Audiobook Review: Secrets of Our House by Rea Frey

Goodreads

Release date: February 8, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

A thrilling domestic drama set against the power of the wilderness, Secrets of Our House is a deeply-felt novel of long-held secrets and the strength of family.

Desi is the mastermind behind her dream getaway house. Nestled high into the mountains of North Carolina, it is a sleek place, a luxurious place, a dark place.

A place full of secrets.

Secrets about the man she longs for, a man who is not her husband. Secrets about the roots of her family that must never, ever, see the light of day. When Desi and her family arrive from Chicago to spend the summer in the mountains, the seeds for the tumultuous months to follow are planted–her marriage on the rocks, not knowing which way they’ll go. Her seventeen year-old daughter Jules, falling in love for the first time with a local boy–and forging a new path that will take her to uncharted places. And Carter–a man Desi knew long ago, before she expunged him from her life for good.

All hurtling toward events none of them can undo.

Engaging, propulsive, and with a dramatic, heart-pounding final act, Secrets of Our House is a dazzling novel, richly-drawn, that shows no matter how hard outside forces may shake you, the bonds of family are stronger than the harshest winds.

Review:

The very beginning of the synopsis for this one calls it a thrilling family drama so I assumed I was about to read a tense, suspenseful book. I was wrong and so is the synopsis this is NOT a suspense, a mystery or a thriller whatsoever and had I know I was going to be reading regular old fiction (or women’s fiction whatever) I may have liked this one more. Expectations are so important to me as a reader and mislabeling it did this book no favors at all. I will say the very end did have some tension but that is not enough for me to call it a thriller. Just wanted to get that all out because I have a feeling had I known what I was getting into here this would’ve earned a higher rating from me. It was dramatic but in a soap opera kind of way with the characters making very stupid choices and then the secrets? Really predictable and honestly disappointing. I’ve really enjoyed this authors books in the past, but man this one just didn’t do it for me. I spent most of the book wondering what the point was and I’m still sorta feeling that way now. If you do read this go into knowing it’s fiction and try the audio because I swear that’s the only way I finished it.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Unmissing by Minka Kent

Goodreads

Release date: February 15, 2022

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Synopsis:

A return from the past knocks a family dangerously off-balance in a novel of spiraling suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent.

Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, have the life they dreamed of: a coastal home, a promising future, and a growing family. That dream ends with a late-night knock on the door.

Weak, broken, and emaciated, it’s Luca’s first wife, Lydia. Missing for ten years, presumed dead, and very much alive, she has quite a story. Her kidnapping. A torturous confinement that should’ve ended with her dead. And finally, escape. Racked with guilt over the beautiful life they’ve built, Merritt and Luca agree to help get Lydia back on her feet—it’s the least they can do.

But the more enmeshed Lydia becomes in Merritt’s family, the more questions Merritt has. What is it about Lydia that’s especially unnerving? Why hasn’t she gone to the police with her harrowing tale? What does she really want of them? The answers, when they come, are terrifying.

Because Lydia isn’t the only one with secrets.

Review:

Ok now this was a clever little thriller! A missing person returning years later may not be the most unique plot but that is just the tip of the iceberg here. It went in several completely unexpected directions that I definitely didn’t predict, and honestly half of what makes me enjoy a thriller is not being able to see what’s ahead too early. Bonus points for a very fast pace and enough twists to keep me engaged, yet not so many that it bordered on the ridiculous making this one very was fun. As usual with this author I can’t say much more without getting into spoilers but this was one of her best books for me and I always recommend them to anyone who likes short, bingeable reads where things always get a little crazy.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Goodreads

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Synopsis:

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Review:

Ohhh another winner for me early in the new year! When I start the year off reading amazing books right from the jump I get so giddily excited about what books are still to come. If you like Emily Henry this had a similar feel to it for me with mature characters and depth of plot, also maybe because of the two main characters as authors too now that I think about it. 🤔 The characterization is where this one shines, Nathan and Katrina were both complicated and also in complicated situations throughout both the flashbacks and present day, very multilayered and deep. This was a super slow burn (almost frustratingly so) but I see the authors purpose with that too. It was angsty but not in an annoying way and also desperately romantic with gorgeous writing and some forced proximity. A super well rounded romance and I’ll definitely be waiting for more from this duo!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

Goodreads

Release date: January 4, 2022

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Synopsis:

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.

