Source: Bought

Sophia Rose Review: Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

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

Sophia Rose Review: Lifel1k3 by Jay KristoffLIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
Series: Lifelike #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 398
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

From the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Illuminae Files comes the first book in a new series that's part Romeo and Juliet, part Terminator, and all adrenaline.
On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn't looking for trouble--she's too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she's on the local gangster's wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she's discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she's ever had a worse day, Eve can't remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day--one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel--called a "Lifelike" because they resemble humans--will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves...and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.

Dystopian future, old family secrets coming to light, and a quest journey with a band of misfits. I am all in for that adventure.

Lifel1k3 set the scene of a scorched earth future after nukes leveled the planet, big corporations replaced governments, and the remaining humans are simply scrounging to survive on the trash heap that is now their world. In the midst of this, lives a teen girl, her sick grandfather, her best friend, her bot buddy and her bot dog. Eve Carpenter scavenges and fights her impressive bot fighters in the coliseum for the money to pay for her grandpa’s treatments. But, the loss of her bot fighter and the exposure of her deviance to a huge crowd makes her life come unraveling fast. Truths come out and a past she never knew about expose even more secrets. In the middle of trying to survive everyone who comes after her and her friends, she must save her grandfather and figure out what to do with the truth of her past.

The author wrote a raw, gritty, and dark future where survival is the name of the game. The descriptions of settings is so apt that I could not just see the places and the people, but taste and smell it all, too. There is a constant sense of danger and desperation.

The action was tense, hard-hitting and pulse-pounding. There were moments for reflection, but always back to the action so there was never a dull moment. Even when the action wasn’t physical, the author told this story in layers allowing the reveals and twists to peel back with many aha moments. Though none of those were as big as the one this book ended on.

The heart of this story was the friendship of the motley crew of characters. Eve is the main character, but getting much page time is her sassy best friend, Lemon Fresh, the wry little service bot, Cricket, her faithful bot hound, and a mysterious boy from her past.

Eve and the others encounter many colorful types along the way to rescue Grandfather Silas including some formidable antagonists. Some of those remained even in the end so I can’t wait to see what comes next, especially after that jaw-drop ending. Be prepared to want the next book ASAP and fortunately it is available.

All in all, this was fabulous and I’m itching to dive right back into book two. If you like a blend of futuristic sci-fi set in a dystopian world, you won’t want to miss this one.

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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Review: The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Posted May 16, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: The Echo Killing by Christi DaughertyThe Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
Series: Harper McClain, #1
Published by Minotaur Books on March 13, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 356
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When a murder echoing a fifteen-year-old cold case rocks the Southern town of Savannah, crime reporter Harper McClain risks everything to find the identity of this calculated killer.
A city of antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets, Savannah moves at a graceful pace. But for Harper McClain, the timeless beauty and culture that distinguishes her home’s Southern heritage vanishes during the dark and dangerous nights. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even finding her mother brutally murdered in their home when she was twelve has made her love Savannah any less.
Her mother’s killer was never found, and that unsolved murder left Harper with an obsession that drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia. She spends her nights with the police, searching for criminals. Her latest investigation takes her to the scene of a homicide where the details are hauntingly familiar: a young girl being led from the scene by a detective, a female victim naked and stabbed multiple times in the kitchen, and no traces of any evidence pointing towards a suspect.
Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer. At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded justice for fifteen years and make sure another little girl isn’t forever haunted by a senseless act of violence―even if it puts Harper in the killer’s cross-hairs…

At the age of twelve, Harper McClain found her mother brutally murdered in their beautiful Savannah home. Since her killer was never found, the unsolved murder of her mother left Harper obsessed and drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state. Now years later, another killing occurs and Marie Whitney has echoes of Harper’s mother’s murder. There are so similar, down to the finer details that Harper is sure that it is the same killer that killed her mother years ago, surfacing after all this time. But no one seems to believe her. Now Harper is left alone trying to find the killer in a world where no one seems to believe her hunch, but her actions might leave her more alienated and losing everything in order to bring forth justice.

This book was…

Interesting. I liked it. For the most part, I thought the story was compelling for the most part. I think the set up had me very invested in finding out how all of this ties together in the end even if the killer becomes obvious halfway through.

I liked the writing. I thought Christi Daugherty’s writing is really good. My issue wasn’t with the story and the concept so much as it was with Harper. This is a very character driven book and if you don’t like the main character, it can definitely hinder how you feel about this book and it did with me. I liked Harper to begin with but then her obsession turned into recklessness and started testing her morality and it showed me that there are many lines that she is willing to cross despite who it hurts in the process. I found her reckless, impulsive, a user and morally questionable. I agreed with Luke and the other characters about their stance on her visit to the victim’s daughter. Even when the author played the outcome more subdue. I felt like this was a good example of how Harper really did not care the lengths she went to find this killer, or how her actions would affect multiple people in this book and her actions have caused a lot of consequences as a whole. That for me was just a little much, she wasn’t even a detective.

