Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great AloneThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All right, ladies and gentlemen! I think I have officially discovered my new favorite author! I thought it could be true after reading The Nightingale recently, and it has been confirmed with the conclusion of The Great Alone.

Kristin Hannah… That gal can write! Everything she writes is extremely real, complex, multi-faceted and layered. She captures the essence of her characters so perfectly and tells fictional stories that in no way feel like fiction. I feel like her characters could leap off the page at any moment.

I waited literally MONTHS to get to the top of the wait list at my local library for this audiobook and I’m so happy I finally got to experience this gem.

The Great Alone is a story about a young girl who is whisked to Alaska by her PTSD-stricken Vietnam-veteran father and her dutiful, complacent mother to live in the wilderness and survive off the land. What follows is a beautiful story of resilience in the face of hardship, friendships, love, survival, and conquering strength. It is absolutely beautiful.

It reminded me slightly of the movie Legends of the Fall. Although the story was in no way similar, it just had that heartbreaking yet satisfying storytelling that sucked me right in. I listened to this one on audiobook and I would highly recommend it. I was so engrossed that I spent 5 hours one day walking around my house with headphones on because I didn’t want it to stop.

Anybody who has not read Kristin Hannah really needs to. She is a true artist and utterly magnificent author. I cannot wait to read more of her previous work.

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Mystery, Thriller

The Confession by Jo Spain

The ConfessionThe Confession by Jo Spain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Recently published!

Hmm what to say about this book? Honestly, I had kind of a hard time with it. The book started with a BANG, the brutal murder of a man right in front of his wife. And to everybody’s surprise, the perpetrator walks into the police station and confesses. But why? Why did he do it? Why did he confess? So many questions needing an answer.

Unfortunately, I felt like despite the great start, as the book progressed it was a little lackluster and forgettable. Many of the decisions made by the main characters weren’t entirely believable and I had a really hard time believing that the police couldn’t make some of the connections that eventually were revealed at the end. Seems like it would be basic police work.

Let me also say, I’m frankly sick of thrillers about women who lack a backbone and allow their husbands/boyfriends/fiances to walk all over them. It’s infuriating that this is the norm in thrillers now. Can we get a strong female presence for the love of all that is holy? It’s so annoying to read about a woman who is treated like complete and utter garbage, but continues to stay with her piece of garbage significant other and justify his horrific behavior. It seems like more and more thrillers exploit this dynamic and it’s been beaten to death.

Overall, I thought the book was okay. There wasn’t a point where I said, “Ok, I can’t read this anymore. I need to stop.” It was enjoyable in the moment but ultimately it won’t stand out for me when I reflect back on some of the other amazing books I’ve read this year. That being said, please don’t take my word for it. There are plenty of other very positive reviews for this book so perhaps I’m an outlier. Check it out for yourself!

-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Jo Spain, and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Thriller

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Extremely quick and suspenseful page turner (or “listen” for my audiobook folks)!

Gosh it is so hard to give a summary of this book without giving anything away so in this case, I’ll use the publisher’s description.
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
B.A. Paris wrong a spine-tingling, bone-chilling thriller that would give anybody the creeps. I’m not sure how “believable” or realistic the story was, but that didn’t make much of a difference for me. It was still thoroughly entertaining.

Let me just say, I hated… No, I loathed one of the main characters. Straight up punch-you-in-the-face, smash-your-windshield-with-a-golf-club style hatred. But that just means the character was written so darn well that I had no choice but to detest them. You will see what I mean when you read it.

The story was enthralling and had my blood pressure elevated at several different points. I wanted to jump into the story and help the main character myself because I was so frustrated with the major dilemma she faced.

I first discovered B.A Paris when I read Bring Me Back (which was also great) and I decided to go back and read some of her previous work. I just have to say…. Love her!

I finished the audiobook in a few car rides to and from work (plus sat in the parking lot of a shopping complex for a half hour before actually going in so I could hear the ending!). Would highly recommend for anybody who is looking for a fast paced and suspenseful thriller.

My review of B.A Paris’s Bring Me Back can be found here.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Ugly cryinggggg*

Okay guys. I’m about to make a bold statement here. This is my favorite book of 2018 (so far). It is magnificent. It is heartbreaking but speaks to the power and strength women had through WWII. What a story Kristin Hannah created!

The book is about two sisters living in German-occupied France during World War II. Isabelle is rebellious, strong-willed, and insists on helping the Nazi resistance. Vienne is the rule follower and tries to stay in line for the sake of protecting her daughter. The book follows their journey from the start of the war through to the end, the two very different paths to survival they find themselves on, and ultimately how they find peace and love amidst miserable conditions.

From the first chapter, I was captured. The audiobook was 17+ hours and despite being long, I didn’t want it to end. The narrator was one of the most spectacular I’ve ever heard. Her use of French, German, and American accents transported me right into the story. I honestly felt like I was listening to a movie rather than an audiobook which is something that is not easy to do.

Speaking of movies, I thought through the whole thing how wonderful it would be for this book to be produced for the big screen. And imagine my delight when I found that a movie rendition is expected in January! I cannot wait to see it!

I seriously could not recommend this book more. It is so important to remember our history, particularly some of the most horrific and dark times in recent centuries. This book demonstrates vividly some of the most disgusting and horrific things that were done by human beings to other human beings all at the hands of hate and evil. And those stories are so important to tell (even if fictitious) so we don’t relive the mistakes of our past.

I’ve been raving to friends and family and telling them they have to read it, and I will keep raving about it for some time. It’s truly unforgettable!

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General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner ListThe Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I won this book in a giveaway a couple months ago and it’s been sitting in my stack waiting for me to read it! I was feeling kind of “meh” about reading it, but having just finished, I’m so happy I finally gave it a chance.

The concept is simple. Many years ago, Sabrina wrote a list of 5 people living or dead with whom she would like to have dinner. And on her 30th birthday she gets her wish, surrounded by Audrey Hepburn, her father, her college professor, best friend, and the love of her life. It is an opportunity for closure, forgiveness, understanding, and redemption. And at the heart of it, will have you asking, “Is love ever enough?”

I would liken this book to Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” mixed with “A Short History of the Girl Next Door”. Caution: this book is heartbreaking. I’ve read 70 books so far this year and this is the only book that made me flat out cry (P.S. I don’t really cry). The ending was beautiful and bittersweet.

As far as the structure, The Dinner List was a really quick read. I read the whole thing on a Sunday in one sitting, which is a rarity for me. The chapters are short and quick, and it’s easy to get swept away in the story.

Would also say this would be a FANTASTIC book for a book club to read. Rebecca Serle created a lot of conversational elements and was very insightful in her writing. Would highly recommend to anybody looking for their next great book club pick!

-Thank you to Rebecca Serle and Flatiron Books for my giveaway copy.-

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