There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Review:

This is my third Emma Lord book and now it’s a firm fact for me, when I want an absolutely adorable book that will make me laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy the author will deliver. The premise was both interesting and it tugged at my heartstrings too, Millie’s search for her birth mom made my own parental heart ache, both for her and her unknown mom. Millie wormed her way into my heart immediately, she’s larger than life, over the top and dramatic which made her so endearing to me, I really wanted to mother her myself. As much as I adored her the rest of the characters were all amazing as well, such a well rounded and fun cast. Add in Millie’s absolute love and obsession of all things musical theater and she was just the quirkiest most lovable heroine I’ve met in a long time. Just a really fun and entertaining read and such a bright start to my new year!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: All I Want by Darcey Bell

Goodreads

Release date: January 11, 2022

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house.

Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Combining the domestic anxiety of Liane Moriarty and the haunting twists and turns of Shirley Jackson, All I Want is an intensely absorbing novel that will change the way you look at your neighbors.

Review:

This was bananas y’all. I’m not even sure what to say here honestly. It started out ok, (besides that bizarre prologue) and by 25 percent or so I was decently invested. I liked the creepy atmosphere and I liked Emma for the most part even though I felt like she was naive as to what was going on, but I was still interested. And then around 75 percent I was totally reeled back in again so basically lots of up and downs here. Parts were oddly compelling and parts were totally boring. By the time I got to the second to last chapter I was like ok this may be a 3.5-4 and then there was a totally unnecessary final chapter with a terrible twist that annoyed me SO bad and made me really dislike the book. Super disappointing and made me mad I even read it because it did have potential and a unique aspect that worked but there was just too much up and down for me to let it go.

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne

Goodreads

Release date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.

Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

Review:

Well this was absolutely adorable!! I know I’m always in for a treat when I read an LL book, she always nails the NYC setting and brings it to life and has the cutest romantic encounters that are sure to make you smile. Opposites attract is always a fun trope for me and there was an enemies to lovers vibe too AND some sunshine and grump energy so lots to love here. It was a slow burn low on the heat but I didn’t care because Violet and Cain still had great chemistry and the authors trademark witty banter, such a must for me and this delivered. If you’re a fan of the authors Central Park Pact series this has a similar feel to it so definitely check it out! And if you haven’t read that series yet I definitely recommend it as well as this one for a delightful and charming romance.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner

Goodreads

Release date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Frankie Elkin, who readers first met in Before She Disappeared, learns of a young man who has gone missing in a national forest. Law enforcement has abandoned the search, but a crew of people led by the young man’s father are still looking. Sensing a father’s desperation, Frankie agrees to help–but soon sees that a missing person isn’t all that’s wrong here. And when more people start to vanish, Frankie realizes she’s up against something very dark–and she’s running out of time.

Review:

I’m a longtime LG fan and I always look forward to her newest release, not only because she always delivers an insanely good book, but because I never quite know what to expect. This is the second book in her new series and it feels different from her other books. Frankie is a unique character, she doesn’t have a real job, finding missing people is more of a calling for her than a vocation and it doesn’t pay really at all so she’s truly on her own with everything she owns in a suitcase. She’s a complex and super interesting woman and I feel like LG has only just begun to peel back the layers of who she truly is, I hope this series is just getting started because it’s good!

I think this is the first book I’ve read by the author that was so very atmospheric, the majority of it takes place in the wilderness in Wyoming and it was creepy, isolated and chilling. Frankie was very out of her element and that added some apprehension to an already tense situation. She’s joined a haphazard rescue team at the last minute who is looking to recover the remains of a man who disappeared five years ago. That’s really all you need to know about the plot but if you like character driven, well written and pacey thrillers this one was amazing. I felt like I got to know more about Frankie and what motivates her as well as a fascinating mystery too.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

This murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals for an Arthur Miller play, when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Haywood and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.

But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. New actress Sam, a former NGO worker, raises doubts. But are her suspicions justified? Or does she have a history with the doctor involved? As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head the night of the dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may still be on the loose.

A wholly modern take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a debut perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.

