Format: Audiobook

Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda Berry

Posted June 8, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda BerryThe Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Bennet Wardrobe #7) by Don Jacobson
Narrator: Amanda Berry
Length: 16 hours 24 minutes
Series: The Bennet Wardrobe #7
Published by Don Jacobson on September 10th 2019
Genres: Time Travel Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

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

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.

Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.

 

From the first book, the youngest Bennet sister has been sparkling in the shadows and readying to plunge into the open of center stage for her story- a story of a young girl who made youthful mistakes, but time and circumstances put the heroine through a refining fire to forge her into a strong, capable woman who loved and lost more than once. I gladly took up my ear buds and listened to the delectable voice of Amanda Berry tell me the story I was long anticipating.

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion is the seventh of the Bennet Wardrobe series which is interwoven tightly and must be read in order.

The Pilgrim begins with Lydia’s life after running off and marrying the rakish George Wickham. What brought her from a flitting selfish girl of a small English town to become the powerful and wise Countess? When reading Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet is a character that I can appreciate as a nuisance and then I just pitied her for her final fate. After all, she made a youthful, albeit huge mistake, and she’ll pay for it for a long time. So, I was well pleased to see that in this magical time traveling Wardrobe universe, this Lydia gets a reset. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. In fact, her story is quite a doozy- tissue warning for you emotional readers/listeners like myself. But, beyond this second chance, I found I really liked and admired this young woman. She knows she screwed up and that others aren’t going to buy her about face all at once- it takes action not just words. So, she bucks up and listens and learns from her sisters and friends- even her parents- like she never did before.

Beyond Lydia’s transformation, there is a fabulous universe the author created that includes a magical and mysterious time traveling Wardrobe that will take the members of the Bennet family where they are needed most. In this one, Lydia’s journey took her from Regency England to WWII Occupied France where she is truly tested. Nazis, French Resistance, and a surprise await her. But, most of all, she gets the chance to reconnect with her beloved sister, Kitty, whom she thought was lost to her. Kitty has taught herself much about the Wardrobe and with each book more has been revealed about how it works.

Outside of the time travel element, the author does a fabulous job of historical setting both Regency and WWII. It was fun to spot real life figures and events, literary figures cameo-ing, and the attention to how the characters would behave and speak at the time. Even with the time travel, it was neat to see characters true to what they knew. Lydia enjoyed the changes that were allowed to her sex by the 1940’s, but some things were really shocking like getting to wear trousers or ladies smoking and drinking in mixed company.

Lydia gets to experience romance in several ways throughout her colorful life. I don’t want to spoiler the story so I won’t go into this element, but for all the romance readers- you will get your fill. You will also get to feel deeply.

Amanda Berry is the fabulous series narrator and, as with past entries in the series, she was masterful at delivering the storyline, enacting each of the large cast so that each was unique no matter their gender, age, class, or nationality. It is a tricky job and she does it so well. I get caught up each time I listened and didn’t want to pause even when I must.

In summary, the series stays strong and I was oh so well pleased with Lydia’s story. I saw a few hints as to what is to come next and I’m eager to see how that teases out. It is a complex series and a large cast of characters at this point, but I love it. Those who enjoy a unique style of time travel romance with a fair share of intrigue and worldbuilding should definitely give this series a go.

My thanks to the author 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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Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany Morgan

Posted May 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 36 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany MorganA Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes
Narrator: Tiffany Morgan
Length: 5 hours 55 minutes
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #5
Published by Tantor Audio on December 27, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
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.

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

Reluctantly chairing the high school reunion, Emma Lee encounters the high school mean girl who becomes her latest ghost client, her granny gets a taste for being a reality TV star, her sister works for a rival funeral home now, and her newspaper pal is framed for the murder. Life in Sleepy Hollow, KY isn’t dull.

A Ghostly Reunion is the fifth installment in this hilarious paranormal cozy mystery series featuring a heroine who runs a funeral home and sees ghosts who have been murdered and need help crossing to the other side.

The Ghostly Southern Mysteries invite the listener to give the over the top, light-weight murder mysteries a chance. Emma Lee is an amusing amateur detective who fumbles and bumbles her way through her ghostly cases with the help of town sheriff and boyfriend, Jack Henry.

