Audiobook Review: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Goodreads

Release date: August 30, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

With a wicked wink to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Daisy Darker’sunforgettable twists will leave readers reeling.

Review:

I’ve read and enjoyed all of the authors previous books and always find them to be page turners with clever twists. I always look forward to a new read from her and this was one I was eager to read. Unfortunately this missed the mark for me in the end and I can’t say I was a fan. There were things I liked though, the setting was strong and the idea of being stuck on an island at different times based on the tide was great. I also liked the dysfunctional family aspect, and the Darker’s were dramatic and just an odd bunch. What didn’t work for me was the big twist, I thought it was just silly and it didn’t even really make sense to me. I won’t get into why because that would ruin it but the motivation was off for me. So overall not great for me, but the audio version has a fantastic narrator in Stephanie Rancine and since I’ve liked the authors other books I’ll definitely still be reading her in the future.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Goodreads

Release date: August 9, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder.

Review:

There was really quite a lot to like about this one and while I did enjoy most of it, I did have some issues that left me conflicted in the end. I’ll start with what I liked, because again there was plenty to choose from. It didn’t waste time jumping straight into the story, you’re thrust right into things alongside Liv and I was really curious as to what the hell was actually going on. So as far as grabbing my attention right away goes this one definitely did that. Besides hearing from Liv you also hear from the detectives working her case and I loved the police procedural angle maybe even more than Liv’s chapters. I was pretty invested for the bulk of it too and never really got bored. As for what didn’t work, well…the entire premise is based on Liv needing to stay awake and not sleep and while she may not have memories she still knew she was in danger so I guess I kept thinking why won’t she just go to the hospital, police etc?? Sure, a few reasons were given for her hesitancy but I didn’t fully buy it. Parts of it did seem to drag on for the sake of tension too and I really think the police would’ve figured things out a little faster, they definitely weren’t incompetent. And then the ending just took the expected route and of course I would have preferred to had some surprises. So some minor issues but still a decent read and I did enjoy the audio version. Imogen Church and January LaVoy are both incredible voice actors and we’re both amazing here.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter

Goodreads

Release date: July 12, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favorite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.

In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favorite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.

A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.

Jodie Slaughter’s Bet on It is a heart-stoppingly fun, emotional romance that will have readers falling in love until long after the last page is turned.

Review:

Based on the adorable cover and synopsis I assumed this would be a lighthearted read and it was at times, but it also had some heavier aspects as well that I’ll get into later. I know you can never tell how steamy a romance will be based off those two alone either but this one gets spicy and the chemistry between Aja and Walker was apparent from their first encounter. I believed in their relationship and I even believed in their messy issues, both separately and together. I was definitely rooting for them, HARD even when they were both making mistakes.

Maybe it’s just the romances I’ve been reading lately but there seems to be a new trend of exploring mental health issues in quite a few romances lately and this is one trend I can get behind. This one has both main characters dealing with anxiety disorders and it’s a big part of the story, so a heads up if that may be a trigger for you. If it’s not, I thought the author did a really great job of exploring anxiety and balancing the heavy with the light. The audio was solid and Angel Pean did a great job bringing Aja and Walker to life.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore

Goodreads

Release date: July 5, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:

Nearly a decade ago, iconic magician Violet Volk performed her greatest trick yet: vanishing mid-act. Though she hasn’t been seen since, her hold on the public hasn’t wavered. While Violet sought out the spotlight, her sister Sasha, ever the responsible one, took over their mother’s salon and built a quiet life for her daughter, Quinn. But Sasha can never seem to escape her sister’s orbit or her memories of their unresolved, tumultuous relationship. Then there’s Cameron Frank, determined to finally get his big break hosting a podcast devoted to all things Violet—though keeping his job hinges on an exclusive interview with Sasha, the last person who wants to talk to him.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches, the podcast picks up steam, and Cameron’s pursuit of Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. He isn’t the only one wondering what secrets she might be keeping: Quinn, loyal to the aunt she always idolized, is doing her own investigating. Meanwhile, Sasha begins to experience an unsettling series of sleepwalking episodes and coincidences, which all lead back to Violet. Pushed to her emotional limits, Sasha must finally confront the most painful truths about her sister, and herself, even at the risk of losing everything.

Alternating between Sasha’s narration and Cameron’s podcast transcripts, interspersed with documents that offer a tantalizing peek at Violet herself, Acts of Violet is an utterly original, propulsive story of fame, deception, and forgiveness that will make you believe in magic.

