Audiobook Review: Catch Us When We Fall by Juliette Fay

Goodreads

Release date: September 21, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

On her own since the age of eighteen, Cass Macklin dated brilliant, troubled Ben McGreavy, convinced he was the smartest person she’d ever known. They partied their way through their twenties, slowly descending into a bleak world of binge-drinking and broken promises, inebriated for most of a decade. Now Ben is dead, and Cass is broke, homeless, scared…and pregnant.

Determined to have a healthy pregnancy and raise Ben’s baby, Cass has to find a way to stop drinking and build a stable life for herself and her child. But with no money, skills, or sober friends or family, the task seems insurmountable. At wit’s end, Cass turns to the only person with the means to help her: Ben’s brother Scott, third basemen for the Boston Red Sox, a man with a temper and problems of his own.

The two make a deal that neither one of them is sure they can live up to. As Cass struggles to take control of her life and to ask for help when she needs it, Scott begins to realize there’s a life for him beyond the baseball diamond.

By turns heartbreaking and humorous, with its message that change is not impossible, that forgiveness can be freely given, and that life, though imperfect, is worth embracing, Catch Us When We Fall is a novel you will never forget.

Review:

Wow this was one powerful read. I knew from the description that it would be heavy but I didn’t realize just how emotionally charged it would be. Right from the start you’re thrust into the lives of Cass and Scott on one of the worst days of their lives as they’re burying Scott’s brother and Cass boyfriend, Ben. So it gets you right in the feels immediately and it truly never lets up once. It’s very character driven and the author crafted these people who seem so real, especially in their struggles. Cass is truly a wreck, a broken soul and seeing her journey was heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring. Her strength comes through over and over as she battles her addiction and comes into her own and it was a beautiful story. She was the kind of character that you develop and attachment to and I was sad to finish this one up. I do want to add that I had planned on switching between the print and audio but the audio was so well done and compelling that I listened to the majority of this so if you like audio this is the way to go. Recommended for fans of emotional, character driven books with strong writing!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Goodreads

Release date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Oy! to the world

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.

Review:

Every year when I’m deep into my reading of holiday novels I always try and find books with some Jewish representation and y’all, it’s damn near impossible. I adore Christmas romances, it’s some of my favorite reading I do every year but it’s a shame that it’s so hard to find Hanukkah romances when there are a zillion Christmas ones. So last year when I saw the announcement for this book I was so excited! I’m not Jewish just to be clear, but I still love to read about different traditions and I love that the publishing world is starting to diversify romance a little more, this book is definitely a huge step in the right direction and the author proved that Hanukkah romances can be just as warm and cozy as any Christmas one, I need more!!

The premise of this was so fun with Rachel being from a prominent Jewish family and a secret Christmas romance author, talk about a juxtaposition! I loved that her secret was harmless but super funny and could relate to her love of all things Christmas in a major way. While I adored Rachel as a character, especially seeing how resilient she is as she struggles with a chronic illness, the whole cast of characters were such a delight as well. Her best friend Mickey was so much fun and their friendship was so special. As someone who knows very little about Judaism myself this managed to share special parts of the culture and religion in a way that I think would appeal to both Jewish readers and those who know nothing about Judaism which I think can be a tricky balance but it was handled so well here. This was so funny, warm, sweet and tender, everything I want in a holiday romance for sure. The audio was also fantastic, Dara Rosenberg captured Rachel’s voice perfectly and was exactly who I would’ve handpicked myself to narrate.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Goodreads

Release date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Review:

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book since last summer when I read and absolutely adored You Had Me at Hola. It was one of the best romances that I read last year and I’m so happy to say this one was just as good! It had the same emotional depth that I loved in the first book as well as plenty of humor and heart, SO good.

Mich and Gabe were best friends in high school but haven’t seen each other in years, so this is a second chance romance with some enemies to lovers vibes since they did not part on good terms in the past. I loved seeing these two adults work through their past issues from their teenaged years. Both of them are strong, independent and successful people and watching them navigate balancing their separate lives with a relationship felt authentic. You get some cute little flashbacks to their high school relationship when they wrote fan fiction together and that was seriously adorable as well. This one also brings the heat, this was super sexy, these two had amazing chemistry and they were incredibly open and honest with each other about their sexuality and preferences. They both also had some family drama and issues and Gabe’s in particular was a little heartbreaking, but again raw and honest. Seraphine Valentine is a fantastic narrator, I also listened to Hola and once again she did an awesome job at bringing the story to life. Highly recommended by me to any romance fans!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Nice Girls by Catherine Dang

Goodreads

Release date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

What did you do?