Each book provides a good murder mystery, but it is paired with lots of quirky small town, family antics, and a sweet, slow burn romance. In this latest, Emma Lee has to face the desertion of her sister to a posh funeral home and the arrival of a high school mean girl who used to rule the school, date Jack Henry, and make Emma’s life a misery. It’s not so much who would kill her as who didn’t have a reason to murder her.

Tiffany Morgan is a delightful narrator for the series and does a fab job of southern drawl and charm, comedic timing, and a variety of vocal inflections for the large cast of characters. I get lost in her storytelling quite easily.

All in all, I had a great time listening in and find the light and fun quality perfect when I want easy entertainment and a good mystery to puzzle over. It is a good match for those who enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries.

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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Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan Duerden

Posted May 13, 2020 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan DuerdenThe Outlaw's Tale by Margaret Frazer
Length: 6 hours 33 minutes
Series: Sister Frevisse, #3
Published by Dream Machine Productions, Tantor Audio on December 21, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
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.

ACT OF MERCY, ACT OF MURDER

Leaving the safety of her nunnery walls behind, Dame Frevisse is drawn into an unholy web of treachery and deceit. Waylaid on the King's Highway by a band of outlaws, Frevisse is shocked to discover that their leader is her long-lost cousin Nicholas. When he pleads with her to help him obtain a pardon for his crimes, she finds herself trapped between the harsh edicts of the law and the mercy of her vows.

But even as she struggles to restore his fortunes, Frevisse must fight to save his soul... and his life. Before the outlaw's tale can be told, the saintly nun will find herself trapped in a manor house of murder, caught between the holy passions of the heart and the sinful greeds of man.

What a situation for a cloistered medieval nun to find herself in? It could have been a tale straight from the Robin Hood legend when Sister Frevisse’s small party is accosted by outlaws who merrily take them, prisoner. Loved that it was off to an exciting start.

The Outlaw’s Tale is the third of the Sister Frevisse standalone mysteries. Frevisse is along with Master Naylor as chaperone and escort for one of the other sisters in her cloister who must travel for a family obligation. However, near the end of the journey, Frevisse discovers her own family obligation has just caused them to be waylaid so her cousin, branded an outlaw in his youth, can plead his case. Nicholas wants her to approach their powerful uncle, Thomas Chaucer (son of the family Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey), to use his influence at royal court to achieve this.

While she is still contemplating whether he and his men are truly turned a new leaf, Sister Emma falls ill and they are taken to a nearby manor where a reluctant lord who has had business dealings with Nicholas’ band and his not so reluctant widowed sister take them in. Frevisse observes that the sister, Magdalen, has connections to the outlaw band and her worry grows that Nick is not as repentant as he would have her to believe. There is something of a family feud taking place and the widow is none too interested in a repulsive suitor for her hand- a suitor who is murdered. Frevesse has her hands full now as she is determined to discover if Nicholas or his men did the deed and how to extricate her party from danger.

The Outlaw’s Tale has more exciting elements than the two previous mysteries and it was fun to see her in a new setting outside the cloister and in the ticklish situation of a bad boy charming cousin needing her help.

I most enjoy the attention to detail of the time period and the religious background of the central characters. Frevisse has a complex character that is a part contemplative nun, but also wry humor and a sharp observer. She is respectful and even reverential when needed, but she doesn’t suffer foolishness well and Sister Emma’s chatterbox ways bring this out.

On a side note, I was really taken with Master Naylor who is the steward of their abbey and acts as a smart and able assistant to Frevisse. There is more to him than meets the eye.

The mystery was clever, but not as complicated as previous ones. Or, maybe I just latched onto the person by happenstance and saw no reason to change my mind when some others seemed more obvious. It was still a good mystery and the end still gave me some surprise.

I enjoyed the story in audio with the capable and gifted Susan Duerden narrating. She did great with the large cast of voices and had a good range with gender, class, and personalities. I love the way she does Frevisse particularly when she is contemplating matters. I hope she does the whole series.

In summary, it was another wonderful outing with the series and I can’t wait for the next. Historical mystery lovers should definitely give the Sister Frevisse series a go.

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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Sophia Rose Review: Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle Garrett

Posted November 27, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 27 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle GarrettWedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle Garrett
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 4 hours 1 minute
Series: A Touch of Magic Mysteries #3
Published by Tantor Audio on April 12, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 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.

