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.

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

Goodreads

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past.

As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

Review:

The last two years I’ve read and adored the authors holidays releases, so I’ve definitely been eagerly awaiting her newest and I know I’m guaranteed a cozy and festive read. She has a magical way of creating the best Christmassy settings and her books always leave me with a sense of hope and warmth.

One of the best things about a SM book is you’re getting a mix of romance and female relationships and this time it’s a friendship between Christy and Alix as well as Christy and Seb’s marriage and Alix’s new potential romance with Zac. There’s also Robyn, Christy’s estranged aunt so there’s complicated family dynamics everywhere. Definitely a lot going on and plenty to keep you engaged, and of course there is also Christmas cheer in a beautiful setting. Rose Robinson is a delightful narrator and has a beautiful and melodic voice, she really swept me away and made the story that much more perfect. Add to your holiday TBR for sure!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Release date: November 2, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a black lawyer who gets in over her head after the sudden death of her boss. A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.

Everyone has something to hide…

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.

But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.

And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…

Review:

Well hello super impressive debut!! I love reading debut authors because you never quite now what to expect and the only thing better than reading a new author is being blown away by their first book. This one was good y’all, I think it will appeal to so many people because while it’s definitely a thriller it also has shades of a legal thriller and a hint of domestic suspense. It also explores race, sexism and being a woman in the workplace, it was so relevant and important and also totally entertaining, this one truly had it all. The less you know about this one the better off you are, just read this if you like fast paced and exciting thrillers that have depth. The narrator, Susan Dalian was also fantastic so I can highly recommend the audio as well but I’m sure it’s fantastic in any format.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: All the Feels by Olivia Dade

Goodreads

Release date: November 16, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

Review:

Last year I fell in love with Olivia Dade’s writing and Spoiler Alert was one of my favorite romances of the year so I was definitely very excited to read the follow up. Some of the elements that I loved so much in the first book were back again here; amazing representation including a heroine who isn’t described as stunningly beautiful but is instead an average woman, sex positivity and consent, body positivity and mental health issues. This was super sexy and also warm and witty, definitely the full package. The author lends such a vulnerability to her characters that makes them so relatable and I really liked both Alex and Lauren. Kelsey Narravo is a wonderful audiobook narrator, I’ve listened to several of her books and I’m a fan. She does an incredible job with this book as well so I highly recommend the audio version.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Fan Club by Erin Mayer

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator, a gloomy millennial, searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women’s lifestyle website—entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by child-actor-turned-international-pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana’s every move.

When a colleague notices the extent of her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together—while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age, and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Review:

Do you ever finish a book and wonder what in the hell you just read? And not in a good way? That’s what happened with me here. My whole experience with this book was bizarre, on the one hand I listened to it in a day so there was definitely something compulsive about it but on the other hand it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. I really liked the premise and found the whole idea of being obsessed with a celebrity fascinating but something in the execution was lacking. The whole thing felt disjointed, I was missing a solid connection to the plot and the characters, the narrator is never named so I dont think that helped. I will say that had I read instead of listened to this I don’t think I would’ve finished so audio is the way to go but overall this was a miss for me.

Overall rating: 2/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

Goodreads

Release date: October 12, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…

Review:

This was a juicy and entertaining read about grown women behaving badly that I mostly enjoyed. I think I expected it to be a little darker and creepier based off of the synopsis than it actually was, but it was still a fun seasonal read. There were plenty of secrets and betrayals and although some of them seemed obvious to me, they were still entertaining. If you like reading about unlikable characters and specifically catty women this could appeal to you. It was almost a women’s fiction with a side of light suspense, nothing super dark which is what I was craving, but like I said earlier, it was still a fun read. The audio was great, multiple narrators kept me engaged much more than I would’ve expected and I’m positive I enjoyed this one more based on listening rather than reading. It definitely heightened the experience for me, so if you’re planning on adding this one to your TBR I would recommend the audio.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne

Goodreads

Release date: October 26, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Review:

I just adore the authors books, they’re a shining little light for me always and I know when I start one of her books I’m in for a totally delightful read. When one of her books is a holiday novel it’s just an added treat, she infuses so much holiday warmth and charm into her stories and this was no exception. Read this if you like: adorable kids, cute animals, an idyllic setting, family traditions and bonding and all the cozy holiday vibes. This was my first experience listening to narrator Stacy Gonzalez and she was wonderful, very engaging and personable and I would definitely listen to her again. Add this one to your December TBR or if you’re like me read it in October because it was so fun!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Inn at Sweetbriar Lane by Jeannie Chin

Goodreads

Release date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

June Wu always has it all together—only now, she’s in over her head. Her family’s inn desperately needs guests, her mother’s medical debts are piling up, and the surly, if sexy, stranger next door is driving away the customers she has left! When he asks for June’s help, though, she can’t say no. After all, his new bar could be just what the upcoming Pumpkin Festival needs to bring in more tourists. But with the fierce attraction between them, will working together be playing with fire?