Growing up in Liberty Lake, Minnesota, Mary was chubby, awkward, and smart. Earning a scholarship to an Ivy League school was her ticket out; she was going to do great things and never look back. Three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back—a thinner, cynical, and restless failure. Kicked out of Cornell at the beginning of senior year, she won’t tell anyone why. Working at the local grocery store, she sees familiar faces from high school and tries to make sense of the past and her life.

When beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand, a rising social media star, goes missing, Mary—like the rest of Liberty Lake—becomes obsessed. Best friends in childhood, Mary and Olivia haven’t spoken in years. Everyone admired Olivia, but Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hid a willful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the world worries for perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary can’t help but hate her. She also believes that her disappearance is tied to another missing person—a nineteen-year-old girl named DeMaria Jackson whose disappearance has gone under the radar.

Who was the true Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary delves deeper into the lives of the two missing girls, old wounds bleed fresh and painful secrets threaten to destroy everything.

Maybe no one is really a nice girl, after all.

Review:

Ahh this is one of those tricky middle of the road books for me, and most of the time they’re the hardest ones for me to review. There was definitely many things I liked about this one, but I also had issues as well. I do want to mention that the audio saved it for me because I don’t think I would’ve even finished if not for the narrator, Carlotta Brenton, she was excellent.

Initially I was drawn into this one but somewhere along the way the author lost me. Maybe I didn’t forge a strong enough connection to Mary, I do think that was my issue especially since this is told solely through her viewpoint and the failed connection made it hard for me to truly care about what was happening. I did appreciate the way the author discusses the differences in the way the two cases were handled based on race and social status, we all know a young white woman going missing will make national news, especially if she’s pretty while a woman of color going missing can barely garner public attention, seriously so messed up. It was also a slower style burn which just tested my patience but I did like her writing style so I would definitely give the author another chance.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Everything is Perfect by Kate Nason

Goodreads

Release date: August 5, 2021

Publisher: Audible Originals

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis:

Seven years into her second marriage, Kate Nason discovered her husband was cheating on her. Then, the unimaginable happened. Kate woke to the news that one of her husband’s “other women” was involved with an American president. It was January of 1998. The press surrounded her home, clamoring for details and transformed Kate’s private heartbreak into public humiliation.

Nason’s memoir uncovers the little-known side of a well-known story, unveiling a cautionary tale about the ways we deceive ourselves when we allow ourselves to be deceived by those we love. Everything Is Perfect is an intimate reveal of infidelity, gaslighting, and the silent wife at the press conference. Nason explores the roles women inhabit throughout their lives, how they carry trauma, and the lengths they’ll go to protect their children and save themselves. It’s a fierce and often funny self-reckoning, a meditation on learning to trust one’s intuition, and a case study of how one woman undid a bad “I do.”

In the tradition of Lisa Brennan Jobs’s Small Fry or Chanel Miller’s Know My Name, Everything is Perfect is a beautifully written, deeply personal, unsparing self-portrait that goes deeper than the familiar news story within.

Review:

If I’m going to pick up a memoir I always choose the audio version, and it’s always a bonus for me if the author narrates the book themselves. There’s something so intimate about hearing someone’s story in both their own words and their own voice that just never fails to reel me in. The author did a great job with her narration here, I found her voice easy to listen to and her emotions were portrayed in a raw way. Her story is powerful and engaging, she really nailed sharing the experience of being married to someone who is a pro gaslighter and what an emotional toll it took on her and her family. I was very interested in her life, she had quite the story to tell as she was betrayed in the worst way imaginable. This isn’t a pity party woe is me tale but rather a story of strength and resilience that was inspiring. One small thing I didn’t quite understand was why she used pseudonyms, everyone knows who the real players are so that seemed silly but overall a great listen.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Goodreads

Release date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Everything changed the night she disappeared . . .

