Malia Zaidi

Book Review: The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi

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The Golden Hour (Lady Evelyn Mystery #4)The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Golden Hour is the fourth book in the ‘Lady Evelyn’ mystery series, a cross between a historical fiction and cozy, written by Malia Zaidi. In this latest caper, Lady Evelyn travels to Scotland to keep watch over her aunt who’s been acting stranger than usual. Within a few days, a young maid is found murdered in the gardens and an unsolved murder from years ago resurfaces. Both have connections to her family, and Evie (a nickname for Lady Evelyn, by some) won’t leave the situation alone. Amidst the staff and a neighboring home for veterans of the war, our culprits also include Evie’s aunt, uncle, and maternal cousins. Which one of the entire lot is guilty?

Zaidi achieves a perfect balance of historical details and dialog to transport readers to the setting, both Scotland and the 1920s. Through Lady Evelyn’s charm and wit, she easily elicits all the information she needs to decide who is telling her the truth and who is trying to keep her in the dark. Daniel, her sort-of-not-really-yet fiance, remains behind in London until the very end, allowing her to investigate as she sees fit. Even Briony, another paternal cousin, doesn’t make the trip to Scotland, so we’re introduced to all new characters, including Aunt Agnes, the woman who raised Evie as well as a woman we’ve known very little about. Now, we do… and there’s a striking balance of old schoolmarm and loving aunt mixed about. I love her character the most, I think.

This series is strong. Although it’s on the longer side (page count) and has a large amount of description about the times / locations, it’s charismatic and engaging. It won’t be read in one setting, but you can push through in a few, enjoying each trip to a different aspect of life the main character experiences. Sometimes it’s like Downton Abbey, others it’s more like an Austen novel in terms of how the story is told. Either way, I’m a huge fan, and I really enjoy learning as much as about this historical setting as I do solving the murders.

In this one, we have lots of little twists to keep us guessing, and in the end, I did figure out the suspect before Lady Evelyn… but only because I’ve read so many books in these genres, I’m getting good at my educated guessing! LOL Nonetheless, I am sad to wait for the next one, as I’m caught up in this series now… and this book has only been out for a few weeks. Oh well… I’ll carry on, but I’ll be among the first to get the 5th whenever it’s released.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi

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The Study of Silence (Lady Evelyn Mystery #3)The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Study of Silence is the third book in the ‘Lady Evelyn Mystery’ series written by Malia Zaidi. A cross between historical fiction and a cozy mystery, readers will find themselves whisked away to a time nearly a century ago when life was quite different. Solving murders was more complicated without the internet, cell phones, and other modern technology. Lady Evelyn must rely on her strong sense of intellect and intuition, and even then, people weren’t as direct as they are today.

In this installment, Lady Evelyn has returned to England with Daniel to complete the next phase of her education. While taking classes at a local women’s college, and living in a house with several other young ladies, she struggles to decide her future. It’s too soon to marry Daniel, and she wants a different kind of life than tradition. Unfortunately, she’s born many years too soon for what she wants (and deserves). Transitioning back to the lifestyle of an unmarried English girl is made easier when her cousin, Briony, and her four children, also return from Crete. As does a murder that happens the morning after Evelyn attends a party at another professor’s home. Who killed the man? While it shouldn’t matter to her, it does… so Evelyn does her best to search for the criminal while getting involved in all sorts of situations at her boardinghouse, with her missing niece, with some family matters, and finally, the actual murder.

Zaidi’s writing style and tone will absolutely make you feel like it’s the 1920s. Between her vivid descriptions, on-point dialog and tone, and slow yet methodical approach to solving the crime, readers can sit back and just let things unravel. It’s not a suspenseful hunt-down-the-killer novel. It’s a conversational approach to learning what you can and theorizing options, then looking for clues. As much as it is about the murder, it’s also about how a woman lived in the 1920s. Zaidi admits to taking a few liberties to make the story-line work better (totally okay with me!), but nonetheless, it was still a harsh life at the time. Zaidi navigates you down that path with ease, letting readers soak in the painful pressures on a woman in her 20s — you must get married, you must not do anything bad, you must look innocent at all times! Yikes… how is that even possible?

