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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Narrator: Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Published by Harper Collins on March 1, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Length: 8 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes, so when someone (I forget who) said they enjoyed this take on the characters, I had to put it on my to-read list. Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are descendants of the famous duo and they “just happen” to meet at boarding school. In Connecticut. But don’t worry, the story will get to that. Coincidences are never really coincidences in a Holmes world.

Charlotte is pure Sherlock, complete with drug problems, brilliant deductions, and violin-playing, which comes off a little differently in a 16-year-old girl. She can be tough to like, but we’re seeing her through Watson’s eyes, and he’s either falling in love with her or is obsessed with her or both. When a student they both hates ends up dead, everything points at them, so of course they have to solve the mystery. What else could a Holmes and Watson do? The mystery was clever, with plenty of connections to the original Holmes stories.

I enjoyed the writing, the descriptions and metaphors were well-done. I especially enjoyed the Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses that Jamie’s dad has put together.

I listened to the audio version and I think the narrator did a good job being Jamie, since the story comes from his point of view. The epilogue is told by Charlotte, who doesn’t really have much to add. I’m glad the same narrators are doing the next in the series.

This is a YA book and it does deal a lot with drugs. It also deals with a rape, which may be a reason some won’t want to read it. I’m not sure it was handled the best way either, it made sense to the plot and the characters, but is not a good example of how the crime should have been reported/prosecuted. The kids don’t really have much supervision, which makes it easier to investigate/sneak around campus, but also easier to end up over your head.

I do kind of wish Watson and Holmes could remain just friends, but I have the feeling one, if not both, is hoping for more.

This book trailer makes me almost wish it was a movie.

About Brittany Cavallaro

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. She’s also the author of the poetry collection GIRL-KING (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in the Bay area with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.

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The End of the Day by Claire North

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The End of the Day by Claire North The End of the Day by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Published by Redhook on April 4, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fiction
Length: 12 hrs 22 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Charlie has a new job. He gets to travel, and he meets interesting people, some of whom are actually pleased to see him.

It's good to have a friendly face, you see. At the end.

But the end of all things is coming. Charlie's boss and his three associates are riding out, and it's Charlie's job to go before.

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

Charlie is the Harbinger of Death. It’s his job. He’s a mortal, has no super powers except a support staff at an office somewhere who are great at making reservations, getting him across borders and out of jail, and paying ransoms. He meets good people and terrible people, and sometimes he’s sent for ideas or ways of life and not individuals. He celebrates Life and we travel with him.

That’s what we do, we see what he sees, hear what he hears, including random snippets of conversation, go where he goes. We’re with him when he meets people, gives them gifts, tells them he is the Harbinger and sometimes he comes as a warning and sometimes as a courtesy. We’re with him as he listens to people’s life stories and when he is beaten and held prisoner. After all, not everyone is happy when the Harbinger of Death shows up; some are though. Yes, sometimes we see slices of the lives of the other Harbingers – each Horseman has one, and sometimes we see what War or Pestilence, or Famine is up to, but mostly we’re with Charlie. This is a very character and idea driven novel. It touches on so many current issues, war, racism, immigration, environmental change, guns. People can be a dreadful lot at times, but they can also be kind, and loving, and hopeful. And who knew Death could be such a likeable guy?

I loved the story. I listened to the audio version. Her writing is beautiful and touching and descriptive and Kenny was the perfect narrator. His voices during the snippets of conversations set them apart nicely. His Charlie was spot on, humorous at times, but so scared at others and just British enough. In a book with so many characters who only show up for a scene or two, he does a great job giving each his/her own personality, own inflections.

The End of the Day doesn’t really have much of a plot, though, and it’s rather slow. It’s a series of events and they do connect, but it doesn’t follow a traditional structure. It’s more about the ideas and viewpoints than about what happens next. For me it worked. I don’t know if it will for everyone.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Series: Laetitia Rodd Mysteries #1
Published by Dreamscape Media on October 25, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 10 hrs 35 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.

But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.

The Secrets of Wishtide is fine. I really just don’t have much to say about it. Letty is a competent investigator, but I wanted her to have more of a personality I guess. She’s a little bland, which does allow her to fit in unobtrusively, but I wished she had more of a spark to her. Ido have some hope for her and Inspector Blackbeard though.

I liked the Victorian Britain setting, both London and the countryside. We see the seedy side of the city and the drawing rooms of the rich. We see inside of Newgate and the country manor. I do think it did a good job of portraying how women were treated and the (lack of) options in that era.

As far as the mystery goes, what started as a short trip to look into an unacceptable love interest turns more complicate and dead bodies start to pile up. The story got a little complicated and I’m never much of a fan of the “oh look, he wasn’t really dead after all” plot line. And it’s funny that just about all of Letty’s hunches pay off. It was well-plotted though, with enough clues and witnesses. There’s no grand revelation, but there is a good scene where the bad guy is cornered.

I guess The Secrets of Wishtide draws a lot of it’s inspiration from Dickens’ David Copperfield, but since I’ve never read it I totally missed that part.

Will I read the next in the series? Maybe, if my library gets it on audio and I don’t have anything else lined up.

About Kate Saunders

Kate Saunders is an author and journalist. She has worked for The Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph and Cosmopolitan amongst others, and has contributed to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Start the Week. She has written numerous books for adults and children, including the bestselling Night Shall Overtake Us, and her follow on to E Nesbit’s Five Children and It stories, Five Children on the Western Front, which won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2014. She lives in London.

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