Genre: Historical Mystery

Sophia Rose Review: A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

Posted May 21, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee HuberA Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber
Series: Lady Darby Mystery #6
Published by Berkley Books on March 6, 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars

Sebastian Gage returns home to battle the ghosts of his past and prevent them from destroying his future with Kiera in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.
July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.
All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim...

 

It was inevitable. The series brings Kiera and Gage right back where he started- unfinished business with his maternal family living on the dark and mysterious moors. His grandfather’s plea for his help to find his missing cousin sets them on a search that delves into present and past family secrets including the family curse. I love this series so I required no hook to get me reading, but it sure didn’t hurt.

A Brush with Shadows is the sixth of the Lady Darby Mysteries set in 1830’s British Isles. Each mystery is fresh for each book, but it is a series that works best read in order because of the ongoing romance and relationships built through the stories.

Just finishing up their last case in Ireland, the Gages now go on to Dart Moor for a case that involves family. Newly wed and still tentative in some ways, Kiera and Gage do great with some forms of intimacy while struggling with others. He has been reticent about much of his past and seeing him in the brooding surroundings of his Trevalyan family urge her to force him to share his private pains and hurts though yes, Kiera’s temper and impatience gets the best of her so her poking and prodding is not always opportune even if it is necessary and cathartic for Gage. I enjoy seeing this pair’s relationship grow and deepen as much as I enjoy the mysteries.

The disappearance of his older, profligate cousin who bullied him as a child, forces Gage along with Kiera to return after a fifteen year absence to an unwelcome reception. The mystery was a bit ethereal for much of the book because the disappearance could have been for many reasons and it could mean a death or just a person gone. Alfred was not liked and it seemed everyone had a reason to see him gone and nearly everyone was acting like they could have done it.

As in the previous books set in the highlands and then border country of Scotland, Edinburgh, and then Ireland, this latest that depicts the moors was richly described so that I felt I was there. I loved the way this one set up with them in an atmospheric home with residents to match, the wild countryside, the neighbors, and even the hint of a witch and legends. It brought added tension and chills to the story so that I never wanted to put the book down.

So, all in all, this latest Lady Darby mystery was captivating and the series continues to hold strong. Historical mystery fans who enjoy a strong romance motif should definitely jump into these. I can’t wait to press on to the next book.

 

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: Caught Red-Handed by Denise Domning

Posted December 23, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Caught Red-Handed by Denise DomningCaught Red-Handed by Denise Domning
Series: Servant of the Crown Mystery, #5
Published by Self-published on October 26th 2019
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 192
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

THE DEAD WALK! It’s the time of year when the immortal army of the ancient king rides Watling Street and the dead become uneasy in their graves. Indeed, in the far north of Warwickshire, the villagers insist that one dead man returned to kill his only son. Now it’s up to Sir Faucon de Ramis, the shire’s new Crowner, to run the walking corpse to ground and put him back where he belongs.

Servant of the Crown Mystery series is one I discovered earlier this year and I binged on the four currently released installments thinking I would have a long wait until next year for the fifth. However, I timed it well and Caught Red-Handed released this past fall right. Imagine my delight to see the fun spooky twist the author wove into her medieval-era murder mysteries making it perfect for the seasonal release.

Sir Faucon is settling into his royally-appointed task as Keeper of the Pleas or King’s Coronarius for Warwickshire while watching his back because the sheriff of the shire wants him dead since the truth Faucon knows after a certain murder investigation is a danger to the man. Not to mention the fact that Faucon’s new duties remove investigating murders and levying fines from the sheriff and thus depriving him of charging extra fines or bribe money to look the other way.

Sir Faucon is assisted by a sharp-tongued and bookishly clever Benedictine monk, Brother Edmund, his man at arms, Alf, and, of recent date, his own older brother in a shaky new peace between them.

They are about to stay at a Cistercian Monastery overnight on their way to perform a task in the area when a common villager and the village priest from a place to the north beg help to prevent a sacrilege. The villager, Wattard, says his step-son was killed that morning by his deceased father. A father, who has been a member of the walking dead for several years, but has become more active of late. While Faucon is digesting the news that a corpse is animated and ambling around a village, the father pleas with the abbot to protect the body of his step-son from getting chopped up for fear it will also walk.

Faucon’s hunter instincts rise and he suspects this is a task that falls into his bailiwick more than the abbot’s and goes hunting murder and shambling corpses even while Brother Edmund beguiles him with tales of the Wild Hunt who charge down Watling Street not far off and Harlequin and his wicked army of the dead.

