Monday, September 23, 2019

Mini Reviews [33]

A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady 
Sherlock, #1) by Sherry Thomas
Narrated by Kate Reading
Synopsis (via Goodreads): With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.


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Historical fiction isn't really my cup of tea, but I do love a good mystery! I thought the two would balance out, especially since A Study in Scarlet Women was about a female Sherlock. I really enjoyed the author's take on a classic tale, and thought she did a wonderful job making Charlotte our brilliant detective. Even the Watson connection was creative! Thomas made this story entirely her own, while still making certain aspects feel familiar.

Unfortunately, the time period proved to be incredibly frustrating. Charlotte was forced to make a difficult decision that had serious repercussions. She didn't anticipate the fallout, and it really impacted how the world saw her afterwards. Charlotte wanted to go to school, and she should have been allowed that opportunity without the rigmarole. Even the other women in this book were disappointing. Where was the solidarity and understanding?

I also disliked how slowly the story progressed, and really just wanted to know how the mystery played out. Charlotte's childhood, her time spent at home, the time she spent searching for a job -- I could have done without all of that. I enjoyed watching her be Sherlock Holmes and using her underappreciated mind to find solutions and make observations that others overlooked. It was interesting how everything tied together in the end, and I think the second book might be a little less frustrating since she's established herself now.

However, I would have liked for the romance in this book to have been more than it was. Yes, the guy is married (which means they should keep their hands to themselves), but unhappily. He also has an amazing connection with Charlotte, and the two of them really sparked when they were in a room together (super upset that he's married with a wife and kids). I don't know how that's going to play out, especially with the rules of the time period, but it's already way too complicated for my liking. A Study in Scarlet Women was a solid three-star read for me.


With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.


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With the Fire on High was a truly remarkable story that I still think about today. I finished this book back in June and just never got around to writing a review for it (bad blogger, I know). The Poet X was one of my favorite reads last year, so I was thrilled when I learned Acevedo had written another book! I listened to the audiobooks (an experience you don't want to miss out on), and purchased physical copies as well. The author is the narrator, and her voice really brings these stories to life. The Poet X and With the Fire on High are both memorable books that really resonated with me.

Emoni hasn't lived an easy life, and she's had to make really difficult decisions starting at a young age. Her wants and desires come second now that she's a mother, and she often struggles with balancing everything in her life. Cooking has always been her passion, but she loves her daughter and wants to make sure she can provide for them both. Emoni's struggles felt authentic, and I really liked how she was portrayed throughout the book. She's someone's daughter, granddaughter, mother, ex-girlfriend, new girlfriend, student, chef-in-training, employee, friend -- the list goes on and on. She's comfortable in her own skin, and she doesn't let the judgement of others weigh too heavily on her.

I really liked how her family was portrayed, and the role her friends played in her life. People are complicated, but they can always surprise you. It was also nice seeing teachers that really wanted to help their students succeed. I enjoyed sharing this journey with Emoni, and thought the author did a wonderful job hitting all of my emotions with a hammer. If you haven't read anything by Acevedo, you're missing out.

39 comments:

  1. I'm so sad you didn't love the Lady Sherlock series but I completely understand too! The romance is super frustrating in this and if the time period isn't your thing, I can definitely see why you struggled with this. I am happy you gave it a try though even knowing going in that it might not be the read for you.

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    1. It happens! I was excited about the idea of a Lady Sherlock, but the time period is exhausting. ;) Right?? The romance was incredibly frustrating! It also seems impossible, which I dislike. I'm happy I gave it a try, too. Do they get better as the series progresses?

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  2. I only tried the first one but I don't remember how it was for me

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  3. I tried reading A Study but I got bored with it along the way. I have With the Fire On High on my radar, though as I've loved Poet X from this author.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I almost didn't finish A Study in Scarlet Women, but I was listening to the audiobook. I tend to get lost in those, or just let them play, while I'm cleaning or working around the house. It ended up being okay, but I was frustrated with the setting and disliked the difficulties of the romance.

      Loved The Poet X! Acevedo is amazing. <3

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  4. I LOVED Fire on High. her books, and her narration, are incredible.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I will automatically buy whatever Acevedo writes (and then likely wait and listen to the audio). ;)

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  5. I really must try Avecedo! I do hear she is amaazing

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    1. Yes! You must!! You listen to a lot of audiobooks, right? Hers are amazing! <3

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  6. I love that cover for A Study in Scarlet Women. I won't lie, the covers for that series have tempted me to try those, even though I haven't been reading as much historical fiction (unless there's paranormal involved haha). Sounds like a problematic romance though- hopefully it works in the books ahead.

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    1. I don't think I've ever read historical fiction with a paranormal twist! Any suggestions? I really like the covers too, which is what initially drew my attention to this series. Later when I learned it was about a female Sherlock, I knew I had to at least try the first book. I don't like problematic romances... haha! I want them to be simple and steamy. ;)

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    2. This one's more YA but the Stoker and Holmes series by Colleen Gleason (she also writes a vampire hunters series that's more adult/ urban fantasy). But here's a link to the first Stoker & Holmes, which I liked.

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17084242-the-clockwork-scarab

      The Holmes is the niece of Sherlock in this series.

