Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I absolutely loved Celeste Ng’s recent book Little Fires Everywhere and couldn’t wait to read one of her earlier works. I saw Everything I Never Told You was available at the library and snatched it up.

The story begins with a young Chinese American girl turning up dead, found face down in a local lake. Was her death suicide, homicide, or accidental? The rest of the book tells the story of her and her Chinese American family leading up to her death. They all carry their own secrets, and carry their own burdens. And the question remains… How did Lydia die?

This book was kind of just… Meh. It was good enough and I listened to the entire thing. The narrator was engaging and held my interest. And while I was really invested in the beginning, the pace was so slow that I just found my interest tapering off toward the end.

There were some good cultural and racial elements that were explored, particularly interracial relationships in the 1960s and 70s. This was one of the book’s strengths in my opinion.

I don’t know that I would recommend this book to everybody. It’s a good enough story, but just sort of fell flat for me.

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Audiobook Review, Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, can we talk about the cover? This book kept popping up on social media everywhere, and every time, it stuck in my head because of that gorgeous cover. It is so simple, but beautiful and eye catching.

So what is The Immortalists about? In the 1960’s the Gold children hear about a woman who can tell fortunes. She’s said to be able to tell you the date you will die. So when all four of them pay the woman a visit, they get the answers they came looking for, but will they like what they hear? The story that unfolds is about each of the children’s journeys through life, leading up to their deaths. At times perhaps a bit depressing, it explores the line between our decisions and our fate. And challenges the way we live our lives. Would we live differently if we knew when we were going to die? Would we play it safe or make the most of our days?

I thought the idea behind this book was extraordinary. I enjoyed the philosophical elements and the overall message Chloe Benjamin was trying to portray. I loved the character development as well and really connected with several of the characters as the book went on.

I did struggle slightly with the format. It is really four separate stories that end up tying together. But, they are told in succession. So I would get really invested in one character or story, it would end, and I would have to get my brain back in gear to connect with the next character in line. It ended up working for me, but that is my one slightly gripe.

All in all, this was a fantastic novel and explored a lot of really interesting content. I found it thought provoking, but not at the expense of entertainment.

I would recommend it one to anybody looking for something with deeper and perhaps a little darker subject matter. It’s a quick read but you may find it somewhat emotionally draining.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this! I just recently read Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House and enjoyed it. I had been wanting to read her newest book, An Unwanted Guest, for some time and finally got a copy from the library.

This book is in the vein of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Shari Lapena gave her a little nod with the brief but appropriate mention of Hercule Poirot. It also reminded me slightly of Liane Moriarty’s book Nine Perfect Strangers with a more sinister spin.

Various strangers descend upon a quaint inn for a weekend away. They all have their own issues, and they’re all a little broken. Somewhere along the way, bodies start piling up as the guests are murdered one by one. The catch? They are snowed in without cell phone service or WiFi and have no way of contacting the police. So they must solve the mystery on their own before it’s too late!

In general, this is my type of novel. I love a good murder mystery/whodunnit. It’s like playing a giant game of Clue which I find super fun and interesting.

Lapena did a great job developing the characters. It is always tricky to introduce such a large cast of characters without the reader getting lost in which is which. But, I felt like each of the characters in An Unwanted Guest had a unique identity and I didn’t have any problem following the story. I could also very clearly imagine the snowy inn, it’s various rooms and dwellings, and the characters moving about.

The only slight let down for me was the ending. I felt like it wasn’t an ending that the reader could have had a chance at guessing and kind of came out of nowhere. So the ending was just okay. I wasn’t dissatisfied, just not “wowwed” like I was hoping I would be.

Overall, this was a very good mystery and I would recommend to the Agatha Christie fans out there.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

A Stranger in the HouseA Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truth be told, I’ve been wanting to read Shari Lapena’s new book, An Unwanted Guest, for a while now. And had been waiting for my turn on the library wait list when I stumbled upon one of her previous novels, A Stranger in the House. So I decided to give it a try first.

First off, really good thriller! One night a woman frantically crashes her car head on into a utility pole. Meanwhile, a man comes home to find his wife missing only to find out she is the woman from the accident, who now has amnesia as a result of the accident. All of this wouldn’t be so weird if the police didn’t discover a dead body in a part of town from which the woman was fleeing. What happened? Did she kill him? Or is something else at play?

There were lots of great elements in this book. It hooked me from the start with lots of unanswered questions and mysterious happenings. And the way the book evolved kept me interested the rest of the way. I will say that the last 20ish percent felt a tad long and drawn out. And at one point I said to myself “I already know what’s going to happen so can we just get on with it?”. But, I was wrong! I was in for a couple surprises along the way.

While there wasn’t anything particularly mind blowing or original about this book (would call it one of your standard thrillers), it was still really enjoyable. Would recommend to anybody looking for a quick, engaging, fast-paced thriller.

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The IdenticalsThe Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first experience with Elin Hilderbrand happened just recently when I read The Perfect Couple and absolutely loved it! So when the library had The Identicals available, I had to download it.

The Identicals is about (you guessed it) identical twins, Tabitha and Harper. Years ago their parents divorced and they each went to live with one parent in Parent Trap fashion. Tabitha lives on Nantucket with her fashion designer mother Eleanor, while Harper lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her father Billy. They haven’t spoken in years. Until Billy passes away and their lives come crashing back together.

The Identicals is a tale about second chances, guilt, redemption, family dynamics, and the love of sisters. While I really enjoyed this book, I feel like it might end up being somewhat forgettable in the mix of all the other books I’ve read this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a stand out for me. I love Elin Hilderbrand’s writing and her ability to transport you to the shores of Nantucket, and this would make wonderful summer reading.

And let’s talk about that cover! Elin’s covers are always stunning and make you want to whip out your bathing suit and sip a margarita poolside.

This is the perfect lighthearted beach read. Put it on your summer reading list!

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