Format: Audiobook

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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Guest Audio review: A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain, Lucy Rayner

Posted September 28, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Guest Audio review: A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain,  Lucy RaynerA Twist in Time by Julie McElwain
Narrator: Lucy Rayner
Length: 16 hours 54 minutes
Series: Kendra Donovan, #2
Published by Tantor Audio on April 4, 2017
Genres: Time-Travel
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.

Former FBI agent Kendra Donovan's attempts to return to the twenty-first century have failed, leaving her stuck at Aldridge Castle in 1815. And her problems have just begun: in London, the Duke of Aldridge's nephew Alec-Kendra's confidante and lover-has come under suspicion for murdering his former mistress, Lady Dover, who was found viciously stabbed with a stiletto, her face carved up in a bizarre and brutal way. Lady Dover had plenty of secrets, and her past wasn't quite what she'd made it out to be. Nor is it entirely in the past-which becomes frighteningly clear when a crime lord emerges from London's seamy underbelly to threaten Alec. Joining forces with Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly, Kendra must navigate the treacherous nineteenth century while she picks through the strands of Lady Dover's life. As the noose tightens around Alec's neck, Kendra will do anything to save him, including following every twist and turn through London's glittering ballrooms, where deception is the norm-and any attempt to uncover the truth will get someone killed.

Following close on the heels of the first book, A Murder in Time’s adventures, A Twist in Time takes modern woman and tough FBI agent, Kendra Donovan to the bright lights and society of Regency London to solve a murder that hits close to home.

This is a wonderfully unique mash up of time travel and historical mystery with a dash of romance. Kendra is a 21st woman with excellent profiling skills and FBI training who inexplicably ends up in 19th century England. She’s fortunate enough to have landed in the Duke of Aldrige’s castle and that he is something of a Renaissance man who can handle her odd quirks from the start. Kendra becomes romantically entangled with his nephew the Marquis of Sutcliffe, friends with a Bow Street Runner and a lady with feminist leanings. She is torn between her sense of not belonging where women are still second class citizens and her skills make her an oddity and knowing that this is the first time she has ever been around people who like and yes, love her.

Kendra has to set all that aside when Alec, Lord Sutcliffe, gets accused of a brutal murder of his former mistress. The clues lead Kendra through the balls and soirees of London Society to the darker alleys of Cheapside. Lady Dover’s life held secrets and one of them was enough to make someone not only kill her, but mutilate her face. Kendra’s detection skills paired with the forensics and policing of that day along with her companions’ knowledge of Regency norm all come together to bring this enchanting whodunnit.

As with the first book, I was most taken with how a modern person gets along more than two hundred years in the past. It was fascinating to see her do police work when modern method and tech aren’t there to help and she is bucking an all-male system all the way.

Kendra has abandonment issues from her parents and issues because of things that happened in her own time so she struggles to accept Alec’s love and wishes that she be with him. I confess that I wanted to shake her after a while. I get it, but it really does all come down to her own fear and need to trust someone and little to do with anything in her own time waiting for her. Alec is being punished because her parents turned their backs on her. At least she is starting to realize this in this one. I’ll look forward to where this romance thread goes in future books.

Also, her ‘I am woman hear me roar’ bit of ‘I can take care of myself’ was driving me nuts. She goes racing into the London slums alone to prove to herself and others something when it’s just stupid not to take back up. Even in modern times, she would have a partner or back up. She’s also constantly ragging on the times even though some of it is her own preferences and prejudices rather than something was necessarily wrong (which yes, it gets old when she compares things to modern times and overlooks that it’s not some great Utopia in our day and age). I get it, a woman’s lot really sucked back then as did the class system, but she chooses to toss it all out rather than see that some things were actually good if not better). This is part of her modern arrogance that because she knows the future that she knows better- you’d think she would have learned after what happened in the last book. But, at the same time, I find that the struggles Kendra goes through are a wise move on the author’s part to show that adjusting to a time travel situation would never be easy. The author did her homework on the historical setting and social mores of Regency times and brings those out through Kendra’s eyes.

The narration by Lucy Rayner continues to have me on the fence. I love aspects of her work like her accepts and ability to vocalize genders and tone. But, she gets a sing-song pattern and I feel that her Kendra voice (which is the primary one) gets whiny or snippy which might be influencing some of my issues with Kendra. I don’t dislike her work, but I don’t love it, either and had to get used to it all over again when I started this book.

Still, it was another great installment in a series that I think historical murder mystery fans and time travel lovers would enjoy.

