Audiobook Review | “Sharpe Edge” (Book Two: Maycroft Mysteries) by Lisa B. Thomas, narrated by Kelley Hazen

Posted Monday, 23 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of [2016] during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Sharpe Edge” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions (of whom was working directly with the author Lisa B. Thomas) in exchange for an honest review. The difference with this complimentary copy I received is I had a 90 day window to listen and review the book whilst given a soft deadline where I could post my ruminative thoughts at an hour which worked for me on the day the review was due; this differs from a blog tour which has a more set schedule of posting. The audiobooks are offered to ‘adopt’ for review consideration and are given to readers to gauge their opinions, impressions and insight into how the audiobook is resonating with listeners. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: Due to my unexpected hiatus in September, my adopted audiobooks (‘Life as a Spectrum Mom‘, ‘Sharpe Shooter‘ and ‘Sharpe Edge’) as well as the blog tour ‘The Supernatural Pet Sitter’ were delayed from posting until I was able to listen to them due to a series of health issues which left me afflicted throughout Autumn 2017 and again in early Winter 2017/18.

[Due to technical difficulties, Winter/Spring 2018] I was delayed in listening to nearly all my audiobooks – as I never could technically fix a glitch which prevented me from downloading audiobooks to listen to offline from as well as OverDrive (for library audiobooks). It wasn’t until I was able to touch base with a tech at a reciporcal branch in my library region and a third attempt to find a tech via Audible who could help me work through this glitch – where I found the freedom to finally be in a position to listen to all the lovelies I wanted to hear ‘offline’ without being co-dependent on a stable connection.

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Why I was excited about listening to this sequel & why I love the series overall:

As Deena grew closer to the truth – she was finding she wasn’t the only person investigating Matthew’s disappearance – in fact, she was nearly circling the same leads as the other ‘investigator’ who was either a few steps ahead of her or right in-line with where her own queries were leading her to venture future into the past to see where Matthew’s own footsteps might lead her to uncover the fuller truth of his disappearance. One of the best parts about her tenacious focus is how she was not afraid to follow every clue which might have insight into Matthew and thereby, a small trace of the truth which was so shrouded from sight now in the present day as if to be forever erased from the memory of those who might have known more than they were willing to share.

I had to agree with Deena about shopping at thrift and antique stores – you get caught inside your own memories and the memories of other times. I also like the fact you can find things no longer available and they can become part of the treasures you enjoy now in your own life. They have histories you might never know yourself but you can appreciate them with renewed love and find that sometimes the best way to curate your own style is looking for things which are being resold years after their original owners have parted with them.

I love how there are people who are in Deena’s life who provide her with new insights into Matthew’s life – such as the person who noticed something about a photograph. In other ways, it was interesting to see how Deena is connected to a lot of people who can aide her in her effort to understand Matthew’s unknown past. Meanwhile, as her path was on a collision course with the other investigator – you are partially surprised by what you find when the two actually meet! I was expecting this to go a different way, but he, in turn, ended up being one of the best people to point her in a direction she might not have considered otherwise! It was as if the closer she came to having all the loose threads resolved, the further she was from the actual truth which tried to remain out of reach.

Whilst Deena was trying to resolve the case, the police were trying to delegate the investigation and let things take their due even if that meant passing off some people to the family. I was truly impressed though how the conspiracy theory angle actually held weight and how Ms Thomas was able to knit this Cosy into a thread of such a well-known event in our History was quite impressive to listen to unravel – this is one thing that I admired most about how she told the story. You think at first it’s a simple answer to why Matthew disappeared and why his death went unknown for so many years – but then, there are other components being pulled into the tapestry of this mystery and which deepen the plausibility of why Matthew might have run into trouble.

I quite literally LOVED listening to this story – yet finding a way to articulate this admiration into a review took a bit of extra time! Sometimes you can find yourself devouring a story with wicked passion but then, how do you fuse your passion for a story and discussion of it’s heart?

– quoted from my review of Sharpe Shooter

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Audiobook Review | “Sharpe Edge” (Book Two: Maycroft Mysteries) by Lisa B. Thomas, narrated by Kelley HazenSharpe Edge
Subtitle: Cozy Suberbs Mystery Series

Buoyed by a new job and a spirit for the holidays, Deena Sharpe didn’t know she’d be investigating the town matriarch’s death at her own Christmas party. Everyone assumes it was an accident— everyone but her daughter, Estelle. Now Deena must rely on her craftiness to dig out the truth before anyone else gets hurt.