On a summer’s night in 1994, sixteen-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town without a trace. Their hearts shattered, Flora’s mother, her sister Heather, and Heather’s best friend Jess had to somehow carry on not knowing what happened.

Twenty-five years later, tragedy strikes again when Heather walks into a stranger’s house and allegedly kills two people in cold blood.

Why would this loving wife and doting new mother commit such a heinous crime? Jess, now a reporter, returns to the hometown she left behind to cover the case and dig for answers. But this isn’t like any other story. Jess was like a sister to the Powell girls, until the summer that tore them all apart.

What happened to the girl she used to know? 

The question haunts Jess and propels her to find the key that may unlock the mysteries involving both sisters. But the search may reveal more . . . a darker side to this idyllic place she thought she knew.

Review:

Ok this was a super solid thriller you guys! I love when a book has an old, cold case that somehow merges with something newer and then it opens when a woman walks into a couples home and kills them. I’m hooked!! Throw in Jess who returns to her hometown as a reporter working on the story and you have one hell of a gripping story. You get several viewpoints as this flips between the present with Jess, Margot and Heather and then the past before Flora disappeared and I am always drawn to multiple POV. So the audio version has four narrators and all of them were fantastic. I love a British accent too so that didn’t hurt either and just made this one even more engaging for me. There were also lots of twists and turns and while I did predict a few things, I was also surprised by a few as well. Overall I really enjoyed this one and will definitely be seeking out more books by the author.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Goodreads

Release date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion, laid off in a virtual meeting, and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out of the building. Not sure what’s next, she moves back home to Tennessee with her domineering Korean mom, who tries to set her up with her pastor’s son Daniel Choi, an M&A lawyer by day and a successful video game streamer by night. Turns out he’s swoony and smart, not the awkward preacher’s kid she remembers. With his help, Jess launches a Korean cooking YouTube channel focused on easy meal prep for busy professionals.

All is going well until her mom walks on the show mid-live recording and argues about cooking technique. While she hates being berated by her mother in front of the world, it actually works in their favor—they go viral!

Soon her cooking channel becomes an actual media company and brand. When a client is suddenly interested in buying Jess out, she finds herself sitting across the table from the very investment firm she quit not so long ago. But there’s just one other problem: Daniel, the guy whose been helping her andthat she’s been falling for, is the firm’s new general counsel.

Review:

Ok if you like romances with a side of food and culture this one is a must, it was SO good! I was totally charmed by both love interests Jess and Daniel, but also by Jess’ parents and basically all of the secondary characters as well. While I would definitely still classify this as a romance it had plenty of elements of women’s fiction as well as Jess is on a journey of her own totally independent of her developing relationship with Daniel, but I think that aspect is actually what made this one so enjoyable for me. Her character growth was great and I was rooting for her the whole time as she began to realize what she wanted for her life, it was empowering and really fun to see. I spoke of the food before but you guys, the descriptions were mouth watering and I’ve had a serious craving for Korean food ever since I started this one. I always love learning more about different cultures and I thought the author did a fantastic job at incorporating an authentic Korean experience into this sweet and sexy tale. Clearly I loved this one and definitely recommend it!

I have to give a nod to the narrator, Jackie Chung. You know how sometimes when you’re reading a physical book you can hear a voice in your head of what you think the character should sound like? Jackie’s voice was exactly that for me, she was the perfect Jess and I found her narration to be incredibly heartfelt and believable.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Goodreads

Release date: July 13, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

Review:

I have a new favorite Tessa Bailey book!! I love having trusted authors like TB that I can count on when I’m not really feeling any other books I try and read and I started this gem at the perfect time. I was immediately hooked by Piper as the odd man out in a tiny fishing town, her naivety was hilarious as she had to navigate the real world for the first time in her whole life. Brendan as the gruff, closed off macho man was the polar opposite of Piper and there were so many adorable and funny scenes between these two. Their chemistry was great as they started off as enemies though their attraction is undeniable and the banter was on point as well. Their relationship seemed to progress in a really natural manner, I think sometimes romance authors can struggle to get that aspect to real genuine and it was perfection here. The author also knows how to right a super sexy and steamy love scene and this was no exception, add in interesting secondary characters and I’m already dying to get my hands on the next book which will follow Piper’s sister, Hannah.