Silence is key in this book. The reasons for the murder unfold with each chapter, and you’ll never guess the killer or the reason why. It was buried too well, but in some ways, it was also quite obvious. That’s the sign of a smart author — it’s believable yet you will be shocked. Kudos to Zaidi for bringing out the best in Lady Evelyn. I’ve purchased the fourth book in the series which recently came out this year. I’ll be reading it next month, so I’m fully caught up in this excellent series.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Darker Shore by Malia Zaidi

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A Darker Shore: A Lady Evelyn Mystery (The Lady Evelyn Mysteries Book 2)A Darker Shore: A Lady Evelyn Mystery by Malia Zaidi
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars! A Darker Shore is the second book in ‘The Lady Evelyn Mysteries’ written by Malia Zaidi. I was first introduced to this series through the author’s blog last year. I followed for months, then decided to read the first book. I added the rest to my TBR, and when I saw the latest one available on NetGalley, I quickly purchased the middles ones so that I could catch up. The books are part historical fiction, part mystery, but more a study of life nearly one century ago on a different continent. It filled a lot of the check marks on things I like in books, which meant I was bound to enjoy the series… and enjoy it, I do!

In this caper, Lady Evelyn is living in Crete with her cousin, debating when to return to England to deal with everything she left behind earlier that year when the first book / murder took place. She and Daniel have continued dating, but Evelyn isn’t sure if he’s the right man for her. It’s 1926, and there are a lot of changes occurring for women in that part of the century. Luckily, Daniel is a very modern-thinking man, so she can rely on him to help her figure out what she wants. Then he gets a letter that one of his two brothers might not have died in France during the war. They decide to travel together to Amiens to search for his kin, and along the way, they discover the woman who told them Daniel’s brother might still be alive, has died. It appears like a suicide, but once the facts come out, it’s ruled a murder. Was it a neighbor? A friend in her church group? One of several family members with secrets worth keeping?

Zaidi transports you to another place and another time in this series. From the apropos use of language to the general approach and attitudes about life, you will feel the weight of a remarkable woman heavily tugging at your heart and mind. The war was horrific, and we see how it continues to impact several people nearly ten years later. Daniel must find out the truth, and Zaidi clearly shows us why he is so distraught and hopeful. Balanced equally well is Evelyn’s desire to find herself not through being Daniel’s girlfriend, but by being his equal on all levels.

I enjoyed meeting all the characters, some evil and some generous… but we don’t know which one might be lying to poor Evelyn. She’s generally a good judge of others, but this killer has a lot of history that (s)he can’t let go of with the victim. Seeing the painful choices made throughout the main characters’ lives, we understand why the murder happened. We may not like it, but it’s necessary. What’s even more compelling is that we never had a chance to meet the victim. Zaidi has shown us who she was through the memories of all the people surrounding her. What a fun way to unravel a mystery. I can’t wait to dive into the third book, which is on my schedule for the last week of April.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Poisonous Journey by Malia Zaidi

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Given two of my favorite genres include historical fiction and cozy mysteries, I expected to enjoy A Poisonous Journey, the first book in the Lady Evelyn series, written by Malia Zaidi in 2015. I was definitely thrilled with this book and pleasantly surprised to learn there were already 3 published in the series. What a great find for this enthusiast of history, detective stories, and charming characters set in foreign lands.