Yep, Medieval Zombies! I chuckled with glee when Faucon had to investigate that one. I was also thrilled that the ongoing series thread about the serial killer of little girls was come to a tension-filled head in this one.

What I’ve always enjoyed about these is the attention to the historical setting, to the developing of the characters and their personal backgrounds, and to the clever mysteries. I enjoy the camaraderie Faucon shares with his group as they all work together to solve the crimes. This one was easier than most to work out, but it was still entertaining and exciting.

In the end, Faucon figures out the truth on both matters. I am left looking forward to the next installment. Those who enjoy the medieval era and love a good murder mystery should definitely pick these up.

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: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel

Posted May 20, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet SteelFatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #4
Published by Stane Street Press on July 11th 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 212
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

In this fourth instalment of the Inspector de Silva mysteries, it is monsoon season in the Hill Country. One stormy night, a ghostly encounter on a lonely road leads de Silva into a case of murder, and a mystery that stretches back to Ceylon’s distant past. To uncover the truth, he will have to face death and his inner demons. Fatal Finds in Nuala is another absorbing and colourful mystery in this series that vividly portrays Sri Lanka’s Colonial past.

I have come to really enjoy this engaging historical cozy mystery series set in Ceylon of the 1930’s. In this installment, Shanti, Jane, and Archie Clutterbuck engage in an archeological mystery in the jungle outside Nuala that involves murder during the height of the Monsoon season.

Fatal Finds in Nuala is the fourth of the Inspector de Silva mysteries. This is a series that is enjoyed best when read in order, but is versatile so it can easily be treated as a series of standalones, too.

There is a lovely blend of exotic location, time period, engaging characters, and a clever mystery. I love that the detective is non British and a native Singalese of middle-age. Shanti is thoughtful and clever. He respects others and struggles to be patient when he isn’t accorded the same and it interferes with his work.

A chance breakdown begins the chain of events that leads him to investigating a villager’s murder that seems to be connected with curious, but not necessarily priceless coins from the Kandy empire era. Or are they worthless? Shanti’s instincts are aroused even with few facts. His boss, Archie, is in an expansive mood, so he pursues thread-like leads.

Unlike some cozies, this series have some pretty exciting moments of danger and action. I do enjoy seeing Shanti get himself out of some tight situations and the setting of jungle and the poor weather adds to the suspense. And, it’s fun when the lightbulb comes on and he nails the villain. This was one where there is some foreshadowing that puts the reader onto some of the truth before the facts got there for the reveal. That said, I didn’t have it all figured out.

There were a few sweet moments when Jane comes along with Shanti to find clues in the jungle and a trip on the train to visit the city where they met.

So, it was another solid entry in the series and leaves me eager for more. Definitely a recommended series.

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: Who Slays the Wicked by CS Harris

Posted April 15, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Sophia Rose: Who Slays the Wicked by CS HarrisWho Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr, #14
Published by Berkley Books on April 2, 2019
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

The death of a fiendish nobleman strikes close to home as Sebastian St. Cyr is tasked with finding the killer to save his young cousin from persecution in this riveting new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Why Kill the Innocent....
When the handsome but dissolute young gentleman Lord Ashworth is found brutally murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is called in by Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy to help catch the killer. Just seven months before, Sebastian had suspected Ashworth of aiding one of his longtime friends and companions in the kidnapping and murder of a string of vulnerable street children. But Sebastian was never able to prove Ashworth's complicity. Nor was he able to prevent his troubled, headstrong young niece Stephanie from entering into a disastrous marriage with the dangerous nobleman.
Stephanie has survived the difficult birth of twin sons. But Sebastian soon discovers that her marriage has quickly degenerated into a sham. Ashworth abandoned his pregnant bride at his father's Park Street mansion and has continued living an essentially bachelor existence. And mounting evidence--ranging from a small bloody handprint to a woman's silk stocking--suggests that Ashworth's killer was a woman. Sebastian is tasked with unraveling the shocking nest of secrets surrounding Ashworth's life to keep Stephanie from being punished for his death.

When a murder hits too close to home, Sebastian finds himself investigating the death of the man he most reviled. The difficulty is that it turns out everyone hated the man and the man’s wife, Sebastian’s niece has the most reason.

In this fourteenth installment of the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series, I found myself transported once again to Regency Era London on the eve of the Napoleonic War coming to an end when a sadistic fiend who raped and murdered young children, took advantage of every trades person and servant he encountered, and lived as the ultimate profligate turns up dead. Very dead. As in someone stabbed him so often that blood flowed everywhere.