Charlotte North was an amazing narrator and she had me engaged the whole time. While I was already totally invested in the story, her narration added an additional layer of depth and emotion that made this one impossible for me to put down! I think this may be the first book I’ve listened to that she narrated but it will not be my last she’s awesome!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Nothing Personal by Nancy Jo Sales

Goodreads

Release date: May 18, 2021

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis:

At forty-nine, famed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales was nursing a broken heart and wondering, “How did I wind up alone?” On the advice of a young friend, she downloaded Tinder, then a brand-new dating app. What followed was a raucous ride through the world of online dating. Sales, an award-winning journalist and single mom, became a leading critic of the online dating industry, reporting and writing articles and making her directorial debut with the HBO documentary Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age. Meanwhile, she was dating a series of younger men, eventually falling in love with a man less than half her age.

Nothing Personal is Sales’s memoir of coming-of-middle-age in the midst of a new dating revolution. She is unsparingly honest about her own experience of addiction to dating apps and hilarious in her musings about dick pics, sexting, dating FOMO, and more. Does Big Dating really want us to find love, she asks, or just keep on using its apps?

Fiercely feminist, Nothing Personal investigates how Big Dating has overwhelmed the landscape of dating, cynically profiting off its users’ deepest needs and desires. Looking back through the history of modern courtship and her own relationships, Sales examines how sexism has always been a factor for women in dating, and asks what the future of courtship will bring, if left to the designs of Silicon Valley’s tech giants—especially in a time of social distancing and a global pandemic, when the rules of romance are once again changing.

Review:

Do you read many memoirs? I really don’t honestly, but if I do I tend to prefer to listen to them as opposed to reading them. This one caught my eye because I myself have never used a dating app before, I met my husband long before apps in general were even a thing, but they’ve always intrigued me in a, damn I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with them when I was single type of way. I’ve had friends tell me horror stories of course and then I’ve had other friends who have met the love of their life using one, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a raw, honest and vulnerable portrayal of just how exhausting being on one can be until I read this one. The author digs deep into the pitfalls of apps like Tinder and speaks about how addictive they can be and also how toxic, unhealthy and ultimately unfulfilling and damaging they can be for women. I was fascinated by some of the stories she shared and found her to be witty, insightful and honest.

My favorite audiobook narrator is Therese Plummer so imagine my utter delight when I started this one and heard her voice! She also narrated the Virgin River series which I devoured in audio format last year and she could read me the dictionary and I would be mesmerized, she’s THE best!! You know how when some female narrators try to change their voice when they’re speaking as a man? Oftentimes it sounds silly or forced but she nails this and many other inflections and accents. I’m telling y’all, she’s amazing! If you haven’t listened to her before start here, she did an excellent job of bringing Nancy Jo’s story to life.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Love for Beginners by Jill Shalvis

Goodreads

Release date: June 8, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma, she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive, she decides to start over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer. 

Desperate for a new start, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care because he can’t find senior care. On top of that, she and Ali bring the term “frenemies” to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another. 

In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for her Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to learn that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.

Review:

I just adore this series and always look forward to the latest installment. I read most of the books during the height of the pandemic and they brought me so much comfort. They’re all set in the same town but can easily be read on their own as each book focuses on a new group of people so if you’re hesitant to start because it’s a series you can definitely jump in. Per usual there’s a premise that sucks you right in, Emma has just woken up from a coma and her fiancée and BFF are now together. She’s focused on her recovery with the help of her PT, Simon and the sparks are flying with these two! I loved their chemistry and found them to be a perfectly believable match right away. You also have the side romance between Emma’s frenemy Ali as well and then the snark between the two women was also really fun. There’s also plenty of family drama and the author always handles messy family dynamics in the most engaging way, another winner from one of my most trusted authors.

This was my first time listening to the audio version instead of reading the print and I loved the narrator, Erin Mallon. Jill’s books always have a ton of humor and she really brought these characters and their sarcasm to life so definitely recommend that version of you’re curious!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.