Review: Out of the Clear Blur Sky by Kristan Higgins

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.

Review:

Normally I get bored when a book is over 400 pages but for one of my all time favorite authors I make an exception and I still didn’t want this one to end. I did my best to savor it and take my time but it was just so damn amazing it was difficult to slow it down. Most of you know I read a lot, I generally don’t remember specific details after a couple of weeks go by but KH books always stay with me. This is special for me as there are usually only a handful of books every year that leave a lasting impression and without fail, every single year one of her books lands a spot on this list. I don’t think there’s any one particular thing that makes her books such standouts for me, but rather a magical combination of things that culminates into such an incredible reading experience. Maybe the best part is her insightful, honest and humor takes on life in general. Lillie is a woman that’s the same age as me so we already had that at a starting common factor but her raw portrayal is where I really connected with her. Yes, she’s been literally screwed over in the worst way, and yes she’s humiliated, betrayed and so so a angry but dammit was it nice to see a woman deal with a major life upheaval in a truly relatable and believable way. Was she always full of grace? Absolutely not. Did she do things that were slightly crazy? Yes mam. Was I cheering her own and cackling like a loon myself? YES! So many of her observations were spot on and her general sense of humor was charming and oh so witty. I could probably sit her all day and talk about all the things I loved about this one but I’ll spare you and just finish by saying I adored it, I think it’s a must read and KH never, EVER disappoints.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Six Graves by Angela Marsons @writeangie @bookouture

Goodreads

Release date: May 12, 2022

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

It’s a typical teenage bedroom with posters covering the walls and clothes littering the floor. But the girl lying on her bed, wearing a delicate chain around her neck, is lifeless. A circle of red stains her white vest top and Kim feels a sharp stab of sadness. How had the girl’s mother looked down at her sleeping child and pulled the trigger?

When Detective Kim Stone rushes to the scene of a house fire, she’s shocked to discover it’s claimed the lives of two teenage children and their parents. But this tragedy is not quite as it seems. Each body is marked by a gunshot wound and the mother, Helen Daynes, is holding the gun.

The case sparks painful childhood memories for Kim who suffered at the hands of her own abusive mother. As she begins to untangle the dark web of secrets within the Daynes family, Kim and her team discover Helen had a history of clinical depression. But could it have driven her to murder her loved ones?

Then Kim uncovers a tiny, vital clue in Helen’s bedroom that throws the investigation wide open. Could someone else have killed the Daynes family?

With the case only just underway, a deadly threat is made to Kim’s own life. Years ago, she rescued two little girls from the clutches of a dangerous psychopath who has just escaped prison and is coming for her.

A witness protection officer glued to her side, Kim must bite back her fear, as she keeps digging into the Daynes’s background and soon hits upon a shocking secret from Helen’s past that could crack the case. With the remaining family members in danger, Kim is under pressure like never before.

The monster circling Kim raises the stakes when he threatens the life of another innocent victim. He’s leading Kim straight to him. Forced to go against direct instructions from her superiors, will that one fateful decision cost her more than her job?

An absolutely nail-bitingly tense page-turner that will have you gasping out loud. You won’t come up for air until you’ve reached the twisty, breathtaking ending. Fans of Karin Slaughter, Mark Billingham and Robert Dugoni will love Six Graves.

Review:

Well, it only took sixteen books but the author managed to scare the hell out of me with a prologue alone. It was an emotional sort of terrified too, the kind that really messes with your head and the feeling never left me throughout the whole book so be prepared to have your emotions toyed with! Despite the way I felt tortured I can still say that this was an incredible read and I highly recommend it, just wanted to prepare you for some emotional upheaval.

I usually try and slow down my pace when I read a new book in this series, I like to savor it and really spend some time with the characters but this time I read this in record time over just a couple of sittings. Between that prologue and the fact that there are two cases to draw you in I really couldn’t stop until it was over. Somehow, sixteen books in you are still learning more about Kim, her past is at the forefront of her mind as she works to solve a current case and there were additional layers pulled back that gave insight into who she is. Per usual the story is dark and dangerous but this is balanced out by the humor and camaraderie between Kim and the team where one minute you’re horrified by a new piece of evidence they’ve uncovered or the results of an autopsy reveal a new clue and then the next you’re laughing at something Bryant said to Kim. As much as the characters in this series need a break after what the author has put them through I’m already eagerly anticipating the next book and just know that once again I’ll have a new one to add to my favorites shelf alongside this one!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Celadon

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?

A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.

