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.

Audiobook Review: Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Release date: May 25, 2021

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or… has he? When his sister’s best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.

Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 manwho shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie… wants him? Oh yes.

Getting involved would be a terrible idea—her stay is temporary and he wants forever—but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies… as long as you think your partner hung the moon.

Review:

Aww this was such a cute book! I love the recent insurgence of rom com books giving a nod to nostalgic rom com movies, it makes me wistful for the movies of my youth. Brendon being the rom com lover was such a sweet flip of the usual gender roles, I’ve read plenty of books where the heroine is obsessed but this is the first one where the hero is the bigger fan and it was adorable and endearing. When I read the first book in this series, Written in the Stars I was so curious about him and was delighted to see him as the lead here. Annie was lovable and fun, I actually felt sorry for her as a big part of the plot here focused on pressuring her to basically give up her entire life to move to Seattle and thought her best friend, Darcy was damn harsh a few times. It just seemed a little over the top to me, but overall this was freaking cute.

The audio was wonderful, this was the first time I listened to a book narrated by Lauren Sweet and she did a great job inflections emotion into her voice that made it incredibly easy for me to get swept away by the story. I’ll definitely be looking for her name the next time I’m browsing a new audiobook to listen to, do you ever do that? If I’m really drawn to a narrator I’ll seek them out and maybe even try a book I wouldn’t normally listen to if I know they have an engaging manner.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe

Goodreads

Release date: May 11, 2021

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

The coming of spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, it begins a season of challenge. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and for her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter on the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time? 

Love in the time of COVID-19 proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons during this summer than opportunities lost: that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Review:

Well, I thought I was ready to read a book set during the pandemic and was curious to see how the author would navigate things but I think it may have been a little too soon for me. I’ve been watching a few TV shows that incorporated the real life events recently and have been ok with it but for some reason this just didn’t translate to a book well for me. I think maybe it’s set primarily in the early days, March 2020 to be exact, and it just brought me back to a place of anxiety and fear that I wasn’t into. So I wanted to start by saying that right off because this is more about me than the book and my own emotions and feelings so take that into consideration when you hear what I’m saying here.

As much as this one unsettled me there was still things to like, I enjoyed the large cast of characters and their various challenges and problems. With an ensemble cast there is a lot going on and while it felt a little chaotic, it definitely kept things interesting. I truly have to give some major credit to the narrator, I don’t know if I would’ve finished this one had I read it in print actually but Cassandra Campbell did a fantastic job of keeping me engaged. There’s a lot of family drama, life drama, friendship drama and just overall drama and that’s usually right up my alley, but again having it centered around the pandemic was just too much too soon for me. If you think that wouldn’t bother you though give this a try, if the pandemic wasn’t mentioned I would’ve adored this one I think, a total me issue and not the book at all, MAM is a wonderful writer and I’m sure many will love this one.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Release date: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio

Genre: YA

Synopsis:

In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

Review:

Is this the most perfect YA rom com ever?! It is you guys, this was adorable, swoony perfection from start to finish. If you like rom coms, or maybe just rom com movies, or maybe you just like books in general you have to read this. I swear you won’t regret it and I even think you’ll finish reading it with a cheesy grin and the warm and fuzzies.

As light and funny as this one was there was an emotional component as well as Liz is grieving the loss of her mom snd senior year is really making her realize how many big milestones her mom isn’t there for. It’s a great balance though, still many hilarious situations and Liz’s sadness made me want to wrap her up in a hug and keep her safe. I know I would’ve liked this in print, it’s too good not to, but the audio was outstanding and I think it brought the story to a whole new level. There’s lots of sarcasm and banter between Liz and Wes and Jesse Vilinsky nailed the delivery of the wit and humor so perfectly. Highly recommended by me especially if you’re feeling nostalgic for older rom com movies as there’s so many great references here.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Goodreads

Release date: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

We all have stories we never tell.


Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.


Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

Review:

Based on the description of this one I thought I would be able to easily see where this one was going, I mean how many missing/lying/scheming husband books have all of us thriller fans read by now? Well friends, I was wrong this was actually pretty unique and I’m really glad that I decided to give it a shot!