Review:

I really enjoyed the fresh concept here, I’ve not read many books about magicians and definitely not many about one that disappears, and NOT as part of their act. So this one had me interested before I even started listening and it kept me engaged initially, but my interest waned as things progressed. Let me back up and speak to the audio version because it was really outstanding. You have a full cast narrating and since there are podcast episodes those were really well done. I think this format on audio really served to reel me in and as my lack of interest in the plot itself continued to decrease, I was so impressed by the narrators performances I felt like I had ti keep listening. In the end I struggled with wanting more, I was left feeling unsatisfied and that’s never the way I want to feel when I finish a book. So overall mixed feeling here, if you decide to try this yourself I highly recommend going the audio route!

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Paradise Girls by Sandy Gringas

Goodreads

Release date: July 5, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Mary Valley is in a funk. She’s a writer for home magazines, but she’s lost touch with what home means. Her life seems meaningless. The last house she wrote about was a gazillion-dollar mansion with a moat! Plus, she’s estranged from her daughter, CC and granddaughter, Larkin and mired in a dead-end relationship with her boss.

Daniel is a man adrift since his son Timmy was killed in Afghanistan. He’s living on a houseboat in Florida with Timmy’s three-legged dog, Tripod and taking tourists out on fishing charters. But his life is on the edge. He’s painting his houseboat black, and he can’t stop thinking about “getting lost at sea.”

When Mary’s boss tells her he’s spending Christmas with his ex, she books a trip with her family to The Low Key Inn, a hotel on the edge of the Everglades. But things go wrong from the get-go. CC bails out of the vacation, and Mary is stuck with an unhappy Larkin. The hotel is dated and down-on-its-luck, and perhaps its owner is a witch. Then Mary meets Daniel, casts a hook into his head and wrecks his boat.

This is the story of how wounded people can help each other heal, how lost people can help each other find their way home. How life can become a love story…

Review:

This was a sweet little read about starting over and healing in the process that I liked but didn’t quite love. I enjoyed the fact Mary, Ollie and Daniel were a little older than the average main character. As cute and fun as this was it deals with some heavy emotional stuff but it handles it in a hopeful manner so it’s not all that sad. The location is ideal for a summer read and there were so many heartwarming scenes and moments but it did drag a little for me at points during the middle. But as an easy way to spend a few hours I still mostly enjoyed it and can definitely recommend the audio version as it was great.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Here for the Drama by Kate Bromley

Goodreads

Release date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

It wouldn’t be the theater without a few theatrics…

Becoming a famous playwright is all Winnie ever dreamed about. For now, though, she’ll have to settle for assisting the celebrated, sharp-witted feminist playwright Juliette Brassard. When an experimental theater company in London, England, decides to stage Juliette’s most renowned play, The Lights of Trafalgar, Winnie and Juliette pack their bags and hop across the pond. 

But the trip goes sideways faster than you can say “tea and crumpets.” Juliette stubbornly butts heads with the play’s director and Winnie is left stage-managing their relationship. Meanwhile, Winnie’s own work seems to have stalled, and though Juliette keeps promising to read it, she always has some vague reason why she can’t. Then, Juliette’s nephew, Liam, enters stage left. He’s handsome, he’s smart, he is devastatingly British…and his family ties to Juliette pose a serious problem, forcing Winnie to keep their burgeoning relationship on the down-low. What could go wrong?

Balancing a production seemingly headed for disaster, a secret romance and the sweetest, most rambunctious rescue dog, will Winnie save the play, make her own dreams come true and find love along the way—or will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get the best of her?

Review:

I really enjoyed the authors debut last year and have been looking forward to her next book ever since I finished it and I’m delighted to say this was just as sweet and charming! I loved the premise with Winnie being a playwright and having to travel to London for work, a nice escape for me. I know next to nothing about the theater scene so I found the behind the scenes aspects of that interesting and I was totally charmed by Liam almost instantly. He had that dry British humor and the way he and Winnie bantered back and forth was so fun. Natalie Naudus is one of my favorite narrators so listening to her performance was amazing as always, overall a fun and light read.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon

Goodreads

Release date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Lyric Bishop feels like a fraud – she’s studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners and what makes for a successful long-term relationship, only she can’t seem to figure it out in her own dating life. The science is sound, but how can she give her expert opinion with no real-world experience? In order to complete her doctoral thesis, she must crack the Sizzle Paradox – it seems the more sexually attractive she finds a guy, the less likely it is to come with an emotional connection; but why? – and to do that she must get the help she desperately needs.

Kian Montgomery, her best friend, roommate, and fellow grad student, has no trouble bringing both romance and sizzle to his own relationships. When he offers to tutor Lyric on dating tactics to find a good match, she’s certain it will solve her problems, and in exchange she agrees to set long-term-commitment-averse Kian up with someone different to give his romantic life a much-needed shakeup.

