Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, Romance

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We LostThe Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Reese Witherspoon Book Club success!

So let me first just put this disclaimer here. I don’t think this book will be a five star read for everybody. But it was for me. And I will tell you why.

The Light We Lost is a beautifully written story about real life. Plain and simple. I felt like the characters in this story could have walked straight off the pages of this book and walked around today’s society. They were flawed. They were real. They were honest. They struggled. I can’t see how any man or woman who reads this book can’t find something to relate to in one of the character’s stories.

The story is simply about a boy and a girl who connect on 9/11/2001. On that fateful day they find comfort in each other and are bonded to each other for life. Over time, they develop into an emotionally unavailable man whose mission is to make a difference after the events of September 11th and a woman who finds herself madly in love with him. His wanderlust takes him away from her, and as life goes on, she finds another man who makes her feel safe and comfortable, but doesn’t ignite the passion of her first love. She finds herself asking whether fire, passion, and feeling alive with a “wild card” type of man are the key to a happy life or if the key is in the safety, comfort, and security of a man who provides stability and normality.

I think we can all relate to that feeling at one point or another in our lives. Girls who go for the “bad boys” or chase after the wrong men for the thrill, while perfectly nice guys are waiting in the wings wishing they were being chased. That’s an age old story. And if you haven’t been there personally, you know somebody who has.

There is nothing Earth shattering about The Light We Lost. It’s not the world’s most original story. Which is why I say it may not be a five star read for everybody. But, it was such an honest and raw depiction of love and life that I found myself making a strong connection with the main characters and their struggles.

I honestly listened to this book in one sitting straight. It’s a relatively short audiobook at around 7 hours (which took me 3.5 hours to listen to on double speed). While it is kind of depressing and sad, it would still make a good listen for a long car ride.

I’m not a huge romance fan, but this is one that I would highly recommend.

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, Thriller

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

Still LivesStill Lives by Maria Hummel

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m on a quest lately to read all of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks from the last few years. Luckily the library has almost all of them so I’m able to fly right through them. Sorry Reese. Didn’t really love this one as much as I hoped I would!

Everybody is dying to see Kim Lord’s new art exhibit, Still Lives…. a collection of paintings based of photographs of Kim posing as famous dead women. Think Nicole Brown Simpson and The Black Dahlia. Creepy, right? My thought exactly. And imagine everybody’s surprise when Kim Lord is M.I.A. for the opening night of her exhibit. The rumors start circulating. Is this part of the art, or is Kim in danger? Meanwhile a young copy editor for the museum named Maggie finds herself wrapped up in a the scandalous art world, and the more she learns about Kim Lord, the more convoluted the story becomes. Maggie quickly finds herself in the middle of her own investigation into the disappearance of Kim Lord.

I thought the spin on modern art in this book was really evocative and lovely. I appreciated Maria Hummel’s thoughtfulness in designing this somewhat grungy, underground-feeling world of eccentricity. Even though we don’t technically meet Kim Lord’s character, her description was so well done that I felt she was. And the way the art folded into the murder mystery had a wonderful uniqueness that I enjoyed.

What didn’t I like about it? I felt like my interest really ebbed and flowed as the story progressed. There were times when I was really invested and I felt like the story was really grabbing me and then there were times when I felt my mind drifting. Usually when I found myself losing interest in the story, I felt like the story had gone off on a tangent briefly and left me feeling disconnected. And to be honest, the story’s conclusion ended up being a tad too complicated for my liking.

Overall, this book had a ton of potential and I really did enjoy the concept. But the execution fell a little flat for me.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

Freefall by Jessica Barry

FreefallFreefall by Jessica Barry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only had a few days left on my hold at the library for Freefall and I kept telling myself I had to read it before it was gone. And I did just that! Powered through in time to return it back so some other intrigued reader could enjoy. The magic of the library, folks! It’s real… and you already pay for it.

Anyway, I’ll end my P.S.A. here before I start shouting from the rooftops about your tax dollars…

Opening scene:
Allison has just survived a fatal plane crash. She is hurt and she is alone.

Scene 2:
Maggie gets word that her daughter Allison has died in the plane crash, but refuses to believe she is gone

Scene 3 – ???:
Allison tries to survive. Maggie fights to find her. A bunch of twisty, sinister stuff happens in between.