A little romance, some snarky suburban competition, and a lot of mystery will keep readers guessing in this cozy whodunit.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse


on 11th May, 2016

Length: 6 hours, 8 minutes (unabridged)

Self-Published Audiobook

Order of the Maycroft Mysteries: (Read the Series Synopsis’s on the Author’s Site)

NOTE: Initially I thought this was the Cozy Suburbs Mysteries – however it’s really the Maycroft Mysteries series – as the sub-title on the audiobook versions revealled the other name.

Sharpe Shooter | Book One (see also Review)
Sharpe Edge | Book Two
Sharpe Mind | Book Three | Synopsis
Sharpe Turn | Book Four | Synopsis
Sharpe Point | Book Five | Synopsis
Sharpe Cookie | Book Six | Synopsis
+ Sharpe Image | PREQUEL Novella | Synopsis

Lisa B. Thomas | Blog | Site | @LBThomas2 | Facebook

Narrator: Kelley Hazen | Site | @KelleyHazen1 | Facebook

As an aside – I hadn’t realised I’ve known about the work of Ms Hazen previously – as two of my favourite holiday films on Hallmark Channel were “Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus” & “Meet the Santas” whilst I loved watching “Strong Medicine” until the story-lines took a hard turn which took the joy out of watching the series. “Commander in Chief” is a dvd set I can’t wait to watch and I had wondered who did the voiceover on the montage within “What A Woman Wants”,… interestingly as a book blogger I love finding how my other creative interests in film, tv or music start to crossover into my bookish life as well. The reason I hadn’t known I knew of her work previously is because I have the tendency of remembering performances rather than names; not limited to those who act either – I’ll remember almost anyone on ‘sight’ before I recall their ‘name’.

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about the prologue:

What is curious about where were enter this story is how we’re caught in the middle of a flashback to the 1940s where a very dramatic situation is unfolding. Charles Brice and Lily are expectant parents who are hoping this will time their prayers will be answered with a healthy child – as you can tell they have had a difficult time in finding their resolve after having experienced so much loss. Charles was hopeful his wife had enough strength to get through this moment – whichever way it would go – however, you can tell as the emotion was lingering in the air – whatever happened, it would effect them. He was hoping he would be like the other fathers – full of congratulations and an uplifted heart telling him he had a son or daughter.

The somberness of this scene is heavily felt due to how Ms Thomas wrote it – visually you feel connected to Charles but emotionally, your as choked up on the uncertainties as much as Charles. He was reflective of his life and of how his life with his wife was missing one important piece of his heart – the birth of his child. When the news is announced you feel like you can exhale along with him – as if for the first time – as that is how important this time was for him and his wife.

I loved the scene between Charles and Lily and their young babe – of how overjoyed they were and how innocently sweet the moment was captured. Especially as soon after, an unthinkable situation soon disrupts their lives and it’s hard to even conceive how this could have happened. There truly are no words for what you listen to unfolding because it’s so dire and so tragic – you can feel the anguish of everything Charles and Lily are feeling – punctuated of course by how Ms Hazen delivers the words – the emotion was in her voice.

Within this short introduction we are privy to a selfless act of redemption – of how the act of forgiveness which can feel out of reach and out of proportion to a person’s anguish of sorrow can be found in quiet moments where it acts as a release – for both the giver and the receiver. This was such a beautiful introduction – wrought out of tragedy upon tragedy and then, a moment of thoughtfulness of how you can redeem a person’s soul through an unexpected change of heart and mind.

my review of sharpe edge:

As we re-enter Deena’s life, she’s in the midst of sorting out how her and Gary had somehow amassed more holiday decorations than one couple should have in their possession! Laughs. Whilst in the attic, Deena soon realised this task was better if two people were involved – as an unexpected injury stopped her in her progress. Hurley, her best friend and dearly loved dog was enough to rally her spirits – this day and the others when she needed inspiration for her writing life as a reporter for the local paper. Hearing the fact she was about to tackle the family holiday event didn’t surprise me – she liked to say busy. This is why she also ran a booth for antiques – something I sort of felt she’d love to do as this was hinted at being a passion of hers in Sharpe Shooter.