There was a bit of a push and pull romance going on here with Luke, the cop. She’s a crime reporter, his a cop, they shouldn’t have a relationship, they want a relationship, but they shouldn’t and Luke is also a casualty of how far she was willing to go. I love Luke, he was such a great character with a lot of heart, but I agree with his words in this book to her and don’t want to see this relationship work out.

Overall, I liked the writing, I liked the concept. It was a solid read, but ultimately I just did not care for Harper. I will probably continue on with the series because it left a hook interesting enough to see how it plays out, but I’ll be more cautious.

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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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Review Round Up #3

Posted April 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review Round Up #3River Queen Rose by Shirley Kennedy
Series: In Old California, #1, #1
Published by Lyrical Press on December 26, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 210
Format: Kindle Edition
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 ramshackle River Queen Hotel is home to vagabonds, gamblers, and heathens—and now, to new widow Rose Peterson. The rundown Gold Rush establishment is the only thing her late husband, Emmet, left her. Despite its raucous saloon and ladies of the evening, Rose can see the hotel’s potential. Her late husband’s family claim that sheltered Rose isn’t capable of running the Sacramento inn herself. But she is determined to make a new life for herself and her young daughter, even if it means flying in the face of custom and propriety. She feels as if she hasn’t a friend in the world.
Except, perhaps, one. Decatur “Deke” Fleming, a tall, lanky Australian who once served as Emmet’s farmhand. Pride prevents Deke from revealing his moneyed past; conscience keeps him from confessing his feelings for the still grieving widow. But when Rose is tempted by wealthy civic leader and hotel owner Mason Talbot, Deke may be the only person who can save her—and the one man capable of reviving her bruised and battered heart.

Rose Peterson finally arrives in California after a long journey only to discover her husband Emmet is dead, shot in an illegal duel. He left her behind his hotel the River Queen, home to the vagabond, gamblers, and ladies of the night. The man who dueled her husband desperately wants to buy it, but to prove herself Rose decides to keep the hotel because no one outside of Deke believes she is capable of handling it.

I liked the setting. I liked that it took around the time of the gold rush. I liked the storyline enough, it kept me interested.

I hated the characters. None of them outside of Deke were really all that likable.

Rose was annoying. She ends up, allowing her husband’s killer to try to swoon her despite having some reservations about him and not understanding some of his anger when she mentions the hotel. She also allowed her in-laws to push her around way too much even when she ended with some power to throw them out.

Deke is on crutches at the beginning of the book so Rose treats him as if he is missing his leg forever and that just downright bothered me. She keeps calling him a cripple like he is no longer a man.

The romance was okay. It was okay. Went by quickly.

Review Round Up #3When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Series: Standalone
Published by Vintage on January 5, 2017
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 225
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.
--back cover

Beautiful, heartbreaking, powerful. Is a few words that I feel do sum up this book as a whole.

When I first heard about this book. I knew I wanted to read it. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to read it.

Written by Paul Kalanithi himself, this memoir covers his story. About how he found out at the age of 36 that he has inoperable lung cancer while being on the verge of a turning point in his career as a neurosurgeon. How he went from being a doctor himself to a patient and how ultimately he came to face the reality of impending death. His decisions and his family.

This book was hard to rate. The writing was wonderful. The loss of such a life full of potential was devastating. The ending written by his wife was moving, emotional, heartbreaking and brought me to tears.

The honesty of his words and how he viewed life and death as a surgeon working with patients versus how he is viewed as a patient was both poignant and real.

This was his journey. His story to tell. Finding light in moments of bleakness and living your life to the fullest, as to what that fullest means to you as a person.

I’m glad I read this book.