A drop of poison is all it takes to bring the biggest wedding of the season to its knees.
Anastasia Winters adheres to the adage that the show must go on, but when the groom of her latest wedding drops dead before “I do,” she’s left with no backup plan.
Things get even stickier when her friend and esteemed caterer, Francois, is named the top suspect.
Ana's loyalties are tested as the investigation turns into a vicious tug-of-war. She believes Francois is innocent, but holding the other side of the rope is the lead detective--her serious boyfriend--and the more she struggles, the more her own chance at happily ever after starts to unravel.
It’s up to Anastasia to find the killer, while gripping tightly to her relationships before they break and leave her with nothing.
***
Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells is the third novel in a new series of paranormal mysteries by Danielle Garrett. Step inside the magical world of the Seattle Haven and see what happens when the magic and wedding worlds collide! Packed full of laughs, magic, mystery, and a little romance, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

Rich, entitled, and very connected makes a jerk groom and his bride, Anastasia’s personal penance for months through planning their nuptials. She dreams of their ‘I do’ moment with happiness more than they do. I have such a good time with this author’s books that I couldn’t wait to jump back in her paranormal cozy mystery world.

Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells was the third of the Touch of Magic series that is a spinoff of the Beechwood Harbor Magic series. This series should be read in order to get the full storyline for main character and recurring characters, but it also works especially best after getting the older series because there is a small crossover with that series main character into this book.

Anastasia is a premier wedding planner for a big well-established agency. She’s at the top of her game with her career and her romantic relationship with Caleb, her Supernatural Police Agency boyfriend. But, when the snobby and annoying groom is murdered and her caterer friend stands accused by Caleb as the investigating officer even as she gets pounced on by a boss always waiting to catch her out, she is on the verge of losing everything. And, what’s with her younger sister sneaking around and lying to her? Can’t a poor witch catch a break?

I loved how this one turned out. Anastasia really got put through the wringer personally. It still had a light and fun feel, but also touched on personal relationships, career dreams, and big changes for her future while offering up a good murder mystery. She hit a low time and had to struggle which made it all the more engaging.

The mystery was good, but, I confess, that I only gave it half a thought because I was more interested in the intrigues of her personal life this go around.

Amanda Ronconi is very familiar and was a welcome sound when I picked this one up in audio edition. She has been the voice of all the author’s books and let me say, that is a good thing. She makes listening to this series and the others an enhanced experience because she captures her characters, the world, and the tone of the author’s writing so well. There is an inter-changeableness in that Ana sounds like Holly and Scarlett and Caleb sounds like the other heroine’s boyfriends, but I didn’t mind nor did it confuse me.

I think this series is getting better with each new release since this was the best yet to me. If you want entertaining cozy mystery set in a paranormal world with a well-developed cast of characters, you need look no further.

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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Sophia Rose Review: Brave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Narrated by Jorjeana Marie

Posted August 15, 2019 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 9 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Brave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Narrated by Jorjeana MarieBrave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Jorjeana Marie
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Length: 20.5 hours
Series: Cassandra Palmer #9
Published by Tantor Audio on August 6, 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 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.

Cassie Palmer, chief seer of the supernatural world, faces her biggest challenge yet-her own allies! Everything's on the line in the latest thrilling entry in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series. Cassie Palmer has been chief seer of the supernatural world for a little over four months. In that time, she's battled two gods, fallen in love with two men, and confronted the two sides of her own nature, both god and human. So it's not surprising that she currently finds herself facing two adversaries, although they have a single purpose: to wipe out the supernatural community's newest fighting force, leaving it vulnerable to enemies in this world and beyond. To prevent catastrophe, the vamps, mages, and demons will have to do the one thing they've never managed before and come together as allies. Cassie has the difficult task of keeping the uneasy coalition intact, and of persuading her own two opposing forces, a powerful mage with a secret and a master vampire with a growing obsession, to fight at her side. She just hopes they can do it without tearing each other apart. Contains mature themes.

Can’t a gal catch a break? Or, you know, get a time out for a breather? This fast-paced, original, and oh-so action-packed Urban Fantasy series just keeps up a hammering plot pace with a heroine at the core of matters who is faking it until she makes it even as she slowly comes into her own. I’ve had a blast with each book in this series and this one was no exception.

Brave the Tempest is book nine in the Cassandra Palmer series and would probably be utterly crazy reading if taken out of order. Also, if you’re considering jumping in, I would recommend including the Dorina Basarab side series where they fit by release date as if they were one united series for best reading/listening experience.