I feel like the publisher’s synopsis is all you really need to know here so I won’t be discussing any plot details, instead I’ll tell you why I enjoyed this one so much. It was fast paced as it flipped from present day to a few chapters from the past back when Owen and Hannah first meet and there was never a dull moment. Hannah as a character was great, I found her to be relatable and really believable as she’s put in such a strange and upsetting situation, can you even imagine getting a weird note from your husband and then he’s just gone? It also had a really strong ending and if you know me you know an ending can either make or break a thriller for me. The audio narration was fantastic, Rebecca Lowman was amazing. I’ve listened to a few books she’s narrated and she’s definitely becoming one of my faves. I love the way she expresses emotion and complexity into her voice, there were plenty of emotional moments here and she captured Hannah’s voice SO well. Definitely a really fun summer thriller, this would be fun to listen to during a road trip!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Hello Lovelies! by Hayley DeRoche

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: May 23, 2019

Publisher: Audible Studios

Narrator: Emily Bauer

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

For fans of Sophie Kinsella and Kevin Kwan comes a laugh-out-loud debut that takes listeners inside the cutthroat world of mommy blogging. 

Ruthie St. James – formerly a political communications strategist, currently a stay-at-home mom, and all of a sudden friendless after her daughter’s peanut butter cookie sends another toddler to the hospital – needs a break. And when she wins an all-expenses paid cruise vacation with her idol, the superstar mommy blogger Jesca Pine, she can’t wait to connect with other moms IRL. But the cruise is not the Instagram-worthy getaway Ruthie had in mind: firstly, the other bloggers aren’t here to make friends – they’re here to impress a major talent agent who’s been spotted on the ship, and they’ll do just about anything to get her attention. On top of that, someone aboard keeps leaking scandalous (and off-brand) stories to an unforgiving gossip site, and Jesca’s losing her followers as quickly as her sanity. All this leaves Ruthie walking on eggshells, and after a scandal of her own, she only has one more chance to salvage her vacation: using her political savvy to negotiate with the team of ruthless saboteurs behind Jesca Pine’s demise…Jesca’s own teenage daughters.

Hello Lovelies! is a joyous, irreverent debut about friendship, motherhood, and what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s digital world. 

Review:

I know that we have all heard of a beach read but what about a beach listen? I’ve never really thought about any particular audiobooks being perfect for vacation but while I was listening to this one I kept thinking that this would be ideal! It was the perfect blend of humor and lighthearted fun to make this is an incredibly easy listen and one that I enjoyed immensely.

I’m no stranger to online mommy drama, I’m not sure there is any way to avoid it if you’re raising young children today so that’s what initially caught my eye with this one. Throw in a cruise with influential mommy bloggers and my drama radar is beeping loud and clear! This poked fun at the mommy wars in a snarky way that seriously made me cackle. It’s over the top dramatic in the best and most fun way, I can’t even tell you how many times I was dying laughing.

The narration was fantastic, there were lots of excerpts from blog posts, podcasts and various social media sites and there were many fitting sound effects included to help keep things straight. It was a fun added touch that I appreciated and definitely helped to keep things from being confusing.

Overall I really, really liked this one and would most definitely read another book from the author, it was super fun and a really great listen!

Hello Lovelies! in three words: Snarky, Witty and Hilarious

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Katherine Littrell

Blurb:

Kimberly Leamy is a photography teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-six years earlier, Sammy Went, a two-year old girl vanished from her home in Manson, Kentucky. An American accountant who contacts Kim is convinced she was that child, kidnapped just after her birthday. She cannot believe the woman who raised her, a loving social worker who died of cancer four years ago, crossed international lines to steal a toddler.

On April 3rd, 1990, Jack and Molly Went’s daughter Sammy disappeared from the inside their Kentucky home. Already estranged since the girl’s birth, the couple drifted further apart as time passed. Jack did his best to raise and protect his other daughter and son while Molly found solace in her faith. The Church of the Light Within, a Pentecostal fundamentalist group who handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship, provided that faith. Without Sammy, the Wents eventually fell apart.

Now, with proof that she and Sammy are in fact the same person, Kim travels to America to reunite with a family she never knew she had. And to solve the mystery of her abduction—a mystery that will take her deep into the dark heart of religious fanaticism where she must fight for her life against those determined to save her soul… 

Review:

There are a rare handful of books that when listened to in audio format are taken to the next level and The Nowhere Child is most certainly one of those books. The combination of an incredibly well thought out mystery and top notch narration made this one a must listen.

