Month: February 2019

Sophia Rose Review: Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Posted February 28, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel, narrated by Matthew Lloyd DaviesOffstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 5 hours 44 minutes
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #3
Published by Tantor Audio on October 24, 2017
Genres: Historical, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In this third instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, there’s great excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala. However matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Inspector de Silva has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.

Shanti de Silva takes his wife Jane to the newly opened playhouse in Nuala when a traveling Shakespearean theater troupe arrive in town. It is not long before Hamlet is enacted in real life and Inspector de Silva must work out who brought the final curtain down on the lead actor.

This is the third of the Inspector de Silva mysteries set in 1930’s Ceylon with a Sinhalese detective who must always do a balancing act between the Colonial British government and the local peoples of whom he is one as he solves crime in Ceylon mountain city in the heart of tea plantation country. Shanti is a progressive and intellectual man who chose to marry warmhearted former governess, Jane. They share a tender and friendly loving relationship along with an interest in crime-solving, but also must deal with the nuances to their marriage that come from being an interracial couple.

Each of these historical cozy mysteries are a delight for the details of the 1930’s world of Ceylon and having the main character being non-British. This aids and hinders his work in turn.

The mysteries are not devilishly twisting, but they are not too easy to figure out, either. I enjoy seeing Shanti gather the facts here and there, consult Jane’s take, engage in other daily affairs, and then have an intense action-packed final scene when he exposes the killer.

The narrator, Matthew Lloyd Davies, does a stellar job of voicing gender, age, many international accents, and bringing out nuances in the story with a good handle on pacing and tone. I get lost in his storytelling each time I listen in to this series.

In summary, these are a wonderful escape to the past and an exotic setting with a clever murder and engaging characters. Definitely recommend to those who enjoy this genre.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Posted February 26, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz LawlerDon't Wake Up by Liz Lawler
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on February 5, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A harrowing psychological thriller debut about a woman who awakens after an assault with no physical proof of the attack and who must try to convince everyone of what really happened.
When Dr. Alex Taylor opens her eyes, she is hooked up to an IV, is bound to an operating table, and her legs are raised in stirrups. Disoriented and alarmed, she assumes she's been anesthetized and brought to surgery after being in an accident. But the man standing over her, with his face hidden behind a surgical mask and wielding instruments, is no doctor she recognizes at the hospital where she works as a successful and respected doctor. He’s a stranger—and he’s calmly and methodically telling her how he's about to attack her. Before Alex can even scream for help, she succumbs to another dose of anesthesia, rendering her unable to defend herself….
When she comes to on a gurney, she finds herself surrounded by her colleagues and immediately reports the attack and rape. The police are skeptical of her bizarre story. And after a physical exam reveals no proof of any attack, even her boyfriend has doubts. Despite Alex's adamant claims, no one believes her, leaving her to wonder if she has, in fact, lost her mind.
Until she meets the next victim…
An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, Don't Wake Up is also a provocative, timely exploration of victimhood, abuse, and the discrediting of women in our culture.
 
 

Dr. Alex Taylor is a young, but a successful doctor who seems to have everything going for her until the night she gets attacked and her world is turned upside down. She thought the horror was over, but it all begins when she opens her eyes and then meet the other victim…

I have a hard time writing this review. I don’t really know how to feel about this book and I find that I am completely torn on the rating.

The writing was good, it felt fast paced at the beginning, but slowly began to drag and parts of it quickly became boring and annoying.

The story as a whole, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. It was frustrating. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself so angry with the book. Let me explain.

Dr. Alex Taylor is a smart, successful doctor. She gets attacked and NO ONE. Not one single person believes her. Her colleagues don’t believe her, her fiance does not believe her, even her “best friend” acts like a total jerk to her. I was so angry over everything and how everyone suddenly doubted her mental state and the control Dr. Alex Taylor was losing because of it. I didn’t feel that the extent it went that it was realistic. The police might have doubted her because of the lack of evidence, but I didn’t feel like there wasn’t one person there that shouldn’t have believed her. Even the man that ‘loved’ her was a complete and total loser. She also somehow ends up the prime suspect in the murder cases that follow and the lead detective that was trying to frame her with no evidence was driving me insane. How the hell was that realistic?

I kind of went into this book thinking it was a powerful tool during the #metoo movement as its blurb on the cover, but instead, I got nothing but frustration and not at all where I expected this book to go. It fizzled, it could have delivered some sort of a message, but instead, it left me more than a little underwhelmed.

 

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Guest Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley, Narrated by Jayne Entwistle

Posted February 12, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Guest Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley, Narrated by Jayne EntwistleThe Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Length: 9 hours 50 minutes
Series: Flavia de Luce, #2
Published by Random House Audio on March 9, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 10
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

From Dagger Award–winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.
Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.
Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head? 
From the Hardcover edition.