The last few books were all about getting John Pritkin, a powerful War Mage (aka Merlin), back while defeating a god and fighting a war with faery and the mages of the Dark Circle to keep the gods from returning. Cassie, the new Pythia (able to wield some magic including time itself), feels she has been through so much and done so much and yet more keeps coming at her. She has separated herself from Mircea and the Vampires after learning the whole truth about why they courted her, she’s held off the Silver Circle mages who want to control her and her power, she’s showed the demons what she can do, and she’s made the powerful enemies of Dark Circle Mages and fey sit up and take notice.

But, for all that, she feels she, her Pythia Court, and her love life are one hot mess. And, she wouldn’t be wrong. Cassie is confronted by several friends and allies that force her to stop long enough to consider what makes her tick, change what is necessary, and consider what she really wants and go for it.

It is make or break time for Cassie and she has to dig deep and learn some important lessons even while surviving long enough to help save the world.

As I said, the series arc for the last several books is complete and now Cassie is back to figuring out how to get all the allies working together and taking her seriously as Pythia. There is a lot more soul-searching in this one. At times, it felt like Cassie got a bit whiny as she took the pointed remarks about how she was doing stuff (or, in some cases, in denial and avoiding stuff). But, I’m pretty sure most of us would get whiny if we had her life so I’ll cut her some slack.

At last, the love triangle was finally dealt with and Cassie is firmly with Pritkin though still smarting and missing what could have been with Mircea. I loved that Cassie had some good ‘come to Jesus’ moments that will set some stuff straight including how she thought and felt about Dory/Dorina. (Now that was a fab encounter that I have been anticipating forever) Some old enemies that were still out there and trouble were front and center once again and I enjoyed how that all panned out so that plot threads that confused me or I felt needed more attention were getting them. And, for those who wanted more attention given to the romance? You got it.

I was only able to pick up one other from the Cassie Palmer World that was on audio, but I loved my first time with narrator, Jorjeana Marie. She captured the tone, pace, and voices of the characters so well. This was my first time hearing her voice Cassie (the other story was a Dory one), but I quickly adjusted from the voice in my head of her to Jorjeana Marie’s voice and her voice for other characters. I can’t get over how great she does with the blow by blow aspect of the action scenes so I didn’t get lost. Definitely worth picking up more of her work.

All in all, this was a solid entry in the series and I flew through it even if it was a longer one. Urban Fantasy fans who enjoy the usual paranormal suspects and some creature ones as well not to mention incredible magical settings and situations should give this series a go.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this one 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 Round Up #7

Posted May 23, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

Review Round Up #7Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant, Cris Dukehart
Narrator: Cris Dukehart
Length: 3 hours and 3 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Tantor Audio on April 30, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:2.5 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.

3 hours and 3 minutes
We live in an age of wonders.
Modern medicine has conquered or contained many of the diseases that used to carry children away before their time, reducing mortality and improving health. Vaccination and treatment are widely available, not held in reserve for the chosen few. There are still monsters left to fight, but the old ones, the simple ones, trouble us no more.
Or so we thought. For with the reduction in danger comes the erosion of memory, as pandemics fade from memory into story into fairy tale. Those old diseases can’t have been so bad, people say, or we wouldn’t be here to talk about them. They don’t matter. They’re never coming back.
How wrong we could be.
It begins with a fever. By the time the spots appear, it’s too late: Morris’s disease is loose on the world, and the bodies of the dead begin to pile high in the streets. When its terrible side consequences for the survivors become clear, something must be done, or the dying will never stop. For Dr. Isabella Gauley, whose niece was the first confirmed victim, the route forward is neither clear nor strictly ethical, but it may be the only way to save a world already in crisis. It may be the only way to atone for her part in everything that’s happened.
She will never be forgiven, not by herself, and not by anyone else. But she can, perhaps, do the right thing.
We live in an age of monsters.

It started with little Lisa Morris, an eight-year-old niece of Dr. Isabella Gauley as patient zero to fall to a new disease that would soon be known as the Morris disease. It didn’t take long for the disease that humankind believed to be eradicated to spread. They didn’t know that it was the first wave, or what it would do to the human body until it was too late. As Dr. Isabella Gauley scrambles to help the survivors that were left untouched, the rest of the world scrambles to beat a virus that is proving itself impossible to beat.

