Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Winter in Paradise (Paradise #1) by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter in Paradise (Paradise #1)Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh how I adore Elin Hilderbrand! If you’re looking for an author who nails the “beach read” category, this is your girl. Her covers always draw me in with their brightness, sunshine, and touch of mystery. They never show faces and leave me wondering who the people are on these beaches and what they’re doing there.

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Winter in Paradise was one of my selections from Book of the Month that I just got around to reading. I was pleasantly surprised by the change of location for Hilderbrand. Typically her stories are set in Nantucket, but the Paradise series is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands which was a nice change of scenery but still achieved Hilderbrand’s beachy signature feel.

This book has a lot going on. But at its core, it is about the death of a man and woman in a helicopter crash. After the crash, the man’s wife is notified of her husband’s death only to find out that he was living a double life in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His wife and children come down to identify his body and end up unearthing facts about their husband/father’s secret life. Meanwhile, the female victim’s friend is devastated by the news of her friend’s demise and finds herself shocked as pieces of her friend’s secret life are revealed. The family and friends of these two secret lovers will find their lives intertwined in a way they never imagined.

I loved the complexity of this story. There were a lot of relationship dynamics that gave the book a lot of depth. Mother/son. Father/son. Brother/brother. Husband/wife. Friend/friend. Just a lot of interesting character interaction and development. Since this book is the first in a series, I did feel like there was a lot of time spent building character relationships that will hopefully be expounded on in future books.

This is a great book to read poolside this summer or to save for the winter when you’re feeling tired of the snow and need to mentally escape to the beachy sands of the Caribbean. Bravo to Elin Hilderbrand. I can’t wait for the second book, What Happens in Paradise, which will be out later this year!

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Audiobook Review, Mystery

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Sweet Little Lies (Cat Kinsella, #1)Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eek. I’m finding this one a tad difficult to review. I chose this book as my Book of the Month pick many months ago and have finally gotten around to reading it…. well actually listening to it because audio is so much faster for me to get to and I requested it from the library.

Sweet Little Lies was totally not what I was expecting it to be. I was expecting a juicy and twisty thriller. Instead, I got a slow paced police procedural. But even despite the genre mix-up, I found the story just okay.

Cat Kinsella is a detective charged with investigating the murder of a woman named Alice Lapine whose body is found dumped in the woods. But when Alice turns out to really be Maryanne Doyle, a girl who vanished in 1998, the case starts to get strange.

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about this book because I found it to be kind of boring. While I ultimately appreciated the ending, it took a lot of “stuff” to get there. And the “stuff” was kind of long and drawn out and all over the place. I unfortunately never got invested in the story and found my attention ebbing and flowing with the audio as some parts reeled me in and then others lent themselves to periods of zoning out.

I wish I could say I loved this book more. There are plenty of rave reviews on Goodreads so my opinion should not be the determining factor for whether you read it. I’m kind of maxxed out on thriller/mysteries right now and am finding them harder and harder to wow me with new and fresh content. So I also may not be a great judge at the moment. Please feel free to check out other wonderful reviews for this book as you may find yourself on that side of the fence.

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Mystery, Thriller

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

The Last Time I Saw YouThe Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out May 7th! Pre-order from Amazon here.

When I read The Last Mrs. Parrish as part of Reese’s Book Club last year, I fell in love with Liv Constantine (the pen name for powerhouse author duo and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine). So when I had an opportunity to review an advanced copy of The Last Time I Saw You, I was overjoyed.

The Last Time I Saw You is very different from The Last Mrs. Parrish. Where the latter was more of a domestic thriller, this book leaned more into the mystery genre. The story bounces back and forth between that of Kate, a woman whose mother was brutally murdered, and Blaire, her long-time-but-recently-estranged-best-friend and mystery writer who is determined to find the killer. When Kate begins to receive threatening messages, an investigation ensues, and they will stop at nothing to find out who is behind the mystery.

I always enjoy the writing of this fabulous duo. They have a way of sucking you in and keeping you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Was this the most original mystery/thriller? No. Will it stand out at the end of the year among the other books in this category? Probably not. But it was super fun to read and I enjoyed it. It would make a good, easy pool read this summer.

The one thing that I will say is that I guessed one of the larger twists very early on in the story so I wasn’t entirely surprised in the end. There were still a few tricks up the author’s sleeves so I didn’t feel entirely let down, but the end got a little convoluted and crazy.

At the end of the day I’m still a huge Liv Constantine fan and will continue to read anything this pair publishes. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Liv Constantine, and HarperCollins Publishers for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My Lovely WifeMy Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy wow. That escalated quickly. Looking for something sick, twisted, and marvelously, magnificently messed up? You know who you are. The people who have to listen to audiobooks with their headphones on or car windows rolled up for fear that somebody will overhear and silently judge you for your listening choices. This one is for you.

So look. I generally never read a synopsis for a book before I decide to read it. I tend to go in completely blind with no information other than the cover, the author, and the publisher. So I am often surprised by the content in the books I read. This one was no exception.

My Lovely Wife is about a husband and wife who get off on murdering young girls together. Yep, you heard me right. They stalk their prey, selecting the perfect targets for their sick and twisted murder plots, and then they strike. But when Wifey Dearest starts to go a little rogue, Hubby finds himself questioning her actions, leading to a crazy, twisty ending that you won’t see coming.

I flew through this audiobook in no time. In the vein of Caroline Kepnes’s You and Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard, My Lovely Wife gives the reader insight into the mind of a psychopath (or two). I was hooked from beginning to end and was impressed with Samantha Downing’s ability to transform a psychopath into a character with whom the reader wants to empathize.

All of my psychological thriller fans out there, we all know that this genre has gotten incredibly competitive. It is challenging to find a book that delivers something new and fresh, while still managing to surprise me, and I think this book came through on all fronts. I would highly recommend… but only if you’re able to tolerate the utterly disturbing.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Thriller

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken GirlsThe Broken Girls by Simone St. James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Broken Girls was one of the first books I received from my Book of the Month subscription. And I finally just got around to reading it (make that, listening… because I actually ended up renting the audiobook from the library despite having the book in print).

So many people have adored this book, raved about it on social media, and recommended it as a fantastic mystery/thriller. So I was very excited to dive in and see what all the fuss was about.

And while I really enjoyed it, I did feel like it didn’t fully meet my very high expectations.

There are multiple stories going on here, some in the present and some in the past. In the past, a girl goes missing at a remote boarding school for troubled girls called Idlewild Hall. And there are rumors of a ghost haunting the grounds. In the present, a journalist is hung up on the death of her sister, her body found on the desolate, abandoned grounds of Idlewild Hall.

There are several different mysteries and a lot of separate story lines to sort through. And I was all in for the first 75% of the book. Like completely engrossed and couldn’t put it down. But unfortunately, I felt like the ending was a tad disjointed and all of the stories didn’t connect for me. I was waiting for some earth shattering moment in the end that answered all the questions, or some magnificent twist that knocked me off my socks. And it just didn’t happen. The ending was fine, and I didn’t dislike the book by any stretch of the imagination. It just didn’t blow me away.

I think I would have preferred to read the book in print rather than listening. It may have been less confusing given the changing timelines that have a heavy presence in the book.

I think many people would thoroughly enjoy this one. Actually, I know they would because the reviews on Goodreads are stellar. So don’t let me review deter you. Read it for yourself. And if you want to wait a while to pick it up, it would make the perfect Halloween read!

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