Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle CreekMiracle Creek by Angie Kim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting and unique thriller! I feel like I’m always harping on my thriller authors out there because the story lines have become stagnant and tired. Untrustworthy husband this. And devious, backstabbing wife that. I’m always looking for that plot line that hooks me on something completely different. And Miracle Creek delivered.

Let’s talk HBOT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A treatment strategy whereby patients are placed in a sealed chamber which is pressurized with high levels of oxygen. The theory? Provide high levels of oxygen to damaged tissues in the body to promote healing. Which is exactly why the patients in this novel were taking part in HBOT….. until the chamber exploded, tragically killing some of those who were inside. What follows is half courtroom drama and half whodunnit to determine who set the fire which caused the explosion.

I really enjoyed the thought Angie Kim put into this book. All of the loose ends tied together extremely well which showed just how well planned the story line was. I have to admit that I figured out the “who” very early in the story so wasn’t incredibly surprised when the arsonist was exposed. But I did not figure out the “why” or “how.” They were both completely unexpected with a good twist for the reader.

I also appreciated the multifaceted relationships described throughout the story. Patients and their family members. Patients and other patients. Family members and other family members. The HBOT owners and the patients. There was a lot to unpack.

I did feel like there was a little bit of a lull in the middle where I found the story to be a tad repetitive, and I did feel like the ending took a really long time to fully unfold. There was a point where I wanted the story to just “get there” in terms of giving away its secrets because it felt a bit drawn out. But that’s really the worst thing I can say about this book. Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend to any thriller lovers looking for a unique story line.

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Mystery, Thriller

I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I'll Never TellI’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Out June 1st! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Oh how I adore Catherine McKenzie. Last year when I read her novel, The Good Liar, I fell in love with her writing style. She writes captivating thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat with lots of twists and turns. So when I saw her next book, I’ll Never Tell, was coming out I jumped at the chance to review it.

Twenty years ago at Camp Macaw, teenage Amanda was brutally attacked on the camp’s “Back Beach” and was left for dead. Fast forward to present day and the five adult children of the camp owners (the McAllisters) descend upon the camp to memorialize their parents who tragically passed away. But they will be in for a surprise when their parent’s will is read, forcing them to revisit that awful night of Amanda’s attack and come to terms with their own pasts.

This one reminded me a ton of Riley Sager’s fabulous The Last Time I Lied with the sinister summer camp feel. It also had an Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit style; one mystery, multiple suspects.

There were two things I really appreciated in this book:
1. The family dynamics were expertly crafted. There were a ton of layers to each of the relationships in this story (and there were a lot of relationships to unpack). It ended up giving the book more of a “slow burn” feel for me than your typical thriller/mystery but I was never bored. I was always waiting to see what happened next.
2. The way the story unfolded was perfect. Catherine McKenzie released the right amount of information at just the right times, peppering teasers throughout for the reader while not giving away all the secrets at once.

This is definitely a solid summer mystery for all you mystery lovers out there. It would make for a fantastic fireside, marshmallow-roasting, lake-swimming, trail-hiking summer camp read!

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and Catherine McKenzie for the opportunity to review.-

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Author Q&A

Author Q&A with Erica Bauermeister (Author of The Scent Keeper)

Big welcome to Erica Bauermeister who stopped by to talk to us about her upcoming book, The Scent Keeperout May 21st!  The book is incredible, so please check out my review to learn more!

Ashley: What was the easiest part of writing this book?  What was the most challenging?

Erica: Emmeline’s character was the easiest part. She was such a strong presence in my imagination. The hardest part, ironically, was realizing that the book should be written in her voice. It took me three years and four different points of view before I woke up one morning with her voice in my head. Once that happened the rest came easily.

Ashley: The cover of this book is beautiful.  What was the process like for designing it?

Erica: I was so impressed by the artist who designed this cover.  Usually creating a book cover is a difficult process, with several completely different concepts before we settle on one. This cover was pretty much perfect right from the start. While Emmeline’s island is actually rain-soaked and covered with evergreens, the cover captures the feeling of the book, which is the more important and trickier challenge.

Ashley: When you’re on tour, what is the one thing you cannot live without?

Erica: I have a fragrance I always bring along—Atelier’s Orange Sanguine. It smells like sunshine and comfort and imagination. I put on just a little bit before I do book events, and it is like taking a friend with me on stage.

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Big thank you to Erica Bauermeister for stopping by Home Sweet Houser on her blog tour.  If you’re interested in purchasing The Scent Keeper, check out any of the retailers below to snag your copy now.

Mystery, Thriller

The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

The Last Thing She RemembersThe Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out May 28th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

This is a book that I fear is going to be grossly underestimated. I have to admit that I haven’t seen this book all over social media and hadn’t heard of it before the publisher sent me a copy to review. But, I always find that when publishers send me books that I haven’t requested, I discover some of my favorite authors so I thank them for that.

The Last Thing She Remembers was such a pleasant surprise. A fast paced, mysterious, twisty thriller that kept me on my toes from start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed J.S. Monroe’s work.

The story begins when a young woman shows up on Tony and Laura’s doorstep with no recollection of who she is, where she came from, or why she is there. Tony and Laura take her in and try to help her regain her memory. What follows is a crazy roller coaster ride of stuff that had me guessing all the way until the end. There are quite a few surprises along the way that any thriller-lover would enjoy.

I will say that you kind of have to suspend reality in a few parts of the book because there were a few things that happened that were a tad too coincidental for me to believe. This is definitely not a story that could actually take place, but not many thrillers are.

Bravo to J.S. Monroe on a successful novel. I hope this one gets more publicity and chatter on social media as publication date gets nearer because it is worth the book-reviewing community’s attention.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, J.S. Monroe, and Harlequin Trade Publishing for the opportunity to review.

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Audiobook Review, Memoir/Biography, Nonfiction, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

This is the Story of a Happy MarriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Ann Patchett is nothing short of a powerhouse writer!

Living in Nashville and being a book junkie, I naturally made my way to Parnassus Books for a visit (it just happens to be co-owned by Ann Patchett herself). And while I was there, I decided to pick up a signed copy of Ann’s book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from 2017. As I’ve made it a goal to slowly make my way through Reese’s recommendations, this seemed like a fitting choice.

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I’m not a huge believer in reading book jackets or synopses before diving in (I read a wide variety of genres and prefer to be surprised), so I had no idea that this was a) nonfiction and b) a collection of essays. This is exactly why I don’t read book jackets. Because those two components together are not what I would typically gravitate toward in a book. And by reading the jacket and making a preemptive judgment, I would miss out on a ton of really amazing books.

In This is the Story of a Happy Marriage Ann Patchett teaches us life lessons, tells us about love and loss, gives us a glimpse into how she got where she is today both in her personal life and her career, and paints a lovely picture of Nashville that this Nashvillian really appreciated. But the magic isn’t necessarily in the content itself, but the author’s masterful storytelling. Her sentence structure and the way she combines words and phrases is magical. She had a lot of really insightful things to say that made me think. There were moments when I chuckled. And there were moments where I said, “I want to be friends with Ann Patchett.”

If a collection of essays doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you should read this book anyway. While it’s technically a bunch of short stories strung together, it reads more like a cohesive memoir. The essays flowed together logically to tell a complete story that did not feel disjointed. I would highly recommend and will definitely be reading more from Patchett in the future.

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