Observing her as she was in her element brought back fond memories, as she is a multi-tasker like no other! She likes having a lot of irons in the fire, where she is constantly in flux and hopping round where time isn’t left idle on the clock. Deena’s worst fault is finding herself bored without something to put her heart and attention into overdrive to off-set the monotony she hopes never reappears. It never fails to make me chuckle hearing her talk about being a fifty-something retired teacher – as if her age somehow was going to limit what she could accomplish or slow her down from bolting off to tackle a new adventure!

There was a huge celebration about to kick-off in Maycroft – you could feel the festive atmosphere had started to arrive with the weather turning cooler. This is also where we first meet Wendy – the party planner who might be slightly high-strung but she has a heart of gold in wanting only the best for her clients! Wendy, like Deena is good at juggling a lot of tasks – however, you almost could tell how she was looking forward to the party getting underway – if only to stand back and see what she had been able to pull off. She’s definitely the kind of woman who likes her line of work.

I caught sight of how the Prologue ties into the main thread of this Mystery – as the name ‘Caroline’ was mentioned during the preparations for the party. This is a key to the evolving story (of which I’ll hold back from saying exactly how it ties together!) and one where I hoped would link the past and the present in a way I was hoping it might!

It was a nice antidote to the biggest party of Maycroft to be centered around a library donation – wherein everyone is encouraged to bring their favourite book or the one they believe is the favourite of the hostess Caroline. There is quite a lot of fodder surrounding this project – as everyone is vying to get on her good side or make the biggest impression. At least behind the rivalry and good-natured fun is the joy of collecting books for a good cause.

Whenever someone dies at home, presumably accidentally – there are still a series of procedures which have to be executed before the deceased can be laid to rest. The interesting bit here – as we observe through the hours after the discovery, if there are a lot of people present during a time of death, the difficult bit is what came first – the conspiracy to commit a crime or the untimely exit of a beloved member of the community? All the players present had to wait out the ordeal of finding out the ME (medical examiner)’s declaration of findings – even if that meant patience would run thin.

In this part of the book, I felt the story wasn’t being performed but rather dictated – a spoken narration vs a performance based narration. The characters’ were being voiced slightly differently from one another but the pacing at this stage felt off a bit – as I just felt like we were being ‘shown’ everything rather than experiencing it all alongside the characters. If that makes sense!? I still found certain moments of missing the original narrator, as her voicing of the series still felt partially more in sync with how I originally saw the characters in my own imagination. It was at this junction I had a sinking suspicion I was already halfway stepping ‘out’ of wishing to see how this story ended.

Gary and Deena have dinner discussing the potential reasons for motive whilst contemplating why someone would have nefarious reasons for wanting the older lady to be ‘gone’ from this life. As they converse the ins and outs of the possibilities, you gathered the sense, Deena was not just appreciative of Gary’s insight but of the sounding board he provided. Mostly as in this particular instance, Gary was making accusations Deena herself wasn’t prepared to entertain – even if what Gary was suggesting was made out of sound analysis based on the evidence and what was readily known.

Oy vie. The person trying to share the Taj Mahal version of sealed burial options you could definitely hear the syrupy slickness of how his approach was intending to blindside the purchasers into thinking they wanted what he was trying to ‘sell’ when they could easily spend less money and be just as satisfied with the final product. The worst scams are in death care arrangements as the upmarked prices vary and the worst bit is how some intentionally play on your fears and your emotional state of mind at the time of purchase rather than dealing with you with an ethical point of view.

Shortly after this sequence, I knew this was one audiobook I couldn’t finish – I no longer felt invested in the story, the characters and I was most disappointed how short-changed we were for seeing Deena taking such a backseat in the series based on her life? I couldn’t even resolve why after such a strong Prologue why we were facing so many issues in the transition back to Deena’s time-line – it almost felt as if this story was written in different years – where the Prologue was composed first and then, the manuscript had a hiatus from being written and then, when it resumed, the story continued without a fully realised way to reconnect the Prologue with the current time-line of events.