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Sophia Rose Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White

Posted March 23, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. WhiteDecluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White
Series: Standalone
Published by Thomas Nelson on February 27th 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Self Help
Pages: 240
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

You don't have to live overwhelmed by stuff--you can get rid of clutter for good!
While the world seems to be in love with the idea of tiny houses and minimalism, many of us simply can't purge it all and start from nothing. Yet a home with too much stuff is a home that is difficult to maintain, so where do we begin? Add in paralyzing emotional attachments and constant life challenges, and it can feel almost impossible to make real decluttering progress.
In Decluttering at the Speed of Life, decluttering expert and author Dana White identifies the mind-sets and emotional challenges that make it difficult to declutter. Then, in her signature humorous approach, she provides workable solutions to break through these struggles and get clutter out--for good!
But more than simply offering strategies, Dana dives deep into how to implement them, no matter the reader's clutter level or emotional resistance to decluttering. She helps identify procrasticlutter--the stuff that will get done eventually so it doesn't seem urgent--as well as how to make progress when there's no time to declutter.
Sections of the book include
Why You Need This Book (You Know Why)Your Unique HomeDecluttering in the Midst of Real LifeChange Your Mind, Change Your HomeBreaking Through Your Decluttering DelusionsWorking It Out Room by RoomHelping Others DeclutterReal Life Goes On (and On)As long as we're living and breathing, new clutter will appear. The good news is that decluttering can get easier, become more natural, and require significantly fewer hours, less emotional bandwidth, and little to no sweat to keep going.

For the last few years, I’ve been on a mission that I call ‘Simplify’. This generic term covers all aspects of my life, but one of the primary ways has been a decluttering of my living space. I came across this title in my Prime Free reading options this month and I thought I’d see if there was more I could be doing or do it more efficiently in my ongoing pursuit of simplification through decluttering.

I really enjoyed the author’s approach to the subject matter. She approaches this as a mental state of being- a decision that change must take place- and warns of the hardships ahead of parting company with ‘treasures’, but then she leaves the esoteric behind to provide a solid winning formula.

How do I know it’s solid? Well, (pats self on the back) I was already doing most of that without the snazzy labels and steps and it was working. Okay, so I was doing a lot of it, but yes! Yippee! Woohoo! There were indeed some additional, practical steps and tips that I had not considered incorporating or that made some of the agony go away.

Without giving away the spoilery stuff (the actual formula- Decluttering at the Speed of Life), I’ll say that she approaches her house in a layer approach: Daily Stuff, Clutter, and Cleaning. This book addresses that second layer of Clutter. Her formula involves a four-step process and is designed for any space and any amount of time frame so it’s flexible for each person’s unique situation.

She suggests starting with the ‘visible’ and ‘living areas’ of the home first. This means where guests will see and where people do most of their living and are hampered by clutter. Her approach is simple- deal with the least agonizing (like trash or daily drop pile stuff) and working up to the big decision stuff. It’s easiest in the living space rooms that guests see. Then progress to bedrooms, closets, and storage. Hobby or Craft or game rooms that are the most likely to be turned into dumping areas.

Incidentally, I thought a tip that was helpful about decluttering a space is to first determine its function like in those guest/office/hobby rooms that end up catch-alls because the space hasn’t been defined (and this makes it hard to oust the clutter because it has no set primary purpose).

She also carefully says not to deal with ‘dream’ clutter until the last. I thought this was interesting because I figured it would be best to clear a space and move to the next space. But, then I got it. Dream clutter is the toughest to let go of. It’s best to start with the easiest to toss or donate and then get used to the idea and get used to the wonderful feel of functional space before heading into emotional attachment territory.

That leads me to say that she deals with our struggles with guilt when it comes to holding onto stuff. This can be pantry items because we feel guilty tossing food or clothes when someone may be going without. She kept bringing it back to ‘will you eat it or wear it NOW?’ No? Then get rid of it. Leaving it on your shelf or in your closet is not doing that nameless needing person any good. Use the guilt to shop to intentionally meet actual needs and bring home less next time.

She also covers the guilt of keeping something put away that was gifted by a good friend or relation when you don’t really like it and/or don’t ever use it. Aunt Susie made those pot holders to be used. Grandma Anna is gone and won’t know that you passed on her turkey platter because you prefer the one you bought. And, I saw myself doing ‘x, y, z’ rather than what your true reality is. Yep! This area was my big epiphany one.

She also addressed the Useful vs Actually Using issue which is another weak spot for me. If there isn’t space and it isn’t in immediate use then it must be donated. Freeing the space to use the things you actually use is more important than keeping tons of extra on the outside chance it will someday find use. This also led to the understanding of cutting clutter off before it even comes inside the door by not buying bulk or because it’s on sale for future potential use, but only if it will, in fact, be used.

Then, after going over her method and steps and how to address different types of household spaces, she went over how to deal with other’s clutter. This was: friends, kids, older family, spouses, moving, and clearing out the home of someone gone. I found the reminders of how to navigate the complications of helping others to be where I hit pay dirt because I do share my living space with others and I have been asked to come help others or help clear out for others.

Through and through, this was practical and helpful. She has another book about getting organized around the house that sounded like it was a good pairing to go with this one. She also has a blog that might also be helpful. My takeaway is a sense of renewed motivation and plans for working at my goal smarter and not harder.