Ex-soldier Clay Hawthorne prefers being on his own. He’s moved to Blue Cedar Falls for one reason—to carry out his best friend’s dream of opening a bar in the hometown he’ll now never return to. But the town’s business association is trying to stop Clay’s progress. June soon becomes his biggest supporter, and while their partnership is supposed to be only temporary, for the first time Clay wants something permanent—with June. Can two total opposites really learn to meet each other in the middle?

Review:

This was a such a strong start to a new series, seriously the potential is great! Don’t let the cute little cover fool you either, yes it’s a cutesy little romance set in a small town but there’s so much more than that. While the town was described beautifully it isn’t portrayed in a way that makes it seem like the totally perfect place to live. Not everyone is welcoming and many residents are resistant to change, especially when the change comes in the form of a new bar coming to town. It doesn’t help that the new bar owner is an outsider either. There was a great balance between light and heavy here as well, Clay is a veteran dealing with issues from serving the country and June’s mom is dealing with some health issues so you have characters that are flawed and struggling and the author did such a good job of exploring their issues. Also an Asian American lead character and LBGTQ+ made the representation here awesome! This was also really sexy too, see what I mean, don’t let the pretty cover fool you this one has depth! Katy Tang and Zachary Webber we’re both A plus narrators and their voices exactly matched what I had in my head, amazing!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: No Ordinary Christmas by Belle Calhoune

Goodread

Release date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

The quaint New England town of Mistletoe is thrilled to welcome back one of their own, Dante West. Now a famous Hollywood action star, Dante is filming a movie in town to help the local economy, as well as make amends with the people he hurt when he abruptly left Mistletoe all those years ago.

Librarian Lucy Marshall isn’t thrilled to see Dante. He was once her best friend and first love until he left her behind without a word of goodbye. When Dante makes her an offer she can’t refuse — use of the library as a filming venue in exchange for a lucrative donation, Lucy finds herself spending a lot of time in Dante’s company. With the magic of Christmas in the air, Dante and Lucy begin to forge a new bond. But can two people leading such different lives find lasting love the second time around?

Review:

Hi Hallmark Channel, I found your next book to movie adaptation! Seriously though this was adorable and would be the cutest Christmas movie. Second chance romance usually has to be pretty special for me to enjoy it and I definitely was won over here. I liked that Dante is now a celebrity who wants to give back to the community he grew up in by filming his new movie in his hometown, I mean how fun is that?! Lucy is a librarian and I pretty much liked her based on that alone, but she was super endearing as well. The town itself was depicted beautifully, think I could convince my entire family to spend Christmas back east in some little small town with a giant Christmas tree in the town square?! This was more sweet than sexy and super cozy, definitely best read with some hot chocolate by a fire while it’s snowing outside! Also my first from the author but I’m checking out her backlist ASAP. It was also the first book I listened to that was narrated by Mela Lee or Tre Hall and I applaud the use of two narrators, they were both great!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery

Release date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

The Somerville sisters believe in love, but they’ve lost faith it will happen for them. Reggie hasn’t been home since the end of the world’s shortest engagement. When her parents decide to renew their vows, she buffs up her twinkle to help with the Christmas wedding. Unexpectedly, Toby, her first love, is back too, and the spark between them shines as brightly as ever. In the spirit of the season, will they let go of past hurts and greet the New Year together?

Done waiting for the one, Dena is pregnant and on her own—on purpose. But then a gorgeous, sad-eyed songwriter checks in to a room at her inn. Micah, unable to write since he lost his wife, finds inspiration in Dena’s determination to be a mom. One snowflake-speckled kiss and he’s a goner. But Dena is afraid to believe that a rock star could fall for a cookie-cutter small-town girl like her.

As the Christmas wedding draws closer, these two sisters just might unwrap the most treasured gift of all—love.

Review:

A new Susan Mallery series is always cause for excitement for me and I have to say this one is off to a strong start. You have the cutest little town with some zany traditions that everyone takes seriously, TWO romances in this installment, and heartfelt storyline set around the holidays. Need I say more?! Ok fine, it also has the authors trademark humor and wit, she always writes these endearing characters with a great sense of humor, you know the kind of people that you wish you could be friends with for real? Those kind. There’s also super cute kids, super cute dogs and a supporting cast of characters that added so much to an already engaging read. When I’m looking for a holiday read I want something that will bring the season to life and also make me feel warm and fuzzy by the end and this delivered. I’ve also taken to listening to most of the authors books because I really enjoy Tanya Eby’s narration, she has a delightful voice and she brings some added charm to the book. Definitely recommend adding this one to your December TBR it was lovely.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.