Spare — Prince Harry Penguin Random House Audio Memoir January 10, 2023 15 hrs 30 min
Thank you to @prhaudio for the #gifted audiobook.
Summary: Prince Harry’s story in his own words. The book is broken into three parts: (1) Childhood and Diana’s death (2) Military service (3) The Meghan years
💭 I am not one to be overly obsessed with the Royal family but I have a passing interest in Diana and her kids. Obviously Harry and Meghan have made headlines and The British press vs. The US press has been vastly different. So I was interested to read Harry’s story, in his own words. While none of this was salacious as I anticipated, there were some very interesting stories specifically regarding William and the relationship between the brothers. I was so in love with Harry’s narration and I think he could have a career in audiobook narration if he wants. Overall, I’m glad I read this.
Lie, Lie Again — Stacy Wise Lake Union Publishing Domestic Fiction, Suspense January 1, 2021 369 pages 4.1 ⭐️
Thank you to @amazonpublishing and @netgalley for the #gifted book.
Summary: Sylvia, Riki, and Embry all live at 1054 Mockingbird Lane. The women lead separate yet connected lives behind the doors of each of their apartments. Sylvia believes she has met the man for her only to find out he’s been keeping secrets. Riki is crushing hard on Embry’s husband and struggling to make the parents at her private school happy. Embry is hiding a big secret from her husband.
💭 This novel starts with a bang… a body at the bottom of the stairs. But unfortunately that part goes nowhere until the very end. It seems that was used to market this book as a mystery/suspense when it is really a contemporary fiction book.
That being said, I enjoyed each of the separate stories of the woman and how they all intertwined. I didn’t especially love the characters, but I don’t think we were supposed to. The story moved along at a great pace and I found myself wishing I had more time to read so I didn’t have to put it down. At the end, we finally did find out about the body at the bottom of the stairs. But I don’t feel it added to or changed the story much.
I would definitely recommend picking this one up if you enjoy domestic fiction!
As You Walk On By — Julian Winters Penguin Group Viking Penguin Random House Audio — André Santana LGBTQIA, Young Adult January 17, 2023 336 pages — 9 hrs 49 min 5 ⭐️
Thank you to @prhaudio and @vikingbooks and @netgalley for the #gifted audiobook.
Summary: Theo’s friends dare him to ask his crush to prom. What can go wrong? At a party, Theo finally gets up his nerve only to find out his crush has a boyfriend. He takes refuge in an empty bedroom and slowly, others who are also avoiding the party join him. They make a misfit group but they are just what Theo needs.
💭 This immediately reminded me of The Breakfast Club so the book blurb was spot on! In that movie I loved all the quirky characters and it was exactly the same here. It was hard not to fall in love with Theo. He is a layered, dynamic character who is trying to find his place with his family and his friends. This new group is just what he needs. All are struggling with something of their own and the support they show each other is what we all should strive for in our relationships.
The dialogue was fun and relevant and the representation and lessons in this book are not to be missed. The characters stayed with me a long time after I finished reading.
Why Do Cats Do That? — Peter Scottsdale BooksGoSocial November 19, 2019 122 pages 3 ⭐️
Thank you to @netgalley for the #gifted book.
Summary: For every cat enthusiast, all your questions can be answered. Some of these things I already knew, but others were interesting. For example, I did not know that cats convey emotion with the shape of their tail. This was a quick, informative read.
All the Dangerous Things — Stacy Willingham Macmillan Audio — Karissa Vacker January 10, 2023 9 hrs 59 min Thriller, Mystery 4.5 ⭐️
Thank you to @macmillan.audio and @librofm for the #gifted audiobook.
Summary: One year after Isabelle’s son, Mason, is kidnapped from his crib in the middle of night, she is still relentlessly looking for answers. She doesn’t sleep, she loses time, and she wonders how she could have let this happen. In a quest for answers, she agrees to be interviewed by a true crime podcaster who digs further into her life than she could imagine. It makes her start questioning herself and her memories of that night.
💭 Having not read A Flicker in the Dark, this was my first experience with Stacy Willingham’s writing. The pacing of this story started slow as all the characters were identified, but it moved at lightning pace once it got going. The flashback scenes, while important, slowed the story.
Isabelle’s insomnia being introduced at the very beginning set the stage for a possible unreliable narrator situation. As the story progressed, it was hard not to want her to succeed in finding all the answers. As she started to trust Waylon, his motive for telling her true crime story in his podcast became suspect to me.
There were several great twists, only one of which I figured out before it hit the story. I love being surprised when the plot takes a turn I don’t expect.
Overall, this was a captivating read that kept me guessing to the end.
Mistakes Were Made — Meryl Wilsner St. Martin’s Press — Macmillan Audio 352 pages — 12 hours Romance, LGBTQIA October 11, 2022 2.5 ⭐️
Thank you to @stmartinspress and @netgalley for the #gifted digital ARC.
Summary: Cassie met an older woman, Erin, at a bar and they had a frisky encounter. What Cassie didn’t know was that Erin was her friend’s mom. They both knew that they needed to stay away from each other, but the pull was too strong, and they ended up sneaking around hoping Parker didn’t find out.