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Lady Evelyn, a mid-20s former orphan (her parents died young and she was raised by a strict aunt) who escapes to Greece to visit her best friend and cousin, Briony, is the star of this caper. She’s intelligent, funny, kind, and open-minded, and those are just the surface traits worth mentioning… there’s so much more. Longing to find a purpose for her life, she settles in with her cousin and begins meeting many of the Greek neighbors and townspeople in 1920s Crete. When one of the group is found dead, the suspect list is at first empty, but as more comes to light on the deceased, it begins to grow larger and larger. Although she isn’t investigating the mystery, events unfold where she asks questions and thinks out loud to a few people, thus opening and closing doors as to who the possible culprit could be. When a few side stories (antiquities theft, romance, clandestine affairs, and secret pregnancies) begin to collide, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of it all with a dashing suitor willing to help find the answers.

Zaidi has created a very strong protagonist who jumps off the pages despite the century time difference between when the story was written and when it takes place. Among the language, setting and relationships, readers find charming connections and introspective thoughts about the beauty of life nearly 100 years ago. With no Internet, DNA or quick-n-easy access to get answers, she has to use deduction and behavior to understand what’s happening around her.

What appealed to me the most in this story is how although the mystery is front and center, the book is really a story about ‘a few weeks in the life of a character we can all identify with on some or multiple level(s).’ Whether she’s having a conversation with the maid, relaxing at a picnic with friends, or corresponding with her aunt to explain the rushed exit, I want more Lady Evelyn. Zaidi matches the style and tone of her word choice with the time period, the relaxed and casual setting with the quiet island life, and the descriptions with the lyrical flow of a single woman from a well-to-do family learning about real life outside her immediate circle of experience.

Many of the supporting characters are well-developed, too. They feel real and shine as either sounding boards or a pivotal and unwitting distributor of clues to Lady Evelyn. I felt a steady stream of low-key suspense (that’s exactly how this type of story was meant to be shared) that kept me turning the pages with keen interest in how it would all unfold. When a key ‘chase scene’ puts Evelyn in the line of dangerous fire, we worry despite knowing she’ll be okay in the end. Although the different sub-plots help direct the main one, they also stand on their own as key stories within the book to help build the world in which Evelyn resides. It’s part of the way Zaidi generates interest in each chapter, all leading to a very appropriate conclusion for what would likely have happened during this time period.

Kudos to the author for making quite a splash for me with this book. I look forward to reading the next book later this year!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Vacation & My Upcoming Blogger Reads…

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I’m heading out of the country for a few weeks this month… I’ve been a good reader and clearing off many of the books I already owned or downloaded from my TBR shelf. I thought I deserved a reward this week, so I bought six (6) new books — all from bloggers I’ve been following for months. I really like reading my fellow author’s works especially when we’ve been chatting for a long enough time. I also balance it with reading works from fellow authors at Creativia, my publisher. Between those books, ARCs, favorite series and authors I love, the monthly Book Bucket List, and other random reads, it’s always a fun way to choose my books and/or see what I’ll be reading!

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When I planned my May TBR, I only included 7 books as I wasn’t sure what I might read while on vacation. I finished the sixth book today and plan to read the seventh one in the next three days before I leave town. While I’m away, I’ll have plenty of options to choose from on my Kindle Reader… how exciting! Some I’ve saved for when I return to NYC (like my buddy read with Dani in mid-June for Didi’s book), but I wanted to throw a little shout out to these amazing bloggers and authors beforehand. Thanks for writing what I expect to be fantastic books, all of which I’ll devour in the next month. I can’t wait to dig into them…. and in June, I’ll figure out what my next set of purchases from fellow bloggers and authors we all know.

Below is a link to all of these authors’ blogs

Didi Oviatt

Candace Robinson

Gerardo Delgadillo

Angie Dokos

Malia Zaidi

Carrie Rubin

Tyler Colins

 

So… if you don’t see many posts or comments from me this month, it’s just that I’m on vacation, away at a conference, and meeting up with a few other bloggers (Claire and a few who shall remain nameless for a bit longer). I’ll try to respond as much as I can, but I plan to get a break and catch up when I return on anything I missed in the blogosphere. And the best part… when I’m back, the BLOG TOUR for my second novel’s release, FATHER FIGURE, begins on June 4th and is being hosted by Shannon @ Reads & Reels.

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