Another whimsical and captivating entry in the Flavia de Luce series pits eleven year old amateur detective Flavia against a new puzzling murder and a long ago death of a young boy that may have a bearing on the famous puppeteer’s demise.

Flavia is not just precocious, but rather a child protégé when it comes to chemistry, particularly poisons, and puzzling out a mystery. The de Luce household is somewhat ramshackle and eccentric both the estate and the family. It is a pleasure to slip into Flavia’s English countryside and village 1950-era world. She is both a terror and an engaging girl with a mind that observes and analyzes beyond the average adult.

I enjoyed this gently paced historical mystery. The author’s carefully painted historical setting, dialogues, and characters make the book just sparkle. It may have a child detective, but this is very much an adult level series with themes and elements aimed at an adult audience. That said, Flavia is written so that the reader/listener is convinced of her age while also finding her abilities and deductions equally believable. It is fun how one moment she is clever and cunning when on the hunt to solving the mystery and the other she is cat-fighting and pulling pranks on her older obnoxious sisters while avoiding the stern censure of her father. She understands so much about facts, but finds adults act in unfathomable ways at times. I about died laughing when she went to her father’s manservant to explain what was involved in ‘having an affair’ because she deduced he was likely to be her best bet for an answer. Poor old Dogger!

I will say that this book/series are more of an acquired taste in that I don’t think this will have universal appeal. It will depend on if the reader/listener likes a story that takes its time and also has a mischievous eleven year old as the principle character.

Jayne Entwistle continues to deliver a brilliant performance as the narrator. She voices all the characters so well even the added voice of a male German accented voice along with Flavia’s girl exuberance. There is something that she does to make it feel like the right era, too.

All in all, I had a great time and even burst into laughter several times over Flavia’s antics. Dogger the family handyman continues to be a favorite character as he fights his post-war stress demons and takes care of the family and particularly Flavia. I can’t wait for more from this unique historical mystery series that makes me think of Sherlock Holmes mashed with Addams’ Family.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Guest Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan

Posted February 8, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Guest Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field by Melissa NathanPride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 24, 2001
Genres: Chick-Lit, Womens Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

It starts as a lark for Jasmin Field, the charming, acerbically witty columnist for a national women's magazine.  She joins a host of celebraties gathering in London to audition for the season's most dazzling charity event:  a one-night only stage production of Jane Austen's immortal Pride and Prejudice, directed by and starring the Academy Award -- winning Hollywood heartthrob Harry Noble.  And nobody is more surprised than Jasmin herself when she lands the lead of handsome Harry's love interest, Elizabeth Bennet.  But things start to go very wrong very quickly.  Ms. Field's delicious contempt for the arrogant, overbearing Harry Noble goes from being wicked fun to infuriating.  Her brief moment of theatrical glory looks as if it's going to be overshadowed by the betrayal of her best friend, the disintegration of her family and the implosion of her career. And suddenly she can't remember a single one of her lines.  But, worst of all, Harry Noble -- who, incidentally, looks amazing in tight breeches -- has started to stare hard at Jazz with that sort of a glimmer in his eyes...
Fresh, wild, wonderfully romantic and absolutely hilarious, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field is Jane Austen as the great lady herself never imagined it.

 

So, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field, a classic retelling within a modern retelling. Yes! We have a play adaption of Jane Austen’s P&P acted for a charity event with the players’ lives mimicking art in this one.

It is set in London and follows the life of women’s column journalist, Jasmin Field as she plays the part of impertinent Elizabeth Bennet across from top rated actor in the country, Harry Noble who set Jazz’s back up long before their first bad meeting.

Things progress in a marvelous comedy of errors type story as Jasmin is set in hate-mode toward Harry and it doesn’t help that she lets herself believe a charmer with lies on his lips. Harry got on her bad side so she has no trouble believing the worst. It is the shy, friendly side that startles her and throws her for a loop. Meanwhile, her sister falls for the cutie nice guy actor and her flat mate plays the role of the pragmatic friend who settles for what she can get.

But, it wasn’t just comedy. There were some deeper elements that came out: abuse, gaslighting, integrity in journalism, feminism in these fields of industry, and the downside of the entertainment world beside all the glitter and glam.

I had a good time with this one, particularly since I’m an American enjoying the completely British flavor of this one even down to the slang. There was some sparks flying and some memorable funny moments along with some good character growth and decisive moments.

I will say that while I had fun with the overall story; I was not as enamored with Jasmin as the main character. I found her character crossed the line from snarky into angry-bitter which wasn’t attractive. It did make her big ‘aha’ moment bigger, and it was great watching her work through her thoughts and choices after that. I didn’t have much respect for her and Harry at times until later- then I was rooting them on.

All in all, it was a fast and engaging retelling with some sparkle and shine to it.

 

Sophia Sophia 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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