Book Review: A Highland Christmas (Hamish Macbeth, #15.5) by M.C. Beaton

A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's Christmastime in the Highlands, but you wouldn't be able to tell in Lochdubh, the village where Hamish Macbeth is constable. The local Calvinists don't truck with Santa, trees and lights. A disgruntled Macbeth is called out to the croft of Mrs. Gallagher, a waspish old woman who lives alone and has had her cat stolen. Along with that mystery, Hamish must investigate the theft of the large Christmas tree and lights from the unfriendly village of Cnothan.

This is a short little book of 129 pages, just right for a special Christmas edition to delight cozy mystery and M.C. Beaton fans. Having just read the most recent Hamish Macbeth book, this was a sweet return to the "old" Hamish that I have grown to love over the years.

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Book Review: If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read almost all of Jen Lancaster's books. She's close to my age, so her cultural references resonate with me. She's also a socially-liberal Conservative, which also resonates with me. I prefer her memoirs to her novels, but after a series of historical non-fiction, I was ready for a light reading break. This book delivers. Although I am not a famous writer of Amish Zombie Teen Romances, I am am married to a man who has a few similarities to "Mac", and have fallen down the rabbit pit of home repair on several occasions. Some of the material is very familiar, since it's based on the stories in "Jeneration X", her book about moving out of their house in the city out to the suburbs. It's a bit outlandish, but we're not reading Jen Lancaster's material for stark realism, people. There were parts that had me laughing out loud, and sighing in recognition. All in all, and enjoyable…

Book Review: The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately Home The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately Home by Natalie Livingstone

The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately Home by Natalie Livingstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mistresses of Clivenden starts out with the story of a real mistress, Anna Maria, the Countess of Shrewsbury, who was beloved of the Duke of Buckingham. He built the house with the purpose of them living together and enjoying the pleasures of the flesh. Due to the public censure of their scandalous and even murderous (he killed her husband in a duel) relationship, they were not able to actually be together and live happily at the estate. Another famous mistress was Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney, who was the paramour of William of Orange, despite her famous squint. She and her husband, the Earl, upgraded the house and hosted royalty. The next owner was just the mistress of Clivenden, as she loved her husband - Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the wife of the Prince of Wales. Together, they turned Clivenden into an alternate court, away from the …

Book Review: Death of a Ghost (Hamish Macbeth, #32) by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Ghost by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Hamish, how I loved ye.

I'm pretty sure I've read almost all of the Hamish Macbeth books (this is #32), including the little stories. I think I might have missed one before this one, somehow, because I didn't remember quite how Hamish got the poodle, although I do remember how he lost Sonsie. I've enjoyed them all, for the most part, being a lover of cozy mysteries.

This one was not so great.

It seemed like new characters, who could have been more interesting if fleshed out a little more, were popping up every chapter, along with the good old friends you expect from the books of the past.

There really wasn't a Death of a Ghost, rather a fake ghost was being used to cover up scurrilous activities in the old castle now inhabited by former police bigwig Handy Ebrington, who also has a shady past. Hamish and his new co-hort, Charlie, inspect the scene, lose a body, and are off to solve the mystery. There ar…

Book Review: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots has been written about Lady Jane Grey. This book delves deeper into the whole family's story, including the tragic tales of Jane's sisters Katherine and Mary. Unlike other versions of her story, Jane is no poor, fragile child thrust into a role she didn't want by grasping relatives. Leanda deLisle submits Jane's own words to reveal a young woman who was so committed to her Protestant faith, that she was willing to go to her death rather than repudiate her beliefs. After their sister's execution, both Katherine and Mary got themselves into trouble by marrying without their queens' permission. This lead to them both being separated from their dearly loved husbands for the most part of their marriages, and directly to Mary's husband's death from the after affects of being imprisoned and tortured. Katherine was able to bear two children, despite being in the Tower, in a different…

Walmart Beauty Box Unboxing - Summer 2017 - Meh

Here is is - the latest Walmart Beauty Box Unboxing:

So, this was a bit of a disappointment. As I said in the video, I'd really love more make-up products.  Having said that, I do like that the Walmart box is only $5 per quarter, it's a nice little surprise each quarter.

Book Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't say enough - I saw the mini-series, was delighted, and then read the book. Now I am enchanted. If you've read any of the reviews, you know the basic story - magic is almost gone from England, until the reclusive and odd Mr. Norrell decides to bring it back in spectacular fashion, publicly. He does, then comes forth the reluctant magician, Jonathan Strange, a fop, a dilettante, who just happens to be so much more naturally talented than Mr. Norrell. Add the incredible cast of magical and not characters, and you've got an immense allegory of the Prodigal Son that is very hard to put down. I found myself sitting at work, wishing I was reading my book.

Who hasn't watched bitterly from the sides as a newcomer seems to charm everyone and not miss a pitch? The introverted Mr. Norrell really just wants to be with his books, at his house -
“I have a scholar's love of silence and solitude. To …