The best thing about this book for me was the story itself. I enjoyed the directions it took, and it always kept me wanting to know what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed the strained and fragile relationship dynamic between Allison and her mother. It added another layer to the story that wouldn’t have been achieved had their relationship been all peachy and wonderful.

The hardest part for me was following the timeline. There were points in the story where I found myself questioning whether I was in the present or in the past. There were several different “past” stories that tied into the larger picture, but it was sometimes hard to follow. It also may have been made harder by listening on audiobook rather than reading. I tend to find that’s the case more often than not with books that bounce back and forther.

This was my first book by Jessica Barry and I enjoyed her writing very much. Would read her works again in the future.

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Audiobook Review, Thriller

Looker by Laura Sims

LookerLooker by Laura Sims

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quick as a flash! That’s how I would describe this book in 4 words.

The physical book is only 188 pages which translated to about 5 and a half hours on audio. It might have been the shortest audiobook I’ve ever listened to and would make a great book for a short road trip.

If you haven’t seen this cover all over social media, I don’t know where you’ve been. Because it’s out there! It has been on my list at the library forever, and I finally made it to the top of the list at the library.

While Looker is short in length, it packs a pretty big punch. But I feel like this book might not be for everybody. I could see it being somewhat polarizing as it’s somewhat abstract and different than your standard thriller.

A woman on the edge of a breakdown…. Fertility problems. A failing marriage. Mental stability teetering. That’s where we start. And the woman deals with her issues by obsessing over and idolizing (let’s call it borderline stalking) her neighbor, a big-time actress who seems to have the picture perfect life. What ensues is the woman’s downward spiral into madness as she tries to cope with her issues in the face of another’s success.

Listen… as a female currently dealing with fertility issues, I can relate. Would I turn all crazy stalker? Probs not. But, I can totally relate to the mind f*ck of waiting every month for something that never comes. And Laura Sims did a great job portraying the character in a way that I found totally authentic in terms of her struggles.

I also felt like I was on the downward spiral with her, her world crashing down around her as she struggled to hold onto any small thread of her sanity.

What was the downside? Well, this may come as a shock to some because I feel like I typically harp on authors for making books long for the sake of being long without adding value to the story. This was the complete opposite. I wanted a little bit more. I felt like as soon as the story really got some teeth, it was over. I think I might actually classify this as more of a novella than a full length novel.

At the end of the day, did I really like it? Yes. Did I love it? No. It was one of those books that lives in the middle somewhere. It was good and entertaining in the moment, but may end up being forgettable by the end of the year.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, Thriller

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying GameThe Lying Game by Ruth Ware

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One thing that I’ve learned as part of the book community is that there are two camps when it comes to Ruth Ware:

Camp I-Love-Her
Camp I-Don’t-Get-The-Hype

I happen to be in the former and adore everything she publishes (and P.S. I can’t wait to read her next book The Turn of the Key which will be out later this year…. read the first chapter here!). Her style is right up my alley with the right amount of mystery, oddball character development, and oftentimes Gothic undertones.

I’ve now read everything she’s ever published (with the exception of a short story that I recently got exclusive access to…. more on that to come). This was the last book I had on the list and while it wasn’t my favorite of hers…. *cough* The Death of Mrs. Westaway *cough*…. it still was really good.

And side note, it was one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks in 2017 if you follow her recommendations like I do!

The Lying Game is essentially the story of four friends who reconnect at an alumni event at their former school after many years apart. Something fishy happened at the school all those years ago, and they’ve been keeping the secret ever since. But when a body is discovered close by, will their secret suddenly unleash itself? Or will they band together in their web of lies to keep their secret safe?

I could totally see Ruth Ware’s signature voice shining through in this story and really liked the overall content. I listened to this one on audio, and as with many of the other Ruth Ware’s books, I could not get enough of Imogen Church’s narration. She is one of my favorite audiobook narrators and I always enjoy the subtle personalities she gives the characters.

If I had one complaint, it would be that I felt it was maybe a tad too long. As I always say, I don’t mind length if I feel like it is necessary to the development of the story. But, I don’t care for stories that are long just for the sake of being long which in my opinion was the case here. I think in some places, the story could have gotten to the point faster and kept me more engaged.

But overall, really strong work again by Ruth Ware. I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!

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