Review:

This is one of those middle of the road reads for me, I didn’t dislike it but I also didn’t love it either. I appreciate what the author was doing and knew what she was trying to say but it too way too long to get there and it was a slog for me to get through it. The Oppenheimer family was full of unlikable people and hearing them whine and behave terribly became grating for me quickly. I’m one hundred percent sure that I would have given up on this one but since I listened to the audio version and Julia Whelan narrates I was drawn in enough by her amazing performance I stuck it out. I seem to be in the minority here though so take my review with a grain of salt. I was also an outlier with my thoughts on The Most Fun We Ever Had so I think these dense and wordy family stories are maybe just not for me.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story–the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

Review:

Man I just adored this sweet, tender and slightly quirky romance SO much! Nora won me over pretty much instantly, she was super funny and I related to her in many ways, especially her takes on parenthood. She’s sharp and witty and exactly the kind of character I wish I could befriend. I would say this leans more to the womens fiction side than a true romance, you definitely still get romantic elements but it’s also very much about Nora and her personality journey. There is a lot of emphasis on family and her kids were the cutest. If you like books where a celebrity dates a regular person this was just excellent, it was such a mature romance and had some surprising turns along the way.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Goodreads

Release date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Review:

Riley Sager is a polarizing author, I have friends who rave over his books and others who think he’s overrated. I’ve enjoyed all of his books, some more than others but this may be my favorite yet! If you read the synopsis that may surprise you because it seems like the plot follows the same overdone script we’ve seen so many times before. But not everything is as it seems and things get flipped around so much I don’t think many could say this didn’t have a fresh take on a tired trope. Because of this unique spin I really think the less you know the more you’ll enjoy this because a huge part of the fun for me was the wild ride. I will say that despite there being a slow burn feel it read really fast for me still and the atmosphere was creepy too. All in all I thought it was a super entertaining summer thriller that I think will once again divide readers, I don’t see a lot of middle ground here, I think you’ll either love it or hate it. I loved it and can’t wait to see what everyone thinks, I’m sure it’ll be discussed quite a bit this summer.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Meant to Be by Emily Giffin

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:

A restless golden boy and a girl with a troubled past navigate a love story that may be doomed before it even begins in this irresistible new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed and The Lies That Bind.

The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it . . . and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.

Review:

I’m a huge fan of the author and when I found out that she was releasing a book that was loosely inspired by JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette I was swooning even before I got a chance to read it. She takes a chance and reimagines history through her own unique lens and it worked incredibly well for me.

Told over the course of several years this felt like an epic, sweeping love story all about fate and timing. Both Cate and Joe were complex and well drawn and in alternating chapters detail their personal upbringings in the time both before they meet and afterwards. I was complete caught up in their story and hanging onto the authors every word. There was so much nostalgia too, always a fun aspect for me and it was well done here. Overall I loved every minute of this one and can definitely recommend it as a perfect addition to your summer TBR.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Favorite Audiobook Narrators

In honor of Indie Bookstore Day and the amazing promotions Libro.fm are having (click here for information on that) I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite audiobook narrators. I would basically listen to any of these people read me their grocery lists, they’re insanely talented and bring books to life in such an amazing way. Check it out and let me know who your faves are?

Independent Bookstore Week @librofm @ABAbook @indiebound

Happy Friday everyone and happy indie bookstore week! If you’re like me and you’re always looking for ways to help support indie bookstores I have some ideas for you this week and especially tomorrow as it’s Indie Bookstore Day. Not everyone has a local independent bookstore that they’re able to physically shop at but Libro.fm makes it very easy to support them anyway. They are partnered up with 1700 stores and every time you make a purchase with them you can chose which indie to support. Libro shares their profits with them so you can buy some new audiobooks AND help out an indie store, whether they’re your local shop or one across the country.

To celebrate #IndieBookstoreDay they’re running some fun promos you can take advantage of. First, they’re having an audiobook sale and you can find great titles for $5.00 and under! Check out what you can grab here

Libro.fm also offers the best audiobook subscription service and right now you can get 2 audiobook credits (good for any of the 250,000 books available through Libro) for $14.99. You can use my code GOSSIP at checkout or click here.

If you have any questions please ask and I would be more than happy to help!

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer

Goodreads

Release date: April 26, 2022

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life. She loves her husband and sons, but she desperately needs something more than sippy cups and monthly sex. So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s resume and give her a shot. Jane is a supernova—witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself—and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship. In Jane, Merit sees the possibility of what a woman could be. And Jane sees Merit exactly for who she is. Not the wife and mother dutifully performing the roles expected of her, but a whole person.

Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more—more of a partner, more of a match, more in love—she begins to question: what if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?

Review:

Well this turned out to be much more thought provoking and introspective than I thought it would be. This asked so many questions that will stay with me about marriage and motherhood and being a middle aged woman who is struggling. While there were definitely parts of Merit that I could relate to she was a very morally ambiguous character but while I may not have agreed with many of her choices I found her to be fascinating. I tend to fly through books of the thriller variety but this was just as compulsive for me as any thriller, I really became wrapped up in Merit’s life and couldn’t wait to see what she would do next. I could see this being a great book club pick, especially as a summer choice as it’s light enough you could read it by the pool but it still has a lot of depth and loads to discuss.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Starry Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

Goodreads

Release date: May 10, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

Review:

This is the second book in a series following the Spark sisters and while you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this one you should because it was cute! I really liked what I saw of London in the last book so I was excited to learn more about her here and I now I like her even more than before. She was very relatable and her flaws were realistic. Her relationship with Jackson was a super slow burn which I’m not always into but it worked for me here. Sometimes seeing characters take their time before jumping into a relationship is refreshing and seems more mature and real to life and I felt that here. Of course HH knows how to write amazing banter and this was no exception. The audio was dual narrated by Jason Clark and Stella Bloom and they both did an amazing job at bringing London and Jackson to life so I can definitely recommend that format. Overall a charming and sweet read with some heat.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.