 

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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Review: Cut and Run by Mary Burton

Posted March 1, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: Cut and Run by Mary BurtonCut and Run by Mary Burton
Series: standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on October 9, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Twin sisters separated by the past are reunited by unspeakable crimes in New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton’s throat-clutching novel of suspense…
Trauma victims are not new to medical examiner Faith McIntyre, but this one is different. The unconscious woman clinging to life after a hit and run is FBI agent Macy Crow. What the woman from Quantico was doing in a dark alley after midnight is just one mystery. The other is more unsettling: Macy is Faith’s mirror image—the twin sister she never knew she had.
Faith knew that she was adopted, but now she’s finding that her childhood concealed other secrets. Following the trail of clues Macy left behind, Faith and Texas Ranger Mitchell Hayden make a shocking discovery on an isolated country ranch—a burial ground for three women who disappeared thirty years before.
They weren’t the only victims in a killer’s twisted plot. And they won’t be the last.
As the missing pieces of Faith’s and Macy’s dark lives snap into place, Faith is becoming more terrified by what she sees—and by what she must do to save her sister and herself from the past.

First time dipping my toes into Mary Burton’s world and it won’t be my last!

Cut and Run follows a medical examiner Faith McIntyre, who finds that the woman lies in critical condition is her twin sister she never knew about. Faith always knew she was adopted, but she didn’t know that her adoption would unearth a trail of deep dark secrets. Following the clues her twin left behind, Faith and Texas Ranger Mitchell Hayden will uncover shocking discoveries of the past that might help them find a new missing pregnant girl in the present.

This book was a really good thriller. Well written, with great character development. I loved that Faith and Mitchell weren’t exactly perfect, which made them easy to relate to and more human.

I love the dark atmospheric tone of the book. I really enjoyed the pace. The overall story kept me mostly guessing and gave me enough to make me want to flip through the pages. The themes were a bit dark and as a mother, hard to read at times. But overall the well-developed plot was exciting and heart pounding till the end. I liked that the authors sprinkled a little bit of romance to lighten the plot line.

I think my only gripe with all of this would be the ending. I thought it felt a bit rushed as everything fell into place and the last bit was uncovered. I would have liked the reveal to unravel a bit slower.

But I really enjoyed her style of writing and storytelling, I will be looking for more from this author.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sophia Sophia 

About Sophia Rose

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

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Mini Book Reviews

Posted April 25, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Mini Book ReviewsNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 27, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Not That I Could Tell is a story about a group of neighborhood women, who one night get together at a campfire and some secrets fly. The next day, one of them disappears with her kids while in the middle of the road and no one seems to remember a chunk of time from that night. This was an okay read, I was honestly wishing for something a bit more. I think in general this book would be much better read in the summer, because there is this whole summer feel of the book which does not work with dreary mood. I was hoping it would be more thrilling, but I am not sure I would consider this a thriller. The ending was definitely surprising, but at the same time giving how the characters reactions are written in the book, felt kind of thrown together. Overall, this is a decent summer read.

Mini Book ReviewsCatacomb by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #3
Published by HarperTeen on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sometimes the past is better off buried.
Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.
As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
In this finale to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, found photographs help tell the story of three teens who exist on the line between past and present, genius and insanity.

I finally finished this series. I think? I am not sure if there is supposed to be another book, but the way this one ended, it feels like there should have been another. This series really does have an addictive quality to it, for me, I think, is the format of the book. I really like the mixed format with the pictures thrown in because it adds to the whole experience and the atmosphere of the book. I did struggle with this one. I did not feel like there was any character growth in this series. The kids thought almost on their way to college feel very much younger than their age. Also, it’s repetitive in the way Dan’s friends react to them. Dan is constantly looking into his past and trouble, and his friends get angry at him over it and blame him for it, but in the end always show up to save him. The ending felt open with the possibility of a new book, but I don’t think one is coming. I did enjoy the setting of the book as this one is set in New Orleans.

Mini Book ReviewsLowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Series: A Liz Talbot Mystery #1
Published by Henery Press on September 13, 2012
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 316
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

An interesting start to a new to me series. Liz Talbot is a private investigator and she moves back home upon her grandmother’s death. She is not only left with her grandmother’s house, but she was also left with the land it is on. When Liz finds out that her grandmother is murdered, she has no choice but stay home and try to find her killer. On top of, she in roped into more drama than she bargained for. This was a quick, fun read, it has a lot going on, probably a lot more than it should and features an array of different characters. Liz could be a little frustrating at times because of her not telling her cop brother much about the investigation and the ending and whodunit came out of no where. But, it’s full of southern charm, great characters and even a bit of the paranormal. I’ll continue with this series.

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