💭 The opening scenes were hot. Very hot. I was excited to see how this forbidden relationship played out. I was disappointed. For more than half the book, all we knew was how much Cassie and Erin missed/wanted each other and how worried they both were about Parker finding out. Interspersed with this was one sex scene after another. Don’t get me wrong, sex scenes can be fun, but when there is no depth to the characters, no character development at all, it just makes it… porn.
The only thing that semi-saved this book for me was the last quarter after Parker did find out. It was only then that we got to learn a little bit about Erin and Cassie, apart from their carnal desires. I really liked what we learned about both characters, but I wish we had gotten that insight earlier.
This book is for you if you love open door romance and don’t care about the characters.
Divided in Death – J.D. Robb Brilliance Audio – Susan Ericksen January 26, 2004 4.5 ⭐️
In the 18th book of the series, Eve investigates the death of Blair Bissel, whose wife, Reva works for Roarke. All indications point to Reva murdering her husband after finding out about his affair with her best friend. But something doesn’t add up for Eve.
As a case, this is interesting because it involves Roarke’s business and some major players in the government. This means that Eve’s team has to hunker down in her home office to work covertly. What I loved most about this book though is the struggles with Eve and Roarke’s relationship as they find out something about her childhood. Roarke is a man of action and wants to take care of it, but Eve needs to handle it on her own. I personally don’t love when these two are in conflict, but it added an needed element to the story.
This is my 4th listen through this very long series, so I feel personally connected to these characters. If you need a good audiobook series, I implore you to try this one starting with Naked in Death.
Thank you to @duttonbooks and @netgalley for the #gifted digital ARC and @PRHaudio for the complimentary audiobook.
Summary: When Maya sees a video of a girl dying at a table in a restaurant, she immediately recognizes the man she’s with. In fact, that same man was with her friend, Aubrey, when she died. Maya needs to know what happened so she can finally get closer about the past.
Characters: Maya is a hot mess. From the first chapter, we find out she’s off her antipsychotic medication. She insists she doesn’t need it but the people closest to her (mom) and her family history indicate she does. She’s so unreliable as a narrator that I honestly didn’t know if I could believe anything she thought. Frank appears manipulative, but we only know of Frank through Maya’s viewpoint. Same with Aubrey.
Plot: The story was a bit all over the place. It seemed to be running in a linear way but once the flashbacks were introduced, I often found myself confused between past and present. The way new characters, and old ones, were introduced also seemed disjointed. The story itself was interesting, and I wasn’t sure where it was going although I had my suspicions. It was interesting to see those realized.
Pacing: The pacing was not overly fast, but things happened in a way that I felt I was always a step behind. The alternating between past and present happened at breakneck speed in some cases. But the narrative felt slower.
Writing: I really enjoyed Reyes’s writing style. There was a flow in it, especially in the flashback scenes that kept me reading.
Enjoyment: Overall, I am glad I read this book and know that I want to read more by this author because of her writing style.
Thank you to @stmartinspress and @netgalley for the #gifted digital ARC and @macmillanaudio and @libro.fm for the complimentary audiobook.
1974 – Mari, her married boyfriend Pierce, and step sister Lana, are invited to a villa in Italy by rock star Noal Gordon. During the summer, Mari writes a best selling horror novel, Lara records a platinum album, and Pierce is brutally murdered.
In present day, Emily and Chess rent the same notorious villa to write their next novels. But Emily is drawn to the history of the place and wants to find out what really happened that fateful summer.
This was a wild ride. Told in alternating chapters with Mari and Emily as narrators, the story of the two timelines weaves together. Honestly, the similarities of the events in both times sometimes made it feel like I was reading the same story twice. The way this was written was reminiscent of Taylor Jenkins Reid but not done as well. It wasn’t until the very end that I considered googling events to see if any part of this story was based in truth. The ending was not the payoff I had hoped for, but it was entertaining.
Every adult in the world wakes up to a box at their door with this inscription. The boxes contain a string that is the full measure of their life. The world is thrown into chaos as some people look at their string and others don’t. We are observers in the journey of 8 people who all have unique experiences with the string.
💭 Wow. Just wow. I was riveted to every character and story presented. At one time or another, I could see myself within every character. The strength it would take to even decide to open the box is something I can’t even imagine. I have anxiety just thinking about it!
The relevance of the current world mirrored in the plight of the strings is astounding. The author addresses bias and unconscious bias, downright prejudice, and politics. However, she also illuminates the human spirit of support and love for those going through similar situations and empathy from those who aren’t.
It takes a lot from a book to invoke the kind of emotion in me that this one did. By the end I was wrecked and the characters have taken up residence in my head. I haven’t stopped thinking about them or this book since the minute I finished it. As always, Julia Whelan’s narration was absolute perfection!
My IRL book club is reading this now and I can not wait to dig into the discussion with them. Thank you, Nikki Erlick, for sharing this masterpiece with the world.
❓ Would you open your box if it meant knowing when your life would end?