Review:

I’m a huge fan of an epistolary style novel and will always jump at the chance to read one so basically that’s all I knew about this one before I started it. The style satisfies my nosy side, I love getting a glimpse into emails, text messages etc so the format of this one worked well for me. I was also intrigued by the mystery aspect of as well, the other epistolary books I’ve read have been romance or contemporary fiction so I wondered how a mystery would work this way and unfortunately it didn’t work all that well for me in the end. I was fully invested for the bulk of it after I settled into keeping all the characters straight, because there were a ton. You also only saw one side of emails from certain people, like Issy’s emails were only her side no responses so it was confusing. But once I figured it out I was pretty comfortable until the emails stopped and basically the whole entire book was regurgitated again. Totally unnecessary and frankly boring, I actually felt like it was a waste of time and was annoyed by it. It was a solid story and idea but the execution was weak for me, it was too long and drawn out and repetitive, which was a shame because it had potential. The right reader may enjoy this, reviews are solid it just became tedious for me.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier

Goodreads

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Lyla has always believed that life is a game she is destined to win, but her husband, Graham, takes the game to dangerous levels. The wealthy couple invites self-made success stories to live in their guesthouse and then conspires to ruin their lives. After all, there is nothing worse than a bootstrapper. 

Demi has always felt like the odds were stacked against her. At the end of her rope, she seizes a risky opportunity to take over another person’s life and unwittingly becomes the subject of the upstairs couple’s wicked entertainment. But Demi has been struggling all her life, and she’s not about to go down without a fight. 

In a twist that neither woman sees coming, the game quickly devolves into chaos and rockets toward an explosive conclusion.

Because every good rich person knows: in money and in life, it’s winner take all. Even if you have to leave a few bodies behind.

Review:

After reading two of the authors books I think I can safely say her work is polarizing and I feel very similarly about her second book as I did her first, meaning there was some things I liked and others I didn’t. Middle of the road books are always the hardest for me to review, much less to recommend so I’ll do my best to explain what worked and what didn’t so you can decide for yourself.

Let’s start with what worked for me, there is something oddly unsettling about the authors writing, she really gets under my skin with her words and I love that. Being so hypnotized by her writing makes her books compulsive for me and this was no exception. I also like truly unlikable characters, even better if it’s rich people behaving badly, and Lyla and Grant were both wickedly fun to hate. I was all into this one until about halfway then I started to get a little bored, only then to be sucked back in again. And then the ending completely lost me as things went bat shit crazy off the rails and I just couldn’t get behind it. So lots of up and down, back and forth for me making this one just alright for me. But I know I’ll still be interested in the authors next book, like I said earlier there is something I really like about her odd storytelling and unique manner.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Somebody’s Home by Kaira Rouda

Goodreads

Release date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A quiet neighborhood. A lovely home. A promising new beginning. In a heartbeat everything can change in this propulsive novel of suspense by USA Today bestselling author Kaira Rouda.

Julie Jones has left her suffocating marriage. With her teenage daughter, Jess, she’s starting over. Their new house in Oceanside is the first step toward a new life. Even if it does come with the unexpected. The previous owners, a pastor and his wife, have left something—or rather someone—behind…

Tom Dean has a bitter hatred for the father who considers him a lost cause, and for the woman who’s moved into their family’s house. The only home he’s ever known. He’s never going to leave. She thinks he’ll be gone in three days, but Tom has the perfect plan.

For a newly single mother and her daughter, a fresh start is the beginning of a nightmare. Before the weekend is over, somebody is going to get exactly what they deserve.

Review:

I’ve read and enjoyed all of the authors suspense books and she has this unique ability to craft the most unlikable characters that are kind of endearing? It’s bizarre but I mean that in a good way, it’s almost like they’re brazen in their bad behavior and they own it and there’s something fascinating about that for me. With all that said there are a couple of characters that fit that bill for me here making this a pretty wickedly delicious read in most ways.

There are several characters that are loosely connected to each and you hear from each of them in alternating viewpoints. Most of the chapters are short and snappy but at some point around halfway it lost me a little and it felt like things meandered a bit. The end did pull me back in but there was something small missing for me here, I’m still pondering what exactly that is. Not my fave from the author but still a decent read and I’ll continue to read more from her.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.