mistress and is tentative about making changes.

Lady Anne, Darcy’s mother, tragically died giving birth to Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana.  Between Darcy and Georgiana she endured many miscarriages and stillborns.  Now Elizabeth is pregnant and although happy, her and Darcy are nervous.

While moving a desk, a letter from Lady Anne is discovered.   Not a strange thing to find as it was Lady Anne’s desk being moved and yet it was strange because the letter was addressed to Elizabeth as the next mistress of Pemberley.  The letter, written while she was in labour and just before she died, was hastily composed.   Lady Anne was distressed by misplacing something she treasured and felt she needed to ensure the safe delivery of her baby.  She begs Elizabeth to find it and have it herself for when she delivers her own babies.  Now Darcy and Elizabeth have a mystery to solve as Lady Anne didn’t say what the item was.

An unexpected invitation to visit Northanger Abbey arrives.  Frederick Tilney of Northanger explains that their mothers had been close friends and he wished to know Mr and Mrs Darcy.  Their visit proves to be disastrous and threatens Darcy’s name, reputation and freedom.

When stress is the last thing that Elizabeth needs, their blessed life is thrown into turmoil.

Carrie Bebris writes a wonderful tale that combines Jane Austen with Agatha Christie’s mystery and I loved it.  The characters are so familiar that it feels like they have stepped straight out of Austen’s books and although I guessed the culprits early on I was still surprised as other mysteries were solved.

Now I have only to look forward to reading the other novels in this series.

Thank you Carrie Bebris

Posted on 2 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.