Fly in the Ointment: why this became a DNF for me

The more I attempt to listen to this audiobook, the more I started to loathe hearing it. I thought for sure, this narrator had convinced me she was a good fit for Deena – even as a character whose age would increase slightly as the series progressed forward – however, after a bout of illness, a seriously beastly migraine and a curiosity about what was going to happen ‘after’ the death – I re-entered this audiobook finding my interest in hearing it had waned.

The key reasons why were the following:

The pacing was greatly reduced from the original story-line – where we were in the footsteps of Deena sleuthing everything through a process of taking the journey to uncover the truth vs having everything in this installment basically ‘said’ to Deena or revealled to her in some way, where it doesn’t feel like she’s the sole character in a leading role anymore – almost as if she’s become reduced to a supporting cast sideline.

The narrator vacillates from owning the characters to strictly reading the words of the script. I simply didn’t feel overly convinced the narrator was enjoying the performance – as a lot of the characters felt muddled together or completely opaque.

The connection between the introduction chapter and the revelation of the person who died prematurely was not clearly defined. You can draw a conclusionary line in the sand yourself – but as far as understanding even after the character dies why there isn’t a hunt for truth or a revelation of the back-story to be sought out or even attempted to be found, was a question mark for me. The longer we were kept in the dark about the details of who the deceased was to the community, the more angst we had in staying patient to see more revealled.

Honestly, my interest just wasn’t captured – there were elements of interest – such as how Gary and Deena’s co-partnership in her sleuthing skills keeps being re-visited as much as their relationship overall as true partners in life. I enjoyed watching their scenes together, as the author is sharpening our understanding of their dynamics. However, even this wasn’t enough to keep me ‘rooted’ to the narrator’s attempt to reveal the plot nor of the time-line of the story itself from feeling slightly droll as I couldn’t sympathise with the characters long enough to care one way or the other about what would ultimately become known about why this particular lady left prematurely from her life. If anything, it felt cluttered and a bit misleading towards trying to sort out the mystery yourself without a presumption about what the characters would start to reveal of themselves in the process of understanding the truth behind the murder.

on the cosy mystery styling of ms thomas:

The sharp wit and banter is back in this installment of the series – as Ms Thomas will have you laughing in short order – once you get an earful of her wickedly delightful slice of humour! She likes to insert pop cultural references and that makes it all the more enjoyable to listen as the story unfolds because it keeps the series refreshed for contemporary times. I only wish the initial rush of joy I had alighting into this second installment had become the mainstay rather than the exception.

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specifically in regards to the audiobook:

As I am relatively new to reviewing audiobooks and listening to them with a greater frequency than of the past, I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is the first time I’ve heard Kelley Hazen – it was a bit of a hard shift though to align my heart with her version of narrating this series as I had truly loved the original narrator. It wasn’t that this narrator didn’t have a strong presence of her own but when you get ‘attached’ to narrator’s you have to give yourself time to re-adjust. The key difference is how she voiced the narration – whereas the other woman altered her voice or has a lint of Southern/Texas drawl this narrator read the story quite ‘straight’. Meaning, her voice sounds stronger and out of the element of a Southern Cosy setting – until I heard her hit her stride. Once she settled into Chapter One, I started to change my mind about her voice not fitting the series.

Especially as I re-listened to the Prologue – the dramatic conviction and the emotional way in which she voiced Charles and Lily’s sequence is something to re-listen to in order to gain the best experience out of what Ms Hazen is imparting on their behalf. As you pull yourself back into their circumstances – all too real for the era – you can’t help but feel the conviction of their tragedy and this is felt on two levels – the writer for laying down the foundation of what is being expressed and the narrator Ms Hazen for eclipsing their emotional despair with precise understanding for how to pull us into their desperate hour of sorrow.

This was how she convinced me she fit the series – through the Prologue and listening to how she settled into the series itself – through voicing Deena and the supporting cast who were involved with Chapter One. From that moment forward, I simply settled in for a wicked good listening experience and was thankful she has continued to narrate the series hereafter.