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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Divorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie Craig

Posted June 29, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 11 Comments

Divorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie CraigDivorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie Craig
Narrator: Wendy Tremont King
Length: 11 hrs 8 min
Series: Divorced and Desperate #4
Published by Tantor Audio on May 29, 2018
Genres: Romance, Chick-Lit, Romantic Suspense
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-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.

After a disastrous marriage and divorce, Detective Cary Stevens vowed he'd never let another woman into his heart. But when his latest investigation puts him in the way of a bullet, his bachelor days-and one-night stands-may be numbered. On the brink of death, he finds himself in Room Six, a waiting room in the hereafter where in-betweeners' fates are truly decided. He resigns himself to dying of boredom, if nothing else, in the lineup of senior citizens with their AARP magazines, when in walks the one woman who could make him want a second chance at life . . . and love. Chloe Sanders learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished when she pushes a little girl out of the way of a moving car and wakes up in some type of purgatory. Or maybe it's heaven, because she couldn't have asked for a hotter guy with whom to await her final judgment. The sweeping glances of his bedroom eyes and sharp-tongued flirtatiousness tell her Cary's certainly no angel, but is he real? When she finally wakes up, Chloe's determined to find out if he's truly a man of magnificent flesh and blood or just a figment of her imagination. But before she can track him down, will the murderer that first put them both in Room Six come back to finish the job?

Detective Cary Stevens has vowed to never let another woman into his life after his disastrous marriage, until he get’s shot and meets Chloe Sanders in Room Six, a waiting in the hereafter where they wait for their fates to be decided.

Chloe had just lost her fiance and isn’t looking for anything series, but she also does not believe that Cary Stevens can possibly be real until the detectives own partner shows up on her doorsteps (who also happens to be the man that her friend is trying to set her up with)

Sparks fly, tension thickens as the two are unable to keep away from each other, both with broken hearts and might be just what each of them needs.

This was a fun read. I really liked the supernatural aspect of the book, I thought it was different, refreshing and honestly what truly hooked me. I loved the humor in the story, the author is really great with that, I couldn’t help but laugh and I’ve been really needing that lately. The character worked together well and to top it all off, the author also threw in a bit of a suspense involving gangs and I loved the way she handled the troubled kid in this book.

I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. The narrator had a southern twang that really fit with the book and the characters and I liked the lazy drawl. Of course I did speed up and that made it even better, but I think she did a wonderful job and it just really worked for the book.

Overall, this was a fun, sexy, entertaining romance and just what I needed to brighten my week.

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Guest Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Narrated by Angele Masters

Posted June 19, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 15 Comments

Guest Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Narrated by Angele MastersA Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Angèle Masters
Narrator: Angele Masters
Length: 11 hours and 48 minutes
Series: Veronica Speedwell #3
Published by Recorded Books on January 18, 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 12
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.

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy's curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.  
London, 1888.
As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.   But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

After starting to make a name for themselves when it comes to landing themselves in the middle of murder investigation adventures, Veronica and Stoker are faced with something a bit more in an Egyptian curse, a missing crown of jewels and a case that brings thing too close to home for Stoker. I was thrilled to get back into the series with this sparkling intrepid pair.

A Treacherous Curse is book three in the Veronica Speedwell series. This series works best when the reader/listener gets them in order as the world and the characters develop throughout the series.

Veronica and Stoker have spent the time since their last case restoring items for their patron’s private museum and mourning the loss of an exploration trip since the earl tripped and broke his leg and the trip was cancelled. But, before things get too blasé, the pair are called in by Special Branch and handed a new case. Unfortunately, the pressure to solve it comes from the fact that Stoker might be implicated in the trouble.

I found this one fascinating on a few different levels. First of all, I love books that involve Egyptian antiquities and excavation work by an archeological team. Although, the story takes place entirely in England, the focus is the Egyptology world. Secondly, the case handed to Veronica and Stoker involves a dark part of Stoker’s past and I loved learning of that time and seeing him finally confront his past. No, I fibbed. I relished seeing Veronica confront Stoker’s past when the past reared up and tried to come over ugly. And, lastly, I am always up for more interaction between Veronica and Stoker. She’s irascible, highly intelligent, strong-willed and he’s probably the only man in the world who can match her wit for wit and step for step. But… the pair of them are not quite to the point where they understand this. So… the sparks and sizzle of understated attraction are fun.

The mystery of the missing man and missing artifact was an interesting twisty one, but not half as interesting as getting to know all the players in the piece. So much byplay and goings on among those involved. I love the way it all fits together and balances well into one coherent story.