This was…

The concept of the book I found to be interesting. It’s a take on what could happen if people choose not to vaccinate their kids and how herd immunity as a whole helps the world. I think the concept would have been so good if the book was more developed and not a novella. It’s told in a third person and while the narrator did a good job with the story, I think maybe it was because I was listening to it, the story sounded like a preachy opinion piece. I found this style made me very disconnected with the characters because we never really get to know them or their emotions.

I thought this could have been done so much better. Instead, it was so repetitive and heavy-handed. I get that the author might have strong opinions on what’s going on in the world today and it’s fine, I just thought she could have used that idea and made this into an edge of your seat novel with stronger characters. Instead, it was subpar, preachy piece of writing with a lack of character development that leaves you kind of detached the entire time.

And the thing that pissed me off the most was the ending. What in the f- was that ending? If you’re going to go the lengths to point out how herd immunity is important to the world, why would you insert an ending like that in there? And then it ends so abruptly, it made no sense.

This was my first Mira Grant novel, and I found myself largely disappointed by lack of development, substance, and storytelling. She had something really interesting here, but the execution failed. I’d hope this is just a set up for future books.

Review Round Up #7Eighteen Below by Stefan Ahnhem
Series: Fabian Risk,
Published by Minotaur Books on December 4, 2018
Genres: Thriller, Crime
Pages: 560
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:two-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.

The third book in the internationally bestselling Fabian Risk series, a terrifying story of stolen identity and serial murder.
ON A HOT SUMMER'S DAY
The police chase a speeding car through the streets of Helsingborg. When they reach the bridge, the driver keeps going straight into the cold, dark waters of the Öresund strait.
A TRAGIC ACCIDENT
The body recovered from the wreck is that of Peter Brise, one of the city's richest tech entrepreneurs. Fabian Risk and his team are confident this is suicide. Young, rich, successful—Brise just didn't know how to ask for help.
TURNS EVERTHING A LITTLE BIT COLDER...
But then the autopsy reveals something unexpected. Brise was already dead when his car crashed. He'd been brutally murdered two months ago. His body frozen in perfect condition, at eighteen degrees below zero...Something doesn't match up. And when a string of other odd murders and unusual behavior come to light in the area, Fabian Risk takes the case.

I don’t have a lot to say about this book. It’s a dark Nordic noir that follows an Inspector Fabian Risk. The book was a chunker with two separate mysteries that didn’t connect. I felt like there was probably enough material from both to create two separate books instead of jamming everything into one dense book.

I thought it was okay and that’s about it. The writing is good. The character development was there. Maybe it’s because I’ve started it with book three, and not one, I found myself detached from the characters and never really caring.

There are some really dark and twisted themes in this that made me cringe at times. The book meandered a bit and I found myself losing interest at times. But the dark mysterious in this book were interesting enough to hold my attention, I found them very unique.

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Sophia Rose Review: Ghosts Gone Wild by Danielle Garrett, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Posted April 1, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Ghosts Gone Wild by Danielle Garrett, Narrated by Amanda RonconiGhosts Gone Wild by Danielle Garrett
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 5 hours 58 minutes
Series: Beechwood Harbor Ghost Mystery, #2
Published by Tantor Audio on September 30, 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 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.

There’s never a good time for a ghost crisis.
However, it's particularly inconvenient while I'm trying to tackle my first wedding season. Between twelve hour days, an assistant with a case of butter fingers (not the chocolate kind), and the flood of tourists in town, I’m struggling to keep a grip on my sanity.
All I want is three months of peace from the spirit world.
But when local ghosts start going missing, I have to do something.
After all, it’s not like they go to the Hamptons.
Missing ghosts, a posthumously alimony-hungry divorcee, and a raging bridezilla. Yup, my bingo card is officially full. Can I get a prize and go home now?
Ghosts Gone Wild is the second book in the Beechwood Harbor Ghost Mystery series. Spooky paranormal cozies with a twist! Perfect for fans of Kristen Painter and Angie Fox. Come explore the harbor with Scarlet Sanderson, Beechwood's own ghost whisperer!

The title is definitely apropos in this one. Two she-devil ghosts tug back and forth at Scarlett to solve their otherworldly problems, Gwen starts seeing another ghost leaving poor Hayward devastated, and now ghosts are going missing. Meanwhile, Scarlett gets a visit from Lucas on his vacation and she starts to panic because she’s out of her depth. And, her flower shop assistant is a constant calamity. Has the world gone mad, she wonders?