Until of course, I reached the point where the allure of listening to the rest of this audiobook shifted after a supernova migraine and a bout of illness to where re-entering this audiobook after six weeks of being ill felt like a drudgery rather than a happy affair. I even re-listened to the bits I had loved prior to taken ill and I just couldn’t get past those bits I loved and re-shift forward to where the story-line for me just failed to hold my attention any longer. Thereby, my original assessment still holds: I miss the original narrator who just had something in her performance which makes Deena come alive.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

Charles & Lily: I truly loved listening to the Prologue where the characters were introduced due to how the narrator put her own emotion behind her words and gave gravity to the dramatic events which were unfolding for this couple.

Deena: As the narrator’s have changed, so too, are my impressions of Deena as it’s interesting how a lot of what we appreciate about a character is hinged to how we interpret who they are based on our realisation of who they would be if they were as real as we are – meaning, if your reading a book you have an impression based on your imagination. Listening to audiobooks works the same way – except with the added benefit of having the dimension increased through the voice your listening to who takes on the personality of the character. Thus, at first – I wasn’t sure if Ms Hazen was a good fit for this novel (or series) but then,… she surprised me. Her voice is a more matured version of Deena – almost as if a decade or more had transpired between the first novel and this sequel.

Secondary Characters:

Wendy: I loved how her high-strong personality was being related by the narrator’s impression of her voice – she’s the kind of person who you knew lived for the challenges she undertook but she also had a way of having her voice crack when she felt pushed a bit thin. She was definitely a passionate kind of person who wanted to bring out the best in everything she did.

Estelle: I love how she altered her voice to show the age of the character. Her Southern lilt felt natural – her voice wavered between from confidence to frayed nerves. She had this hitch in her voice which exesperated her emotional state of mind.

Russell: Deena’s brother who was elusively mentioned in Sharpe Shooter, he steps out of the shadows and has a presence in this installment. Mostly as he’s apparently sweet on Estelle. Deena had taken care of her brother when he needed a bit of extra help but now, we start to see him as he presents himself to the community.

The Chef: the one who misplaced a knife, his accent was hilarious to listen to but it was his angst which came through so loud and clearly.

How the Novel sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

When I was listening to the first novel of the series, I never felt like the story was dragging or keeping a slow pace towards enveloping me inside the heart of the investigation Deena was undertaking. Counter to that listening, I was quite surprised how the series is now shifting away from a first-person perspective focusing on Deena’s character and how she intersected with the supporting cast as she sleuthed to a more ensemble cast where there are multiple points of view in each scene. It’s hard to distinguish Deena as a ‘lead character’ or even as the series sleuth, as you have a lot of characters taking their queues in and out of each of the sequences.

This is one reason why this felt more ‘spoken narrative’ than theatrical because you can’t always distinguish the characters amongst each other -they blur together, and it starts to muddle the overall pace of the series as your quite confused how you can go from a ‘character lead’ drama to a series where it seems to confuse who the main character is?

In this installment, we very early-on learn about the deceased and with the strength of the introductory chapter, I was quite surprised how the rest of the story wasn’t as aptly developed to ‘hook’ your attention.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

At this point in time, I’m so disappointed in the series, I can’t answer this question right now. When you feel you’ve found the narrator who fits a series and then, a new narrator takes over the series – it’s make/break time. Either the transition is going to hold and last or there is going to be a point where your going to opt-out of continuing to listen to the series. This is the pickle I’m in with this series, because I really was sold on it with Sharpe Shooter but I was disillusioned in Sharpe Edge.

In closing, would I seek out another Kelley Hazen audiobook?

Goodness. I’m unsure…. I’d consider it if it was a wholly different series or even a stand-alone to get a better impression of her narration range but in regards to feeling removed from a series I was enjoying it’s hard to say I’d immediately seek out another of her narrations as I just didn’t get the best impression of her work in Sharpe Edge.

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 This audiobook review is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

Adopt an Audiobook badge provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

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{SOURCES: Whilst signing up for adopting audiobooks through Audiobookworm Promotions, I sought permission to use the cover art & the book synopsis of the audiobooks I would be adopting to use on my reviews. I was given permission by Audiobookworm Promotions to use these materials. Therefore, the cover art for “Sharpe Edge” and the book synopsis are being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Audiobook Review Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 23 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Autism, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Brothers and Sisters, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Equality In Literature, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Indie Author, Learning Difficulties, Memoir, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Mother-Son Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-Fiction, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Siblings, Special Needs Children, Vignettes of Real Life, Women's Health

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