While the premise itself doesn’t sound all that original I can say that I’ve never seen it handled in the way the author did. This flips back and forth between past and present; in the present Kim learns that her mom may have actually been a kidnapper, and what’s worse is that she’s been dead for years so answers are not easy to come by and in the past you follow the Wendt family in the days leading up to Sammy’s disappearance and after she’s gone. Both past and present were equally enthralling, I found myself riveted no matter what chapter I was listening to. You know just from the blurb that Kim was indeed kidnapped, so there’s no surprise as to the what, but the fun lies in the who and the why. Throw in a crazy, cult like church which never fails to intrigue me and you have a great recipe for a highly original mystery.

The narrator is Australian and I’m a sucker for an accent, but she also pulled off a really well done American drawl without sounding contrived. She was just excellent and like I said earlier, she raised the stakes with impeccable delivery and a smooth voice that was hypnotic. Highly recommended for audio fans!

The Nowhere Child in three words: Nuanced, Seamless and Tense.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Red Alert by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: March 26, 2018

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Edoaurdo Ballerini

Blurb:

The richest of New York’s rich gather at The Pierre’s Cotillion Room to raise money for those less fortunate. A fatal blast rocks the room, stirring up horrifying memories of 9/11. Is the explosion an act or terrorism–or a homicide?

A big-name female filmmaker is the next to die, in a desolate corner of New York City. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald investigate. But the crimes keep escalating as a shadowy killer masterfully plays out his vendetta–and threatens to take down NYPD Red in the bargain.

Review:

Though I’ve been a very long time fan of Patterson’s books, both his standalones and his many series (Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Lindsey Boxer, I’ve read them all) I made the switch from reading his physical books to listening solely on audio a couple of years ago. It kind of happened by accident, I was browsing Overdrive for a new listen and grabbed the latest Women’s Murder Club installment and realized what an amazing narrator January LaVoy is. All of that to say, having now listened to several of Patterson’s books I have to tell you guys that he has THE best narrators I’ve come across, and Ballerini is no exception. I say that because I know many people don’t enjoy audiobooks for various reasons but if you ever wanna give one a try just grab any Patterson one and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Red series follows partners Zack and Kylie who work as part of the NYPD and their unique task force is assigned cases pertaining to the rich and famous. These two have a history that always seems to come in play at some point even though their past was several years ago, you never quite know what’s going on between them at any given moment. They have an undeniable chemistry and their banter is on point, it’s snappy and funny and lightens the mood in an endearing way.

Per his usual style the author(s) have included several subplots that keep things moving at a rapid pace. There’s a bombing at a high profile event, the murder of a controversial filmmaker and a robbery at a high stakes poker game among other things, plenty to keep you on your toes, I can’t say I was ever bored for one minute.

Again, Ballerini is an incredibly talented narrator, I don’t know if I would be enjoying this series as much as I have been if I was reading myself, he has an engaging voice that also demands to be heard, it’s fantastic!

Red Alert in three words: Explosive, Interesting and Exciting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 20, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Narrator: Alex Tregear

Blurb:

You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of Louise Jensen and have read all of her books and loved them, but I think The Surrogate is my new favorite! I’ve also not had the pleasure of listening to one of her books before either and I absolutely adored the way this was brought to life by the fabulous narrator, Alex Tregear. It made the whole thing feel more real and was so much more sinister than just reading it myself, she’s amazing and has one of those voices you could listen to for hours.

This flips between the past and present steadily building tension and intrigue as you read further along. Kat was easy for me to warm to, all she wants is a child and though I never had to endure fertility treatments in order to have my kids, I can clearly remember how one month can seem like a year when you’re desperately wanting a baby. Lisa was a tricky one, I so wanted to believe that she had good intentions and wanted to help her old friend, but it’s a Louise Jensen book and you just know there’s way more than meets the eye. Oh man is there SO much more!

I’m not delving into the plot, it was deliciously twisty, dark and thrilling though and if you haven’t read one of Jensen’s books, can I recommend that you start here?! It has all the high marks of a superb psychological thriller, unreliability, shocks, complex plotting and an onslaught of twists that will leave your head spinning.

The Surrogate in three words: Multifaceted, Ominous and Wicked.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.