Ghosts Gone Wild is the second of the Beechwood Harbor Ghost mysteries. The first book set up the world and connected things to the earlier series while establishing this ghost-filled side world of mysteries with Scarlett in the lead. Scarlett has two live in ghosts- her former cat, Flapjack, now gifted with speech that is sarcasm 24/7 and does the job of both stirring things up and grounding them when necessary. There is Hayward, a Victorian era ghost, with Old-World gentleman charm who has a crush on Gwen and is so devastatingly sweet and reticent that he can’t bring himself to approach her. Gwen, a once hippie, ghosts around the town keeping up with the local gossip, human and ghostly, and is friends with Scarlett and the others at the flower shop.

I thought it was interesting to see the relationship dynamics play a larger role in this one including the glaring issue that Scarlett is more in tune to the ghost world than her own human world. She is terrified that Lucas will pull back so she nearly self-sabotages her own relationship to save him the trouble. I foresee this staying an ongoing problem because Scarlett looks for reasons to back away when none exist. I hope she can get over it soon.

The mystery in this one was actually more than one with bridezilla Kimberly’s murder, devil divorcee wife’s blackmail haunting of her ex, and then Gwen bringing up that ghosts are disappearing.

I confess that I felt Scar was somewhat all over the place in this one. She’s back and forth with Lucas who has been honest and open all along. She’s helpful to the most obnoxious ghosts and ignores her old ghost friend’s genuine concern. I liked the story well enough, but I did give Scarlett a few side-eyes. We’ll see what happens in the next book.

Amanda Ronconi was a great narrator as usual. I love the way she voices each ghost and person in the cast both male and female. She has a knack for the comedy elements and the blend of paranormal and mystery.

This was light and fun with a few nice little series developments and some excitement in the big confrontation scene. The mystery of who killed Kimberly was not that tough, but the disappearing ghosts was one that came out of left field. I enjoyed both.

I can recommend this series to those who enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries. I’m doing fine jumping in with this spin off, but I can see how starting with the earlier Beechwood Harbor Magic series would probably be even better.

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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Sophia Rose Review: A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden

Posted March 22, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth KnoweldenA Quiet Life in the Country by T E Kinsey, Elizabeth Knowelden
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Length: 7 hours 43 minutes
Series: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on October 4, 2016
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

7 hours and 43 minutes
A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they've just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.
But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There's a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation...
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
©2016 T E Kinsey. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
Listening Length: 7 hours and 43 minutes

I started with book three in this series, progressed forward, and finally took the opportunity to go back and get the first book in the series. The cozy mystery paired with historical Edwardian setting was light and whimsical.

Actually, when I started listening, I realized that the first book introduced Lady Hardcastle and her ladies’ maid, Florence Armstrong along with their new home and the other regular characters, in such a way that it didn’t feel like the first book so much as the first of the stories that had been recorded. There are hints of their unusual, dangerous work abroad and no big explanation why the pair happened to be set upon ‘a quiet life in the country’ or why Lady Hardcastle and Florence have a relationship that is nearly family rather than an employer and servant from separate classes. The author trickles out the details and the reader/listener must catch them and piece them together as they go. Because I had experienced later books, those pieces stuck out easily to me. The meeting with Inspector Sunderland and the local villagers and neighborhood was fun. I do enjoy the amusing banter between the two women and hints of darker matters and sorrow from their shared past.

There are two murder mysteries that have interesting crossover people and facts. One seems to involve a dead man from the village cricket team whose death was meant to appear like a suicide and then later, the death of a rag-time band trumpeteer that played at the engagement party of the local squire’s daughter. A theft is tossed in for good measure.

I figured out one of the murders and part of the theft and the second murder, but the ultimate solution took me by surprise. Loved seeing the intrepid Flo able to get in some of her martial arts ability, use her cache of being a member of the serving class to get their help and take on things, and spend time trailing along as her ladyship teased out the solution alongside Inspector Sunderland using old fashioned detection methods.

Elizabeth Knowelden is an absolute gem of a narrator and the voice of this series for me. She laid out the Edwardian country village world, the variety of genders and accents, and kept the pace and tone for this series just right.

All in all, I thought this first entry was as fabulous as the later books and do not hesitate to put it out there as a good bet for historical cozy mystery lovers.

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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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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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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