But once the two progress with their “tutoring sessions,” they start to feel less like the academic exercise they were supposed to be as real feelings develop. Which is a problem, because Lyric and Kian are best friends and absolutely, irrefutably nothing else… Right?

Review:

This being marketed as The Kiss Quotient meets Love Potion No. 9 and I have to say, that’s a pretty dang accurate mash up in terms of describing this book. The author used a couple of different tropes in her last book and she does it again here too, and does it pretty well might I add. You have friends to lovers with a side of fake dating and fake dating is one of my faves so I was happy to see it here. Despite Lyric being a woman in STEM, which I love and always find interesting, she isn’t portrayed as the best scientist around. She’s talked about as being super smart but her actions (both romantically and having to do with her research) don’t really match up to what was being said about who she is. It didn’t bother me too much, just something I found odd and wanted to mention. My overall experience here was good, I have to give credit to the audio narrators performances because I truly enjoyed listening to both Brittany Pressley and Abhay Ahulwalia and felt like they elevated things for me.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Measure by Nikki Erlick

Goodreads

Release date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Dystopian

Synopsis:

It seems like any other day: You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out. But today when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise? As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined; pen pals finding refuge in the unknown; a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush; a doctor who cannot save himself; and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything.

Enchanting and deeply uplifting, The Measure is a sweeping, ambitious, invigorating story about family, friendship, hope, and destiny that encourages us to live life to the fullest.

Review:

When I first heard about this book the premise immediately fascinated me, it’s like you cannot even imagine such a thing happening but also you kind of can. Unsettling for sure. So going into it I assumed it would be deep and maybe even heavy at times and it was, but it was also super thought provoking and insightful. The amount of questions it raises is staggering, it explores a plethora of issues and I can see this being a fantastic pick for a book club. There is SO much to be discussed here, I actually wish I had a group of people to chat with when u finished myself. I don’t wanna get too deep into the plot but you get multiple perspectives from several characters and I enjoyed hearing from each of them. You may think this one would be pretty depressing and it’s really not, yes there were sad moments but also moments of hope. It was poignant and as usual Julia Whelan gives a fantastic performance in the audio version. Definitely check it out if you want something a little meatier this summer.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Goodreads

Release date: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Review:

Reading a new Katherine Center book is always such a delight, her books are like a ray of sunshine that always leave me feeling warm and cozy. This was just so good y’all, it had everything I needed and more. It was heartfelt and full of emotion but it was also light and super funny too. The characters were so so lovable, I adored both Hannah and Jack and thought their pairing was perfection. Fake dating is my fave so I was happy to see the trope here and the author nailed it. This is begging to be made into a rom com movie, the writing was so vivid it already played out like a movie in my head, clearly I just adored it and can highly recommend it as an addition to your summer TBR! The audio version was fantastic and narrator Patti Murin was great.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Meet the Geller sisters: Beck, Claire, and Sophie, a trio of strong-minded women whose pragmatic, widowed mother, Marti, will be dying soon. Marti has ensured that her modest estate is easy for her family once she’s gone––including a provision that the family’s summer cottage on Mount Desert Island, Maine, must be sold, the proceeds split equally between the three girls.

Beck, the eldest, is a freelance journalist whose marriage looks more like a sibling bond than a passionate partnership. In fact, her husband is hiding a troubling truth about his love life. For Beck, the Maine cottage has been essential to her secret wish to write a novel––and to remake the terms of her relationship.

Despite her accomplishments as a pediatric cardiologist, Claire, the middle daughter, has always felt like the Geller misfit. Recently divorced, Claire’s unrequited love for the wrong man is slowly destroying her, and she’s finding that her expertise on matters of the heart unfortunately doesn’t extend to her own.

Youngest daughter Sophie appears to live an Instagram-ready life, filled with glamorous work and travel, celebrities, fashion, art, and sex. In reality, her existence is a cash-strapped house of cards that may tumble at any moment.

But when C.J. Reynolds, an enigmatic southerner with his own hidden past enters the picture, the future of the Maine cottage––and of the sisters themselves––will take on an entirely new dimension.

Review:

I knew having read the authors previous book that she writes character driven novels about family so while my expectations were set accordingly, there was still something off about this one for me. Usually when I’m engrossed in an audiobook I have no problem following along but here my mind was wandering at different points along the way and I had to really try to focus and pay attention. I think part of my issue was that I didn’t really care for any of the Geller sisters so it was difficult to be invested in their story. The whole thing just felt kinda messy and pointless but I will say between the good writing and the wonderful audio narration I did finish it so it definitely wasn’t all bad. I just think I wanted an overall better connection to the story and characters.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.