I’ve enjoyed this series- which, incidentally, must be read in order. Watching Sebastian come to terms with his father and the secrets that hurt Sebastian deeply when they were hidden and then came out in brutal ways. In the last few years, he has happiness in his own life with his courageous and strong-willed wife and son. That said, he careful stays one step ahead of the political intrigue and danger swirling around his father in law that threatens him occasionally, and he is still determined to discover the last of the secrets surrounding his own enigmatic history. But, through it all, Sebastian has become a keen consulting detective for the London police with his military background, keen personal abilities and clever ability to not just look, but actually see when it comes to people and events. It doesn’t hurt that he has entre into places in the upper classes that the police can’t help to go.

Lord Ashworth was a repulsive, evil being. Sebastian’s need to get to the bottom of it is driven by his fear that his intrepid niece might have taken the knife herself- and many clues and facts do point her way. However, they also point toward a powerful and ruthless Russian princess whom his father in law warns him away from and also toward a despairing furniture maker who has been ruined because Ashworth wouldn’t pay a large bill. Oh, and let’s not forget the dangerous criminal hired by Ashworth as an assassin who also got angry over overdue bills. And, that is just the short list.

Meanwhile, Sebastian’s wife, Hero, is working on treatise about the poor and their lives who make their living as rag and bone men, pure pickers, and night soil men. She hopes to rouse the powers that be to social reform by exposing the lives of so many eking out their existence right under the noses of the affluent. Hero is unable to shake the worry over her distant cousin Victoria scheming with Jarvis, Hero’s father. Jarvis is the power behind the throne and will stop short of nothing to achieve the results he desires which seems to be the case with Victoria and the shadows around her past life and the significant glances she shares with Jarvis now and then.

Sebastian doesn’t even feel guilty for the relief he feels at Ashworth’s killing and no one else does either beyond the man’s father, an old family retainer, and an actual best friend. This was a case of too many suspects and too many motives. It also rounds out the story arc begun in the previous book when Sebastian solved the case, but didn’t get full satisfaction at the results. Sebastian also learns what drove Stephanie all this time (it’s been a mystery through a few books).

I am always keen on historical mysteries that provide as much authentic historical flavor as a clever well-developed mystery and engaging characters. This series continues to stand the test of time and keep me riveted with each new book released. The main mystery was good, but I also enjoy the background series-long ones as well. All historical mystery fans should try this series and join me in anticipating each new book.

 

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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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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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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Audio Review: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal, Justine Eyre(Narrator)

Posted May 18, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 7 Comments

Audio Review: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal, Justine Eyre(Narrator)Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 7 hours and 20 minutes
Series: Kitty Weeks Mystery #2
Published by Tantor Audio on May 1st 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Tantor Audio
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

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

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns to unearth a murderous conspiracy in this WWI saga

In the second book in the acclaimed Kitty Weeks Mystery series, Kitty is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall, a prestigious girls' boarding school. Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctors proclaim that the girl's sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn't so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario—a murder that may involve Elspeth's scientist father and a new invention by Thomas Edison.

For fans of Susan Elia MacNeal and Jacqueline Winspear, Murder Between the Lines is a rich and spirited novel with irresistible charm, combining true historical events with a thrilling mystery.

Kitty is a reporter for a women’s page in a newspaper. When she is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall an all girls prestigious boarding school, a tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death. A doctor has proclaimed the death as an accident, saying Elspeth was sleepwalking, but upon further investigation, Kitty isn’t so sure it was an accident at all.

As Kitty dig into Elspeth’s life, she uncovers a world of politics that can lead more than one person into danger and that sometimes harmless accidents can turn into murder.

This was an interesting story, I found it enjoyable and the ending was surprising to me as it did not end in a traditional style that most murder mysteries do. It was kind of refreshing and left Kitty I think in a situation that is unpleasant.

The audio book was great. I think Justine Eyre did a good job with the voice and bringing Kitty’s personality forth, she also did a great job with some of the other characters and their accents when needed. Justine Eyre does have a sort of mellow undertone that can be very soothing.

The problem I ran into in this book is the choppy writing. I struggled at the beginning because I thought the audiobook was cutting off mid chapters. The transitions, or jumps, were uncomfortable at times and it might have not been too bad while reading it but it felt frustrated in the audiobook. We would in one place in the chapter and it would jump ahead into another scene then cut into another and it felt a bit disjointed so it ended up feeling a lot like the chapters kept getting cut off, especially if you sped up your listening speed.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, glad I met Kitty and hope to see where she will take us next.

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