      Also if I remember right Kristen at Metaphors has reviewed the Gardella Vampire Hunter series, which is her more UF one. Stoker & Holmes are more steampunkish.

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    3. It's been ages since I've read anything with a steampunk vibe! I really want to re-read The Girl in the Steal Corset. I don't remember much about it... only that someone called her Treasure. I added the Stocker and Holmes series to my TBR, and I'll check our Kristen's review of the vampire series. Thanks! :)

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    4. I think you'll like Stoker and Holmes, and if you ever decide to read the Gardella series let me know and maybe I will too.

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  7. A Study in Scarlet women sounds interesting - I like the twist on the Sherlock Holmes story. Hopefully the stories will only get better now that the background is established!

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    1. I've heard they do get better as the series progresses, but I have a feeling I'll remain annoyed with the romance and setting. Women were treated so poorly in the past, and it's endlessly frustrating. If you like historical fiction with some mystery, try this!

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  8. I am a fan of Acevedo's books, and I thought Emoni was fabulous. It was wonderful seeing her take responsibility, not play the blame game, and keep reaching for her goals.

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    1. Emoni knew what she wanted, but she also knew that being able to take care of her daughter was more important. I was happy with how the story left things, because they felt hopeful and honest. You don't see too many teenagers these days thinking that far ahead. ;)

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  9. I need to get around to reading Acevedo books! I keep hearing so much about them especially Poet X

    Uma@Books.Bags.Burgers.

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    1. The Poet X is still my favorite! I just love the way the story is told! If you enjoy audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to her books. <3

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  10. I'm picky with historical romance but I love the Charlotte Holmes series. Thomas makes more explicit comments on women supporting women in future books and the love story is sooo angsty.

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    1. I have a feeling the romance might be too angsty for me, haha. One, he's married and has children with a woman he doesn't love. Two, Charlotte warned him and he chose not to listen. Three, the time period would probably frown on divorce, and it would likely ruin the reputation of his current wife (and he doesn't seem like the type to do that). They've kept their hands off each other for the most part, but it's already so complicated. I'm happy you love this series! I might read the second book later down the road, but I'm not itching to pick it up. :)

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  11. I am sorry that you had a few issues with A Study in Scarlet Women. I haven't had the chance to read it yet but the audiobook is in my Audible account just waiting for its turn. I don't like the fact that her romantic interest is married though. With the Fire on High sounds amazing. I haven't had the chance to read this author yet but it sounds like I should try to fit this one in.

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    1. I enjoyed the audiobook. I think the narrator did a lovely job with the story! It was just a tad to slow for me, and the time period makes me want to slap people. Yes, her romantic interest being married was a big turn-off for me as well. It made everything feel icky, especially since he also has children.

      Acevedo is an amazing author and narrator! I highly recommend her books! :)

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  12. I don't like a slow story. It throws off the flow if the book if I find myself bored.

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    1. If I'm listening to an audiobook, the slow pace doesn't bother me as much, but it was really noticeable in this one. I think it was because a lot of the information felt unnecessary, unless the author was building for future books.

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  13. With the Fire on High sounds amazing. I definitely want to read that one!

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    1. Yes! It is amazing! Have you read The Poet X?

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  14. I've heard really good things about Sherry Thomas so I'd be interested to read that one, although I can definitely understand your issues with it. I'm glad you enjoyed With the Fire on High so much!

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    1. Have you read anything by Acevedo? I love her books -- especially the audio! I'd also heard really good things about A Study in Scarlet Women, which is what initially piqued my interest regarding the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great fit.

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  15. I'm not much of a mystery lover and it's been ages since I read a historical but I am curious about A Study In Scarlet Women! I think my heart would break over the romantic connection being married though... The only simple way to resolve it is to kill off the wife with some random illness!

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    1. I really liked the idea of a female Sherlock solving mysteries! I hate that she has to hide her identity though, and her love interest is frustrating. You're right... the only way to really solve that issue is to kill her off, but they have children together, so I wouldn't want that to happen. It's way too complicated for my liking.

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  16. A Study in Scarlet Women sounds like it would have been perfect for me, I like historical fiction where women push against that glass ceiling but what's up with that romance! That's so disappointing. Her love interested didn't need to be married with a family, that's a peeve of mine in books.

    I had no idea that The Fire on High was about a young mother, even keener to read it now. It's something we don't often see in young adult. Wonderful reviews Linds, really enjoyed them.

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    1. I'm all for women breaking the glass ceiling, but it wasn't really a focal point in this book. We see how society gets in the way of what she wants, but not really her fighting against it. Have you read Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore?? Fantastic read! The love interest being married was icky. I don't know how you get around that, especially since he has children with her.

      With the Fire on High is a remarkable read! I highly recommend it! <3

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    2. To clarify... no one is married in Bringing Down the Duke, haha! My response was all over the place. ;)

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  17. Yes, I totally agree about With the Fire on High. It's definitely in my top three, if not top two so far this year! 👍✨

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    1. I think The Poet X is my favorite of her two books, but both were incredible reads. I just really enjoyed the slam poetry aspect of the first book! Did you read or listen to her books? Her narrations are fantastic. :)

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