I experienced A Treacherous Curse on audio with Angele Masters as narrator. She is a superb Veronica. It’s like she harnesses her spirit with each book in the series. What I find a weakness is her male voices. There is some distinction with some curmudgeonly like Stoker, stuffy like the baronet, or flirty like Stoker’s brother, but the trouble is that she goes with a froggy sounding deep voice. I thought she did great with all the female characters from sophisticated upper class British, teen girl, peevish woman, Brit with an Egyptian accent and caught the rhythm and emotions well.

All in all, this is one of the best historical mystery series out there and I can’t wait for each new installment. Veronica maybe a Renaissance woman as unique as her family history, but she is personable and a fabulous heroine. The Victorian era comes alive and the mysteries are satisfyingly twisting.

My thanks to Recorded Books 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: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Posted June 13, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Narrated by Kirby HeyborneAl Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Kirby Heyborne
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 6 hours and 4 minutes
Series: Al Capone at Alcatraz #4
Published by Listening Library on May 8, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 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.

6 Hours and 4 Minutes
Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko returns to Al Capone's Alcatraz in this winning addition to the beloved series. Moose and his sister Natalie are growing up, and the stakes on the prison island are higher than ever.
Moose Flanagan lives on a famous island in California: Alcatraz, home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in the US in the 1930s. His dad works there. It's the summer before starting high school and Moose is going to play a lot of baseball, and win a spot on the high school team. But he still needs to watch his special older sister Natalie, and now, the warden asks Moose to look after his two-faced, danger-loving daughter, Piper. In the cell house there are rumors of a strike, and that Moose's father might step up to new job. Moose is worried: what will this mean for their family, especially for Natalie, who's had some scary run-ins with prisoners? Then the unthinkable happens: Natalie winds up someplace she should never, ever go. And Moose has to rescue her.

It was the title. I saw that title and just had to check this one out. The rest of the blurb had me even more eager to snatch up this middle grade historical fiction. A teen growing up in the mid-thirties… wait for it… on Alcatraz. Yeah, had to give this one a go.

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is book four in the Al Capone at Alcatraz series. I had no trouble jumping in with this book though I wish I had discovered the series at the get go so I could get them in order. Definitely going back to the beginning for the other three.

I really enjoyed this story told from young thirteen or fourteen year old Moose’s perspective. He’s all boy, but has been forced to grow up fast and be responsible with an older autistic sibling and a delicate mother. He just wants to spend his summer playing baseball and being with his friends when first the Warden saddles him with keeping an eye on the Warden’s precocious daughter who’s around his age and he ends up keeping an eye on Natalie when his parents get preoccupied with a prisoner strike.

A strong element in this book is Natalie and how Moose interacts with her as a sibling. Moose is protective of his sister and struggles with embarrassment and frustration because she might have a disability, but she is also very much a young woman and not a child. He has to keep her out of trouble and it’s tough on him when he’s around his friends and has to bring Natalie along. I also loved how he took responsibility for things she did even if it meant feeling the crushing disapproval of the adults around him. He’s very conscious of how to help her with navigating her needs whether it is sticking to her routine, helping her with calm down methods, not putting her in situations where she’ll melt down, and also respecting that she is older and not stupid so her choices and happiness are important to him. He’s a good guy and works hard to help people and he strives to be a good man like his dad. I totally would have had a crush on Moose if I was a teen girl.

The historical backdrop of Alcatraz in itshey day was not skimped on. I thought the life of the families living there below the actual prison and of the inmates who had some contact with the families through those who worked service jobs was vividly sketched out and felt authentic. Moose has a dangerous situation that was not probable in some ways, but it took things to the heart of the prison and how dangerous it was inside. I thought the baseball, people with special needs, and family life in that era was also nice touches. Oh, and let’s not forget the presence of the celebrity prisoner himself. It was neat to see some interaction with Al Capone. Moose is wary and has a healthy fear of the prisoners, but can’t help being curious about some famous ones.

I experienced this book on audio and really enjoyed Kirby Heyborne’s rendition of Moose and the others. He handled Natalie’s awkward vocal parts in a respectful way just as he masterfully handled a cast that included kids to adults of both genders and had a nice way of capturing the era in his voice somehow (maybe I was imagining that). I had no trouble feeling I was right there and that a young teenager was telling the story without an annoying voice. I liked the way he handled the really tense moments so that I felt my heart race with anticipation or suspense. Definitely want to listen to more of his work.

All in all, this was a hit out of the park and I want more of Moose’s adventures and life on Alcatraz. This is a book for young teens, but I think adults who like historical fiction would enjoy this one, too.

My thanks to Penguin Random House 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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